Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lanai Wind Plan Takes Bloomberg News Hit -- Twice

The folks over at Castle & Cooke knew their plans to build a 300-MW wind farm on Lanai would produce some negative ink over concerns for the island’s relatively quiet and unspoiled environment. There’s been a local story here and there about residents’ fears that the wind farm would change their island, which just two decades ago was the world’s largest pineapple farm.

But those localized stirrings were nothing compared to the widespread publicity David Murdock’s wind plans have received thanks to the Bloomberg News Service. The story appeared in Friday’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin and landed a punch right from the top:

“LANAI CITY – First, he ripped out the pineapples. Then he put up Four Seasons hotels and luxury homes. Next, he envisions 200 windmills towering next to the beach.”

The Bloomberg piece continues in that aggressive vein, but unlike earlier stories that focused on long-time local residents, it mixes in comments from residents wealthy enough to own a luxury home: “I am not going to live on an island that’s the biggest wind farm in the Pacific,” said a founding partner of a Woodside, CA venture fund.

The Bloomberg piece has quotes from a company representative and the state’s energy administrator on the importance of growing Hawaii’s renewable energy industry, but the story had a negative slant. And if that wasn’t a bad enough start to the weekend for Castle & Cooke, the exact same story appears today in the Honolulu Advertiser (along with the Bloomberg photo of a Lanai beach, above).

Every project that could significantly reduce the state’s dependence on imported oil deserves strong consideration. The Lanai wind farm proposal is one of them, but whether it can overcome the environmental and financial challenges is yet unknown. Not every proposal can, as we saw last week.

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