Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Turbines Welcomed to Maui County, but Not the Whole County; Molokai Digs In Heels, Vows a Fight

Senator Mike Gabbard meets the people of Molokai on Big Wind.
It’s hard to imagine the Big Wind energy project being built as planned. Given an opportunity to speak out against the installation of dozens of 450-foot-plus tall wind turbines on the island, Molokai residents didn’t waste it.

The Molokai Dispatch reported on a tour of the proposed site by members of the State Senate’s Energy Committee, including Chair Mike Gabbard. A 52-minute video posted with the story was filled with residents in green T-shirts standing up and speaking out against the project.

The I Aloha Molokai group presented petitions urging self-sufficiency for Oahu rather than being dependent on Molokai for wind-generated energy. Kanoho Helm of I Aloha Molokai gave the visitors the results of a survey on the issue: 437 opposed to the wind farm-cable proposal, 19 supportive and 13 undecided.

A continuing theme was the importance of conservation – especially on Oahu. Reduced energy demand on that island will reduce pressure to develop off-island energy sources.

Yes on Maui

Back in Wailuku, the Maui Planning Commission has given its OK to Auwahi Wind Energy to install eight 428-foot-tall wind turbines on Ulupalakua Ranch in Upcountry Maui.

All of the electricity generated by the 21-MW wind farm will be used on the island and not exported, in contrast with the Big Wind project.

The good citizens of Maui apparently will be asked to accept and live with both the visual impact of the turbines themselves but also the overhead transmission lines that will convey the power from the wind farm down into the valley. The Commission voted to relieve Auwahi Wind Energy from a requirement to underground the lines at any point.

As an aside, we think most Oahu residents will readily accept the visual “impact” of Honolulu’s future overhead rail line. Call it the Price of Progress in an already developed environment. Molokai residents say they’re not prepared to pay that price for their aina – a view State government ultimately will have to accept.

Ocean thermal energy conversion, anyone?

Seriously -- OTEC Now?

OTEC is making headlines -- seemingly quite a few more in the past couple months since the Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation announced plans to build two plants in The Bahamas.  This blog began in 2008 to publicize the technology as an overlooked but critical piece of Hawaii's future energy mix.

With on-land impacts of other technologies apparently unacceptable to some of our citizens, it's time for the State of Hawaii to get serious about advancing OTEC with more than nice talk. Get Dan Inouye involved at some level in some way. If not now, when the good senator is still in power, when?

1 comment:

mstraub said...

OTEC is gaining huge momentum in the caribbean, and the author is right on when it comes to Hawaii. The state can get on board now, and be a shining example to the rest of the world of just how much we can all benefit from OTEC power.

Lots more news and info at The On Project. People doing good work to help spread the word about OTEC.