Hawaiian Electric Co. has advised the Public Utilities Commission against extending an eight-month deadline to Boston-based First Wind to secure land needed to build a 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai.
First Wind’s CEO Paul Gaynor filed the request with the PUC in a letter dated March 17, one day prior to the deadline for securing the land.
The proposed wind farm on Molokai is part of the “Big Wind” project, originally designed to bring 200 mw of wind energy from Molokai and 200 mw of wind energy from Lanai to Oahu through an undersea cable.
According to a letter from Darcy Endo-Omoto, Hawaiian Electric’s vice president for government and community affairs, the utility company “does not believe an extension of the deadline will be productive.” The letter was filed on Thursday.
First Wind officials attempted to secure land on Molokai Ranch for the wind farm, but their requests were rejected. Last week, Molokai Ranch CEO Peter Nicholas told PBN that he would not work with First Wind on the wind project and that he had chosen San-Francisco-based Pattern Energy as his preferred developer if the project were to go forward.
In Hawaiian Electric’s PUC filing, Endo-Omoto also notes that Castle & Cooke, the developer on Lanai, had been informed that they had the option to develop a larger wind farm on Lanai, given that the Molokai project had come to an impasse.
The filing also notes that the agreement recently signed with Castle & Cooke “includes an option for it to assign a portion of its larger project development opportunity to a project developer on Molokai, subject to the commission’s acceptance of this option, as well as the development of acceptable terms and conditions for a Molokai wind farm, including pricing and community benefits.”
The state Division of Consumer Advocacy also filed a response stating that it did not object to First Wind’s request. However, Executive Director Jeffrey Ono’s letter to the PUC also states that First Wind’s inability to secure land by now raised a number of concerns, including what effect a delay in the project would have on Hawaiian Electric’s ability to meet clean energy requirements.
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