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Aloha, Oprah! Big Wind developer may be celeb’s new Maui neighbor

Oprah Winfrey may be getting a new neighbor.

Bio-Logical Capital, which last year joined with Pattern Energy to develop the Molokai portion of the controversial Big Wind project, is looking to buy Hana Ranch on Maui.1

Winfrey has owned more than 160 acres of the property for the past decade.

The 4,500-acre ranch is listed for $55 million by Sotheby’s International Realty, and has been for sale for several years. It’s not clear whether Bio-Logical Capital is interested in buying the entire ranch or just a piece of it. Winfrey’s part is not for sale.

Harrison Shepherd, head of the Hana Ranch Partners’ executive committee, said that discussions with Bio-Logical Capital had not concluded “and there is nothing that is absolutely definite.”

Shepherd said that if a deal with Bio-Logical Capital didn’t close by the end of this year, it would likely not happen.

UPDATED Keiki-Pua Dancil, vice president for Bio-Logical Capital in Hawaii, did not return a call for comment. After this story was published, a spokesperson for the company – Monica Salter of the Bennet Group, a public relations firm – provided Civil Beat with the following statement:

As a company that is committed to making long-term investments in projects that heal land and communities through Stewardship Development, Bio-Logical Capital is interested in historic Hāna Ranch as a place where it could realize these goals and continue the legacy of this remarkable ranch. While the company has no news as to the acquisition of this property at this time, it is working with Hāna Ranch Partners to learn more about the opportunity.

Bio-Logical Capital’s website says: “We are committed to helping Hawaii grow healthy food, produce clean energy, and find new solutions to sustainable water and land management.”

UPDATED The company told Maui mayor, Alan Arakawa and staff that it wasn’t interested in pursuing energy projects at Hana Ranch, rather it was “trying to make it work as ag,” according to Doug McLeod, the county’s energy commissioner.

Bio-Logical Capital, which has offices in Denver and San Francisco, opened a Honolulu office in early 2011 and announced that it had teamed up with Pattern Energy to develop a 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai. The project would consist of about 70 turbines stretching several hundred feet in the air on Molokai Ranch. Executives of the joint venture, known as Molokai Renewables, have since said little publicly about their plans other than to confirm that they are still pursuing the wind farm despite widespread local protest.

Molokai Renewables was also a bidder for Lanai, Hawaii News Now reported. The island was recently sold to billionaire software developer Larry Ellison.

Bio-Logical Capital’s interest in Hawaii is more extensive than the wind farm, which is still far from a done deal. The company lists Hawaii as a priority region for investment on its website. And it says its key projects include the Molokai wind farm, interisland cable and local farming on Oahu and Maui.

Winfrey, with her former personal trainer Bob Greene, purchased 102 acres of Hana Ranch in 2002 for $15.5 million, according to news reports at the time. In 2005, she purchased another 63 acres, the Maui News reported.

Local residents have fought to maintain the undeveloped character of the land in remote east Maui, which stretches from famous Hamoa Beach upland to a 2,200-foot elevation. It includes about two miles of oceanfront property and 1,200 heads of cattle.

Winfrey has been praised by local officials and residents for being a good steward of the land.