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Castle & Cooke moving forward with Hawaii ‘Big Wind’ project

One half of Hawaii’s controversial 400-megawatt “Big Wind” project – in which large wind farms on Lanai and Molokai would pump electricity to Honolulu via an undersea cable – is still moving forward.

Castle & Cooke Inc., which kept the rights to build a wind farm capable of producing up to 200 megawatts of renewable energy when CEO David Murdock sold the majority of the Pineapple Island to Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison last year has remained mum about its plans until Friday.

A Castle & Cooke spokesman told PBN that the company remains committed to addressing the reduction of foreign oil and that the Lanai wind farm and Mililani Solar Park are projects it continues to pursue.

“Both projects are key components in reaching the state’s renewable energy objectives,” the spokesman said.

In February, the 200-megawatt Molokai portion hit a huge snag when landowner Molokai Ranch decided against having a wind farm on its land.

Hawaii’s State Energy Office, which just released an updated list of planned clean energy projects across the state, dropped the 200-megawatt portion of the Lanai wind farm from the list completely.

But it’s not because it does not think the project is viable.

Instead, the state Energy Office added new criteria to the most recent list, which no longer ranks projects that may be associated with an ongoing solicitation from a utility or other entity, which is the case for the Lanai wind farm.

Once the final selection of those projects has been made public, they will then be added to Hawaii’s Clean Energy Leaders list, the state Energy Office said.

Besides the Lanai wind farm, others that were removed from the list include Ulupalakua Geothermal, Maui Landfill Waste-to-Energy, Lalamilo Wind, Maui County Landfill Gas and Molokai Irrigation System Hydropower Plant.

In January, Castle & Cooke’s planned project on Lanai was ranked 13th in Hawaii on the State Energy Office list, which was up five spots from 18th in the previous list.

In March, sources told me that a Hawaii cultural surveying firm, had been doing archaeological surveys in the area where the wind farm is supposed to be built.

But the surveyors were met by protestors and residents nearby denied them from staying at their homes through the proposed four-day stay, sources said.

The “Big Wind” still appears to be a viable endeavor to Hawaiian Electric Co.