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‘Big Wind’ developer nixes interest in renewable projects in Hawaii

The company formed to develop part of the so-called “Big Wind” project on Molokai is no longer interested in doing projects in Hawaii, Pacific Business News has learned.

In 2011, Molokai Renewables LLC, a joint venture between Pattern Energy and Bio-Logical Capital, was interested in developing various renewable energy projects in the state. They included a 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai in a deal that would have the company lease thousands of acres of land at Molokai Ranch.

The project, along with another 200-megawatt wind farm proposed for Lanai, would pipe electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable. The two projects combined made up the Big Wind project.

Molokai Ranch said in 2013 that it ended negotiations with Molokai Renewables for the proposed wind farm there. Plans for the entire Big Wind project were apparently taken off the table after being met with significant community opposition.

This week, Molokai Renewables sent a letter to state regulators saying that it “is no longer pursuing any of these renewable energy projects.”

The letter was a request from Molokai Renewables to withdraw from its seat at the table regarding Hawaiian Electric Cos.’ reliability standards case.

Hawaiian Electric, which recently revealed its updated new energy plans that set the course for the state to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 included in those plans the possible development of smaller wind farms on Molokai and Lanai to serve those islands.

“In our portfolio for Lanai and Molokai are much, much smaller wind turbines just to serve their islands,” Colton Ching, vice president of energy delivery for Hawaiian Electric, has told PBN. “That complements the solar they currently have plus the additional solar we expect from rooftop solar systems.”

Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, previously told PBN that almost every type of resource available needs to be considered – including wind.

“We need to keep our eye on the ball to reach 100 percent by 2045,” he said. “We’re stressing that this has to be an all-hands effort. We’re no longer the monopoly that builds and sells. We are so past that. We need customers, regulators and state policymakers to be at the table with us to come up with a plan to get to 100 percent. It’s not just us.”