1400 Acres of Hawaiian Trust Land Planned for Lease on Maui
By Wendy Osher
Up to 1400 acres of land on Maui is being proposed to be leased for renewable energy projects on Hawaiian Home Lands.
While Department of Hawaiian Home Lands officials say their pursuit will help the trust to raise much needed funding, the idea has draw criticism from opponents who want the agency to first assist the thousands of individuals who are on a waiting list for Hawaiian Home Lands.
The department began soliciting bids earlier this year from companies or corporations interested in developing renewable energy projects ranging from biomass to wind, solar, and hydropower.
The lands being considered for direct negotiation include up to 500 acres in Kahikinui, 500 acres in Pulehunui (near Puunene), and 400 acres in Honokowai.
Public Meetings will be held before the Hawaiian Homes Commission at the Paukukalo Hawaiian Homes Hall on: Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m., and Thursday, March 21 at 9 a.m.
“It is inconceivable to ignore these people who will probably never be awarded agriculture lots,” said Olinda Aiwohi, president of Paukukalo Hawaiian Homes Community Association in an opposition letter.
“There are other lands available but DHHL is trying to make money by providing the most accessible lands to the developers… there is only so much land on Maui and much is being leased to others who are not on the waiting list and not Hawaiian,” said Aiwohi.
More than 40 proposals have reportedly been received from 26 developers, including Hawai’i companies, beneficiary organizations, and companies on the mainland, as well as in Canada and Australia.
“The lands in question are prime agricultural lands,” said Maui resident, Blossom Feiteira, in an opposition letter. “At the time the department began their planning process, we beneficiaries participating in the process recommended [that] those lands in Pulehunui and Honokwai be reserved for agricultural homesteading. The department designated those lands as general agriculture, putting them in a holding pattern for the future,” said Feiteira.
The department is pursuing opportunities for renewable energy development because, officials say, the trust needs the money. Informational material released by DHHL in earlier meetings included the following talking points:
- Electric Companies are required by law to meet specific renewable energy standards by 2015, 2020, 2030 and 2040. All companies have met the 2015 requirements; HELCO has already met the 2040 standard. In order to meet these standards, the electric companies are buying renewable energy through Requests for Proposals, the Feed‐in‐Tariff program and Net‐Metering.
- MECO is getting ready to release a RFP for 50MW of renewable energy on island (25MW firm; 25MW intermittent). HECO is getting ready to release a RFP for 200MW of renewable energy for O‘ahu that can be generated off‐island—proposals must include the development of an undersea transmission cable. The RFPs give developers a very short time to respond.
- Developers have a better chance at bidding for the RFPs if they already have site control; their bids can be more accurate if site variables (location, terrain, development constraints, community benefits) are known.
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