West Maui Group Secures Agreement with Proposed Solar Project in Kahana
The West Maui Preservation Association has settled with Innergex’s Kahana Solar, LLC and will be withdrawing from Public Utilities Commission proceedings relating to the project.
Innergex proposes to develop a solar power generation plant on former pineapple fields in the uplands of Kahana. WMPA intervened in the PUC proceedings opened to approve the agreement between MECO and Innergex to address various community issues.
Last month, the PUC held a two day contested case hearing where the parties presented their evidence. At the close of the hearing, the PUC suspended proceedings and ordered the parties into mediation. The parties mediated with the assistance of retired Maui Circuit Court Judge Joel August.
The settlement agreement includes annual community benefit contributions to organizations such as Lahainaluna High School, Maui Cultural Lands, Pu’u Kukui Watershed and UH Maui College. An additional portion of funds will be distributed to West Maui community groups through the Hawai’i Community Foundation.
Innergex has also agreed to pay at least 80% of its non-supervisory workers the equivalent of the prevailing wage. They will also first hire those living in West Maui, Maui County and the state before hiring workers from elsewhere, according to WMPA.
The settlement also calls for Innergex to commit to an enforceable plan to decommission the project at the end of its agreement with MECO.
If the PUC approves the agreement between MECO and Innergex, the project will next go before the Maui Planning Commission to consider a special use permit required to develop the project on agricultural district lands.
“We hope the electric company and the PUC will seriously consider standardizing the management and distribution of community benefits and ensuring that jobs generated by these projects pay a living wage and use local labor for future projects. This agreement is a good starting point for future projects,” said Lance D. Collins, WMPA spokesperson.