Efforts by Castle & Cooke could mean boost for Oahu power supply
Oahu power consumers may also benefit from Castle & Cooke's entry into the renewable-energy business if the company's exploratory plan to build a 300-megawatt wind farm on Lanai takes flight.
Castle & Cooke, a primarily real estate development company that yesterday went public with plans to build a solar-power plant on Lanai, also has set a two- to 10-year timetable to build a wind farm that could supply about 15 percent to 20 percent of Oahu's power needs, said Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Hawaii.
The farm, which would be located on fallow agricultural lands on Lanai, would send power to Oahu via cable, he said.
"We are hoping to make a substantial dent in the amount of barrels of oil that we have to bring into this state," Saunders said, adding that the company hopes to conclude its wind farm research in the next six months and then begin a year-long environmental impact study. If steps fall into place, the company could begin construction on the wind farm within the next two years and have the first phase open in three, he said.
Castle & Cooke's positioning as a large rural landowner gives the company a unique competitive advantage as a renewable-energy supplier, Saunders said.
"We have the land, the opportunity, the financial ability and the desire to make this work as a profitable business," Saunders said. He added that the company is also eyeing lands on Oahu's North Shore for green-energy potential and is considering growing feedstock for biofuels on Lanai.
While Castle & Cooke is discussing several large-scale projects, other island companies are also brainstorming about renewable energy, said Peter Rosegg, spokesman for Hawaiian Electric Co.
Kaheawa Pastures opened a 30-megawatt wind farm on Maui six months ago and is already discussing a possible expansion, Rosegg said. There's also a wind farm planned at Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui and HECO is in discussions for several on the Oahu's North Shore, he said. On the Big Island, independent producers are producing electricity from geothermal energy and wind farms are also operating in North Kohala and South Point, Rosegg said.
"It seems like an instant success, but we've been working on some of these projects for years," he said. "Any time an independent company develops a renewable energy generating source we welcome them."