Dec 22, 2005


On the island of Hawaii (also known as "the Big Island"), a 10 Megawatt (MW) wind farm at Upolu Point in North Kohala is under development by Hawi Renewable Development. Additional information is provided on the electric utility website: From an article in West Hawaii Today: According to David Absher, Hawi Renewable Development's vice president, "Upolu Point is one of the best places in the U.S. to build a wind farm. The wind blows there 70 percent of the time." Also from the article: HELCO's contract with Hawi Renewable Development "will pay them what we would have paid to produce the same amount of power," according to Warren Lee, HELCO president. "That is, during peak hours (7 a.m. - 9 p.m.) they'll be paid 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour. During off - peak hours, they'll be paid 7.47 cents a kilowatt hour." The amount paid will fluctuate with the price of oil.


Well, I am ambivalent about this project. The site is a mere ten minutes' drive away, and lies on one of the most remote (and visually captivating) pastoral areas on the island. It is hard for me condemn something like this; a "clean" alternative energy source, where a great amount of power would undoubtedly be generated due to very reliable winds. This is a step in the right direction for less environmentally destructive power generation and cheaper electricity, and there is truly no better place on the island for it (other than South Point, which already has a dilapidated wind farm which really should be renovated). Even the zealots who think the sacred remains of their ancestors are buried on every square inch of the island probably won't complain! Really, it's nothing but grassland.

Even still, I foresee the completion of this project directly resulting in a decrease in real estate values. This prediction pertains particularly to the homes and future subdivisions located up the hill from the farm, from which views of the ocean will be obstructed by these massive towers whose bulging bodies no doubt glint brilliantly in the sunlight. Quite a few existing homes and future developments will be affected. I cannot neglect to mention the sentamentalist objection that having these structures visible from miles in every direction will greatly impact the atmosphere of the region which suggests desolation and wildness, especially near the sea cliffs. That I can identify with. Those things are nifty to look at, but hardly blend in with the scenery.

This place could use a development like this, though. The wind farm will most likely become a part of Hawi's identity, showing up in local signs, artworks, and symbolism. They'll probably even do wind farm tours! The world changes fast, and it usually changes for the worst. Depending on one's perspective, this could be an exception. My education compels me to care about things like this.

Early phase:

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