Malia’s Statement

A Statement Regarding A Wind Farm:
Castle & Cooke Resorts Community Meeting
Lana’i High & Elementary School Cafeteria
November 6, 2009

Malia Preza

On August 15 of last year, in this very cafeteria, at one of the first community meetings regarding the idea of a wind farm on Lanai, Mr. Murdock asked us, “Why don’t we all get together and make this island into something spectacular?”* Lana’i residents and visitors alike have shared a love for Lanai’s natural beauty and would hardly agree that the development of a wind farm on such a pristine sector of land, untouched by modern development till this day, would make Lana’i spectacular. It already is, and has always been in their eyes and in mine. Adding 175 turbines would only detract from Lanai’s appeal. Those who view the expanse of land beyond the extravagant resorts as a wasteland do not understand the exclusive allure of awe-inspiring terrain, unadulterated by man. Plans to turn the Pineapple Island into the, Power Island, would cement images of an industrialized city rather than the quaint rural island created during plantation days, which fortunately still exists today and has attracted so many, eager to experience Lana’i’s peace and tranquility.


Murdock tells us that we will all “benefit” and claims he is “trying to achieve economic stability,”* but how can that be when all of the electricity generated will be “exported to Oahu via undersea cables,” and “would not necessarily reduce the cost of electricity for Lana’i residents, who already pay the highest rates in the state.” ** On Lana’i, we know the problems of economic stability all too well during this time of mass layoffs, when the mass consists of friends and family, if not ourselves. The wind farm could be beneficial if it would in fact provide us with economic stability; however, it should not be used as a solution when it would create only few jobs. Christopher Lovvorn, Castle & Cooke’s Director of Alternative Energy, estimates 15 – 20, and who is to say that those would even be secured by Lanai’s residents at all?


Proposing to diversify Lanai’s economy by means of a wind farm may actually be detrimental to the hunting business. Hunting attracts visitors and off island residents, and has “broadened the economic base beyond tourists at the three hotels on Lanai,” which have recently suffered from the downturn in tourism. *** It is also a major concern of many Lanai residents; for many fear the effect a wind farm will have on hunting access since it will span thousands of acres of prime land, and are worried the new technology will lead to the end of game hunting on Lanai. Although we are assured that “fishermen, hunters, hikers, and beachgoers won’t lose access to, or be restricted from, the area, since individual wind turbines won’t even be fenced in,” there is no mention how the turbines would affect our activities. **** I can just imagine the enjoyment of seeing and hearing the 175 noisy eyesores spread over 12,800 of some of the most unsullied land on Lanai, while trying to relax or attempting to hunt axis deer – that is, if the game is not scared away from the area by such an alien intrusion on their habitat. Although biological conservation of native species and artifacts are being considered and studies performed, modern cultural practices such as hunting have practically been ignored during the planning and development of the wind farm.


Mr. Lovvorn says that this project will be “cost effective,” yet, the cost is far more than millions of dollars – it is the cost of the unsoiled beauty of Lanai’s natural environment – a price we will pay in sadness and regret. “Lanai is blessed with wind resources and we should be tapping into that,” says Jeff Mikulina of the Hawai’i Sierra Club. ***** As its director, he aims to spread the idea of clean energy solutions. Yet, as he is not a Lana’i resident himself, he remains unaware of Lanai’s other important resources, and is neglecting some of the most valuable, which are not found in the possibility of electricity production, but rather in the unique landscape and culture of Lana’i and its people. Sure environmental stability is important, but when we are forced to choose between renewable energy and a non-renewable pristine condition of our island and the well being of our community, we should focus on preserving our past and present cultural practices, such as hunting and the lifestyles of the people on Lanai, in order to secure a better future for ourselves, our children, and anyone else who chooses to reside in this peaceful place.


We are urged to support “things Castle & Cooke wants to do.”* We’ve worked hard for the company and tried our best to impress Mr. Murdock on his visits to the island. Many of us on Lana’i remain grateful for the economic opportunities Castle & Cooke provided after their purchase of the island and development of the resorts. However, in the case of a wind farm, I will not oblige to favor this development. I cannot accept the idea that the development of said wind farm will benefit Lana’i residents. Although Mr. Murdock may feel he is not taking anything away from us, I’d like to express just how much this construction would be taking away from our community. I believe nothing should be carried out without careful consideration of the concerns of denizens on Lana’i, who will have no choice but to deal with the implications of decisions made by people who do not live here and will not suffer as we will.


In actuality, Mr. Murdock doesn’t need approval from residents to develop the wind farm, but our public opposition is a plea to let Castle & Cooke know that their plans would take away so much from us. Although he estimates he will lose millions of dollars on Lana’i this year, for Mr. Murdock, millions will remain; and for most of us, there are no millions, there are no jobs, and the only thing some of us have is our beautiful Lana’i, our home, and the natural gifts it has bestowed upon us and provided us with for generations, free of cost. We now stand at a threshold and must decide what is really important. If we think only in dollars and cents, we will lose what is simply priceless.
The things we value in terms of money and watts of electricity are insignificant in comparison to the irreplaceable paradise found on the North end of Lana’i. They say you don’t know what you got till its gone; but we do know, we appreciate what we have today and long to preserve our beautiful island so it may be shared with others; please don’t take that away, it is precious to all of us.

Malia Preza
Raised on Lana’i
Kamehameha High Senior 2009

*Gomes, Honolulu Advertiser: Lanai Wind Farm Plan Fights Local Currents; Gomes, Honolulu Advertiser/OCA
** Maui News, Wind Watch: Industrial Wind Energy News
*** Kubota, Star-Bulletin: Project. Whips up Fears
****Zoom Info/Honolulu Advertiser
***** Maui News

Notable Links:

Organic Consumer’s Association

Project Whips Up Fears – Honolulu Star-Bulletin