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Kumumaomao

The Source of Green

Opinion by Steve Morgan

Of the many winds that characterize the island of Molokai, one in particular seems to be making the news. Recognized as “Kumumaomao,” which I have always understood to mean “the source of green,” it is this wind that receives the clouds from Kamakou, bringing moisture to Maunaloa and the upper hills of Kaluakoi. It is a wind that I have come to know well, at times being in gratitude for the rain she brings and at other times cowering from the ferocity of this wind when she rages at 50 or 60 miles per hour.

The billion dollar question now will Kumumaomao be a source of green energy and possibly a source of green profits for those who hope to invest in this wind.

In my own opinion, the obstacles in place at this time cast doubt on the reality of this project. One of these obstacles is the general feeling of skepticism that many on our island feel. Some of this skepticism is the fruit of urban legends, yet some of this skepticism is easily justified. After years of talk, there still is no land secured, and the community really has no clear idea as to how this project might really improve the quality of life on Molokai.

At a Senate hearing on Jan. 11, Wren Wescoatt of First Wind acknowledged that it would be up to the community to make its request known for a “community benefits package.” This is a bit perplexing; with such a fragmented process, how do we go about doing this? And when the Molokai Community Service Council was working with First Wind, wasn’t a list of community benefits already recognized? Are those potential benefits no longer acknowledged by First Wind?

Mr. Wescoatt also mentioned that what would be offered to our island might be something like what Lanai is being offered. While my intention is not to villainize First Wind, the apparent contrast between what was previously being offered to Molokai by First Wind and what is now being offered to Lanai is like the difference between a bag of chips and a full buffet.

Two facts are hard to ignore – Guoco (Molokai Ranch) is playing hardball with land sales and First Wind is scrambling to pay off some of its $500 million in debt, so is it possible that community perks are the first to go?

And without any resolution of these critical issues, we now find ourselves in the midst of an Environmental Impact Statement for the installation of the underwater transmission cable to our island. So what’s next? Maybe the EIS meeting on Feb. 3 will offer a few answers….maybe.

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