UPC pledges $50 million buy out Molokai Ranch
Molokai Community Service Council views pledge as significant step in preservation.
By Jennifer Smith
UPC Wind, has recently pledged $50 million toward Ho`i I Ka Pono, a campaign led by the Molokai Community Service Council to purchase all of the lands now owned by Molokai Properties Limited, a.k.a. Molokai Ranch. The North American wind power company’s President and CEO, Paul Gaynor, announced his commitment to the community on Nov. 6.
Gaynor commented, “In addition to showing our support for the Ho‘i I Ka Pono campaign, our pledge underscores our commitment to the people of Molokai and their efforts to determine how their lands will be used in the future.”
Often viewed as the “last truly Hawaiian island,” Molokai residents have ceaselessly fought for decades to preserve the island’s culture and environment. Executive Director of the Molokai Community Service Council (MCSC), Karen M. Holt believes that, “The only way to protect Molokai’s culture, environment and lifestyle is to give the people who live here the power to decide how to manage our limited resources.”
Working in conjunction with MCSC’s vision, Gaynor described his intentions, “Once the community has regained control of the lands owned by Molokai Ranch, we will work directly with community members to lease a portion of the land to build a 21st century wind farm that will generate clean wind energy for Molokai and O‘ahu.”
In addition to producing clean energy, a wind farm would provide lease revenue to the Molokai community and keep the land rural and accessible for traditional uses such as farming, hunting and cultural practices. Holt says that this revenue “will help to ensure that we can manage these lands for generations to come.”
However, MCSC has several more steps to overcome before they can reach the hopeful eventual last step of placing ownership of the land back into the hands of the people.
There have been repeated statements by MPL front man, Peter Nicholas, and the company’s General Manager of Community Affairs, John Sabas, arguing that, “Molokai Properties Limited or Molokai Ranch is not for sale.”
But interested buyers have been able to confirm a potential buyout with MPL’s parent company Guoco Leisure. Opening bids for the Ranch reportedly start at $225 million. Consequently, with the first $50 million pledged, MCSC will need to find other avenues of cash flow to further their cause.
Nicholas, who recently authored a lengthy editorial entitled “Buy the Ranch campaign gives false hope,” is currently at odds with Molokai’s anti-development community who are generally receptive to the Ho‘i I Ka Pono Campaign.
Auntie Vanda Hanakahi, a highly respected Molokai kupuna explains that, “Those who live here and love this place will insure that Molokai’s environmental health and spiritual balance are restored and maintained – Ho‘i I Ka Pono. We will leave a rich cultural legacy for the many generations yet unborn.”
Ho‘i I Ka Pono, as the Ranch purchase campaign is called, means to “restore righteousness or balance,” which is precisely what supporter hope to accomplish on Molokai.
Holt says, “UPC Wind’s pledge is a significant step toward helping the Molokai community to achieve this goal.”