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Developer of Palehua Wind farm in Waianae withdraws its bid

Palehua Wind, a 46.8-megawatt wind farm proposed for Waianae on Oahu has been scrapped after four years of planning, according to Eurus Energy America, the company that was developing it.

In a statement posted to the project’s website, Eurus said it had withdrawn its bid.

“After dedicating four years to develop the Palehua Wind project in West Oahu, Eurus Energy America has decided to withdraw its bid,” said Eurus in its statement. “After much consideration, the risk factors associated with developing wind projects in Hawaii were deemed too great for us to proceed. Eurus will continue to operate the Eurus Waianae Solar Plant and is committed to advancing renewable energy around the globe. We will also continue to look for ways to help Hawaii reach its RPS goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.”

The project had planned to put up 13 wind turbines — enough to power 25,000 homes — on the slopes above the Kahe Power Plant in West Oahu.

Although the decision to withdraw was made earlier this week, it was not related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Eurus, the North American arm of Eurus Energy Holdings of Tokyo, in November of last year finalized a purchase power agreement with Hawaiian Electric for Palehua Wind.

Hawaiian Electric at the time had sought a waiver for the agreement so that the project could move forward in a timely manner, but the Public Utilities Commission denied it and said Eurus should go through the competitive bidding process, which went out late last year.

Hawaiian Electric was going to announce finalists for the renewable request for projects in May.

The project would have been built on about 1,600 acres of land owned by Gill ‘Ewa Lands LLC, which said it considered the project a funding source for its overall mission of restoring the ecosystem in the area.

“At Gill ‘Ewa Lands, we are disappointed that we will not be able to use wind revenue to fund ecosystem restoration, our primary goal,” said spokesman Tony Gill. “This will definitely put our restoration efforts on the slow track. Also, we had hoped to contribute to solving Oahu’s energy problems by doing on 3/4 of an acre what would take 500 acres of solar to match.”

Now, Gill said he is unsure what the next steps will be.

“It”s back to the drawing board for us,” he said.

In November, protests also ramped up against the Na Pua Makani wind farm project in Kahuku by Virginia-based AES Corp., resulting in clashes with police.

Hawaiian Electric had also considered the project an important part of the mix needed to reach the state’s 100% renewable goals by 2045.

“At Hawaiian Electric, we continue to believe that we will need all viable renewable resources, including large, utility-scale wind and solar, to reach 100%renewable energy, as mandated by state law, and that everyone in Hawai‘i must work together if we’re going to reach that goal,” said spokesman Peter Rosegg in an email.

But numerous West Oahu community leaders opposed the project, saying they did not feel Eurus had gone through the public process adequately enough. Besides being a sacred area for the Native Hawaiian community, they expressed concerns over its impacts on animal habitats, cultural sites and view planes.

Kioni Dudley, former chairman of the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said at the time he was adamantly opposed to the project, and that it would destroy the natural beauty of the island.

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