Interior Department Opens Hawaii’s Coasts to Wind Farms

Published August 3, 2016

As part of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called for bids for offshore wind leases in two areas off the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

In her June 22 announcement, Jewell said, “Today’s announcement marks another milestone in the president’s plan to support clean, renewable energy from the nation’s vast wind and solar resources.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has worked with the Hawaii Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to determine the best site for Hawaii’s first offshore wind farms. The sites in consideration amount to a combined 485,000 acres of submerged federal lands.

The proposed offshore wind projects are intended to help Hawaii reach its target of having 100 percent of its electricity generated by renewable-energy sources by 2045, as required by a state law enacted in June 2015.

An Expensive ‘Political Agenda’

Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, says the state’s renewable-energy goal is based on politics, not public need.

“Hawaii has put a political agenda ahead of the needs of its citizens,” said Akina. “Even though the need for affordable energy is one of the biggest issues in the state, we continue to see the quixotic pursuit of policies that ignore what the people want and can afford—in order to cater to special interests.

“Hawaii will soon see more wind farms—the quintessential high-cost, low-value energy source,” Akina said. “If wind farms were an efficient and practical source of energy for the state, there would be no need to encourage their construction, because the industry would already be trying to capitalize on them to fill a vital need in Hawaii’s economy.

“One cannot help but wonder whether, if given the choice, the citizens of this state would choose the less-reliable, more-expensive option of wind energy over fossil fuels,” said Akina.

Robert L. Bradley Jr., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, says Hawaii should abandon its plans to impose wind power on the state’s residents.

“Hawaiians deserve less-expensive, more-reliable power without the eyesore of strings of offshore wind turbines,” Bradley said.

Michael McGrady ([email protected]writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.