Canadian solar company wants to lease native Hawaiian lands
Dozens gathered at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands meeting in Kapolei to learn more about a potential solar project on Native Hawaiian lands.
The land covers a total of 147 acres near Barbers Point. It’s not suited for housing at a time when 22,000 people are on the waiting list, but the department says it can still be used to raise revenue.
Innergex Renewables, a Canadian-based solar company is offering DHHL a proposal to lease the land to build solar panels, which would generate electricity to be sold to Hawaiian Electric. In return, the company would pay DHHL $200,000 per year.
“They put forward a reasonable proposal of which that will generate revenue to take people off the wait list,” says DHHL Chair William Aila.
But many who attended the hearing didn’t agree. Some said the land should instead be leased to a native Hawaiian company. “If this land is good enough for a non-Hawaiian to covet it for his solar project, then it's good enough for what Prince Kuhio intended for us as people,” says Robin Danner, who traveled from Kaua’i for the meeting.
Innergex says they have worked on similar projects on Maui and says if the deal goes through, they would work well with the community. “I definitely think that Innergex we definitely value the relationships within the community and we hope to bring that same philosophy to this project here,” says Eddie Park with the company.
The plan still has another public hearing, and even if it’s approved, the company would still need to further study to land to see how much of it would work for the solar panels. Their goal would be have them ready by the end of 2022.