A proposal to raise money for Hawaiian Home Lands turns ugly in Kapolei

Updated: Jul. 8, 2019 at 11:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands wants to develop about 100 acres in Kalaeloa for a solar energy project.

Department officials say it’s an old military property with no access to water or sewage, which is one of the reasons why the land is designated for industrial purposes and can’t be used for Native Hawaiian Home Lands.

"In this case, the island plan, which was decided by the people across this island, beneficiaries across this island, was designated it for revenue generated purposes,” said Chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission William Aila.

Aila says the solar project is a money-maker that can eventually buy more homes for more Hawaiians.

But some critics aren't convinced.

“A lot of Native Hawaiians are on the wait list and still waiting to have our land, a little piece of land so that we can put a house, so I can leave for my kids, and they can leave for their kids and their kids,” said Vanessa Garcia Phillips.

If the plan is approved, Innergex would develop the solar farm.

A company spokesperson tried to detail the project in Kapolei Monday night, but his presentation was overshadowed by upset beneficiaries.

"There’s a lot of things that can be more beneficial for all of our beneficiaries before we die on that wait list,” Garcia Phillips said.

The company is promising a steady stream of revenue for 25 years.

But some Native Hawaiians say the land should be designated for them, not a private company.

"There's no discussion. The lands were given to us. The lands were put through a public process, with beneficiaries, they were designated as commercial, industrial," said Aila.

The project still needs to be approved by Hawaiian Electric Company and the Public Utilities Commission.

If all goes well, it is expected to be completed by 2022.

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