KIUC Facility Blessing in Anahola

0
262

As chair of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA), I was honored to join Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) Director Kali Watson and Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) CEO David Bissell in May at a blessing of the KIUC Anahola Service Center.

The facility was constructed as part of a mentorship partnership with SCHHA member Anahola Hawaiian Homestead Association (AHHA) and KIUC that started in 2011 to develop a commercial grade solar project and service center.

AHHA sent a delegation to reach out to KIUC to implement one of the priority projects in the DHHL 2010 Anahola Regional Plan. Our homestead leaders wanted to bring the content of the regional plan to life by planning and developing a renewable energy project in Anahola. Since 2015, we have installed more than 60,000 solar panels on 55 acres in our Anahola homestead. And now in 2023, we have blessed the KIUC Service Center right next to it.

Our homestead leaders will tell you it’s been a great partnership between AHHA and KIUC these past 12 years. Our homestead benefits agreement executed at the beginning has resulted in greater economic development in our homestead region, including at our certified kitchen and open-air marketplace just down the road from the KIUC project.

Although there was a lot of mistrust in the beginning, we overcame that by working together.

AHHA had a primary role of beneficiary consultation and KIUC mentored AHHA leaders in the development and financing components of a renewable energy project. The approach of including our homestead association was very successful; not just for DHHL and AHHA, but also for KIUC.

From the solar farm to this baseyard satellite facility, KIUC has been at this with us for many years. When we started, the DHHL director was Alapaki Nahale-a, then Jobi Masagatani, then Bill Aila, and now we have finished the last portion of the solar project with Kali Watson.

Similarly, we had Gov. Neil Abercrombie, then Gov. David Ige and now Gov. Josh Green. Through the years our state government officials change, but we beneficiaries are constant. We remain to help projects like this succeed.

With my remarks, I welcomed and congratulated all the folks at KIUC. I also reminded them to be mindful they were on Hawaiian Homes trust lands. I was honored to thank some of the AHHA “aunties” that came before us, like Aunty Amanda, Aunty Lorraine and Aunty Winnie, as well as Aunty Liberta who is still showing up for us. I also got to tell folks about our next generation leaders such as Jordyn Danner, Rolina Faagai, Cristy Labanon and Kara Chow, daughter of KIUC employee Wes Chow.

In closing, I shared it was a blessing that we homesteaders had these trust lands to share. And, that when others are saying “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) to affordable housing projects or renewable energy projects like this one, we have said YES, “YIOBY” (yes in our backyard).

I also asked the leaders of KIUC to be sure to also execute a homestead benefits agreement with our West Kauaʻi homesteaders for their hydro project there. KIUC and others looking to be on our trust lands must always look to partner with our local homestead associations. It’s the right thing to do!