Posted 5/13/2024

Persistence Pays Off


For those who have been concerned about KIUCs proposed 386 million dollar expenditure for a West Kauai Energy Project (WKEP), we wanted to share the announcement this past Wednesday that our Department of Land and Natural Resources has withdrawn their previous approval for this project (FOM’s attached comment was filed along with many others, strongly opposed).

You may recall that in March of 2023, KIUC proposed a rate increase and served Kauai island rate payers with a notice of their proposed rate increase that was then filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). KIUC’s notice to the public broke down their proposed rate increase by rate payer categories. When we studied the rate payer categories, we learned that residential rate payers were slated to experience an 18.5-19.5% increase in their monthly bills. However the other rate payer categories were not going to be paying anywhere near as much as the increase proposed for residential rate payers.

FOM members and all Kauai residents would have been significantly impacted if the near 20% increase was approved. At the same time, Earth Justice was considering legal action to undo Board of Land and Natural Resources’ approval/acceptance of KIUC’s Final EA for a large West Kauai Energy Project (WKEP) that involved both a large pump storage hydro-power facility and a separate hydro-power facility that proposed to remove 12 million gallons daily from the Kokee watershed.

The first part of the WKEP involved pump storage hydro-power production. It was to use a set quantity of water to be pumped daily using solar power from a large lower reservoir to a large upper reservoir. At night when solar panels would not make power, the upper reservoir would drain back to the lower, creating power after dark. The concept of this would be that the only water replacement would be that required to replace for water that had evaporated.

The second part of the WKEP, using 12 million gallons daily to operate a separate hydro-power plant, would, if developed, remove 4,380,000,000 gallons of water a year from the watershed.

FOM was concerned that the near 20% rate hike for residential rate payers would be helping KIUC fund the $386 million dollar proposed WKEP. Not only was the 20% increase in our residential rates of great concern, but the proposed extremely costly WKEP was planned despite our KIUC Co-op is already carrying a $250 million dollar debt over and above its assets. This fact was confirmed by review of the KIUC financial statements that are posted online after their annual audits. It just didn’t make sense to have this big a project for a small island with less than 33,000 total electrical accounts that would more than double the debt that our rates would be expected to cover.

After FOM successfully intervened in the KIUC PUC rate increase application, a global settlement was reached this past November between the State Consumer Advocate (a State agency whose mission is to protect utility rate payers from exorbitant/unsupportable rate increases), KIUC and FOM. Through that agreement, KIUC will limit any rate increase to not more than 7.99% for all rate payer categories, residential, resort, commercial, etc. FOM’s legal team felt that was a much better result than the rate increase initially proposed and more fairly distributed.

Now, we are equally happy to report that the Department of Land and Natural Resources has withdrawn their approval of the WKEP. See their notice published May 8, 2024 below, greatly benefiting the environmental integrity of Kokee’s watershed. 

For those who have generously supported our environmental work and found the FOM donate link was not working, we recently learned that GoFundMe had changed our URL. Please know that we greatly appreciate all of the support we receive as we strive to preserve our islands environmental health.

Mahalo nui,

Bridget Hammerquist, President
Friends of Maha`ulepu, a 501(c)(3)
Kia`i Wai o Wai`ale`ale, Co-founder
PO Box 1654
Koloa, HI 96756
[email protected]
(808) 742-1037 home
(808) 346-1973 cell

Posted 5/1/2024

Aloha All,

There was a good turnout last Friday at the BLNR meeting on Oahu to consider the disposition of two State land parcels adjacent to the remnant site of the former Coco Palms Hotel. Many testimonies were submitted in writing, by Zoom and in person. They were all but three in favor of the adjacent properties being made part of a historic park and education center verses being used to support the construction of a large resort hotel that intends to use the parcels for parking and for support of the hotel operation.

Two weeks before the hearing, a tropical storm produced floodwaters on the site that Layton Construction said floated one of their trailers and damaged many of their tools. The developers denied any damage then but I doubt they will deny what happened yesterday was of no consequence. As reported in a Kauai County news release today, at least 6,000 gallons of untreated raw sewage spilled onto the Coco Palms demolition site surrounded by dust fencing, a spill caused by a pump failure in the Waste Water Coco Palms Pump Station just mauka of the old hotel buildings. (the spill did not involve the adjacent State lands that I Ola Wailuanui had hoped to use as a site for the public).

Read More News!


Humpback whales are often seen breaching off the shores of Maha’ulepu during the winter months.

Friends of Maha’ulepu is comprised of a group of concerned citizens (local and beyond) who are contributing their time and talents to protect the natural beauty of this pristine coastal valley.

Maha’ulepu Beach is located on the South Shore of the Island of Kaua’i in the Hawaiian Islands, approximately 3 1/2 miles northeast of the town of Poi’pu.  Poi’pu is one of the major visitor destinations on the island due to it’s beautiful beaches, swimming, snorkeling and surfing, sea turtles, whales, monk seals, trade winds, palm trees, and spectacular sunsets. Learn more about Friends of Maha’ulepu and the work we are doing!

Maui wildfires timeline of failed communications