Larry Ellison Preserves and Transforms Lanai

Aug 4, 2018 | General Information

Billionaire Larry Ellison, the tech industry titan, already owns 98% of the former Pineapple Isle. Now he wants to buy Lanai’s power plant and grid from Hawaiian Electric. For much of Lanai’s history over 70 years as a pineapple plantation, affiliates of Dole Food Co. and sister firm Castle &Cooke Inc. owned and operated the power plant as part of its plantation. In 1988 Castle & Cooke made a deal to sell its electrical utility on Lanai to Hawaiian Electric. Pineapple production was replaced by two luxury resorts, a pair of golf courses and vacation home subdivisions. Ellison already has spent $150 million to renovate the two luxury hotels.

In 2012, Ellison, co-founder of software giant Oracle Corp., bought 98% of the island from Castle &Cooke’s owner, David Murdock, for around $300 million. Ellison’s goal from the outset was to make the island more sustainable both in terms of the economy and environment. A transition from oil-based power to 100% renewable energy would result in lower electricity bills for the roughly 3,000 residents on the island. Today these residents pay more for electricity than nearly all other Hawaii residents.

No surprise, tech mogul Ellison has big plans for the island. His plans include tripling the size of Lanai City to accommodate more housing, a university campus, film studios and a tennis academy. He also is building a hydroponic greenhouse farm complex and is seeking regulatory approvals to establish a $340 million industrial park covering 200 acres.

In addition to expanding Lanai’s airport, Ellison plans to add 105 acres of primarily residential development near the Manele resort along the island’s southern shore. Future investments in the island’s electricity infrastructure to reduce the carbon-footprint will include creating micro- grids for the Four Seasons Resort at Manele and the Four Seasons Resort at Koele.