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Maui residents oppose wind farm access road plans  

Credit:  By Gary T. Kubota, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, www.staradvertiser.com 28 March 2011 ~~

Some South Maui residents are upset about a developer’s plan to use a resort road through Wai­lea and Makena for construction truck access as it builds a wind farm on 120 acres of Ulu­pala­kua Ranch land.

“It’s going to affect us economically,” said Bud Pikrone, general manager of the Wai­lea Community Association.

Pikrone said developer Auwahi Wind Energy LLC’s activities will create noise in a hotel and residential resort area and cause wear and tear on the roads.

Pikrone said in the last seven years, Wai­lea Ala­nui Road has had three sinkholes, including one that closed off an area for 18 months.

He said various large landowners plan to hold a meeting with Auwahi Wind next month to discuss rerouting the truck traffic farther mauka and closer to Pii­lani Highway.

“We’re hoping we can come up with some resolution,” Pikrone said.

The Maui County Planning Commission held a public hearing Tuesday to review Auwahi Wind’s draft environmental impact statement.

Auwahi Wind needs the commission to accept its environmental impact statement before moving to seek land-use permits.

The company, owned by Sempra Generation of San Diego, is also developing a habitat conservation plan on how to lessen its environmental impact, including on endangered species such as New­ell’s shearwater, the Hawaiian petrel, the Hawaiian hoary bat and the nene.

In its draft environmental statement, Auwahi Wind said some endangered bird species might die from hitting proposed wind turbine towers and power wires and that its construction could affect 12 archaeological sites.

Sempra Generation spokes­man Scott Crider said his company is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv­ice and state conservation officials in developing the habitat conservation plan.

“We recognize our responsibility to develop Auwahi Wind in a way that is respectful to the environment,” he said.

Crider said the public will have 60 days to comment on the plan after it is completed this summer.

The company said it is consulting with the state Historic Preservation Division to develop a plan to reduce the impact on archaeological sites.

The project, estimated to cost $140 million, is projected to provide 21 megawatts of electricity from eight to 15 wind turbines, Crider said.

Crider said his firm is unable to describe the size of the turbines because it hasn’t selected the manufacturer.

Several years ago, Kaheawa Wind in Maalaea devised a similar habitat conservation plan at Maalaea, developing predator-proof fencing for endangered nene. The company’s turbines are now generating power.

The public may comment by April 21 on the draft environmental impact statement available for review online at the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Comments may be sent to the accepting authority, County of Maui, Planning Commission, 250 S. High St., Wai­luku 96793.

Source:  By Gary T. Kubota, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, www.staradvertiser.com 28 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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