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Two Maui wind farm projects surface before land board

The Board of Land and Natural Resources takes up review of requests relating to two wind farm projects on Maui.

One project seeks approval of an amendment to the incidental take of species at the Kaheawa Wind site; another project requests the realignment of a ranch road at the Auwahi Wind Farm project site in Ulupalakua.

Kaheawa Requests Amendment to Incidental Take License:

Kaheawa Wind Farm, located above Maalaea on Maui, is requesting an amendment to its incidental take license for the endangered Hawaiian petrel (uau) and the threatened Newell’s shearwater (ao).

The permit addresses potential take of the listed species that may result when they collide in-flight with the wind turbines or related infrastructure during operation of the facility.

The amended permit would reduce the take of Hawaiian petrels from 40 to 4 birds; and Newell’s shearwaters from 40 to 25 birds. Projected take of the Hawaiian nene goose and the Hawaiian hoary bat (apeapea), would remain unchanged at 60 and 20 respectively.

The company operates the 20-turbine, 30-megawatt windfarm above Maalaea, and is in the process of constructing an additional 14 wind turbines that will generate 21 MW of electricity.

When complete, the combined Kaheawa Wind Power I and II will provide enough power to generate electricity for 18,700 homes annually on Maui.

Realignment of Ranch Road Sought at Auwahi Wind Farm Site:

Auwahi Wind Energy is requesting a conservation district use permit to realign a road at its planned wind farm project site at Ulupalakua, to accommodate large machinery and vehicles.

The new alignment of Papaka Road includes road grading, resurfacing, and drainage improvements to provide adequate access for large construction and delivery vehicles.

The area of the Papaka Road new alignment is approximately two miles mauka of the shoreline. The landscape is further characterized by a gradually sloping rocky terrain that includes several small, shallow gullies.

The proposed project site is on land owned by Ulupalakua Ranch, but is being made available to Auwahi Wind Energy LLC to help facilitate construction of the windfarm.

The application states that, “the new alignment will not add any visual impediments or alter the open space characteristics of the general region as the scope of the project does not include vertical development.”

The document further states that, “The technical characteristics of the proposed work, such as grading and gravel resurfacing, will meld with existing land uses.”

According to the request, the staff believes that no historic, archeological or natural resources will be affected by the proposal since the project site is within an area where intense grazing and ranching practices have altered the land.

In the event that subsurface prehistoric deposits or human burials are inadvertently discovered during construction or land use activities, such activities would be immediately suspended in the vicinity, and the State Historical Preservation Division would be notified.

The request will be heard before the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday, February 24, 2012.