This one is on Kawailoa ridge, right above Waimea Valley.
And it’s being met with some criticism from the North Shore community.
Over the past few months, 30 windmills have been constructed on Kawailoa ridge and they can be seen from Waialua all the way to Sunset Beach.
Many say it’s an eyesore.
You may notice something different towering over Waimea Valley.
“They’re oppressive, they’re right there,” says Michael Lyons, North Shore Neighborhood Board President.
The Kawailoa Windfarm is part of the largest clean energy project in the state. First wind says it will ultimately produce nearly 10% of Oahu’s electricity needs, saving 300,000 barrels of oil a year.
“Alternative energy is so important in Hawaii. My electricity has doubled, so definitely we do need alternative energy, but we have to balance it with aesthetics,” says Rex Dubiel, Outdoor Circle Hawaii Vice President.
“A lot of people brought up concerns that they didn’t know about it or hear about it until it was already being constructed,” said Lyons.
First Wind says it has been working with the community since 2008.
Along with completing an Environmental Impact statement with public comment periods, they also have been attending neighborhood board and community meetings.
“When they first presented it, they said it would be hardly noticeable but that’s certainly not the case ,” said Dubiel.
Some residents said the turbines were built in a different location then promised.
“They’re right where we said we were going to put them,” says Wren Wescoatt, First Wind Development Manager.
Here’s one of the visual simulations First Wind presented to the public on the left, and here’s an actual picture taken from the same location on the right.
“It’s a change, its really something that people are not used to seeing and I think it will take some time for that to become normal,” says Wescoatt.
Many say they don’t want this to be the new normal.
“Waimea Valley is a sacred place, to have these windmills in our face its not good for tourism and not good for the neighborhood,” says Dubiel.
When asked if any windmills can or will be moved…
“We looked if there was ways to move the turbines back, we would have to move them so far back, there would be much less wind and wouldn’t make the program worthwhile,” explains Wescoatt.
First Wind plans to attend this month’s North Shore Neighborhood Board meeting and also a meeting organized by the Outdoor Circle in early November.
The windmills are expecting to be online by the end of this year.
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