Kahuku area residents concerned about the proximity of a proposed wind energy project to homes and schools are asking the developer to move the wind turbines farther away from the community.
The proposed placement of the turbines, the closest of which is about 2,100 feet from a Kahuku subdivision, dominated the discussion at a meeting held Wednesday night to brief area residents about the health effects of wind turbines.
Champlin Windpower LLC is proposing to put up 15 wind turbines in a two-phase project called Na Pua Makani. The project would be adjacent to a 12-turbine wind project completed by First Wind LLC in 2011.
The locations of eight turbines in the first phase of Champlin’s project would range from 2,100 feet (four-tenths of a mile) to 5,300 feet (a mile) from Kahuku’s Mauka Village.
Mike Cutbirth, president of Champlin Windpower, said the company agreed last year to relocate several of the turbines that would have been even closer than 2,100 feet to the community under an early version of the plan. He said it would be difficult to push the turbines any farther toward the mountains because that land is owned by the federal government, which uses it for military training.
About 80 people packed the Kahuku Community Center to hear a presentation by Dr. Robert McCunney, Harvard Medical School physician specializing in occupational and environmental medicine.
McCunney, whose trip to Hawaii was paid for by Champlin, told those in attendance that his review of research on the subject concluded that noise from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or other adverse health effects.
Although the studies did show that people found the fluctuating nature of wind turbine noise “annoying,” that alone does not constitute a health problem, McCunney said.
Many of those who spoke said despite McCunney’s assurances they were uncomfortable with the fact that the addition of Champlin’s proposed wind farm to the existing First Wind project would mean Kahuku’s Mauka Village would be surrounded on three sides by wind turbines.
“We need clean energy, yes. But take them (turbines) the hell away from people’s homes, schools, businesses and human life, period,” said area resident Candy Greene.
Maria Feagal said the stress and anxiety being experienced by residents due to the proposed wind project should not be discounted.
“You referred to the annoyance factor. I already have a headache just talking about the turbines,” she said.
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