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More wind turbines planned to be built in Kahuku

A project that could save Oahu millions of dollars in energy costs faces criticism from a North Shore community.

Champlin Hawaii Wind Holdings plans to add eight to nine wind turbines along a hillside in Kahuku near 12 existing turbines. The project could power another 8,000 Oahu homes and help lower the cost of electricity for residents. However, residents in Kahuku say they’ve had enough of the development.

“The Kahuku Community Association told them flat out, we don’t want anymore turbines in our community and yet they’re still coming,” said Kent Fonoimoana, Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board.

Some Kahuku residents are concerned that the Na Pua Makani Wind Project will take more from the community than it gives back.

“The argument that the community has is not on the merits of renewable energy, nor is it on the merits of wind energy, it’s about being responsible and respectful to people who have put their whole life savings into their property,” said Fonoimoana.

Property owners say studies have shown a loss in home value when turbines are placed nearby. Residents are afraid that they’ll lose the ability to connect their photovoltaic systems to the Hawaiian Electric Companies utility grid. Champlin Wind says that’s not the case.

“That’s really because the wind projects connect to the high voltage lines and the rooftop solar are to the low voltage residential feeder lines,” said Michael Cutbirth, CEO of Champlin Hawaii Wind Holdings.

Another issue for residents is the noise that they hear when the turbines spin. But Champlin Wind says it will comply will all applicable state noise standards and ordinances.

“The noise levels at the residential community is basically a quiet whisper level,” said Cutbirth.

Still, some residents want to stop future development before it’s too late.

“There’s no dealing with it once they’re there. What are you going to do? You can’t do anything about it, they’re going to be there,” said Fonoimoana.

Champlin Wind said the eight to nine planned wind turbines could be installed as soon as the middle of 2015. There’s also an option for phase two of the project that could add up to seven more wind turbines in Kahuku. However, that would require HECO to first upgrade the areas utility grid.