A California wind energy development company that plans to build a $90 million, 24-megawatt wind farm on public and private lands on Oahu’s North Shore next to the existing Kahuku Wind farm, expects to have its draft environmental impact statement done by this summer, the firm’s president told PBN.
Champlin Hawaii Holdings LLC’s Na Pua Makani wind project, which may be operational by 2015, has already signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co., and is awaiting the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission’s approval on that contract.
The draft EIS is expected to include visual impacts, a noise analysis and archaeological and cultural studies.
Once the state and federal governments sign off on the EIS, the next step is applying for a conditional use permit from the City and County of Honolulu, which allows Champlin to build the project.
Champlin President Michael Cutbirth told PBN that once the wind farm is up and running, it could cut HECO’s per-kilowatt hour cost of electricity by half when compared to current rates.
The company began the community outreach part of the process about a year ago and found some people there feel there are too many wind farms already in the area. Oahu’s North Shore is already home to First Wind’s 30-megawatt Kahuku Wind and the 69-megawatt Kawailoa Wind farms.
“I don’t know if there’s anything we can do or say to change their minds,” Cutbirth said. “They’re passionate folks out there.”
In the end, he hopes that most will see that the pros outweigh the cons, including satisfying Hawaii’s growing renewable energy needs and an infusion of jobs.
Cutbirth also said that, for the first time, the company has come up with a benefits package for a community located near a planned project, which could amount to more than $2 million in funding for the Kahuku community over the life of the project.
Champlin also has signed a 20-year lease with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources for its project, which is expected to create 50 construction jobs as well as about a dozen permanent positions. No general contractor has been chosen for the project.
Cutbirth noted that the Champlin project won’t have a battery storage system, mainly because he feels that this type of technology isn’t advanced enough for wind projects. The nearby Kahuku Wind project, which was out of service for 18 months after its battery storage facility caught fire, went back to full capacity just last month.
Supporting infrastructure for the proposed wind project may also include access roads, wind turbine assembly areas, overhead and underground transmission and collector lines as well as an on-site substation and an operations and maintenance building.
A second phase of Na Pua Makani wind project, which would bring the total capacity up to 45 megawatts, is still on the table, but would need some serious infrastructure upgrades by Hawaiian Electric to make that happen, Cutbirth said.
“We are looking at other projects,” he said. “We would love to develop more projects in Hawaii. The landscape is changing quickly on the energy side.”
Champlin and its affiliates currently have more than 4,500 megawatts of wind energy projects under development. The Kahuku project would be the company’s first project in Hawaii.
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