March 31, 2015

Kahuku wind farms bring up environmental concerns

Kahuku could see 10 new wind turbines this year; Some in community wonder why all of the wind turbines are in their backyard | By Ashley Moser | KITV | Mar 30, 2015 |

Residents in Kahuku could see 10 new wind turbines as early as the end of this year. But, before the plan is put in place, the Department of Land and Natural resources needs to check its environmental impact.

“My big concern is that they are going to be close enough at 50 some stories high, they will be larger than life and extremely close to the kids in that school,” said Kahuku resident Ali’i Tasi.

Tasi doesn’t like the idea of seeing 10 giant windmills in her neighborhood. She says it’s just too close. Others in the area say, “Why us? Why again?”

“We’ve done our share already with the 12 turbines that we have here from First Wind and if it’s so important for this island to move away from oil, I think it’s time for some other communities to step up,” said Kahuku Community Association President Kent Fonoimoana.

But, before the giant energy producers can be built, the DLNR needs to approve a habitat conservation plan. So, DLNR joined environmental representatives, project officials and community members to visit the site. They want to see first-hand how endangered species would fare near the wind farm after hundreds of birds and bats have already been killed by turbines on Oahu and Maui.

“It’s real near another one right here and another one right there, so it’s pretty similar to those in that respect and I have the same kind of impact,” said Endangered Species Recovery Committee Chair Scott Fretz.

Na Pua Makani Wind Energy project officials say it’s inevitable – wildlife will be impacted. But, with a conservation plan in place, they hope to improve species in land nearby.

“The plan that we are proposing to enhance the marsh and the habitat out here at the Campbell Estate will help to improve or increase the wildlife over the life of the project,” said Na Pua Makani Community Outreach Coordinator Scott Bradshaw.

The proposed 10 turbines will be across two sites – one leased by the Department of Land and Natural Resources located a mile west of Kahuku Elementary and the other on privately-owned land behind Malaekahana.

The Endangered Species Recovery Committee will meet on Tuesday to brief the Division of Forestry and Wildlife on their findings from Monday’s site visit.

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