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Plans for floating wind farm off Waikiki moving ahead

Progression Energy has been operating an ocean wind farm in Portugal for about five years. The Hawaii project calls for 40-to-50 turbines each about a mile to a mile-and-a-half apart.

The developer is asking the Interior Department to lease 121 square miles of ocean. It expects to start construction four years from now in 2020.

The company looked at five different sites, two on the North Shore, two on the East Side and this one here on the South Shore. The project would be located about 12 miles off Waikiki.

“It’s off the migratory bird paths, it’s the least impactful site we could find and it’s still very competitive price-wise,” said Ted Peck Spokesman for the Progression Hawaii project.

One big worry is visual blight. The floating wind farm would be between Barbers Point and Waikiki. But, the company maintains from shore you won’t see much.

“I think people are going to have to strain to look past the sail boats and shipping boats to where the wind farm is. It’s not going to be very visible,” said Peck.

From an airplane it might be a different story. Butm Progression Energy says the 400-megawatt project would produce 25 percent of Oahu’s renewable energy needs day and night for at least 25 years.

The footprint on land would only cover five acres, but it would need an undersea cable. There are bound to be questions about how the steel structures, platforms, buoys and cables would impact fishermen and marine mammals.

Commercial and recreational boaters might a stake in the plans, and the military may have concerns about the effect on its maritime operations off Pearl Harbor.

Construction on the project would be done in phases and will require a long list of permits. Details of the project are being released by the Bureau of Ocean Management which will be gathering public input in a series of meetings that are expected to start later this year.