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Oahu windfarm seeking increase in authorized bat deaths  

Credit:  By Ryan Finnerty | Hawaii Public Radio | September 26, 2019 | www.hawaiipublicradio.org ~~

The Kawailoa Wind Farm came online in 2012 under a 20-year permit covering its impact on local endangered species. Chris Hoare / Flickr

The Hawaiian hoary bat is endemic to Hawaii, meaning that it’s found nowhere else on Earth. Frank Bonaccorso / U.S. Geological Survey

Kawailoa Winds original Habitat Conservation Plan did not predict any Hawaiian petrel fatalities, but the company has subsequently asked for apprval to kill 19 birds and 5 chicks over the next 13 years. Brenda Zaun / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Kawailoa Wind, LLC, has been operating five miles north of Haleiwa since 2012. The company is asking regulators to increase the number of endangered species it can legally kill by its presence.

The project’s 30 turbines generate enough electricity to power around 14-thousand homes, but they can also be fatal for the Hawaiian hoary bat and the Hawaiian petrel, both of which are endangered.

The wind farm operates under a Habitat Conservation Plan, approved by federal and state regulators, and designed to minimize the impact on endangered species. HCPs are a standard part of assessing a development’s environemntal impact on protected plants and animals before a project can begin.

Kawailoa Wind’s original HCP was approved in 2011 and allowed for 60 hoary bats to be killed by its turbines over a 20-year period.

But the company’s own monitoring following the completion of construction indicated that more bats were being killed than initially expected. So the wind farm’s owner, New York-based hedge fund D.E. Shaw, is now seeking to increase the number that Kawailoa’s turbines are allowed to kill, called the take.

Shaw, which purchased Kawailoa Wind in 2015 from SunEdison, is asking regulators to approve a new take of 160 Hawaiian hoary bats, a 260 percent increase. The company also requested 24 Hawaiian petrels be added to its take permit, which is valid until 2032, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

That works out to eight bats and 1.2 petrels per year.

As part of the habitat conservation plan, Kawailoa Wind is also required to offset its impact on endangered species whenever possible.

Last year, the company installed a new bat deterrent system that saw an almost 80 percent reduction in similar bat fatalities at a wind farm in Texas.

Kawailoa Wind also contributed almost 3 million dollars to a state initiative to purchase and conserve undeveloped land in Central Oahu that will serve as a habitat for Hawaiian Hoary bats.

Source:  By Ryan Finnerty | Hawaii Public Radio | September 26, 2019 | www.hawaiipublicradio.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments to query/wind-watch.org.

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