Opponents of the AES Na Pua Makani wind farm began gathering Sunday evening in an attempt to block construction of the project on Oahu’s North Shore.
Heavy equipment and wind turbine parts were scheduled to be transported to a site in Kahuku during the overnight hours Sunday into early Monday morning.
But protesters are determined to block the transport, even if it means going to jail.
Protesters were also seen gathering at the AES yard in Kalaeloa. Honolulu police were also at the site.
Dozens of protesters had gathered along Kamehameha Highway hours before the scheduled midnight transport. Some were sitting in chairs that had been taped and chained together on a side road leading up to the site where AES Corporation plans to build eight new wind turbines.
The company planned to move massive parts for the turbines, which will each be 568 feet tall, Sunday through Thursday nights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Authorities have warned that drivers in Waialua, Haleiwa, Kahuku and Laie could face traffic delays over the next six weeks.
“With any project, you’re going to have some that are for it and some that are against it. It’s the nature of the type of work that we do and the type of project that we build,” said Mark Miller, the chief operating officer of AES Corporation.
“We’re ready to be here as long as we have to,” said Kanailoaanuenue Ponciano, president of the group Ku Kia’i Kahuku. “If we have to come back tomorrow, the next day, two months from now, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got a camp set up on the other side. We’re here for the long haul.”
The project has been several years in the making, and already has obtained the necessary permits and cleared regulatory hurdles. But there’s a pending court appeal, and opponents also have several concerns, including the impact the turbines may have on the Kahuku community and on wildlife, such as the Hawaiian hoary bat.
“We are not here to protest green energy. We want green energy. We’re just here to say we don’t need anymore monstrosities in our backyard,” said protester Malia Alatasi.
“We feel comfortable with the work that we’ve done with the comprehensive studies that we’ve done to ensure that we are building a project that is safe, secure, and is going to ultimately benefit the state and its long-term energy goals,” said Miller.
Plans call for Kamehameha Highway to be closed at Waimea Bay between midnight and 2 a.m., and between Pupukea Road and Sunset Beach Road from 1 to 2:30 a.m.
The highway will also be blocked between Sunset Beach Road and Kawela Beach Road from 1 to 2:30 a.m.
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