Environmentalists have long raised objections to fossil-fuel energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas, but it turns out not everyone is wild about wind power, either.
Fifty-five protesters were arrested Friday in Hawaii as they blocked roads to stop wind turbines and other heavy equipment from reaching the construction site for the Na Pua Makani Wind Project, the latest protest aimed at stopping the eight turbines from being erected in Kahuku.
“Today is not the end. We’re still going to be fighting,” Kamalani Keliikuli, vice president of Ku Kiai Kahuku, or Protectors of Kahuku, told Hawaii One News. “We just don’t want the turbines, and we want them to listen to us. We’re in it for the fight.”
Activists at a second site in Kalaeloa duct-taped and zip-tied themselves together as they sat in the middle of the road, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, while video showed protesters chanting and using their phones to film police officers.
Protesters have raised objections to what they describe as health problems caused by the fast-moving turbines, including migraines and nausea from the lights, noise and motion, as well as what one activist called “the desecration of the land.”
The developer, AES Corp. of Arlington, Virginia, has insisted that the project is safe and delayed plans to transport the equipment Sunday after protesters blocked the convoy route.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said all 55 protesters were charged with disobeying a police order after refusing to move out of the way, and that all posted the $100 bail and were released.
On Thursday, a wooden utility pole on Kamehameha Highway was cut down by a chainsaw, preventing the convoy from passing and knocking out power to thousands on Oahu’s North Shore.
“Unlike the protesters who peacefully demonstrated, this act of vandalism was dangerous, selfish and a total disregard for the public safety,” said Chief Ballard, adding that the downed pole and lines “posed a serious threat to motorists and anyone else who came into the area.”
The wind energy is needed to make up for the planned shutdown of two fossil-fuel power plants, including the coal-fired AES Hawaii plant in Oahu, which is slated to close in September 2022, as Hawaii seeks to reach its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.
“We continue to work closely with officials, community members and our many stakeholders to assess the delivery of the Nā Pua Makani components safely, with minimal disruption to O’ahu residents, and with the utmost respect for the protestors,” said AES US CEO Mark Miller in a statement on Hawaii Public Radio.