A North Shore citizen group lead by Hawaii Sen. Gil Riviere said on Friday that it plans to sue the developers of a major wind farm project being built in Kahuku.
Keep the North Shore Country announced it gave a 40-day notice to the wind farm, Na Pua Makani, and its owner, the AES Corp. The group alleges the project failed to obtain an environmental review after it added five additional parcels of land to its plans. Those parcels were not part of the project’s 2016 environmental impact statement, the group said in a news release.
The organization also took issue with the installation of a guard and security structure, road gate and “significant” fencing along the state-owned Kahuku agricultural park – elements that were “never contemplated or considered by any environmental review process,” the group said.
“As AES keeps saying they have obtained all government approvals, but yet again, we find another corner has been cut and they continue their operations without all the necessary reviews or approvals,” said Riviere, president of Keep the North Shore Country.
The law allows companies to “cure all violations or permits” within 40 days or Keep the North Shore Country will file suit, the release said.
“It’s not fair to the honest local businesses who follow the rules that these out-of-town outfits with deep pockets can roll in and get special treatment and pick and choose which laws to follow and when,” said Lance Collins, an attorney who represents Keep the North Shore Country and another group, Life of the Land, which has a pending complaint challenging the wind farm’s power purchase agreement. That complaint is scheduled to be addressed at a Public Utilities Commission meeting on Nov. 22 at 1:30 p.m.
News of a potential lawsuit comes as protesters continue to demonstrate against the project, dozens of whom have been arrested. They argue that the 568-foot turbines will be too big and too close to the community.
“We are reviewing the letter from the Keep the North Shore Country’s attorney and will respond in due course,” said Mark Miller, Chief Operating Officer for the AES US Generation businesses, in a statement. “After performing extensive studies and securing all of the necessary permits, we are confident that we are building a project that is safe and, ultimately, will help advance Hawaii’s transition to 100% renewable energy.”
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