The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday will take up three measures that aim to increase the distance between wind turbines and neighboring property.
The law currently requires wind turbines to be a distance at least equal to the height of the structure away from property lines. However bills 28, 29 and 30 all look to increase that amount.
Bill 28, introduced by Council Chairman Tommy Waters, would require wind turbines to be placed at least 1.25 miles away from all residential, country, apartment, apartment mixed-use and resort district zoning lot lines.
Bill 29, also introduced by Waters by request of the Department of Planning and Permitting, would require wind turbines to be at least 1, 500 feet or a distance twice the height of the structure away from all property lines, whichever is greater.
Bill 30, proposed by Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, would require wind turbines to be at least 5 miles away from all property lines.
All three measures would affect only wind turbines that have a capacity of over 100 kilowatts. Wind machines with a capacity of 100 KW or less would still only have to be the distance equal to height of the structure away from neighboring property lines.
The issue of how far wind turbines should be placed away from neighboring property came to light after a wind renewable energy project in Kahuku resulted in over 200 arrests of protesters in 2019. People were protesting against the wind farm because of the size of the structures and proximity to residences. “Too big, too close, ” was the protesters slogan. The Hawaii Supreme Court is still considering multiple cases against the Kahuku wind project.
The DPP director’s February report, submitted to the Planning Commission, rejected the idea of setting a 5-mile minimum distance from property lines. It explained that if the Council were to institute a 5-mile requirement on 100-KW wind turbines, it would effectively ban the machines, which would not be consistent with the city’s renewable-energy goals.
The DPP suggested the city instead adopt a revised rule, which is what Waters introduced in Bill 29.
People who want to participate in Wednesday’s hearing on the three proposed measures can do so remotely through videoconferencing, the phone or written testimony, which can be submitted at.
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