Library from Hawaii
The federal government will decide next month whether to allow a higher number of accidental bird and bat deaths at two Maui wind farms. Auwahi Wind Energy is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow an “incidental take” of 140 ope’ape’a, or Hawaiian hoary bats, up from the 21 bats it’s currently allowed to take. Kaheawa Wind Power II, meanwhile, is requesting to increase its incidental take of adult hoary bats from 11 to 38 and nene from 30 to 44.
The utility said it turned to rolling blackouts Monday, with most customers experiencing a 30 minute outage every three to four hours. "The lack of sun today was a real challenge, as we had virtually no production from our large solar facilities," said Bissell. "On top of that, we have increased demand from residential and commercial rooftop solar customers whose systems aren't producing."
Model estimates show that the take limit of one of the species, the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), has been reached due to the wind turbines causing greater fatalities than anticipated and Auwahi Wind is requesting an increased take for it. Auwahi Wind Energy, LLC is seeking approval of a major amendment to the HCP as part of the request to increase the amount of incidental Hawaiian Hoary Bat take authorized under the ITL.
Touted as cheap source of green energy, Palehua wind farm faces mounting opposition from Leeward community
Wednesday night, the Makakilo, Kapolei and Honokai Hale, passed a resolution 6 to 1 opposing the project, citing issues such as the impact on wildlife, a lack of wind due to climate change, the eyesore it would create on the mountain ridge line and the impact that would have on jobs, tourism, and housing.
The federal government has charged that state officials are rushing to approve wind power projects without adequately considering environmental impacts, particularly the adverse consequences for an endangered species, the opeapea bat. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission in a Dec. 27 letter to stop approving any new wind turbines until state and federal officials have had the chance to meet with the facility owners and review the plans.
This important letter to the Hawaii PUC warns that wind projects operating in the State are impacting endangered species. To address this situation, US FWS askes the PUC to delay approval of any new wind facility contracts until the proponents make the time to meet with the Service. A portion of the letter is provided below. The full letter can be accessed by selecting the documents link(s) on this page.
“How many bats are you killing?” he asked. “Why is that OK? If that’s an endangered species, why is it right to kill 40 or 60 of them?” He also questioned how the wind farm was handling the remains of the bats that had been killed. “Did you put them in garbage bags and throw them away?” he asked. “Was there any burial treatment? We treat them like human remains.”
The Piʻilani Highway (Hwy 31) at Mile Marker 20 in ʻUlupalakua is now OPEN. The road was temporarily closed in both directions for about an hour and a half while crews responded to a brush fire in the area of the Auwahi Wind Farm.
“It’s a conservation conundrum,” said Phillips. “We want green energy, but are we willing to do that at the extinction of our only native land mammal?” Fish and Wildlife officials anticipate the draft of the programmatic environmental statement and each wind energy project’s habitat conservation plan will be available for public review and commentary by the end of this year.
"Enough is enough for this community" said Maeda Timson. "These wind turbines will affect the mauka views in the surrounding neighborhoods of Kapolei, Ko Olina, Honokai, Nanakai, Nanakuli, and likely beyond, for generations to come." "My attitude is let's stop this right from the start,"
The batteries are expected to be commissioned in the second half of this year, and will primarly be used to provide ramping services to smooth out wind variability, Younicos stated.
Curtailing wind energy has resulted in savings of $769,000 in 2015, $1.3 million in 2016 and $930,000 through November of last year for MECO. But this unexpected change in production cost is putting MECO in a bind. Should the utility accept more wind energy but at a higher cost, or use fossil generation, which is cheaper but has a negative environmental impact?
“Hawaii has been through so much trial and error, and we don’t even have all the information at the table,” Tuivaiti said. “We’re still trying to figure out the population. We’re still trying to figure out about the bats themselves, and here we are just kind of playing God. . . . If we keep taking, we’re going to have nothing left.”
On Thursday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill that requires wind farm developers looking to build in agricultural or country zones on Oahu to host a public hearing, present details to the area neighborhood board or community association and notify nearby property owners of the pending permit application.
"Currently, all major wind farms in Hawaii have exceeded their amount of take that they've been approved for. In fact, the two existing wind farms on Oahu have already killed over 70 bats in just a few years of operation," said Maxx Phillips, an attorney for Keep the North Shore Country.
The proposed offshore wind farm projects in Hawaii will have to overcome various regulatory hurdles, construction challenges and public scrutiny, if they come at all.
Hawaiian Electric Co. spokeswoman Shannon Tangonan said Wednesday the Maui utility’s purchase of power from wind facilities, instead of the utility-owned fossil fuel plants, caused the April bills to increase. ...Customers on other islands saw electric bills decrease in April.
As wind farms statewide are killing more Hawaiian hoary bats than expected, a Maui wind farm is asking the state to increase the amount of endangered bats and nene it’s allowed to incidentally kill.
A Maui wind farm wants the government to increase the number of endangered Hawaiian hoary bats it is allowed to kill, after passing the limit 15 years ahead of schedule. SunEdison Inc., owner of the 21-megawatt wind facility called Kaheawa Wind Power II, requested to increase the amount of hoary bats the facility is allowed to kill to 62 from 11 bats over its 20-year project with the Department of Land and Natural Resources. DLNR proposed to approve the increase in a bulletin called the Environment Notice from the Office of Environmental Quality Control released Thursday. “The proposed action would result in benefits at the local and state level by producing clean, renewable energy in line with Hawaii’s clean-energy goals,” DLNR said in the notice. “Effects to the Hawaiian hoary bat and nene would be offset by funding research, restoration, or land acquisition to mitigate for the take of each species. Based on the mitigation efforts, no adverse impacts to either species is anticipated.”