Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Hawaii
KAILUA-KONA — Pakini Nui Wind Farm operator Tawhiri Power LLC’s request for incidental take of three endangered species has been approved by state and federal officials.
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.
Environmental lawyers say that the Public Utilities Commission shouldn't have signed off on the Na Pua Makani wind farm before its environmental review is complete.
Projects that disturb, harm or kill protected species must receive "incidental take" permits from the Fish and Wildlife Service and be licensed by the Hawaiian Department of Land and Natural Resources. And in the case of First Wind's projects, the company will offset harm to species under special agreements known as habitat conservation plans (HCPs). Such plans, authorized under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, allow for limited species takings in exchange for the responsible party performing other mitigation and restoration work.
Public testimony on the draft habitat conservation plan for the Kaheawa Wind Power II Wind Generation Facility will be taken at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the meeting room at the Pacific Whale Foundation at the Shops at Ma'alaea. The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife will conduct the hearing.
Proponents of small wind systems got a lift this week when the county attorney said a proposed bill designed to streamline the permitting process would not open the county to legal or financial liability should an applicant's windmill kill an endangered seabird. The announcement, delivered by Deputy County Attorney Ian Jung, who specializes in planning issues and advises the Kaua‘i Planning Commission. ...While Jung's statement could go a long way to resolving one issue standing in the way of the bill's passage, there are several other factors that have yet to be addressed.
Kilauea farmer Sam Pangdan sensed change was in the air when it came to erecting wind turbines on his property. Nearly a year and a half later, he is still waiting for that change to blow through the county Planning Commission, which worries the alternative energy resource could be a hazard for endangered birds and bats. "We have competing interests between clean energy and birds," said Commissioner Hartwell Blake, at a commission meeting last month.
The draft environmental impact statement for the expansion of Kaheawa wind farm is open for public comment. Since the project is next to the existing farm overlooking Maalaea, much of the information parallels the studies done for the project that went into operation in 2006. The expansion, proposed for 333 acres of state land, would be smaller than Kaheawa I: 14 1.5-megawatt towers, compared with 20 currently in operation.
The company is seeking an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan and environmental assessment to minimize the effects on the endangered Hawaiian petrel ('ua'u), the endangered Hawaiian stilt (ae'o), the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat ('ope'ape'a), and the threatened Newell's shearwater ('a'o). Six of the seven 165-foot towers already have been built on land owned by Castle & Cooke. The company plans to build the remaining tower and operate all seven for a period of up to two years to collect data on wind patterns, according to permit documents.
The discovery poses a clear challenge in the design and maintenance of a major windfarm proposed by Castle & Cooke for Lana'i. The company is working on plans for a $750 million field of wind generators that would ship power to O'ahu via undersea cable. Conventional windmills are cited by opponents of such structures as a threat to migrating birds. It is not clear yet whether it would be possible to site wind generators out of petrel flight paths, or perhaps to manage the windfarm in a way that warns the birds away from danger. On Kaua'i, researchers use radar to identify flight paths of ‘a'o.
The Kaheawa Wind Power wind farm on Maui will perform $3.8 million in work to benefit birds and bats to make up for any damage the species suffer from the rotating blades of 20 wind turbines.
HONOLULU – Kaheawa Wind Power LLC will be before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources at its meeting Friday on two issues: a habitat conservation plan and to learn what penalty it will be assessed for a conservation district violation in September.