Articles from Hawaii
Renewable energy projects also have spawned large demonstrations. In Kahuku, more than 160 people were arrested last year after staging protests of AES Corp.’s Na Pua Makani wind farm – a project being developed on state agriculture land despite longstanding opposition by residents. Renewable energy projects on Maui and the Big Island have been hindered by litigation. And the pushback comes as Hawaiian Electric is really just getting started.
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 refusal of all-renewable advocates to consider the cartoonish land requirements of their schemes and how those plans are affecting ordinary people in rural areas is perhaps the single biggest disconnect in the current energy debate. How cartoonish? Last year, two Harvard researchers found that meeting current U.S. electricity needs with wind would require covering a land area twice the size of California with wind turbines. That’s beyond Looney Tunes.
If Kahuku’s residents have their way, it won’t be the law much longer. Community members are lobbying legislators such as Sen. Gil Riviere, who said he is drafting legislation to increase setback distances for turbines. “I’m just trying to prevent the rest of the island from having to live with the things the Kahuku community is going to have to live with,” said Kamalani Keliikuli, vice president of Ku Kia’i Kahuku, a community group fighting against additional turbines.
As protests of a planned wind farm in Kahuku continue, opponents are also battling the project in the courts. More than 100 people have been arrested so far at wind farm blockades. The opposition might have appeared to come out of nowhere. But in fact, wind farm projects are no stranger to controversy.
“Today is not the end. We’re still going to be fighting,” said Kamalani Keliikuli, vice president of Ku Kiai Kahuku. “We just don’t want the turbines, and we want them to listen to us. We’re in it for the fight.” The arrests started Thursday night in Kalaeloa, where hundreds gathered to try to stop the equipment from leaving a base yard for the North Shore.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals is reviewing whether a key component of the windmill project’s environmental review is adequate. The challenge by Keep the North Shore Country is likely to carry on in court well into next year. “Should we prevail then these guys might not be able to operate,” said Sen. Gil Riviere, who represents the area at the legislature and is part of the Keep the North Shore Country group.
More than a dozen opponents of a planned wind energy farm in Kahuku were arrested late Thursday in an attempt to block large turbines and other pieces of construction equipment from getting to the North Shore.
At about 9:10 a.m. today, Maui firefighters responded to the brush fire on the upper slopes of the mountain near the intersection of North Kihei Road and Honoapiilani Highway. Access to the fire is limited due to the extremely steep terrain, fire officials said. At the time, the fire was about 5 acres in size and spreading uphill toward the turbines at Kaheawa wind farm. The employees at Kaheawa were told to evacuate, as were Pali trail hikers.
Kaheawa wants to increase its incidental take of adult hoary bats from 11 to 38, and of nene from 30 to 44. Nagel said the federal agency will issue separate final decisions on each of the four requests through publication in the Federal Register. The decisions have not yet been published.
The other contention is that the project developer failed to acquire control of the state-owned site for the wind farm within a PUC deadline. Collins said the developer missed a 120-day deadline because it didn't receive a permit for incidental Hawaiian hoary bat deaths until six months after the PUC approval. "You don't have an incidental take permit, you don't have site control, " he said.
The group Keep the North Shore Country has taken the case to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. “We are gathering our people together to try to get our voices heard to let the government know we do not want any more turbines, especially right behind our children’s elementary school. It is way to close. Way too close,” Muaina said.
Ku Kiai Kahuku is a movement that started two weeks ago, hoping to prevent a big wind project from developing in their backyard.
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.
“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.”