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Wind farm habitat plan and penalties on agenda

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.

The habitat plan potentially could cost the business as much as $3.8 million over several decades.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources land management staff is recommending penalties of $17,450 for two violations.

The wind generator is being constructed along a remote ridgeline at Kaheawa Pastures above McGregor Point. A dirt road is being cut to get the equipment up the mountain, work that began in August.

According to Kaheawa Wind President Mike Gresham, in September, with a hurricane aiming at Maui, DLNR issued a stop work order and told the contractor to take steps in the raw cut to prevent erosion in the event of heavy rains.

The hurricane fizzled, but the inspection revealed that the road cut was as wide as 30 feet, although the conservation district use permit limited it to 12 or 16 feet.

Also, some excavated dirt and boulders had ended up in a gulch, outside the area designated by the permit.

The staff is recommending a $2,000 fine for exceeding the road width.

The report says it would be impractical to recover the boulders and might do even more damage, but staff is recommending a fine equal to the estimated cost of removing the material, $8,350.

Other costs bring the recommended total to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The habitat plan potentially could cost the business as much as $3.8 million over several decades.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources land management staff is recommending penalties of $17,450 for two violations.

The wind generator is being constructed along a remote ridgeline at Kaheawa Pastures above McGregor Point. A dirt road is being cut to get the equipment up the mountain, work that began in August.

According to Kaheawa Wind President Mike Gresham, in September, with a hurricane aiming at Maui, DLNR issued a stop work order and told the contractor to take steps in the raw cut to prevent erosion in the event of heavy rains.

The hurricane fizzled, but the inspection revealed that the road cut was as wide as 30 feet, although the conservation district use permit limited it to 12 or 16 feet.

Also, some excavated dirt and boulders had ended up in a gulch, outside the area designated by the permit.

The staff is recommending a $2,000 fine for exceeding the road width.

The report says it would be impractical to recover the boulders and might do even more damage, but staff is recommending a fine equal to the estimated cost of removing the material, $8,350.

Other costs bring the recommended total to $17,450.

Gresham says that since the time the problems were uncovered in September, he asked that a DLNR civil engineer be assigned to the project, which was done. Kaheawa volunteered to assume the extra cost, and that cost is a large part of the $17,450 total.

The DLNR engineer now reviews each week’s completed work and plans for each coming week, says Gresham.

Kaheawa Wind expects to generate 30 megawatts of electricity for sale to Maui Electric Co. The project has been received positively because it will diversify the island’s power base, reduce diesel exhaust from MECO’s Maalaea generating station and save money.

Environmental surveys did not identify any endangered or threatened plants or animals permanently within the project area, but there are valuable stands of native plants in the vicinity of the wind farm site and the access road. Some rare animal species are expected to pass through the area from time to time.

As a result, the company was required to prepare a Hawaiian Native Plant Avoidance Recovery and Management Plan. Violations of that plan led to the proposed fine.

The company also submitted a pathbreaking, voluntary plan to spend money to enhance the native animal species in the area, whether any endangered or threatened ones are impacted or not.

But if monitoring shows that some are being impacted, the cost of the habitat plan will go up.

A study of potential impacts on wildlife produced estimates ranging from two to three deaths of endangered species per year to two per century. The conservation plan takes the higher estimate as its working premise.

A study done to prepare for the project’s environmental impact statement employed a bird radar and night vision telescopes at Kaheawa Pastures, which is 2,000 to 3,000 feet up, to identify and count birds and a bat in the area.

Although it’s considered impossible to tell how many individuals of an endangered species live in the area, endemic and indigenous birds that may fly through the area include the Hawaii goose, or nene; the Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel, or ’ua’u; and the Newell’s shearwater, or ’a’o. The Hawaiian hoary bat, or ’ope’ape’a, is a year-round resident, but is rare in all areas.

The habitat conservation plan was developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and DLNR’s Endangered Species Recovery Committee.

The board’s meeting, which has numerous other agenda items on tap, begins at 9 a.m. at the Land Board Conference Room in the Kalanimoku Building in Honolulu. The building is at 1151 Punchbowl St.

Source: http://www.mauinews.com/sto...

JAN 12 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/967-wind-farm-habitat-plan-and-penalties-on-agenda
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