Articles from Hawaii
Hawaii has long been a national leader in solar energy production, but the state is lagging in a quest to reach a renewable-energy frontier that appeared to be on the horizon several years ago.
About 50 people today waved signs with captions like "Too Big -- Too Close.” Demonstrators have been sharing their displeasure over the project for more than a year now.
The wind farm is the latest project on Oahu’s North Shore to draw harsh push back from the community. Dozens of protesters were arrested during the early days of construction. Opponents say the giant wind turbines were too close to homes and would harm native species in the area.
Auwahi Wind is seeking to build another wind farm with up to seven turbines and a generating capacity of 35 megawatts adjacent to its existing facility on Ulupalakua Ranch land on the leeward slopes of Haleakala. ...Auwahi’s current wind farm, which went online in December 2012, has eight turbines and a generating capacity of 21 MW.
Numerous West Oahu community leaders opposed the project, saying they did not feel Eurus had gone through the public process adequately enough. Besides being a sacred area for the Native Hawaiian community, they expressed concerns over its impacts on animal habitats, cultural sites and view planes.
A proposal to prohibit wind turbines from being installed within 5 miles of any neighboring properties received tentative approved by the Honolulu City Council Zoning Committee. The resolution is presented below and can be accessed at the document links on this page. City officials acknowledged the resolution could effectively eliminate future development of wind farms anywhere on Oahu. Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced Resolution 19-305 in response to the outcry in the Kahuku community over the development of the Na Pua Makani wind-power project. AES Corp. has permits from the city to site eight 568-foot wind turbines.
The Honolulu City Council Zoning Committee approved the resolution last week banning installation of the windmills within 5 miles of neighboring properties, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday. City officials warned the change would essentially eliminate future development of wind farms anywhere on Oahu. The resolution must be passed by the full city council before going into effect.
Could a small bat derail some big plans for an Oahu wind farm? It's the latest challenge to the controversial Na Pua Makani wind project in Kahuku. The endangered Hawaiian hoary bat or 'ope'ape'a calls that area home, and some people are saying the wind farm developers - AES US Generation- don't have a permit to move the bats.
The closest turbine is approximately 1,700 feet away from the nearest home, and about approximately 1,750 feet from Kahuku High School. Area-elected officials told Kahuku residents at a community meeting Wednesday night that there are new bills to greatly increase that distance for future wind turbines. "Everybody can tell they’re too big, too close,” said the area’s State Senator Gil Riviere.
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.
"After everything the community of Kahuku has gone through, I think the one lesson definitely learned is that the process wasn't followed in a way that really addressed the community's concern about how close these turbines are to farms, homes and schools," Councilmember Tsuneyoshi said. If passed, Tsuneyoshi's resolution would require that companies build turbines of more than 100 kilowatts at least five miles away from property lines.
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.
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.