State gives green light to second Kahuku wind farm - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State gives green light to second Kahuku wind farm

KAHUKU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wind turbines have been a part of life in Kahuku for a few years, and now, even more of them are on the way.

The new turbines are part of the Na Pua Makani wind energy project, which will be located adjacent to an existing wind farm. 

The state Public Utility Commission approved an agreement for Hawaiian Electric Company to purchase wind energy from Na Pua Makani Power Partners, a decision that paves the way for construction of up to ten more turbine near the town.

"The Kahuku community was very out front in accepting the wind energy to begin with," said state Sen. Gil Riviere (D-North Shore, Windward Oahu). "And now, one begins to wonder just because they accepted one system do they have to accept every system? That's patently unfair.

Developer Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings, LLC, said it has been listening to the community, agreeing to move some planned turbines further away from a residential neighborhood and a school. Champlin also said it will send it energy directly to HECO through power lines, so it won't have a battery storage building like the one that caught fire in 2012 at the current Kahuku wind farm, operated by First Wind.

"Because there is no battery planned for the project, there's extremely remote risk of any fire hazard here," said Champlin president and CEO Mike Cutbirth. 

Opponents have said they don't like the 400-foot tall turbines dotting the landscape. They feel they spoil the view from such vistas as Waimea Valley. But for some Kahuku supporters, it's part of the reality of wind energy.

"It's big, and it stands out. So was our sugar mill. Our sugar mill stood out," said 83-year-old Junior Primacio, a lifelong Kahuku resident.

Champlin plans to have a draft environmental impact statement ready later this year. Cutbirth said the wind farm could be complete by the end of 2016.

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