KAHUKU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With Hawaii focused on renewable energy, preparation work is underway for a new wind farm that will have the tallest turbines in the state.
Some environmentalists and Kahuku residents, however, still oppose the project.
They’re holding a fundraiser on Tuesday night at the Kahuku Community Center to support the latest phase of their legal fight.
AES Hawaii took over the Na Pua Makani project last year.
The company plans to build a wind farm with eight turbines that are 568 feet high. They hope to have the farm operational by May 2020.
The facility will have a capacity of nearly 28 megawatts, which is enough to power up to 7,000 homes for a year.
Some Kahuku residents, however, don’t want another wind farm project in their community.
“We felt that we already have enough turbines and that we needed to fight and to say we don’t need any more wind turbines,” said Tevita Kaili, president of the Kahuku Community Association.
In April, a Circuit Court judge upheld the state land board's decision to issue an incidental take license and to require a Habitat Conservation Plan.
Critics are still worried about the impact on endangered species, including native birds and the Hawaiian hoary bat.
The project plans to spend up to $4.6 million to minimize negative impacts, but the group Keep the North Shore Country has now taken the case to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
"They're required by Hawaii law to leave the species in a better condition than before they opened operations. We don't believe that their current plan will do that," said State Sen. Gil Riviere (D-Kahuku, Laie, Haleiwa).
AES project manager Michael Hughes issued a statement that said in part:
"AES is committed to ensuring the long-anticipated Na Pua Makani wind farm project benefits our North Shore community and contributes to a more sustainable, cleaner energy future for our state. After more than six years of thoughtful planning, environmental reviews, consultations with the local community, and approvals by various state agencies, additional preparations for the new wind farm in Kahuku are now underway."
The company recently started roadside work along Kamehameha Highway and other spots to make room for the large equipment that will be transported.
The tree trimming and the relocation of utilities will take place through mid-October.
The transport of wind farm equipment is scheduled to happen during the nighttime hours from October 14 to November 26.
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