Leaders of a wind farm project on North Shore seek compromise, but residents say ‘no more’

Updated: Sep. 11, 2019 at 8:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Another wind farm company tried to make a good impression on Oahu's North Shore Tuesday, but the critics aren't budging.

Several residents are upset that eight more turbines are scheduled to be trucked into Kahuku next month for the project known as Na Pua Makani.

The project is six years in the making.

"We want to be a partner with Hawaii in meeting its renewable energy goals," said Lisa Krueger, AES’ United States Strategic Business Unit President.

Leaders from AES, the group building the wind farm, and community members came together at the Laie Community Association meeting Tuesday evening.

The Laie Elementary School cafeteria was packed as AES tried to explain their project benefits to the community.

“We have been a part of helping to supply the energy supply in Hawaii since 1992. We’re active in other projects besides Na Pua Makani, in terms of solar and storage,” Krueger said.

However, several people who live here in the community say they have enough turbines already.

“The turbines they’re gonna build now is even bigger and it’s closer. So, of course it’s an eyesore,” said Sonnie Muaina with Ku Kiai Kahuku. “But it’s more than that. So much more.”

Critics are also concerned about the noise of the turbines and the impact on endangered species, including native birds and the Hawaiian hoary bat.

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.

Construction for eight turbines began in January.

Each turbine is more than 50 stories high, the tallest in the state.

Project leaders say when finished, it will be able to produce power for seven thousand homes a year.

They hope it will be operational by next year and say they are trying to work with the community including compensation and compromise.

"It started off as 13 to 15 turbines and they were brought down to eight, that’s gonna help with optics,” said Na Pua Makani Community Liaison Verla Moore. “We pushed them back further than the laws and ordinances required.”

In addition, Krueger said AES will give the Laie Community Association and North Oahu Hometown Opportunities $2M over a 20-year period, beginning next year.

But residents at the meeting expressed frustration that the money is not staying in Kahuku.

“We are totally for energy. We have solar panels. Majority of us have solar panels on our house. We paid so much money for it. So, we are ‘go green energy’ for sure. The turbines are not so green as much as everyone thinks they are,” said Muaina.

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