In wake of wind farm fight, North Shore wants a louder voice in future projects

Updated: Feb. 5, 2020 at 10:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Eight newly-installed wind turbines of the Na Pua Makani wind farm are now up in Kahuku.

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.

AES, the company behind the project, says the minimum setback based on county ordinance is 568 feet. The area’s councilwoman wants future projects to be set back to a minimum of five miles.

“The idea of making an increased setback is so that no matter what happens with the future planning of wind farms and the siting of it, we will be rest assured that they don’t end up directly behind schools and homes as they are right now,” said councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

Tevita Kaili is one of the closest residents to the wind farm.

”Out of my front yard, I can see the new turbines and out of my backyard, I can see all 12 of the existing ones,” said Kaili.

He and hundreds of others now hope to win their battle in the courts and at the legislature.

“There are three legal challenges still pending outcomes,” said Riviere. He added that the setback distance won’t do anything about the current turbines, but there is another bill in the works that would.

"I’ve even got a bill in there to encourage the Governor to work with Na Pua Makani to terminate the project because it’s such a poorly located project. It’s too close, it’s too big, and it’s created too much trouble and it’s going to severely impact future projects,” he said.

The turbines are projected to be operational by this summer.

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