Proposed Kahuku wind farm still drawing opponents as planned construction draws closer
KAHUKU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Energy-producing windmills have been rotating near Kahuku for a few years, and there have been long-standing plans to build more. Those plans went before a public hearing, and drew more public opposition.
"Please, no more windmills. Solar, use solar," Kahuku resident Ellouise Reed told representatives from the state Forestry Division. "This is Hawaii, with more sun than any other country. Use solar, something. But not windmills."
Na Pua Makani Power Partner wants to build ten more wind turbines in the hills above Kahuku, where another company already operates a dozen.
The main focus of Thursday night's public hearing was the wildlife.
"As a Polynesian anthropologist, I'm a strong advocate for clean and renewable energy for the area," said Kahuku resident Tevita Ka'ili. "However, I'm deeply troubled by injuries and killing of manu -- birds and bats by industrial wind turbines."
Nene geese, Hawaiian hoary bats and other endangered and threatened species live in the area. The company contends it will use turbines that won't rate in light winds.
"Just as an example, the First Wind project in Kahuku implemented that plan about three years ago. They've had one bat fatality since then," said Mike Cutbirth, Na Pua Makani's CEO.
The company has already agreed to move turbines farther from the nearest homes, and the project has its supporters.
"Well, yeah, I hear the wind farms are huge, they're ugly, but I look beyond that," said another Kahuku resident, Michaela Primacio. "I look at the future and what it can actually produce."
The windmills would produce enough energy to power more than 4,000 homes. Cutbirth said construction could be complete by the end of next year.
The project still has more milestones to meet. A long-awaited draft environmental impact statement will be released Monday, with more public hearings ahead.
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