Proposed North Shore floating wind farm draws opposition

Opposition grows over proposed floating wind farm off Kaena Point
Published: Nov. 17, 2016 at 3:45 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2016 at 12:33 PM HST
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(image: Alpha Wind Energy)
(image: Alpha Wind Energy)
(image: Alpha Wind Energy)
(image: Alpha Wind Energy)

KAENA POINT, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposed floating wind farm off Kaena Point is drawing opposition, with some arguing that it will a negative impact on wildlife.

The project's Danish developer the wind farm will create up to 100 jobs for 10 years and help Hawaii reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

But some North Shore residents said that doesn't outweigh the potential environmental impacts.

"The windmills will actually be bird blenders, just destroy them all," said North Shore Neighborhood Board member Robert Justice.

He believes the massive turbines will also impact swells.

"It will directly affect Pipeline, Jocko's, all the good west swell breaks. We just had a World Champ, John John, come out of the North Shore. It's a breeding ground for good surfers. And everyone in the world comes to visit us, and to even chance destroying that, it's just beyond words to me," he said.

Developer Jens Peterson is proposing to build 51 floating turbines secured by anchors and electrical cables 12 miles northwest off Kaena Point.

The project's scope is unprecedented, he said.

"It's phenomenally complicated. It is very, very difficult to do. It's by a fact of a minimum 10 times more complex than any other project ever tried anywhere on earth," Petersen said by phone.

He said it's unlikely the turbines will be visible from land.

Meanwhile, several experts in the energy industry in Hawaii say they don't believe the North Shore of Oahu is the best location.

"We had five sites around the island of Oahu that we had looked at. One of them was off of the North Shore, and we made the decision not to apply for a lease off the North Shore due to a number of factors, one of which was community feedback," said Ted Peck, with Progression Hawaii Offshore Wind, which wants to lease a site nine miles southeast of Barbers Point.

Petersen is also proposing to build a wind farm 17 miles south of Diamond Head and says the south shore location is his first choice.

He said he's not going to push something the community doesn't want.

"I'm happy to move it somewhere else if that's what Hawaii wants," Petersen said. "And if Hawaii and the end of the day decides they don't want it, to have any off-shore floating wind, then of course that is Hawaii's decision and we will have to respect that."

The public comment period is closed for the project. It's now up to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to decide if the location is suitable.

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