If it seems like we just talked about offshore windmills, you are correct. Less than a month after the Federal Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) held an informational meeting on the proposed offshore wind projects, they came to Waialua again for a public hearing on the proposed Environmental Assessment and Call for Project Developers.
Once again, public testimony was unanimously opposed to the idea that dozens of floating wind turbines might be built as close as seven miles from Kaena Point. While the comments expressed at this second meeting were transcribed for the record, additional written comments are welcome until August 8, 2016.
Information about the offshore wind review process is at boem.gov/Hawaii. You can submit comments on the project by entering BOEM–2016–0049 in the search window at Regulations.gov You can submit comments on the Environmental Assessment by entering BOEM_FRDOC_0001-0380 in the search window at Regulations.gov
The morning after the BOEM meeting, the Board of Land and Natural Resources accepted the Final EIS for the proposed Na Pua Makani Wind Project in Kahuku. The new project proposes nine turbines in the hills above Kahuku and near the High and Intermediate School. Kahuku would be surrounded by even larger wind turbines.
I was the only person who testified against acceptance of the FEIS. The proposed wind turbines may be 656’ tall, an astonishing one and a half times as tall as the existing turbines! I argued that the FEIS did not consider the difficulty of delivering the 208’ turbine blades around Waimea Bay. Readers may remember that First Wind had difficulty moving their 146' blades around the bay and over the narrow bridge.
I also noted that the EIS does not distinguish environmental impacts between the different sized turbines. The proposed turbines sweep an area that is twice as large as the exiting turbines, yet the EIS calculates impacts based on the number of towers rather than the turbine size and sweep. The EIS also states that the larger turbines have a slower tip speed, yet complete the same number of rotations per minute as the smaller turbines; an impossibility.
Our district has done much to meet Hawaii’s clean energy initiative with the Kahuku and Kawailoa wind projects, which periodically generate 100 MW of alternative power. More than any other district on Oahu, we understand the visual and other costs of wind energy.
While some residents support additional wind generation, it appears to me that most do not. I believe we should focus more on solar generation and energy storage to meet our future clean energy goals, and we should resist additional wind turbines. I welcome your feedback.
( Photo illustration in the article reflects the size of the proposed wind turbines compared to the existing wind turbines and Diamond Head. )