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Contested Case for Bats

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Windmills kill many bats and birds, including several endangered species in Hawaii. In fact, the number of bats being killed by the Kawailoa turbines above Waimea Bay has greatly exceeded expectations and caused the project to return for reconsideration of its Incidental Take License (ITL).

An Incidental Take License is a permit issued by the federal government that allows a project to kill a limited number of endangered species, provided measures are taken to help preserve and increase the viability of these species. Mitigation might involve expansion and restoration of habitat beneficial to the affected species, translocation of affected populations, support of captive breeding or funding other projects likely to promote survival of the endangered species.

As President of Keep the North Shore Country (KNSC), I filed a petition with the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to hold a contested case on the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) submitted by Na Pua Makani (NPM), the industrial wind developer seeking to install a new project near Kahuku.

The HCP proposed by NPM for the endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat is particularly concerning. The plan fails to show how any of its proposed mitigation measures would result in a net benefit to this species. The plan does not meet the statutory requirements of our laws regarding endangered species; it must be improved.

The contested case is the only mechanism by which KNSC can cross examine NPM and its witnesses to establish facts and present detailed expert testimony. By asking questions,

presenting alternative information, pointing out inadequacies in the ITL and HCP, and framing legal issues, KNSC will help better inform the BLNR and the public at large about threats currently facing Hawaiian Hoary Bats and other species at risk from this project.

KNSC’s petition was granted by the BLNR on December 9, 2016. A hearings officer will soon be appointed and the hearings may last from a couple to several months. I will be involved in this contested case as a director of KNSC, not as the district’s Senator. This information is shared in this article because of its significance for the residents of the North Shore.

Many people look at windmills as a clean, green technology necessary to reduce our carbon footprint and get off oil. Unfortunately, wind turbines are terribly inefficient. The Kawailoa wind project had a record year in 2015 when it produced 23 percent of its advertised performance. In other words, oil-fired generators produced the other 77 percent; plus, they continually burn oil and spin, without generating electricity, to be ready for the inevitable fluctuations of the wind.

I support a cleaner environment and efforts to reduce our carbon foot print. We are blessed with many alternatives in Hawaii and I am optimistic we will meet our clean energy objectives. Big Wind is not the neat solution some people would have you believe.

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