Wednesday, July 20, 2005

HECO offers
wind farm plan

The proposal draws a mixed review with
some Leeward folks opposed to the idea

The visual impact of 26 wind turbines almost 40 stories tall seemed to be the biggest concern of Waianae Coast residents at a hearing on a Hawaiian Electric Co. proposal yesterday.

As proposed, a wind farm would generate 39 megawatts of power -- enough to power 10,000 homes.

HECO officials emphasized yesterday that a decision to go ahead with the project, on Campbell Estate grazing land between the old Nike missile site and Camp Timberline, will depend on area residents.

Ko Olina resident John Fletcher said: "I just want to go on the record as a NIMBY (not in my back yard). We have the dump, we have the power plant, smokestacks. When is enough enough? Gimme a break."

Henry Curtis, president of Life of the Land, said: "We do not need to further concentrate power generation in this area."

Rena Montero of Honolulu said: "I was actually impressed by the way it looked. I didn't find it to be an eyesore."

Shad Kane, representing the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, said he thinks it is inappropriate to put a wind farm on a site where 2,000 Hawaiians used to live.

The meeting, attended by about 80 residents, opened with a short video about the pros and cons of wind power, produced by students at Nanakuli High School.

Advantages include the fact that wind is limitless and free, creates no pollution and is safe, quiet, efficient and can co-exist with agriculture.

Disadvantages are that it's not constant, when improperly located can kill birds and creates a visual impact some people don't like, the video said.

"On the Leeward Coast, wind is one of our most powerful resources," the video said. In recent years the technology of wind power has improved as much as the difference between typewriters and computers, it added.

The video also points out that more than 90 percent of Hawaii's electricity is generated by imported oil and that getting more energy from renewable resources like solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy would help the state move away from that dependency.

HECO picked Kahe Point as the best place on Oahu to put a wind farm. Two other windy places were ruled out: Kaena Point because of cultural and biological concerns, and Kahuku, because the Army controls necessary land.

Each turbine would be about 380 feet tall from ground to blade-tip, said Art Seki, a HECO technology director who presented technical details about the proposal to those at the meeting yesterday.

Despite their size, the sounds of the blades turning wouldn't be any louder than an ordinary conversation, Seki said. He has visited similar turbines on the mainland and was surprised at their quietness, he said.

HECO says building the turbines would cost about $70 million, not including cost of land.

"With the equivalent of 35- or 40-story building on top of the mountain -- and not just one or two of them -- it's going to be a significant visual impact," said Councilman Todd Apo, who represents the Waianae Coast.

According to a fact sheet handed out at the meeting, about 197,000 barrels per year would be saved by the project. Assuming $60 a barrel, that would translate to $11.8 million a year in savings.

HECO leaflets told three traditional Hawaiian legends about the power of the wind and detailed the positives and negatives of wind energy.

More meetings on wind farm

Additional information meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m.:

» Today at Kapolei High School cafeteria, 91-5007 Kapolei Parkway.

» Tomorrow at Old Nanaikapono Elementary School Cafeteria, 69-195 Farrington Highway, Nanakuli.

Comments also can be made through Sept. 1, by e-mail at kahewind@heco.com or Wind Energy Comment AT8-3V, Hawaiian Electric Co., P.O. Box 2750, Honolulu, HI 96840-0001.

For more information: Contact HECO at 543-7780. Information provided at meetings this week will be posted on the HECO Web site Monday at www.heco.com, under "renewable energy."

E-mail to City Desk


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