Sunday, August 14, 2005

Wind-farm firm
offers species plan

The company would spend
$1 million to protect four
Maui endangered species

WAILUKU » A company that wants to build the Valley Isle's first wind farm in the West Maui mountains says it will spend at least $1 million over 20 years on an endangered species mitigation program.


The cost of the program to help protect four endangered species could climb as high as $4.5 million, Kaheawa Wind Power LLC said.

The company is proposing to erect 20 wind turbines to generate up to 30 megawatts of power that would be sold to Maui Electric Co.

Kaheawa Wind Power's habitat conservation plan, which was developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, drew no opposition from the three people who testified at a public hearing on the project Wednesday.

Tom Elliott of Maalaea said he supported the proposed wind farm because it would diversify the island's power sources and reduce diesel exhaust from the power company's Maalaea generation plant.

Sean Lester also welcomed the wind farm. "It has taken a very long, long time to get to the place we are today," Lester said.

The area of the wind farm is home to the Hawaiian petrel, or ua'u; Newell's shearwater, or a'o; the Hawaiian goose, or nene; and the Hawaiian hoary bat.

Dave Cowan, a biologist for Kaheawa Wind Power, said a study produced an array of estimates of deaths per year per species, ranging from two per century to one, two or three per year.

The company will construct a nene release pen to protect nene goslings, and will conduct surveys of nesting colonies of the Hawaiian petrel and Newell's shearwater to estimate their numbers and distribution and to identify management needs, the state has said.

Scott Fretz, wildlife program manager for the DLNR's forestry branch, said no nests are located on the wind farm site, but birds apparently pass through the area to get to their nests.

Surveys haven't detected any Hawaiian hoary bats, but they are known to live in the vicinity, so the company will give $20,000 to the Hawaiian Bat Research Cooperative to expand research on the bats' habitat.

Kaheawa Wind Power

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