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Maui wind power plant looks to grow


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POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2009

Developers of the first wind farm on Maui want to expand, adding a 21-megawatt sister facility, despite some endangered bird species found dead at the existing site.

The proposed addition, requiring several approvals, including a state conservation- district use permit, would be just west of the existing 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind Power project at Maalaea.

Developers were to submit the Habitat Conservation Plan for Kaheawa Wind Power II LLC today before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Kaheawa spokeswoman Noe Kalipi said the development of the wind farm supports Gov. Linda Lingle's commitment to develop more clean energy by 2030.

“;It's clearly in line with the 70 percent clean-energy goal in the Hawaii clean-energy initiative,”; she said.

Carcasses of two adult nene birds and a Hawaiian petrel were found at the existing wind power site between July 1, 2007, and June 30, according to Kaheawa Wind Power report.

A dead Hawaiian hoary bat was found at the site in September, according to federal officials. The deaths were within the numbers allowed for “;incidental take”; under a state Department of Land and Natural Resources permit.

“;We're well within the take limit,”; Kalipi said.

The state license to Kaheawa Wind Power allows up to 60 dead nene during a 20-year period and 40 for the Hawaiian petrel.

The wind venture also has authorization for incidental take of up to 40 'a'o, or Newell's shearwater, and up to 20 Hawaiian hoary bats during a 20-year period.

Under a Habitat Conservation Plan approved by the state, Kaheawa Wind Power has released funds to the state to begin supporting captive propagation of nene goslings to offset the incidental take.

About 100 nene live at a native propagation facility within a mile of the wind farm, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kaheawa Wind Power began operating in June 2006 and has 20 wind turbines.

The proposed Kaheawa Wind Power II would have 14 wind turbines and also include a new electrical substation and new service roads.

Developers want for a limited time to also install two meteorological towers to collect information for its expanded operation.

A draft environmental impact statement for the proposed project is available via the state Office of Environmental Quality Control Web site, oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov.