Residents question new wind turbine site


POSTED: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kahuku resident Kent Fonoimoana said he feels a proposed site for wind turbines to generate electricity is too close to his home.

“;It's not good if it's right here,”; he said, noting that West Wind Works LLC's site is about a quarter mile away.

; “;It's going to have a negative impact on property values.”;

West Wind Works, an Oregon company, has built at least one meteorological tower to determine the feasibility of developing 10 wind turbines in Koolauloa, near the Kahuku Agricultural Park.

The venture went through a public hearing on Aug. 8 before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to receive a right of entry permit to conduct the study.

Under the company's plan, the test towers are about 250 feet high and the wind turbines will be about 410 feet at their highest point.

Keith Avery, president of West Wind, said he presented the proposal to the Kahuku Community Association and neighborhood boards about two years ago and no one complained about the project.

Some residents said they learned about the proposed development as the test meteorological towers were built.

Junior Primacio, a former president of the Kahuku Community Association, said West Wind talked about putting the turbines in different places but “;nothing was concrete.”;

Under the plan approved by the Land Board, West Wind Works has received the right-of-entry to 232 acres of state land to erect wind monitoring equipment.

The firm is required to develop an environmental study and a habitat conservation plan, state land officials said.

State land administrators said renewable energy projects such as West Wind's are necessary to meet the state law calling for alternate energy to reach 10 percent by 2010, 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.

Officials said West Wind has been successfully developing wind energy in Hawaii for the past 25 years and was involved in the initial feasibility study for Kaheawa on Maui.

Carol Anamizu, a ti leaf farmer, said she lives about a half mile from the towers and feels the company needs to talk with the community about its plan.

“;I don't have any problems with the thing if the community is going to benefit from it,”; she said.

“;For myself, I'm not too happy. It might be an eyesore.”;