Proposed windmill placement chafes neighbors


POSTED: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some Kahuku residents say a proposed 1,000-foot buffer between wind turbines and residences is too small.

But Oahu Wind Partners official Keith Avery said the distance is more than enough and allows his proposed 10 wind-turbine project to move forward.

“;There are no noise effects,”; Avery said.

Senate Bill 2526, proposing to establish the 1,000-foot buffer between wind turbines in an agricultural district and residences, is scheduled for a hearing at 2:45 p.m. today. The committees on Energy and Environment and Water and Land are to meet in Conference Room 225 at the state Capitol.

State Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kaneohe-Kahuku), who co-introduced the bill, said the measure was intended to reduce worries about the noise from wind turbine machines.

But Hee said whether 1,000 feet is an appropriate distance is “;debatable.”; He has asked Oahu Wind Partners to present studies, including other projects that have operated within similar minimum distances.

Avery said he will be presenting information showing wind turbines in farm areas of the United States that have used the 1,000-foot buffer.

Some residents said they are within or just outside the 1,000-foot buffer zone and they supported part of the project. But they said they opposed the placement of four of the 10 wind turbines on the plateau closest to residences mainly because of the noise.

Resident Alii Tasi said at the invitation of the venture, she and some other residents went to Maui to examine a similar project. She found she could hear the noise from a quarter mile away, well within the distance of her home from the proposed wind turbine.

She said the sound of the turbine was like a washing machine and a dryer with something bumping in it and the blades made a whistling sound.

“;It's not just the size. It's the location on an elevated plateau. ... You're going to have sweeping shadows that are disorienting,”; she said.