Maui News

Habitat Conservation Plan Revised for Proposed Windfarm

January 4, 2010, 9:36 AM HST
* Updated December 23, 2:03 PM
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A revised Habitat Conservation Plan has been prepared for the proposed development of additional wind turbines above Maalaea.  The plan was revised because of changes to the project description and a new turbine layout.  Plans call for the development of a 21 megawatt windfarm on 143 acres of State Conservation District lands, south east of the existing 30 MW Kaheawa Wind Power Project, which is operated by a sister entity under First Wind LLC.

In the previous KWPII draft Habitat Conservation Plan, turbines were proposed to be placed immediately adjacent to the west of the existing wind turbines.  The turbine layout changes are based on new meteorological data collected at the site.

The new plan calls for turbines to be placed in single rows, rather than staggered, to minimize collision risks for the endangered u’au (Hawaiian petrel), a’o (Newell’s shearwater), nene (Hawaiian goose), and ‘ope’ape’a (Hawaiian hoary bat).

Other revisions include:  use of monopole steel tubular towers with lower rotational speeds; minimizing use of lights at night associated with construction activities, buildings, and FAA required lighting for turbines; visibility enhancements on wind monitoring towers; and monitoring of nesting activities to minimize adverse risk to present nene and their nests.

Proposed seabird mitigation includes predator proof fencing and predator control to protect part of the Makamaka’ole seabird colony in West Maui.  Nene mitigation includes a focus on protection and management of the Hana’ula colony.  ‘Ope’ape’a mitigation includes funding of appropriate research, participation in the statewide census, and conducting on-site and near-site research in conjunction with the USGS.  If take of the species is higher than desired, actions may call for curtailment of turbines at low wind speeds.

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Semi-annual reports would be submitted to the Department of Forestry and Wildlife as well as the U.S. Forestry and Wildlife Service.

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The revised Habitat Conservation Plan will be reviewed by the Board of Land and Natural Resources at a meeting set for 9 a.m. this Friday, January 8, 2009.  The applicant is seeking approvals to release the revised plan to the public for review.

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