HONOLULU – Kaheawa Wind Power II’s draft habitat conservation plan and environmental assessment are available for public review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
Kaheawa Wind Power is a subsidiary of the Boston-based wind energy company First Wind, which already supplies windmill-generated electricity to Maui Electric Co.
Kaheawa Wind developed the draft habitat conservation plan in coordination with the service and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources as part of an application for an incidental take permit for endangered species.
The draft plan and environmental assessment are available for public review and comment for 30 days.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources will hear public testimony on the lease and grant of easement of public lands for Kaheawa Wind’s expansion beginning at 9 a.m. Friday at the county Department of Planning conference room at 250 S. High St. in Wailuku.
An incidental take permit is required when a development is likely to result in some harm to a threatened or endangered species. If approved, the permit would be in effect for 20 years.
In Kaheawa Wind’s proposed expansion of its wind turbines, an “incidental take” may result from four protected species of birds colliding with the turbines during construction or operation. Those four species were identified as the endangered Hawaiian goose, or nene; the Hawaiian petrel, or ‘ua’u; the Hawaiian hoary bat, or ‘ope’ape’a; and the threatened Newell’s shearwater, or ‘a’o.
“Take,” as defined by the federal Endangered Species Act, means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect. Harm may include significant changes to a species’ habitat, such as its nesting area.
The company’s habitat conservation plan describes how Kaheawa Wind will – as much as possible – find ways to avoid or minimize harm to the endangered species.
Plans call for the construction of a new 21-megawatt, 14-turbine wind energy facility on about 143 acres at Kaheawa Pastures above Maalaea, where since 2007 the company has operated a 20-turbine wind farm. The expanded facility also would include an electrical substation, a battery-energy storage system, an underground electrical collection system, an overhead transmission line, a meteorological monitoring tower and service access roads.
Kaheawa Wind’s proposed mitigation measures include:
Active management of the project area, including predator removal and construction of cat- and mongoose-proof fences at Hawaiian petrel and Newell’s shearwater colonies.
Release of nene adults and goslings at approved sites.
Habitat management and predator control to increase nene breeding success and survival.
Surveys to document the distribution and abundance of the Hawaiian hoary bat.
Habitat management and reforestation to benefit the recovery of the Hawaiian hoary bat.
The environmental assessment contains an analysis of three alternatives for granting a permit: providing it to Kaheawa Wind Power with its proposed habitat conservation plan; granting it on a different location; and denying the permit with the company taking no measures.
The Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources process the project’s permits jointly, but they issue separate incidental take permits and licenses.
The deadline for public comment is Dec. 9.
Written comments should be submitted to Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122, Honolulu 96850. Comments may also be sent via fax to (808) 792-9580.
For more information, go online to www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.
Copies and additional information may also be obtained from James Kwon at (808) 792-9400, or by writing to the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office in Honolulu.