PEOPLE living within two kilometres of proposed wind farms will have the right to veto them, under a NSW government proposal.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard says NSW remains committed to being part of the Federal Government’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, despite proposing what he has described as the world’s toughest wind-farm guidelines.
Under the proposal, a company wanting to set up a wind farm in an area where landowner consent has not been given will have to go to an independent regional planning panel if there is community opposition. ”That means 100 per cent of neighbours have to be happy within that two-kilometre zone,” Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.
Mr Hazzard said he hoped the idea would find a balance between residents living near wind turbines and supporters of renewable energy.
”Today I am announcing that the NSW coalition government is putting out for public discussion some of the toughest wind-farm guidelines in the country, possibly the world,” he said.
The Victorian coalition government this year gave residents within a two-kilometre radius a right of veto over wind turbines.
But Mr Hazzard said the NSW proposal was different to Victoria’s and that wind-farm proponents would get a bigger say.
WAILUKU – The Maui Planning Commission unanimously approved permits Tuesday for Auwahi Wind Energy to build and operate eight 428-foot-tall wind turbines on Ulupalakua Ranch land.
Two dozen people testified on the proposed special use and special management area permits, and none were opposed to the project, according to planner Ann Cua. Some testifiers shared concerns about traffic, safety and visual impacts of the wind farm.
The project would have the capacity to generate 21 megawatts, which would be enough power to supply electricity to 10,000 homes. The $140 million project’s infrastructure includes an energy storage system; a 9-mile, 34.5-kilovolt power line; an interconnection substation; a microwave communication tower; and a construction access road. Each generator pad would require about 2.4 acres of cleared area, while the entire project would cover 1,466 acres, almost entirely on Ulupalakua Ranch land.
The project aims to provide power for Maui island only. It is not part of the “Big Wind” project, which calls for wind farms on Lanai and Molokai to provide power to Oahu via an underwater cable.
Commission members attached conditions to Auwahi’s permits, including one that requires Auwahi Wind, a division of Sempra, to work with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Ka Ohana O Kahikinui Inc. to develop a community benefits package. The groups would develop a plan and sign a memorandum of agreement addressing the roadway improvement and other needs of the Kahikinui homestead community.
The project area contains more than 1,100 archaeological features on 174 sites, and the developer has designed the turbines and power lines to avoid culturally sensitive burials and heiau.
First Wind LLC said it has temporarily idled the turbines at its Kahuku wind energy project while it works on the battery storage system.
The 12 wind turbines were shut down on May 22 and are expected to be brought back online in stages starting later this week, company spokesman John Lamontagne said in an email from the company’s headquarters in Massachusetts.
“We are conducting a diligent and thorough review of the operating issues for the battery facility at the Kahuku project. During that time, the project is offline,” he said.
The 30-megawatt project — Oahu’s only commercial-scale wind farm — began feeding electricity into Hawaiian Electric Co.’s grid in March. The turbines produce enough energy to power about 7,700 homes, according to First Wind. First Wind sells the electricity to HECO at a fixed price of 19.9 cents per kilowatt-hour under a 20-year purchase power agreement.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie would – if necessary – have the state exercise its right to eminent domain to condemn Molokai lands for a wind-energy project, “if residents agree that a project can be done in a pono way.”
The governor’s comment is contained in a March 3 position statement on a potential Molokai wind farm when it looked like First Wind and Molokai Properties were going to be unable to reach a deal on a wind-energy project for the island. After that happened, the landowner announced that it was teaming up with a new company, San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group, to proceed with the project.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said Friday that the use of the state’s power to condemn property on Molokai looks moot because there now appears to be a wind-energy project moving forward.
However, “we are watching closely to see what happens,” she said.
The governor’s position statement on the Molokai wind farm project seeks a middle ground between Abercrombie’s support for alternative-energy projects and his desire to be sensitive to the community and its needs.
“Producing our own energy in Hawaii is crucial for our survival,” Abercrombie said in his position statement. “The proposed ‘Big Wind’ project that would produce electricity on Lanai and Molokai can be a crucial part of the equation.
Sempra Generation has signed a 20-year contract to sell wind energy to Maui Electric Co. from Sempra’s 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind project on the Ulupalakua Ranch in the southeastern region of Maui.
Sempra said it expects to begin construction on Auwahi Wind in early 2012, creating about 150 local construction jobs at peak and about five positions to operate the facility. The project is currently undergoing an environmental review by Maui County, and state and federal agencies.
When fully operational in late 2012, Auwahi Wind will be capable of generating enough energy to power 10,000 typical Maui homes, the company said.
The project will have a battery storage unit could store as much as 12 megawatt-hours of wind energy generated by the project’s wind turbines. The stored power will help to smooth the fluctuations normally associated with wind power.
The contract between Maui Electric Company and Sempra Generation is subject to approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
Maui already has 51 megawatts of generating capacity from the Kaheawa I and Kaheawa II wind projects developed by First Wind LLC on a ridge above Maalaea.
Pattern Energy Group is expected to “engage all of the community”
Molokai Properties Ltd. said it is teaming up with a new company to develop a proposed wind energy project on the island after it was unable to come to terms with its previous partner, First Wind LLC.
MPL joined forces with San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group on the project that, as envisioned, would transmit wind-generated electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable. The project, with 90 wind turbines and a generating capacity of 200 megawatts, represents half of the so-called Big Wind project that would include the transmission of an equal amount of wind energy from Lanai to Oahu.
Executives from Pattern and Molokai Properties held three community meetings in early March to brief the community on the proposal, said Peter Nicholas, MPL’s chief executive officer. Nicholas said he hoped Pattern’s plan would be better received by the community than what had been proposed by First Wind.
MPL broke off talks with First Wind in November following two rounds of negotiations in which the two sides were unable to reach agreement on a land price and the approach to community involvement. MPL, which also does business as Molokai Ranch, owns 60,000 acres on Molokai, or about 40 percent of the island.
With the launch of Oahu’s first commercially viable wind farm behind them, proponents of wind power will now try to replicate the feat on Lanai and Molokai, where larger-scale wind projects face far greater community opposition.
The first trickle of wind-generated electricity began flowing to the Hawaiian Electric Co. grid last week from 12 wind turbines at a 30-megawatt facility in Kahuku developed by Boston-based First Wind LLC. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the First Wind CEO, the head of the Public Utilities Commission, Kahuku community leaders and even musician Jack Johnson gathered under a tent in the wind-swept foothills of the Koolau Mountains to celebrate the occasion.
Although the wind farm will provide just a small fraction of Oahu’s peak electricity demand, Abercrombie and others heralded the Kahuku project as an important step in Hawaii’s pursuit of energy independence.
To make wind a much bigger part of the electric grid in Hawaii, state officials and HECO are leading an effort to develop larger wind farms on Lanai and Molokai that would send electricity to Oahu via undersea cables. The proposal for 400 megawatts of generating capacity split between Lanai and Molokai, combined with wind and solar energy generated on Oahu could provide 25 percent of the island’s power needs
LANAI CITY – Lanai residents turned out Saturday to express strong opposition to bringing “big wind” to their island for the benefit of Oahu consumers.
Testifiers expressed concern about how a proposed wind farm by Castle & Cooke could impact the environment, cultural sites, hunting access and scenic views if it were allowed to proceed on up to 12,800 acres on the northwestern end of the island. While state and federal officials said their purpose was to gather comments on a big-picture plan for an interisland wind system, without focusing on any one specific project, Lanai residents said it was impossible to comment on the impacts of the larger plan without scrutinizing Castle & Cooke’s proposal.
“I’m very troubled by this whole concept,” said Lanai City resident Robin Kaye. “How can you have this cumulative study without looking at the specific impacts?”
The U.S. Department of Energy and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism hosted the scoping meeting Saturday in the Lanai High and Elementary School cafeteria.
It followed similar meetings on Maui and Molokai earlier in the week.