The draft environmental impact statement for the expansion of Kaheawa wind farm is open for public comment.
Since the project is next to the existing farm overlooking Maalaea, much of the information parallels the studies done for the project that went into operation in 2006.
The expansion, proposed for 333 acres of state land, would be smaller than Kaheawa I: 14 1.5-megawatt towers, compared with 20 currently in operation.
A separate wildlife conservation plan will have to be negotiated, because Kaheawa II is treated as a separate project, according to Noe Kalipi of First Wind, the developer. However, conditions are the same: There are no endangered animal species permanently inhabiting the site, although the Hawaiian hoary bat, the nene and other native birds live nearby and probably pass through.
Nor are there any endangered native plants in the project area. There is one heiau nearby, and the draft proposes a 500-foot buffer between it and construction activity.
Maui residents with cultural ties to the area were questioned, and one of their recommendations is that the farm not extend into the wao akua, the sacred space at high elevations that is the domain of the deities. Generally, the wao akua is defined as the usual cloud line in an area. For Kaheawa, the wao akua would be above the 3,100-foot level, which is the highest altitude that either wind farm proposes to use.
The towers and machinery have a 20-year operating life, and the draft says that after that time the towers would have to be removed or the lease would have to be extended. Kalipi said that in any event, 20 years is expected to be the working life of the equipment, and after that time everything would be taken down and, if the farm were to continue, probably be updated to the current technology for wind-power generation.
Copies of the draft environmental impact statement, both paper and on compact disc, are available at Kahului Library.
Comments can be submitted through April 9. Send comments to Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Box 621, Honolulu 96809; with a copy to the consulting firm that prepared the draft, Planning Solutions Inc., 210 Ward Ave., Suite 330, Honolulu 96814.