A State mandate says that, by 2030, 40 percent of Hawaii’s electricity will be derived from renewable sources. In order to meet that goal, the State is considering a plan that includes building a wind farm consisting of 200 turbines, each over 400 feet tall, on Lanai to power Oahu.
The Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program (HIREP) would produce renewable energy through the use of wind turbine technology on one or more Hawaiian Islands and transfer the electricity generated to another island or islands by means of one or more undersea cables for subsequent transmission and distribution to energy consumers.
Implementation of the proposed wind energy program would be a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Hawaii, represented by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), to advance the objectives of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), a partnership between the State of Hawaii and DOE with a goal of instituting a fundamental and sustained transformation in the way in which renewable energy resources are planned and used in the state.
In a letter send out to Lanai residents, Friends of Lanai state: “If the proposed industrial wind power plant for Oahu is built on Lanai, the destruction of our island is forever. It is irrevocable; we will not get our land back. Once the new roads are in, the massive holes dug, hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of concrete poured, and the 410 foot tall turbines erected, future generations of Lanaians will never again see the magnificent view planes, the rich cultural sites and the abundant game everyone who lives and visits Lanai enjoys today. They would be gone forever.”
On Oahu, Kahuku Wind (KW), the first wind farm on the island in over 20 years, went live in March. The farm will generate enough energy to power approximately 7,700 Oahu homes.
The Kahuku site, known as one of the windiest areas on the island, will supply approximately two to three percent of Oahu’s energy needs. First Wind had explored two other locations for their first Oahu farm, including Kaena Point. But after installing meteorological towers that measure wind speed and consistency at the Kahuku property, Kahuku proved to be the ideal location.
The 410-foot tall turbines that currently dot the property are estimated to last approximately 20 years. After that, the stainless steel, balsa wood, and fiber glass turbines that are produced in Idaho by Clipper Liberty, will be scrapped and replaced with new ones.
In the development phases of Kahuku Wind, Oahu residents were concerned about the farm being located too close to their homes, thus decreasing their property value, and being an eyesore. In August 2010, North Shore residents complained about the bumper-to-bumper traffic caused as turbine parts were being transported to the Kahuku Wind site for construction. Kahuku wind ultimately changed the transport times to avoid rush-hour traffic in the area.