LIHUE » Hawaii nonprofit organizations are calling on federal officials to include members of the public in plans to build floating wind turbines off Hawaii’s shores before they move forward with the projects.
Henry Curtis with Life of the Land voiced his concerns in a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. He said the off-shore wind projects could affect people who fish, boat, canoe or have a “spiritual connection” to the waters and that public meetings should be held on Kauai and Oahu.
BOEM has received bids from two companies to build off-shore turbines along the northwest and south sides of Oahu.
A.W. Hawaii Wind, a Texas company that’s a subsidiary of Denmark-based Alpha Wind Energy, is proposing two offshore floating wind farms, each generating about 400 megawatts of energy with 50 turbines. One is proposed for the northwest side of Oahu 12 miles off the coast of Kaena Point, in waters about a half-mile deep. The company also is proposing a wind farm in waters 17 miles south of Diamond Head.
A second company, Progression Hawaii Offshore Wind, is proposing a $1.8 billion, 400 megawatt wind farm using 40 to 50 floating turbines off Oahu’s South Shore, in waters that are also about a half-mile deep.
Carl Berg, with the Kauai chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, told The Garden Island federal officials need to conduct an environmental assessment “to address the detrimental effects to birds and sea life.”
According to BOEM, the next step after receiving unsolicited lease requests for the floating turbines is to complete an environmental analysis and active stakeholder engagement. Federal officials say they are in the process of reviewing the three commercial floating wind lease requests for offshore Hawaii.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called for more information on the wind industry’s interest in commercial leases in the two areas offshore of Oahu.
“Hawaii has important offshore wind energy potential, and we will continue our work with stakeholders across the spectrum to create a path forward for sustainable offshore energy development in the right places with the lowest conflicts across the Aloha State,” Jewell said.