More than 30 people who oppose the Na Pua Makani wind farm project in Kahuku appeared at their arraignments in court today after all were arrested for disobeying a police officer when they tried to prevent large trucks carrying turbine parts to depart a baseyard in Kalaeloa in mid-October.
Many who appeared before Judge Sherri Iha at Waianae District Court, Kapolei Court Complex were represented by attorney Aaron Wills.
Disobeying a police officer is considered a petty misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to 30 days in jail, $1,000 fine and up to a year of probation.
Deputy prosecutor Pearl Tamayo offered a deal to protesters to amend the offense to an obstruction violation.
A majority of the 21 protesters Wills represented accepted the state’s deal, and pleaded no contest to an obstruction violation. The judge ordered many of the protesters to pay a $100 fine. Higher fines were imposed to a few who were arrested more than once.
The two or three remaining people Wills represented pleaded not guilty to disobeying a police officer. Their trial date has been set for January.
Another attorney, Melvin Masuda, represented several other protesters who appeared in court today and more than five protesters represented themselves.
Virginia-based AES Corp. is building eight wind turbines which are slated to start operating next year. Each turbine is 568 feet tall.
Opponents of the wind farm project say the turbines lead to health problems and are too close to homes, farms and schools. Demonstrators also say the turbines threaten the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat.
AES contend the turbines will have no health effects.