Answering Your Questions

When will Nā Pua Makani be operational?

Nā Pua Makani began construction in early 2019 and is projected to be operational by Summer 2020.

How much energy will Nā Pua Makani produce?

Nā Pua Makani is projected to produce 24 megawatts of wind energy – enough to power up to 16,000 homes and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 70,000 tons each year.

Why are the wind turbines so tall?

Based on public comment, Nā Pua Makani reduced the planned quantity of turbines from 13 to 15 turbines down to a total of 8 turbines, by increasing the height. The higher you get from the ground, the stronger and more steady the winds are. A turbine’s capability to produce power increases significantly with height, as does its efficiency. The height of the turbines are approximately 568 feet from the base to the tip of the rotors. The hub height is approximately 345 feet.

How much will residents hear the turbines while they are operating?

A full noise study was conducted as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) to ensure operational sound reaching the Kahuku residential area and neighboring schools will stay at or below the Hawaii Department of Health Sound Level Limit at night. In the Kahuku residential area and neighboring schools, the sound level will not exceed 45 decibels, which is comparable to light traffic in Kahuku. Upon operation, Nā Pua Makani will have a North Shore team leader available to answer questions or comments about operational noise concerns and to ensure appropriate follow-up actions occur.

Are there health concerns associated with wind turbines?

Wind turbines have not shown to have an adverse impact on human health. No studies have identified a direct link between turbines and long-term health impacts such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, tinnitus, headache/migraine, hearing impairment, or other diseases. Shadow flicker and noise from the turbines have not been shown to pose a health risk.

Shadow Flicker: Shadow flicker is a moving shadow created by turbine blades located between the sun and an observer. For shadow flicker to be observed, there must be a direct line of sight between an observer and the incoming shadow flicker. Sunlight and the blades have to be directly facing or facing away from the sun. This means that when shadow flicker effects are observed, it’s typically for a short duration during the low angle sunlight hours, just after sunrise and just before sunset. The farther from the turbine a person is, the less noticeable the shadow flicker would be. Shadow flicker would primarily be contained within the wind farm site and the amount of potential flicker extending into adjacent areas would be relatively short in duration and low in intensity.

Shadow flicker does not have the potential to trigger epileptic seizures as epileptic seizures are precipitated by light flashes in the range from 5 to 30 Hz. The proposed project’s wind turbine blade-pass frequency is approximately 0.59 Hz, or less than 1 alternation per second, so no negative health effects to individuals with photosensitive epilepsy are anticipated. More information is available on the Epilepsy Society website here: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/wind-turbines-and-photosensitive-epilepsy#.XYPRjyhKiUk

Noise: No scientific peer-reviewed study shows a direct link between living close to turbines, and the noise they emit (audible and inaudible), and physiological health effects. Predicted sound levels for Nā Pua Makani are not expected to result in annoyance, sleep disturbance, or other health effects in the general population. Nā Pua Makani is not expected to have disproportionate effects on people with autism or heightened noise sensitivity because the project’s audible noise would be low and, in most cases, imperceptible above the existing ambient noise.

How will AES mitigate impact on Hawaiʻi’s endangered bat population?

Nā Pua Makani’s Habitat Conservation Plan, developed over three years in consultation with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2018, has three protective components:

1. Prevention — Consistent with nearby wind facilities, Nā Pua Makani’s low wind speed curtailment is the most effective known approach to reducing bat fatalities. In addition, within Nā Pua Makani’s first year of commercial operations and in coordination with wildlife agencies, AES plans to pilot a supplemental bat deterrent system running at other wind facilities with promising results.

2. Monitoring — Onsite operations staff will be trained to recognize any incidents of harm to bats or other species and they will conduct surveys below the turbines to document any such impact. Additionally, Nā Pua Makani will have regular monitoring by trained biologists, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

3. Restoration — To benefit the Hawaiian hoary bat and other protected species, Nā Pua Makani will invest $4.2 million to monitor wildlife impacts on site and to provide materials, personnel and support for habitat restoration at the Poamoho Natural Area Reserve. By preserving habitat outside the wind farm, Nā Pua Makani avoids attracting bats near the turbines. Nā Pua Makani will also support research into the life history and needs of the endangered bat population.

How far will the wind turbines be set back from other development?

The City and County requires that wind turbines be set back from all property lines a minimum distance equal to the height of the system, including the height of the tower and its farthest vertical extension (to the tip of its blade). Nā Pua Makani is in compliance with all county setback requirements.

How will Nā Pua Makani protect groundwater and prevent water contamination?

Protection of groundwater is critical for the people of Hawaiʻi. Groundwater is located significantly below the surface of the Nā Pua Makani site. Construction of the turbine foundations are significantly above the groundwater; thus, no contamination of groundwater occurs. In accordance with environmental requirements, all oil-filled equipment will be located and stored in containment areas designed to hold at least 110% of the largest volume stored. The site will have a Spill Response Plan and approved absorbent materials onsite to prevent contaminants from entering the environment; therefore providing no opportunity for on-going operations to adversely impact groundwater.

How will Nā Pua Makani contribute to local job growth?

Nā Pua Makani will have a small staff to operate and maintain the wind farm that will include an experienced site manager, site supervisor, and technician along with one or two entry level technician positions. Most of the work will be in the support activities conducted by companies such as electrical, mechanical or fabrication shops.

How will Nā Pua Makani impact Hawai‘i’s renewable energy goals?

Renewable energy gains are measured by the equivalent tons of CO2 emissions reduced on an annual basis, with Nā Pua Makani projected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 70,000 tons annually.

What happens if there is no wind blowing?

In times of no wind or during outages to perform maintenance, the turbines will be at rest and no electricity will be generated. However, when the wind does blow the location and height of our turbines places them in an excellent position for harnessing producing renewable energy from the wind.

Will the plant cause any pollution?

No. Wind-generated power does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions.

What happens at the end of a wind farm’s useful life?

The anticipated life of the project is 20 years per the term of the 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with HECO. Prior to the expiration of this Power Purchase Agreement, AES Nā Pua Makani will evaluate whether to continue operation of the wind farm or to decommission it. Should the period of the project’s operation be extended, the appropriate agreements will be obtained, which may include upgrading or repowering the facility. If the project is decommissioned, the power generation equipment will be removed and the site restored as closely to its original state as possible.

How does lightning affect turbine operations?

The project will be equipped with equipment that will allow the wind turbines to absorb a lightning strike.

What is the community benefits package associated with Nā Pua Makani?

AES has committed to making a one-time contribution of $2.5 million, plus up to $1.5 million in additional matching funds towards a longstanding community need after commercial operations begin.  Based on feedback from the community these funds have been dedicated to a community recreation center.  

AES continues to engage in dialogue with the community to ensure funds are invested in the most meaningful way.

How else is AES supporting the community?

To date, AES has given more than $60,000 to community events and schools and will provide up to a total of $210,000 to the community prior to commercial operations. As part of a broader community benefits plan, AES has committed to provide $2 million to two North Shore community organizations after commercial operations begin. These contributions include $80,000 annually to the North Shore Hometown Opportunities, Inc., and a $20,000 annual contribution to the Lā‘ie Community Association.

Why is another renewable energy project necessary?

Additional renewable energy projects are critical to help Hawai‘i achieve its bold goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.  In 2015, Hawai‘i was the first state to propose such a goal, and now numerous states from California to New York have followed Hawaiʻi’s lead.

The state’s renewable energy goals are critical to reducing our reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels and improving air quality.  Wind energy is part of the overall effort to develop our renewable energy resources to support and accelerate the state’s clean energy goals.

Why wind and not another type of renewable energy?

A portfolio of renewable resources including both wind and solar is critical to achieving the state’s bold goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.  Wind and solar energy are generally complementary resources, and together will help Hawai‘i achieve its goals day and night.

Why does this project need to be built in Kahuku?

The success of wind energy projects is dependent on where wind resources are the most abundant.  O‘ahu’s North Shore, specifically between Kahuku and Kawailoa, has been shown to be a prime location with notably high and reliable wind potential.

How does wind power work?

The large propeller-like blades of a turbine are designed to capture the kinetic energy of the wind. When the turbine blades begin moving, they spin a shaft that leads from the hub of the rotor to a generator, which turns that rotational energy into electricity.

How will this wind farm impact the price of electricity on O‘ahu?

Wind is a cost-efficient source of power. More wind-generated power reduces our reliance on expensive, imported oil.

What is the required buffer zone separating wind turbines from other development?

The City and County requires that wind turbines be set back from all property lines a minimum distance equal to the height of the system, including the height of the tower and its farthest vertical extension (to the tip of its blade). For this project, the minimum setback, based on the County ordinance is 568 feet. In response to community feedback, Nā Pua Makani turbines have been relocated and the closest turbine is approximately 1,700 feet from the closest home and approximately 1,750 feet from Kahuku High School.

What will happen to the farmers currently using the land at the Nā Pua Makani site?

AES Hawai‘i supports local agriculture and will work to maintain as many farming operations as possible for the life of the project.

Was an environmental impact statement prepared for the project?

Yes, a joint state and federal environmental impact statement has already been prepared, which takes into consideration all impacts including economic, social, transportation and any effects on the physical environment such as air, water and noise. We have also conducted a study under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and have worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). DLNR, and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to prepare a Habitat Conservation Statement.