Maui wind power expansion plan published

November 9, 2010 7:32 pm 0 comments
Maui wind farm. Photo by Alvin Smith/The_Smiths on Flickr (Creative Commons).

Maui wind farm. Photo by Alvin Smith/The_Smiths on Flickr (Creative Commons).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the availability of a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) submitted by Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC for public review. Kaheawa Wind Power II is a subsidiary of the Boston-based wind energy company First Wind that supplies electricity to the Maui Electric Company.

Kaheawa Wind Power II developed the draft HCP in coordination with the FWS and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources as part of the application for an incidental take permit for species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The draft HCP and EA are available for public review and comment for 30 days.

An incidental take permit is required when nonfederal activities are likely to result in “take” of a threatened or endangered species while carrying out otherwise lawful activities. Kaheawa Wind Power II is requesting a permit because incidental take of four species may result from collisions during the construction and operation of the wind energy generation facility. The species affected are the endangered Hawaiian goose or nēnē, Hawaiian petrel or ‘ua‘u, Hawaiian hoary bat or ‘ōpe‘ape‘a and the threatened Newell’s shearwater or ‘a‘o.

“Take,” as defined by the federal Endangered Species Act, means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm may include significant habitat modification where it actually kills or injures a listed species by impairing essential behavior (e.g., nesting or reproduction).

The HCP describes how Kaheawa Wind Power II will – to the maximum extent practicable – avoid, minimize, and mitigate the potential incidental take of protected species that may result from the construction and operation of a new 21-megawatt, 14-turbine wind energy generation facility at Kaheawa Pastures above Ma‘alaea, in the southwestern portion of Maui. The facility also includes an electrical substation, a battery energy storage system, an underground electrical collection system, an overhead transmission line, a meteorological monitoring tower, and service access roads. The project is located within a combined area of approximately 143 acres. The permit authorizes the take of the listed species incidental to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed facilities, during the next twenty years.

Kaheawa Wind Power II is proposing mitigation measures that include:

  • active management such as predator removal and construction of cat and mongoose proof fences at Hawaiian petrel and Newell’s shearwater colonies;
  • release of nēnē (adults and goslings) at approved sites;
  • habitat management and predator control to increase nēnē breeding success and survival;
  • surveys to document the distribution and abundance of the Hawaiian hoary bat; and
  • habitat management and reforestation to benefit the recovery of the Hawaiian hoary bat.

This HCP incorporates adaptive management provisions to allow for modifications to the mitigation and monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during implementation.

The FWS draft environmental assessment considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposed action of permit issuance, including the measures that would be implemented to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The environmental assessment contains an analysis of three alternatives: issuance of a permit to Kaheawa Wind Power II on the basis of the action as described in the proposed HCP; the issuance of a permit based on a different siting location; and the no action alternative (no permit issuance and no measures by the applicant to reduce or eliminate the take of the four listed species).

The FWS requests information, views, and opinions from the public on the proposed federal action of issuing a permit, including the identification of any aspects of the human environment not already analyzed in the environmental assessment. In addition, the FWS specifically solicits information pertaining to the adequacy of the HCP as measured against the permit issuance criteria.

Both the federal and Hawaii Endangered Species Acts provide for the HCP process to allow development activities to proceed while promoting the conservation of listed species. The FWS and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources jointly process HCPs but issue separate incidental take permits and licenses, respectively.

All comments from interested parties must be received on or before December 9, 2010. Written comments should be submitted to:

Loyal Mehrhoff
Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850

Comments may also be sent via facsimile to 808 792-9580.

The FWS will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and submitted comments to determine whether the application meets the requirements of NEPA regulations and section 10 (a) of the Endangered Species Act.

Documents are posted on the FWS website at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/. Copies and additional information may also be obtained from James Kwon at 808-792-9400, or by writing to the address listed above.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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