In 2007, Kamehameha Schools developed a North Shore Master Plan to integrate the use of their lands on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. They seek the returns of culture, education, environment, economy, and community of this region (the “Master Plan”). “Wind energy has shown great promise for economic returns from preliminary studies…The wind technology has a relatively small footprint will likely be compatible with most agricultural uses.” Under such consideration of “economic returns,” Kamehameha School adopted the Kawailoa Wind project as a part of the Master Plan and provided the lands, which closed to the Waimea Bay--the most famous beach park in North Shore, to Kawailoa Wind.
Kawailoa Wind proposed to build renewable energy (wind power) facilities, including thirty wind turbines with generating capacity of up to 70 MW per hour and other supporting structures. In addition, related communication equipment was installed at two existing Hawaiian Telecom facilities on Oahu’s highest mountain--Mt. Ka`ala. Because of this installation, the EIS process was mandatorily triggered. As per Hawaii law.
Although Kawailoa Wind claimed that its goal was to increase the use of clean, renewable energy and reduce the State of Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels, a twenty-five (25) years power purchase agreement, with stable revenues, was entered into with Hawaii Electric Cooperation (“HECO,”) which constituted a significant incentive to Kawailoa Wind-- for the sake of such substantial economic benefits.
The Hawaii EIS process related to the Kawailoa Wind project includes:
- the trigger of EIS process;
- the scoping;
- the EIS preparation notice (EISPN);
- the draft EIS (DEIS);
- the final EIS (FEIS); and
- the mitigation methodology.
In most cases, a judicial challenge process under HRS § 343-7 would allow the public/environmental/community groups to help the decision makers better consider the new wind farm project more completely, while the Kawailoa Wind did not faced those private challenges. Here is a brief of the mentioned processes.
(1) EIS trigger: because Kawailoa Wind project used a small piece (0.27 Acres) of land o Although the Kawailoa project did not get into the n Mt. Ka’ala owned by the State, the EIS process was triggered under the HRS§ 343-5(a). However, according to the HRS § 201N-8 (b), the permission for a renewable energy facility shall not be made until after final acceptance of an environmental impact statement, and a draft EIS shall be prepared at the earliest practicable time. Accordingly, an EIS process shall be required for the new Pupukea Wind project.
(2) Scoping: Scope is an important step in the EIS process after it is triggered. Scoping is to determine the scope of the EIS, and to determine the significant issues to be discussed in the EIS. An applicant may segment the proposal into separated pieces thus to evade the possible EIS process and defeat the purpose of EIS review. Therefore, a proposal shall be well scoped to prevent improper segmentation. In Hawaii, there are four scenarios of actions will be treated as a single action in order to avoid “segmentation”. Maimea Valley may monitor such scoping-relevant activities noticed by the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) in order to step in earlier.
(3) EISPN: On September 23, 2010, First Wind LLC prepared an EIS Preparation Notice (EISPN) and submitted tothe Hawaii State Energy Office of Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (the “DEBDT”) in accordance with the HRS § 201N-8 (2013) and HRS § 343-5(e), without Environmental Assessment (the “EA,” which is usually the first stage of environmental impact evaluation.) A thirty-day consultation period expired on October 30, 2010.