Kahuku wind project opponents take demonstration to Honolulu mayor’s office

  • A protester speaks her mind Friday at Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office regarding the turbines under construction in Kahuku. (Courtesy photo/Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

HONOLULU — Demonstrators claiming their opposition to eight turbines under construction in Kahuku isn’t being heard took take their case to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office Friday but went away without speaking to him.

Protests have been focused primarily in Kalaeloa in Kapolei and Kahuku, where trucks carrying wind turbine parts have been departing and arriving since Oct. 17.

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On Friday about 30 protesters occupied the mayor’s reception room in Honolulu Hale from 11 a.m. until about 2 p.m.

“Our voices matter and our voices aren’t being heard,” said Ida Bluhm of Ku Kia’i Kahuku, the primary group leading the opposition to the Na Pua Makani project. “We have so far 128 arrests for this cause to halt the construction of these industrial wind turbines … and no one has addressed us. The governor has not addressed us. The mayor has not addressed us.”

There were 127 arrests as of Wednesday, and one protester was arrested Thursday morning at Kahuku, bringing the total to 128.

Na Pua Makani, by developer AES Corp., would add eight 568-foot turbines to the 12 smaller ones already in Kahuku.

Instead of speaking directly to Caldwell, the protesters were given a statement on Friday that read:

“I support the right to protest under our First Amendment and I appreciate the passion of those who showed up at my office today. However, every member of our community needs to follow the law, and the current project in Kahuku has met all of the mandates put before it. I will continue to ensure all of our laws are followed, and that includes the right to protest.”

Gov. David Ige could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We take our commitment seriously to answer their questions, address their concerns and find the most meaningful way to give back to the community,” said Verla Moore, community liaison for Na Pua Makani. “We continue to have many conversations with community members from Kahuku and the surrounding North Shore neighborhoods in one-on-one and small group settings.”

Demonstrators said they were singing and chanting in the mayor’s reception room at Honolulu Hale. There were 10 officers from the Honolulu Police Department present.

Caldwell spokesman Andrew Pereira said the “mayor’s scheduler took down contact information to possibly schedule a future meeting.”

Opponents of the project have said it constitutes “environmental injustice,” the unfair exposure to environmental hazards that certain communities bear.

“Our small rural community of Kahuku would unfairly bear 40% of all of Oahu’s wind turbines,” said Sunny Unga, one of the people who hoped to speak to Caldwell. “This is environmental injustice and social injustice. Our voice is important, and we ask that our government make our voice count.”

State Sen. Gil Riviere (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), one of the directors of Keep the North Shore Country, said, “I really feel for the people of Kahuku. They’ve done their part — they’ve got wind turbines already. Why must they take more?”

Riviere said there is more wind off of Portlock near Diamond Head than there is in Kahuku, and that it would be more appropriate to install the turbines there, where energy is more in demand. But he said they wouldn’t be built there because people think they’re “ugly.”

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“You think the people in Diamond Head and Black Point are going to allow a series of windmills to be built right offshore from them?” he asked.

Keep the North Shore Country has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Land and Natural Resources because of its decision to approve of a conservation plan for Na Pua Makani.

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