Oahu Windfarm Seeking Increase In Authorized Bat Deaths

Sep 26, 2019

Kawailoa Wind, LLC, has been operating five miles north of Haleiwa since 2012. The company is asking regulators to increase the number of endangered species it can legally kill by its presence.

The project’s 30 turbines generate enough electricity to power around 14-thousand homes, but they can also be fatal for the Hawaiian hoary bat and the Hawaiian petrel, both of which are endangered.

The wind farm operates under a Habitat Conservation Plan, approved by federal and state regulators, and designed to minimize the impact on endangered species. HCPs are a standard part of assessing a development's environemntal impact on protected plants and animals before a project can begin.

Kawailoa Wind's original HCP was approved in 2011 and allowed for 60 hoary bats to be killed by its turbines over a 20-year period.

But the company’s own monitoring following the completion of construction indicated that more bats were being killed than initially expected. So the wind farm’s owner, New York-based hedge fund D.E. Shaw, is now seeking to increase the number that Kawailoa’s turbines are allowed to kill, called the take.

Shaw, which purchased Kawailoa Wind in 2015 from SunEdison, is asking regulators to approve a new take of 160 Hawaiian hoary bats, a 260 percent increase. The company also requested 24 Hawaiian petrels be added to its take permit, which is valid until 2032, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

That works out to eight bats and 1.2 petrels per year.

As part of the habitat conservation plan, Kawailoa Wind is also required to offset its impact on endangered species whenever possible. 

Last year, the company installed a new bat deterrent system that saw an almost 80 percent reduction in similar bat fatalities at a wind farm in Texas. 

Kawailoa Wind also contributed almost 3 million dollars to a state initiative to purchase and conserve undeveloped land in Central Oahu that will serve as a habitat for Hawaiian Hoary bats.