Comment on Kalaeloa Solar Project by 8/7/17

(Source: Kathryn Mykleseth, “Input sought on proposed Kalaeloa solar project,” Star-Advertiser, 7/10/17.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Comments are due by Aug. 7 and should be sent to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, Aloha Solar Energy Fund II and Group 70 International Inc.:

Jesse Souki, HCDA executive director

Michael Stout, Aloha Solar Energy Fund II project manager

  • Email: mstout@ecc.net
  • Traditional mail: 2969 Mapunapuna Place, Suite 220, Honolulu, HI 96819

Jeff Overton, Group 70 International principal planner

  • Email: ASEF@g70.design
  • Traditional mail: 925 Bethel St., 5th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813

* * * * *

Kathryn Mykleseth, “Input sought on proposed Kalaeloa solar project,” Star-Advertiser, 7/10/17.

The state has opened up a public comment period for a solar project set to be built in Kalaeloa near Hawaiian cultural sites.

The Office of Environmental Quality Control released an environmental assessment draft for the solar project Saturday, requesting the public submit comments on the proposed project by Aug. 7.

Aloha Solar Energy Fund II, a subsidiary of Burlingame, Calif.-based ECC Energy Solutions, wants to build a 5-megawatt solar farm on roughly 24 acres.   

The Hawaii Community Development Authority — the state agency responsible for managing the land — submitted the draft on behalf of the solar project. HCDA’s board for the Kalaeloa Community Development District approved the developer’s request to negotiate a lease for 44 acres with the agency’s executive director in March.

The 20 acres that are not used for the solar farm would become archaeological preserves, as the 44-acre parcel contains 23 cultural sites.

Some residents voiced concerns early on about the project due to the area’s cultural significance.

They include John Bond, president of nonprofit Kanehili Cultural Hui.

“This site is one of the most culturally and historically rich sites (hui) members have ever seen,” he said in public testimony submitted in April. “By just walking a few yards in any direction of the bulldozed roads was massive evidence of an ancient Hawaiian cultural habitation of all kinds.”

The historical features found at the different sites are often associated with residential complexes. The features include rock mounds, various small enclosures and structures, modified pits, platforms and small coastal trails. Also present are two probable Native Hawaiian burials.

Aloha Solar Energy Fund II said it plans to preserve all sites after interviewing 23 state-recognized cultural descendants and speaking to various local organizations. The groups that Aloha Solar Energy Fund II met with include the Oahu Island Burial Council, Kalaeloa Heritage Park and Hawaiian Legacy Foundation.

“After consulting with various stakeholders, it is the intention of this project to preserve all sites in place,” the company said in the report. “Community concerns, such as the impact (of) construction activities on underground karst systems and impacts by the project on traditional resource gathering on flora … will be addressed.” (“Karst systems” refers to water-filled caverns and sinkholes.)

Aloha Solar Energy Fund II said in the report that it will work with community members to develop ways to build the facility without disrupting the nearby archaeological features.

The $27 million project would be built about 700 feet east of one of Kalaeloa Airport’s runways.

A study included in the environmental assessment showed that the glare from the solar panels would have a minimal impact on pilots. The study was prepared in response to Federal Aviation Administration concerns that the solar system would cause distractions to pilots or air traffic control tower personnel.

“Any glare experienced would occur intermittently in (the) morning when the sun is lowest in the sky and not for a period longer than ten minutes,” the report said. “Glare intensity levels are within acceptable FAA limits for aircraft on final approach. Overall glare impacts are anticipated to be low.”

The project will help Hawaii achieve its goal to have 100 percent of its electricity generated by renewable energy resources by 2045, Aloha Solar Energy Fund II said in the report.

“The goal toward energy independence and security still has its challenges, with more than 80 percent of Hawaii’s energy system-wide coming from petroleum,” the company said. “The development of the proposed project would help the state in achieving its (renewable energy) goal while also improving the environment.”

The energy produced by the project would have the capacity to power 820 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Aloha Solar Energy Fund II’s parent company has yet to finalize an agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co.

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