(BIVN) – The operation of a wind farm at South Point on Hawaiʻi Island might result in the killing of three species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the owners are applying for a license to do so.
Tawhiri Power, LLC, the owner and operator of the Pakini Nui Wind Farm, is requesting a 20-year Incidental Take License from the Hawai‘i DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife that would allow for the incidental take of the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), the Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), and the Hawaiian Goose or Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis).
Tawhiri is also applying to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a federal Incidental Take Permit, documents say.
The state Endangered Species Recovery Committee will meet on Oʻahu on Wednesday, where it will review Pakini Nui Wind Farm’s Draft Habitat Conservation Plan.
Pakini Nui Wind Farm began operations on April 3, 2007. The project is a 20.5-megawatt (MW) operating wind energy facility that consists of 14 General Electric 1.5-MW SE turbines.
According to the executive summary of the wind farm’s plan:
The first Hawaiian hoary bat fatality was found on August 31, 2013, during a scheduled search the first week of initiating a weekly monitoring effort. The second Hawaiian hoary bat was found on March 1, 2016, and the third Hawaiian hoary bat was found on April 12, 2018. Prior to the weekly searches, Tawhiri performed monthly searches of all turbines starting at the beginning of commercial operations on April 4, 2007. During this monthly search period, no fatalities of state- and ESA-listed species were found. The Hawaiian hoary bat is the only state and ESA listed species that has been found at the Pakini Nui Wind Farm.
Pakini Nui Wind Farm’s Habitat Conservation Plan details the low wind speed curtailment that serves as an operational minimization measure, and it also explains how mitigation measures will be used to offset the impacts of potential incidental take.
Mitigation for the incidental take of the Hawaiian hoary bat will consist of habitat improvement at the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Through an agreement with the National Park Service, the habitat improvement will include removing invasive plant species and planting desired native species.
Mitigation for the incidental take of Hawaiian petrel consists of predator trapping, predator surveillance, and fence maintenance around a Hawaiian petrel nesting colony in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the document says.
Mitigation for the incidental take of nēnē is for predator control and nest protection at a breeding pen located at Pi‘ihonua, the document states.
The Endangered Species Recovery Committee will review the Pakini Nui Wind Farm Habitat Conservation Plan during its meeting at the Kalanimoku Building in Honolulu at 9 a.m. on October 23.