Honolulu Approves Most Dangerous Wind Turbines In United States

Kū Kiaʻi Kahuku – ʻAʻole Wind Turbines Information details website maintained by Dawn Bruns* (Sunset Beach Resident, Sunset Beach Community Association board member) *The findings and conclusions in this website are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

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Summary of infrasound (unlawful audible sound and bat kill sections below):

  • The Na Pua Makani 3.45 Megawatt turbines would be the largest ever installed on land in the United States.
  • When the existing smaller wind turbines in Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farms are spinning, when it’s windy, residents, even five miles away feel tired the next day, even if they’ve felt like they slept eight hours; when the turbines are not spinning, residents sleep soundly – the best sleep they’ve ever had – we long for windless nights.  When the turbines are off, children in Kahuku and Pupukea with behavior problems/tantrums (what the parents thought as their child’s normal personality) wake up noticeably calmer.  When the existing wind farms were built, residents in Kahuku and Pupukea, even in places where the wind farm noise is not audible, immediately noticed insomnia, irritability, headaches, tinnitus, and heart palpitations.  Chronic exposure to the wind turbines has resulted in high blood pressure that resolves when the turbines are stopped and when they are in Honolulu and off-island for work.  We have asked the Mayor to establish a secure portal for affected residents to provide private health information to inform updates to wind turbine operating and setback requirements.  We believe 3.0 and smaller wind turbines should not operate at night if they are within three miles of a residential-zoned area unless that area is rezoned industrial.  We are looking forward to the removal, in 12 and 13 years, of the existing too-close wind turbines.
  • The 3.45 MW turbines would produce 16 to 56 decibels higher sound pressure level of the 1 Hz impulses of sound (and harmonics of that impulse) responsible for the adverse effects to health.  Because 1 Hz sound attenuates (decreases) at a rate of only three decibels per doubling of distance, the 1 Hz impulses experienced 400 meters from the existing smaller wind turbines would be felt 8 miles from the proposed 3.45 MW turbines.  Health effects occurring 1,600 meters (in Kahuku… Pupukea is more than 1,600 meters from Kawailoa turbines) from the existing turbines would occur more than 33 miles from the proposed turbines.
  • There is no safe place for a 3.45 MW wind turbine to operate on any island in Hawaii;  no turbine larger than 3.0 MW should be built on any Hawaiian island;
  • If any of the proposed 3.45 MW turbines is built, the health effects of its operation would be so wide-ranging, it will be shut down and removed – probably within a year.  AES indicated decommissioned wind turbine blades would be put in our landfill.  The turbines should be loaded back on the ship they came in on.

Details:  The health and safety of Oahu residents and visitors is threatened by the proposed Na Pua Makani Wind Farm in Kahuku.  The proposed 3.45 MW wind turbines would be larger and more dangerous than any wind turbine installed on land in the United States.  Health effects of chronic exposure to repetitive impulses of low-frequency wind turbine sound include high blood pressure, heart damage, psychological and behavioral conditions, and sleep disturbance that (with the exception of permanent damage) would resolve when the wind stops and the turbines are off or the person moves away from Hawaii.  The 1 Hz impulses of infrasound from the proposed turbies would be approximately 16 dB higher than that of the smaller existing Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farm turbines so the infrasound health effects currently experienced in Kahuku and Pupukea 1,600 meters from the smaller existing Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farm would be experienced 33 miles from the Na Pua Makani wind turbines.  (The new turbines could be as much as 56 dB higher – the distances above are based on 16 dB).  These large turbines are too big to be built on land in Hawaii – no turbine larger than the Kawailoa turbines should be built in Hawaii.  Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s gross misrepresentations of the effects of the 3.45 MW turbines to human health in their application submittals for various licenses and permits give the regulatory agencies grounds to rescind the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm licenses and permits without a need for litigation. 

Na Pua Makani, owned by AES Corporation from Arlington, Virginia, appears to have received a building permit to construct eight Vestas 3.45 MW turbines (0.31 mile (502 meters, 549 yards, 1,648 feet) from the residential-zoned area of Kahuku (where Kahuku Elementary, Kahuku High School, and Kahuku Medical Center and Emergency Room, and approximately 450 homes would be within 2,000 meters of the wind turbines).  Infrasound impulses are produced with each downward pass of a turbine blade – the infrasound impulses produced by the proposed turbines would be an estimated 16 decibels higher than the infrasound produced by the 3.0 MW Kawailoa Wind Farm turbines.  This means infrasound levels eight miles from the proposed 3.45 MW turbines would be comparable to the infrasound levels ¼ mile (1,345 feet (410 meters)) from the existing Kawaloa Wind Farm 3.0 MW turbines. Residents two miles from the existing Kawailoa Wind Farm are reporting adverse health effects of the Kawailoa Wind Farm (health effects are known to occur 3.1 miles from these smaller-sized turbines); infrasound levels 261 miles from the proposed turbines would be comparable to infrasound levels two miles from the Kawailoa Wind Farm.  The physiological response to wind turbine sound is significantly greater than the physiological response to the same decibel sound from traffic and aircraft noise Schaffer 2016 and Rapley 2019.  Impulses of low-frequency sound would exceed 90 decibels at the two schools in Kahuku and may be 71 decibels in Kaaawa and Waialua, 68 dB in downtown Honolulu.  If Na Pua Makani Wind Farm is allowed to operate during school hours, the schools and university in Kahuku, Laie, Sunset Beach, Haleiwa, Waialua, and Hauula may need to be closed to protect student health.  The Hawaiian Islands are too small to house such large wind turbines.  The ANSI S12.9 Part 4 (ANSI 2005) Annex D threshold for onset of adverse effects to humans is 65 dB and that limit is based on effects of less-harmful noise produced by traffic and aircraft noise.  Adverse health effects from wind turbines are known to occur below 30 dB of low-frequency infrasound.  

Based on published sound data from other wind farms (see links to publications below) and the limited infrasound data provided by the developer, the 1 Hz low-frequency (inaudible) impulse sound produced by each turbine blade pass would be between 103 dB and 143 dB.  Because low-frequency sound does not attenuate rapidly like audible sound, these impulses would impact residents more than 30 miles away (see figure below).  These turbine blade impulses (spikes) of sound are below 1.5 Hz (harmonics develop at higher frequencies).

Na Pua Makani Impulse Sound Draft Oct 9 2019

Residents many miles from the proposed Na Pua Makani Wind Farm would be exposed to chronic high-energy impulses of low-frequency, inaudible sound energy.  Link to Video of Oct 10, 2019 Koolauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting (starting at 56:00) and Link to Oct 10, Koolauloa Neighborhood Board Powerpoint

Kahuku Community Association, Kū Kia’i Kahuku, Sunset Beach Community Association, North Shore Neighborhood Board members, Keep the North Shore Country, Life of the Land, State Senator Gil Riverie, State Rep Sean Quinlan, City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi, pro-bono lawyers, paid lawyers, and members of the community are working on many fronts to prevent implementation of Na Pua Makani Wind Farm.

SBCA Letter Rescind Na Pua Makani Oct 2019 (Video of Laie Community Association AES Presentation September 10 2019).

These proposed Na Pua Makani turbines would be the largestwind turbines ever built on land in the US.  The repetitive low-frequency impulses (0.5 to 1.5 Hz, inaudible sound (1 Hz sound has a wavelength of 1,100 feet (343 meters)) from each turbine downward blade pass of the tower (and the harmonics of that sound (2, 4, 8 Hz, etc) adversely affect human sleep, blood pressure, and psychology.  Because these wind turbine health effects resolve (with the exception of permanent damage resulting from undetected, untreated conditions such as high blood pressure) when there is no wind or when people sell homes/move, the cause of these health conditions is attributed to the wind turbines (Reviewed in Punch and James 2016; Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal Articles Health Effects Wind Turbines: 20122010; link to health effects references folder: Folder: Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects; Videos: Falmouth, MA Health Board 20122019 NY Wind Turbine Health Hearings, Australia, New Zealand ResidentsInfrasound Noise Equipment MidwestUK residents 10 km setback request.).

Aole Turbines by Nate Yuen

Kū Kia’i Kahuku – A’ole Turbines (photo by Nate Yuen)

We need to know what the maximum sound pressure level of 0.5 to 1.5 Hz sound the turbine will produce. Based on the information in the wind farm’s 2014 noise study, and sound phisics information, we can estimate anticipated low-frequency noise levels.  Because the low-frequency sound pressure of these turbines (disclosed by the applicant) are 15 dB higher than the 3.0 MW turbines (like the current ones at Kawailoa Wind Farm) and 1 Hz sound attenuates at a rate of 3 decibels per doubling of distance – high sound pressure zones x distance from a Kawailoa wind turbine would be that same level 32x (five doublings of distance 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, 32x) from the proposed Na Pua Makani turbines.  Because page 44 of the wind farm’s 2014 noise study discloses the low-frequency 8 Hz sound pressure level would be an extrordinary 83 dB at 205 meters (15 dB higher than 3 MW turbines), sound pressure level at 8 Hz would exceed the 65 dB ANSI S12.9 Part 4 (ANSI 2005) Annex D threshold for onset of adverse effects to humans two miles away from the wind farm (based on 6 dB attenuation for the first 1.2 km, and 3 dB attenuation for the subsequent distance (Nasa 1985 and Hansen et al 2015).

Turbine Pad 1 Sept 2019

September 2019 Construction at Na Pua Makani wind farm site.  The Kahuku Elementary School and the close residential-zoned area with 150 homes, are just off the screen to the left.

Rhythmic low frequency impulses in the 0 to 1.5 Hz range are produced when the fast-moving turbine blade passes the support tower (harmonics of that frequency result at 2x, 4x, 8x etc., that fundamental frequency).  Low-frequency noise sound pressure level increases with turbine blade length and because available turbine size increases each year, previous noise research was conducted near turbines that are smaller and produce significantly less low-frequency (0-1.5 Hz) sound than the proposed Na Pua Makani 3.45 MW wind turbines.  The number of impulses per second increases and decreases with wind speed and adjustments made to the turbine blade – the human brain appears to be particularly interested in paying attention when the rhythm is changed. Each impulse also causes harmonics (see below).

Sedaghatizadeh 2019 - Sound produced in descent of turbine blade

Very high rates of adverse health effects would occur in the town of Kahuku if Na Pua Makani was allowed to operate.  Example of “Very high” rates of adverse effects: Nissenbaum et al 2012 found that more than 70% of people living within 1,400 meters of industrial wind turbines wish to move away from the wind turbine, 24% of them started new prescription psychotropic drugs in the six months to three and a half years since the turbines were installed (versus zero in the farther from turbines groups), and 36-64% reported improved sleep when away from the turbines (versus 4-9% of people living farther from turbines).  McMurtry 2011 and McMurtry and Krogh 2014 attribute the cause of adverse health effects to a wind turbine when the person resides within 3.1 miles (5,000 m, 5 km) of a wind turbine and symptoms ameliorate when the person moves farther than 3.1 miles (5 km) from the wind turbine.  The risk of adverse health effects is reduced four miles from wind turbines Nissenbaum et al 2012 but we understand, but have not confirmed, adverse health effects of much smaller wind turbines occurs as far as 6.2 miles (10,000 meters) away. 

List of Health effects of wind turbine inaudible low-frequency infrasound:  

High blood pressure (Sometimes only when the person is sleeping does their blood pressure become dangerously high – 24-hour monitors are sometimes needed to diagnose dangerously-high blood pressure caused by wind turbines.  Very dangerous permanent damage can occur if untreated, however, taking high blood pressure medication is particularly dangerous because when the resident near the wind farm takes medication to control the high blood pressure, the person’s blood pressure becomes dangerously low when the wind stops and when they move away from the wind turbines);

Tachycardia [abnormal heart beat] and heart palpitations (usually at night, appears to begin to occur approximately six months after the wind farm has been operating; resolves when the person is away on a work trip or when they sell their house and move to safety);

Headaches (Onset seems to be within about an hour of exposure and resolves about 30 minutes after leaving the wind farm area.  These seem to be classified as migraines, but the reported pain appears to be sharper than a normal migraine – and focused on the entire forehead or front/top of the head, rather than starting on one side or the other);

Irritability (Children’s irritability and misbehavior is often attributed to their age, until the family moves away from the wind farm and the parents notice the child isn’t irritable);

Panic attacks (Seems to be associated with tachycardia and startling awake at night, occurring a distance of three miles from wind turbines (Nissenbaum et al 2012) MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD. Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health. Noise & Health, 2012;14:237-243);

Tinnitus, feeling ears popping, Nausea, Feeling Carsick, and Visual blurring

The sound pressure of sounds at frequencies below 10 Hz is generally not high enough (loud enough) to be audible to humans (dogs can hear low frequencies better than humans, and whales, elephants, and other animals regularly communicate using low-frequency sound, low-frequency sound).  However, the structures of the human ear are very attuned to detecting low-frequency sound because this is the range of sound produced by very dangerous things such as volcanoes, avalanches, and earthquakes.  It’s likely that this is why the wind turbine blade impulses detected by our ear are of great interest to our brain (even when we are asleep and completely unaware of the impulses).  Turbine blade startup and stoppages, and changes in blade rotation speed appear to be particularly problematic (the brain appears to pay particular attention when changes in the rhythm occur).  The physiological response to wind turbine sound is significantly greater than the physiological response to the same decibel sound from traffic and aircraft noise Schaffer 2016 and Rapley 2019.

Many People Will Feel Pressing Need to Get Away from the Turbines; The Danger is Greater for Those Who Stay:  People who are uncomfortable because of the low-frequency wind turbine sound will be motivated to find a way out (due to nausea, feeling carsick, visual blurring, headaches, irritability, panic attacks with sensations of internal quivering, feeling ears popping, or tinnitus).  This is expected to be approximately 30% of people – and tend to be the people who also experience motionsickness, people with damage to their hearing, people who experience migraines, people younger than six, and kupuna. The remaining 70% of people would not experience discomfort, but by staying near the turbines, they would face serious health consequences including high blood pressure and adverse permanent damage to their heart. 

Sensitization:  To make matters worse for Kahuku and Haleiwa residents, humans don’t habituate to low-frequency sound – previous exposure sensitized people to the sound, increasing their risk of health effects with exposure.  North Shore residents who have been chronically exposed to the smaller levels of infrasound from the 12 smaller 2.5 MW Kahuku wind turbines 1,200 meters from the residential area, and the Pupukea residents 1,600 meters away from the 30 3.0 MW Kawailoa wind turbines may be more sensitive to wind turbine low-frequency sound than people who have not been exposed.  People with previous chronic exposure to a wind turbine may have a heightened physiological response to the effects of wind turbines.

Wind Turbine Low-Frequency Sound Measurement and Sound Attenuation with Distance:

Examples of sonograms of the sound recorded near wind turbines are shown below.  The first figure shows 13-seconds of sound – full-spectrum, including audible noise:

turbine noise

Figure 1.  Sonogram, 13 seconds of sound recorded near a wind turbine.

The 2014 TetraTech noise study told us the 8 Hz found pressure level would be 83 dB at 200 meters.  The figure below shows us how much quieter the 8 Hz sound is than the fundamental frequencies (at 1.0 and 1.3 Hz) (Pilger and Cerrana 2016).  The figure shows the 5-minute averaged sound measured over three days. 1.0 and 1.3 Hz fundamental frequencies produced by the turbine blades, and harmonics of those vibrations (multiples of the fundamental frequency, like octaves, all produced by the original/fundamental (and louder) 1.0 and 1.3 Hz vibration of air (sound) visible as horizontal stripes.  The lower-frequency sound is wind pressure on the sensor.  Because these are five-minute averages, the decibel level of the impulses (distinct high-pressure sounds) are much higher decibels than the five-minute average.

Pilger 2017 Fig 5 Harmonics

Five-minute average sound level – comparison of 8 Hz harmonic with much louder 1 Hz fundamental frequency produced by the wind turbine blade (Pilger and Ceranna 2016))

In all of the data I’ve seen, the fundamental frequency impulses (below 1.5 Hz) are at least 20 decibels louder than the 8 Hz sound level.  The following figure from Salt, shows wind turbine blade sounds in relation to the threshold of human hearing.  8 Hz wind turbine sound is around 68 decibels and the sound pressure level of the turbine blade fundamental frequency (below 1.5 Hz) is above 90 decibels.  Low frequency sound is audible if it’s very loud – you can listen to low-frequency sound on your cell phone or or computer speakers if you turn the volume up very high (lots of YouTube videos of low-frequency sound played as continuous, white noise – high volumes can damage your hearing but the white noise is a continuous sound, not an impulse sound, so other than damage to your ear structures, listening infrasound at an audible (high) volume will (depending on the frequency) generally not hurt you.

Salt hearing threshold

Low-Frequency Sound Attenuation (Transmission Loss): 

Rule of thumb is low-frequency sounds attenuate with doubling of distance at much lower rate than audible sound.  A rule of thumb is low-frequency sound attenuates at an initial rate of 6 dB/doubling of distance the first 1.2 km, then 3 dB/doubling of distance (Nasa 1985 and Hansen et al 2015) while audible sound  attenuates at 6 to 7.5 dB/doubling of distance.

Sound moves and attenuates differently under different weather and atmospheric conditions.  Sound is pushed by the wind, low-frequency sound is reflected by the ground (reflection shown in figure below) and sound bounces off “stable” levels of the atmosphere, essentially creating a tunnel conduit for the sound.  Because of the bouncing, areas of the landscape far removed from the wind turbines can experience high levels of low-frequency sound, as shown below.

Hansen et al 2015 sound reflection Figure 3

These sound reflections appear to cause what looks like ripples in the 5 pm tranmission loss map below – there will be parts of the downwind landscape that receive much higher sound levels than areas closer to the turbines (the sound will skip over some parts of the landscape when the atmosphere is unstable (cumulus cloud conditions for example)).  Sound transmission loss maps (shown in the example below) show how many decibels lower the sound will be than it is at the source.  Because the Na Pua Makani turbines are larger than any installed on land in the US, and they don’t disclose the maximum level of 0.5 to 1.5 Hz sound the proposed turbine would produce, the ranges presented below are estimates based on the information they did provide in the 2014 noise assessment.  The 1 Hz (fundamental frequency) of the low-frequency turbine sound will be between 103 dB and 143 dB (as described below) 200 meters from the wind farm.  Using the transmission loss maps below (subtract the transmission loss on the map below to determine what the dB level would be at any particular point), that means that people five to six km (3.1 to 3.7 miles) from the wind farm would be in an area where transmission loss is less than 50 dB, so the low-frequency impulses from the turbines would be 53 to 93 dB (103-50 to 143-50), day and night.  At 30 km (18.6 mi) downwind from the wind farm, where transmission loss in the unstable (daytime) atmosphere is approximately 72 dB, the 143 dB sound would be 71 dB (143-72); 103 dB sound would be 31 dB (103-72).  At night, during stable air conditions, the transmission loss 30 km (18.6 mi) downwind would be only 67 dB, and the sound pressure level would be 35-75 dB.

Marcillo 2015 Landscape Attenuation day closeup

Marcillo 2015 Landscape Attenuation stable closeup

The low-frequency sound information in Na Pua’s 2014 noise study are so incomplete there is much room for cherry-picking and misrepresentation of anticipated very high energy infrasound from these very large turbine blades.  As shown in the next figure, below (from Marcillo et al 2015), depending on exactly where the measurement is taken, low-frequency sound levels vary dramatically (by more than 40 dB) in different directions and in different patterns in the area within 3 km of the turbine.  In this Albequerque, New Mexico wind farm landscape example, with a west wind, sound is very high on the south side of the wind farm and almost silent/background levels that same distance north of the turbine within 3 km of the turbine.  Therefore, we can’t discount the possibility that the 83 dB disclosed in the 2014 Na Pua noise study (at 205 meters) for 8 Hz sound could be 123 dB on the other side of the wind farm at an equal distance.  Additionally, because the highest sound pressure of low-frequency (the fundamental frequency) produced by a wind turbine is between 0.2 and 1.5 Hz range, and sound pressure from wind turbines appear to consistently be 20 dB higher than the 8 Hz sound level (as shown in Hansen et al 2015 Figure 6, for 3 MW Vestas90 44-m blade length turbines), the 0.2 to 1.5 Hz sound pressure level that could be caused by operation of the Na Pua turbine, at 205 meters, could be 143 dB (or more).  If Na Pua Makani turbines cause 0.2 to 2 Hz impulses of 103 dB at 205 meters those very low frequency impulses from each turbine blade pass could exceed the 65 dB ANSI threshold more than 100 km (62 miles) away at night.  If the 1 Hz sound at 205 meters is 143 dB rather than 103 dB (since 1 Hz fundamental frequency would be around 20 dB louder than 8 Hz harmonic, and to allow for the 205 meter sound level reported being on the “quiet” side of the wind farm), high sound levels would extend even farther than 100 km.

The most stable atmospheric conditions occur at night (the worst-case scenario would be infrasound sound from a turbine in a gulch such as those above Wā’iāle’e, Paumalū, and Waimea Bay, where the inversion and sinking cold air from the mountains would trap and funnel the sound down through the valley – already known to cause wind turbine sleep disturbance problems at the mouth of Waimea Valley, below the Kawailoa Wind Farm).  Fortunately, when the atmosphere is unstable (because of daytime land heating, mixing, cumulus cloud conditions), this sound would attenuate as it’s lost into the atmosphere (so maybe we would all just need to sleep during the day).

In the past three weeks, we’ve realized that since at least 2010, peer reviewed scientific studies have documented harmful health effects of wind turbines and yet Na Pua Makani has always asserted there would be “no high or adverse effects… from this project”. October 1, 2019, AES Chief Operating Officer of the US unit of AES Mark E. Miller, in response to a request from the public for a 2.8-mile setback, made the bold startling assertion (to 100 members of the public, who’ve been sitting in contraflow traffic at Waimea this past week, relocating their farm operations, and suffering sleep disturbance due to blasting at the wind farm construction site) at City councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s public meeting) that the wind farm “will not have an adverse impact to people”.

The World Health Organization Assessment of Wind Turbine Health Impacts include the following “The other irrefutable conclusion is that the wind industry has been given a regulatory path to profits with an unfathomable license to hurt in the form of sleep deprivation (and associated disease) for a very long time….there is a direct pathway to disease resulting from wind turbine noise.”  and “The impacts recognized by the WHO Guidelines are likely to cause some concern for the wind industry that has chronically, methodically, and systemically, over a long period of time, blocked the flow of information, denying, obfuscating, and blaming helpless victims for “poor coping skills.”

Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s gross misrepresentations of the effects of the 3.45 MW turbines to human health in their application submittals for various licenses and permits give the regulatory agencies grounds to rescind the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm licenses and permits without a need for litigation.  We do not want any wind turbine larger than the existing 3.0 MW Kawailoa Wind Turbines on Oahu, and we do not want any wind turbine installed within 2.8 miles of a residential-zoned area.  Residents of Pupukea and Kahuku now know the 3.0 MW Kawailoa Wind Turbines, 1,600 meters away from Pupukea residents, and the 12 existing 2.5 MW Kahuku Wind Turbines, 1,200 meters from the residential-zoned area, are hurting them.  Residents are looking forward to the existing turbines being taken down in 2031 (2032 for Kawailoa), at the end of their project term, or sooner, if possible.

If Na Pua Makani is allowed to operate, we can anticipate many of the homeowners within 2.8 to 3.7 miles of Na Pua Makani (and, depending on the level of 1 Hz infrasound produced by the turbine blades, residents many miles away) would risk their life savings to sell their homes to get away away, and sue, ultimately resulting in the turbines being removed and AES or the regulatory agencies reimbursing them for their legal expenses and compensating them for the reduced educational development of their children, loss of quality of life, expenses of temporary quarters away from their home, and their suffering.

Na Pua Homes within 2point8mi map

SOLUTION to Prevent “Clean” Energy from Driving Us Away (though driving residents off of Oahu is certainly one way to reduce energy needs):

Distance and small turbine blade size are the two most important ways to reduce resident exposure to harmful low-frequency wind turbine impulses.  A buffer distance of 2.8 miles between wind turbines and residential-zoned areas, where health and safety are supposed to be protected, should be legislated to provide adequate distance for low-frequency noise attenuation, and turbine size should be kept at 3 MW (Kawailoa-sized turbines) or smaller.  Maps of what the 2.8-Mile Wind Turbine Setback from Residential-Zoned Areas Would Look Like on Oahu, and for comparison, Maui and Hawaii Island (DRAFTS of these two islands because we are not as fammiliar with their zoning classification system):

Wind Turbine Residential Area Buffer 2019

The 2.8-mile buffer would mean don’t build 3 MW and smaller turbines in the red area (and don’t build ANY turbine larger (with a longer turbine blade) than the existing 3 MW Kawailoa turbines on Oahu).  We hope the Honolulu Health Services Division will establish a secure method for residents to disclose health effects of the existing wind turbines to inform wind turbine setback legislation.  It’s crucial to protect personal health information that would affect a person’s property values and job candidacy – Please protect people’s anonymity when they tell you health information.

Wind Turbine Buffer - Maui 2-8 mi

DRAFT of what the 2.8-mile wind turbine/residential area buffer would look like on Maui.  Only one small condo near the harbor appears to be within 2.8 miles of a wind turbine on Maui.  The Auwahi Wind Farm is more than three miles from any resident and more than six miles from a residential-zoned area.


Draft of what the 2.8-mile wind turbine residential area buffer would look like on Hawaii Island (DRAFT because Oahu author is not familiar with Hawaii County zoning classifications).

Na Pua Makani’s giant wind turbines must not be built unless the Kahuku, Laie, and Kuilima residential-zoned areas, and possibley Haleiwa and Waialua, are re-classified as some non-residential zoning (such as ag or industrial, some classification that does not confer health safety) and the residential property owners must be justly compensated for the “taking” of their rights to the safety and health that was previously confered to them via residential-zoning.  The property value loss would exceed the $200 million in gross receipts the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm would take from HECO ratepayers over 20 years, so public funding would need to be used to make the people whole. You wouldn’t need the Kahuku Schools and Kahuku Medical Center because there wouldn’t be safe places to live.

Without any New Legislation, Na Pua Makani Would Exceed the Existing Legal Nighttime Audible Noise (dBA) Limit:  Na Pua Makani Wind Farm operation would exceed the legal limit that prohibits noise from exceeding 45 decibels more than 10% of any 20-minute period at night in residential-zoned areas. Na Pua Makani said the wind farm would cause audible noise level (dBA) to average (Leq) 44 decibels in the residential-zoned area – if the average is 44 decibels, the noise will exceed 45 decibels more than 10% of the time.  Na Pua Makani said ambient noise in the residential area is already 44 decibels at night, but nighttime Leq is a very quiet 28 dB (or lower).  Their three permanent noise sensors are located a sea of 6-ft tall guinea grass rustling in the wind (because they claimed they couldn’t get permission from any homeowners to put the noise sensor in the neighborhood (see screen capture from noise study below).

TetraTech quote from noise study

Nighttime shutdown of the turbines, to prevent the turbines from killing endangered bats, will reduce the wind farm’s nuisance noise-harm to this vulnerable town.  The wind farm would gross approximately $10 million/year with their $0.15/kwh power purchase agreement, so they can afford to shut down 45% of the time, at night, to conserve the bats (and the town).  The State of Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (the same Board members who had just approved the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea), who are entrusted with managing this State land to benefit Native Hawaiian people, approved the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm on State land, even though they could have (as pointed out by Keep the North Shore country and Kahuku Community Association in their contested case hearings, as recommended by the State’s attorney) required the nighttime shutdown as required by state endangered species law. 

Of the noise aspects of this project the National Wind-Watch.org said “The closeness of this project to homes and a school should worry officials (or they should be made to worry). They should review the nuisance case of Falmouth Massachusetts, where first, the turbines had to be shut down at night to allow the neighbors to sleep, and finally shut down completely, costing the town many millions.” (Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects).

This is our Mauna Kea – We are Mauna Kea.  Kū Kia’i Kahuku – A’ole wind turbines.  The injustices of this Board of Land and Natural Resources against Native Hawaiians are startling.

September 11, 2019 URGENT NEED:  The private landowner with four of the closest turbines wants to get out his contract with the wind farm – Any lawyer wishing to donate to help Kahuku, please contact Gil@gilriviere.com.

Second September 11, 2019 URGENT NEED:  Apparently the new wind farm owner did not realize (as regulators had not realized), former wind farm owner Champlain was reporting anticipated avergage decibel level of the turbines rather than the L10 – so while the projected average noise is 44 decibels, the law prohibits noise from exceeding 45 decibels more than 10% of any 20-minute period.  Presumably AES also doesn’t realize the “ambient” noise meter is sitting inches from a sea of tall guinea grass where the rustling of the grass would make it appear the silent (28-decibel) Kahuku residential area has ambient sound similar to what the 44 dB Leq noise levels turbines will result in.  We need to get permanent noise monitoring stations into the residential area, outside the guinea grass – any engineering firm willing to donate a noise monitoring station, please contact sunnyrkim@gmail.com. (Update Sept 22, 2019:  We’re realizing this noise sensor placement in a noisy place, and the reporting of the average noise level rather than disclose the L10 noise peaks, is standard practice for wind farm companies.  We’re also learning they usually “lose” the noise data they’ve collected so it’s not available in discovery in litigation).

September 11, 2019 Update:  Last night the wind developer offered to pay $4 million or something for a rec center and pool that the City/County is already working on funding regardless of the wind farm – got zero applause – met with silence (just like Kahuku is going to stay because these things are not going to be built). This wind farm would have to pay each homeowner the $40,000 to $120,000 in property value loss so they can move to a safe place for this to even begin to be palatable. $37 million.

Na Pua Makani SFEIS fails to disclose to Federal, State, and County permitting agencies how noisy the wind turbines will be, situated so close to residential areas.  Na Pua Makani’s EIS says there would be no high or adverse effects to any minority or low income population and, therefore, no environmental justice issues resulting from this Project.”  According to the Census Bureau, Kahuku has a total population of 2,614 people in 622 housing units (53% owner-occupied; 47% renting) that are 8.6% (224) white, 34% (888) Native Hawaiian; 26% (641) Filipino, and 31% (823) two or more races, 62% born in Hawai‘i, 23.5% born in foreign country.  Twenty five percent of the of population 25 years and older did not graduate from high school; 53% of Kahuku residents completed no more than 8th grade.

Night-time Nuisance Noise Exceeding Legal Limits:  The existing Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farms are both more than a kilometer from any residences; Kawailoa is more than 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) from the closest residence and the Kahuku Wind Farm is approximately 1,200 meters (4,000 feet)  from the closest residence.  My understanding from the DLNR Board is Champlin proposes to build turbines 502 meters from the Kahuku town residential area containing two schools and a hospital.

The legal limit for night-time noise is 45 dBA during no more than 10 percent of any 20-minute period.  When the vacation rental down the street parties and wakes us up at night, we use the “Sound Meter” app on our phones and noise, at my lot line, is below 40 dBA and never spikes above 45 dBA.  Champlin’s EIS indicates the turbine operation AVERAGE (LEQ) noise would be 44 dBA in residential areas.  Please install the “Sound Meter” app on your cell phone so you see how sound works – an example noise graph is below:

noise example

LEQ is the horizontal line (essentially the average noise energy – in this case, for 10 seconds) and the red line is the noise energy over time – the red line is what you’ll see when you use the “Sound Meter” application.  Image From:  http://www.noisenet.org/Noise_Terms_Leq.htm

Kahuku residents should ducument current nighttime sound levels at their home using free cell phone sound meter apps. Measure audible sound in your driveway in the middle of the night. 2 am is the quietest time in Kahuku to make measurements. If you have an iPhone that’s less than six months old and you use the “SLA Lite” app, the measurement will be within one decibel accuracy. The next-best set-up is the “Sound Meter” app on an Android phone. Enter your data summary and upload your raw data file into this Google Form Joshua Kaleleiokalani Kaina created: Google Forms Sound Data Upload. This will help refute the claim AES makes in their EIS and in their presentations, that the neighborhood is already noisy at night, like the 44 decibels average noise level of their turbines. They claimed their 44 decibel average wind turbine noise level will be masked by the existing sounds. The research documenting the accuracy of various phones/apps here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cNT9wRDZv0fHKy-4swW3cj5KF3O86aD8.  Ideal to have the app running on one phone, and have a second phone video capturing the app screen, sounds, and documenting the location and the surroundings.

You’ve noticed noisy things are louder under certain conditions – like when you’re downwind from the noise and when the ground is wet from rain.  If the LEQ (average over the year) wind farm noise in the Kahuku community would be 44 dBA, it seems impossible for the L10 to not exceed 45 dBA.  Unless the wind farm is going to have spikes of very very loud noise that would pull the average way above the noise caused by normal operation, it seems impossible for the L10 to not exceed the legal limit of 45 dBA.  We can assume when the tradewinds are blowing from the wind farm toward the town or when it’s rained, the average noise energy that night will be louder than 45 dBA. Current L10 noise levels in Kahuku town at night that I’ve measured are between 20 and 35 dBA.  The applicant has not disclosed the nighttime L10 noise for the project and the EIS’s use of LEQ is misleading and unscrupulous – this developer appears to be attempting to get permits based on incomplete and misleading noise information.

The new owner of Na Pua Makani Wind Farm genuinely appears to be clueless about the misrepresentations in the EIS and the community’s longstanding opposition to the wind farm.  Apparently, Champlain misled them.  Hope they have a good lawyer to sue Champlain…

Video of sign-waving prior to meeting with AES in Laie, Sept 10, 2019

Video of misleading presentation by AES and community voicing concerns September 10, 2019

Video interviews and testimony by residents in Massachusetts, the midwest, New Zealand, and Australia describing effects of wind turbines on their health,and 2019 NY State hearings addressing protection of public health from wind turbines:

Falmouth, MA, 2012 Board of Health public hearing testimony by people living within a mile of two 1.65 MW turbines – the turbines had just been shut down at nighttime – and after this hearing, the turbines ended up being removed permanently: Falmouth, MA, 2012 Board of Health Public Testimony Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rguPxQ93Qc&fbclid=IwAR3VITCbpzZdGHkGzucE0H0Kt49JpvKnAIr38i3rny8pLOQL_PxHiFkGsqg

Video of residents explaining health effects of wind turbines up to 2.8 miles away, in Australia and New Zealand:  https://www.wind-watch.org/video-pandora.php

September 10, 2019: New York Wind Turbine Setback Hearings: https://www.wind-watch.org/video-lincoln-ny.php where Jerry Punch presents a summary of decades of research regarding health effects of wind turbines:  https://docs.wind-watch.org/Punch-James-Wind-Turbine-Noise-16-09-30.pdf and in Robert Rand, Rand Acoustics talk, infrasound discussion starts around 20:00 and he explained people who are sensitized to wind turbine noise can’t live within four miles of wind turbines. 

2019 Iowa County proposes 1.5-mile setback from farm dwellings (all residences, not just residential-zoned areas):  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2019/08/27/midamerican-proposed-turbine-setbacks-would-wipe-out-wind-development/2132245001/

Video showing infrasound noise equipment and results near wind farm in the midwest:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibsxVKU6B8s&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2n93wZFMTn-T_4HtscKrfwHqre-7LVqIVMkVhfIGhyxe7_yM5wXq1jaz4

Recommendation to keep wind turbines 10 km (6.2 miles) from homes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEh3sooKU8A&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3h1gUjAjJzQNH5G_-_2RUmGBi3IPAgQATJkd6z6_jd4x6JDCfwdnPzKRU

More Details about Endangered Bat Litigation

Endangered BatsTo get a license to kill an endangered animal, endangered species law requires the project to offset take of the endangered species with mitigation to the “maximum extent practicable”.  This is relatively easy to do for most species – you can boost Hawaiian goose and Hawaiian seabird reproductive success from 5% to 80% by protecting nests from cat, mongoose, and rat predators.  Back in 2009-2012, when the incidental take licenses for the first five Hawaii wind farms were issued, it was totally reasonable for the DLNR to conclude the solitary tree-roosting bat population would increase if 20 acres of grazed grassland was restored to native forest.  Researchers thought bats preferred native forest and they thought the core area used by a bat was 20 acres.  But in 2016 monitoring at a wind farm mitigation site on Maui showed a reduction in bat feeding when pigs are removed possibly because the dung beetle population declines. In addition, it turns out bats prefer foraging in non-native grasslands, low-density developed areas, and gulches; the bats fly over native forest areas to get to these other feeding sites; and the average male bat core area is 9,143 acres (3,700 ha), not 20 acres (Bat Core Area Research).  So removing pigs from 1,300 acres of native forest for 8-12 years does not offset take of 51 bats by Na Pua Makani.  It’s more likely to hurt bats.

Na Pua Makani’s HCP, that the DLNR approved to authorize the wind farm killing 51 bats, would “mitigate”/”offset” the kills by funding eight to 12 years of pig removal and grass removal in 1,300 acres (526 ha) of native forest at the Poamoho Ridge native forest area and $150,000 in “research” to monitor the bat population at Poamoho Ridge during that time. The problem is, the proposed mitigation will not help bats because  A.) removal of pigs, grass, and other non-native plants at Poamoho Ridge would not be expected to help even one bat because bats feed preferentially in grassland and areas occupied by pigs; B.) the “mitigation” site was already fenced by DLNR and the Watershed Partnership; and C.) the 1,300-acre mitigation site is the size of one seventh of one male bat’s core area, so how would 51 additional bats be produced by the small densely forested site to offset the wind farm’s bat take? The bat take license may have been approved because it will help the DLNR meet its own internal acres managed goals (they want to have 20% of DLNR pig-free by 2020 or something like that – because pigs damage native plants and their rooting causes mosquito populations to increase, so the forest birds get malaria – pig control is a high priority for other Hawaii species – but it clearly does not help the bats).

By law, Hawaii wind farms including Na Pua Makani must avoid bat take by shutting down at night, to the extent if is practicable (financially feasible), until an effective bat mitigation method is developed and the wind farm implements it to offset their bat take.  According to information provided by HECO, Na Pua Makani would gross more than $10 million/year while wind farm operations (which wouldn’t include the bat mitigation costs) cost approximately $2 million/year.  Nighttime shutdown would reduce gross income by approximately 45% ($6.5 million gross, minus $2 million operating cost = $4.5 million PROFIT).  Even with the nighttime shutdown (which brings the wind farm into conformance with State noise laws and endangered species laws), Na Pua Makani, because of their generous $0.15/kwh power purchase agreement, would roll in the $4.5 million per year profit (see: Opportunity Cost of Hawaii Wind Farms).  The two new Hawaii wind farms are both proposing $0.10/kwh power purchase agreements, even in light of the nighttime shutdown requirements.  Massive profits at the expense of endangered bats (and the Kahuku public trying to sleep at night) are unlawful.

Na Pua Makani is the first wind farm proposed since the new information about the ineffectiveness of bat mitigation became available.  After eleven years of industrial wind farm operations in Hawaii, there is no evidence a single bat has benefited from a wind farm mitigation project and it’s more likely mitigation is harming individual bats and bat populations.

To Avoid Killing Endangered Bats, Na Pua Makani Must Shut Down at Night: Na Pua Makani proposes to minimize bat take by implementing low wind speed curtailment when wind speeds are 5 meters/second or lower at night (stopping blade spinning when winds are lighter because bats are flying under light wind conditions).  However, new research indicates the relatively large, strong-flighted Hawaiian hoary bats are still flying around wind turbines at existing North Shore wind farms up to wind speeds of 12 m/s (Figure 1, adapted from Gorresen et al 2015, Figure 19, p. 25 https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10790/2585/1/TR64_Gorresen_Bats_Final.pdf).

Gorresen bat wind speed explanationsFigure 1.  The relatively large, strong-flighted Hawaiian hoary bats are detected flying around wind turbines at existing North Shore wind farms (blue curve) at average wind speeds up to 12 meters/second.  By implementing low wind speed curtailment of 6.5 m/s (red arrows) instead of the proposed 5 m/s, Champlin could reduce bat take by 50%.  Low wind speed curtailment at 8 m/s would almost eliminate bat take.  Graph adapted from Gorresen et al 2015, Figure 19: https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10790/2585/1/TR64_Gorresen_Bats_Final.pdf

Video of the DLNR Contested Case Hearing

Status of Permit Applications:  Keep the North Shore Country addressed the endangered bat aspects of the project in a contested case at the DLNR, with hearings held August 7 and 8, 2017.  On November 1, 2017, the DLNR’s contested case hearing officer Yvonne Y. Izu, Esq. recommended the Board of Land and Natural Resources deny the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s application for an incidental take license Hearing Officer Recommends Board Deny License.  Without fixing the fatal flaws such as requiring the wind farm to shut down to avoid bat take, the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the wind farm’s permit on May 15, 2018.  Keep the North Shore Country has appealed this decision in State court. The Circuit Court does not have the authority to overturn Agency decisions, so the case is now at the State Appeals Court level.

In addition, the wind farm did not meet the requirements set by the PUC Power Purchase Agreement, so presumably it will be voided (September 11, 2019 PUC Filing by Life of the Land). 

October 10, 2019, Filed by Lance Collins to rescind HDOT bridge load permits:  Because the heavy loads from the two previous wind farms appear to have caused the failure of two bridges, and the proposed turbines are even larger and would harm historic bridges (which requires a DLNR permit) and cut the North Shore in half, the Hawaii Department of Transportation bridge permits are not lawful.

Sept 11 2019 Life of the Land PUC submittal

Please Help Stop Na Pua Makani from unlawful nighttime operation:  $4,000 more is needed for the current State Court Appeals Court stage of the fight.  Please donate to Keep the North Shore Country https://www.keepthenorthshorecountry.org; personal checks can be mailed to:

Keep the North Shore Country
66-250 Kamehameha Hwy, Suite D103
Haleiwa, HI 96712

Go Fund Me site is also set up:  Keep the North Shore Country State Appeals Court Litigation Funding Link

A second, related, fundraising effort, for other efforts to prevent this wind farm has also been established:  Additional Fundraiser Link

Follow the latest on Facebook:  Kū Kia’i Kahuku – A’ole Wind Turbines Facebook Page

If these Na Pua Makani Wind Turbines are built, they will be removed via class-action litigation, just like the two 1.65 MW turbines the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts installed in a residential area (2012 Falmouth, MA Hearing) and the Fairbank, Iowa (2018) wind turbines were.