Knowledge Base


Clean Air Task Force: The Toll From Coal

The Clean Air Task Force set about quantifying the negative public health and economic impacts which result from coal power plant pollution.

Kaheawa Wind: Habitat Conservation Plan

Overview:  At Kaheawa Wind, we believe that wind power is one of the most sustainable energy options, and when developed on operated responsibly, highly compatible with humans and wildlife.  We closely adhere to the guidelines of State and Federal laws pertaining to endangered species and have made extended efforts to work harmoniously within Maui's unique environment. In fact, Kaheawa Wind was the first operating U.S. wind farm in the United States to complete a Habitat Conservation Plan to protect the endangered species that may have been impacted by the project. The purpose of the Habitat Conservation Plan was to:

  • Identify the species likely to be affected and provide an estimate of the anticipated take for each;
  • Prescribe mitigation that will provide a net benefit to the species affected;
  • Describe plans for monitoring take and mitigation effectiveness;
  • Describe measures for adjusting mitigation (increase or decrease) in the event that take is different from estimates;
  • Describe a plan for implementing and administering the HCP in cooperation with state and federal agencies; and
  • Ensure that adequate funding is provided.

What is a Habitat Conservation Plan?  In 1983, Congress adopted Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act as a way to promote "creative partnerships between the public and private sectors and among governmental agencies in the interest of species and habitat conservation." Section 10 authorizes states, local governments, and private landowners to apply for an Incidental Take Permit for otherwise lawful activities that may harm listed species or their habitats. To obtain a permit, an applicant must submit a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) outlining what he or she will do to "minimize and mitigate" the impact of the permitted take on the listed species. The principle underlying the Section 10 exemption from the ESA is that some individuals of a species or portions of their habitat may be expendable over the short term, as long as enough protection is provided to ensure the long term recovery of the species.


History of Kaheawa Wind's Habitat Conservation Plan:  Kaheawa Wind began to develop its Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in July of 2004. The plan was necessary because the Environmental Impact Statement had identified 4 listed species that might be impacted by the project.

Of the four species, three are birds: the endangered Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), the threatened Newell's (Townsend's) Shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli), and the endangered Nene (Branta sandvicensis). The endemic species Hawaiian Petrel ('Ua'u) and the endemic subspecies Newell's Shearwater ('A'o) are tropical Pacific seabirds that nest only on the Hawaiian islands (American Ornithologists' Union, 1998). The fourth species is a mammal, the endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) ('Ope'ape'a).

The State of Hawaii environmental law generally mirrors the Federal law with regard to the development of a HCP, but nonetheless an applicant must satisfy the requirements of both State and Federal law. Hawaii has established an Endangered Species Recovery Committee (ESRC) to advise the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), which is the department that must ultimately approve the plan and issue the incidental take license. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the governing agency on the Federal side. The requirements of our environmental laws and the administration by these agencies are complex. For this reason, an HCP can be a complicated and lengthy process.

After the draft plan is developed in consultation with the ESRC, which includes various data and studies along with the proposed mitigation efforts that are intended to provide a net benefit to the species, the plan under goes two public review and comment periods, one for the state and one for the US government. The plan is continuously refined throughout the process, comments are received from the public comment periods, and the comments are incorporated in the HCP. After the ESRC and the USFWS have approved the plan the departments issue the incidental take license and permit. 

While an expensive and time consuming process - normally it takes about 2 years to complete - the end result is an extremely thorough plan to mitigate any anticipated impacts to the listed species and provide the "net benefit" as required by law. In fact, if the plan is successful, the net benefit provided implies that the species are better off with the project in place than without it.

Under the HCP, Kaheawa Wind will contribute a minimum of $1,000,000 to the mitigation efforts, including research activities, to build the knowledge base on the species identified. And, under certain circumstances Kaheawa Wind may also contribute as much as $3,756,000 over the life of the project to insure a net benefit to the species.



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