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Still no long-term damage in revised West Kaua‘i Energy Project environmental assessment

WAIMEA — The latest draft of the West Kaua‘i Energy Project environmental assessment says that the project would have no significant negative environmental impact.

The assessment, conducted by consulting and engineering practice SSFM International, says “no long-term impacts to any resource are anticipated” from the project, and “any impacts would be during the construction phase, which would be short-term.”

The assessment cites the project’s long-term benefits, including the generation of renewable energy, increasing data collection on tributaries to the Waimea River, rehabilitating former plantation irrigation ditches and reservoirs, providing water and infrastructure to thousands of acres of agricultural land, improving access to water resources for firefighting and increasing recreational access at Pu‘u Lua Reservoir.

“We’ve made extensive revisions to the document based on comments received when it was initially published a year ago,” stated Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative President and Chief Executive Officer David Bissell. “We hope members of the public and other interested parties will take the time to review the revised document and provide comments by the deadline of October 8.”

The revised DEA includes cultural, archaeological, flora and fauna and socio-economic studies as well as a stream habitat assessment and hydrology analyses, all of which have been ongoing since 2018.

“Environmental compliance is a critical step in the development process,” said Bissell. “We believe this document is comprehensive, and look forward to receiving public input.”

WKEP is a pumped-storage hydro and irrigation project coupled with solar and battery storage being undertaken by KIUC along with private partner AES.

The project is predicted to provide up to 25% of Kaua‘i’s power supply and bring KIUC up to 80% renewable energy, on it’s way to a goal of 100% renewable power by 2045.

It will also create economic development and agricultural opportunities for Native Hawaiians and the Westside communities of Waimea and Kekaha by delivering irrigation water to lands owned by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Agribusiness Development Corporation, KIUC says. The project is using tax credits extended in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Bissell has previously listed a goal of getting the project on-line by the end of 2025.

The environmental assessment can be accessed on the state Office of Environmental Quality Control website, https://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/, in the latest edition of “The Environmental Notice.” The document may also be found on the project website, www.westkauaienergyproject.com, where it can be downloaded or viewed in searchable format, with links to appendices and an email form for submitting comments.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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