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Location of proposed wind farm in Kahuku raises concerns

HONOLULU (AP) — The developer of a proposed wind farm in Kahuku is enlisting a doctor to address concerns among nearby residents who worry about living so close to turbines.

California-based Champlin GEI Wind Holdings scheduled a public meeting this evening with Robert McCunney, of Harvard Medical School, to speak about the health effects of wind turbines.

The first phase of the 15-turbine project calls for eight wind turbines to be erected in the hills inland of the Kamehameha Highway. The Kahuku Mauka Village neighborhood is about 2,000 feet from the nearest proposed turbine.

Health concerns are one of the topics expressed by residents who attended a community meeting hosted by Champlin on Friday in Kahuku.

McCunney was part of a team of experts commissioned in 2009 by the American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association to look at perceived health effects of wind turbines. The team’s review looked at literature available about the issue.

Wind energy opponents sometimes cite turbines as the cause of “wind turbine syndrome,” which critics attribute to the low-frequency noise and vibrations from spinning turbines. Turbines have been blamed on maladies such as vertigo, migraine headaches, panic attacks, insomnia and heart disease.

McCunney co-authored a report that concluded there is no evidence of “any direct adverse physiological effects on humans.”

Aliitasi Ponder is a Kahuku resident who expressed concerns during last week’s meeting. She asked Champlin executive Mike Cutbirth why the plan called for turbines to be so close to homes.

“Why was this particular location chosen?” she asked.

The Koolauloa Neighborhood Board passed a resolution last week asking no turbine be erected closer than about 4,000 feet from homes. The board serves Kahuku.

Champlin modified its original proposal nine months ago to move some of the proposed turbine sites farther away from homes. Cutbirth said the company would be allowed to put turbines as close as 450 feet from the nearest inhabited structure, under Honolulu setback requirements.


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