TYPE: Wave Energy
OPPOSITION: Maui Tomorrow, a citizens’ planning and environmental group; local citizens
BACKGROUND: Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Co. proposed to erect 100 ocean platforms over a roughly 80-square-mile area between Oahu and Moloka’i to harness up to 1,100-megawatts of electricity from waves and wind. The proposed site, called Penguin Bank, is in the heart of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The area is considered to be a prime feeding and calving area for whales and an important feeding ground for Hawaiian monk seals. It is also popular with commercial and recreational fishermen.
Because of the location, the proposal was widely criticized by environmental groups and local residents. A spokesman for the company said the Penguin Bank site was the only one in Hawaii that would work for such a massive project. The company acknowledged this would be a very challenging site and that the environmental concerns would be substantial. Each raised platform would have had three concrete-encased legs extending to the ocean floor and would have supported a windmill with a steel tower roughly 300 feet high. The company, however, maintained that the project would have caused no significant environmental impacts or threats because the submerged parts would be immobile and, once they have been installed would simply be a “bunch of sticks in the water.” Maui Tomorrow, a citizens planning and environmental group, opposed the project.
On April 21, 2009, the developer called off its Penguin Bank wave energy project in a Hawaii humpback whale sanctuary, because a new regulatory process effectively blocked such developments.
SOURCES: The Honolulu Advertiser http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2009/Apr/21/ln/hawaii904210353.html;
Renewable Energy Development http://renewableenergydev.com/red/wave-power-penguin-bank-hawaii/;
Wind, Waves, Wires, and Controversy: http://188.8.131.52/nen/6283-wind-waves-wires-and-controversy–
Last updated November 10, 2010