I am a long time resident of Kahuku. My great-great-great-grandfather’s family migrated to Kahuku to work in the sugar mill in 1895 shortly after it was established. My family’s legacy in Kahuku covers eight generations and more than a century. As long as I can remember, my grandfather has been taking money out of his own pocket to help the community, to better the community, to take plantation families from nothing to something.

I graduated from of Kahuku High School, and my five children currently attend Kahuku Elementary and Kahuku High schools. I am deeply involved in the Kahuku Community and serve as a board member for the Kahuku Community Association and the Koolauloa Health Center. I live, breath, and bleed Kahuku.

Kahuku’s plantation days were very simple. If something was needed and it helped us, we felt lucky to have it. It didn’t matter what it looked like if it helped us meet our everyday needs. As a child living on K hill (“the hill above the elementary and high school”), I could look out my window and see wind mills. I had the best view of them, and I have a respect for windmills and what they did to make our lives better.

Set aside all of the scare stories you read on the internet, and just look at what they do. Wind turbines are very simple. They produce energy. What does that mean?

A house in Kahuku wind turbines nearby.

A house in Kahuku with wind turbines nearby.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

We live in a world where we cannot function in our daily lives if we don’t have electricity. The electric bills I get are outrageous. The cost of electricity is a big part of our high cost of living. If nothing changes, my children will not be able to afford to live in Hawaii. And that just breaks my heart.

I am proud to say my family has lived in Kahuku for eight generations, but will that be something my kids can say? Choices that are made now  will affect the cost of living here and whether my children and grand children will stay or leave. The Na Pua Makani windmills and other renewable energy projects will not only make it more affordable to live in Hawaii, they will also help keep our environment clean and safe.

I lived in Guam for a period in my life. I know what it’s like to live without power . . . and sometimes even without water. I don’t think the people who oppose wind projects understand those things. I wonder if we had a power outage for a week, would Kahuku residents care how we got the electricity back, as long as we got it back, even if some of them didn’t like the way it looks? I’m sure their main concern would be to get the lights back on.

Instead of saying, “Kahuku has done its part, nuff already,” we should say, “Kahuku is protecting its legacy.” In other words, we need to make changes now so that our families can continue the legacy of living in Kahuku for many generations to come.

The January 6 Civil Beat article gives a false view of the Na Pua Makani Wind project and the way the community feels about it. Why were only those who oppose Na Pua Makani or wind energy asked for comments? I know there are a lot of people in our community who support it and appreciate what it has done and will do to benefit the people who live here.

Claims that the project has not done enough to inform residents is just wrong. Look at the track record of community outreach by the project developer, Mike Cutbirth. As a courtesy to North Shore residents, the Na Pua Makani planners and Mr. Cutbirth have repeatedly appeared before the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, the Kahuku Village Association, and the community associations representing Laie and Hauula and worked with us. They have listened to suggestions and moved the locations of turbines away from Kahuku.

The Na Pua Makani people held their own public meetings to present their plans and answer questions about the project. They brought in a national expert from Harvard Medical School to answer questions about the research on wind turbines and health impacts. They have a website and Facebook page with detailed information about the project, and they also send out newsletters with project updates to every home in Kahuku, as well as neighboring communities.

For too long we only heard the negative side, much coming from those who don’t live in Kahuku. It’s good our community is now hearing the whole story. At every meeting, I have watched Champlin CEO Mike Cutbirth respond to some of the wildest claims imaginable about him and wind turbines, and then patiently answer any and all questions. I have seen the hostile treatment of Mr. Cutbirth by a local group of activists. It’s no wonder others in the community are reluctant to speak out publicly in front of them and express support for the project. But from my conversations with friends and neighbors, I know the support is there.

The support is deserved because actions speak louder than words. Na Pua Makani has been a friend to Kahuku High School and supported our athletic programs, as well as funding other community events and activities. The article does mention the $2 million community benefit fund that Mr. Cutbirth and his company will provide.

We are not a big wealthy community. We do not get much funding from the State or the City & County for our parks, roads, schools, or for children and seniors programs. This fund will provide a much needed source of revenue for our little village.

Now that the PUC has approved the project, it’s time to stop making accusations and start thinking about how we can put these funds to the best use, improving the things that are important to us. Although the Kahuku Community Association Board submitted its “official standing of not supporting the project,” the membership of the board does not reflect the feelings of the whole community.

Most people in Kahuku did not vote when the board was chosen. I believe the community residents know they will benefit, no matter what our board says. After the treatment the wind project got from the project opponents, we are lucky that they will still offer the benefit package to the community.

It’s easy to pay lip service to renewable energy, keeping our air and water clean, and reducing fossil fuel use. But when it comes to putting their words into action, the people quoted in the article aren’t willing to step up. I for one am proud that Kahuku is leading the way and setting an example for the rest of the state to follow in making a commitment to renewable energy.

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