A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the West Kauaʻi Energy Project (WKEP) was issued today by the Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The determination followed review of a final environmental assessment (FEA) which was submitted by Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative earlier this month. The issuance noted the FONSI was predicated on the FEA, which demonstrated the Project “will not have a significant effect on the environment and therefore does not require the preparation of an EIS.”
WKEP is an innovative pumped-storage hydro and irrigation project, coupled with solar and battery storage, being undertaken by KIUC and its renewable energy partner, AES. In addition to providing up to 25% of Kauaʻi’s power supply and bringing KIUC to more than 80% renewable generation, the project will create economic development and agricultural opportunities for Native Hawaiians and the west side communities of Waimea and Kekaha by delivering irrigation water to lands owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the Agribusiness Development Corporation.
“This is a huge step forward for DHHL and applicants on the waiting list. Ultimately, this project will bring much needed water for the future homesteaders of Puʻu ʻŌpae,” said William J. Aila, Jr., Chair, Hawaiian Homes Commission.
The FEA 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.
“The FONSI is a significant milestone for the project and for Kauaʻi’s quest for energy independence and greenhouse gas emission reductions,” said KIUC's President and Chief Executive Officer, David Bissell. “The environmental review process has taken four years to complete, and the final assessment contained thousands of pages of documentation. KIUC thanks the public for input on the project and we look forward to continuing our dialog with the community as WKEP progresses.”
Bissell added that the next steps involve seeking land agreements and required permits with a goal of bringing the project operational by 2026.
The FEA is expected to be published by the Office of Environmental Quality Control in the January 8, 2023 edition of The Environmental Notice on its website: Environmental Review Program (hawaii.gov).