Setbacks are designed to protect people, property and common services from physical harm.
The City and County of Honolulu has adopted standards and regulations to ensure that setbacks from turbines are sufficient to ensure that in the event of a catastrophe, no one would be injured and no structures would be damaged.¹
The distance from the closest proposed turbine to the nearest house or building in the community — Kahuku Elementary School, for example — is many times farther than the distance required under the county ordinance. The remaining turbines are even farther away from the closest structures.
1. Revised Ordinances of Honolulu Section 21-5.700 Wind machines.
(a) All wind machines shall be set back from all property lines a minimum distance equal to the height of the system. Height shall include the height of the tower and the farthest vertical extension of the wind machine.
(b) In residential zoning districts, in addition to the above, the following shall be applicable:
(1) Tower climbing apparatus and blade tips of the wind machine shall be no lower than 15 feet from ground level, unless enclosed by a six-foot high fence and shall not be within seven feet of any roof or structure unless the blades are completely enclosed by a protective screen or fence.
(2) A public safety sign shall be posted at the base of the tower warning of high voltage and dangerous moving blades.
(3) The system base and rotor blade shall be a minimum of 15 feet from any overhead electrical transmission or distribution lines.
(4) Anchor points for guy wires for the wind machine shall be located within property lines and not on or across any overhead electrical transmission or distribution lines. Guy wires shall be equipped with devices that will, in a safe manner, prevent them from being climbed and shall be securely fastened.
(5) The applicant shall provide manufacturer’s specifications which certify the safety of the machine; provided that the appropriate tower was used and proper installation procedures followed, as outlined in the manual.
(6) The wind machine shall be operated so that no disruptive electromagnetic interference is caused. If it can be demonstrated to the director that the system is causing harmful interference, the operator shall promptly mitigate the interference.
(7) The system shall be kept in good repair.
(8) The system shall be deemed abandoned if not in continuous use for at least one year. Upon determination that the use is abandoned, the structure shall be dismantled and removed within 30 days upon written notice.
(9) The system shall be restricted to a rated capacity of no more than 15 kilowatts.
(c) In the agricultural and country zoning districts, accessory wind machines shall have a rated capacity of no more than 100 kilowatts. Wind machines with a rated capacity of more than 100 kilowatts shall require a conditional use permit (minor).
(d) In the business zoning districts, wind machines shall have a rated capacity of no more than 15 kilowatts.