The Honolulu Police Department arrested 55 protestors who were attempting to block trucks from delivering equipment to the planned wind turbine project in Kahuku on Thursday night into Friday morning.
A Virginia-based company, AES, is planning on constructing a windfarm that will add eight wind turbines to the Kahuku area.
On Thursday night, the demonstrators blocked both the exit from the Kalealoa area where the equipment was stored and the entrance to the Kahuku site. These protests continued through the day.
There were 22 arrests in Kalealoa and 33 in Kahuku. HPD Police Chief Susan Ballard said that all were able to post the $100 bail to be released.
The arrests were for disobeying a police officer, “after they refused to move out of the way of a permitted convoy,” Ballard said.
Around 3 A.M. Friday morning, Hawaiian Electric Company reported that over 1,000 North Shore residents lost power due to a fallen utility pole on Kamehameha Highway.
When HPD arrived, they found a chainsaw blade near the scene which indicated that the pole had been deliberately cut.
“The road was open which caused and extreme danger because if a car would have come up and hadn’t seen the pole or wasn’t paying attention they would have been seriously injured,” Ballard said.
The pole blocked traffic going both ways on the highway.
HECO CEO Alan Oshima called the destruction of the pole, “a reckless act of vandalism.”
In a statement, Oshima explained that stalled traffic delayed the HECO repair crew for over an hour which he said extended the amount of time residents did not have power.
There are no suspects at this time.
State Department of Transportation Highways Division Deputy Director Ed Sniffen explained in a statement that the department will, “continue to review the transport operations in consultation with HPD and the contractor to determine if timeline adjustments are necessary, or if the permitted times need to be extended.”
Sniffen also noted that once contractor vehicles begin a transport, it is unable to turnaround, and must continue to the worksite.
Ballard reported that there were 237 officers present between Kalealoa and Kahuku.
“We have the flexibility for the short term to continue this, obviously if it continues for a month or whatever it can or possibly will impact community services,” she said. “911 or emergency services, that’s always going to be a priority, but community services may be cut.”
She explained that she does not yet know how much the increased manpower will cost the city, but that paying officers overtime will be a factor.
In a statement, AES COO Mark Miller applauded HPD, HDOT and HECO’s handling of the situation.
“Their efforts ensured the roads were safe for everyone during our transport process, even in unpredictable circumstances,” he said.