Maui News

30 MW Kahulu Wind Commercial Operations Begin

March 24, 2011, 11:24 AM HST
* Updated March 24, 11:30 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Kahuku Wind image courtesy First Wind.

The 30 MW Kahuku Wind project on Oahu officially begins commercial operations today.  First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today celebrating the new, renewable energy source.

The project features an innovative battery storage system that has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power up to 7,700 Oahu homes annually.

“Renewable energy projects such as Kahuku Wind are significant as they advance Hawaii’s pursuit of energy independence,” said Governor Abercrombie who was among the dignitaries who attended today’s event. “By harnessing resources such as the wind to provide renewable and sustainable power to Oahu’s grid, we are building a clean energy infrastructure that will provide both immediate and long-term environmental and economic benefits to the people of Hawaii.”

Funds for construction of the Kahuku Wind project included a $117 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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“This project is another example of America’s leadership in the global clean energy economy,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Through the Recovery Act, we are supporting innovative projects that are adding to our workforce in the short term while laying the foundation for additional job creation in the long term,” he said.

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“We’re proud to help Hawaii meet its clean energy goals,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.  “The Kahuku wind project is one of the newest and most technologically advanced wind facilities in the nation and it will be a model for future Hawaii projects,” said Chu.

As part of a long-term Power Purchase Agreement between Kahuku Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), First Wind will sell as-available renewable energy from the project to the utility at contracted prices.

“We applaud First Wind and its partners for working with the Kahuku community to complete this project and bring us closer to meeting our state’s goals of 70 percent clean energy by 2030,” said Dick Rosenblum, HECO’s President and CEO.

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The Kahuku Wind project also features the second-ever Habitat Conservation Plan approved for a wind energy project under Hawaii’s Endangered Species Act.  The first such plan was put in place at First Wind’s 30 MW Kaheawa Wind project here on Maui.

The Kaheawa Wind project provides nearly 9 percent of Maui’s annual electricity demand, enough to supply nearly 11,000 households with clean, renewable electricity annually.

*** Supporting information courtesy First Wind.

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