Proposed Wind Energy Farm at Ulupalakua Under New Ownership

October 15, 2009, 4:25 PM HST · Updated October 15, 4:25 PM
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The San Diego-based Sempra Generation, today announced it has acquired Auwahi Wind Energy LLC, a company developing a 22-megawatt (MW) wind energy and battery storage project in Maui, Hawaii, from Shell WindEnergy Inc.

Sempra Generation issued a press release today saying the proposed Auwahi Wind Energy project could begin construction in 2011 and commence commercial operations in 2012 on the Ulapalakua Ranch in the remote southeastern region of Maui.  Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Consistent with our growing renewable presence in the southwestern United States, this project further expands Sempra Generation’s footprint in one of the fastest growing renewable energy markets while further advancing the sustainability goals of Maui and the state of Hawaii,” said Michael W. Allman, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation in the release.

A key component of the Maui wind-power project is the development of a battery energy storage unit.   The battery could store as much as 28 megawatt-hours (MWh) of wind energy generated by the project’s windmills during the typically windy morning and night hours.  The battery power could be stored until late afternoon, when electricity consumption typically reaches its peak, or could be utilized to regulate and smooth intermittent wind power, providing a source of grid stability for Maui Electric.

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Sempra Generation recently submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy to co-fund costs associated with an expansion of the battery energy storage facility to 72 MWh.

“Shell WindEnergy Inc. has re-assessed its wind development efforts in Hawaii and will concentrate on projects on the U.S. Mainland and Canada that are more aligned with our strategic direction,” said Dick Williams, president of Shell WindEnergy Inc.

Company officials say the project would help Maui attain its goal of achieving 95 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

In 2008, the state of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy set goals associated with the state’s Clean Energy Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase power conservation and help lower the almost exclusive use of oil for island power generation by accelerating the development of renewable, indigenous energy resources in Hawaii.  This goal involves employing efficiency and renewable energy resources that meet 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy demand by 2030.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by Sempra Generation)

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