Newly approved contract clears way for largest wind energy project in state on Maui

February 16, 2011, 6:47 AM HST · Updated February 16, 6:47 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maalaea wind turbines at Kaheawa Wind Farm. File photo by Wendy Osher.

A newly approved contract between Kaheawa Wind Power and Maui Electric Company opens the way for the largest wind energy project in the state. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved the power purchase agreement for an additional 21 megawatts of wind energy at Kaheawa Wind farm located above Maalaea in West Maui.

The existing facility already produces 30 MW of wind energy, and when the expansion is complete, will produce a combined capacity of 51 MW, enough energy to power 20,000 Maui homes.

Under the contract, Kaheawa Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, will sell as-available renewable energy to Maui Electric at pre-determined prices over 20 years.

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The expanded wind farm will include a battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output, similar to the system installed at the First Wind Kahuku Wind Project on Oahu.

“We’re excited to be able to deliver more clean, renewable energy to the residents and businesses of Maui.” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “Hawaii has a unique appreciation and understanding of the need for clean, home-grown sources of energy, and we’re thrilled we’ll be able to help meet that demand,” said Gaynor.

“We are pleased to expand the contribution from First Wind to our portfolio of clean energy resources,” said Ed Reinhardt, Maui Electric president. “In 2010, more than 10% of Maui’s energy was produced from renewable resources and we look forward to increasing this even more with energy from this wind farm and other projects,” said Reinhardt.

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