MECO Using 91% Available Wind Energy

September 5, 2013, 10:05 AM HST · Updated September 5, 12:55 PM
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Kaheawa Wind Farm, aerial file photo by Wendy Osher.

Kaheawa Wind Farm, aerial file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Maui Electric Company has announced the implementation of operational improvements to increase its use of available wind energy.

The company is currently using about 91% of available wind energy compared to an estimated 72% prior to making changes, the company claims.

Among the changes implemented to improve wind usage include: modifying generator controls, reducing generator use at the Kahului power plant, and fully incorporating the battery energy storage system at the Kaheawa II wind farm above Māʻalaea.

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According to information released by the company, the increased use of wind energy results in estimated savings of more than $22 per year for a typical Maui residential electric bill.

With additional changes, MECO expects to increase the amount of wind energy used, which officials say could save a typical residential customer another $7 to $10 per year.

“We want to make sure our customers get the maximum benefit of our abundant wind energy resources while still getting reliable service,” said MECO president Sharon Suzuki in a press release.  “We’ve made a lot of progress and will be making further changes to ensure our customers benefit even more,” she said.

The company says future plans to integrate more energy include: deactivating two of the four generating units at the Kahului power plant in 2014; retiring all four Kahului generating units by 2019; and modifying the use of generating units at the Māʻalaea power plant.

The information was reportedly detailed in a report filed this week with the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission.

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