The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission has approved an agreement between First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company for the utility to purchase power produced by the proposed 69-MW Kawailoa Wind project on Oahu’s North Shore.
“This project is significant as we continue down the path of greater energy independence and away from our reliance on expensive imported oil,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie.
Under the contract, Kawailoa Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, will sell as-available renewable energy to Hawaiian Electric at pre-determined prices over 20 years, providing a valuable hedge against fluctuating oil prices.
The Kawailoa Wind project will be built on former Kawailoa Plantation land and use 30 Siemens SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines, each capable of 2.3 MW. More than 3,500 of the turbines have been installed globally, and they meet the technical requirements of the Hawaiian Electric grid.
When completed, Kawailoa Wind will be the largest wind energy project in the state.
As with other projects on Maui and Oahu, First Wind developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for Kawailoa Wind, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources. The HCP is a wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions to protect and minimize incidental harm to federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project.
“This wind project, along with the expansion of Hpower and added solar power, will help free customers from the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices. It is further evidence that we are doing all we can to tap the renewable energy available on Oahu, which has the greatest electricity demand in the state, but fewer viable resources than the neighbor islands,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.
First Wind also owns and operates two other wind energy projects in Hawaii. Opened in 2006, the 30 MW Kaheawa wind energy project above Ma’alaea, Maui provides up to 9% of the electricity distributed by Maui Electric Comp and is expanding. Kahuku Wind Power on Oahu’s North Shore is also a 30 MW wind project that generates energy equivalent to the power for 7,700 Oahu homes. The Kahuku project opened in March of 2011.
Hawaiian Electric Comp