Honolulu, May 14, 2010 — The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a power purchase agreement between Kahuku Wind Power and Hawaiian Electric Co. for the utility to purchase renewable energy to be produced by the 30 MW wind energy project to be constructed on Oahu’s North Shore.
Under the terms of the contract, Kahuku Wind Power, a unit 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 wind energy project will consist of 12 Clipper Liberty wind turbines each having 2.5-MW capacity. Kahuku Wind Power will also include a battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output.
The battery storage system has been developed by Xtreme Power, Inc. and will be the largest of its kind in Hawaii. The project will also include a microwave communication system to connect the wind energy project to the Hawaiian Electric system operations and dispatch center. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year.
When completed, Kahuku Wind Power will be the only wind energy project on Oahu and one of the largest wind energy projects in the state. It will have the capacity to generate an estimated 80,000 MW hours each year — enough energy to power the equivalent of 7,700 Oahu homes.
First Wind has been in discussions about the project with Kahuku residents, community organizations and businesses in the Ko`olauloa and North Shore districts, and has worked with federal, state, and county agencies to obtain permits.
First Wind also owns and operates the 30 MW Kaheawa wind energy project above Ma’alaea, Maui which provides up to 9 percent of the electricity distributed by Maui Electric Company. Kahuku Wind Power will join Kaheawa as the state’s two largest wind energy projects.
Oahu has the largest population among the Hawaiian Islands and thus the greatest demand for electricity. But the island has comparatively fewer potential sources of renewable energy than other islands in the state.
First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind projects in the U.S. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West and in Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 504 MW of power.
Hawaiian Electric Co., Inc., and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric Co., Ltd., and Hawaii Electric Light Co., Inc., provide electricity to 95 percent of the state’s 1.2 million residents on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Lanai and Molokai islands.