Hawaii PUC Approves Kahuku Wind Contract

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last week approved a power purchase agreement between Kahuku Wind Power and Hawaiian Electric Company for the utility to purchase energy produced by the 30-megawatt (MW) wind energy project to be constructed on Oahu’s North Shore.

Under the terms of the contract, Kahuku 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.

Located west of Kahuku town, the 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 megawatt hours each year according to statistics from the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

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.

As part of the permitting process, First Wind developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Kaheawa HCP is a mitigation and wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions designed to protect and minimize incidental harm to a federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project. 

“With long-term pricing de-linked from the cost of oil, this new source of renewable energy is a step toward breaking our vulnerability to the fluctuating price of oil and increasing our energy security,” said Dick Rosenblum Hawaiian Electric’s president and CEO.

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