Question: What ever happened to Hawaiian Electric Co.’s plans to investigate putting a wind energy farm in the Kahuku area?
Answer: The ridge lines above Kahuku remain under consideration for wind energy generation – either by a HECO subsidiary or another investor, HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said.
“For Oahu, that North Shore area is the most attractive place in terms of quality of wind regime,” Rosegg said.
Kahe Point on the Waianae Coast actually has slightly stronger, more reliable winds, but residents there objected to a wind farm development, citing aesthetics and Hawaiian cultural concerns.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in September 2005 that he would fight attempts to put a wind farm there, and HECO subsequently said it would turn its attention to Kahuku.
Rosegg said the North Shore location might be more agreeable to residents because wind turbines there would be less visible, he said.
When a HECO subsidiary had dozens of wind turbines there in the 1980s, only a few were visible from Kamehameha Highway, Rosegg said.
Those prototype windmills were pulled out, at a $25 million loss to Hawaiian Electric Industries, Rosegg said. But in the years since, wind power technology has progressed and fossil fuel prices have climbed, he said.
Several wind farms are operating on Maui and the Big Island and more are planned. The time appears to be right for wind power, Rosegg said.
For the past year, the utility has been in discussion with the Army “to see how that fits in with its main mission in that area, which is training,” Rosegg said.
“We have submitted plans for some monitoring, and that is being analyzed by the landowner,” Rosegg said. If it moves ahead, the earliest any wind power could be in place at Kahuku would probably be 2008, he said.
Power generated by wind at that location would likely be about 40 megawatts, or less than 4 percent of Oahu’s peak power needs, he said.
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