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Maui wind farm files PUC complaint  

A Maui wind farm operator has filed a complaint against Maui Electric Co. and its parent, Hawaiian Electric Co., with the state Public Utilities Commission.

UPC Hawaii Holdings, which runs the Kaheawa Wind Power farm above Maalaea, is asking the commission to investigate the process the utility used in selecting a second wind farm project for the island.

UPC Hawaii had proposed expanding its current 20-turbine farm, which supplies 30 megawatts of power to Maui Electric, to add another 21 megawatts of power.

But HECO selected another project bid by Shell Wind for a farm in Ulupalakua on the east side of Maui.

HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said the decision was based on location.

“On a small grid like Maui’s, there’s a limit to how much intermittent wind power the system can take without impacting reliability for customers,” Rosegg said. “Having two wind farms in two locations with two different wind regimes will make it possible to accept more wind on Maui’s system.”

But the wind farm operator says it believes HECO did not “negotiate in good faith” and that its decision wasn’t in line with state PUC rules and federal bidding policies.

“UPC Hawaii has worked diligently and in good faith in this process and has invested a great deal of time and money in getting it right,” said Vice President Mike Gresham in a statement. “The utility created and conducted its own form of mini-competitive bidding based on its own requirements and evaluation criteria.”

The complaint asks the PUC to review HECO’s evaluation process.

UPC Hawaii is a partnership between UPC Wind Partners of Newton, Mass., and Makani Nui Associates based on Maui. The company financed and built the Kaheawa Wind Farm in June 2006, and says the generated energy accounts for about 9 percent of Maui’s electrical power.

Pacific Business News

6 February 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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