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Kahuku, Barbers Point tops for wind

Kahuku and Barbers Point are the top areas on Oahu for wind development, a study released by Hawaiian Electric Co. shows.

The utility on Thursday released a study of wind development potential for the island, following an announcement in November that it would offer data collected about wind conditions and bird activities in Kahuku to interested wind developers.

Albany, N.Y.-based wind mapping company AWS Truewind used a remote desktop screening methodology to identify areas with high enough wind speeds and building capacity.

Oahu has the potential for approximately 92 megawatts of installed capacity, with 60 MW in the northeast, 30 MW in the southwest and 2 MW in the northwest, the study said. The largest area of potential “clearly” lies near the Kahuku range and the North Shore given its complex terrain and wind exposure. The second largest area of potential is near Barbers Point.

The majority of Hawaii has a prevailing wind direction out of the northeast, the study said, but actual wind direction is site specific.

Several wind developers, such as Keith Avery, president of West Wind Works LLC in Ashland, Ore., have been evaluating Oahu wind sites in the past year.

Most wind development in the U.S. will occur at sites that have a mean annual average wind speed of 6.5 meters a second or greater, Truewind said. “Given the high power prices on Oahu, it is likely that a project with a mean speed of this magnitude could be considered for development assuming other costs such as construction and turbine procurement are reasonable,” according to the study, posted on HECO’s Web site.

Earlier this week, HECO issued a request for proposals from renewable energy providers with plans to bring up to an additional 100 mega-watts of renewable energy to Oahu. It is hosting a bidders conference July 14.

HECO also worked with the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to produce high-resolution wind maps for Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai.

More information can be found online on HECO’s renewable energy Web site, available through www.heco.com.

By Jennifer Sudick

Star Bulletin

28 June 2008