HONOLULU – The Public Utilities Commission has approved a power-purchase agreement between Kaheawa Wind Power and Maui Electric Co. for the utility to buy another 21 megawatts of wind energy per day.
The agreement would help pave the way for Kaheawa’s planned expansion of its wind-energy farm above Maalaea. Currently, the company has the capacity to provide as much as 30 megawatts to Maui Electric.
When complete, the additional 14 windmill generators will make the Maui facility the largest wind energy project in the state. Under the terms of the contract, Kaheawa Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, will sell as-available renewable energy to Maui Electric at predetermined prices for 20 years.
The expanded wind farm’s capacity of 51 megawatts will have the potential to produce enough energy for the equivalent of 20,000 Maui homes, according to an announcement.
The project also will include a battery storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output. It would be similar to a system installed at First Wind’s Kahuku wind project on Oahu.
“We’re excited to be able to deliver more clean, renewable energy to the residents and businesses of Maui,” said Paul Gaynor, chief executive officer of First Wind. “Hawaii has a unique appreciation and understanding of the need for clean, homegrown sources of energy, and we’re thrilled we’ll be able to help meet that demand.”
Maui Electric President Ed Reinhardt said the utility was pleased to add the expansion of the Kaheawa facility “to our portfolio of clean energy resources.”
“In 2010, more than 10 percent of Maui’s energy was produced from renewable resources, and we look forward to increasing this even more with energy from this wind farm and other projects.”
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