The company that owns the defunct Kamaoa Wind Farm at South Point on Hawaii island is in the final stages of removing the 37 derelict wind turbines that have been sitting idle for the past six years.
The turbines, which were taken out of operation in 2006, will be demolished and sold for scrap, said Steve Pace, spokesman for the wind project’s owner, Tawhiri Power LLC. The company was unsuccessful in its attempts to find anyone who wanted to buy the antiquated turbines for use at another wind energy project, he said.
“We started taking them down a few weeks ago, and we should be finished by the end of (this) week,” Pace said. “We’re working with scrappers to cut them up and haul them away.”
Pace would not disclose the cost to remove the turbines or their scrap value.
The turbines, which began operating in 1987, were among roughly 60 beta, or prototype, models manufactured by Mitsubishi Power Systems early in the company’s foray into wind power, Pace said. After Mitsubishi quit making the older wind turbines, it became difficult to find parts for them.
The Kamaoa Wind Farm turbines, some with peeling paint and missing turbine blades, were cited as an example by anti-wind power groups in their efforts to block wind projects planned for Molokai and Lanai.
Tawhiri’s parent, California-based Apollo Energy Corp., bought the Kamaoa Wind Farm in 2004 and kept it going for several years by cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines. The company developed a new wind project several miles away called the Pakini Nui Wind Farm, which went into service in 2007. The new project features 14 General Electric turbines with a maximum generating capacity of 21 megawatts. The old Kamaoa turbines had a combined rated capacity of 9.3 megawatts.
Tawhiri sells the power generated by the Pakini Nui Wind Farm to Hawaii Electric Light Co. under a power purchase agreement. HELCO pays for the electricity by calculating the “avoided cost,” or the cost the utility would have to pay if it were to generate the electricity using oil.
Avoided cost pricing was developed in the early stages of renewable energy production as an incentive to developers to assume the risks associated with such endeavors. Hawaii utilities no longer use the avoided cost model.
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