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California firm’s $90M North Shore Oahu wind farm approved

The $90 million Na Pua Makani wind farm being built by California’s Champlin Hawaii Holdings LLC on public and private lands on Oahu’s North Shore has been approved by Hawaii regulators this week, according to a public filing.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission said it has approved a 20-year power purchase agreement between Hawaiian Electric Co. and Champlin for the 24-megawatt wind farm, to be located near First Wind’s 30-megawatt Kahuku Wind farm.

The PUC also approved HECO’s request to forgo the competitive bidding process for the planned project, which is expected to begin construction in the third quarter of this year and be operational by the end of 2015 or in early 2016.

The PUC noted that it is deferring a decision on HECO’s request to build 69-kilovolt power lines above ground that would connect to the project until an interconnection study is completed.

Champlin President Michael Cutbirth previously told PBN that once the wind farm is operating, it could cut HECO’s per-kilowatt hour cost of electricity by half compared to current rates.

It is expected to create 50 construction jobs as well as about a dozen permanent positions.

Cutbirth noted that the project won’t have a battery storage system, mainly because he feels that this type of technology isn’t advanced enough for wind projects.

The nearby Kahuku Wind project, which was out of service for 18 months after its battery storage facility caught fire, went back to full capacity in February 2014.

Champlin and its affiliates currently have more than 4,500 megawatts of wind energy projects under development nationwide. The Kahuku project would be the company’s first project in Hawaii.

Oahu’s North Shore is already home to First Wind’s 30-megawatt Kahuku Wind and the 69-megawatt Kawailoa Wind farms.