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Wind project proposed for DHHL land in Kahikinui  

Credit:  By LEE IMADA - Managing Editor | The Maui News | July 11, 2015 | www.mauinews.com ~~

A 60-megawatt wind project has been proposed for Hawaiian homelands in Kahikinui on the remote southeastern flank of Haleakala with a subsidiary of NextEra – the company seeking to acquire Hawaiian Electric Co. – as the developer.

An informational meeting is planned for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday with public hearings set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 29 and 10 a.m. to noon July 30. All meetings, conducted by the Hawaiian Homes Commission, will be held at the Paukukalo Community Center, 657 Kaumaualii St.

A final decision on the proposed wind power project is set for the commission’s meetings Aug. 20 and 21 in Lahaina.

The 60-megawatt wind project by NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy, would be the largest on Maui when completed, double the size of Kaheawa I overlooking Maalaea. The wind project, which would be the fourth on Maui, calls for 20 turbines, generating about 3 megawatts each.

The turbines will sit on 30 acres in the southeastern portion of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands land in the Manawainui area, said Ku’uwehi Hiraishi, information specialist with Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. About 500 acres will be used during construction and as a buffer area, she added.

DHHL is supporting the development of the wind energy project in Kahikinui because the area offers an excellent wind resource, as evidenced by the 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind on nearby Ulupalakua Ranch land, and because the project would provide a revenue stream for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, a financial resource for the Kahikinui community, and a renewable energy resource for the county, according to a fact sheet about the project distributed at a May meeting in Waiohuli.

The Kahikinui wind project began in early 2013 as an effort by the commission to develop renewable energy projects at Kahikinui, Pulehunui and Honokowai. After hearings with beneficiaries, the commission dropped projects at Pulehunui and Honokowai.

But the commission did accept 11 proposals for solar, wind and biofuel projects for Kahikinui – four of them wind projects, the fact sheet said. By November, the 11 proposals had been whittled down to two wind projects with NextEra selected in January.

The Public Utilities Commission has put a hold on Maui Electric Co.’s request for proposals for up to 50 megawatts of new renewable energy on Maui. The commission said that NextEra – in preparation for and anticipation of the release of requests for proposals for renewable energy by MECO – needs to secure the land and to make sure the site will produce the expected wind power.

The commission emphasized that the proposed NextEra project is not dependent on approval of a hotly debated undersea cable proposal between Maui and Oahu. The interconnection proposal calls for Maui to send excess energy to power-thirsty urban Oahu with Maui receiving back more efficiently generated power at lower cost from power plants on Oahu.

NextEra’s offer includes a right-of-entry fee of $175,000 for three years, $200,000 per year for two one-year extensions if needed, a 20-year lease finalized after a power purchase agreement is forged with the utility, and a community benefits package of about $300,000 annually, the fact sheet said.

The exact amounts of the lease rent and the community benefits package will be based on the price of the energy sold to the utility. The fact sheet also noted that the price of the energy and the ultimate size of the project will not be known until the utility selects NextEra’s wind power project following the request for proposals and the finalizing of the power purchase agreement.

Questions and comments about the wind power project in Kahikinui may be sent to Julie-Ann Cahola by email at julie-ann.cachola@hawaii.gov or by mail at P.O. Box 1879, Honolulu 96805. There is more information on the project at dhhl.hawaii.gov.

NextEra would be developing the project with affiliate Boulevard Associates. NextEra is in the process of purchasing HECO for $4.3 billion. The PUC currently is evaluating the sale.

Source:  By LEE IMADA - Managing Editor | The Maui News | July 11, 2015 | www.mauinews.com

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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