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Wind farm mishap reduces power sent to MECO’s grid

An accident at a wind farm on Maui caused 21 megawatts of renewable power to be cut from Maui Electric Co.’s grid.

San Diego-based Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, owner of the Auwahi Wind farm, said all eight turbines at the farm have been shut down since the accident on Sunday. Over the weekend the nacelle, hub and blades on one of the turbines at Auwahi broke off from the tower and fell to the ground.

Shayna Deck, director of communications at MECO, said Thursday that the utility is not receiving any power from the wind farm.

The Auwahi Wind project is located at Ulupalakua Ranch. It is Maui’s second-largest cattle ranch, with a total of 18,000 acres of land.

Jill Howard, manager of communications and marketing at Sempra, said no one was hurt when the blades fell.

“The site is secure, and turbines at the facility have been shut down as a precaution,” she said. “There is nothing more important to our company than the safety of our employees, contractors and the surrounding community.”

Howard said the farm will remain offline until the company pinpoints the reason for the incident.

“At this point we are not aware of any property damage beyond the damage that occurred to the turbine,” Howard said. ”We’re still investigating the situation and gathering the facts. This includes working closely with Siemens, the turbine manufacturer, to determine the root cause of the incident.”

Auwahi Wind turbines create enough electricity to power approximately 14,500 typical homes on Maui.

Howard said no similar incidents have occurred at any of the company’s other wind farms.