Oahu’s Waianae Range will be the future home of more than a dozen wind turbines after Hawaiian Electric Co. signed a power purchase agreement with EE Ewa LLC for a new 46.8-megawatt wind project on the island’s west side.
The Honolulu-based utility submitted the agreement to the state Public Utilities Commission for review on Wednesday.
If approved by the PUC, the Palehua Wind project, consisting of 13 wind turbines with a height of 260 feet from base to hub, will be capable of generating 150,000 megawatt-hours of energy per year, equivalent to the power used by about 250,00 homes.
HECO said the project will boost the utility’s renewable energy portfolio by 2 percentage points over the course of its 22-year lifespan. Last year, Hawaiian Electric reported a renewable portfolio standard of about 27 percent across its service territory. As part of the state’s mandate to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, the utility has to reach an RPS figure of 30 percent by the end of 2020.
With a levelized electricity price of just under 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, Palehua Wind will also be one of the cheapest renewable resources in the state.
The project is expected to be operational by December 2022. Representatives from Eurus Energy America Corp., parent of EE Ewa, declined to disclose the project’s financials, saying that there are still too many variables that could ultimately affect the cost.
Project developers said they will work with the community to ensure that cultural and archaeological sites will be preserved and protected.
“We will continue to engage the community to address and alleviate any concerns,” Nick Henriksen, vice president of development at Eurus Energy America, told Pacific Business News.
The wind turbines will be erected on approximately 1,600 acres on the eastern slope of Waianae Range. The land is in part owned by Gill ‘Ewa Lands, an organization that aims to restore the Waianae mountain ecosystem at Palehua. Sales of the electricity generated by the wind project will help fund the restoration project.
“Palehua Wind gives us the opportunity to restore and protect the land, which has been damaged by decades of erosion, wildfires and growth of non-native plants,” Tony Gill, a representative of Gill ‘Ewa Lands, said.
There are currently two existing wind farms on Oahu, both are located on the island’s North Shore: the 30-MW Kahuku Wind Farm and the 69-MW Kawailoa Wind Farm, which started operations in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Eurus Energy has been collecting data on the proposed wind farm site for past three years, Henriksen said.
According to Peter Rosegg, spokesman for Hawaiian Electric, the Waianea Range is the last economically viable location on Oahu for a wind farm.
“The only other place would be Kaena Point,” said Rosegg, adding that various regulations prohibit a potential development.
For San Diego-based Eurus Energy America, jointly owned by Japanese companies Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, Palehua Wind will be its second project on in Hawaii.
Earlier this year, the company completed the 27.6-MW Waianae Solar project, currently the largest solar facility in the state.
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