Wind farm in Hawaii enters commercial operations

-First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, today announced that construction of the 21 megawatt (MW) Kaheawa Wind II project has been completed and commercial operations have begun. Located above Ma‘alaea harbor in West Maui, Kaheawa Wind II features an innovative battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output.

“First Wind is a proven partner in our efforts to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil.”

“The first phase of Kaheawa Wind was our first project to achieve commercial operations in 2006, so it is very gratifying to complete the second phase of this project, which has the distinction of being our thirteenth wind facility to go online in six years,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “We now have projects in operation in five different states, but Hawaii has always shown a unique understanding and true leadership when it comes to developing home-grown sources of energy. The expansion of our Kaheawa Wind project supports the state’s aggressive renewable energy goals by providing an additional source of cost-competitive and clean electricity to the residents and businesses of Maui.”

“I’d also like to applaud Gov. Abercrombie, Lt. Gov. Schatz, the state legislature, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and Maui Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod for their continued commitment to renewable energy and Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative,” Gaynor added.

Early last year, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between Kaheawa Wind II and Maui Electric Company to sell as-available renewable energy to Maui Electric at pre-determined prices over a 20-year term. The project expansion further advances the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to have 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy come from clean, renewable sources by 2030.

“Developing more clean energy while maintaining reliable service remains our top priority and the addition of battery storage to the Kaheawa Wind II project will help us to achieve this goal. This expansion is a significant step toward reaching our clean energy goals and will help reduce the impact of oil prices on our customers,” said Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric president. “First Wind is a proven partner in our efforts to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil.”

Adjacent to the site of its Kaheawa Wind I project, which achieved commercial operations in June 2006, the Kaheawa Wind II project is going online almost exactly six years later. At 51 MW, the combined output of Kaheawa Wind I and II has the capacity to generate enough energy to power up to 18,700 Maui homes annually.

RMT, which began construction on Kaheawa Wind II in 2011, oversaw all civil and electrical infrastructure including a 34.5/69-kV substation, 34.5 kV electrical collection system, and interconnection to the 69 kV Maui Electric Company (MECO) transmission line. RMT, which also built First Wind’s 30 MW Kahuku Wind and is currently working on its 69 MW Kawailoa Wind (both projects located on Oahu’s North Shore), has used more than 50 Hawaii-based contractors and suppliers throughout development, construction and continuing operations on all of these projects.

“First Wind has been a pioneer in the efforts to bring wind energy to Hawaii,” said RMT President David Kutcher. “We are proud to have worked closely with First Wind to construct this facility in a way that honors the local culture and respects the unique environmental attributes on the island.”

The Kaheawa II project also features a state-of-the-art battery storage system developed by Xtreme Power of Austin, TX. Its Dynamic Power Resource (DPR) is a utility]scale battery system that assists in meeting stringent performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output. The system will maximize wind energy efficiency and helps MECO maintain reliable service for its customers.

“We’re thrilled to commission our third energy storage system with First Wind in Hawaii, and our seventh system deployed in the last 18 months,” said Alan Gotcher, CEO of Xtreme Power. “This will be our most advanced system deployed to-date, with the Xtreme Power power control system simultaneously providing multiple renewable integration and grid support services such as ramp control, frequency response, voltage support, and responsive reserves. We are proud to partner with First Wind and MECO to deliver more renewable energy to the residents of Hawaii.”

In addition to its contribution to Hawaii’s energy needs and economy, Kaheawa Wind has made a tremendous contribution to improving the environment. As part of Kaheawa Wind I, First Wind implemented the first-ever Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for a utility-scale wind project. In addition to the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, the HCP was developed to ensure a long-term net conservation benefit is provided for three state and federally listed threatened and endangered bird species and the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, which could be affected by the project. For Kaheawa Wind II, First Wind expanded its conservation initiatives and developed a second HCP to provide additional conservation benefits for the same four species, essentially extending the minimum duration of its commitment to stewardship by an additional five years.

A traditional fossil-fueled facility in Hawaii producing an equivalent amount of electric energy to the two phases of the Kaheawa Wind I and II projects would consume over 333,000 barrels of oil, or over 70,000 tons of coal, per year. The power produced by both phases of the Kaheawa Wind project is the equivalent of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by over 126,000 metric tons annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID).

First Wind is an independent wind energy company that develops, finances, builds and operates utility-scale wind projects in the United States. Headquartered in Boston, First Wind operates wind projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 772 megawatts of power and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 208 megawatts.