Maui wind farm plans delayed by wind
What ever happened to plans for Maui's first wind farm?
Answer: The plans have hit a snag: It's been too windy to build it.
Winds have been blowing more than 30 mph all day for the past week along a stretch of the West Maui Mountains where the Kaheawa Wind Power project is being built. That makes it unsafe for workers to lift the upper sections of the turbine towers reaching some 200 feet above ground.
Nine of 20 planned towers still need to be fully erected.
"It's a great site to have a wind farm," says Mike Gresham, president of Makana Nui Partners, which is part of the group building the project. "It's a difficult site to build a wind farm."
When completed, the farm's wind turbines will generate up to an average of 8 megawatts of power. That is enough to supply 10,000 to 11,000 homes and fulfill about 9 percent of Maui's power needs.
The farm is expected to help the state reach a goal of buying one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Maui Electric has said the farm will reduce the utility's consumption of imported diesel oil by from 160,000 to 240,000 barrels a year.
Gresham said he plans to connect cables, test circuits and tie down bolts until the wind subsides.
Even after the delays, the Kaheawa project could start making electricity by the end of the month.
The gusty conditions did not surprise Gresham, as the site on Kealaloloa Ridge above McGregor Point was chosen for its strong and reliable winds.
"We knew what we were up against," Gresham said. "When the wind's not blowing, (the construction) goes very smoothly."
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