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First Wind offers plan for second Maui site


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Newton, Mass.-based First Wind is planning a second wind farm on the slopes of Kaheawa in the West Maui Mountains.

First Wind has submitted an environmental impact statement to the state for approval of a 21-megawatt wind farm on about 135 acres next to its existing one at Kaheawa Pastures above Maalaea.

The first project, built in the summer of 2006, is a 30-megawatt project using 20 General Electric turbines (generating 1.5 megawatts each). Together, Kaheawa I and II would generate 51 megawatts of wind power.

“;Again, we're committed to helping Hawaii decrease its reliance on fossil fuels,”; said First Wind spokeswoman Noe Kalipi. “;Maui has a robust wind resource, and we'd like to utilize that to provide clean energy.”;

The company hopes to get Kaheawa II up and running next year, said Kalipi, but must obtain permits and complete a habitat conservation plan.

The conservation plan addresses how First Wind would mitigate the wind farm's impact on three threatened or endangered bird and one bat species.

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Kaheawa II plans to install 14 General Electric wind turbines (generating 1.5 megawatts each), plus build an electrical substation connecting to the Maui Electric Co. transmission system.

A purchase power agreement is being negotiated with MECO.

The project is expected to provide an estimated 70,000 megawatt-hours of electricity a year to MECO, enough to power about 7,700 average Maui homes (using 750 kilowatt-hours per month).

Like Kaheawa I, Kaheawa II will also come with a battery energy storage system, which would allow excess power to be stored overnight for use during peak periods.

The life span of the wind farm is about 20 years.

First Wind is also hoping to break ground on a 30-megawatt wind farm in Kahuku on Oahu's North Shore next spring.

The company has a purchase-power agreement in place with Hawaiian Electric Co. awaiting approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.

The Big Island is home to three wind farms at Hawi, Kohala and South Point. On Maui another wind farm is in the works at Ulupalakua Ranch.