Auwahi Wind Project Online for Cheaper Maui Energy

January 4, 2013

The Auwahi Wind project on Ulupalakua Ranch is officially online, as of last week Thursday. The ranch is located up the slopes of Haleakala from the real estate in South Maui that we represent. Energy efficiency projects, such as Smart Grid technology, are a big theme in our beautiful corner of the island, so the Auwahi Wind project is a subject of interest among South Maui home and condo owners who are pushing for continual improvements in energy affordability.

The 21-megawatt wind project cost $140 million, and was completed on time and on budget. It was a major step towards Hawaii’s goal of obtaining 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The $140 million, 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind project on Ulupalakua Ranch went online Thursday, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced. Maui Electric Co. is buying the power under a 20-year contract. The project includes eight turbines and a 10-megawatt battery that can store 4.4 megawatts of power to regulate the energy generated by fluctuating wind.

While the project required 180 construction workers, only 4 full-time employees will be needed. Sempra is leasing 5,280 acres of the Ulupalakua Ranch, which is considered a win-win for both, according to Sumner Erdman, the president of Ulupalakua Ranch. He also asserted that the project protects the environment, maximizes wind as a renewable energy source and still allows the maintenance of rural open space and grazing areas for the cattle at the ranch.

As for the wind in Ulupalakua, Sempra officials stated that it blows at about 22 mph at the project site, which is situated on the southeastern part of the mountain, and the turbines only need 7mph to produce energy. The 21 megawatts generated by this project will be enough to power 10,000 typical Maui homes. The project sounds like a step in the right direction, and hopefully there won’t be any unforeseen speed bumps in the project’s future.

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