Major Wind Energy Expansion on Maui

March 29, 2013

According to Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, which owns the Auwahi Wind project at Ulupalakua Ranch, they have a plan to expand the wind farm by adding 40 more wind turbines, taking the project from 21 megawatts to 120 megawatts. An investment this ambitious probably wouldn’t happen unless things were going well, which is a safe bet, considering how much pressure comes from Maui home owners and businesses to continue making energy more affordable. South Maui real estate is involved in a lot of energy efficiency projects, such as Smart Grid technology, along with widespread use of solar energy technology. That is why residents in this part of the island often follow renewable energy developments like this one.

A major incentive for Sempra arose when the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) submitted a request for proposals to lease up to 1,400 acres of its land to developers for renewable energy projects like this one, along with biomass, solar or hydro power, and Sempra responded to the opportunity with enthusiasm. The arrangement should benefit the DHHL, as well as Sempra, and Maui residents whose energy will hopefully be still more affordable, even though Oahu will be the primary recipient of those extra megawatts.

There are 50 developers with proposals for the lease, and Sempra’s will depend on an undersea cable project that would allow Auwahi to send power to Oahu. Of course the cable is a multi-billion-dollar project in itself, but will be a big step forward in reducing the isolation issue that makes energy expensive to the islands.

Sempra is not the only company with an ambitious wind farm project. Castle & Cooke Inc. has the rights to build a wind farm on Lanai that will be capable of producing up to 400 megawatts of energy, and they are moving forward with their plan. Both this wind farm and Auwahi would utilize the undersea cable.

There is already a regulatory framework for the undersea cable, based on the bill the Governor Abercrombie signed into law last year. Having the capability to transmit power between the Hawaiian islands is a wise decision, not just so the state can save money as a whole, but because a strong infrastructure makes a big difference in emergency situations such as natural disasters.

Hopefully, the cable and the project that is granted the DHHL lease will both prove wise investments for the companies involved, and especially for the Maui community. We hope you have found this blog informative! If you need assistance, you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!


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