Maui Wind Energy Improvements Lower Electric Bills

September 13, 2013

For those of you who are in the market for a beautiful South Maui property but are concerned about energy costs, you’ll be pleased to hear a recent bit of news from Maui Electric Co. (MECO). Thanks to improvements of their generator control systems and the full incorporation of the battery energy storage system at the Kaheawa Wind II farm, MECO is now using 91 percent of available wind energy compared to the 72 percent it was able to use before. This means better savings for customers.

The primary concerns surrounding renewable energy sources involve their consistency. Wind can die down, and cloudy days can block solar energy, but the simple solution to these challenges is energy storage. If you’ve spent any length of time on Maui, particularly in our lovely South Maui area, you’ve probably noticed that the vast majority of days are sunny, even in the winter. Also, considering that the islands are smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, its a rare day that we don’t have a good wind, whether it’s a trade or a kona. In the event of storms, solar dies down, but the wind turbines are flying, and often enough, when the wind slows down, it happens to be sunny.

That being said, subtle fluctuations in wind and solar energy acquisition can make a big difference considering how many businesses and homes on Maui depend on stable energy, so it’s great to hear that storage improvements are being made. So far, MECO has been able to reduce their use of the four generating units at the Kahului power plant while increasing their renewable energy use and saving Maui residents over $22 per year on average.

In the future, MECO plans to increase their wind energy usage to 95-98 percent of the energy generated by the wind farms, and that is expected to save another $10 per year for customers. It may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s reassuring to know that they are working on bringing prices down instead of raising them.

MECO is planning to deactivate two of the four generating units at the Kahului power plant next year and the other two by 2019, the latter of which sounds like a conservative estimate. They also plan to modify their use of the generating units at the Maalaea power plant.

So far, renewable energy sources have made a big difference for Maui’s needs. At the end of 2012, 21 percent of our electricity came from renewables. That’s a big slice of the pie, and it’s not surprising considering our isolation. Hopefully MECO will be able to continue incorporating renewable energy and finding better and better ways of keeping the energy consistent. We hope you’ve found this blog interesting and informative! Mahalo for reading this week! – By Mark Harbison

You may also like…