State's Largest Wind Power Project Breaks Ground

Published On: Feb 24 2012 05:16:16 AM HST   Updated On: Feb 24 2012 07:25:01 AM HST

More wind power is coming to Oahu.

Wind energy company First Wind broke ground Friday, for the state's largest wind project so far.

The company will build 30 wind turbines in the hills above Kawailoa, across from the popular surf spot Chun's Reef.

The new Kawailoa Wind farm is First Wind's fourth project in Hawaii.

It will produce 69 megawatts and generate enough electricity to power more than 14,500 Oahu homes, said Paul Gaynor, First Wind's CEO.

The company said Kawailoa Wind will produce enough local renewable energy to supply up to 10 percent of Oahu's total electric load.

Both First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company said it's another big step in stabilizing electricity rates on Oahu.

"We know what the price is. So, it doesn't matter if oil goes to $200 a barrel. The price coming from the wind farm is set," Gaynor said.

The negotiated price is the current price of oil, said HECO President and CEO Richard Rosenblum.

"And the consequence means because it doesn't go up in the future, that as oil gets higher and higher and higher, this price stays the same. What this means for our consumer is stable, low-priced energy for our future," Rosenblum said.

First Wind is leasing about 600 acres of the prime land from the Kamehameha Schools. It will build infrastructure to connect the wind to HECO's grid.

Thirty giant turbines will also line the property.

But HECO said it is still looking for 200 additional megawatts of renewable energy, whether it comes from more wind, solar or geothermal sources.

"As time goes by, we get more and more renewable energy, our prices get more and more stable and we avoid oil and all the havoc that oil brings on our economy," Rosenblum said.

Kawailoa Wind significantly advances the state's goal toward 70 percent clean energy by 2030, Gaynor said.

It was not immediately clear when the project would be complete.


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