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New wind farm components arrive on Oahu

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Jun 25 2012 11:27:58 PM HST
Updated On: Jun 26 2012 07:51:54 AM HST

First Wind's Kawailoa farm is expected to help Hawaii's clean energy soar to new heights.

KAWAILOA, Hawaii -

Oahu's newest wind farm is expected to cut the island's yearly oil consumption by 300,000 barrels.

Along with providing greener power, First Wind's Kawailoa farm will help Hawaii's clean energy production soar to new heights.

But now, the wind farm is in 300 pieces at Kalaeloa, after the huge parts arrived in several shipments.

Each blades spans 162 feet, and the nacelle that holds them in place weighs a whopping 190,000 pounds. The tower components are gigantic, but many are more interested in the big dent the parts will put in Hawaii's oil dependency.

"We're just addicted to oil. We pay two and a half times the national average. This is the first of many steps to break that addiction," said Brian Schatz, Hawaii's Lt. Governor.

Once all 30 new turbines are put in place on Oahu's north shore, the wind farm will be the state's largest and tallest.

"From the ground level to the top of the blade is 493 feet. The turbines will be about 70 feet taller than our Kahuku turbines," said First Wind's Kekoa Kaluhiwa.

The wind farm will provide power to about 14,000 homes and is expected to be operational by the end of the year. But first, all 300 of the pieces have to be trucked from Kalaeloa to Haleiwa. An 18-wheeler is not enough, so a special 74-wheeler was also shipped in. It has two engines, one to push it and one to pull it and needs two people to steer the super-stretched big rig.

The over-sized loads will be on the roads Monday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and it could take up to two months to get all of the parts moved.

The new wind farm will also move the state closer to its goal of having 70 percent clean energy production by 2030, and there are more wind, solar and geothermal projects just around the corner.

"There are going to be some tough decisions, some trade-offs. There are going to be investments, but for our children and our children's children we can't be dependent on fossil fuels forever," said Schatz.

More huge turbines on the North Shore, means there is also more concern for Hawaii's native birds -- which use nearby conservation land. Two hoary bats have already been killed during the Kahuku wind farm's operations over the past year and a half. So, along with getting the gigantic turbines in the air, First Wind is also clearing 120 acres of wetland to provide habitats for native bird and bats.

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