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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 13, 2006

Associated Press

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Kaheawa Wind Power: www.kaheawa.com/default.php

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MA'ALAEA, Maui Maui's first wind farm has hit a snag it's been too windy to build it.

Winds have been blowing more than 30 miles per hour all day for the past week along a stretch of the West Maui Mountains where the Kaheawa Wind Power project is being built.

That makes it unsafe for workers to lift the upper sections of the turbine towers reaching some 200 feet above ground.

Nine of 20 planned towers still need to be fully erected.

"It's a great site to have a wind farm," says Mike Gresham, president of Makana Nui Partners, which is part of the group building the project. "It's a difficult site to build a wind farm."

When completed, the farm's wind turbines will generate up to an average of 8 megawatts of power. That's enough to supply 10,000 to 11,000 homes and fulfill about 9 percent of Maui's power needs.

The farm is expected to help the state reach a goal of buying one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Maui Electric has said the farm will reduce the utility's consumption of imported diesel oil by 160,000 to 240,000 barrels per year.

Gresham said he plans to connect cables, test circuits and tie down bolts until the wind subsides.

Even after the delays, the Kaheawa Wind project could start making electricity by the end of the month.