Big Island wind farm capacity to double
By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Sean Hao
State lawmakers and officials from General Electric and Big Island Apollo Power Corp. have scheduled a news conference at the Capitol tomorrow to provide more details about their plans to refurbish a wind farm at South Point.
The plan is to more than double the Kama'oa Wind Farm's current power-generating capacity with 14 1.5-megawatt GE wind turbines, helping reduce the Big Island's dependence on imported oil. The turbines are expected to produce enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes.
Once the wind farm project is completed as expected in March, it will add about 7 percent to the roughly 300 megawatts of total generating capacity now available on the Big Island, according to a GE announcement in June.
"This project illustrates how the Big Island of Hawai'i, along with other islands, can serve as a laboratory for the integration of wind power into electrical grids," said Victor Abate, vice president for renewable energy for GE Energy.
The cost of the project has not been disclosed. However, the new $69 million Kaheawa Wind Power project on Maui uses 20 of GE's 1.5-megawatt wind turbines, which produce 30 megawatts of energy. The Kaheawa wind farm is located on state land above Ukumehame. It produces about 9 percent of Maui Electric Co. needs and eliminates the need for an estimated 244,000 barrels of imported oil annually.
It is the first of two major wind farms planned for Maui. Shell Oil Co. plans to build a 40-megawatt wind farm on a remote corner of 'Ulupalakua Ranch on Haleakala. The $200 million Auwahi wind farm is expected to provide enough power for 15,000 homes.
While Shell's new wind farm will be the biggest in the state, the electricity delivered by it and Hawai'i's four other wind farms will only satisfy about 1 percent of the state's electricity demands, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. In addition to the South Point and Maui projects, there are Big Island wind farms at Lalamilo Wells and 'Upolu Point.
Reach Sean Hao at email@example.com.