Right before the end of the year, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy sneaked in the commercial opening of the 21 megawatt Auwahi Wind facility on the Ulupalakua Ranch in Maui, Hawaii.
The power from Auwahi Wind has been sold to Maui Electric Company (MECO) under a 20-year contract. The turbines will generate enough clean electricity to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes.
“We are very pleased to complete construction of Auwahi Wind both on time and on budget,” said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and CEO of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. “The addition of new, clean energy from our project will be a boost for Maui’s infrastructure and will help Hawaii achieve its goal of securing 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. This project could not have been built without the enthusiastic support of the local community, the Ulupalakua Ranch and neighbors who recognize the importance of sustainable energy.”
An important component of the project is a 10 MW battery capable of storing 4.4 megawatt-hours of power. Energy from the battery will help regulate and sustain power to the MECO grid during light wind conditions.
“It was just seven months ago that the groundbreaking for Auwahi Wind was held and today we’re celebrating its completion,” said former Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who has just been appointed as the U.S. Senator for Hawaii. “What a great way to end a banner year for wind energy in Hawaii. This project is an important step toward energy self-sufficiency and has the added benefit of helping Ulupalakua remain financially viable and preserve a ranching lifestyle on Maui and protect open space and habitat for native plants and animals.”
Construction of the wind farm on Ulupalakua Ranch began in March 2012, and involved more than 180 workers. The high-speed construction within seven months and the opening of the wind farm a few days before the year-end is likely because there was doubt about whether the wind energy tax credit (PTC) would be extended.
“BP and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power have been terrific partners,” said Sumner Erdman, president of Ulupalakua Ranch. “The Auwahi project protects the environment, maximizes wind as a renewable energy resource and allows us to maintain the rural open space and grazing areas necessary for us to raise our cattle.”