Since 2006, Maui’s largest wind project has delivered clean energy and economic benefits to the community and is now poised to nearly double its generating capacity.
Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, and its partner Makani Nui Associates, today commemorated the five-year anniversary of successful commercial operations of their 30 MW Maui-based Kaheawa Wind Power I (KWP I) project. As Maui’s first utility-scale wind project, KWP I has generated nearly 563 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean electricity since it went online on June 22, 2006 – the equivalent amount of energy from a traditional fossil fuel facility would have required over 902,604 barrels of oil. The project is also notable for its first-in-industry Habitat Conservation Plan, ensuring the protection of bird, bat and plant species that might have been affected during construction and operations.
During a tour for representatives from the private, public and nonprofit sectors, who are attending the Hawaii State Association of Counties Conference this week on Maui, First Wind held a brief “birthday” ceremony, complete with birthday cake. Company officials conducted tours of KWP I’s existing operations as well as the 21 MW KWP II project, which is under construction on an adjacent site.
KWP I powers approximately 11,000 homes on Maui a year – about 9 percent of the island’s energy.
“As our first project to achieve commercial operations, KWP I has always been special, serving as not just a model for other First Wind projects, but for the industry as a whole,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “During its five years of commercial operations and during the years of development beforehand, we have been fortunate to have incredible support from the State of Hawaii and the Maui community. Due in large part to the success of the project and the support we have received, we are pleased that we are now expanding the project to further support both Maui’s and the state’s renewable energy goals.”
First Wind is currently constructing a second project, Kaheawa Wind Power II (KWP II), a 21 MW project adjacent to KWP I. Earlier this year, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between KWP II and Maui Electric Company to sell as-available renewable energy to Maui Electric at pre-determined prices over a 20-year term. KWP II will further advance the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to have 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy come from native, renewable sources by 2030.
Once KWP II is complete, the combined projects will have a capacity of 51 MW with the potential to produce enough energy for the equivalent of 20,000 Maui homes annually. KWP II will also include a battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output, similar to the system installed at First Wind’s Kahuku Wind project on Oahu. Both projects will also operate under similar Habitat Conservation Plans.
Below is a summary of some of the notable milestones achieved during KWP I’s five years of successful commercial operations:
· KWP I has generated more than 562,892,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean electricity.
· Based on data recently published by the U.S. EPA’s Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID), generating an equivalent amount of electric energy from a traditional fossil fuel burning facility would have required over 902,604 barrels of oil. The Maui Electric Company (MECO) imports more than 1.6 million barrels of petroleum-based fuels every year.
· The renewable power generated has been supplying clean, renewable electricity to more than 11,000 Maui homes each year.
· During a five-year period, KWP I helped to avoid the release of over 456,156 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 5,879 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 2,841 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
· The amount of CO2 avoided is equivalent to the emissions of nearly 76,102 passenger vehicles.
· First Wind has utilized Hawaii-based contractors and suppliers throughout development, construction and continuing operations at KWP I and KWP II.
· Major on-site Hawaii-based contractors during construction included Rojac, Tri-Isle Trucking, Hawaii Geotech, No Ka ‘Oi Guard Services, South Pacific Steel and Ameron; these firms cumulatively provided 25,000 man-hours at KWP I.
· Hawaii residents contributed another 12,000 man-hours at KWP I through sub-contracting and local hiring.
· Presently, First Wind continuously employs a Maui-based team of six operators, environmental scientists and support staff at KWP I.
· Situated on state lands, KWP I has generated approximately $750,000 in lease revenue for the State (DLNR).
· The predictable operating costs of KWP I enable fixed pricing for electricity, insulating a portion of Maui’s electricity supply from fluctuating market prices of oil.
Hawaii and Community Highlights
· KWP I implemented the first Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) ever for a utility-scale wind project. The plan was developed as recommended in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement to ensure a net conservation benefit for three listed bird species and one bat species that might be affected by the project.
· As part of KWP II, First Wind has expanded the HCP to provide additional conservation benefits for the same four species, and extended the period of the plan by an additional five years. Under the HCP, KWP I is contributing funding to support critical research needs for Hawaiian Hoary bats and propagation of young Nene for future release. First Wind is also conducting extensive studies that will lead to the protection of remote seabird nesting areas in interior Maui.
· KWP I continues to restore native plant communities at the project site that were displaced during construction. As part of the restoration project, KWP I contracted with Ho‘olawa Farms and Native Nursery and Maui Cultural Lands to propagate over 25,000 native plant specimens including a‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa), ‘ohi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha), ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens micrantha), ‘akia (Wikstroemia oahuensis), and pili grass (Heteropogon contortus) mostly from seeds collected by volunteers during the development and construction of the wind project.
About First Wind
First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West and in Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 635 megawatts of power and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 121 megawatts. For more information on First Wind, please visit www.firstwind.com or follow us on Twitter @FirstWind.
First Wind Hawaii is a partnership between First Wind and Makani Nui Associates, a Hawai‘i-based company in Pukalani, HI. The partnership developed, constructed, financed, owns and operates Kaheawa Wind Power I, Hawai‘i’s largest utility-scale wind farm on the western slopes of Maui.