Environmental Protection

21 MW Maui Wind Farm Goes Online

Ten thousand typical homes on the island can be powered by the eight wind turbines installed on a ridge of the Haleakala volcano.

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced Dec. 27 that the 21 megawatt Auwahi Wind facility is now in full commercial operation, about nine months after construction began. The wind farm’s eight new wind turbines are lined up on the southeast ridge of Maui's Haleakala volcano.

"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."

The power from the farm, sufficient to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes, has been sold to Maui Electric Company under a 20-year contract. The project includes a battery capable of storing 4.4 megawatt-hours of power that will help to regulate and sustain power to the MECO grid during light wind conditions, the partner companies announced.

"Innovation is a big part of what Sempra U.S. Gas & Power brings to all of our projects," Martin said. "The battery storage component of Auwahi Wind includes state-of-the-art monitoring and safety controls, which will help maximize the benefit that the Maui Electric Company and its customers receive from this project."

"What a great way to end a banner year for wind energy in Hawaii,” said Brian Schatz, who was the state’s lieutenant governor until Dec. 28, when he was sworn in as a U.S. senator to fill the seat of Daniel Inouye, who died Dec. 17. Schatz was appointed to fill th seat by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Schatz said the wind 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. It's not every day that we celebrate a success like this so it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Sempra, BP Wind, Ulupalakua Ranch, and MECO for their commitment to seeing this project through to completion."

"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."

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