The $140 million, 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind project on Ulupalakua Ranch went online Thursday, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced.
"We are very pleased to complete construction of Auwahi Wind both on time and on budget," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra, the project's owner and operator. "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 Auwahi Wind project on Ulupalakua Ranch land went online Thursday. The 21-megawatt project is selling power to Maui Electric Co. under the terms of a 20-year contract.
Power from the eight-turbine wind project is being sold to Maui Electric Co. under a 20-year contract. Helping to regulate the sometimes intermittent nature of wind is a 10-megawatt battery capable of storing 4.4 megawatts of power.
"The completion of the Auwahi Wind facility is yet another huge milestone in our quest for a clean energy future for Hawaii," said Maui Electric President Sharon Suzuki. "This project is a testament to collaboration and partnerships on all levels from Ulupalakua Ranch and our Maui community to Sempra and BP Wind."
Construction of the wind farm on Ulupalakua Ranch began in March and involved more than 180 workers. Since September, special traffic arrangements had to be approved as "superloads" were hauled from Kahului to the Ulupalakua site.
Auwahi Wind will employ four full-time employees.
The ranch is leasing 5,280 acres of ranch land in the Auwahi area to Sempra for the wind farm, a win-win for the ranch and Sempra and BP, said Sumner Erdman, president of Ulupalakua Ranch.
"BP and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power have been terrific partners," said Erdman. "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."
Erdman has said that the lease arrangement helps the cattle ranch diversify its revenue as it struggles to deal with drought losses of cattle.
Sempra officials have said that the wind blows consistently about 22 mph at the Auwahi site on the southeastern flank of Haleakala. Only 7 mph winds are needed to produce energy from the 428-foot wind turbines.
The 21 megawatts produced by the joint venture between Sempra and BP will be enough to power 10,000 typical Maui homes, a news release said.