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Construction begins on Hawaii’s biggest wind farm

Firm breaks ground to work on historic wind energy facility

Wind turbines on Big Island, Hawaii
Wind turbines on Big Island, Hawaii

Construction has started on Hawaii biggest wind project. First Wind, an independent US wind energy company, has celebrated the start of construction of its 69MW Kawailoa Wind project on Kamehameha Schools’ Kawailoa Plantation lands on Oahu’s North Shore. Once complete, Kawailoa Wind will be the largest wind energy facility in Hawaii.

The site’s thirty 2.3MW Siemens wind turbines will have the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable wind energy to power the equivalent of approximately 14,500 homes on the island, or as much as five percent of Oahu’s annual electrical demand.

During a groundbreaking ceremony on the project site, First Wind officials were joined by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, State Senator Mike Gabbard and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

Senator Akaka said: “This groundbreaking for Kawailoa Wind is an historic occasion for Hawaii because, as the largest wind project ever in the state, it will harness enough clean, sustainable energy to provide power for thousands of families on Oahu. Renewable electricity production makes our islands more energy self-sufficient, environmentally sustainable, and secure, which is critically important now and for future generations.”

Lt. Gov. Schatz added, “This is the largest wind farm in Hawai'i’s history, and it shows the progress we are making toward our clean energy goals. This is a great day for Hawai'i. We've moved from talking about renewable energy to actually doing it.”

In December 2011, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between First Wind and the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), which serves more than 400,000 Hawaii customers. Hawaii state law mandates 70 per cent clean energy for electricity and surface transportation by 2030, with 40 per cent coming from local renewable sources. Kawailoa Wind will significantly advance the state’s progress toward these goals.

Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric Company president and CEO, said: “This project will be an important part of Hawaii’s diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources. As the largest wind farm in Hawaii, Kawailoa represents a significant step toward reducing the impact of imported oil on our customers.”

Offshore wind farm development will be a major focus of BigSwitch Offshore Wind, a global wind event, which Renewable Energy Technology (RET) is a proud sponsor. The event, which is taking place in Glasgow on 26th and 27th June, aims to advance technological developments across the global offshore wind industry. For more information on the event, please email RET Editor Heath Reidy at heath.reidy@bric.com.