Wind turbines tower over landscape

Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm
Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm
Wren Wescoatt
Wren Wescoatt

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KAHUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They're made by man to harness nature's power. And they're really, really big.

"It's like something out of a science fiction movie. They are huge," First Wind development manager Wren Wescoatt said.

The company's twelve wind turbines sit on a 575-acre area in the foothills above Kahuku - one of the best wind tunnels on the island.

The giant structures are grouped in sets of three, set far enough apart to eliminate interference.

"You don't want your upwind turbines blocking or decreasing the wind regime for your downwind turbines," Wescoatt said. "The hub itself is about 250 feet high. The blade at the very tip of the rotation will go up to 425 feet."

The blades are made of fiberglass. The towers are assembled out of four steel sections.

"Each of those sections weighs over 100,000 pounds. On top of that we have the cell which houses the gear box and the generators. That weighs another 200,000 pounds," he said.

When it's finally plugged in, the wind farm will pump thirty megawatts of power to Hawaiian Electric, enough electricity for 7,700 homes.

"Once you get them installed, the wind is free power," Wescoatt said.

There's still some work to go on a battery system and a substation.

"Once that is complete we can connect the turbines, all the testing is done, we can switch on line and we'll be delivering power to the grid," he said.

First Wind hopes to flip the switch in late January.

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