Wind farm up and running

Wren Wescoatt
Wren Wescoatt
Darren Pai
Darren Pai

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KAHUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The giant turbines in the hills above Kahuku have been pumping power into Hawaiian Electric's grid since the middle of December with no hiccups.

"People that are watching TV, two to five percent of the electricity that powers their television is coming from this wind farm," First Wind development manager Wren Wescoatt said.

The company used the last few months to fine tune the system. It officially flips the switch tomorrow.

"The more renewable energy we can generate -- native energy -- that we can generate here, that much less we need to spend on importing fossil fuels, which is oil and coal," Wescoatt said.

The twelve giant sized turbines can generate enough electricity to light over 7,000 homes. First Wind is selling HECO the power for twenty cents a kilowatt hour.

"It's 30 megawatts of wind power. That alone is not going to help us reach our goals. But this is another step. It's really going to take a broad portfolio of a lot of different clean energy resources to go us where we need to go," HECO spokesman Darren Pai said.

Clean energy means less carbon dioxide and less greenhouse gas seeping into the atmosphere.

When the wind dies, a battery storage system kicks in to fill in the gaps in voltage and frequency.

"It creates basically a short term storage to stabilize the output of the wind farm when there's a sudden drop off in wind," Wescoatt said.

First Wind is already planning for another wind farm in another wind tunnel mauka of Haleiwa. It would double the output of the Kahuku project.

"Once you build the wind farm, the fuel, the energy we get from the wind is absolutely free," Wescoatt said.

It took the Boston based company four years to take the Kahuku wind farm from planning to finished product.

Now it's turning and burning.

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