HALEIWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday on the slope above Chun's Reef on Oahu's North Shore where the state's largest wind farm is expected to open before the end of the year.
Kawailoa Wind is being built by First Wind, the same company that operates the wind farm in Kahuku. Kawailoa Wind will produce 69 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 14,000 homes on Oahu.
"About five-percent of Oahu's annual load will be supplied from this wind farm, so, it doesn't sound like a lot, but you do enough of them and eventually it will make a difference," said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.
"What this means for the consumer is stable low priced energy for our future. This wind farm is big enough to serve 14,000 Oahu homes, and that's 14,000 homes that are no longer linked to oil," said Dick Rosemblum, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company.
HECO will pay First Wind 22.9 cents a kilowatt-hour for the next 20 years for electricity produced at Kawailoa, "and because that stays the same over time, as oil gets more and more expensive this becomes a better and better deal for our customers," Rosenblum added.
There are 12 turbines at the Kahuku wind farm. There will be 30 at Kawailoa.
"You'll definitely see them as you come down into the North Shore. You'll see them up in the hills, but once you get down along Kamehameha Highway I don't think you'll see much of anything. These are probably one and a half or two miles up into the hills," Gaynor said.
The land at Kawailoa is owned by Kamehameha Schools. Once the turbines are up it plans to bring in livestock.
"Under sustainability there's food and fuel. Food is one big piece and fuel independence is another one, so this plantation is really contributing to both of them," said Giorgio Caldarone, Regional Asset Manager for Kamehameha Schools.
If all goes as expected, all 30 turbines will be up and connected to the grid by late November.