According to the Maui News, the Keheawa wind
farm which sells eight mega watts of power it generates to
Maui Electric Company should produce about 8 percent of Maui’s
electricity needs to meet the goal set for 2006. Plans are
for MECO to reduce its fossil fuels generated energy by at
least 15 percent by the year 2015, which will meet Lingle’s
The wind farm will not only encourage others to develop renewable
energy, but it will also reduce the Maui’s dependence on
oil. According to the Keheawa Web site, the plant estimates that
it will eliminate the use of 244,000 barrels of oil per year
through energy produced by wind power instead of fossil fuels.
This saves island residents about $10 million a year on imported
Kent Smith, a co-developer of Kaheawa, told the Maui News that
the energy used from the plant could save each of the 40,000
households at least $120 a year on their electricity bill, if
oil is at least $60 a barrel.
In July, the Honolulu Advertiser reported that the wind turbines,
which began producing electricity in June, had already saved
Maui Electric (MECO) 10,000 barrels of oil.
According to the Keheawa Web site, the plant sells its wind power
to MECO for eight cents per kilowatt hour. MECO’s residential
rate for fossil fueled power is 20.85 cents per kilowatt hour.
If the plant can sustain a regular output, and if oil prices
continue to rise, savings could add up to a lot more.
The wind farm consists of 20 wind turbines lined in a single
row at an elevation between 2,000 to 3,200 feet in the west Maui
Mountains, in a place referred to as Kaheawa Pastures. Winds
at the site are constant at an average of 20 mph, which will
maintain a regular power output. Of course, if there is no wind,
no power can be generated; but according to developers they’re
confident in their selection of Keheawa.
The towers are 180 feet tall and have 117 foot-long-rotors that
are painted white. Some residents of the area complain that the
towers are ruining their view of the mountains; however, the
color was chosen to protect the area’s endangered wildlife
which includes the nene and the hawaiian hoary bat.
The towers may pollute the view, but the power generated contributes
to a cleaner atmosphere. Because of the reduction in the use
of fossil fuels, the wind plant estimates that it will eliminate
the annual emission of 170 million pounds of carbon dioxide,
1.3 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 354, 000 pounds of
nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.
HECO has been monitoring Kahe Ridge above its Nanakuli power
plant for a potential wind farm. The farm could consist of 24
to 26 wind turbines that could generate up to 39 megawatts of
electricity, enough to power 15,000 homes, or all of Mililani
and Makaiwa Hills combined.
For more information, and to express your ideas and concerns about renewable
energy on the island of O‘ahu, go to www.heco.com.