U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa today joined officials from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, BP Wind Energy and community leaders for the dedication of the new Auwahi Wind facility on Ulupalakua Ranch.
The eight wind turbines are situated along the slopes of the Haleakala volcano and generate enough electricity to power 10,000 local homes.
More than 200 guests attended Friday’s dedication ceremony, which included traditional Hawaiian chants and prayers.
Sen. Schatz said the Auwahi wind farm contributes significantly to Hawaii’s clean energy goals. He said the project is consistent with the State of Hawaii’s values of cooperation, contributing to a solution nationally on climate change and maintaining the ranching lifestyle on Ulupalakua Ranch.
“Auwahi Wind Farm is critically important,” he said. “This is about keeping Maui Maui and setting an example not just for the state, but the rest of the nation.”
Tsutsui, who was born and raised on Maui, said the state and the island welcomed the Auwahi Wind farm as it brought much-needed jobs. More than 180 jobs were created during the project construction. Four full-time employees operate the wind farm today.
“We’re always talking about sustainability and being independent,” Tsutsui said. “This goes hand in hand with a lot of our initiatives. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and we look much forward to other projects.”
“We are very pleased that Auwahi Wind was completed on time, on budget and, most importantly, with an impeccable safety record,” said Kevin C. Sagara, vice president of renewables and corporate development for Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. “This project will provide clean, sustainable power to Maui residents for generations and will bring Hawaii another step closer to meeting its goal to derive 40 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030.”
The 21-megawatt (MW) Auwahi Wind facility represents BP and Sempra’s first alternative energy venture in Hawaii.
“Today is a celebration for the community of Maui in harnessing wind power as part of a diverse and adequate energy supply,” said John Graham, president & CEO of BP Wind Energy. “On behalf of the owners of Auwahi Wind, I would like to thank the local community, the Ulupalakua Ranch, and neighbors without whom this project would not be the success it is.”
Maui Electric Co. President Sharon Suzuki said the project provides a valuable energy alternative for the island.
“The addition of the Auwahi Wind project brings Maui’s total installed capacity of wind generation to 72 MW, a great accomplishment for such a small island and one that will help further our efforts to break our dependence on foreign oil,” she said.
An important component of the project is an 11-MW/4.4-megawatt-hour grid battery system. At its peak, this system is capable of 11 MW sustained for approximately 25 minutes. The battery system’s energy helps regulate and sustain power to Maui Electric Co.’s grid during light wind conditions.
“We are especially pleased with the work Sempra and BP have accomplished in using a state-of-the-art battery system to help compensate for the fluctuations of variable wind,” Suzuki said. “This high level of wind penetration on Maui would not be possible without such innovative measures.”
Sumner Erdman, president of the Ulupalakua Ranch, said the ranch has benefited from its partnership with Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP.
“Now, we can preserve much of our ranch land and its grazing areas in open space and continue to raise cattle,” he said. “Auwahi Wind will go a long way toward preserving the ranching lifestyle at Ulupalakua and on Maui.”
Ulupalakua Ranch is one of the largest cattle ranches on Maui. The Erdmans are environmentalists and have been its owners since 1963.
Construction of Auwahi Wind began in March 2012. More information on Auwahi Wind is available at www.SempraUSGP.com/Auwahi.