Maui is now generating more electricity from the wind after a second major wind farm went into operation.
Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced Thursday that their 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind plant with eight turbines at Ulupalakua Ranch is in full operation with the capability to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes.
Maui Electric Co. is buying electricity from the plant under a 20-year contract.
One important element of the plant is a 10-megawatt battery that can store 4.4 megawatt-hours of power. The battery allows electricity delivery at peak usage times using energy generated earlier during off-peak periods, and can also help sustain power to Maui Electric's grid during light wind conditions.
A former sugar cane producer on Kauai recently became Hawaii's largest photovoltaic energy plant operator, after a 6-megawatt solar farm went into operation earlier this month.
Electricity began flowing from the facility at Port Allen on Dec. 7, and is capable of powering roughly 1,800 homes.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and Alexander & Baldwin Inc. announced Thursday that the plant is up and running.
A&B announced plans for the project last year, and it was developed by subsidiary McBryde Sugar Co. on 20 acres next to KIUC's Port Allen power plant.
Most Hawaii residents will end up paying more to install a solar photovoltaic system effective Jan. 1 as a result of the state's move to tighten the rules for its renewable energy tax credit program.
The state Department of Taxation issued the temporary administrative rules last month in response to concerns that lost revenue from the tax credit was costing the state too much as PV installations soared.
High electricity prices charged by Hawaii's two electric utilities combined with generous state and federal tax renewable energy incentives have fueled a PV frenzy across the state in recent years. On Oahu alone, residents and businesses so far this year have submitted applications with the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting for about 15,000 PV systems, more than 150 percent of the cumulative total of the previous 10 years, according to Marco Mangelsdorf, a Hawaii island PV installer who compiles data on the industry.
Those who oppose the new rules say the changes will reduce the size of the average tax credit by 50 percent and deal a major blow to the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative. The HCEI aims to have the state generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2040. The Sierra Club and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit Dec. 11 in an attempt to prevent the state from enforcing new restrictions on solar tax credits.
Forest City Hawaii has completed the largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on
The 1.23-megawatt project, comprised of more than 4,300 solar panels installed by Hoku
Solar, marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that Forest City Hawaii has completed
on the island, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the
Forest City celebrated the completion of the Pearl City Peninsula solar energy facility with
an official "flip the switch" ceremony and Hawaiian blessing Monday. The facility will
provide solar power to between 150 and 250 homes.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, represented by Chief of Staff Jennifer Sabas, praised the
project's vision, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing Hawaii's
Other utility-scale solar projects owned and operated by Forest City Hawaii include Kapolei
Sustainable Energy Park (1.18 megawatts), Twelker Solar Farm (0.60 megawatts) in West Oahu
and Phan Solar Farm (0.57 megawatts) in West Oahu.
Two additional utility-scale solar projects are scheduled to be completed in West Oahu by
the end of this year.
Hawaii's growing reputation as a global center for clean energy research and development has attracted another delegation of foreign officials looking to see what the state has to offer.
A group of 17 national and local government representatives from Taiwan are touring renewable energy facilities on Oahu and Hawaii island this week, laying the groundwork for a relationship that could lead to greater cooperation on research and development projects, said Hwang Wang-Hsiang, a senior government officials who led the delegation.
Taiwan's energy policy is similar to Hawaii's in pushing for greater use of renewable sources to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels for energy generation, said Hwang, deputy minister of Taiwan's Council for Economic Planning and Development.
The delegation included officials from three island counties off the coast of Taiwan, he said. "They are what we call ‘low-carbon' communities. Their environments are very similar to Hawaii," Hwang said through an interpreter.