First Wind says that construction has commenced on the 69 MW Kawailoa Wind project, located on Kamehameha Schools' (KS) Kawailoa Plantation lands on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
According to First Wind, once the project is completed, it will be the largest wind energy facility in Hawaii. The wind farm's 30 2.3 MW Siemens wind turbines will generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of approximately 14,500 homes, representing about 5% of Oahu's annual electricity demand, First Wind says.
In December 2011, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement for First Wind to sell the output of the project to Hawaiian Electric Co.
First Wind has been in discussions about the project with residents and community organizations for the past two years, and KS began community consultation in 2006, starting with area kupuna (Hawaiian elders) to guide the process. First Wind also worked with federal, state and county agencies to obtain the necessary permits, the company notes.
As with other projects on Maui and Oahu, First Wind developed a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for Kawailoa Wind, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The HCP is a wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions to protect and minimize incidental harm to federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project.
First Wind owns and operates two other wind energy projects in Hawaii, and is currently building another project on Maui.