GOVERNOR LINGLE ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO ADVANCE ‘BIG WIND’ PROJECTS

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 in News Releases

For Immediate Release: March 17, 2009

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle along with Castle & Cooke, First Wind Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric Company today announced an agreement that could lead to large wind farms on both Lanai and Molokai providing clean energy to Oahu. These wind farms would feed into an inter-island cable system currently being discussed that could ultimately interconnect the major Hawaiian islands for increased grid reliability, security and consumer and business cost savings through access to renewables.

“This agreement can significantly help meet our goal of increasing energy independence for Hawaii by speeding up the addition of a large increment of clean energy onto the Oahu grid,” said Governor Lingle. “It shows that we are making real progress toward our clean energy goals by working together in the best interests of Hawaii.”

Under the energy agreement signed between the State of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric in October 2008 as part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, Hawaiian Electric committed to increasing renewable energy statewide by 1,100 megawatts by 2030. A major piece of this objective included 400 megawatts of “Big Wind” added to Oahu’s grid from Lanai and/or Molokai by way of an undersea cable developed with the assistance of the State of Hawaii. This agreement defines how the parties can move forward together.

Castle & Cooke earlier announced plans to develop a 400 megawatt (MW) wind farm on Lanai. First Wind Hawaii, which built and operates the Kaheawa Wind Farm on Maui, has proposed a 300 to 400 MW wind farm on Molokai.

Through this agreement, both wind farm developers have concurred to smaller initial projects, each up to 200 MW. The agreement clears the way for both projects to move ahead to negotiate contracts to sell their energy to Hawaiian Electric Company on Oahu.

These contracts will require approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Both wind project developers will cooperate with Hawaiian Electric to research, promote and coordinate the reliable integration of the wind projects into the Oahu electric grid. As a variable power source, large amounts of wind added to a stand-alone grid, such as Oahu’s, poses unusual challenges to operating the island’s electric systems.

Both wind projects depend on the ability to transmit the electric power to Oahu from Lanai and/or Molokai. Thus, the developers will assist the state in planning the undersea cable and in planning needed interconnection facilities by Hawaiian Electric.

“We are all in agreement that time is of the essence if we are going to increase our energy security and protect our economy from continued excessive dependence on imported fossil fuel,” said Hawaii Energy Administrator Ted Peck. “Thus, all parties and the state have agreed to meet regularly to review progress on the respective wind farm projects, the inter-island cable and the Oahu interconnection lines.”

“At First Wind Hawaii, we welcome this agreement as a way to focus our energies on moving forward with another major project to complement our very successful Kaheawa Wind Farm and other projects we are now developing for Maui, Oahu and Kauai. This enables us to bring economies of scale to our wind development efforts as a major provider of clean, renewable energy for Hawaii,” said Paul Gaynor, president and CEO of First Wind Hawaii.

“Lanai already is the site of the largest photovoltaic farm in the state and this project will add significantly to the island’s clean energy contributions for Hawaii,” said Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Hawaii. “This agreement provides some certainty and assurances for us to continue to advance our wind farm proposal to harness Lanai’s wind resources. This will result in the creation of green jobs and economic opportunities for Lanai, while protecting its environment and its special sense of place for residents and visitors.”

“Castle and Cooke and First Wind deserve considerable credit for working together to help get more renewable energy online faster for our state,” said Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm. “These two wind projects are absolutely essential to meeting our Hawaii Clean Energy commitments and we are very pleased to be able to work with both developers to negotiate purchase power contracts as soon as possible.”

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