Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, today announced that it has entered into a 20-year contract to sell 21 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to Maui Electric Company from the Auwahi Wind project on the Ulupalakua Ranch in the southeastern region of Maui.
Construction on Auwahi Wind is expected to begin in early 2012, creating approximately 150 local construction jobs at peak and about five positions to operate the facility. The project is currently undergoing an extensive environmental review by Maui County, and state and federal agencies.
When fully operational in late 2012, Auwahi Wind will be capable of generating clean electricity equivalent to the amount used by 10,000 typical Maui homes. This new source of locally-produced wind energy will help Hawaii reach its clean energy goal of 40 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
"We are excited to be a part of this growing renewable energy market and look forward to helping advance the sustainability goals of Maui and the state of Hawaii," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation. "In doing so, we also recognize our obligation to responsibly develop this resource in a way that is respectful of the natural environment and the region's cultural heritage. Sempra Generation takes this responsibility seriously, and we will continue to work in close partnership with the local community to ensure this is a clean energy project Maui residents can be proud of."
The contract between Maui Electric Company and Sempra Generation is subject to approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
"MECO's partnership with Sempra Generation is yet another milestone toward bringing Maui County and the State of Hawaii closer to realizing our renewable energy goals," said Maui Electric Company President Ed Reinhardt. "The addition of battery storage to this project is critical to integrating this intermittent power reliably and we commend Sempra Generation for taking this important step. While we recognize that there is much to be done to reach our 2030 goal, it is clear that diversifying our renewable energy portfolio with sources like wind, solar, wave, biomass, and biofuels is essential to our success."
The battery storage unit could store as much as 12 megawatt-hours of wind energy generated by the project's wind turbines during the typically windy morning and night hours. This stored power will help to regulate and smooth intermittent wind power, providing a valuable source of grid stability for Maui Electric.
"This project will allow Ulupalakua Ranch to maintain its rural and agricultural character," said Sumner Erdman, whose family has owned and operated the 18,000-acre ranch for decades.
Sempra Generation is expanding its alternative energy portfolio throughout the U.S. The company is an equal partner on the 200-MW Fowler Ridge II wind farm in Indiana and the 250-MW Cedar Creek II project in Colorado, which will be completed this year. The company is also developing a multi-phase wind farm in Baja California, Mexico that could generate up to 1,200 MW.
Sempra Generation operates and maintains a fleet of clean, efficient natural gas-fueled power plants and is a leading developer of solar and wind facilities that serve U.S. markets. Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2010 revenues of $9 billion. The Sempra Energy companies' nearly 16,000 employees serve about 25 million consumers worldwide.