HONOLULU - The Public Utilities Commission has approved an amended power purchase contract between Kaheawa Wind Power LLC and Maui Electric Co., which Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said would save Valley Isle consumers more than $300,000 per year and protect them from soaring oil prices.
Schatz disclosed the renegotiated power purchase contract in a news release late Wednesday.
The agreement separates the costs of the wind farm from the price of fossil fuels.
In the original contract approved by the PUC in 2005, the total energy costs paid by MECO were based on two factors - 70 percent of the price came from a fixed payment rate, and 30 percent was based on "avoided energy cost" data, which is tied to the cost of oil.
The amended contract uncouples the price of wind energy from the price of oil in accordance with a provision of Hawaii law enacted after the original contract between Maui Electric and the wind farm was negotiated. Under the new legislation, payments for renewable energy projects are no longer tied to the price of fossil fuels.
The PUC estimated the change would save Maui's 67,700 residential and business customers $330,000 annually, or around $5 each.
The agreement also "gives the ratepayers on Maui long-term price certainty, protecting them from the rising cost of oil," Schatz said.
Kaheawa Wind Power, owned by UPC Hawaii Wind Partners LLC, operates the 30-megawatt wind farm at Kaheawa Pastures on a ridge above Maalaea.