A June 15 letter writer asked why the wind turbines on Maui aren't ever turning at the same time.
While the 14 new turbines in the makai area are built, as of mid-June they were not yet commercially operating. These turbines make up the second phase of the Kaheawa Wind project. We are currently testing each turbine and working on tying in the electrical collection lines and innovative battery system at the project site. (All the turbines were expected to be commercially operating by the end of June.)
The turbines operate simply by the power of wind. Here are several reasons why some or all turbines may not be operating at times:
* Wind conditions. If wind speed is too low (less than 6 mph), the turbines cannot operate. If the wind speed is too high (55 mph or greater), they are shut down to minimize wear and tear on the machines. Although the turbines are in the same general area, the wind resource may vary at different elevations, allowing some turbines to operate while others may not.
* Maintenance. Work is done on each turbine on a routine basis that requires the turbine to be shut down for safety reasons.
* Curtailment by Maui Electric Co. Depending on the electrical needs of the island, some of the turbines may be curtailed. This is normally expected at night when the electrical demand is low, but periodically happens during the day.
When the new phase of the wind farm becomes commercially operational, the 34 wind turbines that make up Kaheawa Wind I and II will be able to power the equivalent of 18,700 homes on Maui. First Wind Energy is pleased to be able support Maui's goal in getting off of imported fuel by creating this clean, local energy source powered by the wind.
* Kekoa Kaluhiwa is the director of external affairs for First Wind Energy.