Maui County is planning to build three wind turbines at the Central Maui Landfill to offset thousands of dollars in energy bills at the site and is looking for prospective bidders.
"If we get the amount of wind we expect, it should have no problem offsetting electricity demands," said Kyle Ginoza, director of environmental management.
The approximately 55-acre landfill along Pulehu Road in Puunene uses $3,000 in electricity per month, Ginoza said. He said that the windmills will be about 60 feet tall and generate a minimum of 8.9 kilowatts per hour.
"It's been something we've thought about for probably five years conceptually," he said. "We were hoping to install photovoltaic panels instead, but just looking at the limitations of what we can put on the landfill and the dusty conditions - we can't wait anymore and thought we should start doing something to offset the demand."
The turbines will help curb expenses at the plant that processes about 450 tons of waste per day, or 150,000 tons a year. On Thursday, three people attended a pre-bid meeting to review the disposal site and plans. Formal bids for the project will open Oct. 29.
"We get everything (trash) from Kihei to Upcountry, to north shore and Lahaina," said Ginoza, who excluded Hana, Molokai and Lanai, which have their own landfills. "We've never done a windmill project like this, so we really don't know what this (project) will cost."
Ginoza said that the selected contractor will purchase and install the wind turbines and assist the county for at least a year with maintenance and management, following a warranty period. He said that the county will be responsible for managing and overseeing the turbines.
"Depending upon the availability of the turbines, we hope to start the project in the early part of 2014," he said.
Initially, wind power designs called for eight turbines, and the project was limited by plastic bags blowing about, Ginoza said. However, technological advances, a ban on plastic bags and pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped push the project forward and resulted in the soon-to-be opened bidding process.
The windmills are planned to be built upwind, or mauka, of the landfill, and a wind wall will dissipate the gusts generated from the turbines.
"There should be no environmental impact," Ginoza said. "We're not trying to spread the smell all around Maui or something. This is something we can save money for the county over time and increase our renewable energy portfolio."
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.