35-MW wind farm is proposed in Ulupalakua

Auwahi 2 would sit next to sister project on ranch land

Strong winds on the southeast side of Maui turn the 300-foot-diameter rotors of Auwahi Wind’s eight turbines in 2013. The 21-megawatt farm located on rugged Ulupalakua Ranch land is capable of generating enough electricity to power about 14,500 Maui homes. A sister 35 MW is proposed nearby. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Auwahi Wind is seeking to build another wind farm with up to seven turbines and a generating capacity of 35 megawatts adjacent to its existing facility on Ulupalakua Ranch land on the leeward slopes of Haleakala.

According to an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice, Auwahi 2 Wind Farm Project also will include an energy storage system, a substation and 34.5-kilovolt generator tie lines, all located next to the existing wind project infrastructure.

Auwahi’s current wind farm, which went online in December 2012, has eight turbines and a generating capacity of 21 MW.

The new Auwahi 2 project is proceeding with preliminary permitting to meet deadlines if the project is selected by Hawaiian Electric in its latest round of request for proposals for renewable energy issued in August. The utility is seeking 295 gigawatt hours of renewable energy and 58 gigawatt hours of power storage for Maui.

The project was selected for the shortlist of possible approvals in mid-January and a final selection is expected in May.

A pair of 240-foot-tall Auwahi turbines are silhouetted against the rising sun in 2012. The wind farm began operations that year. A seven-turbine, 35-megawatt project with battery storage is planned nearby.

An EIS public scoping meeting will be held at 5 p.m. today. Because of the current restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual format will be used. Both phone and online-based options will be available.

Interested parties can join the meeting by going to bit.ly/Auwahi2Wind. Participants also can dial in to (833) 380-0624.

The EIS scoping meeting will include a presentation by project representatives, followed by oral public comments. All oral comments will be audio recorded.

The power generated at the wind farm would be transmitted to the Maui utility’s existing electric grid via the new 34.5-kilovolt generator tie lines.

The lines would originate within the proposed wind farm site and travel 9 to 10 miles north and west on Ulupalakua Ranch property, crossing both Piilani Highway and Kula Highway and would generally parallel the existing Auwahi Wind generator tie line.

An interconnect substation would be constructed adjacent to the existing Auwahi Wind substation, approximately 1 mile east of the Wailea Substation.

A battery energy storage system would be installed adjacent to the existing substation.

The project would include up to seven turbines; the final turbine model has not been selected. The maximum hub height for the turbines would be 390 feet with rotor diameter of 531 feet, resulting in maximum blade tip height of 656 feet.

The turbines, which would be assembled in specific assembly areas, would be anchored to the ground using a spread foundation or rock anchor foundation type.

If the project is selected by Hawaiian Electric, construction is expected to begin April 2022 with operations beginning sometime between December 2022 and April 2023, depending on permitting and construction timelines.

The majority of the project area consists of dryland grassland, shrubland and pasture.

An administrative 30-day public review and scoping comment period has begun with comments due by May 26.

Comments should be sent to the approving agency/accepting authority, County of Maui Planning Commission, Kurt Wollenhaupt, by email at kurt.wollenhaupt@mauicounty.gov or by mail to 2200 Main St., Suite 315, Wailuku 96793.

Testifiers should send a copy to the applicant, Auwahi Wind 2 LLC; 655 W. Broadway, Suite 950, San Diego, CA 92101, or email Maria VanZandt at mlvanzandt@aepes.com; and to Tetra Tech Inc., 737 Bishop St., Suite 2340, Honolulu, 96813 or email Alicia Oller at alicia.oller@tetratech.com.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.


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