Improvements in Maui Electric Co.’s Wind Energy Use


October 9, 2015

Solar power is the favorite renewable energy source among residents, including Maui home owners and renters alike. That is according to MPower Maui, a project under the Maui Economic Development Board that held discussions with hundreds of people on the subject. However, wind energy was a close second, and residents’ primary concern with that source was the energy storage issues associated with it. Fortunately, Maui Electric Co. has recently provided a wind curtailment status report to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission highlighting a 13 percent increase in its harnessing of wind energy.

This reduction of wasted energy is a big step forward, with Maui Electric accepting 93 percent of the electricity generated during 2014. By comparison, only 83 percent of the energy was accepted by the utility in 2013. This energy comes from three wind farms here on Maui. The first two are SunEdison’s 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind I and 21-megawatt Kaheawa Wind II. The third is Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s 21-megewatt Auwahi Wind.

The report outlined some issues that continue to be a challenge, however. Those include things like weather, how much wind there actually is, and the integration of all the new rooftop solar energy being fed into the grid, among other things. These factors all require fine tuning and adaptation as time goes on, along with the acceptance of our limitations as far as wind is concerned. There’s nothing we can do about those quiet days. Fortunately, we often have sunny skies on those days, making for better solar energy absorption.

Wind energy now accounts for around 17 percent of Maui Electric’s total power output, which is substantial by anyone’s standards. It also comprises 24 percent of the utility’s renewable power, along with solar and hydro.

Whether you already own a Maui home or you’re thinking about buying, these developments factor into your energy bills, and are an important part of the state’s 100 percent renewable energy goal that was established to bring those bills down in price. Reducing harm to the environment is another major benefit to these changes, so long as improvements are continuously made to enhance the efficiency of these energy systems.

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