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Shell WindEnergy Inc. has announced plans to develop its first wind farm in Hawaii. The project's first phase may provide up to 40 MW of wind power.

Shell plans to develop the Auwahi wind project on Mauis Ulupalakua Ranch. The turbines would stand in a remote corner of the 20,000-acre ranch. The site was chosen because of its exceptionally strong winds and because it was felt that there would be minimal visual impact.

The project may also combine wind and hydroelectric power. Pumped hydro storage technology could store power from the wind turbines during off-peak periods, which could then be used to help meet peak demand. The concept of integrating this wind project with pumped hydro storage was advocated by Renewable Hawaii Inc., a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Company.

"This is great news for Ulupalakua Ranch, Maui and Hawaii," says Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. "It is an important step toward reducing Hawaii's dependence on imported fossil fuel and meeting our goal of having 20% of our energy come from renewable sources by the year 2020."

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