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Gov. Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii, Castle & Cooke, First Wind Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) have announced an agreement that could allow large wind farms on Lanai and Molokai to bring energy to Oahu. These wind farms would feed into an inter-island cable system currently being discussed that could ultimately interconnect the major Hawaiian islands for increased grid reliability, security, and consumer and business cost savings through access to renewables.

Under an energy agreement signed between the state of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric in October 2008 as part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), HECO committed to increasing renewable energy statewide by 1,100 MW by 2030. A major piece of this objective included 400 MW of wind added to Oahu's grid from Lanai and/or Molokai by way of an undersea cable developed with the assistance from the state of Hawaii. This agreement defines how the parties can move forward together.

Castle & Cooke earlier announced plans to develop a 400 MW wind farm on Lanai. First Wind Hawaii, which built and operates the Kaheawa Wind Farm on Maui, has proposed a 300 MW to 400 MW wind farm on Molokai.

Through this agreement, both wind farm developers have concurred to smaller initial projects, each up to 200 MW. The agreement clears the way for both projects to move ahead to negotiate contracts to sell their energy to HECO on Oahu.

These contracts will require approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Both wind project developers will cooperate with Hawaiian Electric to research, promote and coordinate the reliable integration of the wind projects into the O'ahu electric grid.

In related news, the U.S. Department of Energy has assigned two senior personnel from its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to assist Hawaii in implementing the HCEI, which outlines a goal of having 70% of the state's energy come from clean sources by the year 2030.

Debra Lew and Paul Norton are senior engineers and project leaders from NREL. Lew will work with Hawaii's utilities, and Norton will assist the energy efficiency branch in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's State Energy Office.

SOURCE: Office of Gov. Linda Lingle

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