Turbine blades being delivered to Kahuku. | Courtesy of First Wind

Today, the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office announced a $117 million loan guarantee through the Recovery Act for the Kahuku Wind Power Project in Hawaii. A project Secretary Chu calls “another example of America’s leadership in the global clean energy economy.”

While Hawaii has been harnessing wind power for years, Kahuku Wind is expected to be the first project to meet wind and solar energy reliability requirements set by the Hawaiian Electric Company; currently the only electric utility operating on the island of Oahu. Development of this innovative 30 megawatt (MW) wind power plant is expected to create over 200 jobs and supply clean electricity to roughly 7,700 Ohau households per year – a huge impact on an area that relies heavily on imported fossil fuels for power – and help pave the way for future clean energy projects in Hawaii.

“There is an urgent need to establish renewable energy sources in Hawaii and the state has mapped an ambitious plan to achieve this. The federal loan guarantee announced today boosts this effort,” said Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono. “The Kahuku Wind Project is the type of project that Hawaii needs to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and keep billions of dollars in our economy.”

In order to meet energy demands, the Kahuku Wind Project will combine two innovative technologies: the Clipper Liberty wind turbine system – the largest wind turbine manufactured in the U.S. – and a new battery system designed to help smooth out changes in power output caused by varying wind levels. This first of its kind installation will allow Kahuku to store energy generated on windy days for later delivery and could become an example for wind developers across the country to follow.

Kahuku Wind is expected to begin generating energy for Oahu as early as the end of this year and has already sold the future electricity to the Hawaiian Electric Company. Upon completion, the wind power plant will have the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 96 million pounds per year.

Kahuku Wind is just one of 13 clean energy projects supported by loan guarantees through the Department’s Loan Programs Office. For more information, please visit www.lgprogram.energy.gov.