Wind-energy developers are working with the state of Hawaii and Hawaii’s largest electric utility to develop wind resources on two islands and deliver power to Oahu. One estimate pegs the program’s cost at $3 billion, but another source says it could cost twice that amount.

Photo: Illustration by Martha Hernandez, Courtesy of The Honolulu Advertiser
Interisland Wind Project: University of Hawaii performed a sea-floor survey and feasibility study for the state to identify routes and possible obstacles for cable.

The Interisland Wind Project encompasses two 200-MW wind farms to be developed on the islands of Lanai and Molokai, which have some of the best wind resources in the world, says Josh Strickler, coordinator of renewable energy programs for the Hawaii Dept. of Economic Development and Tourism. The state is taking the lead in drafting the environmental-impact study for the whole program and has issued a request for proposals.

First Wind, Newton, Mass., is planning a 200-MW wind farm at a not-yet-finalized site on Molo­kai, and Castle & Cooke, Los Angeles, is planning another farm on Lanai. Hawaiian Electric Co. is studying upgrades for its Oahu grid, which has no interconnections. “The system would need to be upgraded to handle large infusions of power,” says Peter Rosegg, HECO spokesman.

One source, requesting anonymity, says bitter conflict between the Republican governor and the Democratic legislature will prevent substantive progress in the program until the governor leaves office in 2012.