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Kahuku wind farm lands $117M loan guarantee

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First Wind Holdings LLC has closed on a $117 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department to build a wind farm in Kahuku, the federal agency said yesterday.

The 30-megawatt project is being built by Kahuku Wind Power LLC, a unit of Newton, Mass.-based First Wind. The project is expected to create more than 200 jobs, the Department of Energy said in a news release.

The power will be sold to Hawaiian Electric Co., Oahu’s only electric utility, under a 20-year contract. First Wind broke ground on the project this month and plans to complete it by early 2011.

The wind farm will feature a dozen Clipper Liberty wind turbines with a maximum output of 2.5 megawatts each. Based on expected wind speeds at the site, the system will generate an estimated 83 million kilowatt-hours annually, the equivalent of 139,500 barrels of oil.

State officials say Kahuku Wind Power is one of the first wind farm projects to earn an Energy Department loan guarantee.

The agency conditionally offered the guarantee to First Wind in March. The guarantee was key to gaining financing from private lenders.

"We are very pleased to close on the loan guarantee for our Kahuku Wind project," Paul Gaynor, chief executive officer of First Wind, said in the release. "The Department of Energy and its Loan Programs Office have played a vital role in advancing this project."

Once completed, the project will support the Hawaiian Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to have 70 percent of the state’s energy for electricity and ground transportation come from clean energy by 2030.


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