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Sempra unit teams up on Maui wind project

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy have jointly announced the full commercial operation of the 21 megawatt Auwahi Wind facility on the southeast ridge of Maui's Haleakala volcano.

Consisting of eight new wind turbines, the project will generate enough clean electricity to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes.

Construction of the wind farm on Ulupalakua Ranch began in March 2012 and involved more than 180 workers. Auwahi Wind will employ four full-time employees.

"We are very pleased to complete construction of Auwahi Wind both on time and on budget," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and CEO of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, in a statement. "The addition of new, clean energy from our project will be a boost for Maui's infrastructure and will help Hawaii achieve its goal of securing 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.”

The power from Auwahi Wind has been sold to Maui Electric Co. (MECO) under a 20-year contract. An important component of the project is a 10 MW battery capable of storing 4.4 megawatt-hours of power. Energy from the battery will help regulate and sustain power to the MECO grid during light wind conditions.

“This project is an important step toward energy self-sufficiency and has the added benefit of helping Ulupalakua remain financially viable and preserve a ranching lifestyle on Maui and protect open space and habitat for native plants and animals,” said Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. “It's not every day that we celebrate a success like this so it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Sempra, BP Wind, Ulupalakua Ranch and MECO for their commitment to seeing this project through to completion."

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), operates solar, wind and natural gas power plants that generate enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes, along with natural gas storage and pipelines and distribution utilities.

BP Alternative Energy has invested around $8 billion in alternative energy development since 2005. BP Wind Energy is a principal owner and operator of wind power facilities in the United States with interests in 16 wind farms across nine states with enough generating capacity to power 600,000 homes.

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