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First Wind Starts Up Oahu Wind Farm With Largest Storage System

First Wind Holdings Inc., a closely held developer, said a 30-megawatt wind farm in Hawaii has gone into commercial service, the first renewable energy project to be completed with backing from the U.S. Energy Department’s loan guarantee program.

The Kahuku Wind project on Oahu has the largest installed battery storage system connected to a U.S. wind farm, the Boston-based company said in a statement today.

First Wind received a $117 million loan guarantee in July for the project, which has 12, 2.5-megawatt wind turbines from London-based Clipper Windpower Ltd. and can power 7,700 homes, according to the statement.

The wind farm has a 15-megawatt battery storage system from Xtreme Power of Kyle, Texas, to smooth the energy output that the turbines deliver to the grid.

Xtreme Power’s system can absorb or release as much as 1 megawatt of electricity a minute, which “manages output from the variable island winds and allows us to maximize the use of power generated by our project,” First Wind Chief Executive Officer Paul Gaynor said in a statement from Xtreme Power.

A 1.5-megawatt Xtreme Power system has been operating at First Wind’s 30-megawatt Kaheawa project on Maui since March 2010 and a 10-megawatt system will be installed there this year as part of a planned 21-megawatt expansion.

The Kahuku project went into partial operation in December, First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said today by e-mail. Local utility Hawaiian Electric Co. is buying the electricity.

First Wind withdrew in November its initial public offering registration, citing poor market conditions.

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