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Pumped-storage component considered for Hawaii wind project

Shell WindEnergy Inc. is considering including hydropower from pumped storage as a component in its first wind farm in Hawaii. If approved, the Auwahi wind project's first phase could provide up to 40 MW on Maui.

Shell announced it plans to develop the Auwahi project in a remote corner of the 20,000-acre Ulupalakua Ranch. The company also said hydro pumped-storage technology could be used to store power from the wind turbines during off-peak periods, which could then be used to help meet peak demand.

Renewable Hawaii Inc., a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Co., advocated the concept of integrating the wind project with pumped storage. Details of the hydro development were not released.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2008, subject to planning permission. The total project is expected to cost more than $200 million and take from three to five years to complete, Shell said.

Three years ago, Renewable Hawaii began looking for opportunities to bring utility-scale, commercially viable renewable energy projects to Hawaii. That work is now paying off, Hawaiian Electric President Mike May said.

Shell is applying for permits to set up meteorological monitoring towers to measure the available wind.

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