SAN DIEGO and HONOLULU, June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has approved a 20-year contract for Maui Electric Company to purchase 21 megawatts (MW) of wind power from Sempra Generation's Auwahi Wind project on the Ulupalakua Ranch in southeastern Maui. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110125/MM36244LOGO) The project is currently undergoing environmental review by Maui County, State of Hawaii and federal agencies. Upon approvals, construction on Auwahi Wind is targeted to begin in early 2012. Construction is expected to take about one year, creating approximately 150 construction jobs at peak and five full-time positions to operate the facility. "Approval of this contract with Maui Electric Company is a major milestone for Sempra Generation as we continue working with local communities to develop Auwahi Wind," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation. "We look forward to starting construction on this landmark wind project that will deliver a new supply of clean, renewable power to Maui residents and reduce the region's reliance on volatile sources of imported energy." "We welcome approval of Sempra's Auwahi project. It will help us reach Hawaii's aggressive renewable energy goals and help keep historic Ulupalakua Ranch as a vital and successful partner in the Maui community," said Ed Reinhardt, Maui Electric president. "Sempra's addition of battery storage will help integrate energy from this new wind farm on Maui Electric's system to help meet our commitment to supply our customers with power that is both clean and reliable." "This new wind farm will join existing wind power, biomass and biofuel, customer-sited solar, hydro and in the future we hope ocean energy to supply Maui with one of the highest percentages of renewable energy in Hawaii and the world," Reinhardt said. When fully operational, Auwahi Wind will be capable of generating enough emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 typical Maui homes. This new source of locally-produced wind energy will help Hawaii reach its clean energy goal of obtaining 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. An important component of Auwahi Wind is a battery storage unit capable of storing electricity generated by the project's wind turbines during the typically windy morning and night hours. This stored power will help to regulate and smooth intermittent wind power, providing a valuable source of grid stability for Maui Electric.