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HEI, Big Island Sustainable BioFuels Contract Benefits Maui

[1]By Sonia Isotov

Hawaiian Electric Company today signed a contract for Big Island company, Aina Koa Pono (AKP), to provide sustainable, locally grown and processed biofuel for electric generation in Hawaii. With planned operations in the Ka’u region of the Hawaii Island, the project will initially supply biofuel to Keahole Power Plant on that land.

“This is the first contract awarded as a result of our call in April 2010 for locally grown and processed biofuels to be used in our power plants on Hawaii Island, Oahu and in Maui County,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.

Subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission, with input from the Consumer Advocate, the contract would initiate an innovative plan to provide economic support to Hawaii Island customers while encouraging more renewable energy statewide. It asks for the PUC to spread among customers of Hawaii Electric Light Company, Maui Electric Company and Hawaiian Electric Company the difference between the price of locally grown and produced biofuel and the fossil fuel it replaces.

Based on December 2010 fuel costs, this would add less than 1/3 of a cent per kilowatthour, or $1.55 to $1.86 per month, to a typical residential customer bill (typical residential use varies between 500 and 600 kilowatthours a month) for Hawaii Island, Maui County and Oahu customers.

“This contract provides for potential future delivery of AKP biofuels to other islands, making it reasonable that all customers join in paying the initial incremental cost as this facility gets up and running. Fossil fuel oil prices are expected to continue their erratic climb, so in time the cost of AKP biofuel is expected to be less than the cost of the oil it displaces,” Alm said.

“Hawaii Island already has the highest level of renewable energy in the state, getting more than 30% of its energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy requirements are calculated on a consolidated basis for the Hawaiian Electric companies’ service territories, so Maui and Oahu have benefited from Hawaii Island’s leadership,” Alm said.

‘Āina Koa Pono is a Hawai’i-based company co-founded by local business developers Dr. Melvin H. Chiogioji and Kenton Eldridge. The company is dedicated to the development and implementation of renewable energy solutions using innovative and proven technologies. ‘Āina Koa Pono estimates it will create a minimum of 300 construction jobs over the first two years and ultimately more than 100 permanent operation and farming jobs.