Maui Biodiesel Biz Snags Contract for Honolulu Airport

December 19, 2012, 3:50 PM HST · Updated December 20, 10:19 AM
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Bob and Kelly King, owners Pacific Biodiesel. Photo courtesy of Pacific Biodiesel.

By Sonia Isotov

The contract for Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel Technologies to supply biodiesel to Hawaiian Electric Company for the Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility has been approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Under the three-year agreement, Pacific Biodiesel will annually supply between 250,000 gallons and one million gallons of biodiesel produced locally from Hawaii-sourced feedstock.

As production ramps up at its new 5.5 million gallon-per-year Hawaii Island biodiesel plant, Pacific Biodiesel also announced today that it is now able to process the most degraded recycled vegetable oil feedstock into the highest quality biodiesel available in the country.

New premium biodiesel from Pacific Biodiesel. Courtesy photo.

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Due in large part to new technology developed with a grant from the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture, Pacific Biodiesel claims its technology removes virtually all trace impurities and results in biodiesel that is clear instead of amber.

“Pacific Biodiesel is excited to provide the nation’s best quality biodiesel for this new back-up generation facility and all other customers,” said Bob King, president of Pacific Biodiesel, in a written statement today.

“Every contract helps to assure more renewable fuel in Hawaii, supports the success of the biofuel industry and has helped us grow our local company to over 50 employees on three islands.”

“Hawaiian Electric welcomes approval of this contract, one of several we have signed for locally produced and processed biofuel,” said Robbie Alm, the executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric.

“Pacific Biodiesel is a well-established, leading company in our community that has been supplying biodiesel for diesel engines for over 15 years. We’re pleased that it now will be the first local company to provide the fuel to generate electricity in our plants and contribute even more to Hawaii’s clean energy future.”

Work on the $20 million generation facility began late last year and it is due to come online later this year. Located next to Hawaiian Electric’s airport substation and bordered by the United States Postal Service property, Nimitz Highway and Rodgers Boulevard, it will use four diesel generators to provide up to 10 megawatts of electrical power.

Under an agreement already approved by the Public Utilities Commission between Hawaiian Electric and the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Airports Division, the utility will be able to use electricity from the facility for up to 1,500 hours per year to supply the Oahu grid.

However, in the event of a major emergency or natural disaster, the generation facility will be able to separate itself automatically from the grid to supply power directly to the airport facility, using a variety of available fuels. It will provide emergency power to critical airport operations within five minutes of an outage and will be able to meet 65% of the airport’s total energy needs, significantly expanding the airport’s existing emergency generation capabilities.

The airport emergency power facility will be the second wholly biofuel-powered utility-scale generation plant operated by Hawaiian Electric Company. The first, Campbell Industrial Park Generation Station, is fueled by biodiesel processed from waste animal fat and imported from the US Midwest.

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