About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Aug. 3, 2012

`Aina Koa Pono plans to use local eucalyptus as feedstock for its biorefinery to be built near Wood Valley Road above
Pahala. Photo from ainakoapono.com

`AINA KOA PONO’S BIOFUEL REFINERY, planned just off Wood Valley Road on Meyer Camp Road above Pahala, will be built, according to a press release co-written by `Aina Koa Pono and Hawai`i Electric Light Company. According to the statement, `Aina Koa Pono plans to construct a refinery using thermal microwave depolymerization (Micro Dee) technology and to ship fuel to HELCO’s oil-burning plant near the airport in Kona and also off-island through a mainland distributor.
      The statement says that HELCO and `Aina Koa Pono have “asked the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission for approval of a new contract for `Aina Koa Pono to supply locally grown and processed biofuel on Hawai`i Island.” If approved, the contract would allow the utility to raise the price of electricity to customers on O`ahu and the Big Island to pay for the biofuel, which initially is expected to cost more than fossil fuel. The cost of the fuel that `Aina Koa Pono would charge the utility, however, would be less than proposed last year when the PUC turned down a similar contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the utility.
AKP's website states that the company was formed "to develop
sustainable, renewable, reliable, environmentally sound energy
solutions that generate local economic development
opportunities in Hawai`i."
      `Aina Koa Pono partner Chris Eldridge confirmed on Wednesday that the selected site for the refinery remains near Wood Valley Road. The release says: “Construction is expected to require 400 workers over three years. The farm and processing plant will bring about 200 agricultural and processing jobs to Ka`u, create new businesses to support the industry.” Eldridge said the biofuel facility will be modular and consist of some 27 units, each approximately 10 feet wide by 20 feet tall and 30 feet long.
      According to plans described last year, there would be a refinery mill stack more than 80 feet tall and a mill yard to store wood, grasses and other agricultural inputs plus additives to the processing such as zeolite, which would be shipped in.
      The mill site is near Ka`u Coffee Mill and macadamia husking plant, below Keaiwa reservoir where a hydroelectric plant is also planned.
      According to the press release, “`Aina Koa Pono has entered into an agreement with Edmund C. Olson Trust II and the Mallick Trust to farm over 12,000 acres of under-utilized private agricultural land in Pahala that was once part of Ka`u Sugar Company. `Aina Koa Pono will initially harvest and process existing invasive plants, eucalyptus trees and local green waste such as macadamia nut husks, tree trimmings, coffee pulp and hulls,” the press release states.
      Eldridge said “the operation can provide other farmers a revenue stream from their agricultural waste. Farmers can also benefit from the charcoal by-product that is an environmentally sound fertilizer.”
      The press release says that, “Under the agreement, `Aina Koa Pono would provide 16 million gallons per year of renewable biofuel to replace fossil fuel used at the Keahole Power Plant on Hawai`i Island and other plants in the future. An additional eight million gallons will be produced for sale to Mansfield Oil Company, a privately owned fuel distributor."
      According to the press release, “`Aina Koa Pono will “provide biofuel over 20 years at a fixed price formula, providing economic security from volatile oil prices. The new contract will save electricity customers $125 million over 20 years when compared to an earlier contract which was not approved by the PUC. The use of renewable biofuel, along with many other renewable energy projects, will also help Hawai`i meet the legal requirement that 40 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. The 16 million gallons of biofuel each year represents close to 100 percent of the Keahole plant’s present annual fossil fuel use.
      “`Aina Koa Pono is working with the Hawai`i Agriculture Research Center to select the most appropriate non-invasive perennial crops to farm and convert to biofuel, such as long-term tree crops, sweet sorghum varieties, non-seeding napier grass and other tested sterile grasses,” the press release states. It says that “`Aina Koa Pono is also consulting with Hawaiian Islands Land Trust regarding appropriate biofuel crops.”
AKP's website states that Micro Dee compresses "to 50 minutes the
millions of years it takes nature to convert biomass into crude oil."
      Speaking for `Aina Koa Pono, Eldridge said: “We are committed to being a good neighbor and steward, producing sorely needed renewable, clean fuel and bringing jobs and economic opportunity where they are greatly needed. We respect the community and its cultural character and believe that over time we will earn its trust." The Hawaiian words `Aina Koa Pono mean "Good for the Land."
      He said that `Aina Koa Pono has engaged R.M. Towill and SMS Research to conduct broad community outreach in Ka`u to identify issues and concerns of local residents. “These voluntary efforts will include assessing how the operations and processes will affect the environment in and around Ka`u,” states the press release.
      The press release acknowledges that the “PUC did not approve an earlier contract between Hawai`i Electric Light Company and `Aina Koa Pono, citing concerns about price and other considerations. The new contract contains a reduced price for review by the PUC with input from the Consumer Advocate.”
      HELCO President Jay Ingacio said, “We have re-negotiated the AKP contract to meet the PUC’s concerns and believe there is significant value to Hawai`i of this and future biofuel contracts. If Hawai`i is to reach our clean energy goals and get off oil, we need to pursue all possible renewable resources, including biofuel which can be a bridge to future technologies. Locally grown and processed biofuel can be used in existing power plants at costs that can help us stabilize volatile petroleum-based electricity prices. It can keep Hawai`i green and create jobs rather than sending millions of dollars out of state for energy.”
      The filing asks the PUC to approve sharing the cost difference between locally grown and produced renewable biofuel and the fossil fuel it replaces among customers of Hawai`i Electric Light Company and Hawaiian Electric Company. If the proposed surcharge were in place in 2015, the estimated incremental cost spread among Hawai`i Island and O`ahu customers based on fuel price projections could be about 2/10th of one cent or from $0.84 to $1.00 per month for a residential bill of 500 to 600 kilowatt-hours. The surcharge would not begin until AKP begins deliveries of biofuel and will decrease over time as petroleum-diesel prices rise.
      “Hawai`i Island already has the highest level of renewable energy in the state, getting more than 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy requirements are calculated on a consolidated basis for all our service territories, so O`ahu has benefited from Hawai`i Island’s leadership,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.
      “This contract provides for future delivery of AKP biofuel to other islands. It’s reasonable that the cost of advancing a local biofuel industry in Hawai`i be shared among more than just Hawai`i Island customers. Fossil fuel prices are expected to continue their erratic upward climb, so in time the cost of AKP biofuel is expected to be less than the cost of the oil it displaces,” Alm said.
      `Aina Koa Pono has partnered with Mansfield Oil Company (mansfieldoil.com) on the mainland to handle its distribution and supply arrangements for the biofuels produced by the Ka`u plant. Mansfield will also purchase some eight million gallons of biofuel per year for sale and distribution first in Hawai`i, the press release states. “Mansfield, which is privately owned, is one of the nation’s largest distributors of fuel and operates an integrated network of refiners, terminals, carriers and retailers throughout North America,” the press release states.
      The press release says that `Aina Koa Pono will use a unique technology licensed from Sustainable Biofuels Solutions, LLC. This thermal microwave depolymerization (Micro Dee) technology is currently in use at a demonstration plant in North Carolina, “which has been operational since early 2012. Micro Dee accelerates the natural decomposition and metamorphosis of biomass to crude liquid to just 50 minutes," Eldridge said. “AECOM (aecom.com), a global engineering and technical services company, is completing tests of this technology. Results have met or exceeded projections, and AECOM has determined that the Micro Dee process, now a second-generation technology, is now poised for optimal renewable liquid fuel production.”
      See ainakoapono.com.

`I`iwi sketch by John D. Dawson
VOLCANO ART CENTER GALLERY in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park displays paintings by John D. Dawson that feature natural history studies of the park daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting tomorrow. An opening takes place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight. Entrance to the exhibit and reception are free, and park entrance fees apply. For more, call 967-7565 or visit volcanoartcenter.org

SHIZUNO NASU teaches creative flow and dance based on Hara Tanden chi energy to all levels tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. For more information, call 967-8222 or email julie@volcanoartcenter.org.