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.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Aug. 4, 2012

Sugar cane and napier grass are possible feedstocks for `Aina Koa Pono's biofuel refinery to be built on Meyer Camp Road above Pahala. Photo from ainakoapono.com
`AINA KOA PONO-KA`U “is aimed at cracking dependence on fossil fuels by using a microwave process to compress to 50 minutes the millions of years it takes nature to convert biomass into crude oil,” says the new website at ainakoapono.com.
      The website was re-launched this week in tandem with `Aina Koa Pono asking the state Public Utilities Commission to consider a new contract it proposes for selling fuel to the electric utility. The proposal calls for allowing the utility to raise electric rates by about $1 a month on the Big Island and O`ahu to cover the likelihood of the cost of the biofuel produced in Ka`u being more expensive initially than fossil fuel.
      The plan calls for using 13,000 acres of farmland in Ka`u to grow biofuel crops and constructing a refinery above Pahala near Wood Valley Road. Edmund C. Olson said earlier this week that `Aina Koa Pono would first begin with a small test plant. However, `Aina Koa Pono representatives said they're applying to the PUC for a contract that would require construction of a large facility.
      `Aina Koa Pono says on its website that, “We look forward to supporting the diversified agriculture efforts of our joint venture partner, the Edmund C. Olson Trust, and helping to achieve Hawai`i’s goal of increased energy security.” The website describes `Aina Koa Pono’s proposal to the PUC as “risk free to the utility – if `Aina Koa Pono fails to deliver, HELCO pays nothing.”
      `Aina Koa Pono estimates bringing 400 construction jobs over three years and 200 permanent agriculture and factory jobs to the Pahala area.
       `Aina Koa Pono describes its product: “The biofuel is a ‘drop-in’ fuel that has the same properties as fossil fuel and can produce electricity or be refined for vehicle fuel.” The website states, “AKP was formed to develop sustainable, renewable, reliable, environmentally sound energy solutions that generate local economic development opportunities in Hawai‘i.
      The website says that `Aina Koa Pono has “licensed the exclusive rights for Hawai`i and the South Pacific for Microwave Catalytic Depolymerization (Micro Dee) from Sustainable Biofuels Solutions, LLC, which holds the worldwide rights. Sustainable Biofuels was formed by Mele Associates, Inc. and its founder Melvin Chiogioji, who was also a founding partner in `Aina Koa Pono and visited Pahala several times to make the `Aina Koa Pono case to the community.
      The Frequently Asked Questions section of the website presents the following:
      “Where is AKP’s first project located?
 The project is located in the Ka`u District on the Island of Hawai`i, on Camp Meyer Road approximately 1.5 miles from the town of Pahala. AKP has leased approximately 12,000 acres from the Edmund C. Olson Trust II and the Mallick Trust.
      “How would AKP impact the state and local economies?
 AKP’s biorefinery will help to create a new industry. We estimate that in terms of present value, our biofuel project will increase state revenues from general excise and personal income taxes by a total of $174 million over 22 years. This compares to a $1.5 million in tax revenues if the use of imported fossil fuels continues at HELCO’s Keahole power plant. The local economy should benefit greatly from locally available high-paying jobs and the creation of new businesses to support the additional jobs created. We project that approximately 200 permanent jobs would be created by this project, with an additional 400 construction jobs during development. We hope to fill as many of the jobs as possible with local hires. AKP is committed to supporting the community, and we are working with stakeholders to provide a meaningful Island Benefits Package.
Meyer Camp Road off of Wood Valley Road above Pahala is the site ofthe biofuel refinery to be built by
 `Aina Koa Pono. Photo by Julia Neal
      “What is AKP’s agreement with HELCO?
 HELCO has signed a contract to buy 16 million gallons a year of locally produced biofuel to power its generators at its Keahole power plant on the Island of Hawai`i. The contract calls for AKP to supply biofuel to HELCO at a fixed price over 20 years beginning in 2015, thereby providing significant security from potentially wide price swings in petroleum due to unpredictable geo-political events. The contract also puts the utility on track to meet its commitment of generating 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. 
      “What is biomass?
 Biomass is any carbon-based organic material comprised of large complex hydrocarbon molecules and generally exists as a solid at normal temperatures and pressures–typical examples include green material such as lumber, grasses, bushes, plastics, synthetic and natural fabrics like nylon, polyester, cotton, paper and cardboard, food waste, and tires. AKP’s Ka`u project proposes to process many different types of biomass, likely beginning with invasive species in the area.
      “What technology will be used for producing biofuel?
 AKP will be using an established technology called Microwave Catalytic Depolymerization (Micro Dee). This technology applies heat and pressure to organic material to produce biofuel and biochar. Micro Dee breaks down lignin and cellulosic molecules into shorter chain hydrocarbons that exist in the liquid fuel range, thereby generating synthetic crude oil that can be easily refined to useable fuels using traditional processing technologies. In a nutshell, the Micro Dee process accelerates the natural decomposition and metamorphosis of biomass to crude oil to 50 minutes. AKP will produce a renewable synthetic fuel or “drop-in” fuel with the same properties as fossil fuel. “Drop-in” fuel is biofuel that can literally be “dropped into” the fuel bank without further processing. It can be used for electricity generation as well as all forms of ground, marine and air transportation.
      “Is Micro Dee a proven technology?
 Yes. AKP’s engineering, procurement and construction management partner, AECOM Technology Corporation, has completed testing on AKP’s processing technology at a demonstration facility in North Carolina. Test results have met or exceeded projections, and AECOM has determined the Micro Dee process, now a second generation technology, to be optimal for renewable liquid fuel production.
      “Will AKP grow its own feedstock?
 AKP will develop our biodiesel using crops grown on private land in Pahala. The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust will review AKP’s planned use of approximately 12,000 acres it has leased from the Edmund C. Olson Trust II and the Mallick Trust. Initially, we intend to harvest and process existing and invasive biomass species, such as Christmas berry, and to harvest eucalyptus trees. AKP is analyzing the land and soil types on the property and is working with Hawai`i Agricultural Research Center (HARC) to integrate the appropriate feedstock crops. We intend to incorporate the testing and protocols developed by HARC and to implement appropriate weed control and proven eradication protocols. We will cultivate long-term tree crops, sweet sorghum varieties, non-seeding napier grass, and other feedstock that will have been tested and proven by HARC.
      “What is AKP’s plan for clearing the land? Will this increase the risk of erosion and/or flooding?
 AKP will not be clearing or harvesting thousands or even hundreds of acres at one time. The perennial energy grasses re-grow after each harvest. Areas cleared by bulldozing will be remediated with biochar recovered from the fuel process and replanted with appropriate feedstock. There is little exposure of soil during all phases of planting and harvesting cycles.
      “Does the proposed project require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA)?
 No. However, AKP has engaged the services of R. M. Towill Corporation to prepare a voluntary assessment of environmental issues. We will verify the safety of the Micro Dee process and of storing and transporting our biofuel, address issues and concerns raised by the community and develop mitigation measures appropriate to the site and community.
      “Will AKP offer jobs to local families or bring workers from O`ahu and the mainland?
 Our renewable biofuels facility is expected to create more than 200 permanent management, professional, operations, maintenance, agricultural and administrative jobs, in addition to 400 construction jobs over a three-year period. We hope to fill as many of the jobs as possible with local hires. It does not make sense to bring in outside personnel unless the capability is not available locally. AKP has initiated meetings with Big Island Labor Alliance, Work Hawai`i, and the University of Hawai`i. We will work with the County Planning Department, Ka`u High School, and unions to develop training programs to fill our needs.
      “What impact will the project have on Ka`u’s rural lifestyle?
 It is AKP’s sincere intention to enrich Ka`u, to be a good neighbor, and to impact the local community in the least intrusive manner so as not to interrupt or alter its cultural character.”
      The ainakoapono.com website contains photos of grasses, sugar cane, eucalyptus and Christmasberry. The new website is powered by obscurenetworks.com in Honolulu.

One of Wayne Keeth's orchid paintings.
EARLY ABSENTEE WALK-IN VOTING is available today and Monday through Thursday before the primary election next Saturday. The ballot includes choices for a new County Council member, mayor, state senator and representative and U.S. senator and representative. Voters can cast ballots from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at West Hawai`i Civic Center Community Room, Waimea Community Center and Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo. 

WAYNE KEETH’S MULTIMEDIA and functional art exhibit opens Monday at 10 a.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Entitled Invading Consciousness, the exhibit is designed to provoke thought and awareness of invasive species in Hawai`i. Opening reception is tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.