Good News: PUC Says No To AKP Biofuels

Richard Ha writes:

Happy holidays, everyone!

We received good news on Monday: The PUC rejected the ‘Aina Koa Pono biofuel project

From Civil Beat:

The Public Utilities Commission has rejected a proposal to build a biofuels facility in Kau on the Big Island. 

The developer, Aina Koa Pono, hoped to use plant feedstocks to produce drop-in biofuel for the electric utilities on the Big Island, Maui and Oahu. But the PUC said that the fuel would be too expensive, in a decision issued on Monday.

"The contract price for the AKP-produced biofuel is excessive and not cost-effective at present and for the foreseeable future, and thus, is unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest," commissioners wrote…. Read the rest

It goes to show that “we, the people” can make a difference.

In this case, a grassroots group of folks came together spontaneously to advocate for low-cost electricity on behalf of the rubbah slippah folks on the Big Island. We called ourselves the Big Island Community Coalition (BICC).

We supported other community members by submitting written testimony, and helped organize public participation at two PUC hearings on the Big Island. Here’s a post about it from last year.

The people involved in the BICC were Dave DeLuz, Jr., John Dill, Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Richard Ha, Wallace Ishibashi, Kuulei Kealoha Cooper, Robert Lindsey, H.M. Monty Richards, Marcia Sakai, Kumu Lehua Veincent and William Walter.

Helping the rubbah slippah folks helps all of us.

7 thoughts on “Good News: PUC Says No To AKP Biofuels”

  1. Thanks Richard — just a follow-up. Given that HELCO just rejected the geothermal bids because they were too expensive (see below article), can you say anything about what were the bids? By your above logic (and the PUC’s), it appears that the geothermal bids were more expensive than Hu Honua’s of 25 cents/kWh. Is that right?

    “HELCO: Bids don’t meet requirements for geothermal contract” (December 24, 2013)

  2. In general. HELCO has an idea of the costs of the particular type of project i.e. geothermal, wind, etc. So HELCOs cost expectation is more related to the type of the project. I would not assume that the cost of the RFP responses exceeded the Hu Honua cost. I would be greatly surprised if any of the geothermal bids were in the 25 cents kWh range.

  3. Thanks again Richard … but if firm electricity generation is fungible, why would HELCO favor biomass over cheaper geothermal? Also given that #1 State energy priority should be the *indigenous* production of jet fuel to insulate Hawaii’s bread-and-butter tourist industry from oil price shocks — and that biomass is precious given Hawaii’s limited agriculture land — shouldn’t biomass be used to produce jet fuel (e.g., Hawaii BioEnergy for Alaska Air) instead of HELCO electricity? Seems to me that both for HELCO ratepayers & Hawaii energy security the PUC messed up on its Hu Honua decision. Anyway, just my two cents. Thanks for responding!

  4. Whoever wrote that article for Citybeat is wrong. Hu Honua at 25 cents per kw-hr is still much less than the existing overall rate of 42 cents per kw-hr from burning oil to generate electricity. The Hu Honua plant has a fraction of the emissions also. Hu Honua supplements the power nodes north of Hilo. This will allow the Hilo oil burning electric plant to phase out and be shut down in a couple years, reducing oil dependency and reducing the sulfur emissions that come from burning oil.

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