Categorized | Business

Isle energy project receives $5M loan guarantee


A Big Island energy company will receive a $5 million loan guarantee to help finish construction of a manufacturing plant in Kawaihae that will convert macadamia nut shells into Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) a product used in hybrid car power units that is also widely sold in the chemical and pharmaceutical markets, Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka announced.

The loan is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project is expected to save and create an estimated 30 jobs in Hawaii.

“Investing in a sustainable future is vital to the health of our environment and our economy. These funds will help convert discarded macadamia nut shells into a product that can be used to generate power, filter air and purify water,” Inouye said.

“Hawaii is at the forefront of the clean energy movement and the projects and initiatives underway in our islands are helping to lessen our dependence on imported oil and moving us toward a time when the majority of our power is the product of clean, sustainable sources,” Inouye said.

“This Recovery act award will spur investment in clean energy technology on the Big Island, with a plant to turn macadamia shell waste into ingredients for hybrid engines and other cutting edge uses,” Akaka said. “The new plant will support dozens of jobs and help put Hawaii on a path to a sustainable future.”

Big Island Carbon is finishing a $25 million facility on four acres of land in the Kaie Hana Industrial Park at Kawaihae. The company is leasing the land from the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

Big Island Carbon will utilize the gas and biofuels created during the macadamia nut shell conversion process to power their operations. Any excess biofuel or gas will be sold in Hawaii County.

In addition to hybrid car power units, GAC can help purify air and water and is often used in filtration devices like gas masks, air filters, and water filters.

More than 20,000 tons of macadamia nut shells are produced on the Big Island every year and the company expects to buy about 10,000 tons which it can convert into 1,000 tons of GAC.

Big Island Carbon is one of 86 projects to receive loans and grants to create jobs and spur economic development in rural communities in 30 states, Guam and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The $117.8 million in funding, including $87 million from the Recovery Act, is being provided through four USDA Rural Development programs: the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, the Intermediary Relending Program, and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.

Each program provides financial assistance to businesses, community-based development or regional planning groups, intermediaries and non-profit groups for projects that strengthen rural economies and create jobs.

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the borrower or recipient meeting the conditions of the loan agreement.

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