Categorized | Business, Energy

Hu Honua receives air permit; moves forward with site work


Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC has been granted an air permit by the state Department of Health – Clean Air Branch.

HHB can now move ahead with its engineering design, construction and refurbishing of the former Hilo Coast Power Company power plant at Pepeekeo into a modern biomass facility.

The HHB energy facility will utilize locally collected and grown biomass material and non-mulchable wood chips that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

“We are pleased that the DOH has granted us the air permit,” said John Sylvia, CEO of Hu Honua. “The Hawaii air permit process is quite rigorous, and it is important for all stakeholders that it was done correctly. We look forward to contributing to Hawaii’s energy sustainability while providing economic benefits for the community.”

After an extensive review over a period of two years of the Hu Honua Bioenergy’s application and the comments received on the draft permit, the DOH determined the facility complies with all state and federal air pollution regulations.

The final air permit requires the installation of various air pollution controls, establishes emission limits, and incorporates testing, monitoring, record keeping and reporting requirements.

The issuance of the air permit follows two 30-day public comment periods, a public hearing and a 45-day U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review period.

During the public participation process, the DOH received hundreds of public comments and testimony on the draft air permit. Comments were also received from EPA. These comments resulted in many improvements and changes to the final air permit.

Besides the construction jobs (estimated at nearly 80 for a year), HHB anticipates creating 40 full-time plant jobs and about 130 indirect jobs in the timber industry and other support services.

The proposed 24-megawatt renewable energy facility will produce up to 10 percent of the island’s electricity needs, enough to power 14,000 homes and offset a substantial amount of imported oil per year, helping the Big Island, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) and the state reach their renewable energy initiative goals.

According to the HHB website, the project is needed because Hawaii is the most oil-dependent state in the country. Seventy-seven percent of the state’s electricity is generated by petroleum, and ninety-nine percent of the crude oil consumed in Hawaii comes from foreign sources.

Hu Honua will displace the output of oil-fired HELCO units, eliminating about 250,000 barrels of imported oil per year. The opening of Hu Honua will also help HELCO meet the state’s requirements to produce twenty percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The permit, permit review summary and DOH responses to the comments may be viewed at:

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