East Hawaii News

Hu Honua Files Complaint Against Hawai’i Electric Light

May 19, 2016, 2:21 PM HST
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Hu Honua photo.

Hu Honua photo.

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC has filed paperwork with the Public Utilities Commission seeking to start an investigation against Hawai’i Electric Light and its parent company, Hawaiian Electric.

In the complaint, filed Thursday morning, Hu Honua asked the PUC to investigate Hawai’i Electric Light’s termination of a Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable Dispatchable Firm Energy and Capacity.

A letter seeking to terminate Hu Honua’s PPA was sent by Hawai’i Electric Light on March 1, according to the filed complaint. Hu Honua says that utility company’s attempt to terminate the PPA came a month after the agreement was re-opened in front of the Division of Consumer Advocacy, and that the issue with the DCA had not been closed. All sides submitted paperwork on the PPA.

Following the termination notice, Hu Honua alleges that Hawai’i Electric Light then submitted its own plans to build a 20 MW biomass power plant, which would be completed sometime between 2024 and 2027.

Meanwhile, Hu Honua says that its Pepe’ekeo project is about halfway completed and could start operations within the next 14 months. About $137 million dollars has been spent on the project so far, and Hu Honua says that another $125 million of capital has been committed to the project.

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“Instead of allowing our renewable energy plant to be completed and come on line in 2017, HELCO has chosen to continue operating its power plants that burn lower grade fuel oil and produce higher levels of pollution,” said Hu Honua principal investor Jenny Johnson in a statement. “Although these plants exceed federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), they are not subject to these standards because each plant produces less than 25 MW of power. Combined, they total about 50 MW of dirty energy. Choosing the old plants over Hu Honua is clearly not in the best interest of the residents of East Hawai’i.”

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Hu Honua also claims that Hawai’i Electric Light used incorrect price proposals in documents filed with the PUC. The company says that it lowered its price proposal last year to a flat rate of 14 cents per kilowatt hour at dispatch levels above 10 MW, resulting in nearly $60 million in savings for customers. The proposal was never sent to the PUC, Hu Honua says, and Hawai’i Electric Light continues to use different pricing.

“Yesterday, we submitted our latest pricing proposal to HELCO and are proud that the energy price we presented, if approved, would be the lowest of any renewable facility in the state,” Johnson explained. “We are hopeful that the PUC will support us.”

Hawai’i Electric Light did not have a response to Hu Honua’s complaint, as of press time.

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