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PPA approved for Hawaii biomass power plant

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A power purchase agreement (PPA) has been agreed between Hawaii Electric Light (HELCO) and Hu Honua Bioenergy for Hu Honua's biomass project.

Hu Honua has proposed to develop a new 21.5MW biomass-fired plant in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, refurbishing an existing plant that was built in 1972 and originally consumed sugarcane bagasse.

Under the PPA, Hu Honua will make several changes and upgrades to the existing structure, including the boiler, ductwork and supporting equipment. The project will also include the construction of a new fuel yard.

Feedstock for the new facility will be locally grown biomass such as eucalyptus. Once operational, the plant is expected to meet approximately 10% of Big Island's electricity needs.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the PPA, a move which has been commended by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's (DBEDT) State Energy Office.

'DBEDT commends the PUC for carrying out the state's energy policy directives in pursuit of a diversified energy portfolio,' comments DBEDT director Richard Lim. 'This decision reflects our policy of balancing technical, economic, environmental and cultural considerations for renewable energy projects, providing cost savings and creating green jobs in Hawaii County.'

'Hu Honua will deliver a firm, dispatchable, biomass resource to HELCO's renewable energy portfolio, which will not only reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels, but will also provide necessary grid support services,' PUC Chair Hermina Morita adds. 'Importantly, this project will enable HELCO to retire aging and expensive fossil fuel power plants to help lower the high cost of electricity paid by HELCO's ratepayers.'

The PUC's approval of the 20-year PPA includes pricing that is lower than avoided cost and de-linked from fossil fuel pricing. Its community benefits will include economic stimulus and job creation at the facility as well as in industries on Hawaii Island such as forestry, harvesting and hauling.

State Energy Administrator Mark Glick says: 'The State Energy Office welcomes the addition of this biomass project to Hawaii County's renewable portfolio, which has the state's highest concentration of renewables in operation on any island with more than 40% renewable generation.'