Biodiesel plans advance on Big Island
KAILUA-KONA » A plan for a 10-acre green-waste facility in South Kohala that could lead to a biodiesel plant was presented last week to the Hawaii County Council.
Plans for the $1.75 million facility, which would be built next to the Puuanahulu landfill, call for backbone infrastructure to allow for green-waste grinding, composting and a biodiesel plant.
North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago and others have questioned the rising cost of the project, but unanimously approved the measure in committee hearings. The proposal was scheduled to receive its first reading Thursday in front of the full Council.
The project was estimated at $1 million when it was originally proposed two years ago.
"I was never really comfortable with that estimate, but I needed something. And that is what an estimate is," said Barbara Bell, Hawaii County's environmental management director.
Bell said most of the money would be spent on grading and basic infrastructure, including features required by the state to protect the environment. She said there are many benefits of moving scrap-metal recovery and composting out of the Kealakehe junkyard in Kailua-Kona.
A number of potential biodiesel plant vendors have expressed interest, including Pacific Biodiesel, which already handles the same duties for Maui County.
Bell said Pacific Biodiesel could convert all of the Big Island's fats, oil and grease into diesel or bunker fuel, a low-grade oil usually used to produce electricity. It would also design its plant to eventually accept plants that would be used to create more biodiesel fuel.
"I know some people have issues with growing plants to make fuel," Bell said. "But the cooking oil is a no-brainer, and the company obviously feels there is a market here."