Deal would boost Big Isle renewable energy
Hawaii Electric Light Co. has signed an agreement to purchase electricity produced by a proposed biomass-powered generation facility on the Big Island.
Tradewinds Forest Products LLC and Rockland Capital Energy Investments plan to produce electricity by burning scrap wood from their proposed veneer mill at the former Ookala Sugar Mill site.
"This is a great addition to our renewable-energy portfolio," HELCO President Warren Lee said in a news release. With the plant in operation, "renewable energy on the Big Island will now exceed 35 percent."
Tradewinds President Don Bryan said the project will provide sustainable production of both forest products and energy.
"Our biomass-based energy source will utilize the portions of wood not suitable for veneer, providing a highly efficient source of power generation from which there is very little waste of material or energy," Bryan said.
Under the proposed power purchase agreement, which requires approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, HELCO will purchase between 2 and 3.6 megawatts of electricity from Tradewinds.
Tradewinds is proposing to harvest 15,000 acres of the nearly 40,000 acres of existing eucalyptus plantations on the Big Island. The company says it plans to replant harvested timber and conserve soil resources, making its project a net consumer of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
"This project offers us the opportunity to add more reliable, renewable energy, reducing both greenhouse-gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels," said Michael May, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Electric, HELCO's parent company.