Plan lets private firms ship trash


POSTED: Thursday, July 02, 2009

Private companies would be allowed to ship trash off island under a pilot project the City Council is considering.

The project would continue until a third boiler is up and running at Oahu's HPOWER plant, allowing it to expand intake of trash for waste-to-energy production, or until a contract agreement with a company to provide the service exclusively for the city.

The Council's Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee yesterday approved the pilot project measure, Resolution 09-207, despite objections from the city administration, which said the move could hinder the city's ability to control the flow of trash on the island.

Members also heard testimony from James Hodge, chief executive officer of Hawaiian Waste Systems, which has filed a protest about the city's cancellation of its winning bid to provide the trash shipping service.

Hodge said he was prepared to start shipping trash this month, but the company's bid was terminated last week after the city said the company had been “;non-responsive”; in getting proper permits and for prematurely constructing a weigh station at its Oahu processing facility.

The company had no issue with turning over the scale's ownership and operations to the city, and built it out of “;contractual enthusiasm,”; Hodge said. “;It doesn't rise to the level where it makes our bid non-responsive,”; he added.

Hodge said the company proceeded as if it would win the contract based on language in documents upholding its bid against three other companies.

Tim Steinberger, city director of environmental services, declined comment on Hawaiian Waste Systems' bid, citing the protest action that is still to be decided.

On the issue of private companies shipping trash, Steinberger said the city needs to have “;flow control”; on what waste goes to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, what goes to HPOWER and what would be shipped away.

Allowing private companies each to ship up to 150,000 tons a year could leave the city without enough trash to fulfill its contract of providing 570,000 tons of trash per year to HPOWER.

A loss of 150,000 tons translates into $7.5 million the city would lose in sales of electricity from HPOWER, Steinberger said.

“;What you all consider to be garbage, to us, is a very valuable resource,”; Steinberger said. “;We see this as being a challenge to flow control.”;

The resolution was passed with language clarifying the city maintains flow control of trash that is sent to HPOWER.