(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court has issued a ruling dealing a blow to the Hū Honua Bioenergy project timeline.
The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court on Friday vacated the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a power purchase agreement between Hū Honua, also known as Honua Ola, and the Hawaii Electric Light Company, and remanded the matter back to the PUC for proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion.
The Life of the Land, an environmental nonprofit organization, sought to intervene as a party in the PUC’s proceeding, but was denied full party status. Life of the Land appealed the denial, as well as the PPA approval, to the Supreme Court.
Life of the Land, or LOL, argued that the PUC failed to explicitly consider greenhouse gas emissions in determining whether to approve the Hū Honua-HELCO agreement.
The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court agreed that the law, HRS § 269-6(b), requires the PUC to expressly consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in its decision-making, and that the commission “failed to do so in determining whether the costs associated with the Amended PPA were reasonable, and in approving the Amended PPA.”
The PUC also failed to afford Life of the Land “an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner regarding the Amended PPA’s impact on LOL’s property interest in a clean and healthful environment, as defined by HRS Chapter 269.”
The high court ruled that “it is within the PUC’s discretion to determine the extent of LOL’s participation in the proceeding, pursuant to HAR § 16-601-55, provided that the PUC complies with its statutory and constitutional obligations to consider the reduction of GHG emissions and to allow LOL a meaningful opportunity to be heard regarding the Amended PPA’s impact on its right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by HRS Chapter 269.”
“We are reviewing the 66-page Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court opinion issued today,” said Honua Ola Bioenergy President Warren Lee. “The review will guide the next steps to be taken. Honua Ola Bioenergy is committed to seeing this renewable energy project to fruition.”
Big Island Video News will have more on the decision this evening, including video reaction from residents of Pepeʻekeo.