HILO, Hawaii – The Hu Honua Bioenergy company’s recent statements on its dealings with the power utility are “woefully inaccurate and misleading”, according to the Hawaii Electric Light Company president Jay Ignacio.
HELCO issued a statement attributed to Ignacio following Hu Honua’s press conference on Friday, in which the biomass company’s officials touted the benefits of the planned Pepeekeo project. Hu Honua also issued media releases saying the Hawaii Public Utilities Comission should investigate HELCO for its cancellation of a Power Purchase Agreement with Hu Honua.
Here is how Ignacio responded on Monday:
Hu Honua’s statements are woefully inaccurate and misleading.
We have worked with Hu Honua for many years on the development of this project. However, they encountered many delays and missed critical construction milestones, raising serious questions about their ability to complete construction and begin commercial operations. We also have significant concerns about the troubling history of this project. The project experienced a $30 million judgment for failing to pay for work provided by its contractor. Hu Honua was locked out of its project site for more than a year eventually leading to the loss of its financing for the project. Hu Honua now estimates the project cost has more than doubled to over $200 million.
Hu Honua approached us in 2015 requesting to explore changes to the terms of their contract so that they could obtain the financing that they had lost. We explored options that might have been able to work for them and provide benefit to our customers. None of those options explored were viable. All of the proposals offered by Hu Honua would have led to price increases to Hawai‘i Electric Light customers at today’s fuel and purchase power prices. Thus the contract was terminated in March of this year, a decision that the State Consumer Advocate agreed with.
Recently, Hu Honua approached us and asked us about restarting the project. We agreed to meet as long as Hu Honua would provide enhanced terms and conditions for the benefit of our customers. In the interests of developing more renewable energy for our customers, we worked extensively to provide Hu Honua with information so they could determine whether they were able to make an offer that would benefit our customers. We thought we were making progress and are extremely disappointed by their public statements and allegations.
Hu Honua mistakenly states that our recently filed Power Supply Improvement plan specifies a Hawai‘i Electric Light-owned biomass power plant. The plan contains a biomass power plant in future years but it does not specify Hawai‘i Electric Light ownership. Hawai‘i Electric Light is already at 48% renewable generation levels, leading the entire state, so it is clear that our commitment to the use of renewable energy is real and earnest.
We just received an offer from Hu Honua last Tuesday and are in the process of evaluating that offer. We are still willing to meet to discuss these issues with Hu Honua despite their disturbing public comments.”HELCO president Jay Ignacio
This is what Hu Honua spokesperson Rob Robinson said about the ongoing negotiation on Friday: