(BIVN) – Hu Honua, also known as Honua Ola Bioenergy, submitted a filing with the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court on Wednesday, with a request that the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission be ordered to vacate its recent decision to deny the Hawaii Electric Light Company’s request for a waiver from the Competitive Bidding Framework for the biomass project in Pepeʻekeo.
The PUC decision has resulted in “killing the renewable energy project and eliminating more than 200 jobs,” the biomass company says.
The project has divided the community. Opponents of the project raise both environmental concerns, as well as cost-to-ratepayer concerns.
From a Hu Honua news release:
The Petition for Extraordinary Writ and/or a Writ of Mandamus (see separate attachment) also seeks a Court order directing the PUC’s commissioners, Chairperson James P. Griffin, Commissioner Jennifer M. Potter, and Commissioner Leodoloff R. Asuncion, to promptly conduct an evidentiary hearing and consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in connection with Hu Honua’s amended and restated power purchase agreement, as previously instructed by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
The PUC’s commissioners refused to comply with the Court’s directive and, instead, issued an order that effectively kills the project and puts 64 employees at Honua Ola out of work in the coming weeks. An additional 160-plus jobs in other industries supported by the facility’s operation would also be permanently eliminated.
“We are asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to quickly intervene on this matter, as the fate of our employees and their families are at stake, and more than 200 jobs overall will be lost if nothing is done,” said Warren Lee, president of Honua Ola Bioenergy. “It’s appalling how unfairly the current PUC commissioners have treated Honua Ola and our employees, and how they disregarded the instructions of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.
“We have done everything asked of us by the PUC, including building out the facility to completion as the PUC ordered us to do in 2017, along with training and providing careers to dozens of Big Island residents. We are now ready to produce renewable energy this year and make Hawai‘i less dependent on fossil fuels. The only thing holding us back and keeping Hawai‘i from moving forward are these three PUC commissioners.”
Hu Honua made these “key points”, with page citations, in its court filing:
- How the PUC twice approved waivers from the PUC’s competitive bidding framework for the project (pages 4-5)
- The fact that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to complete the project, as ordered by the PUC (page 6)
- The fact that the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ordered the PUC to hold an evidentiary hearing on the project’s amended and restated power purchase agreement, with findings to determine whether the PUC satisfied Its statutory obligations (page 7)
- How the PUC delayed scheduling an evidentiary hearing to consider the amended and restated power purchase agreement, then revoked the project’s waiver from the competitive bidding framework, killing the project (pages 8-10)
- How the PUC rejected the project’s request to reconsider the order revoking the waiver (pages 10-11)
- How the PUC’s killing of the project will cause devastating employment and financial consequences (pages 11-12)
Honua Ola says its biomass power plant, which will provide up to 21.5-megawatt of committed capacity and 30 megawatts of available capacity to Hawai‘i Electric Light Co., Inc.’s (HELCO) electrical grid, is 99% complete.