According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service Hawaii Field Office (NASS), Hawaii ranked third highest in the nation in terms of the number of farms and ranches producing on-farm renewable energy. With a total of 8,569 farms nationally reporting solar panels, wind turbines, and/or methane digesters, Hawaii’s 522 reporting farms came in third behind Texas and California. Hawaii farms producing renewable energy saved an average of $2,125 on their 2009 utility bills, the 11th highest in the nation but slightly less than the national average of $2,406.
Hawaii ranked second in the nation in terms of number of solar panels located on farms and third in terms of number of farms with either photovoltaic and/or thermal solar panels. Of the reported 7,477 solar panels on farms throughout the State, 56 percent were installed between 2005 and 2009.
Hawaii ranked seventh in terms of number of small wind turbines producing energy on farms, turbines rated at a 1-100kw. Forty-three farms reported a total of 67 turbines, 42 percent which were installed over the last five years between 2005 and 2009.
Hawaiian Electric Co. engineers knew they were venturing into the unknown when company executives tasked them with finding out whether one of the utility’s 40-year-old petroleum-fired steam generating units could run on crude palm oil.
For years the tropical vegetable oil has been used primarily as an ingredient in a variety of consumer goods like snack foods, soaps and cosmetics. It’s what makes the center of an Oreo cookie creamy and a Cheez-It cracker crispy.
As a fuel source, palm oil didn’t receive any serious consideration until a few years ago when Malaysia began refining it into a biofuel, which the country’s oil companies blend with petroleum-based diesel for use in automobiles.
But generating electricity using crude palm oil? “As far as we knew, no one had ever fired a steam turbine using 100 percent crude vegetable oil,” said Ron Cox, HECO’s vice president for generation and fuels.
HECO launched the project last year at the Kahe Power Plant as part of an experiment to see how various alternative fuels will work in its group of oil-fired boilers. HECO has pledged to have alternative energy make up 40 percent of its electricity production by 2030.
`AINA KOA PONO asked the state Legislature yesterday to support a 15 percent tax credit for building a refinery here in Pahala. Chris Eldridge, who also owns American Mattress stores around the state, is an `Aina Koa Pono partner. His testimony for yesterday’s hearing describes former sugar lands, now largely used by the cattle industry between Pahala and Na`alehu, as “fallow,” and says that using land for a biofuels farm and factory would help fend off a rise in fuel prices statewide. “Building agriculturally based biofuel refineries in Hawai`i has the potential to reinvigorate Hawai`i’s struggling agriculture industry while also helping to meet the renewable energy goals of Hawai`i’s Clean Energy Initiative,” said Eldridge.
THE NUMBER OF JOBS projected for the proposed biofuels refinery and farm here in Ka`u was increased in the testimony that asks for the 15 percent tax credit. Eldridge said that in addition to 300 construction jobs over two years to build the refinery in Pahala, `Aina Koa Pono now projects 150 to 200 jobs created for the 20 to 30 years that the biofuel refinery would be in operation.
HE ALSO SUGGESTED that the tax break bill be amended to provide tax credits within 60 days after the refinery becomes operational. “We cannot emphasize enough the need for these incentives to attract private capital to invest in these projects for Hawai`i.
HILO, Hawaii >> Hamakua eucalyptus is being cut down and sent to Oahu to see how it will work as fuel in a generator operated by AES Hawaii Inc.
West Hawaii Today reported today that American Forest Management has cut about 20 acres of 14,000 acres leased from Kamehameha Schools for the test project. The trees will regrow from the stumps and a second cutting should be available in seven to 10 years.
The logs are to be chipped once they reach Oahu and tested for emissions during burning.
AES has tested a variety of fuel at its Campbell Industrial Park plant since it opened in 1992, but it relies mostly on coal to generate electricity it sells to Hawaiian Electric Co.
The experiment is due to use about 3,300 tons of eucalyptus.
HONOLULU (AP) – Crops grown on the Big Island will be converted into liquid fuel as part of a deal between Hawaiian Electric Co. and renewable energy company Aina Koa Pono.
The agreement is the first in Hawaii to produce enough biofuel for use in power plants, where it will be converted to electricity.
By 2015, the 13,000-acre energy farm is projected to produce about 16 percent of the Big Island’s energy supply.
Power users on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island would pay about one-third of a cent per kilowatt hour extra to fund the accord, or about $1.86 per month for a typical residential consumer.
The cost hike would have to be approved by state regulators.
The deal is part of the state’s goal to get 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030
HONOLULU (AP) — The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has received a $110 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hawaii’s Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka said Thursday in a Washington news release that the loan guarantee will be used to expand renewable energy initiatives.
They say the guarantee includes nearly $73 million for hydroelectric plant improvements and a 10-megawatt naphtha/biodiesel fueled combustion turbine.
Inouye says the funds will help Kauai further harness the power of water and biofuel as part of the effort to lessen Kauai County’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Akaka says the homegrown energy sources keep dollars in Hawaii while reducing air, land and water pollution.
Mahalo for coverage of the palm oil importation (The Maui News, Nov. 11) that seems to remain an issue despite all the talk about development of local, sustainable biofuel crops. Some corrections to the article are in order.
The inaccuracies are not The Maui News’ fault, assuming Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Pete Rosegg was quoted correctly. Pete stated that Pacific Biodiesel “withdrew their supply to (Maui Electric Co.),” which is absolutely not true. It’s unfortunate that the corporate communications director did not check his facts as he would have found out that Pacific Biodiesel continues to supply the contracted amount of fuel to MECO and even extended our contract from the last time it ended.
He also said he was waiting for Pacific Biodiesel to “respond to questions about their proposal.” We have answered all their questions and have been waiting for weeks for them to reply to us with a meeting date to discuss our concerns about their fuel spec, which is not an existing ASTM fuel specification.
Saying something is true and being quoted in the newspaper does not make it so, and stating you want to purchase biodiesel when you have requested fuel with different specifications implies the opposite.
A website is being launched for a new program that allows Hawaii residents and businesses to apply to sell their renewable energy to the electric utility.
Hawaiian Electric Co. said today the website will accept applications of those who want to participate in the program, known as a feed-in tariff, which offers pre-established rates and standardized contract terms to independent energy providers.
Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm says the program will help the state break its dependence on imported oil through both large and small renewable energy sources.
The website will start accepting applications for Oahu projects at noon Wednesday. Applications for projects on the Big Island and Maui will be accepted beginning Nov. 24.
Michael Saalfeld, a German industrialist and biofuel pioneer, has purchased the North Kohala acreage Parker Ranch quietly sold in August, according to government records.
One of Saalfeld’s many companies, Kukuipahu Makai, paid $49.3 million for 35 parcels comprising 3,509 acres, according to Hawaii County tax records.
The state’s business registry lists Saalfeld and his wife, Jeannette, as the company’s only members.
Located on both sides of Akoni Pule Highway, the contiguous parcels extend from Mahukona Beach Park north nearly to Puakea Bay Ranch. They range in size from less than an acre to a 1,681-acre parcel.
Tremendous secrecy has surrounded both the sale and Saalfeld, who owns other large tracts of land and Big Island companies.
Rather than offering its property on the open market, Parker Ranch in August 2009 sent a “confidential information memorandum” to a small group of prospective buyers. Each recipient “will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement,” according to the document from then-CEO William “Bill” Maris. He was let go last month after less than a year in that position.
In August, Parker Ranch issued a one-page letter to employees, retirees and ohana confirming the sale of roughly 3 percent of its 128,000-acre holdings.