10 answer HECO’s call for biofuel

Local production is the key to gradually moving the state away from imported fuel

By Alan Yonan Jr.

The state’s quest for energy independence took a step forward with Hawaiian Electric Co. receiving bids from 10 companies seeking to supply the utility with biofuel produced locally to burn in its power plants.

    There are a number of potential biofuel feedstocks that can be produced in Hawaii, including:

      » Sugar cane
      » Sorghum
      » Jatropha
      » Eucalyptus
      » Invasive trees
      » Algae
      » Microbes
      » Yeast
      » Waste products

HECO said it would begin buying the renewable fuel over the next five years, starting with small amounts and gradually expanding its intake as the fledgling biofuel industry matures in Hawaii.

"We are pleased with the strong response," said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg.

The deadline for companies to submit bids was Friday, and HECO is now evaluating the proposals. The names of the companies will not be made public until the winning bid or bids are announced.

HC&S hires industrial processing plant expert – The Maui News

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HONOLULU (AP) – Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. has hired Anna Skrobecki to be the company’s senior vice president for factory and power plant operations. HC&S General Manager Christopher Benjamin said in a statement that Skrobecki has extensive experience in industrial processing plants.

Benjamin said this will help the sugar plantation as it researches alternative processing methods for biofuels.

The Navy and U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year announced they would spend several million dollars researching biofuel production at HC&S’ sugar cane fields on Maui. Skrobecki most recently was operations vice president at Wausau Paper in Wisconsin.

She also worked for Weyerhaeuser and James River Corp.

HC&S hires industrial processing plant expert – Mauinews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News

Exxon $600 Million Algae Investment Makes Khosla See Pipe Dream – Bloomberg.com

Bloomberg

June 3 (Bloomberg) — Inside an industrial warehouse in South San Francisco, California, Harrison Dillon, chief technology officer of startup Solazyme Inc., examines a beaker filled with a brown paste made of sugar cane waste. While the smell brings to mind molasses, this goo, called bagasse, won’t find its way into people-pleasing confections.

Instead, scientists will empty it into 5-gallon metal flasks of algae and water. The algae will gorge on the treat — filling themselves with fatty oils as they double in size every six hours, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its July issue.

Down the hall, past a rainbow of algae strains arrayed in Petri dishes, Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Wolfson shows off a gallon-size bottle of slightly viscous liquid. After drying the algae, wringing out the oil and shipping it to a refinery, this is the prize: diesel fuel that Wolfson says is chemically indistinguishable from its petroleum-based equivalent and which has already powered a Jeep Liberty and a Mercedes Benz sedan.

“We’ve produced tens of thousands of gallons, and by the end of 2010, I hope I can say we’ve produced hundreds of thousands,” Wolfson, 39, says. “In the next two years, we should get the cost down to the $60 to $80-a-barrel range.”

At that price, Solazyme’s algae fuel would compete with $80-a-barrel oil.

Mansfield Oil Acquires Western Ethanol

Mansfield Oil Acquires Western Ethanol

Addition of established ethanol wholesaler and logistics provider broadens company service offering in Western US

Atlanta, GA (Vocus/PRWEB ) June 2, 2010 — Today, Mansfield Oil Company announces the acquisition of substantially all of Western Ethanol’s assets and the addition of Doug Vind to the Mansfield team. Orange County, CA-based Western Ethanol is a leading ethanol wholesaler and logistics provider and is led by industry innovator Vind. In addition to providing bulk deliveries of ethanol, Western Ethanol specializes in the distribution of E85 for use in Flex Fuel Vehicles and is a leading distributor of E85 in the western United States.

News Image

Our acquisition of Western Ethanol is an important addition to our renewable fuels strategy and provides Western’s customers and suppliers with long-term stability in a partner they have valued for many years

We are also excited to add Doug Vind to our management team. He has been an innovator in the ethanol industry over the past two decades and we look forward to integrating his vision and experience into our long-term strategy for our renewable fuels business.

I’m proud to have Doug on our team and by leveraging his experience in the west, in conjunction with the C&N division nationally and our ethanol team in Charlottesville, VA we will now have the most complete nationwide ethanol marketing and supply team in the country.

We look forward to offering our customers the additional supply chain management capabilities provided by Mansfield being able to grow both our wholesaling efforts and proprietary ethanol transloading services business with their support

Western Ethanol’s customers include major gasoline refiners and large gasoline blenders for bulk ethanol sales, as well as independent gasoline retailers and federal, state and municipal automotive fleets for E85 sales throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii.

Thielen: Water decision meets most demands – The Maui News

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By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer

State Commission on Water Resource Management Chairwoman Laura Thielen on Friday called the panel’s decision last week to put millions of gallons of water a day back into East Maui’s streams "groundbreaking."

For more than 125 years, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. has diverted water from the East Maui watershed for its sugar cane cultivation in Central Maui. Maui County also uses stream water to supply 10,000 customers Upcountry, including farmers and ranchers.

In a statement issued by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which Thielen also heads, she called Tuesday’s 5-1 vote during a Paia meeting "a flexible approach that meets most of the needs of competing water demands."

The commission’s decision also "strongly emphasized responsible management of public trust resources," Thielen said. For the first time, HC&S must monitor and report water in its irrigation system to the state. And Maui County must fix its leaky Waikamoi flume within three years, a process already under way.

"Maui County and HC&S need to make the necessary investments to repair existing infrastructure and to develop responsible and reliable alternative water sources to meet their critical domestic and agricultural water needs," Thielen said.

Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript — Seeking Alpha

The Last Sugar Mill in Hawaii
HC&S Puunene Maui
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Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (ALEX)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

May 4, 2010 5:00 pm ET

Executives

Suzy Hollinger – Director, IR

Stan Kuriyama – President & CEO

Matt Cox – President, Matson Navigation Company, Inc.

Norb Buelsing – President, A&B Properties, Inc.

Chris Benjamin – SVP, CFO & Treasurer; General Manager, HC&S

Analysts

William Horner – Stephens Incorporated

Sloan Bohlen – Goldman Sachs

Sheila McGrath – KBW

Brendan Maiorana – Wells Fargo

Tom Wilson – Wilson Capital Management

Tom Spiro – Spiro Capital Management

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the first quarter Alexander & Baldwin earnings conference call. My name is O'Meara and I will be your operator for today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Later, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to turn this conference over to your host for today’s call, Ms. Suzy Hollinger, Director of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Suzy Hollinger

Thank you, operator. Aloha and welcome to Alexander & Baldwin's first quarter 2010 earnings call. On the call with me today are Stan Kuriyama, A&B's President and CEO; Chris Benjamin, A&B's CFO and also General Manager of HC&S; Norb Buelsing, President of A&B Properties; and joining us from Matson's headquarters in Oakland is Matt Cox, President of Matson Navigation Company.

Before we commence, please note that statements in this call and presentation that set forth expectations or predictions are based on facts and situations that are known to us as of today, May 04, 2010. Actual results may differ materially due to risks and uncertainties such as those described on pages 17 through 26 of our 2009 Form 10-K and our other subsequent filings with the SEC. Statements in this call and presentation are not guarantees of future performance.

Slides from this presentation are available for download at our website www.alexanderbaldwin.com. You will see an icon at the top of the website to direct you to the appropriate section for download.

This slide provides an agenda for our presentation, after which we will take your questions. We will start with Stan who will comment on the performance for the quarter.

Stan Kuriyama

Thank you, Suzy. I'm pleased to report that A&B posted a solid first quarter and a positive start to 2010. Net income was significantly higher in the first quarter at $17 million or $0.42 per share compared to earnings in the first quarter of 2009 of $3 million or $0.07 a share.

As you'll note from this chart, operating results for all segments improved in the first quarter of 2010 with the exception of real estate leasing. Consolidated operating profit was $42 million in the quarter compared to $17 million a year ago. However, our first quarter '09 operating profit was impacted by a $6 million workforce reduction charge that did not recur in the first quarter of 2010.

Let me now brief you on the quarter highlights from each of our business units. In ocean transportation, our China service is benefitting from the recovery in both volume and rates. Volumes in particular were significantly higher than a year ago and rates are higher on a sequential basis. Matt will have more details for you later in the presentation.

Hawaii container volumes and rates were relatively flat in the quarter compared to last year. While we believe that material increases in volumes and rates are unlikely for the rest of the year, we are pleased that the Hawaii trade seems to have bottomed. Guam's performance was also stable for the quarter. Overall, operating profits in our ocean transportation business continue to benefit from the vessel deployment changes, workforce reduction, and other cost cutting and operating efficiencies implemented over the past two years.

First quarter operating results for MIL benefitted from a large movement for the Department of Defense, as well as from prior year's cost cutting measures. Some stabilization in MIL's intermodal business also occurred in the quarter. In real estate, we continue to observe demand and favorable pricing for quality commercial properties as evidenced by our sales of Mililani Shopping Center in January. This sale drove quarter results for this segment, as well as for the overall company.

Leasing, however, was challenged by several factors; the downward reset of market rents, lower occupancies in our Mainland portfolio, and the time lag between sales and acquisitions of properties in our 1031 exchange program. Norbert would be addressing this further in our presentation.

Agribusiness results improved in the quarter with losses declining by $800,000. However, we didn’t plan on harvesting any sugar in the first quarter, meaningful performance comparisons can't be made until the second quarter. As Chris will describe later, we continue to expect significant improvement for the full year and we recently learned federal grant monies will be made available to help us accelerate our bioenergy research at HC&S.

Scientists Try Algae ‘Alchemy’ to Grow Oil in Paddies – BusinessWeek

Bloomberg

By Shigeru Sato and Yuji Okada

April 20 (Bloomberg) — As Japan’s rice fields turn fallow and its farming communities decline, a new army of workers is preparing to make the countryside fertile again. This time the crop is motor fuel and the laborers are microscopic algae.

At least 75 developers globally are studying algae, which has the potential to generate more energy per hectare than any other crop used for making fuel, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The technology has attracted the U.S. Department of Energy and big oil including Exxon Mobil Corp., which plans to spend as much as $600 million on research over five years.

Japan abandoned a $132 million algae project in the 1990s, when oil prices dropped below $10 a barrel and climate change took a back seat to reviving the economy in what became known as “the Lost Decade.” Now companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co. may join a study into the microorganisms that can turn waste water into oil, scrub carbon dioxide out of the air and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Is biofuel Hawaii’s next great industry? – Pacific Business News

Potential exists to turn state’s renewable-energy needs into a cash crop

Save the last of the Surgar Cane industry in Hawaii
Sugar on Maui FOREVER!
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Hawaiian Electric Co.’s search for long-term suppliers of biofuels derived from local feedstocks stands to ignite a new form of agriculture in Hawaii.

But major challenges lie ahead for both the utility and potential producers.

Acres of fallow pineapple and sugar fields across the state potentially could be converted to high-oil-yielding plants such as jatropha, soybean and microalgae.

The utility says it is interested in buying enough biofuels to run its power plants on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island.

Clean-burning biofuels are attractive to HECO because they can be used in its existing generators, which currently run on liquid fossil fuels including bunker oil and diesel.

“We’ve talked and talked about biodiesel in Hawaii, and now we can guarantee that we’ll purchase their products down the road, so we’re looking for people to make proposals,” said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg. “If we’re going to get to the state’s mandate of 40 percent renewables by 2030, which is just 20 years away, a chunk of that will have to come from biofuels. The best situation would be one where the feedstocks are grown here.”

Funding could define new future in energy for HC&S – The Maui News

The last sugar mill in Hawaii
Puunene Maui
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PUUNENE – Within five years, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. may be out of the sugar business and use its 37,000 acres on Maui to grow much-desired biofuels, company, state and federal officials, announced Wednesday afternoon.

The announcement came with the personal endorsement of senior Hawaii U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who made a pledge to sugar workers who gathered for the event at HC&S headquarters in Puunene.

"In my name, I promise HC&S will not go under like the 16 other sugar cane operations," Inouye said. "If I am wrong, I will be out of a job."

The U.S. Department of Energy, through the University of Hawaii, and the Navy, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will provide at least $4 million annually toward research to help HC&S determine whether it is feasible to convert the more than 130-year-old company into an "energy farm," or a high-tech producer of renewable fuels, said HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin.

It would be a dramatic transformation, officials said. The move could preserve hundreds of agricultural jobs on Maui for decades to come and potentially lead to tens of millions of dollars in capital improvement investments to the company’s aging sugar mill.