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.
An energy company on the Big Island will receive a $5 million loan guarantee from the federal government to help finish construction of a manufacturing plant in Kawaihae.
The announcement was made Thursday in a Washington news release by Hawaii’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka.
Big Island Carbon’s $25 million plant will convert discarded macadamia nut shells into a product that can generate power, filter air and purify water.
Plans call for the company to buy about 10,000 tons of more than 20,000 tons of shells produced annually on the Big Island to convert into 1,000 tons of granular activated carbon.
Big Island Carbon will power its own operations. Any excess biofuel or gas will be sold on the island.
Big Island farmers are eligible for federal relief loans due to diminishing crop harvest caused by volcanic gasses.
U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a disaster designation for the Big Island.
Farmers, ranchers and plant producers may seek low-interest emergency loans to help them increase production and restore lost crops.
Plant life growth is stunted by more than 2,000 metric tons of daily sulfur dioxide spewed from Kilauea volcano.
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.
By AUDREY McAVOY
Hawaii’s last sugar plantation could start producing jet fuel for the Navy.
Federal agencies on Wednesday announced they would spend millions of dollars to study producing advanced biofuels from sugarcane grown at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar’s fields on Maui.
The Office of Naval Research is budgeting $2 million annually for the project through 2015, with a focus on producing diesel and jet fuel from sugar.
The Department of Energy is spending $2 million a year to have the University of Hawaii study energy crop development and energy conversion technologies.
HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin says his company will be a "working laboratory" to test the potential of biofuel production.
"This federal funding represents a vote of confidence in Hawaii and in the future of HC&S," Benjamin said in a news release. "It is a significant step toward our goal of transforming HC&S into a large-scale energy farm, playing a key role in securing Hawaii’s energy future."
The company, a unit of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., said its vast fields, access to water, farming infrastructure and labor force make it an ideal candidate to produce biofuels on a large scale.
HC&S has long diverted water from East Maui streams to irrigate its fields in arid Central Maui. But this practice is currently facing challenges.
Taro farmers have petitioned the state’s Commission on Water Resource Management to restore more flow to the streams, and prevent HC&S from diverting its usual volumes of water. The case is pending before the water commission.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who met Wednesday with HC&S and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials about the project, said the research could benefit biofuel development efforts not just in Hawaii but also across the country.
"The sugar industry’s infrastructure in Hawaii … will be put to good use producing a variety of biofuels," said Inouye in a statement issued by the department.
‘Agricultural disaster’ aid available for Maui County
By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer
POSTED: December 11, 2009
WAILUKU – For the second straight year, Maui County farmers and ranchers could receive federal aid after the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the county an "agricultural disaster zone" Thursday.
U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced the disaster zone, which also includes Hawaii County and Kalaupapa on Molokai. The drought is headed toward a fourth year, although rainfall has increased this fall and winter.
The Agriculture Department’s Weekly Crop Report for Hawaii noted that the state’s crops overall were in fair to good condition with pasture fields slowly improving and orchards doing fine. But Molokai remains under a mandatory 20 percent water reduction for all water consumers, except those on homesteads. The county also still asks residents in Central and South Maui to conserve water consumption voluntarily by 10 percent.