Project Details

Project Name:
Honua Ola Bioenergy Facility
Honua Ola Bioenergy, LLC (formerly Hu Honua)
21.5 MW
Tax Map Key:
PUC Docket:
2017-0122, 2012-0212
Project Status:
Proposed/Under Development
Honua Ola, formerly Hu Honua Bioenergy, plans to use the old Hilo Coast Processing Co. coal-fired power plant site to produce up to 21.5 megawatts (MW) of firm renewable energy by converting locally grown and harvested eucalyptus biomass into power. The facility intends to utilize a new 30 MW capacity Shin Nippon steam turbine generator to produce power for approximately 14,000 Hawaii Island homes annually. In July 2019, Honua Ola stated over $300 million had been invested to date, the project is approximately 95% complete, and it anticipated completion by the end of 2019. Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) estimates the project will contribute up to 1.6% of HELCO's renewable energy generation portfolio. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved an amended power purchase agreement (PPA) for this project in July 2017 at $0.221/kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 30 years (original PPA was $0.253/kWh for 20 years). The trees will reportedly initially come from Parker Ranch and Kamehameha Schools lands, which intend to replant and replace harvested trees. In December 2018, it was reported Kamehameha Schools was negotiating with Honua Ola sister company, CN Renewable Resources, to manage, market, and harvest nearly 3,000 acres of eucalyptus in Hilo, Paauilo makai, and near the rim of Waipio Valley. Honua Ola will reportedly employ 250 workers during construction and 30 facility workers, and will generate 130 forestry jobs. Honua Ola initially anticipated this project would be operational in 2016, however, numerous delays have affected the project and environmental concerns and challenges have been raised by stakeholders. In response to a legal challenge by Life of the Land, in June 2019 the PUC reopened the docket for this PPA to explore the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the facility, the reasonableness of the energy price in light of its estimated GHG emissions, and whether the PPA is prudent to the public interest for the long-term. This process is ongoing and still pending PUC approval. Honua Ola is also in the process of obtaining permits from the Hawaii Department of Health for three 800-foot underground injection wells to use cooler saline water for condenser cooling instead of the fresher upper aquifer water.