Hawaii utility co-op to buy ethanol producer's power

By Ryan C. Christiansen | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 30, 2008, at 1:22 p.m. CST

Kauai Island Utility Co-op in Lihue on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, entered into a power purchase agreement with Pacific West Energy LLC in Kaumakani, Hawaii, to purchase electricity from Pacific West Energy's proposed 20-megawatt, sugarcane-bagasse-fired power generation facility, according to the co-op. The biomass-to-energy plant will complement Pacific West Energy's proposed 12 MMgy ethanol facility that will use sugarcane as its feedstock.

The agreement helps pave the way for the co-op in reaching a goal of producing more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources within the next 15 years and also to meet Hawaii's renewable portfolio standard, said Dennis Esaki, chairman of the board for the co-op. "Currently, KIUC's plan is to significantly exceed the state's renewable portfolio standard," Esaki said, "because we're confident this direction will best benefit the Kauai community." Hawaii will require the state's public utilities to provide 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

In September, Pacific West Energy announced that it will lease land and other assets from sugar producer Gay & Robinson Inc. to grow sugarcane. Pacific West Energy is currently in the process of seeking significant third-party investment to fund the next stages of the Kauai project, including construction, the company said.