Honua Ola asks PUC to reconsider

Honua Ola Bioenergy filed a motion Thursday with the state Public Utilities Commission seeking to reverse a 2-1 majority decision to reject Honua Ola’s nearly completed power plant project in Pepeekeo.

PUC Chairman James Griffin and Commissioner Jennifer Potter voted to reject an amended power purchases agreement between Honua Ola and Hawaiian Electric. The dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Leodoloff Asuncion.


The vote, for now, keeps the $520 million project from going online and producing electricity.

In a statement, Warren Lee, Honua Ola’s president, said, “We believe the decision by Commissioners Griffin and Potter was in error because the PUC majority exceeded its authority by considering issues outside the Hawaii Supreme Court’s mandate to only consider greenhouse gas emissions, and misused its discretion by relying on erroneous findings of fact and applying a ‘clear and convincing standard’ instead of the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard.”

The majority PUC decision said Honua Ola shouldn’t be granted an amended power purchase agreement with HECO because the powerplant will produce “significant” greenhouse gas emissions and that approval of the contract — with an estimated average cost of 22 cents per kilowatt hour over a 30-year period — would likely result in higher costs to ratepayers and would displace more cost-effective renewable projects in the grid.

Honua Ola and environmental group Life of the Land has been embroiled for years in a legal battle over the fate of the eucalyptus-wood burning facility.

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