Draft EIS complete for proposed energy conversion project

A draft environmental impact statement has been completed for a proposed renewable energy conversion and sludge processing project at the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

Public comments are due by Feb. 6.

The project aims to install an anaerobic digester to produce methane gas from energy crops grown on former Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. lands. The energy crops would be provided by Central Maui Feedstocks, a domestic limited liability company created in November 2016 by Alexander & Baldwin. The methane gas would be refined at the Kahului wastewater facility site and fuel a combined heat-and-power engine to generate electricity for the treatment plant.

Waste heat from the engine would dry wastewater solid matter, known as “sludge.”

The project is not designed to add electricity to the Maui Electric Co. grid.

The new facility would be located on the west side of the treatment plant’s existing aerobic blower building. The 18.8-acre plant is next to the ocean on Amala Place in Kahului.

The Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is inland of the sewage treatment plant, and located to the east are Kanaha Beach Park and Kahului Airport.

Earlier this year, A&B said it had formed a partnership with Oakland, Calif.-based TerViva, an seed-oil producing company, to cultivate pongamia trees for biofuel on 250 acres of former sugar lands.

Maui County selected Maui All Natural Alternative, an Anaergia Services company, to coordinate the project.

Last year, the Maui County Council approved a resolution for a 20-year site lease to Anaergia, doing business as Maui All Natural Alternative, for a 1-acre site within the state-owned treatment plant property.

County officials have said Anaergia would develop the facility at no construction cost to the county, and then the county would pay the company 29 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced at the plant. And, the cost of disposing the sludge would be reduced from $103 to $80 per ton by switching from EKO Compost to Anaergia, officials said.

The project would need a special management area permit and a state conservation district use permit, among other government approvals.

The wastewater treatment plant was built and commissioned in 1973. It has the capacity to treat 7.9 million gallons of wastewater daily and provides secondary treatment for municipal sewage from Wailuku and Kahului. Recent projections forecast the plant will reach its treatment capacity by 2030.

Comments on the draft environmental impact statement may be mailed to Maui County Department of Environmental Management; Director Stewart Stant; 2050 Main St. Suite 2B; Wailuku 96793. Stant may be reached at 270-7431; or via email at stewart.stant@co.maui.hi.us. Comments also should be addressed to Maui All Natural Alternative; Jeff Walsh; 5780 Fleet St. Suite 310; Carlsbad, Calif. 92008. Walsh may be reached at (808) 729-1495 or (760) 436-8870; or via email at jeff.walsh@anaergia.com.