County cannot afford ‘free’ Anaergia deals

As pointed out in Sierra Club’s Dec. 28 letter, the 2016 County Council’s approval of a $1/year lease for Anaergia to make “biogas” at the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant was highly irregular. The matter was taken out of committee and rushed through while the old council could still vote. This decision will make our island less sustainable.

Deals with no upfront cost to the county can still be very costly for taxpayers. Last time, Anaergia was going to make energy from Lahaina wastewater at no cost; the county spent thousands of dollars in a losing effort to force MECO to buy electricity from “biogas,” which would have increased everyone’s rates. Now Anaergia has another deal for us in Kahului. We cannot afford these “free” deals.

Methane flared off at the Central Maui Landfill could be used to run off-the-shelf generators and produce a megawatt of electricity. The Department of Environmental Management proposes to give that methane to Anaergia as part of a “no-cost” arrangement that would push out established vendors like EKO who divert “waste,” turn it into valuable resources and extend the life of our landfill.

Please don’t approve a complicated arrangement where Anaergia grows sorghum, transports it to the wastewater treatment plant in Kahului, then makes methane to sell to the county — when the county already has a source of free methane at the landfill. This flared-off gas is already warming our planet; why not get some energy out of it and save taxpayers some money?

Albert Perez

Executive Director

Maui Tomorrow Foundation Inc.