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Officials: Big Island biofuel plan too costly

December 31, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - A Big Island electric utility's plan to buy liquid biofuel is too expensive, the state Public Utilities Commission said in a ruling blocking the deal.

It's the second time in two years state regulators rejected Hawaii Electric Light Co.'s plan to buy 16 million gallons of the alternative fuel a year from the developer of a proposed Big Island biofuel production facility.

The ruling said that the contract price for Aina Koa Pono-produced biofuel is "unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest," and too expensive when compared with the fossil fuel it would replace, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday.

The proposed contract price hasn't been disclosed. The utility proposed a surcharge that would add 90 cents a month to a typical residential Big Island bill and $1.08 for an Oahu residential bill.

The proposed biofuel contract is part of HELCO parent company Hawaiian Electric Co.'s effort to generate 40 percent of electricity sales from renewable sources by 2030.

Aina Koa Pono will still proceed with its plans for a $450 million biofuel facility, but is "very disappointed" by the PUC's decision, said Kenton Eldridge, company co-founder and chairman.

"We respect the commission's decision and our companies will continue to focus on alternatives to meet Hawaii's clean energy goals and lower the cost of electricity for our customers," said HELCO President Jay Ignacio.

The PUC decision "reflects the state's energy police of balancing technical, economic, environmental and cultural consideration on energy projects to ensure making the best use of land and resources," said Mark Glick, the state's energy administrator.



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