HILO, HI — October 24, 2012 — Hu Honua Bioenergy has hired Kevin Owen as general manager of its biomass facility in Pepeekeo. Owen, who has already begun working at the site, will be responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the facility once operational.
“I believe in Hu Honua’s mission to provide Hawaii Island with local, renewable energy,” said Owen. “It’s very exciting to be a part of Hu Honua, which will play a key role in securing the island’s energy future. The facility is going to be top notch, with state of the art equipment and emissions controls.”
Hu Honua has negotiated a power purchase agreement with Hawaii Electric Light Company, which is subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission. In the meantime, site cleanup and preparation for the renovation of the plant is underway by Hawaiian Dredging & Construction Company.
Owen comes to Hu Honua with more than 21 years of experience in the energy industry, ten of which spent managing a power plant. He has worked for Abitibi Bowater, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, Georgia Pacific, and Temple Inland.
“I intend to apply my previous experience as a power plant supervisor and manager to ensure that the Hu Honua facility runs smoothly and safely. Our biggest asset is our employees—people will make this operation happen—so I am committed to fostering a safe work environment and going the extra mile to ensure the best operations we can achieve.”
Owen holds a degree in chemical engineering from Tri-State University in Indiana. Owen, his wife, Beth, and their two children, have relocated to Hilo from the mainland.
Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC is converting the former Hilo Coast Power Company plant at Pepeekeo into a modern biomass energy facility. After sugar operations ceased, the facility operated for some years as a coal-fired power plant. Hu Honua will use only biomass. The 24-megawatt (MW) facility will produce a net of 21.5 MW of power, about 10 percent of the island’s electrical needs and about enough for 14,000 homes.
The facility expects to employ about 80 to 100 jobs during the refurbishment phase and about 28 to 30 jobs when the facility begins operation. Another 100 indirect jobs are anticipated in the timber and related industries.