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Revitalizing the forestry industry

April 27, 2017


Hawai‘i Island is a prime resource for Hū Honua as we plan to supply our operations with locally grown and harvested biomass. The facility’s primary feedstock is eucalyptus, which grows abundantly on the Hāmākua Coast.

Hū Honua will revitalize Hawai‘i Island’s forestry industry by consuming leftover parts of the harvested tree after higher-value veneer and lumber components have been removed. Below is a breakdown of a tree’s potential use:


A viable forestry industry has many benefits: it lowers the cost of fertilizer for small farmers, keeps the countryside green and open, provides a diversified job market for the community, and delivers a renewable resource that will power our facility as well as the local economy.

Questions from community
This week we’re starting a new section dedicated to answering questions we’ve been getting from the community.

  • How much renewable power is Hū Honua capable of producing?
    The 30-megawatt plant will produce about 15 percent of Hawai‘i Island’s electrical needs, enough to power about 20,000 households. It is the only firm, renewable energy project on the island that can be operational by the end of 2018. Hū Honua can be a stable source of power that would displace the output of aging, oil-fired plants, eliminating about 250,000 barrels of imported foreign oil.
  • Will Hū Honua conform to the air emission standards?
    Hū Honua’s modern emissions controls meet or exceed current air emissions standards and comply with all applicable Department of Health and EPA requirements. The plant is required by the federal and state agencies to meet stringent air quality requirements.

Hawai‘i in the Vanguard in Transitioning to Renewable Energy
As reported by Pacific Business News, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shared its analysis of how quickly states are adopting renewable energy technologies to replace fossil fuels. Hawai‘i ranks fifth among the 50 states in the U.S. when it comes to shifting to renewable energy, according to the organization’s report.

UCS is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based nonprofit science advocacy organization whose members include scientists and private citizens.

The UCS analysis used 12 metrics to rank states, including deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles, as well as policies for renewable energy adoption.

Hawai‘i ranked first in residential solar per capita and fourth in EV adoption. The Aloha State also ranked in the top 10 in eight of the 12 metrics in the organization’s “Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress” report.

Hawai‘i was also the first state in the nation to institute a 100 percent clean energy goal, which it hopes to achieve by 2045. The missing piece for Hawaii on the utility side is a renewable firm power source.

That’s where Hū Honua comes in, poised to generate 30-megawatts of firm, renewable power. Hū Honua is ideally positioned to help Hawai‘i meet its clean energy goal.

Our Guiding Principles

April 20, 2017


This week, we’d like to share with you the driving factors that keep us focused on bringing our biomass power plant online–our Guiding Principles.

  • Ratepayers come first. Hū Honua is committed to producing electricity at a cost to HELCO that is less than fossil fuel sources so consumers can benefit.
  • Jobs, jobs, jobs. Hū Honua will increase employment opportunities for the people of Hawaiʻi Island in construction, plant management and maintenance, and ancillary services such as forestry.
  • 100% clean, renewable energy. Through a public-private partnership, Hū Honua will deliver clean renewable power to help Hawaiʻi meet its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.
  • Stimulate the forest industry. Hū Honua will maximize economic impact by revitalizing the forestry industry, including harvesting, hauling, processing, and replanting trees.
  • Be a good neighbor. Hū Honua is making a long-term commitment to our neighbors by minimizing impacts related to operations and by repositioning an historic facility to serve the future. Read about the facility’s history…

Supporting community
Last week, we supported the 9th annual YWCA of Hawai‘i Island’s Remarkable Person Luncheon honoring Hawai‘i County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth and local physician Lynda Dolan, M.D. We were honored once again to be a sponsor of this event, which helps the YWCA coordinate important programs in the community.


Jumpstarting the forestry industry
This week our team met with members of the Big Island Labor Alliance to provide a quick update on the project and reaffirm our commitment to seeing the plant through to completion.

Engaging stakeholders
Earlier this month, we attended the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s Youth of the Year dinner, and we cheered on the UH Hilo Vulcans team against the Hawai‘i Pacific Sharks. At the BGCBI dinner and at the game, we met members of the community and talked story. Residents were happy to learn about our project and the many economic and environmental benefits it will bring once online.


Committed to the Community

April 12, 2017

Aloha, friends!

We’re excited to bring you the latest edition of the Hū Honua Bioenergy newsletter. It has been a while since you’ve heard from us, and we have a lot of good news to share. We’ve been active in the community and are making progress toward our goal of having the plant operational by the end of 2018. As our work continues, we’ll engage you and keep you in the loop.

Powering the island and local economy
Hū Honua is committed to building a renewable biomass power plant on Hawai’i Island that will ensure less expensive, more stable energy rates and create hundreds of new local jobs.

To date, we’ve invested more than $100 million in the construction of the new plant, and we have made great progress.  Being located on the old sugar mill site allows us to connect the area’s rich history to the future. We have staff onsite working everyday and look forward to further ramping up our efforts.

“We are excited to get this project back on track, and as always, we are prioritizing the needs of the local community,” said Harold Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, the owner of Hū Honua. “Not only will Hū Honua bring firm, renewable, clean energy to Hawaiʻi Island residents, but we are committed to being a good partner for the long-term.” 

Engaging stakeholders
One of our top priorities is to be a good neighbor. Throughout 2017, our team has been meeting with community stakeholders, getting input about residents’ priorities and discussing the future of the project. We have spoken with civic leaders, labor unions, businesses, and our neighbors.

Hū Honua will bring jobs to East Hawai‘i in many ways. Once the plant is operational, we will have a full staff on site; the plant will create constant demand of the island’s forestry industry. In order to complete building the plant, we will engage skilled laborers from the local community, including carpenters.

As such, in March, Dean Au linked us up with members of the local Carpenter’s Union. We look forward to working with them in the very near future as the plant is erected. We’re excited about the potential for partnership with the union for the creation of new jobs and training. 


Supporting community
There are so many good causes in Hilo and across the island. Hū Honua has recently been lucky enough to lend our support to a few of our favorite community efforts. This past March, Hū Honua joined the Hilo High School Foundation to honor distinguished alumni who have made a positive impact in the community. Congratulations to all the alumni, and to show our support for the wonderful work of the foundation, Hū Honua made a financial contribution. We look forward to being part of this event for years to come.


Also in March, we were honored to attend the Boys & Girls Club’s fundraising gala recognizing outstanding youth on the island. We heard incredible stories about young people in the community who are overcoming significant challenges to stay focused on their education and on the path to a bright future. Being part of this event reminds us how crucial our work on clean energy will be for all members of our community, but especially for our youth.

Our island’s energy future
We recognize that Hū Honua’s role is only a part of the intricate system that will help achieve the state’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.  But as we relinquish our dependence on fossil fuels, it is quickly apparent how important it will be to have a clean source of energy that can supply the grid 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s what makes Hū Honua so special—firm, reliable energy production.

A recent Hawaii Tribune-Herald dove into the Hawaii Electric power supply improvement plan (PSIP). The PSIP charts the state’s energy future. Naturally, Hū Honua’s Rob Robinson provided input for this story, helping to define the importance of biomass as part of Hawaii’s energy mix. In case you missed it, click here to read full article.

We’ll be in touch soon with more updates on the project and what we’re doing in the community. Until then, feel free to reach out to us!

HHB Moves Forward on Construction, Reaches Settlement with Hawaiian Dredging

December 19, 2014


Hu Honua expects to resume onsite operations with a full team of employees and contractors before year-end, including final site preparation, delivery of specialized equipment and construction mobilization.

The accelerated activity comes after Hu Honua and Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company reached a settlement to resolve a contractual dispute between the parties related to the refurbishment of HHB’s renewable energy facility in Pepeekeo.

Specific terms of the settlement are covered by a confidentiality agreement.

Refurbishment activity, including survey and permitting work, has been underway for the final phase of construction, which is expected to be complete within 12 months, following full mobilization.

In late October, HHB received two shipments of specialized equipment in Hilo—a custom re-injection system and air quality emission control operating system.  Additional specialized equipment including fuel handling and the remaining emissions control equipment has been fabricated and is in route to Hilo from the mainland.

Specialized HHB Equipment Has Arrived

October 24, 2014


In the last several days, Hu Honua Bioenergy has received two shipments of specialized equipment in Hilo, which represents important milestones for the bioenergy project.

The first shipment received was the re-injection system. HHB has chosen to discontinue the historical practice of discharging non-contact brackish cooling water into the ocean, as was done at the facility during its days as part of Pepeekeo Sugar. Instead, HHB has designed a re-injection system where the brackish water will return to its original source after it has passed through the system’s condenser and cooled the turbine’s exhaust steam. To facilitate the re-injection, HHB ordered special purpose pumps, motors and valves, and will install the new injection wells as part of the new steam boiler system.

The biomass fuel yard equipment and air quality emission control operating system has also arrived and marks a return to the plant’s original design—operating with biomass-derived fuel. These control centers and electrical panels will manage the facility’s input and output. The equipment also includes a set of forced and induction draft fans to regulate air and gas flow, maximize system efficiency and lower emissions. These systems will be installed in conjunction with fuel yard construction.

Bioenergy in Hawaii

September 25, 2014


Hu Honua Bioenergy participated in a series of educational workshops on forestry in Hawaii this past summer which highlighted the mutual benefits that forestry and biomass power will have on Hawaii.  Presentations by officials from the USDA Forest Service were supportive of developing local bioenergy projects like the Hu Honua Bioenergy power plant which utilize advanced emissions control equipment—local bioenergy plants help the state reduce dependency on the fossil fuel industry and provide a use for forestry bi-products.

The presentations were hosted by USDA Forest Service—Region 5, Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and the Hawaii Forest Industries Association. The workshops covered a range of topics including the shared benefits of bioenergy and forestry, local biomass and bioenergy potential, an overview of Hawaii wood products, green building standards, and the value of well-managed, sustainable and productive forests as a crucial energy resource.

Presentations included bleak synopses of Hawaii’s present energy situation—the state derives 90% of its primary energy from 100% imported fossil fuel and the average residential cost of electricity per kilowatt hour is currently $0.41, compared to the national average of $0.11-0.12.

Dr. John R. Shelly, Cooperative Extension Advisor for Woody Biomass Utilization at the University of California, Berkeley, said Hawaii’s high energy prices and its reliance on imported fossil fuel make the case for the state’s biomass industry as a means to wean Hawaii off imported oil and generate locally-sourced electricity.

Dr. Shelly further summarized the benefits of woody biomass-produced electricity derived from biomass power plants similar to Hu Honua Bioenergy as offsetting high costs for thinning forests, reducing fire hazards and wildfire potential, and contributing to landfill disposal diversion.  He also articulated that biomass-to-energy plants improve air quality (bioenergy has a more favorable emissions profile than burning fossil fuels) and assist with better forest management with regard to controlling invasive species and disease, all while making more efficient use of a renewable, natural resource.

New Turbine Generator & Hurricane Iselle Clean-Up Efforts

September 9, 2014


We are pleased to share a the following update:

New Steam Turbine Generator

As the construction program at Hu Honua accelerates, and components are being manufactured and readied for shipment to the site, we are pleased to announce that Hu Honua has invested in a new steam turbine generator to match the +30 year expected life span of the power plant.

The new 30-megawatt (net) steam turbine generator is being manufactured by Shin Nippon Machinery Co, Ltd. Shin Nippon is a member of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd., and specializes in steam turbines.  Shin Nippon maintains a distinguished record of steam turbine installations, with 6,500 units delivered in 82 countries, resulting in an overall reputation for excellence in the energy industry worldwide.

The new steam turbine generator incorporates advanced technology and is designed to be more energy efficient, which allows the plant to operate with lower emissions.  This steam turbine generator and our advanced emissions control equipment, are examples of Hu Honua’s commitment to operate as an environmentally responsible member of the local community.

HHB Employees Assist with Iselle Clean-Up Efforts

Hu Honua employees recently participated in clean-up efforts organized by local resident Bradda Skibs of Pakalove to remove hurricane debris from local beaches and parks the week of September 1st.  Employees participated in clearing debris from local beach parks including Honolii, Hilo Bay Front, Hakalau, and Kolekole.

“We’ve received tremendous support from the community on the HHB project and wanted to give back to the community during a time of need.  The   response to clean-up efforts were very positive, with many residents stopping by to personally thank our team and pledge continued support for the HHB project,” says HHB employee Roberta DeMotta.

HHB employees Kevin Owen, Roberta DeMotta, Danilo Alviento, Wes DeMotta and Lowen Moses helped with clean-up efforts over the course of the week.  HHB believes in partnering with the community to care for our Big Island home and looks forward to supporting local efforts as much as possible.

November 2013 Update

November 26, 2013

Schedule Update

Currently, about six months of work on the site remain. Hu Honua is awaiting final regulatory permits and approvals, and has had to extend the construction schedule and temporarily reduce construction activity and its site personnel until receipt of pending permits and approvals.  Subject to the receipt of final regulatory permits and approvals, HHB plans to be operational in the fourth quarter 2014.

The refurbishment of the turbine and turbine generator has been completed and once online, will export up to 21.5-megawatts of renewable energy capacity to the Hawaiian Electric Light Company grid.  To minimize the potential for emissions, Hu Honua is installing CO and NOX catalytic reduction technology to control greenhouse gasses, an electrostatic precipitator for dust collection and a baghouse for particulate matter collection.  A combination of any two of these systems is deployed typically to curb emissions.  Hu Honua is investing in all three systems because we are committed to protecting the environment and surrounding community.

Governor visits Hu Honua

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie toured the Hu Honua facility in September 2013, where he was updated on project progression in terms of construction and feedstock acquisition.  The Governor showed much interest in how the project provides a boost for the local economy with direct and indirect jobs, as well as contributing to Hawaii’s overall clean energy future.  While touring the facility, the Governor also met with Hu Honua principals and employees to discuss the project.

Click here to watch a video of the Governor’s visit to Hu Honua.

Community Giving

Hu Honua sponsored the YWCA Hawaii Island’s 5th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” which occurred on Saturday, October 26 at 8:30 a.m. in Hilo and Kona.  The event raises awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence in the community.  To learn more about “Walk a Mile,” click here.

In August, nine Hu Honua employees volunteered with Michael De Coito from the Pepeekeo community to patch up potholes on Sugar Mill Road.  They worked for about five hours and did a great job smoothing out the road!


Earlier this year, Hu Honua donated baseball bags to the Keaukaha Athletic Organization and helped the Hemolele Volleyball Club purchase uniforms for youth teams.

PUC Update

It’s been more than a year since Hu Honua’s initial filing for approval of the Power Purchase Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission in August 2012.  Hawaiian Electric Light is, at present, responding to information requests from the PUC.  Once the PUC reviews the information, Hu Honua hopes to receive a decision regarding the power purchase agreement with HELCO by year-end 2013.

Powering the Economy

As the Hu Honua facility starts generating lower cost energy for Hawaii Island, it will continue to stimulate green and subsequently related industries, consequently driving Hawaii’s local economy into forestry production.

Because Hu Honua will use local biomass to power its facility, Hawaii Island farmers will be utilized and will look to local labor to maintain and harvest feedstock.  Local trucking companies will be hired to transport the biomass to the Hu Honua facility, which will also be operated by local talent.

Update from Hu Honua

February 6, 2013


We are pleased to share a status update on the progress of Hu Honua Bioenergy as of February 2013:

“Hawaii: The State of Clean Energy” 2013 exhibit

Hu Honua Bioenergy attracted considerable attention as part of the 9th annual “Hawaii: The State of Clean Energy,” on January 10 at the Hawaii State Capitol.  The briefing featured updates and discussions on advancing clean energy facilities in the State.  An exhibition of Hawaii’s top 22 energy pacesetters and experts followed the briefing.

Hu Honua Bioenergy was the only biomass-to-power company exhibiting at the energy pacesetters event.  Representing Hu Honua was John Sylvia and Julia Whalen, along with consultant Charles Toguchi.  Parties were interested in learning of the Company’s progress in terms of PUC hearings and facility refurbishment.  Hu Honua’s contributions to the local economy with respect to job creation, utilization of service industries and the supporting of local agriculture, specifically forestry, were met with enthusiasm by event attendees.

Overwhelming Support for Hu Honua at PUC Hearing

In November 2012, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a hearing with respect to high-voltage transmission lines serving the proposed new switching station in Pepeekeo, which will interconnect the Hu Honua Bioenergy facility.   An overwhelming number of supporters from the community were in attendance; we are grateful to all those who testified before the PUC Commissioners and submitted letters.

Here’s some of what our supporters had to say:

“Hū Honua Bioenergy offers to provide our island’s consumers a long-term reliable source of firm renewable power at a fair and reasonable price.” – Robert Rapier, renewable energy expert, Chief Technology Officer of Merica Technologies

“The island’s forestry industry can finally get started on a firm foundation with this reliable local market [Hū Honua], creating opportunities for local companies to expand to other value-adding industries, such as sawmills.” – Nicholas Koch, General Manager of Forest Solutions

“Biomass should be part of a diversified, sustainable grid and at this time, Hū Honua is the only one stepping up to the plate.” – Don Bryan, Owner of Tradewinds Hawaiian Woods

“Provided the current cost of forest establishment, the biomass market is an essential piece of the forest industry that makes long rotations of our native species more economically viable.  The significance of economic viability is the potential of incentivizing other land owners to participate in the forest industry from both an economic and as well as a conservation perspective.” – Kama Daniel, Kamehameha Schools

“We support the Hū Honua Bioenergy project because it will provide a market for local businesses to transport biomass from the forest to the power plant.  As the island’s forest industry succeeds, businesses like ours will benefit through stable, long-term contracts for transportation and farm services.”  - Joanna DeRego, Double D Services and D & D Trucking

Big Island Video News created a video of highlights from the hearing.  One can access the video here.

Continuing Construction

Currently, Hu Honua Bioenergy is proceeding with refurbishment and construction at the facility, which has a targeted completion date by the end of the year.  Following PUC approval, the facility will be able to produce and sell electricity to HELCO.


October 2012 eNews

October 4, 2012

October 2012

Hū Honua Names General Manager

We welcome our new general manager, Kevin Owen, to the Hū Honua ‘ohana. Kevin has more than 21 years of experience with power plants and biomass fuels, with ten of them managing a power plant. He has worked for Abitibi Bowater, Hawaiian Cane & Sugar Company, Georgia Pacific and Temple Inland. He and his wife, and their two children have relocated to Hawai‘i Island from Tennessee. Kevin graduated from Tri-State University with a degree in chemical engineering. He is very excited about being able to see the Hū Honua facility come together from the ground up and to use his experience to ensure that the plant runs smoothly once operational.

HELCO Files with the Public Utilities Commission

The utility filed with the PUC for approval of the Power Purchase Agreement it reached with Hū Honua last May. The application cites that our project will be an economic benefit to HELCO’s customers—a projected savings of $40 million over a 25-year period. Hū Honua will contribute to stabilizing HELCO’s overall energy prices and help the State meet its goals laid in the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative.

Once we know the PUC hearing date, we will send an eNews to inform you of the details.

Site Blessing

The Hū Honua site grounds and facility were blessed on August 16 by Pastor Renee Godoy of Glad Tidings Church. An intimate group of Hū Honua workers and contractors gathered for a small, private ceremony.

Pastor Renee was very happy to bless the new venture—she said her husband used to work at the Pepe‘ekeo Sugar Mill and it was such a blow to the community when it shut down. To see all the activity happening at the facility years later, made her think that God recycles—where one thing died, something else started to grow. She referred to our project as one of hope. “It’s a resurrected home down here! I pray that the workers be kept safe and that the project is successful.”

Hū Honua Facility Retrofit Continues

Hū Honua now has 12 employees working in various capacities around the facility. There are also 20 Hawaiian Dredging employees at the facility. HHB, in collaboration with Hawaiian Dredging, is continuing with facility refurbishment and making tremendous progress.

We brought in a crane to do the heavy lifting—old components around the mill, including the old water walls.

The exhaust tower will be removed and replaced with a more efficient one. We’re replacing the steam valves with ones that can handle higher pressure and testing steam and water lines to make sure they’re up to par.

We are also excited about progress with the renovation of the Plantation buildings; we are restoring its original colonial features.

Community Giving

Hū Honua has donated to the YWCA’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes benefit on Saturday August 25. The one-mile walk through downtown Hilo featured men in high heels marching to protest rape, sexual assault and family violence.

Hū Honua also donated $5,000 to the Hospice of Hilo Capital Campaign. Campaign funds go toward the funding of Pōhai Mālama a Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Care Center. The 14,140 square foot center aims to provide short-term comfort and care to patients who cannot be cared for at home.

HELCO Advertisements

Over the last couple of months, HELCO has issued several print advertisements outlining how Hawai‘i Island is moving toward a 100% clean, local energy future.

In “Hawaii: The Renewable Energy Island,” HELCO states the benefits of an energy future without oil and, once operational, Hū Honua’s bioenergy facility will provide 12% of the island’s energy needs with pricing not tied to oil.

In “Making an impact: locally, nationally and globally,” HECO, MECO and HELCO summarize statewide efforts aimed at making Hawai‘i more energy independent.

Increased Traffic—Not Due to Hū Honua

Some of you have been wondering if the additional trucks on the road hauling trees have anything to do with Hū Honua’s operation. The answer is no; the trucks are not ours. We don’t expect to have trucks delivering biomass to our facility until sometime next year. We’ll send out an eNews with details of the truck delivery schedule when we are closer to our facility launch.

Biomass Materials

We are currently developing the specifications for accepting biomass from the community. Once the specifics are finalized, we will issue an eNews and post to our website the criteria we are looking for in order to accept feedstock. Mahalo!

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June 2012 eNews

June 22, 2012

June 2012

Agreement Reached with Utility

Activity at Hū Honua Bioenergy (HHB) is picking up. Hū Honua and Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) signed a Power Purchase Agreement on May 21 for 21.5 megawatts (MW) of renewable, dispatchable firm capacity fueled by locally grown biomass.

Over the 20-year term of the agreement, the Hū Honua facility at Pepe‘ekeo on the Hāmākua Coast would supply electricity at pricing not tied to the price of oil.

Once permits and approvals are in place the reconstruction will begin in earnest. HHB has been cleaning up the site and renovating auxiliary buildings for offices, reconstruction of the electric generation is anticipated to begin soon.

Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company (HDCC) and HHB are in final negotiations for the design and construction work.

Heavy Equipment Moves to Site

HDCC will be mobilizing construction equipment and re-positioning it to the site in preparation for construction activity later this summer following administrative processes.

Estimates are that Hū Honua will be able to supply about 10 percent of the island’s electricity needs. The plant is anticipated to be completed approximately 18 months after refurbishment begins.

“Hū Honua will displace about 250,000 barrels of oil per year, keeping that money in the local economy,” said John Sylvia, CEO of HHB.

The project will also support the local economy by creating 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.

Once the reconstruction is complete, “we look forward to providing dispatchable renewable energy to the grid, which complements the integration of intermittent sources such as wind and solar,” said Sylvia. “Our biomass-to-electricity process is cleaner than fossil fuel, is efficient and makes use of existing sustainable biomass on the island.”

Community Outreach

Kalaniana‘ole Elementary and Intermediate School Ho‘olaulea

HHB has donated to the Kalaniana‘ole Elementary and Intermediate School Ho‘olaulea fundraiser. The donation will be used towards learning enrichment activities.

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May 2012 eNews

May 9, 2012

May 2012

Hū Honua Site Improvements Update

A great deal of activity has been going on at the Hū Honua Bioenergy LLC (HHB) site.  HHB has been improving the area and preparing for reconstruction of the planned biomass-to-electricity facility.


In addition to clearing site grounds of overgrowth, outdated equipment and coal piles from when the facility burned coal have been removed. Water pipes will soon be excavated on the property site and on easements through nearby properties. Besides installing new pipes, HHB will trench and run conduits for power lines. The end result will be a more pleasant visual landscape as some poles and overhead wires will be eliminated.

Office Renovation

The old Pepe‘ekeo Sugar Mill office building, which now serves as the Hū Honua headquarters, has been renovated but retains its historic look.

The Timekeeper’s Shack next door has also undergone physical improvements, again keeping the original style, and will serve as a meeting room for HHB.


Contract Negotiations

Hū Honua is negotiating with Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company (HDCC) to renovate the facility. HDCC is Hawai‘i’s oldest and largest full-service construction company.  HHB is in negotiations with ESI Inc. of Tennessee for engineering and design services.

Contract talks are also underway with timber suppliers for the feedstock that will produce electricity. The biomass facility is expected to be operational 16-18 months from the beginning of signed contracts.

Refurbished Plant

Hū Honua is converting the former Pepe‘ekeo Sugar Mill into a clean, efficient biomass facility.

Hū Honua will displace about 250,000 barrels of oil per year, keeping that money in the local economy.

The following is an artist view of the refurbished plant at Pepe‘ekeo:

Community Relations

Introducing Hū Honua’s Community Outreach Coordinator…

Roberta Carriaga-De Motta manages Hū Honua’s office in Pepe‘ekeo and coordinates the company’s community outreach program.  Born and raised on the Big Island,  Roberta is in a unique position of working with the community: she understands the local culture and has deep-rooted relationships, making her a valuable asset to the company.

“Whether it be shopping for and delivering food and sundries to the local food pantry or helping to expand the agricultural program at the local school,” De Motta says she’s “truly excited to be part of the Hū Honua ‘ohana” and able to serve the community through her work.

Roberta and her husband Wesley De Motta, Hū Honua’s Grounds Manager, reside in Pepe‘eko with their two children.

Being part of this coastline community stretches back generations for both Roberta and Wes; both of their parents worked in Pepe‘ekeo’s sugar industry.  “To bear witness of the construction and refurbishment of the plant [sugar mill], and then to be here when it all starts up will be amazing.  My family will continue to be part of this community’s story as the sugar mill is converted to a renewable energy facility that benefits the island.”

Something is a little fishy

Tim Formaz, Project Manager at Hū Honua, donated 110 tilapia to Kalaniana‘ole Elementary & Intermediate School to assist with the school’s agriculture program.  Hū Honua supplemented the donation with care infrastructure including a 650-gallon fish tank, circulation pump and fish food.

Teachers have started crafting ways to integrate first-hand hydroponics learning experiences into their lesson plans.

Waiakea High School Boy's Soccer

Waiākea High School Boy’s Soccer Team Makes it to the State Championship Tournament

Hū Honua made a donation to the Waiākea High School Boy’s Soccer team to compete in the State Championship Tournament on O‘ahu.

The trip included senior night, where graduating team members were recognized and celebrated.

Food Basket Donation

The Hāmākua Coast Assembly of God in Pepe‘ekeo, the only food distribution organization in the area, recently encountered a lack of funding and supplies, forcing their campaign to operate on a per case basis.

In early March, Hū Honua donated much needed supplies to the Assembly, including basic home products, canned goods and nonperishable food items, helping to ease the demand for essentials by the area’s struggling families.

Family Focus

For the second year, Hū Honua partnered with Kalaniana‘ole Elementary & Intermediate School for the annual Hilo-Waiākea-Laupāhoehoe DOE Family Focus Team event at Prince Kuhio Plaza in February.  Hū Honua team members Tim Formaz, Wesley De Motta and Roberta De Motta attended the event to assist with showcasing the school’s many achievements.

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November ENews

November 18, 2011

Hu Honua undertakes site prep

Since we received our air permit in September from the Hawaii Department of Health- Clean Air Branch (DOH), Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC (HHB) has moved forward with Pepeekeo site preparation.

“We are pleased that the DOH has granted us the air permit,” said John Sylvia, CEO of HHB. “The Hawaii air permit process is quite rigorous and it is important for all stakeholders that it was done correctly. We look forward to contributing to Hawaii’s energy sustainability while providing economic benefits for the community.”

During operation of the 24 MW power plant we plan to use locally collected and grown biomass material and non-mulchable wood chips that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Air permit process

Hu Honua first applied for an air permit two years ago. Following extensive air emissions modeling and engineering analysis conducted by outside experts retained by HHB, which responded to DOH questions and information requests; a year later the DOH issued a draft permit and opened a public comment period. DOH held a public hearing in September 2010.

Based on the feedback from the public hearing and the public comments, Hu Honua revised and resubmitted its application in December 2010.

After further public comments, DOH and Hu Honua made additional modifications to the draft air permit which was reviewed by both DOH and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Hu Honua pre-construction activities

Site grounds have been cleared of over-growth. HHB has decommissioned old equipment from the site including the coal handling equipment from the days when the facility burned coal. Other materials we’ve removed are the fuel feeding system, barrels of oil and solvents, and combustion air system. We have also begun designing our layout, engineering and our work plan.

We have contracted licensed professionals for the removal and disposal of hazardous materials. Recycling for metal was used when possible.

New site manager hired

HHB has retained Tim Formaz as Owner’s Engineer and Site Manager. Formaz has considerable experience in the energy industry and has recently served at President Turbine Power Inc. and HRSG International as a mechanical engineer. Formaz, a mechanical engineer, brings more than 30 years of energy experience. Formaz has worked on international and domestic utility projects including a 24 megawatt biomass facility on Kauai.

Archeology report shows industrial relevance

Pacific Consulting Services of Honolulu was commissioned to conduct an archeology report of the plant site. The report reviews past site conditions and historical uses of the area.

Hawaii’s early economy relied heavily on the sugar industry after the demise of whaling and sandalwood trade. The area was heavily utilized for its ability to grow sugar and create electricity. For well over a hundred years, the area was in industrial use, including operating the facility as a coal powered plant.

Community Outreach

Hu Honua Sponsors Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island Golf Tournament:

Hu Honua was a Gold sponsor at the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s 5th annual Golf Tournament at the Volcano Golf Course.

Proceeds from the event went to benefit the club, and subsidize fees and operation costs for members.

Mahalo to the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island for inviting us to support your tournament; congratulations to committee co-chairs Russell Chin and Warren Lee, and steering committee members Newton Chu, Barbara Hastings, Chad Hasegawa, Russell Hayashi, Jay Ignacio, Rhea Lee, Kiyoko Ota, Gerald Takase, Bill Walter, Harry Yada, Wayne and Agnes Yamauchi for putting on this event.

Rural South Hilo Rascals:

The Rural South Hilo Rascals did well this past season, both T-Ball and Coach Pitch teams won over 30% of their games. The team focused on motivation and sportsmanship.

Congratulations to the team manager Marvin Ugalde, T-Ball coaches: Moke Ugalde, Chad Lerma and Coach Pitch Coaches: Craig Miyashiro, TJ Publico, Kevin Matsunami and Sean Cambe for all of your hard work and dedication. Your value instilling commitment to the game, and compassion for working with children will stick with our Rascals forever.

HHB is happy to support the team and coaches for their sportsmanship. Go team!

Hakalau Beach Clean Up:

HHB team members participated in a Hakalau Beach clean up. The team worked with the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation, and Hawaii Electric Light Company to cut out left over metal from the Hakalau Mill. The park is now one step closer to being a safer place for keiki to enjoy.

Did You Know?

Hawaii Island residents are paying more than 40 cents per kilowatt hour and the average is generally running over 35 cents. Privately funded Hu Honua is one of the ways to help bring the costs of electricity down.

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Hu Honua May eNews

May 9, 2011

Circuit Court removes Hu Honua from lawsuit

Hawaii Third Circuit Court Judge Greg K. Nakamura has removed Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by area residents against Continental Pacific, LLC and Hank Correa Realty.

The judge ruled that Hu Honua had produced sufficient  evidence to show that no other defendant had legal claim to bring an injunction against Hu Honua to block using the Pepeekeo site as a power plant.

For more information, click here…

SMA permit amendment approved

The County Windward Planning Commission voted 4-0 on May 4 to approve Hu Honua’s amendment request. The Commission set a list of provisions which Hu Honua president Rick McQuain says can be fully and completely met by the company.

The Commission’s decision comes after more than a year of hearings and submissions including substantial testimony in support from the community, laborers, businesses and elected officials.

Among the provisions are that the refurbishment of the plant from the existing coal operation to a biomass facility be completed within five years; compliance with all federal, state and county regulations on air, water quality and discharge, and noise; sound levels at the plant boundary at to be kept within residential levels of 55 decibels; biomass truck traffic to and from the plant should be restricted to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and no “jake brakes” be used on Sugar Mill Road.

There are also provisions for construction dust, runoff, drainage, solid waste management and proper handling of archeological or historical artifacts if found.

Archeology survey being reviewed by SHPD

The State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources is reviewing the archeology inventory and study that was conducted for Hu Honua by Pacific Consulting Services, Inc. of Honolulu. We are awaiting SHPD’s comments.

In the report the consultants found:

“The historical research conducted for this AIS has revealed an approximate 150-year history of the Pepeekeo Sugar Mill complex that included periodic expansions of the mill and almost continuous upgrades since the late-1800s …”

We’re part of our community

Recently, Hu Honua has donated to various organizations. The company is sponsoring the Rascals Rural South Hilo little league baseball team through a donation of $1,000. The team plans to use the funds to purchase baseball equipment, team uniforms, and to subsidize entrance fees.

“This makes it possible to continue our sports activities despite the economic distress we are having. Community activities in our rural areas will help our children gain positive attitudes; achieve their goals in life along with respect. We need to remember that our children are our future,” said Marvin Ugalde, president of the Rascals Rural South Hilo.

Hu Honua has given financial sponsorship of $2,000 to the American Young Soccer Organization (AYSO). It is also a corporate sponsor for Kalanianaole Elementary and Middle school, and plans to be present at the year-end Ho’olau’le’a.

Hu Honua Bioenergy is also proud new member of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, and has applied for membership in the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce.

We’re also supporting the Business-Education Partnership program, through hole sponsorship in its annual golf tournament.

Company team members have taken a personal commitment to helping our community. For several years, we’ve participated in “Walk a mile in her shoes” a charity event that is an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence against women. This photo at left is from a previous year, Charlie Toguchi, our government liaison, Wes DeMotta, site supervisor, and Rick McQuain, president.

Sherrie Thomas of Hu Honua’s Honolulu office has also donated to and participated in the Hawaii Island United Way’s 9th annual luck of the Irish golf tournament.


Did you know?

Hu Honua Bioenergy will produce baseload power for Hawaii Electric Light Company. That means that it’s steady and reliable, which allows HELCO to add more intermittent alternatives, such as wind, to the grid.


March Newsletter from Hu Honua

March 11, 2011

Legislators Tour Hu Honua

Big Island Senator Malama Solomon hosted a tour of Hawaii Island sites for fellow legislators that included Hu Honua’s Pepeekeo facility on Feb. 27.

HuHonua’s Rick McQuain told the group refurbishing and retrofitting will bring it into modern environmentally-sound operation that supports a local energy future, the local economy and forestry industry.

From left to right, DLNR’s Guy Kaulakakui, Sen. Clarence Nishihara, Rick McQuain, Sen. Solomon, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, Sen. Gilbert Kahele, Susan Kodani of U.S. Rep. Hirono’s office, and Hu Honua supervisor Wesley DeMotta.


Permits & Environmental Regs for Hu Honua

Hu Honua Bioenergy is able to meet or exceed the stringent public health air emission requirements set in the draft air permit released by the Hawaii Department of Health in late February 2011. And, Hu Honua meets newly released U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum achievable control technology standards as well.

Hu Honua is refurbishing a power facility into a renewable biomass energy plant in an existing industrial complex at Peepekeo on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island.

More on the DOH draft air permit

Survey of Island Residents: Strong Support

A survey of Hawaii Island residents was conducted in December 2010 to get a sense of the level of acceptance for the planned 23.8-megawatt biomass facility. Island residents clearly see the need for locally grown, renewable fuel to generate electricity and for stabilized electricity rates.

The survey, conducted in December by Qmark Research of Honolulu, found that 70 percent of those asked indicated they favor the Hu Honua facility.

More on the survey

Special Management Area Permit Status

Also in the last week of February, the hearing officer, Robert Crudele, closed the contested hearing on the SMA permit. The Windward County Planning Commission has placed the matter on its agenda for April 7. Hu Honua is seeking to change the existing permit based on coal to one based on biomass.

The County Planning Department recommended approval of the SMA permit last year.

Community Support

Coming in 2011
Sponsor: Kalanianiole Elementary & Middle School community program
Sponsor: Kalanianiole Elem. & Middle School hoolaulea

Previous Gifts
Kalalau Ranch & Victory Garden fence posts donation
HIUW Mayor’s Cup
Senior Center appliances donation

Other contributions: YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes; Hakalau Beach Park renovation; Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council; Hawaii Island United Way