Special Management Area Permit Amendment Advances

County Hearing Officer Recommends Hu Honua Permit Approval

HILO, HI—March 22, 2011—The Hawaii County-appointed hearings officer in the Hu Honua Bioenergy contested case recommended that the County Windward Planning Commission approve the proposed amendment to the facility’s Special Management Area.

The hearing officer, Robert Crudele, said the approval should be based on a set of provisions. Hu Honua management said those requirements will be fully met.

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.

In all there are 16 provisions.  A copy of the full 31-page report is available on the Hu Honua Bioenergy website at www.huhonua.com.

The Windward Planning Commission will consider the hearing officer’s recommendations and the permit amendment on April 7th at its regular meeting.

“We are grateful that the hearing officer’s recommendations parallel those the County Planning Department had outlined.  We have already agreed we can mitigate any concerns listed and meet all requirements,” said Rick McQuain, president of Hu Honua.

A recently released traffic study by SSFM International, Inc. determined that traffic will not be adversely effected by the Hu Honua project, and the County police department had reported it doesn’t anticipate traffic or other public safety concerns. This report is also available at www.huhonua.com .

Hu Honua is committed to its share of maintenance of Sugar Mill Road and has set funds aside in an escrow account while it resolves whom the proper entity is to receive the funds and how much its share is.

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 goal is for the plant to be operational by late 2012.  It will produce 24 megawatts of power, about 10 percent of the island’s electrical needs and about enough for 14,000 homes.

It expects to employ about 100 construction workers for up to a year for plant refurbishment and then about 30 fulltime workers at the facility.

Download the hearing officer’s full report here: Crudele SMA Recommendations

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