- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii Electric Light Co. may terminate an agreement with a bioenergy plant over delays.

Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC failed to meet deadlines in an agreement to provide 10 percent of Hawaii Island’s energy from renewable sources, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1ReqCHy).

Hawaii Electric filed an update with the state Public Utilities Commission announcing its plan to end the agreement next month. President Jay Ignacio said in a statement Thursday that the utility is giving the company until March 1 to address concerns.

“We have been working hard to increase and diversify the renewable energy mix on Hawaii Island,” he said. “We supported the Hu Honua project, which would have added 21.5 (megawatts) of base-load renewable energy to our grid. Multiple project delays, failure to meet critical construction milestones including passing a boiler hydro test, and failure to meet contract guarantees caused us great concern about the likelihood this project could be completed.”

Hu Honua CEO John Sylvia said Thursday that Hawaii Electric failed to update deadlines after a labor dispute caused an unforeseen construction delay. Sylvia said $100 million has been invested in the project so far.

Construction is about halfway done.

Sylvia said he was surprised Hawaii Electric was concerned about funding. The company plans to file a response by Feb. 23.

“I’m aware of the information they’re looking at, and I believe they’re just not understanding the information. Nobody would spend $100 million, then spend another $100 million, just to lose that money,” he said. “I think they are confused and just not understanding the situation.”

Commission chairman Randall Iwase said in a statement that he was concerned about failed Hawaii Electric renewable energy efforts and slow approval for rooftop solar.

The commission plans to investigate the conduct of companies involved.

“The commission currently has open proceedings to review each of these matters and will thoroughly investigate the conduct of the HECO companies,” Iwase wrote. “However, as chair, I must share my concern that, collectively, these events send the wrong message to third party developers that desire to compete for clean energy business opportunities in Hawaii, and appear to represent a step (backward) from the state’s clean energy goals.”

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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