Monday | August 29, 2016
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3 finalists tabbed for proposed county waste-reduction facility

A waste-to-energy incinerator will be the solution to Hawaii County’s garbage problems, judging by a list of finalists released Tuesday for the project.

All three companies making the short list specialize in mass-burn incineration, with garbage combusted to produce power to sell to electric companies.

The companies are Covanta Energy Corp., the operator of Honolulu’s HPower incinerator; Green Conversion Systems Inc., which recently built an incinerator for the city of Los Angeles; and Waste Management Inc.’s Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., which won a $125 million bid to build an incinerator in 2008 before the project was killed by Hawaii County Council.

Walter Schroeder, president of Green Conversion Systems, said he thinks his company has an advantage because it incorporates state-of-the-art pollution reduction technology that meets even the European Union’s more stringent requirements.

“We’re very pleased to be moving on to the next step,” Schroeder said. “I’m confident that the reason we made it to the next step in the process is our low emissions and low environmental footprint.”

Schroeder agreed the county’s 300-ton-per-day garbage agreement is at “the small end of the range” for incinerators, but added, “It’s always easier to scale down than to scale up” a planned facility.

Officials with Covanta and Wheelabrator did not return messages left on voicemail by press time Tuesday.

The facility is planned for land adjoining the Hilo landfill. That landfill has an estimated two years remaining before it fills up, according to the county. Ash would likely be trucked to the West Hawaii landfill at Puuanahulu, as it is the county’s only lined landfill.

An evaluation committee that included environmental management, financing and legal specialists winnowed a list of eight potential vendors to the three. It’s not known what other solutions were offered, but a group attending a prebid conference in March included recycling, composting and gasification companies in addition to incineration.

The county next drafts a second RFP, limited to the three finalists. This one, expected to be issued July 15, will be much more detailed. An award will be announced in January, according to the county’s timeline.

Details of the companies’ proposals and panelists’ rating sheets are confidential until after a contract is finalized. It’s possible, though not likely, the three companies are offering some other solution to the county’s waste reduction request for proposals.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he’s not been involved in the procurement process, as he’s keeping a hands-off policy while the process works its way toward a contract not likely to be signed until April.

He reiterated, however, he is trying to keep the process as transparent as possible.

“We’re very well aware, when there’s so much at stake … we anticipate that unsuccessful bidders or vendors will challenge it,” Kenoi said. “The only way we can withstand these challenges is having the procurement adhere strictly to procurement procedures. … We want to make sure that when we do make an award, it’s an award that will stand.”

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