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Commission revises archaeological conditions for Hu Honua

<p style="text-align:right;">The Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC power plant in Pepeekeo is seen on Sept. 12.</p><p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>The Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC power plant in Pepeekeo is seen on Sept. 12.</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

The Hu Honua Bioenergy project was back before the Windward Planning Commission briefly Thursday.

Third Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura, who is handling the appeal of a contested case hearing regarding the 21.5-megawatt biomass power plant under construction near Pepeekeo, had remanded the case back to the commission to clarify permit conditions regarding archaeological issues.

The commission voted 5-0 to adopt supplemental conditions submitted by Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC requiring the company to follow a final archaeological inventory survey completed in May rather than a three-year-old preliminary document.

The appeal will be sent back to court for oral arguments Oct. 31.

Gary Grimmer, the project’s attorney, said the change will not affect construction, most recently anticipated for completion in December.

“The survey found very little of historical value,” he said.

The meeting nonetheless offered the attorney for the appellants, mostly neighbors concerned about pollution and other impacts, from criticizing the Planning Department’s review process and the project, which he said would “poison neighbors.”

“The entire project should be re-examined,” said Steve Strauss, adding that the commission should look at revoking its permit.

In addition to opposition from neighbors, the $70 million project has faced other problems, including a labor dispute and a civil suit filed in Delaware.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also raised concerns about whether the project falls under the 250-ton cap for minor sources of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.

The labor dispute involved jurisdictional issues between labor unions working on the project.

The suit filed in September alleges that the owners attempted to defraud the former majority owner by attempting to backout of an agreement to pay $5.5 million following state approval of a power purchase agreement with Hawaii Electric Light Co.

HELCO approved the 20-year power purchase agreement in May 2012.

The 21.5 mgw, produced by burning chipped eucalyptus trees or other biomass, would be enough to provide 10 percent of the Big Isle’s energy or 14,000 homes.

The plant is expected to process 260,000 tons of biomass and displace 250,000 barrels of oil each year.

Email Tom Callis at


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