Anaergia focusing on biogas while waiting on PUC

July 12, 2016

By LEE IMADA - Managing Editor (leeimada@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

Anaergia Services is seeking local buyers for its biogas and engaging in talks with the state's only franchised gas utility, Hawaii Gas Co., as it awaits a ruling from the state Public Utilities Commission on its efforts to get Maui Electric Co. to consider purchasing its product, a company official said.

Anaergia also has received two letters of support from state lawmakers in the last couple of weeks in its case against MECO and its parent company, Hawaiian Electric Cos.

The California-based company that runs more than 1,600 renewable energy projects worldwide claims the utilities violated state law when they refused to forward to the commission requests for preferential rates for Anaergia's renewable energy products.

In 2014, Anaergia signed a 20-year contract with Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration to build a state-of-the-art waste conversion facility at the Central Maui Landfill, and it has proposed building a $50 million Maui Energy Park in West Maui to grow sorghum, a biocrop that would be processed into renewable fuel at the Central Maui facility.

Both projects have stalled without a signed power purchase agreement with MECO. The utility maintains the fuel would be too costly and increase power rates for consumers.

Anaergia filed its complaint with the PUC in September and still is awaiting a decision. Anaergia Americas President Arun Sharma said in late June that the PUC could be focusing on its landmark decision on whether to allow NextEra to take over HECO, which is expected shortly. In addition, Gov. David Ige replaced commissioner Mike Champley with Tom Gorak at the end of June in a controversial appointment being questioned by some state lawmakers.

Anaergia's case appears to hinge on the definition of "renewable energy." Under state law, the policy is to promote the long-term viability of agriculture by allowing for preferential rates for the purchase of renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities.

Hearings officer Mark Kaetsu in April in his recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law to the PUC in the case said that Anaergia does not qualify for preferential rates because it is selling to the utility renewable fuels as opposed to electricity produced from renewable energy.

In late June, state Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy, and state Rep. Chris Lee challenged Kaetsu's definition of "renewable energy" in filings with the PUC.

"I disagree with the Decision and Order's narrow interpretation of 'renewable energy,' which unnecessarily draws a distinction between renewable electrical energy and fuel that serve as sources of renewable energy," Inouye said in her letter filed with the commission June 28.

She said the interpretation excludes biogas and other sources of renewable energy and "is contrary to what I understand to be the general intent and direction of legislation and legislative priorities in the areas of renewable energy and agriculture."

As Anaergia awaits a decision, Sharma said his company also is exploring selling its biogas to "local entities" and has been talking to companies, including Hawaii Gas. It makes "logical" sense, he said.

Several attempts to obtain comment from Hawaii Gas representatives have been unsuccessful.

"Renewable gas produced on Maui could be used on Maui," Sharma said.

Even if the PUC rules against Anaergia, Sharma said he believes his company can sell all of its biogas on Maui. In addition, Kaetsu's findings leave open the possibility of Anaergia building a power plant to produce energy from its biogas and liquified natural gas from refuse at the landfill.

"That option is also open," he said.

Under the terms of Arakawa's contract with Anaergia calling for the company to build, own, finance and operate a waste-to-energy plant at the Central Maui Landfill, the county would pay a tipping fee for trash processed.

Organic waste would be turned into liquified natural gas and inorganic waste would become refuse-derived fuel logs. The sorghum grown in West Maui also would be processed at the plant.

Initial projections were for the plant to be operating in 2017 but a more "viable time frame" is 2019, Sharma said. "If we were going to sell gas, it could even be sooner, 2018," he added.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

© Copyright 2016 The Maui News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© Copyright 2016 The Maui News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. zero waste footer
ZERO WASTE MAUI RESOURCES


Our site is "content rich" -- a function of the
community interest and importance of this topic.
Below are links to all pages and topics in our site.



STAY IN TOUCH BY EMAIL

If you would like email notifications of Zero Waste Maui Campaign programs,
initiatives, action alerts and more
CLICK HERE:




ZEROING OUT WASTED WASTE:
EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY

How crazy is it that the US landfills $11.4 billion in recyclable packaging materials every year? Plenty crazy. From cardboard shoe boxes to plastic detergent bottles, from Styrofoam fast food containers to cardboard egg cartons, from metals to those ubiquitous PET water bottles, our landfills are filling up with recoverable, recyclable packaging materials while driving up the cost of virtually everything we buy.

This sad story is that it is happening everywhere - in homes, offices, public buildings, backyards and supermarkets. Major US institurions, incuding the Defense Department contribute more than their fair share as do the smallest entrepreneurial elements of the US business community. It is happening literally in front of our eyes, every day. It's getting worse, not better, despite decades of attention. Sadly, it seems that throwing packaging "away" is still a huge part of American culture. MORE



For the past two years much has been written and broadcast on the
administration's waste-to-energy plans.

EXPLORE ZERO WASTE CAMPAIGN MAUI PRESS ARCHIVES HERE

RESOURCES

Learn More About The Hawaii Zero Waste Movement

Learn More About The Global Zero Waste Movement

Zero Waste International Alliance

Zero Waste USA

Zero Waste Business Council

New Zealand Zero Waste Trust

ZERO WASTE CAMPAIGN MAUI SALUTES THESE MAUI RECYCLING PIONEERS
Aloha Recycling
Maui Eko Compost
Maui Recycing Service
Pacific Biodiesel

STILL CONFUSED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING?
CHECK OUT THIS NASA VIDEO.
SIX DECADES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
IN 15 SECONDS.


THEN CHECK OUT
"Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change"
from the New York Times.
RETURN TO HOME PAGE

Zero Waste Campaign Maui is sponsored by the merchants of Best Of Maui,
and the sponsors of ourenvironment.info your source for environmental news you can use.

Created &© 2016  by Jeff Stark -- Zero Waste Campaign Maui

Questions? Comments? EMAIL US

Maui News articles reprinted by permission of the Maui News