BLNR to consider plan using old pipeline to move biofuels at Hilo Harbor


The state Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider a proposal Friday to use an old pipeline to transport biofuel from ships docked at Hilo Harbor.

The 10-inch pipe was initially constructed in the 1960s to transport asphalt products to the former Shell Oil location near the harbor entrance.

A new company, Hoku Kai Biofuels LLC, has acquired the old asphalt plant property and wants to use the pipe to transport vegetable-based biofuels from cargo ships to storage tanks on its land, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

BLNR will consider whether to grant in concept a 65-year easement for the pipeline. Final approval is contingent on a finding of no significant impact from an environmental assessment.

In a memo to the board, DLNR staff said the biofuels would be “distributed to various power producers as an alternative to fossil fuels.”

Chuck Barker, of Hilo-based Hoku Kai Biofuels, said in an email that the company has had some initial conversations with Hawaii Electric Light Co. about buying the fuel. He said there are other customers the company is seeking.

“Our objectives are straightforward: achieve statistically significant progress toward the objectives of the HCEI (Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative) and reducing Hawaii’s grossly disproportionate dependence on fossil fuels, substantively improve the air emissions profiles from electrical power plants, truck &bus and marine fuels exhausts, and do so in a context of less expensive and less volatile pricing to homes and businesses,” Barker wrote.

Barker said biofuel would be sourced “worldwide,” and the company is also looking at setting up storage tanks at Barbers Point on Oahu.

The company wouldn’t be the only one in the biofuel business on the Big Island.

Pacific Biofuel has a refinery with a capacity of 5 million gallons a year in Keaau. Its chairman said last year it was running at about 50 percent capacity.

The state Public Utilities Commission last December rejected a proposed contract between HELCO and Aina Koa Pono for a biodiesel power-producing facility near Pahala for the second time.

The Hu Honua bioenergy facility being constructed in Pepeekeo has also ran into snags, with the Environmental Protection Agency ordering the state Department of Health to modify its air pollution permit. Several liens have also been filed against the project.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.