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Subcontractor: Hu Honua owes $215K

December 19, 2013 - 9:37pm

The same day the CEO of the Hu Honua Bioenergy plant in Pepeekeo said developers were forced to “hit the pause button” on construction because of the slow pace of regulatory permit approvals, a subcontractor said it’s owed more than $215,000 for bills allegedly unpaid between January and October.

Honolulu attorney Patricia Kehau Wall filed Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court for a mechanic’s and materialman’s lien on behalf of Wesco Distribution Inc. In addition to Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC, defendants in the legal action include ESI Inc. of Tennessee, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Inc., Maukaloa Farms LLC, Colonial Bank N.A., and numerous “Doe defendants.”

A hearing on the application is scheduled for Jan. 22 before Judge Glenn Hara.

According to the filing, Hu Honua contracted with Hawaiian Dredging and Construction “to provide construction and/or repair of improvements” at the Hu Honua facility, and Hawaiian Dredging contracted with ESI “for services, products and/or equipment for the Hu Honua Biomass Facility.”

The document states that between January and October, Wesco provided those materials, products and services for construction of the biomass-to-energy plant, but that ESI has been delinquent in payment to Wesco.

A statement of account dated Nov. 1 and attached to the lien application states that ESI owed Wesco $195,680.06 in principal and $19,314.68 in interest for a total of $215.174.74. According to the bill, more than $202,000 of that total is more than 90 days past due.

Maukaloa Farms is the owner of the site leased by Hu Honua and Colonial Bank has a mortgage on the property, according to the filing.

The legal action is the latest in a series of speed bumps for Hu Honua, which signed an agreement in May 2012 with Hawaii Electric Light Co. to supply 21.5 megawatts of electricity to the utility for 10 years.

The state’s Public Utilities Commission has yet to approve the power-purchase agreement, which is required before Hu Honua can begin operations. Hu Honua’s CEO, John Sylvia, told Stephens Media Hawaii on Wednesday he “had hoped to … be through that process within a year, which would have been May 2013.”

In addition, a labor jurisdiction dispute this summer impacted construction workers and temporarily halted work at the site. That dispute has since been resolved.

Wall said Thursday afternoon she “can’t comment on the lien without first speaking to my client.”

A spokeswoman for Hu Honua said in a Thursday email the company “does not comment on litigation.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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