KAPOLEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Something different is burning at HECO's generating station in Campbell Industrial Park.
"Essentially, we're using a liquid fuel," HECO executive vice president Robbie Alm said.
But it isn't petroleum. It's biodiesel - a mixture of used cooking oil and waste animal fat.
The power from the plant will help HECO meet Oahu's energy demand during peak hours by generating up to 110 megawatts of electricity.
"It comes right at the end of the day. Everybody goes home, switches everything on. Waikiki lights up to entertain. So at that point we have a spike in our use," Alm said.
The plant will take care of that spike instantaneously.
And during blackouts the unit will act as a jumper cable to restart the utility's other power plants in half the time.
"This is the fastest starting unit on the island." Alm said. "This unit will shorten the time to recover our system probably by a couple of hours at least."
It took HECO two years to build the $1.9 million facility that may be the first of its kind in the nation.
The company worked with communities and installed extra monitoring stations along the leeward coast.
"What we wanted to make sure of was that whatever the emissions were coming out of this power plant didn't add to the rest of the emissions that we're already experiencing from the other facilities that are in the area," Nanakuli-Maili neighborhood board member Cynthia Rezentes said.
Hawaiian Electric wants to produce 40 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030.
"The machinery looks at it the same way. It's just a fuel and it's coming through and it makes me operate," Alm said.
HECO said savings will be realized over time as rising oil prices outpace the cost of going green.