HECO Turns to Ethanol to Power New Plant

Campbell Industrial Park
Campbell Industrial Park

(KHNL)  To cut back on its consumption of fossil fuels, Hawaiian Electric Company said it will use ethanol in a new power plant it's building at Campbell Industrial Park.

Instead of building more diesel-burning power plants, HECO said it's looking toward a greener future.

"Our goal is to replace imported fossil fuels with local agricultural energy as far as possible," said Mike May, HECO president and CEO.

HECO said the plant would use ethanol produced locally from crops grown in Hawaii like sugar and sorghum.

"It would grow a sustainable economy and most importantly keep our money home," May said.

Hawaii drivers will become familiar with ethanol next month when state law will require at least 85% of gasoline sold in the islands contain 10% ethanol.

"The market is here, it is starting next month and these plants will be going up in the next 12 to 14 months," said Daniel KenKnight of Oahu Ethanol.

"We will see lands go into sorghum and sugar," KenKnight said.

If the project is successful, HECO said it will look into using a combination of ethanol and diesel at some of its existing plants on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

"As the state converts to ethanol for gasoline, we want to get the ball rolling for electricity as well," May said.

HECO said it wants to have it's new ethanol burning plant up and running by 2009.