H-POWER expansion brings in cash for city

Published: Jun. 27, 2012 at 12:52 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 27, 2012 at 8:09 AM HST
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Robert Webster
Robert Webster
Peter Carlisle
Peter Carlisle

CAMPBELL INDUSTRIAL PARK (HawaiiNewsNow) - The new expansion at the H-POWER plant will help turn even more smelly trash into cash for the city. A third boiler will burn an additional 300,000 tons of trash annually at Campbell Industrial Park, leaving only about 15% of Oahu's waste to end up in the dump.

Once you leave your trash by the curb, you probably don't think about where the garbage goes. Most of the island's solid waste ends up at H-POWER.

"With the expansion, we'll be handling up to 85% of the island's waste and we'll be making about 10% of the island's power," said Robert Webster, facility manager for Covanta H-POWER.

"It's reducing dependence on fossil fuels. It's creating energy from garbage. We're in the process of eliminating garbage from landfills," said Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle.

Hawaiian Electric buys the power that is generated. Carlisle said the plant brings in more than $50 million for the city each year.

"One of the people who works here described it as a cash cow. This is a cash cow herd for the City and County of Honolulu because of the amount of money that we make and the benefits it does in terms of the environment," Carlisle said.

What sets the third boiler apart from the other two is that it can handle bulky items like mattresses and furniture.

"It gives the city very much flexibility on handling any and all size waste, any and all types of waste. Of course, we do not handle any hazardous waste," said Webster.

The price tag for the expansion plan is $302 million. The mayor is even considering the possibility of a fourth boiler in the future.

"I don't think it's going to delay any landfill decision, but what I do want to do is look at this technology and see whether or not it's something, when we're going to be able to afford it and how soon," Carlisle said.

H-POWER recently won an industry award for "waste-to-energy facility of the year."

"We own as taxpayers that entire facility right now that has gotten this award which ranks it among the very best waste-to-energy conversion plants in the entire world," said Carlisle.

The new boiler will be officially ready to operate in a couple of months, reducing the trash piling up at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.

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