HPOWER trash shortage could cost city millions

H-POWER trash shortfall could cost city millions
Published: Aug. 26, 2014 at 2:50 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2014 at 9:03 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a major expansion, the city now says it's not collecting enough trash for its HPOWER Plant. And that shortfall could cost the city millions of dollars.

The city is required to collect 800,000 tons of trash a year for the Campbell Industrial Park power plant, which burns garbage to produce electricity. But right now it's only getting 678,000 tons a year.

The city has to pay operator Covanta Honolulu for the difference but so far, the company has not yet told the city what that amount will be.

"I think it's (costing) millions," said City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

"It's just a waste of money, whichever way. We have to be more efficient."

On Wednesday, the council's Budget Committee will hear Bill 47, which seeks to increase the amount of trash that can be burned in the HPOWER plant. The bill will allow HPOWER to use construction waste and other nontoxic waste that's being stored at the PVT landfill in Nanakuli.

The bill, introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin, comes two years after the city expanded the HPOWER plant by adding a third boiler.

The expansion, however, also coincided with a sluggish economy and an increase in recycling among local consumers, which resulted in a overall decline in Oahu's trash volume.

The garbage burned at the HPOWER plant produces electricity that the city then sells to Hawaiian Electric Co. Last year, the city generated about $60 million in sales to HECO.

That, said Kobayashi, creates another problem for the city.

"As we're not burning trash, we're not generating electricity to the electric company. So it's not a good situation," she said.

Meanwhile, the city said it opposes the bill because it would have to waive a $90 per ton tipping fee that it would charge PVT. That fee could generate millions of dollars a year in city revenue.

The city also has raised concerns that the bill favors PVT over other landfills, which the city also hopes to tap for the shortfall.

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