ZERO WASTE MAUI -- Anaergia charges HECO and MECO with "unlawful and wrongful behavior">

Anaergia charges HECO and MECO with "unlawful and wrongful behavior"
Ililani Media

By Henry Curtis

The County of Maui’s Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility injects wastewater into four injection wells. The contaminated water is polluting the ocean. The County argued in court that since there was no pipe bringing the water from the injection wells to the ocean, there was no violation of the federal violated the Clean Water Act.

The County was sued by four citizen groups: Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Foundation, West Maui Preservation Association, and Sierra Club-Maui Group.

U.S. District Court Judge Mollway agreed. The County has filed an appeal.

The County has worked out a deal with Anaergia, “a global leader in offering sustainable solutions for the generation of renewable energy and the conversion of waste to resources.”

Anaergia will “finance, construct, own and operate a resource recovery facility to process solid waste, recover recyclables, and generate renewable energy in the form of biogas.”

Anaergia and Maui Electric failed to reach agreement and a deal fell though. Among the issues is that MECO is looking for electricity in the 11-12 cents per kilowatt-hour range while Anaergia is looking to sell electricity in the 24-26 cents per kilowatt-hour range with a yearly price escalator of 1.5 percent.

Anaergia proposed at first that the biogas would come from growing bioenergy crops with wastewater. Later they suggested supplementing it with biogas produced from a proposed Anaergia Integrated Conversion Project at the Central Maui Landfill. This would lower the price to 22 cents per kilowatt hour.

In February 2015 the Public Utilities Commission closed the regulatory docket on whether the project should be exempt from competitive bidding.

Represented by former Public Utilities Commission Chair Carl Caliboso, Anaergia filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission.

Perhaps to minimize intervention in the proceedings, there was no reference to Anaergia, Maui County, MECO or the name of the project in the title of the complaint.

“Petition for Declaratory Order and Complaint; Memorandum in Support of Petition for Declaratory Order and Complaint; Exhibits 1 to 27; Verification.”

“Despite the Anaergia Companies' diligent efforts over the past several years to attempt to negotiate with HECO and MECO in good faith to accommodate their requests and to provide reasonable proposals, it has become apparent that HECO and MECO have no intention of accepting the renewable energy offered by the Anaergia Companies that would benefit the people and the County unless it is required to do so.

The Anaergia Companies regret having to resort to filing this Petition and Complaint, but HECO and MECO's conduct leaves the Anaergia Companies with no choice but to seek the Commission's help and relief, as it is the only body that has the authority and capability to address HECO and MECO's unlawful and wrongful behavior.”

The Consumer Advocate noted that Anaergia was asking for a lot more than merely a slap-down of the utility.

“Anaergia Companies attempt to seek extraordinary relief through their Complaint, Commission approval of Anaergia Companies' proposed preferential rates without a formal regulatory review of a proposed fuel supply purchase agreement or power purchase agreement.”

On Thursday, the County of Maui filed a motion to intervene in Docket 2015-0324.

“While Petitioners and the County's ultimate goals are intertwined, the interests at stake for each are distinct. … It is arguable that the County's interest in this case is at the very least equal to if not greater than Petitioners' as it touches upon many more concerns than generating electricity: it involves the injection well lawsuit, the sustainable use of recycled water, and the viable use of lands designated agriculture.”

The deadline to intervene was on Thursday. On Friday, Life of the Land asked for permission to file an untimely motion to intervene.

# # # Posted by Henry Curtis at 6:11 AM