State Supreme Court overturns PUC approval of purchase agreement between Hu Honua, HELCO

A panel of five judges of the state Supreme Court today unanimously overturned the Public Utilities Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended power purchase agreement between Hawaii Electric Light Co. and Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC.

Under the agreement, HELCO would purchase energy from the biomass-fueled powerplant under construction in Pepeekeo.

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According to the 66-page opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, the court ruled “the PUC erred by failing to explicitly consider the reduction of (greenhouse gas emissions) in approving the amended power purchase agreement, as required by statute … .”

The high court also ruled PUC denied due process to Life of the Land, a nonprofit environmental group which sought party status to address the environmental impacts of the wood-burning powerplant.

The PUC approved the amended power purchase agreement without holding a hearing.

The justices’ ruling sends the matter back to the PUC for further proceedings.

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A full story will appear in Saturday’s edition of the Tribune-Herald.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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