Monday, May 16, 2022 |
Share this story
With the normal minor startup problems, the island’s last remaining sugar plantation, and one of just two in the state, earlier this month began its annual harvest.
Gay & Robinson Inc. expects to harvest 47,000 tons of sugar from its G&R lands around Kaumakani and Makaweli, and around 11,000 tons from former Kekaha Sugar Company lands G&R leases from the state, said Alan Kennett, G&R president.
The annual harvesting season means cane truck are rumbling down Kaumuali’i Highway on the Westside, and other trucks carrying bagasse are making their way to Lihu’e.
The amount of electricity generated on the island through alternative fuel sources began increasing earlier this month with the beginning of the G&R harvest.
G&R burns bagasse, a biofuel that is a byproduct of sugarcane processing, to generate electricity for its internal plantation needs. The surplus is trucked to the former Lihue Plantation power plant, still run by Amfac Sugar Kauai employees until the end of the year, to generate more electricity which Amfac sells to Kauai Electric.
Amfac intends to quit operating the power plant, on Haleko Road, at the end of this year.
There was a time not long ago when Kaua’i led the state in percentage of electricity generated from non-fossil-fuel sources, and as recently as two years ago renewable sources provided 15.3 percent of the island’s electricity (9.9 percent biomass, 5.4 percent hydroelectric).
Last year, though, after the number of plantations shrank from three to one, the amount of electricity generated from biomass shrank nearly to zero.
This year, with the additional tonnage G&R expects to harvest from Kekaha, the island could again approach double digits in terms of biomass-derived electrical generation.
On another matter, still alive at the state Legislature is a bill that would if approved and signed into law by Gov. Ben Cayetano allow the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to allow Hawaiian Sugar & Transportation Cooperative (HS&TC) to purchase the bulk sugar and molasses storage facility above Nawiliwili Harbor.
The facility is used to store sugar until it is loaded onto ships bound for the sugar refinery in California, and is needed if G&R wants to get its crop to the refinery.
The idea now is to have HS&TC buy the facility, and lease it to G&R, according to the legislation. The bill was introduced jointly by Kaua’i Reps. Bertha Kawakami, Mina Morita and Ezra Kanoho, and was scheduled for a conference committee meeting yesterday afternoon.
HS&TC’s purchase of this terminal facility will help ensure the financial stability of HS&TC and Hawai’i’s remaining sugar producers, because HS&TC is the owner of the bulk cargo vessel, the Moku Pahu, and the greater the volume of sugar to be transported to the Mainland, the lower the unit costs of operating the vessel, the legislation states.
This also results in lower shipping costs to the sugar producers, according to the bill, which authorizes the issuance of up to $2.3 million in special purpose revenue bonds. Such bonds do not cost taxpayers a penny, and offer interest rates beneficial to in this case the would-be purchaser of the facility.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
By participating in online discussions you
acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful
discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments
are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines,
send us an email.