Big Island school to benefit from emissions violations

HONOLULU n As part of a recent settlement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency over federal Clean Air Act violations, Hamakua Energy Partners will fund an environmental project valued at nearly $125,000 to generate energy at a nearby school and pay an additional $34,335 in fines, according to a news release.

The company had failed to meet state and federal Clean Air Act permit requirements, including emission limits and emission monitoring requirements, at its power plant facility in Haina, Hawai‘i.

Recent quarterly reports submitted to the EPA show the facility now complies with the regulations, states the EPA release.

The company will spend $124,165 to purchase and install a 10-Kilowatt direct current photovoltaic system to generate electricity at Honoka‘a High and Intermediate School.

The system and all electricity generated will be donated to the school for its own use or to sell back to the local utility grid.

“The project will reduce air pollution on the Big Island by cutting demand for electricity from power plants,” said Deborah Jordan, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Air Division, in the release. “In addition, any electricity not used by the school can be sold back to the power grid, which will lower electricity demand elsewhere and further reduce air pollution. We are pleased that Hamakua Energy has worked cooperatively with us to resolve the violations and undertake this project.”

Hamakua Energy Partners owns a power plant facility located in Haina, Hawai’i, that contains two 23 megawatt combustion turbine generators.

The facility, constructed in 1999, was issued a state air permit for construction and operation of the plant since it’s considered a major air pollution source.

As part of the permit, Hamakua was required to meet certain emission limits, including those for nitrogen oxides, and to install and maintain continuous air monitoring systems for each combustion turbine generator to measure carbon monoxide and opacity levels of the smokestack emissions.

Quarterly compliance reports submitted to the Hawai‘i Department of Health by the company identified numerous instances from 2001 to 2003 where facility emissions exceeded nitrogen oxide limits in the permit.

Also, the reports identified excessive periods of time where the carbon monoxide monitoring and opacity monitoring systems failed to operate for both generators.

Hamakua also failed to submit required quarterly reports to the EPA.

The federal Clean Air Act requires each state to adopt and submit a plan to the EPA that provides for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of national air quality standards.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health is the agency responsible for monitoring compliance and enforcing Hawai‘i air permit program requirements.

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