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Head of Public Utilities Commission on Honua Ola, role of firm renewable energy in Hawaiʻi

Honua Ola Bioenergy plant in Pepeʻekeo
Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi
Honua Ola Bioenergy plant in Pepeʻekeo

Leadership at the Big Island biomass plant Honua Ola is regrouping after the Public Utilities Commission denied its power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Electric, previously Hawaii Electric Light Company.

PUC Chair Jay Griffin cast one of the two majority votes against the agreement. For Griffin, the vote was a long time coming. This specific docket came before the PUC in May 2017, the same month he was first appointed to the commission. Now he only has a month left in his tenure as chair.

The Conversation spoke with Griffin about the controversial project that has spanned the last five years. Griffin shared his decision process behind the PUC ruling, and the role of firm renewables in Hawaiʻi's energy future. Firm renewables are power sources that can produce energy 24 hours a day, unlike solar and wind.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 25, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter.
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