Army, HECO break ground for new biodiesel power plant

| August 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
Military, federal, state and local leaders take a ceremonial dig for the generating station. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

Military, federal, state and local leaders take a ceremonial dig for the generating station. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

Christine Cabalo
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — With many hands digging in to make it a reality, senior Army leaders, government officials and Hawaiian Electric Company executives broke ground on the Schofield Generating Station project, Monday.

The generating station is a biofuel-capable power plant that will be run and owned by Hawaiian Electric Co. The Army leased 8.13 acres of land to build the plant. The groundbreaking and blessing ceremony highlighted the partnership of Hawaiian Electric Co., U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and several others to develop renewable clean energy.

The Honorable Katherine Hammace, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, speaks at the ceremony. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

The Honorable Katherine Hammace, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, speaks at the ceremony. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

“Energy is not the core competence of the Army; theirs is the fight to defend the U.S. Constitution,” said Honorable Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment and one of several event speakers. “But the mission of the Army without assured access to energy makes them stand silent, and their mission fails.”

Schofield Barracks and its adjacent installations will be one of several areas the plant will service during an emergency power failure on Oahu. The 50-megawatt power plant will connect to the main power grid with an electrical power transmission line to Hawaii Electric Co.’s Wahiawa substation.

The future plant serves a strategic location for both the Army and civilian sector.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa leads a traditional Hawaiian blessing of the area. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

Kahu Kordell Kekoa leads a traditional Hawaiian blessing of the area. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

“When built, this plant is significant because it will be the first on Oahu built at high level,” said Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co. “In the past, we’ve relied on ocean cooling, but with the danger of tsunamis and flooding, we need to rethink for our future. This plant will provide power to the residents of Oahu, connecting to the grid and to the military. But in times of emergency, it can provide the Army and Wahiawa General Hospital with the ability to cope during power failure far better than we can in the present.”

The plant will also be able to restart other stations in an emergency, possibly preventing wider scale power loss Oahu residents may have experienced in the past.

Col. Stephen Dawson, commander, USAG-HI and a trained electrical engineer, encouraged attendees to think about how to expand operations and be even more sustainable. He asked the audience to think big.

“We’re breaking ground on parcel of land that has a history of agriculture with resources that could power a biodiesel plant,” Dawson said.

After senior government leaders spoke, Kahu Kordell Kekoa led a traditional Hawaiian blessing of the area. Kekoa explained the significance of the different elements in the blessing. He used salt from a salt pond on Kauai to purify the ground, purified rainwater and three ti leaves fresh from the land at the nearby community center run by Island Palm Communities.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa speaks to the audience. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

Kahu Kordell Kekoa speaks to the audience. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)

After telling an old joke about how in a power outage many hands make “light work,” Kekoa asked for the audience’s help in the blessing.
Col. Steve Peck, command chaplain for 25th Infantry Division and USAG-HI, also offered his blessings earlier and helped Kekoa in carrying his materials for the traditional Hawaiian blessing.

Kekoa asked the audience to reflect about their children, grandchildren and the generation of children to come as part of the blessing of the site.

“Think for them – what the next levels and next stages will be,” he said. “In Hawaii, we’re big dreamers, and this power plant will be history for them. What will be next? We want the best for them.

“This Hawaiian rainwater in this koa bowl was rainwater 25 years ago, rolling down the Waianae Mountains, drip by drip, to get to the water table. This was that rainfall 25 years ago. Think about what you were doing 25 years ago.’’

Dignitaries pose before breaking ground on the new power plant at Schofield Barracks. (Courtesy photo)

Dignitaries pose before breaking ground on the new power plant at Schofield Barracks. (Courtesy photo)

After the Hawaiian blessing, senior officials each took one of 12 golden shovels and ceremonially turned over the first few mounds of dirt. Several government leaders were among those shoveling, including Gov. David Ige, who addressed the crowd about his enthusiasm for the project as the governor and an electrical engineer.

“I look forward to continued partnership for this project, and truly believe for 100 percent renewable energy use for Hawaii. It’s a lot closer than you might think,” the governor said. “Especially with imagined projects like this, it’s making that dream a reality.”

Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Christine Harada, Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, White House Council on Environmental Quality, also provided remarks.

Watch It

To see the video from the Hawaiian Electric Co. groundbreaking, visit https://www.facebook.com/usaghawaii/ on Aug. 22.

To see more photos and video of the ceremony, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaghawaii/.

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Category: News, Observances, Safety, Sustainability

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