Army opens comment period on Hawaiian bioenergy plant

By Erin Voegele | May 01, 2015

The U.S. Army has opened a 45-day public comment period on its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the construction and operation of the proposed Schofield Generating Station Project, a 50 MW biofuel-capable power plant planned in Hawaii.

The Schofield project would be constructed, owned, operated and maintained by Hawaiian Electric Co. on a 8.13-acre parcel of land that would be leased from the Army. The plant would supply power to the island-wide grid during normal operations. It would also provide energy security for Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and Field Station Kunia by serving as a backup source of power during outages.

According to information released by the Army, the DEIS evaluates the impacts of the proposed action and the “no action” alternative. The evaluation encompasses land use, airspace use, visual resources, air quality, noise, traffic and transportation, water resources, geology and soils, biological resources, cultural resources, hazardous and toxic substances, socioeconomics, and utilities and infrastructure. The Army indicated the DEIS shows impacts would be less than significant for all resources, and beneficial effects would be expected for some resources.

The Army announced its intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed lease of land for the project in early 2014. 

Hawaiian Electric Co. included a projected development timeline for the facility in its 2013 Integrated Resource Planning Report and Action Plan, which was published in mid-2013. According to the timeline, construction on the facility would begin during the third quarter of 2016, with the plant placed into service during the third quarter of 2017.

In late 2014, Wärtsilä Corp. announced it will supply a 50 MW Smart Power Generation plant to Hawaiian Electric for use in the Schofield project. At that time Wärtsilä noted that the project requires approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. In December 2014, Darren Pai, a spokesman for Hawaiian Electric, said there is not specific timetable for the PUC’s decision. “However, we are hopeful that the PUC will grant approval within the next several months so the project can be in-service as scheduled by late 2017,” he said.

A notice opening the 45-day public comment period on the DEIS was published in the Federal Register on April 24. Additional information is available on the Federal Register website. A full copy of the DEIS is available on the Army website