New Partnership Will Develop Hawaii’s First Ethanol Plant

Gay & Robinson Inc. and Pacific West Energy LLC announced a partnership to develop a fuel ethanol plant to create renewable power and clean-burning ethanol fuel from sugarcane. The new 12-million-gallon-per-year (mgy) plant will use sugar juice and molasses as feedstock.

The newly created partnership, Gay & Robinson Ag-Energy LLC, will ensure the continuation of the Gay & Robinson agricultural enterprise, one of the oldest in Hawaii. Approximately 230 jobs will be preserved, and a large area of West Kauai will be maintained in sustainable agriculture.

The initial $80 million phase of capital investment will include installation of a new biomass boiler and turbine generator to efficiently produce renewable electricity. Design and engineering work has begun, and an air permit for the ethanol plant has been secured.

Future business plans call for additional stages of energy production, including biodiesel production, a methane recovery system, the processing of municipal solid waste, hydro power, the conversion of biomass into liquid fuels and solar energy production.

“We’re excited to partner with Pacific West Energy and begin transforming G&R from a commodity raw sugar producer to a provider of renewable and alternative energy for Kauai and Hawaii,” said Alan Kennett, President of Gay & Robinson.

By generating electricity and ethanol from renewable feedstock, the business will help lower Hawaii’s extremely high energy costs. In addition, new investment will be made to expand sugar cane cultivation and employ new cultivation and harvest techniques that will maximize biomass and reduce the burning of sugarcane wherever possible.

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