Big Island Biodiesel plant opening celebrated last week in Hawaii

By Pacific Biodiesel | July 09, 2012

Pacific Biodiesel Technologies has unveiled its newest project and the first biofuel refinery to be built in the state since 2000, Big Island Biodiesel LLC.

It has been 12 years since Pacific Biodiesel conceptualized and began operations at its Sand Island refinery on Oahu, making the event an exciting new chapter in Pacific Biodiesel’s history.

Big Island Biodiesel will utilize recently developed zero-waste, superefficient processing technology and will play a significant role in helping Hawaii reach its energy independence and sustainability goals.

Plant Manager at Big Island Biodiesel, Don Caffee, said, “We are excited about our contribution to Hawaii’s energy needs and the positive impact it will have on our local community.”

The grand opening was not only an important day for Pacific Biodiesel Technologies but it also signified one more step towards lessening Hawaii’s dependence on imported diesel fuel.

The Energy Independence Day celebration began with speeches from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“Let’s not blink this time,” said Inouye, referring to the early development of renewable energy, prompted by the oil crisis in the 1970′s, which died when petroleum prices dropped.

Abercrombie praised the local investment in the project, saying, “This is a commitment to renewable, this is a commitment to alternative, this is a commitment to energy itself.”

The senator and governor were among many influential speakers representing various government divisions such as the USDA, the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. DOE.

“This is a big deal,” DOE representative Jim Spaeth said. “I’m here to tell you that this is a big deal.”

Speakers were followed by a traditional Hawaiian blessing of the refinery by Kahu Kimo Pihana. Pihana has been present at each of Big Island Biodesels’ blessings from the very first land blessing in January 2010 to the groundbreaking event later that year and now at the finale, the grand opening of the Big Island Biodiesel refinery in 2012.

Paradise Helicopters provided aerial tours of the plant and nearby jatropha farm operated by Hilo resident, James Twigg-Smith.

Big Island Biodiesel and Pacific Biodiesel Technologies’ employees, investors, members, friends, and family joined guests at an Energy Independence Day BBQ following the ceremony and blessing. Guests fueled up on an Independence Day spread of fried chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad while being serenaded by Keoki Kahumoku.

All cooking oil used at the barbeque was collected for later biodiesel production at the plant.

Fuel Sales Manager Jenna Long expressed thanks to all those who made the event possible.

“I’d like to give a big mahalo to all of our customers who have supported locally produced biodiesel for so many years,” Long said. “The success of biodiesel in Hawaii is truly driven by those who fill up their cars and trucks day by day and keep their ‘truly green’ dollars working for our state.”

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