On Top of the Aloha Beat BLOG


Sugar Producer making the transition to Green Energy

Ethanol plant stirs coal debate

On November 7th, TGI reported that issue of "burning coal" was a devisive point in the utilization of an upcoming ethanol plant about to break ground in Kaumakani on the campus of Gay & Robinson. Gay & Robinson is one of the two remaining producers of sugar in a state where sugar cane used to be one of the islands' main industries. Then on Nov. 10th, Gay & Robinson President Alan Kennett said yesterday that coal will not power a proposed ethanol plant under development by partners Gay & Robinson and Pacific West Energy, which together have invested $80 million in the multi-pronged project.

Designed to annually produce 12-million gallons of liquid fuel from sugar juice and molasses, he said, the Kaumakani-based refinery will be the first major component as the historic Kaua‘i sugar company transitions to a renewable energy plantation. The feedstock supply will come from 7,500 acres of sugar fields the Robinson family cultivates on the Westside.

Cutting Sugar Cane on the Gay & Robinson campus

In response to community concerns over the harmful environmental impact of burning coal, Pacific West Energy President William Maloney told a leading local group advocating energy independence that cleaner power sources will be used instead.

“I am pleased to inform you and Apollo Kaua‘i (a local environmental citizen's group) that our collective boards of directors have reviewed the coal issue and we have made the decision that coal will not be part of our business model, as either a primary or supplemental fuel for the ethanol plant or power generation,” Maloney stated in a letter to Apollo Kaua‘i Chair Ben Sullivan. “We have heard your organization, and others’ voices as well, including our own senior management and directors, and we have concluded that coal has no place in our green energy business.” Apollo Kauai is one of several sustainability groups on Kauai, and a big proponent of greening the island and Kauai.

Construction for the plant is expected to begin by late-December or early-January and be operational by the second quarter of 2009, Kennett said.

Ron Margolis, RA, CDPE, ABR Hawaii Life Real Estate Services 808.346.7095 email: ron@hawaiilife.com

Comment balloon 9 commentsRonnie Margolis • November 24 2007 03:16AM


what a great post! I am so pleased that thinking eco-friendly is becoming mainstream!!!
Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 13 years ago
Well, I'm not sure that I would go and call in mainstream, however, on the islands, our eco-systems are really quite fragile. And, given the small population of Kauai, under 64,000, there is a pretty broad awareness of our resources. I work with our local rotary club, The Rotary Club of Kapa`a and we produce one of the island's finest events, called the Taste of Hawaii. We use all recycable trays, plates and utensils, and have done so for the last couple of years. Check us out at http://www.tasteofhawaii.com
Posted by Ronnie Margolis, Kauai Realtor - CDPE, ABR, RA - On Top of the Aloh (KW Kauai) almost 13 years ago

Ronnie-- Congratulations!  Florida has been fighting expansion to existing and new coal powered plants over the past 12 months and so far has defeated one of each....Even with all of the current best technology available, it is still on of the dirtiest ways to produce energy around....so you guys pat yourselves and the companies involved on the back and keep this effort going!

I've been to your lovely state once - other than flying through... and it is too precious to waste on coal....

Posted by Eva Armstrong, Environmental Visions (Environmental Visions) almost 13 years ago
I didn't realize they still grew sugar on Kauia too.  I thought it was only Maui.  It will be interesting to see what comes next.
Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) almost 13 years ago

Are they going to power it with the ethanol they create?  I would have assumed they would.

Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 13 years ago
I'm not sure of the overall technology implementation. Alan Kennett, president of G & R, spoke at our Rotary Club meeting back in October and he was quite excited about this total paradigm shift. Alan said that we used to have 8 large sugar producers in the state and now there are only two, one on Maui and Gay and Robinson on Kauai.  Alan said that the prognosis for burning sugar was way better than burning corn which is how a lot of the current alternative fuel is produced. Sugar is way more efficient.  we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully long term, our entire state will be very forward thinking about all the sustainability issues. 

I don't know about you guys, but over here it's the usual enigmatic message from the county and the state. The governor says we need to increase our use of wind energy to produce alternative fuel, and the county has stonewalled every individual who is attempting to get their wind generators going by placing all sorts of obstacles on issueing their permits. One step forward and two steps back. Would that it could be different. For the sake of our island and the people who reside here.

Posted by Ronnie Margolis, Kauai Realtor - CDPE, ABR, RA - On Top of the Aloh (KW Kauai) almost 13 years ago
Ronnie, I'm glad to hear they won't be using coal, that doesn't make any sense.  Hopefully they will use local materials, that should be less expensive.
Posted by Gary Smith (Agent Marketing Today) almost 13 years ago


North Carolina weighed in by keeping a coal-fired plant out of WNC...we are looking at ways to remedy the peak energy need.. . .I will be interested to hear more about how your story unfolds.

Posted by ASHEVILLE REALTY REFERRAL RESOURCE 828-776-0779, CONTACT janeAnne365@gmail.com ( REAL ESTATE REFERRAL NETWORK ) almost 13 years ago



When the president of Gay and Robinson presented to our Rotary Club, he stated that coal is much cleaner than oil for creating electricity. Of course, there is a lot of technology that goes on the back end of their systems to reduce the pollution as much as possible. However, I believe the Gay and Robinson's sense of proper green planning, and community pressure, made them think otherwise.

Posted by Ronnie Margolis, Kauai Realtor - CDPE, ABR, RA - On Top of the Aloh (KW Kauai) almost 13 years ago