Young Brothers, the struggling interisland cargo carrier, is sounding increasingly desperate. The company says that rising operating costs and lower cargo volumes due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown have pushed it deep into debt, threatening the essential services it provides the neighbor islands.
Negotiations with the Legislature this year for a $25 million bailout went nowhere; now Young Brothers has petitioned the state Public Utilities Commission for a temporary emergency rate increase that would boost the company’s revenue by about $30 million.
The shipper will need to convince the PUC that the increase will be truly temporary, and that it is capable of managing itself back into solvency and good financial health. Those are tall orders.
Biomass burning project burns out
What started off as a promising shoot for Hawaii’s green-energy future has now been pulled. Hu Honua, a Hawaii island biomass project that aimed to burn eucalyptus and other timber to generate power, on Thursday was denied a waiver from the “competitive bidding framework” to sell its power to Hawaiian Electric.
That denial came from the state Public Utilities Commission, which in 2017 had OK’d a power-purchasing deal. But that approval was successfully challenged, on grounds that greenhouse-gas reduction had not been explicitly considered, as required by law. The upshot: no eucalyptus biomass plant in the near future, if ever.