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MidWeek Staff

Hawaii Independent Energy Re-opens West Refinery

Second City Spotlight…State Rep.. Sharon Har

When the old Tesoro refinery closure was announced in 2012, the largest looming question was not where Hawaii would get its oil, but rather what would happen to the nearly 500 workers that the facility employed.

Fast forward one year, and the plant is not only back in operation (processing an estimated 94,000 barrels of crude oil per day), but it features the very same faces as a year ago.

It would be easy to pay tribute to Hawaii Independent Energy for ensuring the continuity of 500 jobs in West Oahu. But what is more amazing is its commitment to ohana – the very special family-like bonds that the refinery workers have to each other, and those bonds they share with the community.

That’s why I would like to focus this week’s Second City Spotlight on Hawaii Independent Energy (HIE).

While the name has changed from “Tesoro” to “Hawaii Independent Energy,” the look and feel around the Campbell plant remains the same. The clean sweep that normally accompanies corporate acquisitions did not happen. Instead, it was clear that HIE did much more than just refine oil. When Par Petroleum acquired the Campbell property, it took responsibility for the workers, their families and the role that the refinery played in the community.

I was honored to be a part of such an important day in the grand reopening of the refinery. HIE has made an investment in our long-term energy sustainability but more importantly in our people. Behind each of the 500 workers is a family that is dependent on the refinery. West Oahu businesses are sustained because they provide essential services to refinery workers.

While it is easy to criticize an operation like an oil refinery, it is difficult to truly realize and appreciate its impact on the community. The losses Hawaii suffered when Aloha Airlines went out of business many years ago are still fresh in many of our minds. We are fortunate that this bit of history did not repeat itself in the case of the refinery. While Hawaii’s energy future is certain to change, what should not change is our commitment to ohana and to community, our commitment to the ties that bind us all.

Contact state Rep. Sharon Har, District 49 (Makakilo/Kapolei) at 586-8500 or email her at rephar@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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