HONOLULU (AP) -- Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has agreed to buy electricity from a new 20-megawatt power plant that burns both sugar cane and wood.

The utility and Pacific West Energy LLC announced Wednesday that the purchases will begin by April 2012. The biomass-to-energy plant could supply up to one-third of Kauai's power needs.

Pacific West, of Vancouver, Wash., also hopes to build a plant to produce 15 million gallons of sugar ethanol and employ 325 workers.

That could blunt the impact of the decision by Gay & Robinson to end sugar cane production after harvesting its last crop this year and laying off 200 employees.

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Information from: The Honolulu Advertiser, http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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