• what-to-do-media
  • puako-general-store
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    December 2018
    S M T W T F S
    « May    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  

Ormat and Puna Geothermal Agree to Pay the United States $5.5 Million to Resolve Civil Fraud Allegations

Several Reno companies that operate geothermal power plants in Nevada, California, Hawaii, and elsewhere, have agreed to pay the United States $5.5 million to resolve civil fraud allegations that they unlawfully applied for and received millions in federal clean energy grants, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.

“The False Claims Act is an effective civil tool to ferret out fraud in federal taxpayer-funded programs,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “The settlement monies announced today will be deposited into a federal fund used to help crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes.”

Ormat Technologies, Inc., Ormat Nevada, Inc., Puna Geothermal Venture II, L.P., ORNI 18, LLC, and Puna Geothermal Venture, G.P. (hereinafter referred to as Ormat), and the United States entered into the agreement to avoid the delay, uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation. The agreement states that it is neither an admission of liability by the defendants nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded.

The settlement agreement, effective this week, arises out of a civil lawsuit filed on Feb. 4, 2013, by Tina Calilung and Jamie Kell against Ormat alleging that they violated the civil False Claims Act by submitting false applications for federal clean energy grants to which they were not entitled. The defendant companies are based in Reno, Nev. Calilung and Kell are former employees of Ormat Technologies.

The lawsuit alleged that the federal government had claims against the defendant arising from the submission of applications for and receipt of grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009, related to the 8MW Puna Geothermal Power Plant and Puna KS-14 Well, both on the island of Hawaii, and the North Brawley Geothermal Power Plant in Imperial County, Calif.

puna-geothermal-venture-signSince January 2009 and through the end of federal fiscal year 2015, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $26.4 billion from cases involving fraud and false claims against the government. The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans’ benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, highway funds, research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches, and disaster assistance. In 1986, Congress strengthened the Act by amending it to increase incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the government.

Most false claims actions are filed under the Act’s whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions that allow individuals to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, also known as the relator, receives up to 30 percent of the recovery. Whistleblowers filed 638 qui tam suits in fiscal year 2015 and the department recovered $2.8 billion in these and earlier filed suits this past year. Whistleblower awards during the same period totaled $597 million. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-recovers-over-35-billion-false-claims-act-cases-fiscal-year-2015.

Assistant United States Attorney Roger Wenthe handled the case on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.

Hawaii Electric Light Company Selects Ormat to Provide Additional Geothermal Energy

Following a rigorous review of bids submitted as part of a competitive bid process, Hawai‘i Electric Light Company has selected Ormat to provide an additional 25 MW of geothermal energy for Hawai‘i Island.

Puna Geothermal Venture

Puna Geothermal Venture

The next step in the process is to begin contract negotiations with Ormat, with an agreement to be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval.

“We have continued to pursue ways to increase our use of renewable energy and lower costs to our customers, while also ensuring reliable service,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawai‘i Electric Light Company president. “Ormat was selected based on numerous criteria, including attractive pricing, technical design and capability, financial soundness, as well as commitment to resolving all environmental issues and to working with our Hawai‘i Island communities.”

Geothermal technologies provide renewable, controlled dispatchable energy and firm capacity that allow Hawai‘i Electric Light to schedule and control output from the geothermal plant to its island-wide grid.

Firm energy sources like geothermal support the integration of intermittent renewable resources, such as wind or solar, while maintaining reliable service for Hawai‘i Island customers.

A draft Geothermal RFP was issued in early November 2012. The PUC also selected an Independent Observer, Boston Pacific Company, to monitor and advise on all steps of the competitive bidding process to ensure that the process is fair and adheres to the PUC Framework for Competitive Bidding.

More than 47 percent of electricity on Hawai‘i Island is already generated from renewable resources, including hydro, wind, distributed solar and geothermal.

Hawaii Sections of the Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap Project

There are so many rumors going around so many websites about geothermal in Hawaii, I thought I would put this out there for folks to actually look at!

The Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap is a structured representation of the many decisions, documents and regulations involved in the permitting process for geothermal exploration and development.

Below is a list of all sections that have been developed so far for the HAWAII geothermal regulatory roadmap project:

Commentary – Mililani Trask on Geothermal Development

I received the following commentary on behalf of Mililani Trask regarding geothermal development in Puna.

Mililani Trask

In recent weeks a small group of angry & uninformed individuals have begun a campaign of misinformation, the goal of which is to prevent the development of geothermal energy on Hawaii Island. Claiming ownership of the Pele name & case information, this group is asserting that geothermal development threatens the cultural & religious practices of Hawaiians and violates their First Amendment rights under the US Constitution.

I am sending out this email to clarify what occurred when the Pele cases were litigated and how the outcome of the cases expanded Hawaiian cultural practice but did not stop or prevent geothermal development.

In the early 1980’s the Campbell Estate made public its plan for geothermal development at Kahauale’a. They brought in cheap filthy technology, never had a public community meeting, ignored Hawaiian traditional rights to gather & worship, and presented a plan under which they would reap hundreds of millions of dollars without any benefit to the public & native Hawaiians, who were the owners of geothermal public trust assets. Campbell Estate had wanted to develop Kahauale’a , but when these lands proved undevelopable, Campbell & the State moved for a land exchange in order to develop Wao Kele O Puna Forest.

Palikapu Dedman & others then challenged the land exchange in State contested case hearings. They claimed genealogical ties to Pele & asserted that drilling for geothermal was a desecration & rape of Pele’s body & a violation of their rights under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost on appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled their right to worship had not been burdened because the area of development was not a traditional place of ceremony. (see Dedman V. DLNR , 740 P.2d 28 (1987)

Following this loss, the Pele Defense plaintiffs brought suit in Federal Court arguing that the land exchange violated the trust contained in the Admissions Act. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost this case when the court ruled their claims were barred because of the State’s Sovereign Immunity under the 11th Amendment.

The Pele Defense Plaintiffs also litigated this in State Court, but lost when the State Court ruled that the Federal decision had resolved the issue.

Despite these losses, Hawaiians did win a significant victory when the Court acknowledged & supported Hawaiian cultural rights and expanded the exercise of these rights to areas outside the ‘ahupua’a. Prior to this case, the practice of cultural rights had been limited to the area of the ‘ahupua’a.

Initially, the legal strategy and work was undertaken by the Law Offices of Yuklin Aluli & Mililani Trask. Early on, I left Oahu and returned to Hawaii Island to represent the Kupuna who would later be called upon to lead the march. Soon, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) joined in and with the help of many Hawaiian legal minds and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) the Pele cases were initiated & litigated. Some attorneys gave advice, some did research & some took the case to the Supreme Court. Attorneys from the continent helped with the environmental claims, it was a collective effort by many. The Pele cases are important legal precedents that should be understood by all because they set criteria on Hawaiian rights to worship, and also established conditions for development in culturally sensitive areas.

In March 1990, environmentalists called for the ‘Big March’. Shortly after the announcement, it became evident that the so-called ‘Hawaiian leaders’ of the PDF were not going to get arrested. None of them lived in Puna, One was a medical doctor from Molokai & Oahu, who was concerned about his reputation, his girlfriend (an academic from Manoa) was worried about her career, Palikapu Dedman also backed out claiming he could not get arrested because he was a convicted felon on probation! In the end, it was aunty Pele Hanoa, (Palikapu’s mother) who walked at the head of the March with other Kupuna wahine from Ka Lahui Hawaii. I walked with them as their attorney, I met with the police before hand to ensure there would be no problems, I held their purses when they climbed over the fence & bailed them out of jail. The police, some of whom were Hawaiian, helped the Kupuna by assisting them over the fence, there was no negativity, injury or anger.

If you check the record you will find that none of the PDF ‘leaders’ have ever gotten arrested protecting Hawaiian cultural or religious rights. Palikapu Dedman did not bring or win these cases, he does not have the capacity, the attorneys brought and won this case. Whenever the time has arisen to stand up to stop desecration of culture, Palikapu has always used the same excuse….he is a felon with criminal convictions (shoplifting, firearms violations & multiple convictions for Promoting Detrimental Drugs in our community) and can’t risk getting arrested again!!!!!
As a Hawaiian who has been arrested protecting cultural rights & burials, I am proud of the effort that went into the Pele cases, and proud to have been a part of the legal effort to advance & expand our cultural rights to worship. Its time we use these wins to ensure that culture is respected & protected when renewable energy is developed for Hawaii Island.

In the 24 years since the case was brought and for the last 18 years that PGV has been operating in Puna, there has not been a single case or instance of a Hawaiian being denied their right to worship Pele because of geothermal development.

Mililani B. Trask, Attorney
Indigenous Expert to the United Nations
Indigenous Consultants, LLC