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Two Geothermal Well Scientific Observation Holes to be Plugged and Abandoned in Puna

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has contracted with Water Resources International, Inc. to plug and abandon two geothermal scientific wells, SOH-1 and SOH-2 located in Pahoa.

SOH - 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa

SOH – 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Representatives from DLNR Engineering Division, their consultant Brown and Caldwell, and Water Resources International will attend the Puna Geothermal Ventures community meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 8, from, 6-8 p.m. at Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road, Pāhoa.  They will be available to answer any questions on the project.

Drilled in 1991 for research purposes to monitor temperature gradients down the shafts, the two wells are no longer being used by the University of Hawai‘i or DLNR for geothermal resource monitoring purposes.

Initial site clearing and preparations are now ongoing at the site of SOH-1 and by about December 12 work will begin on plugging the well and restoring the area with SOH-2 to follow in a similar manner. The project is expected to be completed in approximately 3 months. Work hours will be limited to between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The contract award amount for the plugging and abandonment of the two wells was $2,036,000.

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.

Puna Geothermal Facility Tripped Offline – “No Danger to the Public at This Time”

Hawaii County Civil Defense Alert Message:

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

Puna Geothermal Facility tripped offline this afternoon.

Steam was released through a safety valve.

No danger to the public at this time.

Pictures from the Community Meeting on Geothermal at Pahoa High School

Last night at Pahoa High School, five members of the Hawaii County Council came to Pahoa to listen to residents testify about their experiences with geothermal in the Puna District.

Hawaii County Council members listen to residents concerns.

I didn’t even arrive at the meeting until 11:30 at night and residents were still testifying in three minute increments since the meeting had begun earlier in the evening.

A Puna resident talks about her breathing problems

From what I understand, earlier in the evening the cafeteria was actually packed with folks and people began to leave after they had a chance to testify.

Former legislative assistant "Sativa" speaks out against geothermal

However, many folks stuck it out until the end of the meeting just so they could put in their two cents.

Most of the folks in attendance seemed to oppose geothermal in their neighborhood.

I have to say I’m pretty impressed with our council members for sitting through such long and repetitive testimony at times.

Members of the council listen patiently

I left right as Hawaii County Council Candidate James Weatherford was addressing the council at about 11:50 and there were still more people scheduled to testify.

County Council Candidate James Weatherford testifies

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

Puna Resident Theorizes on Mysterious Puna Explosion

*Editors Note* This is just one persons theory on what MAY have happened. In no way… no how… have I verified anything this person has commented on below. Please do not take any statement for fact.

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

Dear Damon, My name is Athena Peanut, I live in Kalapana Seaview. I offer the following information that has direct bearing on the many unanswered questions about the mysterious Puna explosion, 2/21/12:

  1. I was home and heard that explosion at approximate 8:45 am and my first thought was it came from PGV; sounded just like the geothermal well blow-out at PGV, June 1991. I spoke to the firemen, civil defense, searched Wednesday’s news…nothing! I knew it was a cover up and for that reason knew it was “military.”
  2. I read in your column that the Director of Civil Defense said that he spoke to PGV about the explosion and they denied any knowledge. PGV/Ormat is infamous for lying and endangering the public many times in the past. I had asked the fire department and civil defense to examine the PGV grounds carefully and not to take their word for it. Many reports from Pahoa Village said it came from PGV.
  3. Thursday, 2/23/12, I learned that PGV’s plant manager said “they are currently producing fuel converted from hydrogen and it is an extremely dangerous process.” I also learned that EPA’s jurisdiction no longer extends to Hawaii as it did in the 1990’s. A federal law, PERPA now restricts EPA’s jurisdiction to the continental U.S.A. only. There is NO federal regulation of Energy Development in Hawaii. Hawaiians are at the mercy of the U.S. military, PGV/Ormat and Helco. (Probably the reason PGV was sold back to its original Israeli Government/ Ormat developer was because the previous geothermal owners did not want to undertake producing hydrogen fuel cell development.)
  4. Friday, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, p. 3, Honolulu (AP) byline, reported the military testing a fleet of 16 Army hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Hawaii. The GM cars were unveiled on Wednesday at U.S. Army Pacific headquarters….
  5. I do not know much about the processing of hydrogen fuel cell, other than it is an extremely dangerous, highly explosive process that was compared to atomic energy in some early articles on alternate fuels. Hydrogen cell fuel should not be manufactured in a closely populated area (ex. Leilani/Nanawale/Pahoa area).

You are the most objective, capable  and honest independent news source that I know. If you decide not to present an article on this subject, can you advise me how best to get this information out to the public? It is too important to be trivialized or ignored and swept under the carpet. Please do not hesitate to call on me for help or more information on this subject. Mahalo nui loa. (808) ***-****At one with the Earth,

Athena Peanut