Plan Boosts Big Island Geothermal

The electric utility on Hawaii island published Friday the first draft of a plan to add 50 megawatts of geothermal power to the island’s electric grid.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. will seek public comment on the draft to help guide renewable energy developers as they prepare their bids to supply geothermal power to HELCO. A final draft of the document is scheduled to be completed by January, and selection of the winning bidder or bidders is expected by July or August.

An existing 38-megawatt geothermal plant on Hawaii island already accounts for about 20 percent of the island’s peak electrical load. An additional 50 megawatts would push the amount of geothermal generation to nearly 50 percent of peak load.

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

“This project combines our efforts to increase renewable resources on our island with a commitment to reduce costs for consumers,” HELCO President Jay Igna­­cio said.

HELCO customers pay among the highest electricity rates in the state.

HELCO plans to conduct a technical conference webi­nar next month to allow prospective bidders to ask questions and provide comments on the draft document, known as a request for proposals, or RFP.

The contracted price HELCO will pay developers for the geothermal energy will not be linked to the cost of oil, as is the case with many of the other renewable energy projects on Hawaii island.

“This is incredibly important for ratepayers on the Big Island,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. “This will help stabilize prices. What people on the Big Island need is clean, affordable energy, and that’s the purpose of this RFP.”

One of the keys to making the plan work is engaging the community, he added. “We are working hard to have it done right, respecting the environment and the culture,” Schatz said.

Puna Geothermal Plant

Bringing another 50 megawatts of geothermal power online will pave the way for the eventual retirement of fossil fuel-burning electrical generators on Hawaii island, he said.

More than 40 percent of the electricity consumed on Hawaii island is generated from renewable resources, the highest percentage of any island in the state.

Besides geothermal, Hawaii island has hydroelectric, wind and distributed solar power generation.

County of Hawai‘i Initiates Independent Geothermal Health Assessment Joint Fact Finding Study

Health issues related to the production of geothermal energy are a concern for many island residents. Funds to conduct health studies are available through the Geothermal Asset Fund, which is overseen by the Windward Planning Commission. To help inform good decision making on the use of that fund, the County Department of Research and Development has contracted for an independent joint fact finding study to help lay the groundwork for future geothermal health studies to be conducted in the Puna community.
The purpose of this effort is to collect the existing body of knowledge about documented health studies associated with geothermal operations, both here and around the world. The Joint Fact Finding effort will collect a range of existing information on air quality around the PGV plant and create a summary of kinds of health issues that community members believe may be linked to geothermal operations.  Based on a broad and inclusive body of existing information, the study will develop an outline of priority health issues and preferred methodologies that would guide new health research in the Puna region.
This joint fact finding initiative will be conducted by a professional, third party neutral who will select and convene an independent Working Group to review existing data and come up with a final report. The report will be presented to the Windward Planning Commission to help inform its deliberations on the future use of Geothermal Asset Fund monies for public health related studies. The Working Group will be made up of 10-15 scientists, public health specialist and knowledgeable community members to be chosen by the consultant to represent all major points of view on the issue.
The Working Group will be convened by Dr. Peter Adler of Accord 3.0. Dr. Adler is a nationally known and Hawaii based expert in the field of complex issue management and collaborative problem solving. He will be responsible for designing and implementing an independent fact finding process and for preparing an independent report due in February of 2013.
“This joint fact finding process is an important first step towards addressing community health concerns in a responsible and independent fashion” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We need to apply the best science available. That starts with the collection of existing knowledge on the topic and a reasoned and sustained conversation about what methods can best inform us all about any public health conditions associated with geothermal energy in our community.”
Dr. Adler will begin immediately with a series of one-on-one interviews with a range of community, medical and regulatory individuals to identify key issues, data sources and people that can bring unique insight and information to the topic. Based on these interviews, he will convene a formal Working Group made up of the full spectrum of expertise and passions in the issue. This Group will meet for 3-4 months to review existing studies, listen to additional input and help to define a clear path forward.
A more detailed project description prepared by Dr. Adler is attached. Any comments or questions on the effort can be directed to Dr. Adler at More information on the consultant and the project can be found at Future materials, meeting schedules and work products will be posted on this site.

County Council Candidate James Weatherford on the Geothermal Royalties

The Hawaiʻi County Council is considering legislation to redirect the county’s share of geothermal royalty funds back to their original purpose – addressing community impacts from geothermal development.  James Weatherford, candidate for Hawaiʻi County Council District 4, fully supports this initiative and says Bill 256-12 must be passed.

County Council Candidate James Weatherford

“This is not about being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ geothermal. This is about responsible government being responsive to community concerns,” Weatherford said in a statement released by his campaign today.

“The incumbent from Puna has had a year-and-a-half to address the concerns of the community in the vicinity of the geothermal plant,” Weatherford added. “Instead of responding to and addressing his constituents’ concerns regarding impacts of geothermal in the community, he has been spending geothermal funds for other purposes. Instead of draining the geothermal royalty fund, I will bring Puna taxpayers’ money back to Puna by doing the work required through the budget process to get capital improvement projects for the district.”

Bill 256-12, introduced by Council Chair and Mayoral Candidate Dominic Yagong, will provide an opportunity for residents now living within one mile of the Puna Geothermal Venture facility to be relocated, and would prevent those properties from being reinhabited via resale or rental. This will start to create a buffer around PGV, where as now, some residents live right next to the geothermal power plant.

In addition to relocation, Bill 256-12 also promotes public health and safety by providing expenditures on health studies, air quality monitoring and real-time public notification of emissions.

Mandated emergency evacuation preparedness is also being considered by the council in a separate measure.

On May 16th, the legislation received a favorable recommendation from the Council’s Agriculture, Water, and Energy Sustainability Committee. Scheduled for June 6th is the first of two more votes needed before being sent to the Mayor for signing into law or veto.

Mayor Kenoi Unveils Geothermal Working Group Report

Hawai‘i Island is rich in resources to address our energy needs. All that is needed is cooperation and initiative to make the move to 100% renewable energy, agreed all the speakers at the unveiling of the Geothermal Working Group’s final report today at Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office.

“Hawai‘i County should aim and commit to being 100 percent renewable. Federal, state, county, community, we’re all in this together. We all recognize our commitment to our children and future generations and the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island.”

“Hawai‘i County should aim and commit to being 100 percent renewable,” Mayor Kenoi said. “Federal, state, county, community, we’re all in this together. We all recognize our commitment to our children and future generations and the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island.”


At the urging of the Hawai‘i State Legislature – Sen. Gil Kahele and Rep. Mark Nakashima were present and gave remarks at the unveiling – Hawai‘i County convened the Geothermal Working Group to map assets, discuss, examine, and make proposals to maximize geothermal energy toward the goal of making Hawai‘i Island and the State of Hawai‘i the leaders in renewable energy.

“On this island we spend over a billion dollars every year to import oil for our energy needs here on the island,” said Wallace Ishibashi, co-chair of the Geothermal Working Group. “That money can stay right here to build a better community.”

The group’s mission was to evaluate geothermal energy as the primary source of baseload power on Hawai‘i Island – that is, power that is reliably generated at a constant level. Though all renewable energy technologies do and will continue to play a role in Hawai‘i’s energy future, many renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are not viable candidates to supply baseload power because of the fluctuating nature of their production.

Geothermal, however, has proven a very stable supply of power. Puna Geothermal Ventures’ 30 MW plant provides between 25 and 30% of the electricity on Hawai‘i Island. “When the sun doesn’t shine, when the wind doesn’t blow, geothermal is there,” Ishibashi said.

Power demand on Hawai‘i Island ranges between 90 and 185 MW. Geothermal power potential on Hawai‘i Island has been estimated at between 500 and 700 megawatts, according to the report.

The report recommends that government play a more active role in the facilitation of geothermal development with a review of the permitting process, regulatory capabilities, and possible investment incentives. The report also suggests establishing a community advisory board to guide the use of geothermal royalties paid by geothermal energy producers.

Under state law, royalties paid by Hawai‘i Island geothermal energy producers are shared amongst the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (50%), the County of Hawai‘i (30%), and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs (20%). The highest annual royalties to date were paid in 2009, a total of $3.1 million.

Mayor Kenoi spoke with Lt. Governor Brian Schatz shortly before the unveiling of the Working Group’s report, and he reported that both Governor Neil Abercrombie as well as the Lt. Governor reiterated their commitment to move forward, to remove barriers, to facilitate investment to maximize geothermal’s potential.

For a full copy of the report, click here: Geothermal Working Group Report

Richard Ha on the Buy Out of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.


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Friday, January 7th in a face to face interview with Eco Effect TV, Richard Ha confirmed that Roald Marth, Ted Peck, himself and several others are raising upwards of $2.5billion for an eco-friendly buyout of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (HEI).

Richard sat down with Charlene Brown, producer of Eco Effect TV in Hawaii, to discuss how the new electric entity would create “A Sustainable Hawaii Now.” Richard is the new Chairman of Kū’oko’a Inc., Richard said that if the community got together and buys the old utility company electric rates would drop by 25 to 30 percent right away.

Kūʻokoʻa, according the company’s website is the Hawaiian word for independence, liberty, or freedom. Richard is committed rid the State of foreign oil – and oil period. Hawaii imports 90% of its energy from as far away as Vietnam (22%), Saudi Arabia (18%), Indonesia (10%), Brunel (8%), Thailand (7%), Libya (7%), China (4%) Oman (4%), Russia 4%) Alaska (3%) and others.

Hawaiian Electric Company declined to participate in the panel discuss and provided no response to the news of a friendly buyout, or any offer on the table. Sources say the forced buyout would be as a result of failed initiatives to get Hawaii Electric to cut fossil fuel energy supply and develop more clean energy sources already available on the Hawaiian shores.

Geothermal energy is abundantly available in Hawaii but is untapped on most of the islands. The Big Island gets a significant percentage of clean energy from geothermal, but development has been stagnant for much of the past decade.

Currently, Hawaii pays $8.5billion per year to import crude oil. Transportation accounts for 62% and electricity accounts for 33%. Richard and the gang plans to take over Hawaii Electric Industry and keep that extra $8.5 billion at home, putting money back into the pockets of farmers and locals. Ha runs a 600 acre farm on the Big Island. Hamakua Springs already has plans to go off grid with geothermal energy supplied onsite the farms.
The Hawaiian Islands are warmed from live volcanic activity below the surface, creating quite a bit of steam that can be immediately converted to electricity – no coal, no oil. Richard says after buying out Hawaii Electric he will begin weaning Hawaii of milking the oil barrel in about two years.

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