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Big Island Geothermal Plant Canned

Plans for a new geothermal plant on the Big Island of Hawaii has been canned.

Eastland Geothermal

Eastland Geothermal Plant in New Zealand

Eastland Group Ltd has pulled the plug on a potential $10 million investment in a project to build a geothermal power plant in Hawaii.

More than two years after the idea was first mooted, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd yesterday confirmed the company decided last month not to take the process any further…

…Eastland Group’s investment in building a 25MW plant on Hawaii’s Big Island would have been as a 20 percent partner, costing $5m-$10m, with Innovations Development Group (IDG) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Eastland Group had an investment option in the project through its relationship with Hawaii-based IDG in geothermal projects in eastern Bay of Plenty. In 2012, it wrote-off a $1.25m loan to IDG associated with this option.

Eastland Generation Ltd’s subsidiary company Eastland Hawaii Inc first made a bid to Hawaiian Electric Company (HELCO) to build the plant in 2013, with a decision expected to be made in September of that year.

Mr Todd said all costs associated with the work done in Hawaii were part of the company’s business development budget. Expenses, including the $1.25m loan to IDG, would not be recovered.

Eastland Group subsidiary Eastland Generation already runs a 8.5MW geothermal plant near Kawerau.

The decision to pull out of the Hawaii deal will not affect plans for a second power plant at Kawerau, or the company’s relationship with IDG, said Mr Todd.

Last year the company received consent for Eastland Generation’s Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project to go ahead, with plans to build a 15MW to 20MW plant.

Mr Todd said that project was still a partnership between Eastland Generation, Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust and IDG.

“Eastland Generation holds the majority interest in Te Ahi O Maui, with its partners each holding a minority position. The relationship hasn’t changed.

“The Te Ahi O Maui project is progressing as planned, with resource consents now in place for 15,000 tonnes a day of geothermal fluid for a 35-year period. The consents allow for the design and construction of a sustainable geothermal power plant on a site 2.3km north-east of Kawerau.”

Full story here Hawaii Plan Canned.

Senator Malama Solomon on the Hawaii Business News “Geothermal Article”

Senator Malama Solomon responded to the following Hawaii Business News article:

Click to read article

Click to read article

Your report on geothermal energy (HB November 2013, “Geothermal is a Red-Hot Topic”) failed to make some very important points about why geothermal would improve the quality of life for all of us in Hawaii.

• Geothermal is used worldwide and can be applied to Hawaii. According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are several regions worldwide with geothermal and geologic conditions very similar to Hawaii, such as Iceland and New Zealand. Both nations benefit from electrical rates of up to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to Hawaii’s average of 32 cents/kwh. DLNR also points out that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy.

• Safeguards are already in place. “The State of Hawaii has developed a thorough series of procedures to review, regulate and oversee the development of geothermal resources,” says DLNR Chair William Aila. “This includes the drilling of all geothermal wells, the protection of underground sources of drinking water, safe well construction techniques, and seismic monitoring.”

Also, geothermal development projects are required by Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to develop an Environmental Impact Statement, which includes public disclosure of potential impacts and proposed mitigations measures that are subject to public hearings and a public comment period before any project can proceed forward. “These processes are already in place ensure the protection of the environment, natural and cultural resources, and the public’s health and safety,” Alia says.

• Geothermal has Hawaiian support. “Hawaiians have supported and continue to support geothermal development on Hawaii Island,” says Mililani Trask of the Innovations Development Group. She points out geothermal development has received support by the largest Hawaiian organization, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Hawaiian energy producers and land owners, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who has also invested in a Hawaiian company seeking to develop the resource on Hawaii Island.

We have a great opportunity to responsibly develop geothermal to provide clean, renewable and firm power to our homes and businesses at a lower cost.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Senate District 4 (Hilo, Hāmākua, Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa and Kona)

19 Mile March from Pahoa to Hilo to Protect Pohoiki Begins

A three day, 19 mile march, from Pahoa to the Hawaii Electric & Light Company (HELCO) building in Hilo, began today at Pahoa High School on the Big Island.

Planned route

Planned route

The marchers were protesting planned geothermal development in East Hawaii and in particular the area around Pohoiki Beach (Isaac Hale Beach Park).

Pohoiki March
Around 10:00 in the morning folks began registering for the march and preparing themselves for the walk.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/SmOA3ml9sQI]

Approximately 200 folks marched from Pahoa High School to the Pahoa Shopping Center (Malama Market Intersection) where many of the folks weaned away from the rest of the walk.

Pohoiki March
By about 1:00 a group of about 50 folks had made their way to Ainaloa Boulevard about 4.5 miles into the march.

Pohoiki MarchYou can click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Senator Russell Ruderman: Reversal of Fate – “… I Support Safe Geothermal Development”

Aloha Constituents and Concerned Citizens,

I want to thank everyone who supported my position in objecting to the process used to create and pass House Bill 252. Please know that all the emails and calls that each senator received were crucial to the approval of the important amendment I proposed this morning.  Without your public comments, this may not have happened. I remain concerned that due process, including public comment, was by-passed, yet as the process was going forward regardless, including a major improvement was the best course of action to take.

Rudderman and Geothermal

I object strongly to the process that introduced geothermal permitting procedures into an unrelated bill, HB252, without public notice of the changes or opportunity to testify. While the bill has some desirable provisions, the lack of transparency is difficult to support. The procedures used to by-pass public input are potentially unconstitutional, as is the fact that HB252 now contains two unrelated subjects. It is unfortunate this kind of politics persists in our State legislature.

Earlier in the session we had two bills on this issue, HB106 and HB932.  HB106, which restored County oversight and contested case hearings, was supported by Hawaii County Council, OHA, Puna community groups, and 90% of testifiers.  HB106, which had the support of the majority of the subject matter committees, was deferred, probably in hopes of passing HB932 instead, yet HB932 did not have support in committee. HB932does restore county oversight, but replaced contested case hearings with forced mediation and made changes to the definition of geothermal.  It was opposed by all community groups and individuals, yet supported by Hawaii County Mayor and DLNR.

The last minute language inserted in HB252 is similar to HB932. Inserting this language, from the bill with the least support, thwarts the desires of the impacted community, the Hawaii County Council, and OHA. The voice of the community was ignored by this objectionable procedure. This continues a long-standing trend that has resulted in the problems and controversy we now have over poorly planned geothermal development.

Instead of voting “no,” in what appeared to be a losing battle to kill the bill, I submitted an amendment to improve HB252. My amendment removes the requirement for mediation from this bill. As senator of the only district with geothermal development, I am aware of some of the problems that result from poorly regulated planning. Required mediation processes proved profoundly unsuccessful in 1990. The agreements reached in mediation were violated, and the enforced mediation process is widely reviled by the community. The affected communities deserve the right to contested case hearings, as is the common remedial action in most planning disputes. By removing references to mediation, citizens’ rights are protected, and one of the most objectionable portions of HB252 is corrected.

My community and I support safe geothermal development. We simply desire fair treatment and due process to ensure a safe community. Given that the amendment was approved; I can now support this bill instead of opposing it, since it does provide for the reinstatement of county oversight that was taken away in Act 97.

Again, I want to thank everyone who submitted comments and will continue to remain vigilant when similar tactics are applied to legislation that could negatively affect my district and the State. You provided a voice that was heard loud & clear! No new testimony is needed at this time.

Thank you for your support and involvement!

Mahalo,

Senator Russell E Ruderman

Hawaii State Senate

Commentary – Former Mayor Harry Kim on House Bill 106

I have just been informed that HB106, calling for the repeal of Act 97, will not be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate. The bill will die if it is not scheduled for hearing by Monday, March 18. If that happens, then Act 97 will govern the development of the geothermal industry in this state.

HB 106

It is so very difficult to understand or accept that despite all of the support and testimony for HB106 for the repeal of Act 97 by people of Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Oahu, which includes the County governments of Maui and Hawaii Island, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Sierra Club, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, and many others, HB106 may not be given even an opportunity to be heard by the Senate.

It has not been an easy task to convince people that this was not about a position for or against the development of the geothermal industry. This was about doing it right, with the concerns of the people and the environment being addressed.

What does Act 97 do?

  • Allows geothermal exploration and development in all state land use categories: conservation, urban, rural, and agricultural (including ceded lands).
  • Eliminates entirely the County government’s approval and review process over geothermal development. With this goes the entire permit process and people’s opportunity for meaningful input.
  • Allows geothermal power plants to be built anywhere in urban, agricultural and rural districts without a County land use permit or public hearing because it is a right by law of Act 97.
  • Allows geothermal exploratory and development drilling in all state land use categories of conservation, urban, rural, and agricultural land with only a BLNR permit.
  • Reinforces the elimination of the people’s right to a contested case hearing.
  • States that geothermal exploration and development are permissible in all conservation, agricultural, urban and rural zones; i.e. anywhere in the state.

It is noted that the sponsors of Act 97 originally attempted to exempt exploratory geothermal wells from Ch. 343, the state EIS/EA laws. Due to opposition, they sought an exemption from EIS/EA requirements from the Office of Environmental Quality Control in May 2012, but fortunately, this effort failed. Imagine what it would be today if this had passed. Imagine the only notification that the public would have of geothermal drilling would be waking up in the morning and seeing the drilling rig! It is of concern that the supporters of Act 97 may try again.

I consider Act 97 a huge threat to Hawaii’s people and its environment. I believe that Act 97 shows a blatant disregard for the community, the environment, local units of government, and the County and State laws of zoning and land use.

It is difficult to understand or accept that sweeping land use changes were made without any care or mention of people, of land, or of lifestyle. I ask for understanding that the sadness expressed here is not just about the development of the geothermal industry. This is about the relationship between the people and their government. This is about a hope for a government that is an extension of the people, and not for special interests or financial gain. It is asked that you become aware that if Act 97 is not repealed, it will open the way to an open door policy for the development of the geothermal industry including “enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)” or “fracking,” which is now being explored by the State of Hawaii. As stated, this is not about being for or against geothermal, this is about doing it right, with the greatest care of impact on environment and people.

At this time, efforts are being made to see how we can ensure that a hearing will be scheduled on HB106 in spite of efforts to kill the bill. It is probable, due to the lateness of this writing, that the deadline of March 18 will have passed. If you are reading this before the deadline of March 18, I ask that you contact the following Senators and ask that HB106 be scheduled for hearing: Senator Malama Solomon, Chair of the Committee on Water and Land (808-586-7335); Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment (808-586-6830), and Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs (808-586-6360).

HB106, that calls for the repeal of Act 97, needs your help. This Act is a blatant disrespect of people, local units of government, of lifestyle, and impact on environment. It is hoped that our government will be of fairness and do what is right by law and a sense of what is right.

Harry Kim

 

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.”

[youtube=http://youtu.be/N2_Ve-s-qmU]

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