Guest Column — Mililani Trask Responds To Harry Kim

By Mililani Trask

Ho’o Puni Puni Harry Kim for not telling folks the truth about HB 106 & why it is not getting a hearing in the Senate.

If you want to see what the real HB 106 said, you should go back to the beginning of the legislative session & read  it.You will see that the 2 Bills are not at all the same. After the real HB 106  passed thru two joint hearings in the House and was supported by several House Committees, it became the victim of a “gut & replace” effort that deleted the language that had been approved by the House Committee’s & replaced it with new language prepared by environmentalists & their supporters, including Harry Kim.

The Senate is not hearing HB 106 because it is not the measure that was passed by the first 2 hearings in he Houseand has a lot of problems. The “gut & replace version” ofHB 106 restores “buffer zone” limitations that the Mayor of Hawaii County vetoed last year and that were roundly opposed by many Puna residents including small farmers and property owners living near the plant .  They did not want their farms, B & B’s & homes to loose value or be closed because of claims that have yet to be affirmed by any court.  The “gut & replace” version of the bill also contained “false” standards for the industry (which Jay is referring to). There are other problems with the Harry Kim “gut & replace “ version, it creates something called a “compatibility” test, but doesn’t actually set any criteria for what that means! It also gives the County extraordinary powers to regulate without specifically tying in this power to the Counties actual authority or jurisdiction!

This is why the Senate is not hearing the measure.


Harry continues to complain about Act 97 that created the PLDC, its pretty clear that the PLDC will go nowhere, it has been stymied by Kim & environmentalists before it even got started. That ensures that the State will not be able to develop its energy resources for the people and keeps the HECO monopoly secure.


Harry, your representation about what happened at the OQEC last year is not accurate or truthful. The DLNR’s effort was to review the exploratory approval itself

because it is the DLNR that has oversight of historic properties, endemic species, exploratory permits, invasive species & mining leases. The OEQC is made up of political appointees who are members of the Environmental groups in town who endorse  candidates. They are “volunteers” & do not keep regular office hours. Sub-contractors of Ormat PGV  have been given seats on OEQC for the last several years. This ensures OEQC never objects to anything PGV does. OEQC in under the State Department of Health.


Last year, Homesteaders from Waimanalo learned that the OEQC had discussed their efforts to use low-levelgeothermal resources on the Homelands for hothouseagriculture. In their discussion, OEQC political appointees decided that this  could not be allowed because geothermal development was “incompatible” with other uses. When a legal review verified that there was no such test in Hawaii Law or administrative procedure, & that the Environmental political appointees were fabricating their own legal standard, The Homesteaders submitted testimony to the OEQC asking for a consultation. Their requests were ignored.



The gut & replace version of HB 106 was drafted to make the fake OEQC “compatibility” test a ‘legal’ excuse to be used by environmentalists & the OEQC against Hawaiian Homesteaders. HB 106 was drafted to impose a fake “buffer zone

limitation into an ‘industry standard’ to stop their efforts for food security utilizing indigenous energy resources they own.


Earlier this session Harry & the environmentalists tried to bring back geothermal  subzones. That would have putMauna Hulalai & the remaining half of Wao Kele O Punasacred forest back in a geothermal subzone, along with thousands of acres in the “east rift zone”. I & others opposed this in the House & pointed put that there is only 1HECO RFP for geothermal development on Hawaii Island & that responsible geothermal development limits the area to the footprint of the project – there is no reason to restore ‘geothermal subzones for development’  all over the island.I testified & told them not to put our Mauna & Wao Kele back where they don’t belong.


Harry, why not tell folks about the County of Hawaii’s Bill to restore “Home Rule”.

Before the legislative session started, the County put together its package of bills, including a measure to restore Home Rule i.e. the County permitting process that had been deleted when subzones were finally thrown out. The County wanted to restore its geothermal permitting process. The County Home Rule Bill was HB 380. Many people worked on HB 308 before the session, it was supported by the DLNR & DBEDT. Too bad, it died & Harry’s “gut & replace” version was inserted into HB 106, as the ‘newHawaii County permitting process! Now that Harry’s new version of HB 106 is not being heard by the Senate, Harry & his supporters are screaming that the “County process for permitting is dead” – the County bill was HB 308 not what Harry & his gang have in HB 106.


The County Bill died & never got a hearing in the Housebecause the Environmentalists (Sierra Club, Life of the Land) & their legislative backers (Rudderman, Chris Lee, Cynthia Theilen & daughter etc.) killed it in favor of the “gut & replace” language that Harry wants.  HB 308 is a good measure, it  provides for the existing County process used for other land uses to be applied to geothermal development. It contains provisions for public hearings,mediation & appeal. The process in HB 380 is in use now in our County, & that’s why the County of Hawaii put it into their package.


The session is not over. We have seen some strange things this session including a Bill introduced by Senator Russel “Hydrofracking” Rudderman. The purpose of Ruddermans Bill was to stop the process & technology of hydrofracking for oil & gas

from being used in Hawaii by proposing an impossible permitting & rule making process on hydrofracking! There is no oil or gas in Hawaii. No one is using hydrofracking technology in Hawaii or proposing its use.  Playing political games to get media attention backfired for Rudderman. If he were listening to his constituents he would know why they oppose geothermal buffer zones & subzones. Good thing Hawaii Island has other Senators who do listen.


Harry, when you were Civil Defense Director, we had 2 explosions in Puna, but you did not shut the plant down. As Mayor, you approved & supported the expansion of the PGV allocation for production from 25 to more than 60 mwts. You supported subzones on land belonging to politicians, the Bishop Estate & their Trustees private holdings in Puna regardless of the cultural significance. This all occurred on your watch.


Hawaii has a vast bounty of indigenous energy resources that belong to the public & native Hawaiians and that are located on public trust lands. We have a right to develop these resources for firm, affordable & reliable energy & to do so by using our development models for self-sufficiency.


I am a Native Hawaiian Human Rights Advocate who  believes in the human right of

Indigenous peoples, including Hawaiians, to own, develop & benefit from our traditional lands & natural resources, including our energy resources. Indigenous Peoples, including Hawaiians are asserting our rights to benefit from our indigenous energy resources.

110 replies
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  1. Richard Ha
    Richard Ha says:

    It just dawned on me that this is more about lifestyle than it is about cost. The cost to generate geothermal is around 10 cents per kilowatt hour. But, that is not acceptable because of corporate greed, etc. So, geothermal is bad even if it is cheap? It is an inescapable fact that geothermal is the cheapest of the alternatives. I proposed a hybrid solution. People should go to solar as fast as possible and we use cheap geothermal so that the folks who cannot get off don’t get hurt too much from high cost of electricity. I don’t get why we cannot do that. As far as distributed generation and moving into the new century. There are lots of sayings that advise caution.
    Sometimes it is better to copy the first in the world, than to try to be the first in the world. The chances of success are better. Where can we look to a model that works at the scale of the Big Island? How long has it been in operation?
    If this is a lifestyle issue, then it makes sense why Sen Ruderman and Mayor Kim had to kill the two geothermal bills that had mediation and county home rule in it but did not require sub zones. Sub zones require more time and money which are obstacles that those who want geothermal killed would try to put in the way. But, we saw a geothermal plant in the Phillipines that had last erupted 100,000 years ago. Mauna Kea last erupted 4,000 years ago. Why do we need a special subzone to go there? It would be faster to go straight there abiding by the safety and peace of mind which results from the permitting process instead of spending time and money to make a subzone. It only makes sense if the objective of requiring sub zones is to kill geothermal.
    Why would people vote for night time drilling when experts say it could compromise the wells integrity and expose the community to danger. Does not make any sense unless the objective is to kill geothermal. Again I ask. What about the rest? We are going around and around. Let’s just agree to disagree. I need to go work on my farm. I’m not responding anymore to this thread.

  2. kimobrowner
    kimobrowner says:

    Richard Ha is on point. The State legislature agrees.
    Geothermal energy is moving in a positive direction.
    Solar cannot supply adequate energy for the grid for the greater community. It also requires rate payer subsidy and impacts the poor and the economically depressed.
    There are more renters than home owners. Many do not have the capital to invest. When solar powers industry and economic investment without huge federal grants and rate payer expense, clue the public. Otherwise, it is a costly purchase that doesnt pay it’s way independent of grants and rate payer contribution. For those on solar on the grid, thank the rate payer for paying his bill plus your rebate.

  3. Hawaiino
    Hawaiino says:

    RP’s sermonizing on the merits of solar are reminiscent of any “true believer” attempting to force (foist?) their beliefs on others.
    I lived off power and ran a 2 acre vegetable greenhouse in Puna in the 80’s. I know of what I speak. Solar has merit…it is not salvation. It’s a piece of the puzzle, more appropriate for some than others. But hectoring others to adopt a problematic alternative to the grid as it exists is a non-starter, and reveals more about the proponents than the problem they profess to be solving.

    I love paradigm shifts as much as the next guy… and look forward to the singularity! But….beware those who show intolerance; both to the status quo and incremental solutions. They are self absorbed dreamers and can cause nightmares for others.

  4. Robert Petricci
    Robert Petricci says:

    Solar is the future and it’s time has come.

    Solar today is far superior to the solar of the eighties both in cost and efficiency.

    Growing numbers of organizations are turning to the sun to power their facilities installing on-site solar photovoltaic system. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), global photovoltaic (PV) market growth has averaged 25 percent annually over the last 10 years, with worldwide growth rates for the last five years well over 35 percent.

    In Hawaii solar system installations doubled in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Half the building permits in Hawaii county right now are for solar systems.

    Because Hawaii policy makers are not capitalizing our solar potential, Japan and Germany are leading the way. They have robust national incentive policies, despite inferior sunlight availability.

    In the United States incentives are being provided by states to buy down the costs of PV installation. California’s Million Solar Roofs Program, with a goal to create 3,000 megawatts of new solar installations by 2017, is a significant step in promoting the abundant resource.

    Hawaii is missing an opportunity to lead, we have a phenomenal solar resource and the highest rates in the nation. It’s a perfect solar storm missing only the political will to buck the corporate monopoly of centralized power, and take us into the 21st century with distributed power.

    With technological innovation, coherent policies and further cost reductions, solar photovoltaic’s will play an increasingly important role in meeting our energy needs.

    The time to start really making the switch is now. It is a mistake to build more large centralized power plants that will need to be amortized over 20 or even 30 years. Much more of those resources should go into solar in Hawaii.

    10 years from now geothermal plants will be obsolete because they need the grid. What’s worse it will likely will take five years to bring the first ones on line. By then solar will be so far ahead geothermal would be extremely lucky to be anywhere near competitive, because of the distribution cost not to mention the 100’s of millions needed to build and operate the plants.

    Over the last 30 years, researchers have watched as the price of capturing solar energy has dropped exponentially. There’s now frequent talk of a “Moore’s law” in solar energy. In computing, Moore’s law dictates that the number of components that can be placed on a chip doubles every 18 months. More practically speaking, the amount of computing power you can buy for a dollar has roughly doubled every 18 months, for decades.

    You can not stop this from happening to solar. If you do the research it has already started, geothermal can not compete with this. In five years it is much more likely so many people will have left the grid that those left will be paying much more. Grid cost will be higher because of inflation and infrastructure improvements but the real problem is the number of people left on the grid splitting those cost will have shrunk to unsustainable levels.

    Geothermal is a loser for all of us. It’s time to change course.

  5. George Duvris
    George Duvris says:

    Guys does it really need to be a tug of war? Maybe stay with oil on the big farm while looking for other options while bringing solar into your homes. Geothermal might sound beneficial but it is poisoning our health and environment in Puna. Perhaps literally a ‘lifestyle” choice instead of watching our families die while listening to the mechanical grind all night long for miles around.

    How to power America with renewables on the cheap: Build a shit ton of wind and solar capacity

  6. Jay Bondesen
    Jay Bondesen says:

    Over a hundred comments so far. I wonder what the record is. It’s too bad that there is nothing really new to say. Most people talking here seem to have made up their minds even though the folks with degrees and real training still can’t quite find the evidence one way or the other about todays plant. Posts above talk about families dying like it’s a given. And some of you think that you speak for thousands but you don’t, maybe it’s dozens. I’ve been in lower Leilani for seven years and the PGV plant was not part of my life until last year when the County tried to condemn part of the subdivision. I sit outside in the evenings, I drink my catchment, I socialize with neighbors, and generally feel much better than when I was on the mainland. But now there are questions to be asked and answered, again apparently since the previous answers didn’t satisfy everyone. Certainly we can be better served and we really need to know more. Let’s do that and drop the rant. Of course if you have some other agenda, like concerns that more industry is coming to Puna or that everyone here should have the same off-grid lifestyle as you, then that’s a different conversation. I just don’t think that continuing to be angry is helping. I would like to think that there is some process, some way, some how, to move on.

  7. punated
    punated says:

    Solar is part of the alternative energy solution. But, solar doesn’t work at night and during rainy days. The climate has changed on the east side so there are more sunny days now, but old timers will remember when it would rain for weeks on end. Solar is about the batteries for storage and they don’t last through the night.

    Here is a scenario with all solar. It is 10pm at night, you have a sudden pain, go to the hospital and they say you will live if you get surgery in a few hours (say, a brain aneurism). But, the hospital can’t do any surgeries until the sun comes up in 10 hours and the night batteries were providing just basic lighting. So, the hospital says “We’re sorry sir, we can’t do any surgeries until morning and you aren’t going to make it, so is there anybody we should call for last rites?”.

    Hospitals need grid power, schools need grid power, manufacturing needs grid power, restaurants need grid power, grocery stores need grid power, etc, etc, etc. Can we get off this stupid argument that solar is somehow going to provide BASE power? It just plain DOES NOT. BASE power is 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365.25 days per year, usually shown as 24/7/365. Fuel oil burning plants can provide BASE power by running all the time, belching carbon monoxide and SO2 sulfur dioxide the whole time. Then there is geothermal, that provides BASE power without burning, with almost zero emissions, and at a fraction of the cost of burning oil.

    It seems pretty clear that Hawaii county has not shown the technical competence to retain geothermal permitting authority, so that is a good thing about losing home rule. These endless discussions about geothermal can keep going on but all political fodder has been blown away. The bad thing about losing home rule is that Hawaii county has diminished its political influence with the state regarding energy policy and direction.

    You are history, Petricci, and not a pleasant history at that.

  8. George Duvris
    George Duvris says:

    Waking up today and reading more of these blog entries, I am considering making a conversion. Yes, I plan to throw away my solar equipment and join what most people in this country are doing and consume more fossil resources. I will support the destruction of every piece of land space available in Puna and encourage more geothermal, ammonia and all other fraking incentives. Maybe even petition for a toxic radiation dump as well to make a few dollars from and be able to buy a gas mask for the pollution. I hear that there are 14 mainland companies ready to start mining already. Forget the Hawaii I have known and look forward to stinky air, water and expanding electric bills. Of course we need more oil so let’s use the expedient tool of racism and terrorist alert to invade a few more countries and take their oil as well.
    I must be missing the point of smarter people in the blog that are flushing the idea of solar in their homes (as more and more other countries in the world are advancing on even with less year round sun). I agree that farms are still needing to find other alternatives and better usage of oil, but how does lifestyle and business get mixed up in the equation. Personally having lived off grid, we find our family of five has never been deprived of enough power to enjoy a conventional lifestyle over the years. And on long days of rain, conservation as well as the generator are always adequate. Then again maybe we should be running every electrical appliance we own at full speed to prove that we really are addicted to oil.
    Perhaps this nonsense about the need for more oil instead of a more responsible lifestyle is the right way to be, so I’m going to go back to sleep as I don’t want to be awake to the nightmare affecting the health and the environment which greed and ignorance are dictating to our planet.

    The Coming Crash: Our Addiction to Endless Growth on a Finite Planet [With Photo Slideshow]. Richard Heinberg talks about the new book “Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth,” a haunting look at our current energy path

  9. Richard Ha
    Richard Ha says:

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I had dinner recently with Richard Heinberg of PCI. I commend you for setting the example of what we need to do to cope. I am sure your children will help to lead us into an uncertain future.
    Its all about energy. In Hawaii we have a source of energy that is not available to most of the people on the planet.
    How can we leverage that so it helps future generations to cope? It really is not about us. What do your kids think? Can I talk with all of you? My cell is 960 1057. Aloha

  10. Robert Petricci
    Robert Petricci says:

    Solar energy, currently is only a quarter of a percent of the planet’s electricity supply, but it grew 86% last year. The biggest shift in attitude will be seen, for sunlight, it has the potential to disrupt the electricity market completely.

    Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity.

    Further battery technology is getting much better as well.

    Many organizations, both academic and commercial, are working on ways to store electricity when it is in surplus, so that it can be used when it is needed.

    Progress is particularly likely during 2013 in the field of flow batteries. These devices, hybrids between traditional batteries and fuel cells, use liquid electrolytes, often made from cheap materials such as iron, to squirrel away huge amounts of energy in chemical form.

    Solar costs have fallen by over 30% in the past two years.

    Current solar cell on panels widely distributed to retailers offer a maximum of 16-25 percent efficiency rate. However in one of the many efforts in the race around the word to increase efficiency and lower cost, scientists at Stanford University have improved the efficiency of a revolutionary solar cell by around 100 times, the solar panels made with Lepcon or Lumeloid could turn 70 to 80 percent of the energy from sunlight they receive into electricity.

    The public and businesses are desperate to save on energy costs. The best way to do that going forward is going to be to get off the grid with a non-polluting solar energy.

    The world record for triple-junction solar cell efficiency is 44 percent, but a collaboration between the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Imperial College of London, and MicroLink Devices Inc. led to a multi-junction photovoltaic cell design that broke the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier under concentrated solar illumination.

    The Scientists at Stanford University improved the efficiency of their revolutionary solar cell dramatically. Unlike standard photovoltaic cells, which only capture light energy, Stanford’s new device captures both light and heat, potentially boosting solar cell efficiency towards 60% way beyond the 30-40% limit of traditional silicon photovoltaic solar cells.

    Geothermal can not compete with the revolution in solar. Change in electrical energy production is moving at light speed now, geothermal can not possible keep up with this. We have a better way both economically and environmentally in solar. People will see that soon enough, further geothermal is going to fail.

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