• 17 Mar 2013 /  Uncategorized 110 Comments

    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.

    Posted by Tiffany Edwards Hunt @ 4:56 pm

110 Responses

  • Buddah Belly Says:

    Removing geothermal subzones makes geothermal drilling allowed everywhere, including the subzones…

    PGV is re-injecting 4,000,000 gallons of water into the the porous ground under extreme pressure, if that is not fracking, I don’t know what it is…

  • Tom Travis Says:

    As to the assertion in the first paragraph of Ms. Trask’s letter, I have read all of the testimony Mayor Kim has submitted to the legislature concerning HB 106 and it is clear that he has continued to to support full repeal of ACT 97. His testimony clearly did not favor the changes that were made to Bill HB 106 in the House, as he continued to support retention of geothermal sub zones. For those desiring to check the facts, check Mayor Kim’s testimony to both committees that reviewed HB 106 in the House. He was in no way responsible for the changes that were made.

    Since Ms. Trask’s allegations about the positions Mayor Kim has taken are incorrect, it seems to me that the remaining points of her argument need to be re-articulated. Criticism of Mayor Kim must be based on what Mayor Kim’s positions have been, not based on Ms. Trask’s misunderstanding about his involvement in some “gut and replace” effort.

    As to the criticism of those who think the legislature should address hydraulic fracturing, we have seen articles proposing use of this technology for exploitation of hot,dry rock geothermal resources in Oahu. According to news reports, Dr. Don Thomas is working with mainland laboratories to find enhanced geothermal resources. As I understand it, IDG whom is associated with Ms. Trask also is interested in this technology. On this issue I think Ms. Trask “protests too much.”

  • Redland Lee Says:

    I Agree with Mr. Travis, and one has to wonder what is motivating Ms. Trask to single out Mayor Kim and his quest to protect the people of this island as well as the state? Mr. Kim has NO HIDDEN agenda except to do what he feels is the RIGHT thing to do. I was at the original hearing in Honolulu, and I have to tell you that he single handedly saved the day. So many people in that room were going to “drink the kool aid” without evening knowing what they were going to vote on. It was interesting and surreal all at the same time. Ms. Trask I believe was there representing someone or some group, along with Mr. Ha. ( I think but cannot confirm) What say you Ms. Trask, who or what Geothermal group are you representing?? That should settle the issue once and for all who is more credible and believable. Harry Kim gets my vote and support!! Thanks Harry for doing the right thing.

  • Lono Brown Says:

    Its clear that the “foreigners” who moved to our homelands believe their needs outweigh the “host” indigenous culture’s needs. No way! We will fight for affordable electricity and our rights to develop our indigenous resources such as “geothermal”. And if you foreigners no like that then MOVE back to where you came from. You’re not from Hawai’i! You are visitors who came and never left!

  • anon 18 Says:

    Sen and Ex Mayor should use the phone.

  • hugh clark Says:

    Now, when did Trask become a “foreigner.?”

  • Jay Bondesen Says:

    Thank you Mililani for another perspective on issue. The rest of us see bits and pieces of what our legislators are doing as well as what spin different interest groups put on those actions. It may be too simple but what I see here isn’t just talk about repealing act 97 but it’s also about what HB106 is adding. As with what came up at The Hawaii County Council last year many of us just don’t think we have heard the right solution yet. So why accept the wrong answer rather than asking for the right answer?

  • punated Says:

    It is appalling when a revered, hopefully retired, ex-politician like Harry Kim and a now fairly significant State Senator like Ruderman have gone on the science and technology illiteracy campaign being led by some ex-dope dealers with anti-society chips on their shoulders as their leaders, based on urban legend tales.

    The situation is made more astounding by the recently verified EPA reports about the HELCO Hilo, Shipman and Puna fuel oil buring electric plants, on the amount of sulphur dioxide SO2 and other major toxin emissions, including many that are now clearly known to be carcinogenic. There are thousands of tons of this acid rain smog being put into the air above our heads on this island and it is coming down in the rain into all the catchment tanks. This is not a danger?

    We know the pre-contact ali’i had, and maybe still have, a symbiotic relationship with Pele and the volcanoes. The ali’i had fear but less than the gratitude and respect for the gifts and bounties of this aina created by Pele. If anything, the kanaka maoli misfortunes began after chiefess Kapiolani turned her back on Pele. Transplanted mainland haoles are going to bring their mainland prejudice with them that the volcano is only to be feared. They see the volcano as only blood red, seething with fire and brimstone, the vision of hell on earth. That is what they are trying to associate geothermal with.

    Why can’t somebody see geothermal as the milk from Pele, for her children, to become more prosperous and healthy (after reducing oil burning plants to near zero)? That is the way I see her.

  • Buddah Belly Says:

    obviously punated does not live in or love puna

  • Dd Says:

    Ted, acid rain from Pele. You are very judgemental. Do you know ANY of the people you put down? They frack pele to get her “milk”. Since you are into name calling, look in the mirror yourself.

  • no `a`ama syndrome here Says:

    It takes one ho`opunipuni o know another. She is a paid geothermal consultant. Of course, she would say that. She is so predictable. Either way, she is to be held responsible for her ho`opunipuni by the ancestors. I feel so sorry for her.

  • Harry Uhane JIm Says:

    Trask, you your not alone being Native Hawaiian… I am too, and was there the day the Present Geothermal Blew up, and forced my family from our home in Leilani Estates. Really Now. We are the people to be protected here. the demand for buffers is not as you imagine because of property value, its the smell of the Plant we have in operation .just last week it was leaking. Wake up. please. stop this looking for your problem in harry Kim and look for our solution from the threat to our property. Absolutely violent is your vision. Find no one here in Puna who can believe your awake. There is no Reason to imagine that the hawaiian must evoke the sanctity of the Puna Land to carry your political vision. Pele Land is Volatile. your political authority is victimizing us here. stop. Pele will continue to anyway. Pele as has been the consistent authority here refusing to participate in the agenda your drilling into our lives. Yes your Native Hawaiian. FEEL IT. Stop please just thinking it.

  • Hilo Side Says:

    Shame on you Mililani Trask for selling out our lands and our people to big corporations! Where does your money come from? Why don’t you tell everyone here?? We know that you are now living off of what PGV is giving you to sell us out. Just respond to the question. You and Richard Ha both – getting money from them. At least Richard admitted it. Disgusting – ho’o puni puni indeed! All lies, Trask. You can run, but you cannot hide from yourself. All the lies that you tell will come back to haunt you for all of time. For our ‘aina, for our keiki, please remember where you come from. And she will forgive you.

  • angus Says:

    Whether you are for or against geothermal you should be demanding that government officials institute endependent monitoring rather than relying on industry self-reporting. All other discussions distraction. To know if geothermal production is safe to be developed within a residential community surrounded by 7 schools, we simply need unbiased, unfettered, independent monitoring of water and air. Until then, claims of safety and sustainability are just claims.

  • Lono Brown Says:

    Hilo Side, you are HEWA! May the AKUA LELE descend upon you and choke you! You are full of it! Reveal yourself for the people so we can determine if you have done as much for the kanaka maoli then Mililani. You lucky this isn’t the ancient times, you would not be able to walk in Mililani Trask’s shadow!

  • Redland Lee Says:

    Reading these comments, where does the local culture or Hawaiians stand on this issue. I hear all kinds of “positions” from various hawaiians. In reading Ms. Trask article again, and then blogging her company that she works with, it is clear “this hawaiian(trask) has seen the light”. Her position is the following: Eh, about time the kanaka get the kala! If we going do geothermal, lets make sure the locals make the deals, and not the out siders. Harry Kim at the meeting at Honolulu stated many times….”this is a cash machine…huge money….and that is why we have to make sure that it is done right, with the people and everybody on the same page. I not against Geothermal, I just want to make sure that it is done in a safe and correct way, making sure people are safe” (Harry Kim)
    How can Mililani say that Harry is a liar or deceiver. His statements have been very forthright in making sure that it is done right. If she is in favor of geothermal, Harry said he is NOT against Geothermal, so where is the problem.
    So Hawaiians or Kanaka, where does your culture truly make the stand…For or Against Geothermal, I am just curious who is speaking for the Hawaiians 100% of the time, not only when it is convenient.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Hilo side you are a liar! I have never received money from PGV or anyone in the geothermal business. My motivation has consistently been to lower electricity rates. The Big Island has the lowest median family income in the state. 89% of the students in the Pahoa complex receive free or reduced fee lunch that is first in the state! Our electricity rates have been 25% higher than Oahu for as long as anyone can remember. The folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder are the ones that are affected most.
    Too often they are Hawaiian. There are more Hawaiians living on the mainland than live here. What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t hide behind a fake name and I cannot be bought.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Kala Mai Hilo side. I reacted too quickly by calling you a liar. I instead should have said to look at whoever told you I took money and check the motivation. I know that you have the best interest of the Kanaka Maoli in mind. Kala Mai. What we should all be doing is talking story about how we can work together for the benefit of ALL of us.

  • George Duvris Says:

    For years I have felt your newspaper to display the professional level of journalism fitting for representing the views of our citizens. However, after reading your recent guest columnist Mililani Trask response to Harry Kim, I am not as certain. My first question is who does Mililani work? If it is for the various vested big money energy providers, I must say she is deserving of a bonus payment for a job well done. But as a fair and conscious representative of the people of Hawaii, I see only an empty slash of rhetoric. I wonder if Mililani has ever come to our area in the Big Island where for miles in every direction, we have to hear the non-stop mechanical grinding of the geothermal machinery or listen to the stories of the residents who are sick from its toxic chemicals released in the air. In the nearby Leilani subdivision, neighbors can’t even enjoy sitting in their back yards because of these horrible smells and the noise can even be heard in homes over three miles away.Essentially our beautiful community of Puna is being trashed by allowing this to continue.
    The promise of geothermal as a valid option of sustainability is tainted. The geothermal process in other places such as in California and Iceland is a result of natural geysers and care in not building these plants near where people live. Here on the Big Island, chemicals are pushed into the volcanic shelf for a reaction which over the years has created several very dangerous explosions. HELCO has been making big profits while we here on the Big Island are paying four times the price for kilowatt hour of electricity than on the mainland. What many of us do not understand is why the state still remains intent on pursuing geothermal when we have a tremendous bounty of opportunity with solar. Countries like Germany and Denmark are using solar for over 50% of their energy while we seem to be not even looking up at this beautiful clean source of energy as well. Some short sighted proposals are mentioning building a cable from the Big Island to Oahu to send geothermal energy. However for less the cost the state can supply a solar system for every household in Hawaii and then actually be closer to cheaper electricity for our people.
    The big energy companies, investors and political puppets are quick to advertise geothermal because of the huge financial profits but without being able to justify its detrimental effect on both human and environmental health. In this case, the people of Puna who have to face this challenge, are supportive of Harry Kim. He is a person who we can trust and know that he is responsive to the needs and concerns of the people and never sold out his promises to us because of financial or political gain. He has visited the neighborhoods affected by the geothermal nightmare and joins us in asking Mililani as well as the board of directors for HELCO and their investors if they would want the plant next to their house. Let’s wake up while we still can and break the strangle hold of the same old vested interests that are making money instead of looking for better solutions. Let’s toss away the dirty electricity and move towards solar for a healthy and sustainable future.
    George Duvris
    Pahoa, Hawaii

  • Jay Bondesen Says:

    A few people posting here are just so sure of their opinion that they pass it along as if it’s a proven fact when really many are still looking for the proof. Calling someone a liar doesn’t make it so and anyone claiming that they speak for more than a limited group of people is just not accurate. Why doesn’t everybody just want to find out what’s going on, what’s been released and what will it do? People worry about the stress induced by having a geothermal plant while this conversation seems to create plenty of stress on it’s own.

  • Angus Says:

    Richard Ha, I have a simple question regarding your comment. If the Big Island has higher electricity bills than other islands for as long as you say, and it has had geothermal for long enough to show it’s economic benefits to the ratepayer, why is geothermal still being touted as the solution to high electricity bills? It hasn’t worked yet so why claim it will. Makes no sense. Bad logic. What makes more sense is geothermal is going to make a few people very wealthy and as usual the public will be manipulated through a well funded PR machine to believe it’s going to help them with lower rates, jobs etc. Current PR has them scared to even talk about geothermal for fear of its affects on property values. Property is more important than help?

    Meanwhile, if history is our guide the citizens will pay higher bills, pay for clean up of polluted sites, pay for more emergency first responders etc. etc. Come on. Can’t people think beyond the next government subsidy? You live on an island, be responsible with the little land you have.

    I agree with Jay Bondesen. Why don’t we just find out what is going on now with current geothermal production before we expand. Let’s have independent (non industry biased) monitoring to test air and water. Then geothermal advocates can talk about how safe it is. Until then, they are using all the other issues to distract people from their protected right to live in a healthy environment. Claim vog all you like but controlled analysis will be able to eliminate that variable. You don’t need a PHD to know that. Those of you who help to distract from this argument, should indeed be ashamed.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Aloha Angus
    There were three geothermal contracts–25MW, 5MW and 8MW.
    The 25 and 5MW were done when oil price was much lower and doing geothermal was not so lucrative as now. That’s why the price was tied to oil, they needed to give the developers some incentive to do the deal. Now, since oil price rose so high, more than anyone ever dreamed, the price is not allowed to be tied to oil. It is instead based on a reasonable return on investment–such as 10%.
    The last 8MW was not tied to oil. That’s why, it’s cost is 9 cents compared to 21.8 cents per kilo watt hour for generating electricity from oil. At the same time, that they negotiated the last 8MW contract, they renegotiate the second–5MW contract. So instead of 21.8 cents per kilowatt hour for the 5MW, we now pay a stable 11.8 cents per kilo watt hour. The reason we don’t see the effect is that the last two of the three geothermal contracts are only 8MW and 5MW. The big part is the 25MW first geothermal contract. They are renegotiating that now. According to published figures, the cost of generating geothermal electricity is around 10 cents per kilowatt hour–half that of generating electricity from oil. The more you do the more you benefit from low costs. While oil price will keep on rising. The Big Island will be over the hot spot for 500,000 to a million years according to Jim Kauahikaua. Since you don’t have to grow or haul anything here from foreign countries to make the steam. The geothermal price will stay steady and our future generations will benefit more and more from the stable prices. Respectfully and carefully done, Hawaiians are overwhelmingly in favor of using the geothermal resource.

  • Angus Says:

    Aloha Richard,

    Mahalo. I appreciate your explanation of the past and current geothermal contracts for electricity. To be fair, it still would be reasonable to allow a track record of lowering rates to demonstrate itself before we make claims that geothermal will lower rates on a larger scale. So far we only have promises. You must forgive the average consumer/citizen for being skeptical of such promises these days. Helco, with virtually no competition, has little incentive to lower rates.

    Yes, Jim Kauahikaua says we’ll have a hot spot for 500K to a million years but he also says there is a 60-90% chance that current geothermal operations will be overrun by lava in the next 50 years. Is that a vision of sustainability? Imagine what would happen to Hawaii’s economy if it were dependent on geothermal and the lights went out. There was another accident at PGV last week that caused Pahoa to lose power. If energy security is the goal then a decentralized electricity source like solar would make more sense. I don’t work in solar but it’s pretty obvious that it’ll create more jobs for the broader economy than geothermal ever will.

    Your claim that oil prices will go up, is based on current trends not absolute fact. It’s a bet. Instability from 10 years of war in the middle east and sanctions against Iran have created higher oil prices. It’s a known fact that the US will soon out-produce Saudi Arabia in oil. Your bet may not have legs. A safer bet is that solar panel prices will continue to go down, probably faster than oil goes up.

    Finally, I’m sure that Hawaiians are in favor of using the geothermal resource if “respectfully” and “carefully” done, but I notice the closer you get to the resource, the more Hawaiians don’t feel that things are necessarily being done carefully or respectfully. It’s easy to advocate for an industry when you don’t have to live with the consequences of it’s pollution. The hospital in the area said they’ve had an unusual number of illnesses that coincided with the release at PGV. Just a coincidence? We can’t know until there is independent air monitoring in the neighborhoods as schools there. Anything less lack “care” and “respect.”

  • Richard Ha Says:


    In 2009, I attended my second Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) conference, in Denver. I heard a panel discussion about shale gas. Arthur Berman talked about studying 4,000 shale gas wells in the Barnett Shale in Texas.
    He said, the average shale gas well gave 73% of its total production in the first year. A shale gas executive was trying to say that the wells reserves would last 22 years. Who should we believe, the geologist with no agenda or the oil executive who had strong incentive to hold his stock price up? Fast forward to 2012. There is more data. this time the data was from 19,000 wells. It showed that the average of this 19,000 wells would give up 94% of its total production in 5 years. Is this what we are depending on for us to pass Saudi Arabia? The old oil wells lasted 40 years the new shale gas wells last 5 years.

  • Damon Says:


    “There was another accident at PGV last week that caused Pahoa to lose power. ”


    There was not an accident at PGV last week…. the problem was w/ HELCO…. PGV lost power because of HELCO and mitigated things so that no problems would occur at the plant.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Damon are you saying they gassed the community by design to save the plant? Sounds about right, nothing new there, the people never have come first. It’s always about protecting PGV.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Puna is not the only place with geothermal issues. Clean green and cheap?…..look at your bill, does it look cheap?….Talk is cheap, geothermal has to go into the grid, so it will never be cheap…..They been saying that for thirty years….You want cheap go solar, tell the government to quit giving geothermal corporations grants and give that money to homeowners, that is the real way to affordable power. Energy independence starts with independent systems not more corporate control. lose the grid and over half the cost of of electrical power. Geothermal is just another monopolistic corporate scam.

    Produce it where you use it. That is the most efficient and cost effective way to get power.

    Construction of Africa’s largest geothermal power plant was disrupted when workers in one of the companies in Olkaria Naivasha went on strike. The more than 300 workers from Chinese Company Sinopec downed tools over poor working conditions and low wages.
    Efforts to get comment from the company representatives were fruitless as they were said to be in a crisis meeting. Naivasha police boss Charles Kortok said police had been sent to patrol the area.
    The workers had earlier attacked one of the senior Chinese officers before anti-riot police from Kongoni police station contained the situation.

    The Bureau of Land Management oversees geothermal energy development on public lands with a patchwork of regulations and no standardized inspection and enforcement program, the Interior Department’s internal watchdog said Monday.

    A dozen environmental organizations say they reject the proposed “mutilation” of over 1,000 hectares of Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Guanacaste for a geothermal energy project.


  • Richard Ha Says:

    The H2S abatement system is designed to mitigate when HELCO cuts PGV. When that happens the steam has to go somewhere. It passes through a system that scrubs H2S.
    What happened is what it is designed to do.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Exactly it is designed to go into the air, into the communities air. It has to go somewhere, like you say. So we pay the price to save the equipment. Scrubbed chemicals fall out of the air, give us a chemical analysis. The one I saw is pretty nasty full of all kinds of heavy metals.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I think we need some balance in this discussion. What about the cost of electricity to the folks in Puna? It has been 25% higher than Oahu for as long as anyone can remember. One of the school complexes in the Ka’u, Kea’au Pahoa school group has a bill in excess of $1 million annually. Almost a quarter of that is diverted from keiki education. Pahoa at 89% has the highest participation of free/reduced price school lunch in the state. We need to start to talk about cost too.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    So not only are they releasing toxins into the neighborhood to protect the plant, after 30 years of geothermals promised cheap power instead we still pay some of if not the highest rates in the country.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I pointed above why the cost has not yet trickled down. Now the cost of geothermal is no longer tied to oil, But, you need to bring more on line to get the benefit. The high cost is because we are so tied to expensive alternatives. We need low cost alternatives.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    We have roughly 20% geothermal now on the grid Richard. We have had geothermal power since 1981 and we have heard since before that that it would be cheap, yet it never has been. Excuses and talk don’t count after all this time my friend, it’s the bill you get that is the true cost. That is the truth you take to the bank everything else is PR.

    What you fail to acknowledge is producing the power is not the majority cost to consumers, it’s the delivery system that is the bigger problem. The Grid! PGV last time I talked to them told me they get 18 cents a KWH for the first 30 megawatts and they told me they get 14 cents a KWH for the last 8 megawatts.

    You say it’s 11 cents what ever the number 18, 14, or 11, when you subtract that from the rate you pay what is left is the cost to deliver the power. It fluctuates but I think 43 cents is a number I have seen quite a few times. The most that will come down even if you are right, and I do not think you are, but even then factoring in other cost is 10 cents, using your high of 21 cents for avoided cost. Eliminating HELCO cost and the delivery system with independent power would save a lot more.

    Here is the problem with what you are saying on the economics. The delivery cost will continue to rise because of upgrades and new infrastructure and inflationary pressures on all of the materials and labor that supports the delivery system (the grid and other cost tied to HELCO).

    There are two problems with the delivery system, first it is an antiquated business model for the power production industry of the past. It is inefficient to move power great distances and completely outdated.

    Around the world and even nationally the future is distributed power generation that produces the power where it is needed. Get rid of the grid make your own power like thousands of us do. Simply get rid of the huge cost associated with HELCO’s monopolistic delivery monopoly. Why is HELCO pushing geothermal? For us? Ha, not a chance it is what is best for their power delivery monopoly.

    Solar power has already passed the peak cost return of HELCO in Hawaii. Solar is already cheaper. Before you could possibly build another geothermal plant those solar cost will drop more and the cost of HELCO’s delivery and the cost to drill wells and build a power plant will rise. Geothermal is an economic loser for rate payers, it may benefit you and the corporations but it will never beat solar power in Hawaii.

    This is why from an economic point of view as well as for health and safety we prefer to see the move to more independent solar power systems.

    They are already cheaper than HELCO power right now. We are not against meeting our needs, we are against energy policy that is formulated to help corporations at our expense economically and for health and safety reasons.

    Instead of these huge centralized power plants like geothermal that cost hundreds of millions to build and threaten our water, air, and families, and can not possible be paid off over the next ten years, invest in solar, help poor people get solar instead. Then we could work together and the community would support you.

    Geothermal will not be able to compete with solar cost that are dropping at amazing speed. Geothermal simply stated economically is a mistake that will benefit the existing delivery monopoly but not rate payers.

    Energy policy should be what is best for the people not for companies or corporations. The energy policy we see is because of special interest influence in government not what is best for our people.

    The biggest obstacle to independent solar systems is the upfront cost, that is where you should put your energy if you really want the most energy for the money. If you want to help poor people help them get a solar system that will lower their bills now. Not in some future fantasy world of giant geothermal plants.

    Lets use those hundreds of million of dollars the government gives ORMAT and other geothermal companies every year and give it to homeowners instead. It’s their money anyway, why do these corporations get all the money, they are using our tax money anyway? When you say it’s cheap are you counting the hundreds of millions in grants, loan guarantees, and partial loan guarantees? Of course not, if you did even you would have to post the true cost of geothermal power.

    If we are going to subsidize it any way lets give it back to the people (the tax payers) not to insiders and the geothermal companies.

    Geothermal is not only a health and safety problem it’s an economic scam to maintain the existing energy monopolies. It will never be as cheap as solar. Lets do what is best for our economy, and our health, lets go solar. You have 20% geothermal now and it is the post troubled power plant in Hawaii’s history, no other power plant even comes close as we saw again last Wednesday.

    I hope that helps you understand this from a rubber slipper point of view Richard. Help poor people directly not corporations hoping for trickle down savings, it never works that way.

  • punated Says:

    If somebody that is constantly lying isn’t called on it, they will keep on spreading the lie and try to get it bigger and bigger.

    HB 106 that would have repealed or modified Act 97 was deferred today. That means it is dead for 2013 and has little chance of being raised again. There is a separate senate bill for a BLNR to administer the permit process for exploration.

    This brings an end to using the Hawaii county code as some legal instrument to obstruct geothermal development. Geothermal is a state asset and now, it is going to be managed as one. Failure to repeal Act 97 means the Hawaii County Code Geothermal Chapter is obsolete, null and void.

  • Buddah Belly Says:

    once again, punated does must not live in or love puna

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Robert here is how things actually work. The cost to run the grid is about 20 cents per kilowatt hour. The cost to generate electricity from oil is around 21 cents per kilowatt hour while the geothermal cost is 10 cents per kilowatt hour. So if you add the 20 cents to run the grid to the cost of oil you get 41 cents per kilowatt hour. If you use geothermal it comes to 31 cents per kilowatt hour. Geothermal clearly costs less. I actually am only concerned about cost! Show me what costs less and I’ll choose that. Don’t over think it.

  • Jay Bondesen Says:

    Ah, the talk is back to the Bill under discussion rather than the dream of solar panels powering our economy any time soon. Whether we grow geothermal developement or not, this bill just would not stand up as legal and reasonable. Let calmer heads without pressure from any interest groups give it the consideration it requires. The grid is not going to leave us for a while yet but we do keep getting new options on ways to energize it. I think that it will require several sources and we should consider the price, the health consequences, and the sustainability of each of them.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I have no problems when people leave the grid for PV or solar heating. It saves us from bringing in oil. But, that results in folks who cannot leave the grid to pay for the Cost of those who left.If we can balance folks leaving the grid with geothermal, we can have a balanced low cost solution that will take care of all of us. Low costs help the people, high cost hurts the people.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Thousands of us have left the grid already including me. Why? It works and it’s cheaper. You have a working community model right here that should be assistance you give geothermal instead.

    We did it with out the kind of help geothermal needs. We did it without HELCO or the corporations. Give that political help and money to the people instead of the corporations if you really want to help.

    Corporations answer to share holders, the bottom line is what dictates policy. Not what is best for our people and communities. PGV is a perfect example of that and always has been. We have been mistreated for 20 years by them. It’s always been about how to squeeze out a buck at our expense.

    Richard we have heard that same argument about cheap geothermal for thirty years. Grid cost are rising and solar cost are falling, it’s getting worse not better. It’s been that way for years and we have passed the peak. Solar works and it’s cheaper than geothermal right now.

    More geothermal is a huge mistake. They can not even operate the one they have safely. As for oil we all want to get off oil but lets do it in a way that makes sense. Move into the 21rst century. The grid served it’s purpose now it’s time to decentralize power production. We need to change direction now or pay for it later.

    Why build more dangerous and expensive power plants that will not be able to compete.

    Tell me this – what did it cost to build and operate PGV. We have seen over figures of over 200 million. The last well alone is rumored to have cost 20 million. Now tell me what the cost to build the 50 megawatt plant HELCO wants will be, and how long will it take to pay for itself at .11cents. I do understand this Richard.

    Now what will solar cost in five years? Solar is projected to drop by up to 90% over the next five years and the technology including batteries will be much better. Geothermal will not compete with that. We have 20% geothermal now fix PGV before building anymore. HELCO demand has been dropping since 2006 not rising. That is going to continue as we move to solar, we do not need more geothermal.

    Right now over half the new building permits at the county are for solar. Solar installations are doubling or more every year. That will only increase leaving fewer and fewer rate payers to pick up the cost of the grid. That means grid cost will rise per ratepayer for every one that leaves on top of inflation and the needed upgrades, while solar prices will keep falling. Your going to lose, run the numbers.

    Geothermal not only has not reduced rates over the last thirty years, it has not been able to operate safely as we saw again last week. You can say it’s cheap but you really do not know what it will cost in five years when they might bring a new plant online. There are too many variables including the delivery system. The associated cost are going to rise. We know solar will be much less in five years and we know it’s safe.

    You really should change direction. Solar also is creating thousands of new good jobs. Our phone book has four pages of solar contractors. It is a growth industry that is exploding. When the federal geothermal money dries up and it will, we will be left holding the bag while all the developers will have taken their money and left.

    I am completely serious when I say geothermal is an environmental and economic mistake. That is why you have such opposition. You should look at the people that are against this, we are not what you think. Do not try to force it on us we do not want it for good reason.

    If geothermal is what you claim why can’t it go through the same regulatory process as other developments. Why do you need special laws to exempt it from environmental and land use laws? Geothermal is a loser Richard I am sorry, it is not personal, I have lived with it for over thirty years and I have had to learn everything I could about it to do that. Now I understand it very well. Fix the one you have (PGV) before you go gutting environmental and land use laws.

    Work with us for the future of Hawaii. We need to make these fundamental changes now, your leading us down the wrong path.

    Geothermal is a corporate scam to try and save an outdated delivery technology, we will all end up losing if the state takes that path.

    Further look at the geothermal industry record. There will be another blowout or other serious accident, what then? What about the people? How will cost rise when that happens. PGV is a limited liability company with a 25 million insurance policy. Why? They know it’s risky, what about the next big earthquake?

    There are so many legitimate reasons to dump geothermal and move to the future now, it’s hard to list them all. Hawaii’s energy policy should lead us into the 21rst century, not be stuck in outdated, inefficient, grid technology that will drive cost up not down.

    Using your figures the delivery system/grid/HELCO is half the cost. I think it’s higher but even at half why should we support multimillion dollar corporate compensation for bringing us the highest rates in the nation?

    I think there is more to this with your wanting to develop other industries here including ammonia manufacturing. Why not lay all your cards/plans on the table now?

    It’s not just geothermal you want is it Richard?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I have a blog. It is at hahaha.hamakuasprings,com. It goes back several years. I have been consistent about advocating for lower cost electricity. A group of us tried to purchase the electricity utility to lower electricity cost. People laughed! It would cost billions. They said it was impossible. But, we knew that Hawaii was heading in the wrong direction. And, somebody needed to step up. We got further than most imagined but it did not work. I have since joined with the Big Island Community Coalition. It’s only purpose is to lower cost of electricity for the Big Island. HELCO withdrew its $19 million proposed rate hike. And, if we are successful in stopping the Aina Koa Pono biofuel project, it will stabilize our electricity costs somewhat. But, that is not enough, we need to drive the electricity rates down.

  • Angus Says:

    Aloha Richard, I applaud any efforts you may have taken in the past to lower electricity rates as long as they don’t amount to NIMBY lip service.

    Going forward, since you appear to be open minded, you may want to seriously reconsider solar as its cost has been going down steadily for years. The state’s ability to buy solar equipment in bulk wholesale would greatly drop costs even further. It can be spread around the island offering greater energy security, far from potential lava flows. While it won’t generate at night, it could cover nearly all daytime usage and dramatically reduce reliance on imported oil. In point of fact, solar has a better track record than geothermal in reliability and cost reduction.

    Your argument that geothermal is needed to lower electricity bills in an impoverished community seems disturbingly self serving and has two fatal flaws: 1) The geothermal plant has been within this community for years and has not reduced electricity bills yet. Claims of grid cost and electrical line loss would not apply to a community in the immediate vicinity if the power were there for local benefit. 2) Historically, throughout the nation and abroad, communities that are beset by industrial development always become more impoverished due to damaged health, diminished self-esteem and the lack of development by other economic sectors that avoid an industrialized landscape and the poverty mentality it breeds (ie. tourism, agriculture, computer tech, education, culture). The policy you seem to support would further impoverish Puna and could turn it into Hawaii’s “Sacrifice Zone,” a plantation economy serving Oahu. Considering the steady and vibrant growth East Hawaii is experiencing, this would be a shameful oversight that misses an opportunity to grow the state-wide economy and culture. With humble respect, I ask, who’s interests do you serve? Your own arguments suggest that you’d rather steer energy policy and precious money to keep people on the grid in order to maintain the economic viability of the grid. Sounds like the last gasp of a dinosaur. The grid can be served by decentralized solar and wind. Should a particular community and the larger economy suffer because a corporation and it’s infrastructure are having trouble evolving with the times??

    Also, Richard, your claim that H2S is scrubbed from the gas is conflicted by PGV’s own reports that they were releasing H2S at 19ppb during the accident. Yes, Damon, I call it an “accident” because that is what it was regardless of how you’d like to distract with semantics.

    Richard Ha, regarding your argument that oil prices will always go up may still be based on a dated geopolitical perspective. It is a rapidly changing landscape as demonstrated by these recent reports:





    The shift is only just now beginning as energy companies turn their sites back on US production. This will take time to reflect in local oil prices. But betting our future along with the health and safety of a growing community on an old world scarcity paradigm of constant oil price increase just looks like cover for a short term grab at billions in alternative energy subsidies. These same subsidies could be used to purchase solar panels for probably nearly every household in the state. In terms of future bets, there is no long term structure that ensures any geothermal companies will be good energy producers, good neighbors, good stewards, or even good for the economy. The more I research the incentives behind the current push for geothermal expansion, this seems more and more like fast-tracking federal cash to support an existing monopoly and it’s shareholders, without any substantive vision for long-term follow-through. Are we really going back to the 1950’s? Is that our model for the future?

    I’d have to agree with Robert Petricci on this. If you look at all the factors with unbiased, dispassionate eyes, this smells like a bid to maintain Helco’s monopoly rather than anything having to do with sustainability and energy security. Geothermal plants cannot be ramped down to allow for fluctuations in other alternative energy sources, which is why they get tripped offline. Promoting geothermal effectlively discourages all other energy sources, except for oil! This is already being demonstrated by, taking existing wind sources off line to make space for geothermal energy and lack of new permits for new commercial solar, even though the investment capital is there. This is a policy that effectively takes other alternative energy sources off the table which discourages many small business opportunities and hinders the overall economy. Is that really the direction we want to be going? Is that your answer to poverty? I’m beginning to wonder if Hawaii is being held hostage?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    As far as I am aware there are no subsidies for geothermal in Hawaii. There are lots of subsidies for almost everything else. Where do you get your figures? How do you propose we get to lower cost electricity? Not for just a few, but for all of us? I think solar is good. But, what about the rest? I’ve answered all your questions above. Just tell me how we are going to take care of all of us. Not just a few of us.

  • Richard Ha Says:


    I’ve read all that stuff over and over. Instead of just believing news articles that we will be the next Saudi Arabia and will live happily ever after, we need to get at the basic data. Above is an alternative view. Geothermal on the Big Island is getting no federal subsidies. Our taxes are subsidizing solar. Even without subsidies solar is a good investment. The problem, is not all can participate.
    that is where geothermal comes in. It helps us take care of everybody not just a few. We’re starting to go round and round. Read my comments above.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Statement of Dita Bronicki chief executive officer , Ormat tech, inc.

    Parent company of PGV, Richard some of the grant money has come to PGV an to the Maui project Ormat is doing there.

    Incredible list of grants including $179,300,000.00 in cash grants from the department of the treasury. (see the last page)


  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Ormat, says they received $350 million in partial loan guarantees. In addition to the $350 million loan guaranteed by the DOE with John Hancock in aggregate principal amount, Ormat Technologies’ projects received more than $200 million in various DOE grants.


    Nevada Geothermal Power

    First we’ll look into Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) as recent news exposes that its power is dimming. NGP may be the next green-energy bankruptcy.

    Here’s the NGP thumbnail presented in the introduction to the green-energy crony-corruption story:

    Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) holds leasehold interests in six geothermal projects located in the Western United States. They hold a BB+ rating and received a $78.8 million loan, guaranteed by the DOE, in September of 2010. Executives from NGP contributed in 2008 to Harry Reid’s campaign.

    Additionally, since 2009, NGP was the recipient of more than $69 million in federal grants, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Ormat is PGV’s parent company. They want to frack by their comments taken from their web site inked below.

    Being special laws like act 97 are paving the way to frack Hawaii, are you ok with this Richard. PGV does gets subsidies for Hawaii island and Maui. Don Thomas is funded by tax payers including the latest 2 million dollar grant from the state general fund. Taxpayers paid for previous exploration as well and then gave the only commercially viable resource they ever found to PGV. That is a subsidy in my book also.

    Now Avalore is getting a grant to for exploratory drilling in Opihikao, again with Don Thomas according to Avalore as disclosed in a meeting we had at Sanford’s office.

    DOE Invests in Ormat Enhanced Geothermal System Research


    “The Department of Energy (DOE) has once more chosen Ormat to demonstrate the viability of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) with a grant for nearly $3.4 million to improve hot, non-commercial wells located within a stress environment and in formations favorable for permeability enhancements using EGS techniques.”

    Ormat, the DOE, GeothermEx Inc., and other stakeholders will apply EGS stimulation techniques at Ormat’s Brady facility near Reno, Nevada to develop fracture networks that will enable currently non-commercial wells to communicate with the productive reservoir and enhance generation.

    “Ormat anticipates the Brady project will have a significant impact on efforts to develop EGS resources, which are anticipated to produce substantial levels of electricity, particularly in regions where conventional geothermal resource development is not economically viable. Knowledge gained from work at the Brady EGS project will help advance EGS technology, supporting the overall growth of geothermal energy in the U.S.,” said Ormat Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Lucien Bronicki.

    “With this project, it is Ormat’s objective to advance the state of EGS knowledge, bringing the United States closer to realizing the vast potential of EGS, which has been estimated at approximately 100,000 MW of clean, baseload power in the DOE-supported study of EGS potential in the US by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

    The Brady EGS project follows the current DOE-funded EGS demonstration and development project at Ormat’s Desert Peak geothermal power plant, located about 10 miles from the Brady area. Upon completion of the EGS project,the Desert Peak facility will be the first application of EGS technology to supply a producing power project in the United States.

    The 11 MW Desert Peak Power

    Plantwill be the first application of

    EGS technology in the U.S.

    Ormat technology has been applied to another commercial EGS project in Landau, Germany, where a 3.2 MW EGS power project has been in operation for more than a year.

    The Technology & SiteOrmat air-cooled power plants are chosen for EGS developments because they are well-matched to the typical range of production temperatures in EGS projects. Furthermore, Ormat power plants do not consume water in the conversion of energy into electricity; all the geothermal fluid is re-injected back to the ground, to be produced again after re-heating in the EGS reservoir.

    Successful completion of the Ormat/GeothermEx/DOE program at Brady will enable the use of currently non-commercial wells, either as production wells (directly providing additional power) or injection wells (sweeping more heat toward existing producers and thus enhancing their productivity). Ormat’s goal-orientated focus and dedication to process efficiency will help demonstrate the feasibility and portability of EGS technology.

    The 3.2 MW Landau Geothermal Power Plant is the first implementation of EGS technology in Germany

    see also http://admin.earthtechling.com/2013/01/cracking-up-geothermal/

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Now what happens to the 700 million in taxpayer loan guarantees and partial loan guarantees?

    Geothermal is heavily subsided and it is a scam. The cost is much higher than .11 cents when all factors are considered Richard.

    Jan 23, 2013

    Ormat Sees $230 Million Charge as Geothermal Plant Disappoints


    Ormat Technologies Inc. (ORA), a U.S. developer of geothermal energy, will record a charge of as much as $230 million because its North Brawley plant is producing about half as much power as expected.

    The impairment charge will be in the fourth quarter of 2012, resulting in a loss during the period and for the full year, the Reno, Nevada-based company said today in a statement.

    The plant in southern California has been operating at capacities between 20 megawatts and 33 megawatts, which compares with its design capacity of 50 megawatts, Ormat said.

    Southern California Edison Co., the utility that buys the power produced by North Brawley, has refused to give Ormat permission to explore a replacement power purchase agreement with higher electricity prices, Ormat said. As a result, Ormat said it doesn’t plan to invest to boost capacity at the plant and will continue to operate it at the current level of about 27 megawatts.

    “Additional investment to increase generation is not economically justified,” Ormat Chief Executive Officer Dita Bronicki said in the statement.
    Separately, Ormat said its Israel-based parent company Ormat Industries (ORMT) Ltd. also expects to record a $30 million to $40 million impairment charge during the fourth quarter related to its Jersey Valley power plant in Nevada, according to the statement.

    “Jersey is operating at lower levels than its 12 megawatt contract capacity due to injections constraints,” Bronicki said today on a conference call. “The power plant is operating now at an annual average of 7 megawatts.”

    We have a much better choice, invest in our people, not corporations. Let people own their own systems. This is their money being given to Ormat and Avalor to pay big fat salaries in order to maintain a energy monopoly.

    Geothermal is a scam and hurts rate payers as solar is the real future, it’s cheaper, cleaner and much better for “our” economy.

    These corporations have bleed us long enough, go solar Richard.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Richard tell the truth. They want to frack EGS here. They have only ever found one commercially viable resource even though many exploratory well have been drilled. The found lots of hot rock though.

    So why do away with subzones and land use, and environmental rules? They want to frack. What do you say to that Richard? Where is the resource?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    The ARPA grant they got for Maui has nothing to do with us. It does not affect our rates at all. Loan guarantees are not subsidies. Subsidies is what HECO is allowing Aina Koa Pono to do. Pay AKP $200 per barrel for biofuel, the difference between that and current oil price to be subsidized by rate payers. That is a subsidy that will hurt us. We fought against that. And, we fought and won against the $19 million rate hike that HELCO proposed. EGS? Why should we do EGS when wells in Hawaii are drilled below sea level? EGS is more expensive and done where there is hot rocks but no water. Fracking is used to get to get at oil and gas. We are not going after oil and gas. In the final analysis, we see that the last 8MW came on line at 9 cent peak and the 5MW was renegotiated to close to 12 cent per kilowatt hour. This is actual cost. I am for solar but what about the rest? Why can’t we help them too?

  • Angus Says:

    Richard Ha,

    Robert Petricci seems have offered ample proof of federal subsidy to geothermal. I hope that informs. You can’t separate a parent company from its subsidiaries. Especially with subsidized bloat of such biblical proportions.

    Richard, Do you honestly believe there would be 20 companies getting ready to break ground in East Hawaii if Congress hadn’t extended billions of dollars in alternative energy subsidies? Given start up costs, construction costs, insurance costs, I highly doubt geothermal production in hawaii has demonstrated itself to be a viable economic model without government subsidies and bloated contract rates. With it’s spotty track record, and noncompetitive contracts, would these other companies be racing to get into the action if there weren’t federal dollars available just for breaking ground? It’s time to get realistic about this.

    You ask what is the answer for all of us, not just the few. Geothermal is a centralized power source that can control market rates just like Enron did in California. They first create dependency by crowding out competitive alternatives as I’ve described in the post above, then they start manipulating markets in a myriad of ways. Hawaii has already demonstrated a willingness to apply little to no regulatory oversight to combat such manipulations.

    Solar, on the other hand, is a decentralized power source that allows everyone to contribute to and benefit from widespread energy generation. More secure, cheaper and more democratic. Hawaiians are voting with their dollars saying they want more solar, and are willing to pay for it, (with and without subsidies) but they are being held back by permitting and an unwillingness to allow them into the market by Helco. Meanwhile geothermal barely needs a permit at all to start exploratory drilling, given green lights by Oahu based interests at every stage to the point that state Senators are introducing laws to further strip county oversight like Act 97 and the new SB727. There’s a clear bias here, and you are helping that bias with your arguments.

    Richard, you say you’ve answered all of my questions but I disagree. It would be very helpful if you read my previous post. You wish all to benefit rather than just a few but I’ve outlined for you how the current push for geothermal would further impoverish the community surrounding geothermal plants. I take it that is not your community but it is still part of “all of us”. No?

    Seems unfair to ask one sector of society to bare the brunt of all the ills associated with industrial development. Particularly when the plan is based on an unproven economic model. Wishful thinking more like.

  • kimobrowner Says:

    I agree with Richard Ha and Mililani Trask in substance.

    Ha claims geothermal is the cheaper non fossil source–that’s the bottomline. I also, concur that it is unfair for ratepayers to subsidize solar energy, they are being punished for remaining on grid. For whatever reasons, many cannot have solar, especially renters. I also like the idea of geothermal “offsetting” the solar subsidies paid by rate payers by providing cheaper geo energy production. $0.10 savings adds up at year end.

    I concur with Mililani’s contention that goethermal subzones are archaic and motivated by arbitrary lobbyists and have no basis in fact. The law originally took roots before the 1980’s and were politically designated. Today, a process is in place for exploration and sound scientific evaluations. Where proper evluation can be made for geothermal footprint areas based on health, safety, envoronmental and cultural concerns. The broad brush is mindless and alows for political manipulation.
    What I find mindboggling is the rant on Mililani for trying to make money. That is absurd! I am Hawaiian and proud to say my parents paid for an ivy league education so I could provide sunstantively for my family. It’s OK for asians and ha’ole to make money? But not kanaka. geez, that is pure opala. Some folks need to stay focused on the substance. Otherwise, its good to hear different opinions.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I’ve been to five Association for the Study of Peak Oil Conferences because I needed to know about oil since my farm costs started rising 7 years or so ago and I realized it was due to oil and oil related products such as plastics, etc. I found that the world had been using twice to three times as much oil as it had been finding for many years. Not surprising that oil price quadrupled in the last 10 years. so, now the financial industry and the oil industry have been hyping the story that we will be the Saudi Arabia of tomorrow. The reality backed up by data can be seen here. http://www.postcarbon.org/reports/DBD-Exec-Summary.pdf.
    So, how much time do we have to prepare ourselves? And what is the solution for all of us? I think we should keep the grid. It ties in hospitals, schools stores, etc. And somebody has to pay for it. Solar cannot do everything. How do we take care of everybody when the oil price start to rise seriously? How come if we are awash in oil the price did not go down?

  • George Duvris Says:

    Aloha again from Puna. These conversations have been very informative and I hope all of us are at least able to consider the variety of points of view with an open mind. What started as a discussion on a particular decision in the state legislature has peeled many layers of expressing related issues as well as the core element to provide needed context. Correct me if I am too naive in some of the latest points of the flow chart. First I hear interest in bringing some control of the geothermal plant here to the county which monitors the safety of the facility as well as the health of the people in the area that are affected by it. In the news today I read that the state has won the right to dictate such policies to the areas most affected even with the committed efforts of Harry Kim and Russell Ruderman who had made efforts to protect our neighbors from the dangers of this plant. Then when we looked at the reason for the geothermal was to provide low cost electricity for the island, we were presented with the fact that it costs the grid consumers four times per kilowatt hour than on the mainland. Bob Petricci then provided an eloquent and well detailed explanation on how solar could be less costly as the main thrust of an energy policy geared for sustainability, health and cost. Correct me if I’m wrong but Richard Ha went on to justify his retort that somehow the people that are choosing to go off the grid matrix are somehow causing the price for the grid users to pay more. It is at that point that I am baffled and wonder if I am hearing okay or a pile of nonsense. Mr. Ha can you tell us with a straight face that your argument is based on the concerns of the populace wanting a cleaner, healthier and less expensive power option or are you just puppeting the propaganda of a private electric company that is more interested in inflating profits for itself and corporate executive bonus? Sir, we are not in the total dark ages yet. Look up to the sun and quit looking at helping one more predator from gauging the public. If the motto remains “In God we trust” it seems that more and more people are defining GOD as “Gold, Oil and Drugs” with the big O certainly representing the sinful display of the Oil companies and their allies governing the grid and sticking it to us from all directions.

  • Jay Bondesen Says:

    I can’t speak for Mr. Ha but part of what I hear is that the grid is a necessary and useful part of the system right now. Talk about decentralized power generation by putting solar panels on every home is still a pipe dream. Some people live off-grid and are fine, not that I believe there are thousands in Puna that do. But it takes a lifestyle change, a certain amount of sophistication, and/or money. I don’t think I need to do that nor do I want to right now. I certainly don’t want the taxes I pay used to put solar panels on rental houses. And putting a few panels on a roof just doesn’t run things when the sun goes down, that is what the grid or sometimes batteries do. And as Richard says going off grid is a choice some can make while the rest of us share the cost of maintaining it for everyone. But remember, all of the stores and businesses, and yes even the water system that many of you use, and my uv filter, make use of the grid. Geothermal isn’t perfect, nor is burning diesel, nor are photovoltaic panels, but keep the consideration for choosing one over another real at least.

  • kimobrowner Says:

    The reason geothermal prices on the Big Aina didnt fall is because of a sweetheart deal betw HELCO and Ormat which pegged the price of geo energy to oil prices by contract.
    Interestingly, ex contractu does not speak to the actual lower production cost value of geothermal energy but points instead to the greedy manipulation betw utility provider and wall street owned Ormat. So geothermal energy takes a black eye.
    Perhaps, Mr Durvis is not ma’a to rate payers subsidies for solar because either he doesnt pay for electricity or hasnt taken the time to examine his bill as a rate payer.
    While many have a mindset to romantically simply life in terms of Waldon Pond, as does Mr Robert Petricci,unfortunately solar is not the answer for main grid transmission that fuels the larger economy and farms. While those in Puna may have much to contribute in terms of health and safety, you do not own the heat generated by nature. You do however share in its royalties as 80% of the government revenues go to the county and general public, the remainder to native hawaiians. The big Island has had a bad experience with geothermal because of early political inexperience and the initial energy corporate producer had been less than honest. However, the product remains abundant and if done right will become a great source for cheaper energy. We need to think clearly for our future indepedent energy needs and realistically for the demands of our economy that fuel investment, industry growth, job creation and most importantly, low energy refrigeration costs to keep our farms producing competively against outside imports for local consumption.

  • George Duvris Says:

    Kim, in reading your reply, I am gratefully reminded that we are all engaged in a discussion of mutual benefit rather than a “winner take all” debate or argument. From the many responses to this topic, it is obvious that there is a wide parameter of concerns, suggestions, and points of view. None are black and white answers and as we are all members of these islands, we need to show consideration to each other. We’re all on the same boat and want to make sure not only that it doesn’t sink but to take care that none of the passengers get sick along the way or not have their interests considered.
    My wife and I are in our 60’s and have lived in Hawaii for most of our lives. On Maui we lived on agricultural land and became confused as to why we had to pay over $100 a month for a water bill that represented only minimal home use and just watering a small garden sparingly every few days. Yet the large commercial farmers in our area were paying just a few dollars a year because of “grandfathered” contracts. And as more insult to injury, with our water bill we were informed by the county that it was tested as borderline “fit to drink” because of the commercial chemicals contaminating the water table. We finally had to move because all the chemical spraying that the farms were doing were also making us sick and quite probably a factor in the high rate of cancer in our neighborhood.
    In reflecting on the situation, we were upset that there are no potent consumer protection agencies to protect us from such situations in regards to what once was considered PUBLIC UTILITIES such as water and electricity.
    For the last ten years, our family of five has lived off the grid and are quite comfortable with solar as our choice of electrical power. By just a little education on its usage along with common sense approach to conservation and the use of a generator during long weeks of rain, we have been very happy in our choice. Simple lessons we learned as children such as shutting off the lights when not needed are important fundamentals. “Living simply so others can simply live” is a true mark of a civilized nation and its people claiming to be global citizens. Americans are less than 20 percent of the number of people in the world and we are using over 80 percent of its resources. Quite a greedy attitude that we need to be cognizant about.
    Kim, in no way am I blind to the fact that our farming community can survive at this point without oil. Again it is not a matter of “either-or” or black or white.” A sensible use of oil resources can be modeled while likewise a model of home energy usage can be looked at in a different way. I maintain that solar can serve at least as an adjunct to home usage in conjunction with conservation practices. Geothermal sounds good as an ideal, but in practicality, at least in regards to the situation here in Puna, it is not a healthy or economic alternative. Our neighbors are having grave health concerns and the dangers from another explosion are potential catastrophes. It is doubtful that any members of the HELCO board of directors would live in this area if they had to.
    Over the years the safety net of “the public trust” has been eclipsed by privatization. Energy companies first look at the bottom line approach which means increased profits for their share holders as well as huge chunks of money for bonuses to high level executives, lobbyists, political allies and other middle men in the loop which don’t have any spots of sweat or farm oil on their clean shirts and suits when they go out on their business lunch and backroom perks.
    Countries such as Germany and Denmark are already relying on solar for over half their electric power. Likewise many towns and areas of Australia are subsidizing people that are installing solar systems covering over 80 percent of the cost. Again I say if our priority is not for bloated corporate profiteering but instead of sustainable, healthy, affordable energy, look to the Sun. One of God’s best gifts to humanity for low cost electrical power

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Making base power electricity generally has to do with making steam to turn a turbine. You can burn coal to boil water to make steam. Or,burn oil to boil water to make steam. Or, burn firewood to make steam. Or drill a hole to get steam–geothermal. Or, you can grow a crop, use oil for fertilizer, oil for fuel to harvest, make electricity then make it into microwaves to heat up the crop to make vapors then collect the liquid then take it to a refinery to make a biofuel liquid so you can boil water to make steam. Which is the most expensive. One doesn’t have to be a genius to see that biofuel is most expensive. Which next? It’s oil. next, is firewood, then geothermal. Cheapest for now is coal. But, over time, geothermal will become the cheapest base power fuel source. Solar and wind are not suitable for base power. To make it into base power will require batteries. That would be too expensive. So, wind and solar cannot be used for much more than 20% of the electricity in the grid.

  • Angus Says:

    After reading so many comments from what seem to be pro-geothermal-at-any-cost special interest advocates, I’ve learned a new respect for the power of denial. So for those of us that still have open minds, let’s talk sensibly about geothermal in a way that may allow the majority of us to find some common ground. Those that want to hide behind school yard slander (“drug dealer rants”, “liars”,”idiots” )or make comparisons between drilling on an actively flowing volcano and other obviously more stable geologies, may as well not read this because you are clearly beyond the reach of reason.

    First some facts:

    Fact 1: Right after PGV’s most recent accidental release, the Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira reports finding H2S concentrations of 1000ppb and 3000pbb outside the PGV plant. That was from a mobile meter at waste high outside the plant where readings were zero at the point of emission. Mike Kaleikini of PGV says the plant reading was zero because the vapor release was in a verticle trajectory away from nearby monitors. This provides clear evidence that onsite monitoring is not sufficient to determine contamination levels. Civil Defense’s readings of 3000 ppb place emissions well above the 25ppb allowed by their permit. We can’t know the duration of that concentration because there are no permanent monitors there but we do know the reading was a while after the initial release.

    Fact 2: The release was caused by a failed transmission line while the alternate line was being repaired, which temporarily undermined safety redundancy in the system. If future geothermal plants are installed in the same area, as planned, they will be triggered to release at the exact same moment for the exact same reason. With around 20 companies looking to set up geothermal plants in the area, cumulative H2S readings may approach levels that would silence even the most staunch geothermal advocates.

    Fact 3: Mike Kaleikini disclosed that there have been somewhere in the order of 50 releases in the last 20 years. That’s more than twice a year on average. Again, multiply this by 20 to get a picture of the future that Mililani Trask and Richard Ha are fighting so valiantly for.

    Fact 4: While Helco is recalibrating sensors to avoid recurrences, the President of Helco has suggested that before any further geothermal plants are brought on line more transmission lines, providing further redundancy, will have to be put in place. This will inherently add to the cost of said geothermal plants as well as to line maintenance costs which will be no doubt absorbed by the end user, you.

    Fact 5: On Saturday, March 23, the President of Helco stated that it would be preferable to develop geothermal in West Hawaii for the following reasons: A) because it would offer better grid balance, causing fewer disruptions (and releases I assume), and B) because it is closer to the majority of power consumption allowing for more efficient transmission (less loss over distance) and reduction in line maintenance costs.

    I would add that West Hawaii likely offers more open space to develop geothermal plants away from residences and schools so that the hazards of toxic blowouts will not have potentially catastrophic implications. It also offers more stable geology which might make Hawaiian geothermal resource more comparable with other resources around the world.

    So for those who favor geothermal as a resource, and support a healthy grid as a viable paradigm going forward, perhaps we can all unite behind a more reasonable approach to developing geothermal energy that does not unfairly burden just one sector of Hawaiian society that already suffers from so much prejudice.

    Sure, it’s easier to pick on people with less political clout, people that are so easily ignored by the Department of Health, (who is charged with monitoring contamination from PGV but didn’t bother to show up at Saturday’s community meeting about the release), but putting all of our geothermal eggs in Puna’s basket does not appear to be what’s best for Hawaii’s future.

  • kimobrowner Says:

    Mr Durvis… you can call me KIMO.
    Than you for your mana’o i’o.

    You had me listening until you went off the cliff with anti-american finger pointing. Look, the USA may use 80% of the energy but we have contributed to world production and enhanced living standards. That’s it in a nutshell. Look, I was all for Waldon Pond in college. I attended Dartmouth. But there comes a time, especially in your 60’s when burning bras and blaming America becomes stale and boring. At least for me. Yes, I also believe we can all lokahi for a better community. Deal me in. But the difference Im sniffing in some of these comments beyond the slick rhetoric is an anti-growth faction that is more up in-arms with government and corporate blunders than fixing our energy costs in Hawai’i with cheaper, sustainable and locally abundant enrgy sources–geothermal steam. Dont hold a wonderful source of power hostage to bean counters and leftist ideolgies….lucky you live Hawai’i.

  • kimobrowner Says:

    Angus, you make some sense. Although I would not blame Richard Ha nor Mililani Trask for corporate misdeeds of others anymore than you point out your disdain for the use of backyard slander to marginalize opinion. They both stiffle commentary.
    We need to recognize the need to use a naturally abundant power source to fuel our future for generations to come at affordable prices. Pointing to a modicum field problems as you have is a start and healthy for discussion…the challenge is in the fix. Looking forward to working with people with solutions.
    the challenge is in the fix.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    One of the obvious issues is to date, politicians, regulators, and developers have not been able or willing to fix the very real problems PGV has had as we saw again on the 13th. PGV, Richard Ha, and the regulators think that was ok, things worked how they were suppose to.

    The community does not think it was ok to vent on us to protect PGV’s equipment. We do not think it is ok to refuse to give us an chemical analysis of the fall out and we think DOH should require an analysis of what is dumped into our community. They do not, PGV or anyone else is not required to do a chemical analysis of that plume. There is something very wrong with that.

    We have a report of a fish pond in Leilani near the site that had all the fish die on the 14th. Where is DOH? Where is EPA? How about civil defense? People are on water catchment here. At the meeting PGV admitted to roughly 50 reportable releases or incidents since 1999.

    We all know there were many more before that, yet for all intents and purposes PGV self regulates, and the laws are being relaxed. That is disturbing to us, people wonder why the community is upset? Really? We have families just like everyone else, and we want basic rights and protection for them that we are not getting. Thus the growing movement you are seeing.

    The people that do not think there are health issues or releases should be the ones fighting the hardest for good independent monitoring to prove it. Put the monitors in and prove there is no problem.

    PPA has an active membership list of 566 community members and many more supporters. We are working with groups and individuals on every island. Anyone that wants believe otherwise is free to do so, as we continue to grow and organize.

    Civil defense did say there were readings of 3,000PPB in the community, while PGV claimed a high of 25PPB based on their monitors. I ask the head of civil defense if he was sure about that and he said several times absolutely sure.

    Where is DOH, EPA, anyone to protect the community’s well being. The monitoring, notification system, and emergency response failed from our community point of view. It is not like we have not fought to make the point that those problems are there. It’s that we are blamed, it’s our fault, somehow we must deserve it. We see it on these threads, derogatory remarks that in no way relieve the very real and well documented issues we are raising.

    We are families, business people, retired, PHD’s attorneys, retired military, doctors, even Harry Kim and Russel Ruderman are supporting us. There is a reason for what is happening. We have built a record, we are not going away until this is resolved.

    Anyone that wants to do further geothermal development would do well to fix the existing problems first or expect serious delays and opposition. People in Puna were not born opposed to geothermal, the regulators and developers created the opposition in what they have done to us. More of the same will only make us stronger.

    We are accused of being the problem when we daring to raise the issues. Were this or were that, what we are is right, there are serious problems, and better soutions. These issues have been raised by us and dismissed by PGV, the regulators, and the politicians.

    PPA is committed to no more plants being permitted or built unless these issues are first taken seriously and solutions are found. It’s been thirty years, we have paid far to much already for geothermal. Many of us do not even use HELCO because we don’t need it or want it yet our families have to pay with our health and safety?

    Most reasonable people acknowledge some or all of these problems. Others don’t care and want to build more plants. That is not wise or a proper way to develop our lands. Laws are being passed to allow more development with even less public participation, and no county over site. They will fail. The existing problems of impacts, monitoring ect show more regulation is needed not less.

    It’s not about who benefits I have the problem with it’s about at what cost and who pays. You want it, fix the problems we have now first. Economics is going to kill geothermal before another plant can be built in Puna. Investors are going to lose money and taxpayers are getting ripped off.

    Something else people should be aware of. Under questioning it sounded like PGV stated at the public meeting they are really not sure where the 4.2 million gallons of toxic fluids they inject into the ground go. They think it goes into the resource. That is not good enough. There are serious issues about how that may be impacting the aquifer and possibly the coastal waters.

    These things need to be addressed “before” we talk about more of the same type of power plants. It’s irresponsible to ignore these things. If geothermal could have been done right, we may not be where we are today, however it was not. We need that water, we need to protect it. It is unacceptable to talk about building more power plants without “first” dealing with the serious issues that the existing geothermal plant has raised.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    It goes without saying that we need to see if we can do better! But, what happened was the H2S abatement system kicked in when it was supposed to. I saw H2S venting straight into the air in Iceland and the Phillipines. We don’t do that here. As far as protection of the aquifer. Can we do better? Probably. But, we need to have balance. The dose makes the poison. Pahoa’s rainfall is around 140 inches per year. Each inch of rainfall equals 27,000 gallons per acre. Rainfall on each acres in Pahoa is equal to 3,780,000 gallons annually. 2.3 billion gallons fall as rain on a 600 parcel in one year in Pahoa. And, it flows down and out toward the ocean. The wells are cement cased to protect the aquifer. And, it is discharged 5,000 or so feet below sea level. This does not rise to the level of what is happening in China where thousands of pigs float dead in a river. The dose makes the poison. We live in a risky world. There are social consequences to living in an impoverished area. Our electricity rates have been 25% higher than Oahu’s for as long as anyone can remember. This probably contributed to Pahoa having the highest number of children (89%) who participate in the free/reduced lunch program in the state. When we gave a pint of grape tomatoes to each child in the elementary school a few months ago, the stories the teachers told me was heart breaking. We need balance. Can’t we do both, protect the community and protect the keiki?

  • George Duvris Says:

    Kimo, I am indeed glad to be living in Hawaii and for my children to have been born here. I am not sure why you are using the “bra burning” profile when you could have just as well said going back to the traditional lifestyle of Hawaiian ancestors. But neither is exactly an easy fit to this discussion and again I am sincerely glad to be listening to many sides of the discussion as yourself. We seem to have a common ground of concern and interest for a better future while respecting the aina. By living here in Puna, it doesn’t matter if someone feels that US is the epitome of civilization nor that it might represent some sort of bad example of how corporations are ripping off huge profits. What you see here is a geothermal plant that has exploded several times leaving many people sick and now still continues to be a health and environmental risk. Even at night for miles around people have to see its red glow and listen to the horrible mechanical turbines cranking all night long. An interesting story that I saw in the news today is ”

    NRG Skirts Utilities Taking Solar Panels to U.S. Rooftop. The biggest power provider to U.S. utilities, has become a renegade in the $370 billion energy-distribution industry by providing electricity directly to consumers.


  • punated Says:

    @Kimo: “The reason geothermal prices on the Big Aina didnt fall is because of a sweetheart deal betw HELCO and Ormat which pegged the price of geo energy to oil prices by contract.”

    This is technically incorrect. I haven’t been able to trace it back to the originator but it appears to be under Governor Lingle that Avoided Cost Contracting (ACC) be REQUIRED by Hawaiian Electric. This was done, supposedly, to STIMULATE not totally proven alternative energy development. The requirement was that Hawaiian Electric negotiate ALL their alternative energy contracts as if they all burned bunker oil. So, the ACC rate price is applied to ALL the alternative energy sources including solar PV farms, windmill farms, hydroelectric and geothermal. So, that is where we are at. Hawaiian Electric says most of those contracts made were for 20 years. In 2011, the state removed the ACC as a requirement and subsequent contracts, such as the 8MW additional from PGV, the 20MW expected to come from Pepeekeo, and some of the new solar and wind power farms, are being negotiated at mainland industry power source rate structures.

    People really need to understand, it is ACC now that is accounting for the Hawaii electric rates. And ACC is essentially tied to the market price of a barrel of oil. This should start ringing bells in many peoples’ heads if they recognize the implications of this and how this should be addressed by the politicos than wasting time on geothermal hating.

  • kimobrowner Says:

    Technically, incorrect?
    Funny stuff.

    Here we go again. The spliting of hairs and parceling of issues. The Pontias Pilot shuk n jive.
    it’s all spin.
    Look, to develop Public trust we must dispense with the fine print. Rate payers arent stupid. They understand the difference in their monthly bill. It impacts the entire community and its ripples are felt in rising costs that are passed down the consumer chain… If you say geothermal heat will provide cheaper energy than you are accountable for outcome. Geothermal deserves better.
    It hasnt failed. Cant say the same for the people selected to deliver its energy.
    Fix the price fixing. Move in a positive direction with the community and pick n choose other corporate producers who are accountable. The market can be competitive if law makers make adjustments that invite competition. It benefits the community. Ormat? C’mon.

  • Angus Says:

    Richard Ha, respectfully, how can you say that the H2S abatement system worked when Civil Defense is reporting 3000 ppb? Is that your idea of success? Please answer

  • Richard Ha Says:

    OSHA rules allows employees to work 8 hours without gas masks at 10,000 ppb. The 3,000 ppb lasted for about 1 minute. Are these figures correct? Maybe they need to be changed?

  • George Duvris Says:

    Solar could power world using only 1% of land. The countries involved in the research were chosen because of their potential for widespread development of solar photovoltaics, sunny climates, varied demographics, natural environments, and suitable economies and political structures

  • Richard Ha Says:

    It may be a little reassuring to know that there have been 2.5 million oil and gas wells drilled since 1950 in the US. There were nearly 50,000 wells drilled in 2010 and 2011. These folks deal with H2S all the time. When experts in the field say interrupting drilling at night can be dangerous to the well integrity, we probably should listen. I am no expert in the field. I’m just sharing data.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Since it is that dangerous they should not be in a residential neighborhood Richard.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    This started out as a noise issue. It would have been more appropriate to figure out how to mitigate noise. The solution instead introduced danger to the community.

  • Angus Says:

    Richard Ha, to maintain a relevant context of H2S exposure it is very important to not use OSHA standards when discussing exposure limits to the public. OSHA standards are designed to protect employees who agree to certain risks in exchange for pay. Along with the healthy adults that might fall under OSHA’s target group, the community is made of of children, elderly and infirm who are not paid employees, do not receive health insurance from employer and do not receive workman’s comp benefits when made ill. Using OSHA’s exposure limits is incredibly unfair and misleading. I wish you could find a way to talk about this without distracting from the real issues.

    Also, you do not know for certain that the 3000ppb reading only lasted for a minute. There aren’t enough monitors to know where that particular cloud was wafting.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    You have very good points

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    The danger is introduced in drilling wells in a residential community as we saw in the 1991 KS-8 blowout, the KS-7 blowout, and the KS-3 well clean out accident.

    The list of accidents or releases is endless at 70 plus, and now you want to blame us for seeking the right to enjoy and be safe in our own homes. The sad part is your serious, you really believe that. Your wrong Richard we have a right to sleep and enjoy our property and to be safe. If PGV or any geothermal project can not meet those obligations they are in the wrong place.

    Your solution is for the community to be both in danger and deprived of their right to sleep for or have peace of mind in their own homes for 120 days at a time?

    That may work for you and PGV but it does not work for us. It is unreasonable to expect people to suffer like that for you pipe dream. It is not ok to do that to our families Richard. If PGV can’t drill without disrupting the whole community or and putting us in danger they should not be there period.

    It’s not like this is a new problem. They and you have had over 30 years to fix this and you have not. Saying your concerned about us rings rather hollow in reading your comments here. That these problems have not been fixed shows there is no real concern about our well being at all, until it jeopardizes geothermal development. You listen to them if you want to but don’t expect us to buy into your expectation of what our families should tolerate or endure for your plan. We reject this as not acceptable for the reasons already stated.

  • Angus Says:

    For those that think solar is not a viable option, apparently some very large energy providers aren’t waiting around for slow moving utilities to get on board:


    Time to smell the coffee or are we going to stay back in 1950’s technology as Mr Ha seems to recommend?

    Even if the state invested in batteries instead of natural gas, I’m willing to bet my car that an honest comprehensive economic analysis would show that solar was less expensive than geothermal, with grid costs, health costs, environmental cleanup costs etc. Forward thinking economists at MIT, Harvard and elsewhere around the world are finally modeling the true economy as being inclusive of sensitive assets like freshwater aquifers and rain forests. Our blind drive to “drill baby drill” may be seen as barbaric in the not too distant future.

    Will Hawaii drag it’s heels to the bitter end?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    What works works. I wouldn’t throw out old technology
    Just because its old. Like I wouldn’t throw out the bicycle because its old technology, or throw out firewood. The grid is old technology but it works for people. The trick is how do we make things work for everyone? My reference comes from being a farmer. The plants need water and fertilizer. And, you can’t let plant pests destroy your crop or you cannot make ends meet. And, you need to farm the place that you are standing on, not where you wish you were.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    It is hard to follow the H2S numbers. First the Dept of Health regulates to nuisance levels–what the human nose can detect.
    One part per billion is equal to one thousand millions. So, 2 parts per billion is one thousand million more than one part per billion. The human nose
    Can detect H2S around 3 parts per billion. Or three thousand million more than one part per billion. When the concentration is 10 parts per billion, or 7 thousand million times more than what the human nose can detect, the workers at PGV can work for 8 hours per day without gas masks. To complicate matters, the human gut generates H2S as well.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I just made the comment that there were 2.5 million oil wells drilled since 1950. And, that there were nearly 50,000 oil and gas well drilled in both 2010 and 2011. These folks deal with H2S on a daily basis. I just made the comment that when one of theses experts tell us in a council meeting that interrupting the drilling could compromise the wells integrity thereby affecting human safety, that we should pay attention. Instead our council people voted to endanger the people. And, the people you represent went around congratulating each other after the vote. It started off as a noise issue. We went to the moon, certainly we could have figured out how to deal with noise. You try to say that I don’t care about the community. Just the opposite is true, I testified against stopping night time drilling just because it was a safety issue.

  • Jay Bondesen Says:

    To complicate matters even further, we need to somhow factor VOG into the discussion. It has been part of our environment for a similar amount of time as the geothermal plant and studies in Kau have identified many complaints and/or symptoms that are remarkably similar to those reported in Puna.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Richard how is making so much noise that people can not seep for 4 months for a mile or more ok after 30 years?

    You say they can fix it so why didn’t they? That is even more reason to show that they just don’t care and you are helping them not us.

    As one of the people that lives there I support no drilling at night for health reasons as well.

    Sleep deprivation and constant noise are a health issue.

    You make my point, they didn’t need to do that but they have for 30 years because they do not care about us, and you have done nothing about it but blame us for defending our families.

    As to being to dangerous as I already said, they should not be in a residential community if it is as dangerous as you say it is period. I agree with you it is too dangerous.

    For you to blame the community for wanting an environment that their children and Kapuna can sleep in and enjoy as well as to be safe shows a blind commitment to geothermal at any cost and a lack of common compassion for our families.

    You want and expect us to endure the consequences going as far making every excuse in the world to blame us for a situation that has never treated us fairy or with respect from day one.

    We lived here before this plant, it has never operated within acceptable community standards on noise or safety. I am not talking about permit standards but community standards, big difference as drilling 24/7 and ruining our lives was permitted, until we got it banned.

    The fact you say they can do it quietly does not change the reality on the ground for us, they never have cared about us, as demonstrated by your statement it did not have to be noisy.

    Fact is I agree and they knew it but didn’t care. Where were you to help us when we were asking for help? You were on the geothermal working group not helping us, not recommending PGV be forced to use BACT noise tech, but pushing for many more geothermal plants and Ammonia plants as well.

    It really is offensive that you want to blame us for enacting laws we need to protect our families. That is not suppose to be our job but where were you? Pushing more geothermal not helping us or fixing the problems you admit you knew about. But you say you care? What have you done for our families except criticize us and blame us for trying to defend against these corporations?

    Tell us about the huge ammonia industry you want these geothermal plants for Richard. The one you talked about in the geothermal working group report. Where do you propose to put the ammonia plants?

    You are not being forth right or transparent on the issues. You have a deeper agenda Richard, one that will destroy Puna as we know and love it. We do not share your industrialization vision for our beloved community and we will fight you, you leave us no alternative.

    Come clean, what is the larger plan you have that you are willing to sacrifice us?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Don’t blame me for enacting laws that stop night time drilling when industry experts say that it could be a danger to the community. As for my agenda–I went to five Association for the Study of Peak Oil conferences. I learned that the world had been using twice to three times the oil that it had been finding for more than 20 years. It is easy to see that there would be price consequences. That is why oil prices are so high now. If oil hits $200 per barrel it will destroy the tourist industry. Solar can help but it won’t take care of all of us. I would like to see a middle ground. What about you? any middle ground?

  • Tom Travis Says:

    Richard, I have never spoken with you in person. I look forward to the opportunity.

    As to the question as to whether there is a middle ground, I would certainly agree there should be. We face serious energy challenges and serious economic challenges.

    But there must be one prerequisite to a discussion of “middle ground.” The community has a right to live peacefully and productively on their land with a strong voice in placement and standards for the plant.

    I became involved in this issue as someone who understands the price we pay now and will pay in the future for our dependence on oil and gas. Still I cannot ethically support a sacrifice of any people or community in the pursuit of meeting those challenges. Unfortunately, my observation of my government’s behavior leaves me with no conclusion except that it is willing to do so. Please read ACT 55, ACT 97, and Senate Resolution 25 if you want to see why I feel this way.

    If you will agree on the ethical point that no community be sacrificed to achieve your goals, I am more than willing to discuss the middle ground.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Aloha Tom
    I would be happy to talk with you to see what middle ground we can come to. I agree with cannot just sacrifice one community for the whole. My cell is 960 1057. Let’s go have coffee or something

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Just so it is clear what motivates me– go to the Association for the Study of Peak Oil website. http://aspousa.org/.
    There are articles, videos etc. The folks there are industry insiders, geologists, professors, etc. All have a common purpose, to share reproducible data about oil and gas. This is not about running out of oil so much as it is about oil eventually costing so much that we cannot afford it.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Tell us about the connection between the geothermal industry you are promoting and Ammonia plants/industry you want to see in Puna Richard.

    Why are you dodging the issue, how many geothermal plants do you want to build, where, and how much ammonia are you hoping to produce in our community?

    Shouldn’t these things be in industrial areas Richard? Do you or others want to change our agricultural zoning to industrial?

    You talk about middle ground but with the foregone conclusion that you will get your geothermal and ammonia plants, and we will have to live with the consequences.

    We support the night time drilling ban for the health and safety of our families. No family should be forced to suffer in their own homes for corporate profits. If PGV or others can not meet those requirements and operate their drill rigs within them, then they should not drill at all.

    We certainly do not need them as a drive through the large areas we have in Puna that are already off grid clearly shows. People are leaving and will continue to leave the grid for economic reasons.

    You can not stop that, the grid will fail for economic reasons. What is the real agenda? Heavy industry (Chemicall manufacturing) cited around the plants, in the middle of our community?

    Tell us about the ammonia and the fracking industry.

    Why are these things always brushed over in an attempt to make them more palatable?

    Come clean, do you want ammonia pants and do you support EGS (fracking). I look forward to seeing your testimony against fracking this Thursday.

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment has scheduled SCR123/SR86 Opposing the use of hydraulic fracturing in Hawaii.

    The resolutions are scheduled for hearing on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 2:45pm in room 225. Here is the link to the hearing notice.


    Persons wishing to offer comments should submit testimony at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Testimony should indicate:

    · Testifier’s name with position/title and organization;

    · The Committee(s) to which the comments are directed;

    · The date and time of the hearing; and

    · Measure number.

    To submit testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment use:

    E-mail: ENEtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

    To Fax: 808-586-6679

    Here is a draft you can use to get stared. Saying you strongly support SCR 123 and SR 86 is enough.

    ENE/WTL 225 Mar 28, 2013 2:45 PM

    Testimony RE: SCR 123 / SR 86

    Position: Strong support



    Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair, ENE, Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Vice Chair, and committee members.

    Senator Malama Solomon, Chair, WTL, Senator Maile S.L. Shimabukuro, Vice Chair, and committee members.



    Talking points.

    1) Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to seismic activity.

    2) Hawaii is already prone to seismic activity.

    3) There is a potential to pollute the ground water.

    To thank Senator Ruderman or get more information please contact

    Trina Ishii

    Legislative Assistant

    Office of Senator Russell Ruderman

    Senatorial District 2 – Puna-Ka’u

    Phone: (808) 586-6890
    Fax: (808) 586-6899

    There is one more. They are proposing another insider working group that will be used to tell everyone that geothermal has no problems.

    Please help us oppose this.

    OPPOSE SR136
    Report Title: Geothermal Energy and Technology Working Group
    Current Referral: WTL/ENE/PSM, WAM
    Introducer(s): SOLOMON, Dela Cruz

    3/25/2013 S The committee(s) on WTL/ENE/PSM has scheduled a public hearing on 03-28-13 2:30PM in conference room 225.

    Here is an outline to send testimony against this one.

    WTL/ENE/PSM 225 Mar 28, 2013 2:30 PM

    RE: SR136

    Position: Strong opposition



    Senator Malama Solomon, Chair, WTL, Senator Maile S.L. Shimabukuro, Vice Chair, and committee members

    Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair, ENE, Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Vice Chair, and committee members

    Senator Will Espero, Chair, PSM, Senator Rosalyn H. Baker, Vice Chair, and committee members

    Talking points

    1) simply oppose SR136

    2) The PGV plant just had another in a long list of incidents and vented to the community. I live in Puna where the current PGV plant is located. This power plant has created huge problems for the people who have to live with it. These problems need to be fixed before more problem plants are built.

    3)There is huge community opposition to geothermal in Puna because the plant is poorly regulated.

    Please add what ever else you want to say and thank them then sign it.

    Email this to:




    Thanks we hope to get lots of you to send in testimony. It will help us put the brakes on these developments at least until they deal with the problems they have already created.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    I don’t want to build ammonia plants in Puna. I voted for HB106 and 932!! We visited a geothermal plant in the Phillipines, it was getting heat from a volcano that erupted 100,000 years ago. Mauna Kea last erupted around 4,000 years ago. There is a rift zone that goes straight out of South Point. There is a rift zone on the West flank of Mauna Loa. Professor Don Thomas, detected what might be hot rocks on DHHL property, when exploring for water. Why would Sen Ruderman and Harry Kim want to require geothermal subzones when it would constrict geothermal development to Puna. I thought their objective was to move geothermal further from the district–unless their real objective is to kill geothermal. Then the defeat of HB106 and 932 make sense. But, at the expense of home rule? What about the cost of electricity and its effect on education of our keiki? What about its effect on the folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder? What is the solution as oil price rises? I’m a supporter of solar. But, it does not work for everyone. What about the rest?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    The Big Island uses approximately 180 MW of electricity at peak. We get 38 MW from geothermal now. 13MW is priced beween 12 and 9 cents per kilowatt hour. The original 25 that was tied to oil price is being renegotiated now. There is an RFP for 50 MW of additional geothermal. And, there is 22 MW of biomass (firewood) proposed as well. The price will be stable for 20 years and the prices should be close to what oil generated electricity costs now–21 cents per kilowatt hour. Add all the geothermal as well as the biomass and it comes to 110 MW of affordable stable price. That means 60% of our electricity can result in stable and affordable electricity. It will protect us from rising oil prices. The Big Island electricity rate can become very close to Oahu’s. This will help the folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. This will funnel more money into education– instead of electricity. I am the only person from Hawaii to have gone to five ASPO conferences. What I learned there became my kuleana. I didn’t seek it out. My kuleana is my agenda. Its not complicated Robert. Don’t make it into a conspiracy theory.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    I do read what you write, and I still think you are being evasive. I will talk about sub zones and fracking Hawaii next but for now. Richard where exactly do you want to put the ammonia plants you talk about below?

    This is something from your blog, would you please tell us where these plants would go and how many geothermal plants you want to build.

    Off-Peak Geothermal Energy Can Ultimately Power Vehicles & Make Fertilizer


    Richard Ha writes:

    Ammonia can be made from “off-peak” geothermal energy.

    My friend Steve Gruhn explains ammonia better than anyone I know. Having come from the midwest, Steve is very concerned about fertilizer security.

    Not only can “off-peak” power from geothermal make ammonia, but ammonia can power vehicles and make fertilizer. Looks like a slam dunk to me.

    So where are you going to put your slam dunk?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    When the oil price spiked in 2008, fertilizer price went through the roof. All the farmers were very worried. I’ve found since then that the economics don’t work. I would love to have a helicopter to deliver my produce to Kona. But, there too, the economics don’t work.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    There you go dodging the questio. Where are you going to put the ammonia plants Richard. A few post back you claim you do not want to put them in Puna but you refuse to say where you want to put them.

    This is a civil rights issue Richard. I would like to see put a PGV type pant and ammonia manufacturing in North Kohala. You would have been sued to oblivion.

    So you pick Puna to dump the toxic industries, were we have the worst schools, roads, health care, and just about every other demographic that puts us on the bottom of the pile.

    The (FHWA) the Federal Highways Administration has already upheld such a civil rights violation in regards to our roads. It’s time we have a look at the geothermal industry and state regulators around the geothermal impacts on our community.

    Where you going to put the ammonia Richard? Where the rich or well to do live? Or are you going to dump it on the already struggling Puna community?

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Fertilizer can be made cheaper elsewhere with natural gas. So, why would anyone want to lose money by making it here? It’s common sense. Quit spinning. You keep on doing that and soon Sen Ruderman and Harry Kim will have to distance themselves from you.The bottom line is how can we make things work for everyone? I just gave you some numbers about how we can look toward lower electricity cost for the rubbah slippah folks.
    It’s obvious you don’t care about that.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    As far as sub zones go they were established after a grant was used to study the most likely places to find a resource.


    Title 13 under DLNR sub section 7 of chapter 184 lays out how and why sub zones were created.


    The reason people do not want to be limited to the designated geothermal resource sub zones that were created in part to identify where you would find the resources and in part to add regulatory protection for the community is because now they want to frack. They are called geothermal resource sub zones because that is where the science and the studies said such conventional resources would be found.

    A lot of research and money went into identifying where the resources would be found before the sub zones were created. Going outside these areas decreases substantially the likely hood of finding a conventional resource.

    Why not say what this is really about Richard? It’s about fracking and proponents of doing away with the sub zones are trying to hide that from the people of Puna and Hawaii. It is the same mindset that has pushed these projects at any cost for the last 30 years. Everything is done in secret and at community expense. The derogatory comments made about the people of Puna are part of a campaign to dehumanize an already disadvantaged community to make it acceptable put the kinds of toxic developments more well to do areas would never tolerate.


    Contrary to what industry insiders like Dr. Thomas say in attacking Harry Kim and Russel Ruderman they do not want to be limited to conventional geothermal. Now they want to frack.

    It was the same with the cable, industry insiders and the politicians pushing the cable said “what cable” we don’t want no cable, of course that wasn’t true. Then they said we don’t want to build more geothermal in Puna when we ask why corporations were leasing huge swaths of property here. Of course that wasn’t true either as we see that Avalor energy, IDG, PGV ect are leasing large tracts of land in Puna and gearing up to do exploration here if we allow it.

    Now they want to frack, but again are denying it. There is nothing above board about the way this is being done. You avoid the subject or try to divert the discussion away from these things, then want us to believe you care about us?

    Harry Kim and Russel Ruderman are right developers and corporations want the identified resources sub
    zones gone because with the fracking technology they can go other places.

    Say what you will, they want to frack and you know it. Your not being above board, or transparent in your true goals, changing the subject to oil ect and never answering the questions. It’s disingenuous and attempts to mislead people IMO.

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    So why Richard if you now claim you don’t want to make ammonia, on your blog you say you do want to use geothermal to make ammonia?

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Are you are admitting you made a mistake on the economics of fertilizer but still asking us to bank on your much more complex economic theories on geothermal?

    I will stick with my proven solar economics thank you. I have not had a HELCO bill or rate increase in over a decade. I find it much more affordable.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    Natural gas price controls the economics of ammonia. Hardly anyone expected natural gas price to drop below $3.00 mcf. What is good about ammonia? It is a nitrogen fertilizer that is essential for food production. And, it is a better hydrogen carrier than H2 hydrogen. NH3 ammonia has three atoms of hydrogen, so it is 1/3 more energy dense than H2 hydrogen.
    You can make hydrogen by running an electric current through water at night when the geothermal electricity is not used–i.e. free. That will give hydrogen and oxygen. Combine hydrogen with nitrogen from the air and you get ammonia. All the stuff to make ammonia is here. I know you’re off the grid. Many folks are off the grid. Nothing wrong with that. But, what about the rest? Can we find a solution that works for all? Or, is it everyone for him/herself? That is not the spirit of Aloha.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    By the way, Robert. You and the others who got off the grid early are to be commended. You were ahead of your time. It helps all of us when we don’t have to import foreign oil to generate your electricity. I am trying to get to a solution that will help the rest of us dodge the bullet when oil prices rise as it most certainly will

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Thank you for recognizing the contribution the off grid community is making to our economic and environmental well being.

    However I must still point out just like the economics of natural gas were unpredictable, the economics of the grid will keep prices high and rising. For the rest of our people tied to the grid our lawmakers should invest those government subsidies given to corporations like geothermal and even centralized solar in homeowners instead.

    Give that money back to the people that pay for it anyway. We could make much more progress much quicker if we give the tax dollars and tax breaks to the people your talking about instead of bailing out banks and energy companies including geothermal.

    For what is wasted searching for geothermal and the environmental solutions to the problems it presents we could have solar on our communities homes now. We do not have to spend money searching for solar we know where it is – just about everywhere.

    Geothermal can not compete even with the optimistic assessment you give because of distribution cost of centralized power. Those cost will rise and independent solar cost will fall.

    That you refuse to acknowledge that does not change it.

    I am also one of the oldest customer of Pacific Bio Diesel on this island because I do care and I do understand what we need to do.

    We have a working model in the off grid communities in Puna. These communities evolved with out the substantial hep given geothermal exploration, HGP-A, and PGV.

    You want a solution give us some resources and stand back instead of getting in the way. The problem is money, and corporate monopolies. Your strategies revolve around monopolies controlling centralized power and distribution. That will never be affordable.

  • Richard Ha Says:

    But, what about the rubbah slippah folks? The Big Island electricity rates have been 25% higher than Oahu forever. How do you propose to lower electricity rates?

  • Robert Petricci Says:

    Richard I have said this a number of different ways already. I realize you do not want to hear it when you keep asking the same question. What I propose is helping people directly produce their own electricity as opposed to forcing them to go through corporations that have been ripping us off.

    I understand reading your positions that doesn’t fit into your geothermal plans and agenda, however it is better to just cut the PGV’s, IDG’s, Avalor’s, ect and HELCO’s out of the picture entirely. They all want a fat profit why not just help the people to true energy independence?

    The real way to reduce cost is by cutting these corporate interest and their mega profits out of the equation. That is what many thousands in Hawaii have done and even you acknowledged it worked.

    With the kind of help and support you are giving geothermal redirected to directly helping people control their own power we can have true electrical energy independence, faster, cheaper, and much cleaner than your huge corporate geothermal agenda could ever produce.

    If you spent half the time and energy you spend on various groups promoting geothermal for corporations. Instead on getting laws passed to set up funds either through government low interest loans or better yet through grants for our people directly. Take the tax money given to geothermal companies and give it to homeowners instead to cover upfront cost for independent soar systems.

    It is not rocket science, the payments for those rubber slipper folks would be substantially reduced right away over the HELCO bills. No exploratory drilling, EIS, land use permitting ect needed. Just do it already, use your political muscle for the people instead of for your corporate friends.

    That solar is better economically is clear even with the many grid tie system companies are putting in for people across the state everyday. They lower rates for the people using them immediately and make these companies a nice profit already. Try look how many of these companies there are. 4 pages of solar contractors in the phone book proving lots of jobs as well. The solar industry is exploding for good reason, it’s affordable, it works, and people support it.

    Set up a co opt to bring in systems and reduce cost even more, then get your friends in Honolulu to help the people with the start up cost instead of the corporate welfare we see for. Like the recent 2 million dollar state grant given out of the general fund to UH Manoa for Dr. Thomas geothermal exploration. He is searching for geothermal because it is far from proven to exist viable on Oahu. On the contrary we know where the sun is and we know it works no need spend millions tax dollars looking for it.

    You know all this already Richard. Getting help from government directly for the people instead of for the corporations as you are doing is my solution.

    The trickle down formula you prefer that requires and allows corporate control is not the best for our people. The better path is “the people” owning their own systems that is what I propose.

    I ask you to help the people directly instead of using the resources your using now to help companies and corporations maintain control and monopolize centralized production Richard. It is not that hard to grasp, give the power systems to the people directly, let them control our energy future. Not more of the same corporations holding us hostage, and dictating the highest rates in the nation to the our people.

    That is what I propose for all our people, as a better alternative to dirty, expensive, geothermal with it’s inescapable handicap of needing the grid. That delivery system that geothermal requires will keep prices high, delivery system cost will continue to rise and independent solar cost will continue to decline.

    We have already past the point of no return. Solar is cheaper now than HELCO and geothermal, that difference is growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

    Further geothermal development when put on a level playing field adding delivery system requirements and cost will further benefit corporations but at the expense of our economy and our people. The grid is an Achilles heal, it is an outdated model that has served it’s purpose.

    It’s time to move into the decentralized 21rst century model that efficiently produces power where we need it as opposed to giant, vulnerable, and expensive delivery systems with their top heavy corporate cost as well.

    Why should anyone earn over 6 million dollars a year at ratepayers and taxpayers expense? They earn that money by keeping profits high, that is how corporations work. They do it in Hawaii by keeping rates the highest in the nation.

    Who needs that? The world is moving away from outdated, inefficient, delivery systems to decentralization. We should be leading the way with our massive solar resources not investing in the outdated centralized production and delivery systems of the past.

    I hope that answers your question Richard.

  • Angus Says:

    Richard, just a thought with many pitfalls I’m sure, but perhaps the best way to lower rates is to create an official consumer and environmental advocacy entity that has a clear seat at the table in negotiating electricity contracts and in defining Hawaii’s energy future as a whole. The link below, again, simply shows that the energy landscape is changing so quickly, and even with profit motives intact, the old school paradigms might be the biggest obstruction to long term progress. We live on an island. Policies that pollute limited land and water are not sustainable and limit options for future generations. The answer we are looking for cannot be solely driven by a focus on electric bills or Helco jobs/shareholders.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
    . http://www.alternet.org/environment/coming-crash-our-addiction-endless-growth-finite-planet-photo-slideshow?akid=10256.52318.TlKqJE&rd=1&src=newsletter816980&t=6&paging=off

  • 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

  • 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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