Category Archives: Geothermal

Ormat Soon to Drill Test Geothermal Wells

Ormat Technologies hopes to be drilling at least three exploration wells on the southwestern slope of Haleakala on Maui Island in Hawaii to determine the possibility of development on that location.
Reported from Hawaii, Ormat Technologies is hoping to beginn drilling exploration wells on the island of Maui as early as next year to determine the feasibility of developing a geothermal power plant on the island.

This would be an additional plant to the company’s current Puna plant (Puna Geothermal Venture) in Hawaii. The company expects that it must at least drill three exploration wells on the southwestern slope of Haleakala to determine the viability of a project on that site.

Ormat’s Big Island Geothermal Release

From KITV News

More than 20,000 Big Island households lost power late Wednesday afternoon when the Puna Geothermal Ventures Plant in Pahoa went offline.

The Hawaii Electric Light Company says there was a fault on one of the transmission lines, which then released steam as part of a built-in safety system.

Hazmat and fire teams responded to the scene.

Hawaii County Civil Defense says only trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide and or other byproducts of the geothermal process were released in the steam.

Puna Geothermal says crews measured 19 parts of hydrogen sulfide to one billion, which they say is 18 parts per billion above normal.

Maui Tomorrow DEIS Comments on Geothermal Project

March 27, 2012

Bill Sherman

Ormat Technologies, Inc.

6225 Neil Road Reno, NV 89511

Ron Terry

Geometrician Associates

PO Box 396 Hilo, HI 96721

Carty Chang

Hawaii State Board of Land and Natural Resources,

P.O. Box 621 Honolulu, HI 96809

Comments on EISPN for Ulupalakua Geothermal Mining Lease and Geothermal Resource Subzone Modification Application

Mahalo for the opportunity to offer comments on the EISPN for the above-referenced project.

Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc (MTF) supports Maui’s transition from fossil fuel to locally produced energy. As with all technologies, there are impacts that should be disclosed, discussed and mitigated during the planning process prior to bringing these technologies online. We appreciate being a consulted party and request that continue throughout the EIS review process.

Existing Impacts from Puna Geothermal Wells

In public presentations to MTF and others the applicant has stated that geothermal technology has changed since the Puna wells were drilled in the 1990’s and the impacts from escaped gases, noise, etc have lessened. The DEIS should include a review, perhaps in table format, of the number of resident evacuations, resident relocations, as well as claimed impacts to crops or livestock in the vicinity of those existing wells. Any pending or settled litigation regarding the Puna geothermal wells should also be disclosed.

Air Quality Impacts

Although the geothermal subzone on Maui is sparsely populated, the areas where dwellings are recorded should be indicated on a map, along with the expected extent that air borne contaminants, such as sulphurous gases, could be carried, based upon variable wind conditions of the subject area.

The EISPN states that potential contaminants such as hydrogen sulfide gas, toxic chemicals and heavy metals are found naturally in the eruptions of volcanoes such as Kilauea and therefore any release of similar substances during geothermal well exploration or operations would be comparable to these natural emissions and of little concern to public health. The DEIS should contain a clear comparison of the expected levels, composition, and duration of potentially toxic or noxious contaminants found in the geothermal well and generating plant systems vs. the annual levels of volcanic fog affecting Maui island.

Hazard Mitigation

Drilling and operation of the wells could involve toxic or regulated chemicals which would be hazardous to plants, animals or humans such as arsenic, lead, mercury and hydrogen sulfide. These should be fully discussed in the DEIS. Hazard mitigation and emergency evacuation plans for the existing and extended subzone should be discussed in the DEIS, including a portion of the subzone directly uphill of the Wailea resort/residential area.

Positive Impact on Power Rates and Community Benefits

We request that the DEIS clearly discuss any increase or decrease in utility rates for Maui customers as a result of future geothermal generating capacity being developed on Maui using comparative figures from the Puna geothermal plant. References are made regarding community benefits funded from geothermal operations; we request that the DEIS be specific about benefits for Maui, especially to residents of Ulupalakua and Kanaio residing in or near the geothermal subzone.

Longevity of Proposed Wells and Relationship to Seismic Activity

We request the DEIS include disclosure of the rate of well depletion in the Puna area, compared to original estimates and a comparison of geothermal conditions in the Maui subzone to those in Puna. Please discuss how many wells would likely be necessary during the life of the proposed project to produce the expected output of up to 50 MW of new power? The EISPN only refers to seismic activity in terms of the frequency of existing seismic events. We ask that the DEIS also examine any relationship between deep well drilling and operations and increased seismic activity in a geologically volatile area.

Comparison of Renewable Fuel Source Costs

In its economic section, the DEIS should compare the costs and environmental impacts of other firm renewable power sources, such as biofuel, to the construction and operation of geothermal plants. This should include capital and operating costs over several time line scenarios (i.e. 20 years. 50 years). The DEIS should provide estimates of each technology’s likely cost to ratepayers. Also it is mentioned (p.6 EISPN, section 1.2) that MECO anticipates needing to replace 25 MW of generating capacity by 2015 and adding 25 MW additional generating capacity. The DEIS should specify which generating capacity MECO is expecting to replace in order to help the public understand the cost/benefit tradeoffs of this project.

Groundwater Impacts

Reference is made to a “Limited” amount of water needed for “drilling and construction.” The FEIS should be specific about the amount of water needed and its source. If a well is drilled to supply water for construction activities what would be planned for its use after construction is complete? What measures will be taken to protect the Kamaole and Lualailua aquifers from contamination from accidental releases of hazardous materials from well sites. How many exploratory wells would be proposed in each aquifer area?

As noted in the EISPN, lava tubes are found in the Geothermal Subzone area on Maui. There are several legendary lava tubes located in Kanaio that terminate near the coast and are said to transport fresh water, even in modern times. Features such as these should be identified if possible through archaeological and cultural studies, and avoided.

Cultural Impacts

MTF is gratified to see that the EISPN recognizes the cultural importance of the subzone area and recommends that the consultants preparing the project’s CIA consult with members of the Aha Kiole councils, Maui Cultural Lands, Inc and others to gather traditional knowledge of the area.

It is of some concern to us that the applicants only plan “field reconnaissance to survey sample portions of the project area and inspect selected previously identified sites.” Recent studies of the adjacent Auwahi area produced far more density and varieties of cultural sites than anticipated and supplemental studies were required. A good baseline archaeological study of the proposed project area will be necessary in order to comply with its stated goal of “identifying areas in which disturbance should be avoided or minimized to reduce impacts to historic properties or culturally important features.” It is also critical that such studies be conducted during the driest months of the year in order to have a clear view of the cultural landscape. MTF also requests that any stone walls documented not be dismissed as “ranching walls,” as is frequently done. It has been demonstrated by Kirch et al that low rock walls in this region of Honua’ula and Kahikinui can be part of a traditional Hawaiian agricultural field system.

The EISPN refers to a “barren zone” in such ahupua’a as Paeahu, Palauea, and Keauhou “with a coastal band of settlement, perhaps used on a temporary basis, separated by a relatively barren zone from the uplands between 1,500 feet and 3,000 feet in elevation, where year round agriculture and permanent residences was feasible.” Extensive cultural landscapes exist and more are being documented every year from 200 ft amsl to 900 ft amsl. These include evidence of agriculture, tool-making and permanent ceremonial and residential features. Palauea and Keauhou are richly endowed with cultural features.

Once again, while the EISPN notes that “future Chapter 343 documents for wells and a power plant, if they go forward, would include site-specific archaeological surveys” it is possible that future Chapter 343 review for this project may never be required due to recently enacted exemptions. This possibility should be considered within the DEIS and appropriate commitments made to complete detailed archaeological investigations whether required or not.

The DEIS should also discuss the project’s plan for Federal Section 106 consultation process since Federal funds are being used for the exploratory study.


The EISPN states that more detailed maps will be provided in the DEIS. It would be helpful if maps included indicate and label proposed transmission lines for Sempra’s Auwahi wind project; local landmarks such as Fleming Native Plant Arboretum in Kanaio, Ulupalakua Ranch headquarters, Tedeschi Winery and rural residential settlements in Kanaio and Ulupalakua area. Please specify on maps the location of proposed sites for geothermal test wells and the new access roads needed to reach them in relationship to archaeological site mapping and biological resources.

Land Use Districts

The EISPN states “The proposed modification would expand the GRS to cover additional Agricultural District lands but would not expand the GRS into Conservation District lands.” Will the DEIS discuss the possibility that if no suitable well site is available on the state Ag District lands exploration would begin in Conservation District lands?


Complaints of noise from geothermal operations in Puna have been ongoing. MTF requests the DEIS discuss noise levels expected from test drilling, permanent well drilling and geothermal plant operations, as well as construction activities and the extent that noise levels will carry across the landscape to inhabited areas or their affect on native wildlife. A timetable for well expansion should also be discussed, based upon experience at the Puna wells including how many would be needed to meet the energy goals of the facility and their proposed power purchase agreement with MECO.

Flora and Fauna

We are pleased to see the EISPN affirm that the proposed exploration area does have sections of rare dryland forest that should be avoided, as well as important native fauna habitat. We are also encouraged that the lava flow areas that provide ideal habitat for native wiliwili forests are recognized as a sensitive resource area, even though the increasingly rare native wiliwili are not officially listed as threatened or endangered. MTF requests that the DEIS include biological resources maps indicating locations and concentrations of native wiliwili, maiapilo and other dryland species in relationship to any future access roads or sites proposed for test drilling. Of special concern are the extensive wiliwili groves on public land in the proposed geothermal zone in the vicinity of Papaka Rd.

If mitigation is required for future geothermal activities agencies should consider focusing time and funds into repairing damage done by feral goats immediately makai of the Geothermal Subzone on Ulupalakua Ranch lands at Cape Hanamanioa. The rare anchialine ponds found there are an important resource for native invertebrates and waterfowl, such as the endangered a’eo. Native flora in these ponds have been decimated by feral goats over the past seven years and fencing and management is needed.

Secondary and Cumulative Impacts

We note that discussion of many secondary and cumulative impacts of this proposed project are proposed to be postponed to a later time, based upon “regulatory requirements.” There appears to be a concerted effort in the Hawaii State Legislature to rework laws governing renewable energy projects, especially those on public trust lands, in order to exempt them from environmental review. If these legislative efforts succeed it is possible that the full impacts of construction and operation of the final wells, generating plant(s), roads, transmission lines etc will never undergo environmental review under HRS 343. The EISPN states:

“Ormat would select an optimum location for a geothermal plant that maximizes the efficiency of the operation and minimizes adverse impacts. Ormat would finalize details of the plant’s size, interconnection to the Maui Electric Company grid, and other characteristics, and would prepare follow-up documentation as may be required by Chapter 343, HRS, and other regulatory requirements, that addresses the construction and operation of the plant, including road use.”

If no “follow-up documentation” is required by Chapter 343 HRS, it is vital that this DEIS address as many of the cumulative and secondary impacts of the proposed expansion of the Geothermal Subzone and exploratory wells as possible.

Thank you again for allowing Maui Tomorrow Foundation to submit the above comments.


Irene Bowie
Executive Director

Testimony Ormat Geothermal – Mayer

From: Professor (Emeritus) Dick Mayer March 23, 2012 Cell 808-283-4376

1111 Lower Kimo Dr. Kula, Maui, HI 96790


RE: Ulupalakua Geothermal Mining Lease and Geothermal Resource

Subzone Modification Application (EISPN)


Applicant: Ormat Technologies Inc., 6225 Neil Road, Reno, NV 89511.

Contact: Bill Sherman, (775) 356-9029 Ext. 32232

Approving Authority: Hawai‘i State Board of Land and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 621,

Honolulu, HI 96809. Contact: Carty Chang, (808) 587-0230

Consultant: Geometrician Associates, PO Box 396, Hilo, HI 96721.

Contact: Ron Terry, (808) 969-7090


RE: Comments on ORMAT’s Maui Geothermal EISPN These comments are intended to apply to: (1) a geothermal mining lease of reserved lands occupied by Ulupalakua Ranch, Inc.; (2) a geothermal mining lease of State lands adjacent to Ulupalakua Ranch; (3) modification (expansion) of an existing Geothermal Resource Subzone (GRS); and

(4) any HRS 343 Environmental review, NEPA requirements, Conservation District Use permitting, Special Management Area Use, Maui County Special Use, Request for Use of State Lands, Incidental Take Permit, Incidental Take License, Use and Occupancy Agreement, County Right-of-Way Approval, Various Grading/Building and Other Construction Permits.



Aloha, I first wish to state that I’m strongly in favor of developing renewable energy resources on Maui so that we will not have to continue burning fossil fuels. Nevertheless, I feel it is necessary to make sure that any new alternative energy project: a) be sensitive to Maui’s special physical and cultural environment; and b) provides benefits to electricity consumers. Therefore, the following is a list of items which should be considered in developing both the Draft/Final-EIS.


I request that the following information be given and questions be answered in the EIS:

NOTE: All references to page numbers refer to the EISPN.


  1. Clearly indicate a timeline sequence for the numerous, different actions that are covered by the EIS:

acquiring State mining leases; expanding the GRS; getting permits and other approvals from State and County authorities necessary to conduct exploratory drilling in the project area; determining the number and location(s) of exploratory wells; preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or other follow-up documentation as may be required by Chapter 343, HRS, etc.

And then (EISPN Page 6):

If exploratory drilling and testing lead to discovery of a commercially useable geothermal resource, Ormat would then determine the feasibility of constructing a plant to generate electricity using the resource and selling the electricity to an off-taker such as Maui Electric Company. Ormat would select an optimum location for a geothermal plant that maximizes the efficiency of the operation and minimizes adverse impacts. Ormat would finalize details of the plant’s size, interconnection to the Maui Electric Company grid, and other characteristics, and would prepare follow-up documentation as may be required by Chapter 343, HRS, and other regulatory requirements, that addresses the construction and operation of the plant, including road use.”



And also, there is the Purchase-Power Agreement with MECO, or the County (which could wheel the electricity to its many water pumps or for street lighting).


  1. This EISPN discusses such a complex set of actions. This is commendable since, all too often, projects make an effort to segment their multi-stage activities.


However, in this case, there is a very serious problem because all of the successive segments and their impacts cannot now be fully addressed by this EIS since even a general site location for the wells and the power-plant have not been even vaguely located, – except somewhere in a 5,000+ acre, multi TMK region.

(P. 24 mid) “As the actual locations for geothermal infrastructure such as wells, roads and power plants will not yet be able to be identified during the EIS process, the Draft EIS will focus on identifying areas in which disturbance should be avoided or minimized to reduce biological impacts.”


Consequently, a “Supplemental EIS” describing the impacts and mitigation measures will be needed and should be included as an expected activity in this EIS when the proposed sites (especially for the power plant, utility line corridors, and the various roads) have been determined.


  1. Many TMKs have been described. The EIS should include a map showing the TMKs and their individual acreages. Are the TMKs inside or outside of the GRS?


  1. Justification is needed for expanding the GRS. The present GRS was previously the subject of and determined by a public hearings process.


  1. (Page 7 bottom) What will be the effect on the Ulupalakua Ranch and Tedeshi Winery operations at each stage of the activities (exploration for a site? construction? Plant operations?)? Will their viability as agricultural and tourist operations be affected or threatened?


  1. (Page 25) “Hawaiian sensitivities” are given special consideration in the 1996 Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan and need to be discussed in the EIS.

“The Upcountry region contains the only designated geothermal subzone in the County. While the potential benefits of geothermal development would accrue to the entire island, the environmental impacts would be primarily borne by the communities of Ulupalakua and Kanaio. For this reason, and in respect to Native Hawaiian sensitivities, a policy prohibiting geothermal development that impacts adversely on Upcountry communities or culturally sensitive resources has been adopted.”


  1. Wind direction may play an important role. It should be carefully monitored and described in the EIS. The wind regime may be quite different on each side of the SW ridge line; and different during day-light and night-time periods.


  1. (Page 29, Last Paragraph) These lands are an important agricultural resource. Consequently, this EIS should make an explicit declaration that no additional industrial activities are going to be located within this Geothermal Subzone, especially activities that might try to take advantage of the produced electricity or heated water. The Upcountry community does not want this to become an industrial site; the natural beauty and serenity of the area is critical.



  1. Describe in detail the bonding that will be provided: a) to clean up spills and other types of environmental damage (P. 21 2nd + 3rd paragraphs); and b) to pay for the eventual costs of decommissioning the site and restoring the land to its present condition.

Decommissioning The Project De-commissioning of the project at the conclusion of its life span will necessitate considerable costs. A “sinking fund” should be established that will allow for either a complete de-commissioning and for the removal of the power plant and any above ground facilities. Without a proper fund being available, these facilities may remain as a permanent blight on the Ulupalakua Ranch landscape.


  1. MAPS (Pages 2-4)

  1. Specifically, Ulupalakua Ranch Headquarters should be designated on each of the maps.

  2. Locate the vineyard fields.

  3. The SEMPRA Power Line Corridor should be on the maps.

  4. Ulupalakua Ranch’s large Dedicated Conservation Area should be indicated on the maps and description of the limitations of that area should be in the EIS text.

  5. Map of homes and residential areas: The EIS will be better understood if it is clear where the actual residences are located in relationship to the potential impacts. The EIS should clearly map locations of all actual and entitled residences that may be impacted by construction, traffic, drilling, plant operations, noise, and/or lights.


  1. Sustainability” is a high virtue. However, experience on the Big Island has shown that the magma heat source shifts and is not everlasting, necessitating the periodic drilling of new wells. Discuss the possibilities and probabilities of successive well drilling over the long run.


12. Electricity Transmission Route (Power Plant Tie-In) More details must be provided in the EIS for linking up with the SEMPRA or some new the transmission corridor. Specifically, how close (in feet) are the closest neighboring residences? Where will the transmission line cross the Kula Highway?


13. Noise The EIS must discuss the noise resulting from the drilling and geothermal operations.The EIS should be very explicit in describing the decibel impacts from all activities: Trucking? Drilling? Blasting? Excavating? Jack-hammers?


How many and which homes will be impacted by noise? And what levels of this noise will be heard in any residence


13. Lights The flight paths of endangered birds may be at stake. Will there be any nighttime transporting, drilling, construction, and/or other activities which will require lighting? Describe in detail the number of lights and their brightness. What can be done to mitigate the “light pollution” in this otherwise dark and pristine area?


15. Construction Timeframe For how long will the residents of the remote Kahikinui and Kanaio communities have to deal with construction activities? For how long will residents in neighboring communities (Kula and South Maui) have to deal with trucking operations from/to the site? What can be done to mitigate disruptions in the lives of these communities?




16. Solid Waste Where and how will material brought up from the wells be deposited?


17. Run-Off / Drainage During construction and the building of roads this project will have surface areas that will be exposed to the elements for periods of time during which a Kona storm could wash vast quantities of soil toward the resort areas and into the ocean. The EIS needs to discuss potential run-off. Are even BMP adequate to protect the ocean? What additional mitigating measures can be taken to prevent damage to the resort communities and the Class A waters immediately below?


18. WaterThis project will consume large amounts of water during its drilling phase and subsequently for fire protection. However, the EISPN is vague as to the water source. The EIS should indicate exactly what is the water source and quantity for the trucked water and fire protection.


Given the serious water shortage in Upcountry Maui, the EIS must describe its water source completely. Will any water from the County’s already inadequate Upcountry water system be utilized? If not, then promise/certify that in the EIS.


Clarify in the EIS whether there will be an on-site water well, and what will happen to the well and its water after the completion of construction? Will the water be made available for residential and/or agricultural use by neighboring residents?


19. Truck Routes – Especially Through Kula The EIS should clarify the actual traffic volume and routes to be utilized by all trucks delivering drilling rigs, the construction equipment and supplies, the pipes and pumps, the numerous power poles, etc. The EIS should include a complete discussion of the potential traffic delays: no. of vehicles, time delays, affects on local residents, etc.


This traffic information would be useful in not only in evaluating the impacts of this project, but also to help develop mitigation measures. Special attention should be made of the winding roads between Kula and the drilling site. Furthermore, there are several bridges along this upcountry route which may not be able to bear both the heavy burdens and their continued use for heavy truck traffic. How will local Kula traffic be impacted?


During the post-construction phase will the highway through Kula be utilized for O&M activities? On a daily basis for all of the workers? As a transport route for repair trucks and equipment repairs? This highway has a rapidly growing amount of traffic as the Keokea Hawaiian HomeLands project continues to grow.


20. Drilling Rigs There needs to be a discussion about the drilling rigs. How tall are these? Will they work 24/7? Day and night? For how long will they be involved drilling? Could their activity impact nearby archaeological sites?


21. Reliability And Lifespan Because this project may have long-term, ongoing impacts, there should be an evaluation of the lifespan and replacement schedule for the various components: the pumps, the power plant, the transmission lines etc.






This is a relatively remote location which will make maintenance more difficult. Therefore, how will the immediate surrounding neighbors and the Kula community be impacted by ongoing maintenance and periodic equipment replacement activities?


22. The Socio-Economic section needs to discuss electricity rates. As part of the socio-economic analysis, it is very important that there be a complete and frank discussion of the impact of geothermal energy on MECO, and especially, on all of Maui’s electricity ratepayers. Will electricity be cheaper? More expensive? This needs to be VERY explicitly clarified with actual electric rates in the EIS.


To gain a better understanding and appreciation as to whether the numerous impacts on this project will be compensated by lower electricity rates, ORMAT should be willing to state in the EIS the proposed cost (in cents per KWH) to MECO (or the County) for the electricity which will be derived from the geothermal operation. What actually is the rate going to be? Higher? Lower? How will it affect the rates being paid by Maui electricity consumers?


23. Tax Subsidies Are there any Federal and/or State tax subsidies for this project? In other words, what will be the tax write-off that is eventually paid by the federal and state taxpayers? Lower taxes paid by ORMAT would mean higher taxes for residents.


24. Project Viability Because this project may have sizable negative impacts, it is necessary to fully clarify the positive benefits of this project. Therefore, to be included in the EIS document, there should be a comprehensive discussion on the amount of electricity to be generated (daily and yearly), its reliability and variability.


25. Environmental and Social Justice The neighboring residential communities of Kanaio and Kahikinui may be significantly impacted by this project. The residents of these communities have intentionally chosen to live in a remote area with little impact from the modern “industrial world”. These communities and residents deserve to receive benefits from this project commensurate with the negative impacts which they may need to bear.


In what way will ORMAT and/or MECO provide a benefit package for seriously impacted residents? Will it make available low cost electricity to those residents in the neighboring communities who may wish to connect to the grid? Will ORMAT be willing to provide a power-line to Kanaio and Kahikinui? This would, in part, meet an environmental and social justice need and concern.


26.Power line Capacity What will be the capacity of the transmission lines running through the nearby corridor? Are the power lines sized adequately to accept additional electricity generation from this project? (Note: There has already been a Maui presentation by Ormat concerning a geo-thermal operation near the wind-farm and also on Ulupalakua Ranch lands. They stated that the geo-thermal generators might hook up to the transmission lines being developed by this wind-farm project. There is at least one other company investigating geothermal in the general vicinity of the wind farm.)






27. Lands What problems will there be to gain access to the State of Hawai’i lands? How long will it take to get the sub-zone extended? Will bidding for those lands be open to the general public? For how many years will the State lease extend? What happens after that?


28. The last sentence on P. 25 is very unclear. Who would get the “royalty payments”? How much will be contributed to the immediate community and residents in the form of “community benefits”?


29. Miscellaneous items that need to be addressed in the EIS:

a) P. 6 last paragraph Why should MECO lose 25MW?


b) P. 7 2nd paragraph Why a combined cycle and how would that effect the

environment? Is it even possible that ORMAT would use that on Maui?


c) Is there a maximum sized power plant covered by this EIS?


d) If a very large power plant is constructed, what are the implications for MECO’s

existing capital investment?


  1. Since so much of the siting of the wells, power plant, power lines, and roads is not

known at this time, what are the specific opportunities for residents and the community to give feedback on their environmental impacts in the future?


  1. How would a 6,000’ well shaft be impacted by an earthquake and what provisions would there be if the geothermal operation were impacted for an extended period by an earthquake or some other event?


  1. P. 26 #3.3.3 incorrectly identifies the highway serving the project as Pi’ilani Hwy. It is “Kula Hwy” that would service the project, unless everything is going to come through Kihei/Makena.


30. Caveat There are no comments in my letter concerning several major topics which are included in this EISPN document: archaeology, plant life, animal life, etc. The lack of comments in these areas should not be interpreted as meaning that there are no issues with those topics. Others may be better able to discuss the adequacy of those topics.


31. The following groups should be included on the mail list for the Draft + Final EIS:

County’s Cultural Resource Commission; Burial Council; Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership; Southwest Maui Watershed Project; Waiohuli Hawaiian Homelands Community Association, Kula Community Association. (I can supply contact info, if necessary.)

Geothermal Test Well Slated for Early Next Year

Ormat Technologies Inc., which operates the state’s only geothermal plant in the Puna District on Hawaii island,  said it hopes to begin drilling exploratory wells as early as next year to determine whether there are sufficient geothermal resources  on the southwestern slope of Haleakala for their proposed geothermal generating plant.

Geothermal, as opposed to solar PV and wind, is a firm resources.

 provided a rough outline of its proposed Maui project in an environmental impact statement preparation notice filed with the state earlier this year. 

Ulapalakua Geothermal EIS at Library

Makawao Public Library has just received for public review:

Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice.  Ulupalakua Geothermal Mining Lease and Geothermal Resource Subzone Modification Application

Public comments are due:  March 27, 2012

Makawao Public Library


Geothermal on Maui

On July 20, the all Native Hawaiian-owned company, Innovations Development Group (IDG), held a public meeting at Pukalani’s Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, to “share their philosophy and get feedback from the community.”

Geothermal got a bad rep when the early Puna well released hydrogen sulphide into the air, sickening residents.  Mililani Trask gave a presentation on Maui in support of geothermal, contending that the technology used will prevent H2S releases.  In fact, the heat exchangers proposed for the well should eliminate H2S releases except during drilling (before the exchangers will be installed).

Geothermal is a State owned resource and operators must pay a 10 percent royalty  on gross earnings to the state.

In a slideshow pie chart presented at the Pukalani meeting, IDG outlined the basics of what a 50-megawatt plant’s cashflow might be. With their model, 54 percent would go to operating costs, debt service and taxes; 28 percent would cover the cost of capital and developer’s equity; 10 percent goes for state royalties; six percent goes to the landowner; and the remaining two percent—estimated at $1.25 million per annum, totalling $65 million over a 50-year lease—goes into a community trust.

“At the end of the lease,” Trask said, “the assets transfer to the state, which is how you create a portfolio for public utility.”

IDG has been active in developing geothermal plants in New Zealand.

Read a thorough report on the meeting at MauiTime

Ku‘oko‘a Seeking to buy HEI

Heavy hitters join board to gird for HEI bid

Ex-officials of the CIA and federal Energy Department ante up as the $35 billion plan gains momentum

By Andrew Gomes

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 17, 2011 at the Star Advertiser

A $35 billion plan to buy Hawaii’s main electric utility and quickly get it off fossil fuel while reducing rates for consumers was greeted with heavy skepticism in January when the ambitious endeavor was made public.

Some dismissed the initiative by an entrepreneurial Minnesotan who moved to Hawaii last year as unrealistic or, worse, a joke. Others lauded the idea but figured it was financially impossible and wouldn’t gain traction.

But since then the venture named Ku‘oko‘a Inc. has attracted several leaders with powerful connections, including a past chief of the Central Intelligency Agency and a former deputy secretary of the federal Department of Energy.

T.J. Glauthier, the Energy Department’s No. 2 official from 1999 to 2001, and R. James Woolsey, CIA director from 1993 to 1995, have joined Ku‘oko‘a as investors and board members.

Rob Robinson, a Hawaii venture capitalist and professor of entrepreneurship and e-business at the University of Hawaii, is another investor taking a seat on the board recently.

And Rick Blangiardi, general manager of local TV broadcaster Hawaii News Now, agreed to serve as Ku‘oko‘a’s board vice chairman…

…The company’s goal is to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., which provides power to about 95 percent of the state’s population, and shift it completely from its current dependence on imported oil to alternative energy sources within 10 years…

…Ku‘oko‘a’s vision is to tap a variety of renewable energy sources to replace oil as Hawaii’s main source for electricity. The backbone of the plan is to derive most electricity from geothermal energy on Hawaii island and Maui for delivery to Oahu and other islands via undersea cables. [emph added]

Geothermal power is proven and has the benefit of not being an intermittent source of energy like the sun and wind. An existing geothermal plant on Hawaii island, Puna Geothermal Venture, supplies about 20 percent of that island’s electricity needs.

Other power sources such as wind, solar, biofuel, wave and ocean thermal energy would likely also play roles, though geothermal would supply the base load and is the linchpin to Ku‘oko‘a’s plan, according to Roald Marth, a self-described nerd from Minnesota who started Ku‘oko‘a and is the company’s chief executive officer…

…Marth told a Rotary Club of Honolulu meeting in April that geothermal energy might even be able to oversupply the state with power, allowing extra power to be exported if converted to another form such as liquid hydrogen

The exports and fixed energy costs, according to Marth, would not only insulate ratepayers from higher oil prices and electricity rates, but also would cut the cost of electricity to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour statewide. Presently the rate is about 30 cents on Oahu and around 40 cents on neighbor islands….

…Some observers question whether it’s feasible to run a cable along the extremely rough and deep Alenuihaha Channel between Hawaii island and Maui.

Marth says it can be done, though not easily or cheaply. According to Puna Geothermal, the state investigated the feasibility of an Alenuihaha Channel cable in the 1980s and concluded it was possible but too costly without considerable government subsidies. The state estimates it will cost $800 million to $1 billion to install a cable linking Oahu to wind farms on Molokai and Lanai.

Marth has said a company like Hawaiian Electric with public shareholders interested in growing quarterly profits faces a disincentive to invest billions of dollars in renewable energy production.

A company like Ku‘oko‘a with private capital focused on long-term returns from renewable energy investments is necessary to make the conversion, he said.

One big concern for local consumers and businesses is whether such a return could be achieved without coming at the expense of ratepayers. Some stock analysts and energy industry experts have expressed doubt about Ku‘oko‘a’s plan penciling out…

…Beside the technical and financial issues, much skepticism raised in January focused on the people leading Ku‘oko‘a.

Marth, 46, is a former real estate agent and motivational speaker [emph added] who later co-founded and sold two companies — one that provided technology and software training for the real estate industry and one that provided Internet services to real estate agents.

Two initial partners also helped Marth start Ku‘oko‘a. One is Richard Ha, owner of Hamakua Springs Country Farms on Hawaii island. Ha, who is Ku‘oko‘a’s board chairman, has researched alternative energy as a source for his business and is co-chairman of a state advisory group on geothermal energy.

Ku‘oko‘a’s other initial partner is Ted Peck, who quit his job as the state’s energy administrator to become company president. Peck, among other things, directed Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative….

Read the entire article at the Star Bulletin

Maui’s Energy Future – Community Meeting

July 20, 2011
6:30 pmto7:30 pm

Wed, July 20, 2011 @ 6:30PM Hannibal Tavares Center Pukalani

WHAT: The third in a series of community forums and information sessions on geothermal development in Hawaii. The event will feature presentations from Native Hawaiians on community-based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust. Also to be discussed is the issue of “peak oil” and its impacts to the global and local community.

WHERE: Hannibal Tavares (Pukalani) Community Center – 91 Pukalani St. Pukalani, Maui, HI 96768 MODERATED BY: IDG (Innovations Development Group, a Native Hawaiian company with geothermal projects on Maori Trust lands in New Zealand) CEO Patricia Brandt, the forum’s panelists will include Mililani Trask, Esq. (Indigenous Consultants LLC), Ku’uleiohuokalani Kealoha Cooper (Kealoha Estate), Cy Bridges (IDG Cultural Advisor), Robert Lindsey (Trustee, OHA Hawaii Island).

Kula Geothermal Briefing

May 25, 2011
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

Proposed Upcountry Geothermal Power Plant

This Wednesday, May 25, at the Kula Community Center from
7pm -9pm the Kula Community Association’s General Meeting will
present speakers on the proposed upcountry geothermal well and
power station.

Ormat Technology representatives hope to use water to tap the
hot magma below Maui. They will discuss their plans to drill deep
wells and to establish a geothermal power production facility on
Ulupalakua Ranch lands. The company now owns and manages
the 30 MW Puna geothermal operation on the Big Island. They
will welcome questions at the meeting.

The geothermal presentation should be an interesting follow-up
to the last KCA meeting when we heard from Sempra regarding
their plans to put up a wind farm on nearby Ulupalakua Ranch lands.

The second part of the meeting will have three County officials
discussing their operations and answering resident questions.
Public Works Director David Goode will describe future road
improvements including planned school sidewalks.

Civil Defense Director Anne Foust will discuss the status of
emergency planning, a special concern after the recent tsunami
and the flooding in South Maui. Finally, we will hear from the
Police Department regarding the KCA’s request for a community
police officer.

Meet your neighbors and enjoy the usual great refreshments.
Call 283-4376 for information.