Three environmentally risky energy projects on Hawai’i Island just dropped off the radar.

By Cory Harden

First, Ormat, parent company of Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), withdrew from contract negotiations with Hawai’i Electric Light Company (HELCO). The contract would have been for a new geothermal plant to provide 25 more megawatts of geothermal energy on Hawai’i Island. HELCO was requiring an adjustable power output, but that’s difficult to do with geothermal powerplants.

Meanwhile, PGV faces a lawsuit over noisy all-night drilling last year, and neighbors have raised serious concerns for years over dangerous hydrogen sulfide emissions.  

Secondly, the University of Hawai’i pulled out of geothermal research projects on Hualalai in the face of shrinking funding, loss of staff, and a lawsuit over the need for state-mandated environmental assessment.

Lastly, HELCO expects to terminate a power purchase agreement with Hu Honua for failure to meet contract deadlines. Hu Honua planned to generate electricity (where?) by burning trees and other biomass. Sierra Club and neighbors voiced concerns about air and water quality, and about noisy trucks crowding neighborhood roads.

Still on the radar, unfortunately, is a bill before the State legislature to override County regulation of geothermal development.

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