Geothermal update 6/24/14

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It has been a while since my last geothermal update. I wish I could say it's because it's over and the state and county have come to their senses.  Instead things are about to heat up a little again as the geothermal developers push back after our work at the legislature last year. There are some key things coming up that we are going to need help from you with if you can. Please tell your friends and neighbors that it's not over and to start watching for PPA notices and events again. Let me start with this


There is going to be a geothermal health study group meeting today Tuesday 6/24/14. The proposed county geothermal health study RFP will be presented to the group for discussion by Dr Maddock from U.H. who was contracted by the county to write the RFP. I have serious concerns I plan to raise at the meeting about what has happened to the health study proposal.

This all started in the summer of 2012 when PPA submitted our own proposal for a geothermal community health study that was ready to go. That was before the March 13, 2013, venting that led EPA to find PGV in violation of the clean air act.

The council approved our request for funding from the county asset fund however mayor Kenoi refused to sign off and decided to kill it. What we got instead has been years of delay and a RFP that is looking very much like more of the same junk science that we have seen from the state DOH. We cannot settle for another worthless, waste of time document that the community will not have confidence in. If you can help please start watching for our updates again and spread the word, it's not over yet.

The new county of Hawaii draft RFP appears to disregard community input, concerns, and the hard work the wider Puna community did to get a geothermal health study that we all can have confidence in.  The historically evident tendency of the county and state to protect the developer's interest at the community's expense is inexcusable and unmistakeably still present in the current draft RFP.

PPA is going to work to prevent them from not only highjacking the process yet again but from continuing to squander the money in the asset fund. That money should not fund a study the community does not support.

I will tell the Health Study Group what I see now and have already warned them about. I have seen this exact scenario play out several times before where the county gets the community to work it's butt off for a year or more in good faith on the asset fund rules, mediation, and now the health study. Unavoidably time and again at the last minute, the county steps in throws out all the work community members did, and they do what they want. The mess geothermal is today is a direct result of this process of permitting and regulating geothermal, the current administration is on the same path to failure as it's predecessors who also did not protect our community.

The draft County RFP has been circulated to the Adler health study group in preparation for the meeting today.  There are red flags all over the draft RFP. The year of hard work done in good faith by the community has fallen to the wayside. As is customary in geothermal matters here, at the last minute the county has thrown out the community concerns, input, and hard work in favor of their own plan. They say our way won't work yet the track record is clear. The mess that geothermal is today is a direct result of the county protecting geothermal developers at the expense of the surrounding community. Remember PGV was recently found in violation of the clean air act by the EPA for 14 violations. This is nothing new, what is new is a regulator finally at community urging did their job. After everything that has happened because of no regulation or oversight, still the county will not put us first or at least for once simply do the right thing here: help us

If you want to do something now you can contact the mayor and windward planning commission, tell them to follow the recommendations in the Adler health study report. We worked on that for over a year. This is no accident IMO, there are those experianced players that think they can waste our time like that as a strategy, wear the community down. Don't let it work, spread the word, we are organizing again and will need support from you at key times.

This is a bait and switch to favor the University of Hawai`i getting the money and the geothermal plant getting the result they want.

We will need Testimony at the Windward Planning Commission when this gets scheduled....
Watch for details
If you doubt these kind of things really happen....Check this out...This sounds a lot like Hawaii DOH and geothermal...

Pennsylvania Instructed Its Employees to Ignore Residents
The Puna geothermal health study is in danger of ending up the same way. It doesn't seem to matter what has been done to us, or how many times we have been lied to and about.
Thank you for helping getting us this far, please let everyone know.


In June of 2011 when Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) began the process of issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a new 50 megawatt geothermal facility, the political climate supported a bidder being selected.  In a March 16, 2012, letter, HELCO asked the the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to allow the RFP procedure to begin.  The letter said, in part: "HELCO believes that there is clear directive ... evidenced by strong government support for geothermal development ... recent interest by geothermal developers and advocacy groups, and a positive trend in public support for renewable energy.... geothermal developers [have] advocated pursuing an expedited competitive bidding docket schedule..."

HELCO's letter shows it was going forward with a new geothermal RFP due to political pressure. On February 28, 2013, HELCO issued the RFP.  A July 13, 2013, letter from PPA to HELCO, objecting to the RFP, said HELCO was 'putting the cart before the horse' by yielding to political pressure without first completing adequate planning.

Things began to change as the RFP process went forward.  Strong public opposition to building a new geothermal facility emerged and led to a demonstration at HELCO in August of 2013.  On September 9, 2013, the final report of a study of geothermal health issues was delivered to the Mayor and published.  The study report, funded by the County of Hawai`i, said “events during the HGP-A era and during the 1991 blowout provided exposures associated with adverse health effects.... Risks from geothermal energy production in Lower Puna exist." Those and additional factors (such as rapidly decreasing solar energy costs) affected the political climate.

On December 20, 2013, HELCO rejected all submitted bidss.  "... none of the submitted bids sufficiently met both the low-cost and technical requirements of the Geothermal RFP...."  On February 21, 2014, the RFP Independent Observer told the PUC "it is apparent to us that the continued delays in the RFP are due to HELCO 'putting the cart before the horse' by not having performed sufficient planning before the issuance of the RFP."  A long term integrated resource plan (IRP) prepared by HELCO's parent company was rejected by the PUC on April 28, 2014.  On June 4, 2014, HELCO (responding to a Public Utilities Commission Order) provided an action plan that includes a proposed schedule for Best and Final Offers from geothermal bidders.

HELCO's June 4th response to the PUC looks more realistically at what is needed, such as by asking is a "commitment to allocate limited system capacity to a geothermal Project in the long-term best interest" of ratepayers; will it result in "lowering customer bills, reducing Hawai'i's dependence on fossil fuels, allowing for continued integration and management of intermittent renewable resources within the system, maintaining reliability of service, and protecting the health and safety of the public and environment."

HELCO says "the purpose of the Geothermal RFP is to obtain cost-effective (meaning at a substantially lower system-wide cost to the customer) geothermal Dispatchable energy" ... that is, HELCO will take only as much electricity from a new geothermal plant at any given time as is required by fluctuating customer demand.  Further, "a new geothermal facility will be required to ... enable the continued integration and management of intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar power" ... meaning as more solar electricity becomes available from rooftop photovoltaic, HELCO would be taking less electricity from a new geothermal facility.

Bidders were told if you can meet those requirements, then go ahead and submit your best offer (anticipated to be by January 15, 2015) and then HELCO will make a final decision.  However, the bids must "take into consideration the impacts of Hawai 'i County Code Article 19 relating to [the ban of nighttime] geothermal drilling ... and the potential impacts of recently enacted Hawai'i County Code Article 21 relating to hydraulic fracturing ...."  Also, a "levelized threshold price will be determined based on research of geothermal industry pricing ... [that] will be the maximum Combined Bid Price that Hawai'i Electric Light is willing to consider in this Geothermal RFP. Best and Final Offers with pricing above the Threshold Price shall be deemed nonresponsive and shall not be considered for the Final Award Group.... If all Bids do not meet the Threshold Price then the Geothermal RFP process will be concluded with no Bid being selected...."  The June 18, 2014, comments of the Consumer Advocate on HELCO's response to PUC's geothermal RFP order said:
" ... any bids that have been submitted for new geothermal generation on the Island of Hawaii should be able to demonstrate clear cost reduction benefits. Further, given the current renewable energy penetration levels, the prevailing electricity prices on the Island of Hawaii, and no urgent need for new generation, such cost reduction should not be set just below the current avoided cost; It should be significantly lower.  Given the many changes In technology and In Hawaii's energy market, the RFP should be targeted to result in greater benefits to the customers.... simply targeting a price that Is just below current avoided fossil fuel costs, especially when Hawaii Electric Light Is already well ahead of the 2030 RPS goal, would be a disservice to the electricity consumers of the Island of Hawaii and would not be consistent with ensuring "a 'no regrets' economic development of renewable energy projects.  Thus, any selected geothermal project should reflect "price levels below which 'no regrets' acquisition of renewable energy projects would occur from ratepayers' perspective...."
With your help we have turned HELCOs RFP from the original initial response to political pressure for more geothermal to a more reasonable concern for community issues, Mahalo to PPA and all The March On HELCO supporters, great job everyone.

What's next?
Puna Pono's work with the EPA, in looking at the Hawaii State Department of Health.

Response to the EPA finding of 14 violations of the clean air act at the Puna Geothermal Plant is due on June 30

PPA sponsored candidates forum at Pahoa High School cafeteria tentative July 26th
The fight over a community health study is heating up rapidly
PPA community monitoring program working with Hawaii County Civil Defens
Our continuing work with other groups at the Public Utilitiues Commission on energy policies that are in the best interest of the people of Hawaii. Current policy puts corporate interest first
Thank you all for everything you have done to help save Pohoiki and lower Puna from industrialization and large geothermal plants. It has been awesome to watch a community stand up and say no.....We are not speed bumps or Guinea pigs. I believe we are almost there, however to finish this we are going to need help from you.
Thank you

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