Geothermal Update 7/15/14

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Action alert ... Thursday is the deadline for comments on the Hawai`i Clean Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) ... Details below


The meeting of the health study group last week went pretty well. The new health study RFP looks much more like the recommendations of the study group. The biggest problem right now appears to be avenues of public participation. PPA wants as much public participation as possible to help insure public confidence in the process and the study. How the selection process for the RFP works is key, and that has not been concluded yet, stay tuned we may need help.

It does look like there should be a final draft RFP for the community health study soon, we will get it out ASAP once we have it. The next step will likely be a public hearing at the Windward Planning Commission where the public will be able to comment on funding for the study.

A few other things going on you should be aware of.

First, right on time for the health study and PEIS, PGV's KS-15 well (the last one they drilled) has or had a gas cap form that created a leak that went on for an as yet undetermined amount of time ... at least a week that we know of, but we have no idea when it started leaking. PGV knew it was leaking and didn't tell anyone we know of and when I reported smelling H2S they told Civil Defense there were no problems or leaks.

A call from a neighbor a week later alerted PPA and we were able to verify the leak had been on going for a while and that PGV did not tell anyone at the county or in the community about this until I called them and told them people were reporting the well was leaking. PPA has written a letter to the State Department of Health asking for an explanation and copied it to the EPA.

Moving on, PPA, the county, state, and a few others will be part of an upcoming EPA enforcement division teleconference. PGV's extension of time to respond to EPA's findings of violations of the clean air act is coming up at the end of July as well.

The PPA candidate forum is July 26th at the Pahoa High School cafeteria, 4 - 7 PM

Council Districts 4 and 5
State house 4

FYI the primary election is August 9th, early voting starts July 21st. Please help us elect people we can work with.

Reading through the latest candidate financial reports is highly recommended. We will need everyone to vote to help counter all the special interest money supporting candidates that will not work with us. The reports are useful tools in who gets our votes. A lot of special interest money has poured into Puna for these races.

The Hawai`i Clean Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)

Public comment period ends this Thursday July 17th ...
Heads up - If you want to comment, the public comment period ends Thursday July 17th.

In short:  there are conclusions drawn in the 1,350 page PEIS that use faulty data leading to an unwarranted bias that favors geothermal power. The data used is fraught with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. We should not let that go unchallenged. The PEIS is linked above. After downloading the document, you can type geothermal or hydrogen (for example) into the Adobe search feature, to make reviewing the document manageable.

In reading the document it becomes obvious an incomplete review of available information has resulted in misleading conclusions. Documents submitted by the public for review during the testimony phase are noticeably absent in the discussion of geothermal and its potential in hydrogen production.

The faulty conclusions surrounding geothermal and its potential for the hydrogen project seriously undermine the credibility of the entire document, in PPA's estimation.

Solar has several distinct advantages that are not given the stature they deserve in being affordable and available virtually everywhere. Geothermal in truth is severely limited, being handicapped to one location in one of the most seismically active places on the planet.

PGV is in a large pre-existing and growing residential community. PGV and its predecessor NELHA (HGP-A) have a history of accidents, leaks, lack of regulation, faulty monitoring data, lack of proper maintenance practices, violations of the clean air act, and on and on. HGP-A got so bad, and so many people were sick, that it was closed by emergency order from the governor on Labor Day 1989.

Fast forward to July 2014: prominent in the hydrogen project at PGV is NELHA again. The same agency that made hundreds if not more of us sick for 8 years (1981 - 1989) with open venting, unannounced bleeding and burning of very toxic well gas caps, dumping millions of gallons of toxic geothermal fluids in unlined ponds, continuous abated, and unabated releases of toxic gases.

NELHA lied about the danger and what they were doing. NELHA employees ignored the communities health, safety, welfare, and calls for help during HGP-A.  HELHA is definitely not the type of agency we want running dangerous experiments or industries in our community.  Flying under the radar they just applied to renewed the lease on the old HGP-A site adjacent to PGV.

Well over a dozen civil defense emergencies were declared at the PGV plant over the years, with many more undeclared episodes.
Here is an outline with some thoughts to help those wanting to submit comments. These are some of the issues we see....

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July __, 2014

Dr. Jane Summerson
U.S. Department of Energy - NNSA
P.O. Box 5400, Bldg 401 KAFB East
Albuquerque, NM 87185

Re: Hawaii Clean Energy Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PEIS)

Via: email to (copy to


These are comments on the above-referenced Draft PEIS. The stated goal of the PEIS is for Hawai`i to have 70% clean energy by 2030.  The PEIS will determine what projects receive federal funds. DOE’s position is the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) may involve transmission of geothermal electricity from Hawai`i Island by undersea cable.  Geothermal has never (and cannot) lived up to the claims used in forming the conclusions stated in the PEIS.

Geothermal's history in Hawaii has been consistently problematic and controversial leading to strong local community opposition. Issues such as health impacts, monitoring, oversight, direct benefits to rate payers, and most recently, violations of the clean air act to name a few exemplify why geothermal should not be funded or considered in the Clean Energy Initiative.

Geothermal development offends Pele and the traditional religious practices.

Geothermal is not clean energy, it is dangerous and the resource is depleted over time.

HELCO acknowledged during the ongoing RFP process here, the likelihood of seismic or lava events leaves us vulnerable to power production capability failure and or catastrophic loss. I think the analogy was ‘don't put too many eggs in the East Rift Zone basket.’ That applies to hydrogen production there as well.

In other words, building industrial scale developments that drill into the volcano in lava zone one is a dangerous and reckless idea in itself.

The PEIS seems oblivious to the history of the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) facility: it is not a pretty story, accidents, blowouts, emergency releases, leaks, poor maintenance practices, emergency community evacuations and more. The PEIS clearly failed to examine the extensive and easily assessable documentation surrounding those problems.

PGV must regularly drills new wells to maintain production capability. creating at the least serious noise problems for residents in the area and exposing the non-renewable aspect of geothermal energy.
These issues were raised in public comments already submitted for the PEIS process yet the Draft PEIS does not address or answer any of those points. Critical comments you received prior to publishing the draft were not evaluated and or incorporated. Therefore, the Draft PEIS is biased against the community, unrealistically favors geothermal, that lead to fatally flawed conclusions.

Political support for geothermal development has been well-entrenched in Hawai`i since the 1970's, deriving from personally driven agendas, extensive federal funding, and failure to see and appreciate the reality of opposition from residents of impacted neighborhoods.
A glaring example of the problems with the PEIS presents itself in a 2008 DOE document that erroneously concluded community opposition resulted from poor communication, project planning, aesthetics and similar dainty topics. While the facts actually show, the people most strongly opposing geothermal have been personally injured by exposure to toxic gases, have seen their plants and animals similarly damaged, have endured evacuations during emergency situations, suffered long nights disturbed by loud drilling noise, and fear contamination of their land and water. How could any credible document ignore the thoughts of the people that have lived with and known geothermal in Hawaii for 30 years?.  This is a fully engaged population with decades of strong opposition to impacts they have suffered, and yet the Draft PEIS does not give their concerns a voice. Why is that? Could there be a political factor at play?

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I hope that the information in the draft outline above is useful for those who want to comment on the PEIS. 

Please freely edit the rough form and add your further thoughts and your name and address, to complete your comments on the Draft PEIS.  Mahalo.

Obviously there is a lot more wrong with the document than I can put into this update. If you need more information email me and I will send you a more in depth analysis of the PEIS.

I apologize for not sending this reminder sooner.

As always thank you all for everything you are doing for Puna, Mahalo.


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