In Support of Lower-Cost Electricity for the Big Island (HB106)

Richard Ha writes:

Although we are
testifying in strong support of HB106 HD2, SD1, we would support any bill or combination
of bills that further our efforts to bring lower-cost electricity to the Big
Island in a pono way.

Aloha Chair Gabbard and Vice Chair Ruderman:

The Big Island Community Coalition (BICC) is strongly in
favor of HB106 HD2, SD1

The BICC steering committee members are Dave DeLuz, Jr., President
of Big Island Toyota; John E. K. Dill, Chair of the Ethics Commissions; Rockne
Freitas, former Chancellor, Hawai‘i Community College; Michelle Galimba, Rancher and Board of Agriculture member; Richard Ha,
farmer, Hamakua Springs; Wallace Ishibashi, Royal Order of Kamehameha; Ku‘ulei
Kealoha Cooper, Trustee, Kealoha Estate;  D. Noelani Kalipi, who helped
write the Akaka Bill; Ka‘iu Kimura, Director of Imiloa Astronomy Center; Robert
Lindsey, OHA; H. M. (Monty) Richards, Rancher; Marcia Sakai, Vice Chancellor,
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo; Kumu Lehua Veincent, Principal, Kamehameha High
School, Kea‘au; William Walter, President, Shipman Estate. All speak here in
their private capacity.

Our mission is to drive down the cost of electricity on the
Big Island. The cost of the Big Island’s electricity has been 25 percent higher
than O‘ahu’s for as long as we can remember. Yet the Big Island has the lowest
median family income in the state. Three school complexes in East Hawai‘i lead
the state in free and subsidized school lunches: Pahoa at 89 percent, Ka‘u at
87 percent and Kea‘au at 86 percent.

Education is the best predictor of family income. But
because the Big Island’s electricity rate is 25 percent higher than O‘ahu’s, we
waste more than $250,000 annually in some of our school complexes. 

The cost to generate electricity from geothermal is less
than half that of oil. And because the Big Island will be over the hot spot for
more than 500,000 years, that cost will be relatively stable – unlike the cost
of oil, which will rise in the not-too-distant future.

I asked Carl Bonham, Executive Director of the UH Economic
Research Organization, if it is fair to conclude that if geothermal were the
primary base power for the Big Island, then the Big Island would become more
competitive to the rest of the world as oil prices rise? He said, Yes, we would
become more competitive. I concluded, and he agreed, that our standard of
living would then rise. And that our working homeless could get off the

We all need to work together to make things work. Get
thousand reasons why no can! We only looking for the one reason why CAN!

Richard Ha

BICC Steering Committee Representative

7 thoughts on “In Support of Lower-Cost Electricity for the Big Island (HB106)”

  1. Richard, kind of confused on your position on HB 106, which died yesterday. It tried to modify Act 97 by formalizing geothermal subzones and returned geothermal permitting authority to Hawaii county. Neither would have been favorable to geothermal development. Have to say, never saw anything like how Hawaii island is viewing the whole topic of geothermal, it is one mass confusion party, when it doesn’t have to be. This confusion has caused major divisiveness and it would be a big accomplishment for BICC if it could organize some kind of talk story about basic geothermal technology facts which are eluding fairly well educated people like Ruderman and Kim. It’s been bewildering seeing all the strange concepts so many people have developed about geothermal, mainly due to a small, very fanatical organizational group in Puna. It might seem harsh but this core anti-geothermal group in Puna needs to be addressed directly. Are you sure you aren’t referring to HB 932 in your post above? It doesn’t look like it has much chance of going through either but it promotes geothermal development.

  2. Aloha Ted
    Neither HB106 or HB932 required geothermal subzones. Both included county permitting process. Both included mediation. The BICC favored both bills. Those who opposed geothermal did not like the bills for its mediation provision which gave a date certain for dispute resolution. And, they did not like it because it did not include a geothermal subzone requirement.

  3. Richard, there were two modifications made to HB106 before the last vote. One was to put back geothermal subzones, which Act 97 removed, and to have the permit level at the county level, which Act 97 removed. Both were added at the last minute and contained wording that I recognize came directly from the anti-geothermal group. Passing HB106 would have brought geothermal development to a grinding halt. Ruderman is against geothermal and he is part of the anti-geothermal group in Puna. Still not sure where the confusion is coming from but geothermal subzones restrict development to areas defined in the original geothermal subzone act of 1983, which severely curtails the areas allowed for geothermal exploration.
    Bill to reinstitute geothermal subzones fails

    BICC should not want subzones since that will make exploration and development MORE EXPENSIVE. Also, leaving the permitting authority with the county would continue the snail’s pace of development plus adding obstructionist costs, making geothermal development MORE EXPENSIVE. Regardless, there was a lot of confusion with these bills and they deserved to be killed.

    Act 97 staying in place makes geothermal a state asset, not a county asset. While I know home rule is very important to the islands, Hawaii county has proven they aren’t competent to manage geothermal potential. The anti-geothermal group sensed they could manipulate the council to their ends and their only goal is to block and obstruct. This is basically the end of an almost 3 decade battle against geothermal development. It’s a good thing both bills were killed and Act 97 now becomes the law of the land.

  4. Act 97 opens up much more area for geothermal development. However, it is moving all authority to the state and I believe BLNR is a rearranged section of DLNR.

    Hawaii county should have home rule, but from my view, has been incompetent. It has been 30 years of Hawaii county versus a small group in Puna defining geothermal development in Hawaii, which was NO geothermal as their unmovable position. It is not in the best interest of the state to keep perpetuating this nonsense. So, it is over. The politics of geothermal have been removed from this island, to Oahu and DLNR. Now, there is only one stop for a permitting process. Hawaii county had their chance and blew it.

  5. The Board of Land and Natural Resources approves permits and is to the Dept of Land and Natural Resources like the Board of Regents is to the University of Hawaii.
    It appears to me that Sen Ruderman was so determined to force a geothermal resource zone that he sacrificed county home rule. I was really disapointed in him when he sponsored a bill to ban the herbicide Round Up. That sent a shiver through the agriculture community. It appears more and more that he is very narrowly focused.

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