Tag Archives: Billy Kenoi

Nate Hagens on What’s Coming Re: Energy, Jan 12

I helped arrange for Nate Hagens, a well-known speaker on “big picture” issues facing human society, to speak at UH Hilo on Tuesday, January 12th. He’ll be at UCB 100 at 6:30 p.m. His talk will be about how we can cope. Here is a short preview of what he will discuss:

I want to share an article of mine that ran in the Huffington Post last April. It’s about the people I turn to regarding energy issues, and they remain the same.

Before I rerun it for you here, I’ll add that the fracking revolution, which no one saw coming, caused the oil price to plummet a year ago. But as Robert Rapier points out,  we are very close to the bottom of the oil cycle, and we are likely going to repeat the cycle.

And here is that look back at the Huffington Post article (4/1/2014):

The People I Turn to Re: Energy Issues

It is clear to me that the most important issue we face here on the Big Island right now is that of energy costs. There is a huge risk associated with the rising price of oil, it’s going to affect us all, and we don’t have the luxury of time to deal with it. We need to figure it out now.

We have resources here and ways to address this. It’s not rocket science. It’s all a matter of cost and common sense. What I find is that the rubbah slippah folks get it quickly.

It comes down to a matter of attitude. Instead of being the people who look for a thousand ways why, “No can!” we must become people who look for the one reason why “CAN!!”

Energy issues are completely interconnected with agriculture — together, they all lead to our food security, or lack thereof — and I appreciate all the supportive testimony from so many people re: my renomination to the state Board of Agriculture. Here is a full list of the testimony, which includes support from some of the very knowledgeable people I turn to to learn about and confirm information about energy issues.

If it sounds like I know what I am talking about re: energy, it is because I have spent a lot of time at conferences and also learning from these experts, whose testimony you can read at that link above:

#7 Mayor Billy Kenoi. Mayor Kenoi recognized early on that geothermal would play a crucial role in our energy future and that’s why he helped the Geothermal Working Group, authorized by SCR 99, accomplish its work. I was part of a delegation he took to see geothermal operations at Ormoc City, Philippines. We visited a geothermal plant sited on the flanks of a volcano that last erupted 100,000 years ago. (In comparison, Mauna Kea last erupted 4,000 years ago and so is likely an even hotter spot for geothermal.) The mayor also formed a task force to evaluate the health effects of geothermal on the community.

#204 Henk Rogers. Henk is founder of the Blue Planet Foundation and understands and appreciates the potential of geothermal base power energy. He operates his own grid at Pu’uwa’awa’a Ranch. He also has a fully functional hydrogen refueling station on site. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are coming to the Big Island. Henk is a doer more than a talker. When he does talk, it’s likely to be with the King of Bhutan or Sir Richard Branson about energy issues.

#89 TJ Glauthier has operated at the highest level of our national government. He was second in command in the Department of Energy in the Clinton Administration. His list of accomplishments is so long that when I introduced him to the senior assets managers at Kamehameha Schools, I did it like this: TJ has an extremely long list of accomplishments but let me just describe him this way: He is a “good guy.” That’s all I needed to say. Here in Hawai’i, we all know what that means. He is a good friend and we are in constant contact.

#257 Robert RapierLike Mayor Kenoi, Robert Rapier is a “scrappah.” His was the lone voice that opposed Vinod Khosla’s biofuel projects because the net energy did not add up. Several hundred million dollars of subsidies later, Robert proved to be right. He knows his stuff. He has actually operated industrial-scale chemical plants, and yet he can explain scientific concepts in a way that is easy for the layman to understand. I can call him at all times of the day or on weekends. We have become good friends.

#82 Nate Hagens. Nate was editor of The Oil Drum blog, where academics, oil industry professionals and investors came to see what was new. If you participated, you had better know what you were talking about. These folks did not suffer fools lightly. The Oil Drum did not stop publishing because Peak Oil was dead; I think it stopped because we know all we need to know. Now it’s time to do something about it.

Charlie Hall. (See his testimony at this post.) Charlie Hall is a world-renowned systems ecologist. He does not speak about biology from an individual silo but talks about how it involves energy and its effects on real people. Environmentalists who are not systems-oriented sometimes forget about the effects on people. Charlie is known as the father of modern day Energy Return on Investment (EROI). I helped arrange lectures for him to speak at UH Hilo as well as UH Manoa. His wife Myrna, Charlie and myself have become good friends.

#84 Gail Tverberg. Gail is a former insurance actuary whose job was to price risk. She has a stark view of the future. Although I cannot find fault with her view of things,  I am the eternal optimist and spend my time looking for workarounds. Gail wrote in support of our Big Island Community Coalition’s efforts to lower electricity rates. (As it turned out, we were successful in defeating the Aina Koa Pono biofuel project, which would have cut off options for lowering our electricity rates.) I helped bring Gail to Hilo for a presentation at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and spent a whole weekend taking her family around the Big Island. I asked her a million questions.

I wrote this in November, and it’s still true. From Let’s Adapt to Change and Survive: “Charles Darwin said it’s not the strongest nor the smartest who survive, but the ones that can adapt to change. Let’s survive, and more.”


Hurricane Iselle: The Aftermath & Human Stories

Richard Ha writes:

Soon after Hurricane Iselle hit the Big Island, the Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United (HFRU) core group called a meeting. We wanted to assess damage, and what we found was that some Big Island farmers were in desperate need.

The human stories which were told by some of the affected farmers were hard to take. One of the independent processors told about being in church on Sunday just after the hurricane and not being able to look a farmer, there with his family, in the eye. They both knew what this damage meant to the farmers. The processor told us at the meeting that it brought him to tears.

Diane Ley, executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, was on the phone at the after-hours emergency meeting. Scott Enright, who is chair of the Department of Agriculture, participated by cell phone. He had just landed on O‘ahu and was driving to a meeting.

Farmers and their friends pulled together to bring agencies with resources to meet with farmers at one stop. W.H. Shipman, Ltd. made their offices available to the group for meetings. Lorie Farrell did the real heavy lifting by organizing everything. And the support agencies responded.


We met on Tuesday, on W.H. Shipman, Ltd.’s ground, with about 180 people in attendance. Chris Kanazawa, head of the USDA’s Rural Development; Scott Enright, director of the Board of Agriculture; Laverne Omori, county director of Research and Development. So was Chris Manfredi, president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau.


Various agencies had booths where they provided information about their programs. People gave presentations. AgriLogic, which specializes in risk management insurance for farmers, was there. One of the priorities of HFRU is to increase the percentage of farmers covered by crop insurance.

Mayor Billy Kenoi announced he is hiring DayDay Hopkins to be liaison to the farmers. That is a huge deal; DayDay knows farming. I met two county council candidates for the first time that day, Danny Paleka and Ron Gonzales, and after having short conversations, it was clear to me that both are very thoughtful and know what the spirit of aloha is all about. 

Yesterday I read in the Star-Advertiser that 287,000 Hawaii residents receive aid through the Hawaii Foodbank and its agencies. I called up Ross Sibucao, the young president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, and asked him: “How many papaya farmers are on food stamps?”

He chuckled at my even asking the question. He said, “Probably zero.”

The farmers are the ones feeding the people. They do important work.


‘La La La La La’

Richard Ha writes:

Farmers and other Ag and business people on the Big Island are in disbelief – to put it mildly – that Mayor Kenoi signed Bill 113, the anti-GMO bill, last week, without first putting together a group to research the science and investigate the serious, unintended consequences we know will result.

But farmers are very practical and play the position that exists on the chessboard, not the position they wish they had. Most of us are moving into strategic contraction mode now.

For example, we had an application in to the USDA to dedicate 264 acres of our farm into agricultural land for perpetuity. We had been going through the vetting process over the last two years and had already been told we were among the top three state projects, as determined by a Department of Land and Natural Resources subcommittee.

I just received a letter Friday asking for more information about our application, with a comment from the Western Region director stating that our project had the highest priority.

I wrote back saying we are withdrawing our application. Nothing personal; just playing the position that now exists. Instead, we will subdivide the property so we have options as we go forward into a future that has some new uncertainties.

If there’s an upside to the mayor signing the bill, it’s that maybe now we will finally take a real look at the current Peak Oil crisis and how it affects the Big Island’s food self-sufficiency situation, and come to grips with finding long-term solutions.

Being open to safe scientific advances when needed (a.k.a. biotech or “GMO”) would have been a way to decrease our dependence on petroleum products, such as pesticides and fertilizers, and increase our island’s food self-sufficiency.

Geothermal energy is another no-brainer that will protect us from rising energy costs. Utilizing geothermal energy – which according to geophysicists will be available to us for at least 500,000 years – we can have stable electricity at an affordable price. As another benefit of geothermal, we can take the currently “curtailed” (collected but unused) electricity and make hydrogen for ground transportation; and by combining it with nitrogen in the air, we can make fertilizer that doesn’t depend on petroleum products and continue to get more and more expensive.

But Senator Ruderman doesn’t see this and wants to kill geothermal energy.

Why? Where is he steering our ship? It feels rudderless.

These are turbulent times. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was on CNN yesterday saying that despite dumping money into the economy, businesses are sitting on a lot of cash and not investing, and banks are not lending because it’s too risky. 

He said that the level of uncertainty is like it was during the Great Depression. The next Fed chair will have to manage the interest rate, and too high an interest rate will roil the stock market. He said, “It’s hard to manage psychology.”

I do not see people paying attention to this, so let me extrapolate from what he’s saying: As a result, regular folk are not earning as much money. As a consequence of that, the government will not be able to tax people at a level needed to keep services going, such as maintaining roads (which, of course, requires products made from petroleum).

How far will this go on before we can no long maintain our infrastructure the way we are accustomed to, or take care of our poor people who need help?

What Alan Greenspan is talking about is serious business, and he’s certainly not the only person saying it.

This all boils down to the cost of energy, and how we utilize our resources in a smart and efficient manner.

I’ve gone to five Peak Oil conferences now, and have learned that experts there are all, consistently, saying that the net energy available to society is decreasing as it gets more difficult to get the energy. The consequence of this is less growth, which means less money for the government to perform the services we need to continue living the way we live. Where will the money come from?

Another expert who is highly respected is actury Gail Tverberg. She is as credible as anyone I’ve heard, and she too says it all boils down to the cost of energy. Not availability, nor how much oil still exists, but how much it costs to obtain it – and we all know those costs are only going higher. She writes

Oil and other fossil fuels are unusual materials. Historically, their value to society has been far higher than their cost of extraction. It is the difference between the value to society and their cost of extraction that has helped economies around the world grow. Now, as the cost of oil extraction rises, we see this difference shrinking. As this difference shrinks, the ability of economies to grow is eroding, especially for those countries that depend most heavily on oil–Japan, Europe, and the United States. It should not be surprising if the growth of these countries slows as oil prices rise…. Read the rest

Using GMOs to help leverage our year-round growing season was a workaround, and in my opinion, it was much less risky than what Alan Greenspan, Gail Tverberg and other experts say is coming.

We need to take action and prepare for these changing conditions. If it turns out they were wrong, no harm/no foul. If they are right, using GMO's to avoid petroleum costs in fertilizer and pesticides would have helped us immensely; and using geothermal energy will improve our lifestyle measurably.

Note that I’m not just talking about this – the whole situation scared me enough that we went and put in a hydroelectric system for the farm.

This is not about the sky falling. It’s about common sense. It’s all a matter of how much risk we are willing to take.

We need to decrease our dependence on petroleum, and our energy costs. Rising electricity costs affect the price of our food, and they take away discretionary income from the rubbah slippah folks. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of our economy.

It’s foolish for us to put our thumbs in our ears and our fingers over our eyes and sing, “La la la la la,” but that’s what seems to be going on around here. 

We’d better have a clear-headed discussion about our future.


Hilo’s PUC Meeting Successful: ‘Enough is Enough’

Richard Ha writes:

Monday night’s PUC hearing in Hilo went very well. The overwhelming sentiment was that enough is enough. People will not take any more electricity rate hikes.

Big Island Video News has posted a video about the PUC meeting.

VIDEO: Aina Koa Pono, HELCO rate hikes blasted at PUC hearing

October 30, 2012

Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar

HILO, Hawaii: Residents of East Hawaii packed the Hilo High School cafeteria, to tell the Public Utilities Commission what they think about a proposed electricity rate hike and and biofuel surcharge…. Watch the Big Island Video News video here.

It’s hard to remember that until the BICC dared say it, no one could imagine we could actually get lower rates. We have made good progress. People are now saying they want lower rates, and expecting it.

In its “Off the News” section this morning, the Star-Advertiser wrote:

Electricity bill too high? Wear slippers

“Not to make light of a serious situation such as rising electricity bills, or a consumer group’s desire to show solidarity.  In an era when pennies – and dollars – must be pinched to get by, solidarity over cost-of living issues is a good thing.

That said, it was interesting to see that the Big Island Community Coalition opposed to a surcharge to finance the use of biofuels to produce power, urged its members to wear rubber slippers to last night’s public hearing as a show of uniform solidarity. This being Hawaii, what other footwear would folks don for a pau hana (after work) forum?

Of course this may have been a smart strategic move. This way the PUC might have scanned the room and figured that every last person was opposed.  It also ruled out slippers as a footwear choice for commission members, too….”

It was a civilized hearing and most of the many testimonies were on point.

About 150 people were in attendance and it was a diverse audience, including: Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, Jeff Melrose, Richard Onishi, Russell Ruderman, PGV people from Nevada, Jim Albertini, Deborah Ward, Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, Mililani Trask, John Cross, Ka‘u people, ILWU, IBEW, Carpenters, Laborers, HELCO group, the Aina Koa Pono (AKP) core group, Sierra Club and other community members.

Other than HELCO, AKP and those who needed to be cautious, most of the rest were allies of low-cost electricity.

In today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Mayor Billy Kenoi made it very clear that he is against the AKP project for several reasons.

Kenoi criticizes biodiesel proposal

By ERIN MILLER Stephens Media

Aina Koa Pono’s biodiesel proposal isn’t a good deal for Hawaii County residents, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Monday, hours before the Public Utilities Commission was set to begin its first Big Island hearing on the subject.

“This to me looks like one of those deals, after 10, 20 years, we ask how did we let that happen?” Kenoi said. “Ultimately, there is no benefit to the people of the Island of Hawaii….” 

Read the rest

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald also wrote about the PUC meeting itself.

Online Extra: HELCO rate hikes blasted

Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

No more increases.

That seemed to be the main message relayed to members of the state Public Utilities Commission on Monday night by more than 100 Big Isle residents who showed up at a public hearing at the Hilo High cafeteria to weigh in on two separate electricity rate hikes proposed by Hawaii Electric Light Co. Inc….

Read the rest here

Tonight is the West Hawai‘i PUC meeting (Tuesday, October 30, 2012) at 6 p.m. in the Kealakehe High School cafeteria.

And the third and final meeting will be held this Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6 p.m. at Farrington High School.

Wear your rubbah slippahs!


Kenoi Can Guide Big Island into Uncharted Future

Richard Ha writes:

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has consistently made the point that in this changing world, we, too, must change. He pointed that out again recently: That our highest-in-the-nation electricity cost – which is 25 percent higher than O‘ahu’s – is too heavy a burden for the Big Island’s people to bear. To help the most defenseless among us, as well as our local businesses, we need lower cost renewable electricity; not higher cost electricity.

The mayor has consistently been in favor of finding lower cost alternatives to the status quo (which is, of course, dependency on
expensive fossil fuels). The Geothermal Working Group, co chaired by Wally Ishibashi and me and authorized by the Hawai‘i State Legislature, could not have carried out its work without the mayor’s backing. It was an unfunded mandate implemented by volunteers. The mayor just told his people, “Make sure they have what they need.”

Mayor Kenoi is a quick learner; one who gets both the big picture and the small one.

He led a delegation to Ormoc City, Philippines to see how 700 MW of geothermal energy was developed in a place with a population size similar to the Big Island. I was on that trip and saw how the Philippines is way ahead of us in assessing and utilizing its resource. It’s a great credit to Filipino leaders that, as the Philippines incorporates more geothermal into its grid, the country will be very well-positioned to cope in a world of rising oil

The Philippines produces a large percentage of the food its people eat, too, as compared to Hawai‘i. Our trip also resulted in a university-to-university relationship.

It’s not that geothermal is the only solution. But because we have geothermal here on the Big Island, that fact-finding trip was a responsible thing to do. That was a very practical, useful and cost effective trip Billy led.

Sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawai‘i is vulnerable to events out of its control, and is sailing into uncharted waters. It’s similar to when our early predecessors sailed up from the south to find a better life.

Who can I see leading today’s expedition that carries the Big Island to a better tomorrow?

I see Billy Kenoi as that leader.


‘HELCO & Your Bill: What’s Wrong With This Picture?’

Richard Ha writes:

This Op-Ed piece just ran at Civil Beat, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today.


By Noelani Kalipi 

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is applying to raise Big Island electricity rates by 4.2 percent — shortly after its parent company announced impressive profits that were 70 percent higher than last year.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We — John E.K. Dill, Rockne Freitas, Richard Ha, Wallace Ishibashi, Ku‘ulei Kealoha Cooper, Noelani Kalipi, Ka‘iu Kimura, Robert Lindsey, H.M. “Monty” Richards, Marcia Sakai, Bill Walter — invite you to join our newly formed group, the Big Island Community Coalition. Our mission is “to work together as an island community for the greater good of Hawai‘i Island and its people.”

Our first priority: To make Big Island electricity rates the lowest in the state by emphasizing the use of our ample local resources.

The proposed HELCO rate increase, coming at a time of record profits, does not sit right with us.

We understand the regulatory system, which is rate-based. Our concern is that we continue to see requests for rate increases at the same time that we read about record profits for the utility.

While we understand the fiduciary duty to maximize profits for the shareholders, we believe the utility’s responsibility to the rate payer is just as important. As part of good corporate business, it should benefit both by investing its profits into a sustainable grid.

The Big Island is one of the few places on the planet where we have robust, renewable energy resources that can be harnessed effectively to provide firm, reliable, low cost electricity for our residents.

One example is geothermal, which costs about half the price of oil. We also have solar, wind and hydroelectric. We have resources right here that can both lower our electricity costs and get us off of imported oils.

Lower rates would mean that when the grid needs repairs, or the cost of oil goes up again, it will not be such a punch-in-the-gut to our electric bills.

If HELCO is allowed to raise its rates by the requested 4.2 percent, plus raise rates again via the Aina Koa Pono project, and then the oil price goes up, that would be a triple whammy price hike on your electric bill.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has sent a strong message that the county will not support new renewable energy projects — such as Aina Koa Pono, which would add surcharges to every electric customer’s bill — unless they result in cheaper energy. “Unless it has lower rates, we will not support it,” he said recently.

UH-Hilo just had a $5.5 million electric bill — almost $500,000 more than last year — and HELCO’s proposed 4.2 percent rate increase would add another $230,000 to their bill. The same thing is happening at hospitals, hotels and businesses. Farmers’ expenses are going way up, which threatens our food security. Electricity rate increases ripple through every part of our economy. They are already rippling.

People are already struggling with their monthly HELCO bill. Some are having their lights turned off.

As rates continue to increase, more people will leave the grid and fewer will remain to pay for the infrastructure, meaning that those households and businesses that remain (because they cannot afford to get off the grid) will pay even more.

You may think the electric utility is a big powerful entity that you cannot affect, but you can. Pay attention! Show up! Write a letter! Do something! If you leave your name and contact information at www.bigislandcommunitycoalition.com, we will send an occasional email to keep you informed of what’s happening, and how you can help.

‘Nuff already!!

Let’s be clear. This is not about how green the energy is. This is about how much the energy costs. This is not about saving the world. It’s about saving ourselves first, so we are in good condition to help save the world.

We had hoped that HECO would have a balanced approach to solving the problems. There are books written on how corporations can take care of people and the environment as well as their investment. The term is called “triple bottom line.”

From The Triple Bottom Line: How Today’s Best-Run Companies Are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success – and How You Can Too:

Increasingly, businesses are expected to find ways to be part of the solution to the world’s environmental and social problems. The best companies are finding ways to turn this responsibility into opportunity. We believe that when business and societal interests overlap, everyone wins.

Rising electricity costs are like a regressive tax, where the poor pay a disproportionate amount of their income. Only it’s worse. As the price of oil rises, people who are able to, leave the grid. This leaves a diminishing number of people – those who cannot afford to leave – to pay for the grid.

What’s wrong with this picture?!


County Council Vote: No Override of Mayor Kenoi’s Geothermal Bills Veto

Richard Ha writes:

The community attended the County Council meeting in force yesterday, many people wearing these buttons:


The County Council voted NOT to override Mayor Billy Kenoi’s veto of the geothermal bills 256 & 257. This is the outcome we were hoping for.

The meeting started at 8 a.m. and about 85 people – an amazing number – testified. The meeting went all day and into the evening, and did not adjourn until 8 p.m.

There has been a real change in the dynamics of the geothermal discussion. The people who came from Leilani Estates were so passionate and determined. And they were so rational, and easily understood, and they really impressed me. They changed the tone of the conversation and struck a chord for rational discussion.

They are solid people who work everyday and have families to take care of. They were not involved until they learned this hearing was taking place and they didn’t know a thing about it. When they realized what was happening, it didn’t take any time at all for them to get organized. You could see they were determined to take their community back. It was just great.

And for the first time, Puna Geothermal employees jumped up and spoke up from their point of view, saying things like, “I wouldn’t be working for a company that wasn’t doing the right thing,” and “I’ve worked here for 23 years, and my babies are fine and healthy,” and “We’ve never known anyone at the plant that ever got hurt.”

Others testified, too, people who were not affiliated with either the Leilani Estates group or the Puna Geothermal group. I’d not heard this group join the conversation before. In general, this was a larger geothermal conversation than usual, with a more representative group of Puna folks expressing themselves.

Petra Wiesenbauer, of Leilani Estates, was one of the people involved in getting out the word to the Leilani Estates community (as were Jan Kama and Loren Avedon). Petra attended yesterday’s County Council meeting, and I asked for her take on it:

“We would like to thank everyone for their support and input. Together we were strong. Thank you also to Fred Blas, Don Ikeda, J Yoshimoto and Fresh Onishi, who voted against the override.

“I had expected a circus, but it was civil. I know a lot of the Pahoa folks and the anti-geothermal people. For the most part, we could look each other in the eye. I had several people that I talked to and we agreed that it was okay to have different opinions, and the main thing is that we respect each other as people.  

“I am very relieved that we persevered, but I also feel like we need to do some mending in the community. This is where I don’t have this triumphant feeling. The rift from this in the community is quite big and will take some time to mend. There will be big resentments, and this polarization could have been totally avoided, had the council done a better job in drafting/amending these bills. We could have all worked together on this – maybe I am too optimistic, as there are also some real radicals that won’t be reasoned with.

“I feel that most people on our side brought professionalism, common sense and also an urge to put the facts out. Although I am sure the ‘opposition’ would say the same about their position. Overall, I feel that there is work to be done, now that the immediate threat has been removed.

The Big Island Chronicle wrote about the County Council meeting here.


Video about Community Opposition to the Geothermal Bill; Tomorrow is the Vote

Richard Ha writes:

Tomorrow morning is the vote about overriding Mayor Billy Kenoi’s veto of Bill 256. Please come to the Hilo County Building tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., if you can (details about where to meet us, etc. here) and show your support to leave the veto in place.

There’s lots of background about this at the links above, if you haven’t been following the topic. And here’s some more about it. See the video and/or read about the issue at Big Island Video News:

VIDEO: Leilani Estates group opposes geothermal bill

July 31, 2012

Residents concerned about geothermal buffer zone in Bill 256

LEILANI ESTATES SUBDIVISION, Hawaii: On the eve of an important veto override vote at the Hawaii County Council, both sides of a “heated” geothermal issue are planning to make a strong showing during the meeting to voice their opinion. Read the rest or see the video here


‘We Will Be Financially Ruined’ Say Residents Near PGV

Richard Ha writes:

Have a look at this Civil Beat blog post by Sophie Cocke:

Geothermal Bill Stirring Up Public Discussion

A geothermal bill passed by the Big Island’s county council, and vetoed by Mayor BIlly Kenoi, is getting a lot of attention on the Big Island. 

Local residents have begun circulating a petition, which reads, in part: 

We humbly ask you to sign our petition before July 31st, 2012 asking the County Council of Hawaii to honor the Mayor’s veto of Bill 256, Draft 2. The bill would allow the County to create a one-mile safety buffer zone around the Puna Geothermal Power Plant.

There is no study and systematic scientific evidence that substantiates a health threat to the residents near this plant.

It continues on to say: "We who wish to stay and reside within and near the plant buffer zone will be financially ruined."

It refers to the online petition here, which you can still sign today (last day).

Lots of these folks living out near Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) are shocked at what the County Council is attempting to do.

These are everyday, working people who want to take their community back. For them, it's about all of us, not just a few of us.


Come Wednesday to Support Veto of Bill 256

Richard Ha writes:
Humans are very well-adapted to low levels of hydrogen sulfide. The bacteria that generate hydrogen sulfide live in the human gut. And our volcano generates tons of sulfur dioxide every day. It’s rising electricity rates that are causing real damage to our people.
Here’s an email from those wanting to uphold Mayor Kenoi’s veto of Bill 256. Please come down to the County Council chambers, at the County Building (map of 25 Aupuni St., Hilo here), this Wednesday (August 1, 2012) at 8 a.m. Even if you can only stay for a short time, please come and show your support.

I support these folks that live in the vicinity of the geothermal plant. Here’s their email:

It has been a busy time for all of us in preparation of the final push to up-hold the Mayor’s Veto of Bill 256. This is where we really need your help.
1.   For your information: We had a very good meeting and turn-out on Tuesday night at the Leilani Community Center: hamakuasprings.com/2012/07/very-successful-meeting-on-geothermal-facts.
2.   The county council meeting to override the mayoral veto is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1, 2012. This is where we need as much help as possible.
You can submit written testimony by e-mail up until the day prior to the meeting (it has to be received by Tuesday noon, July 31). Please submit your email testimony to counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us
To submit written testimony by e-mail, you can also e-mail each council member individually: 
Dominic Yagong –                  dyagong@co.hawaii.hi.us
Donald Ikeda –                       dikeda@co.hawaii.hi.us
J Yoshimoto –                         jyoshimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us
Dennis “Fresh” Onishi –          donishi@co.hawaii.hi.us
Fred Blas –                             fblas@co.hawaii.hi.us 
Brittany Smart –                     bsmart@co.hawaii.hi.us
Brenda Ford –                         bford@co.hawaii.hi.us
Angel Pilago –                        apilago@co.hawaii.hi.us
Pete Hoffmann –                    phoffmann@co.hawaii.hi.us  
But what we really would like is for as many people as possible to come to the county council meeting in Hilo on August 1, to testify in person and to show our strength in numbers. The council needs to see that we are not just a silent small group, but that there are many of us.  It makes a difference, even if you are able to come for an hour.
When you come to the council meeting, you can read the testimony you submitted by email.  If you have not emailed the testimony, they ask that you bring 14 copies of it and give it to the clerk that day.
The council meeting starts at 8am. Please be early, so we can have good seats and testify early.
When you come to the council meeting room, check in with us at the VETO SUPPORTERS & LEILANI ESTATES signs – look for signs.
Contents of your testimony – some suggestions:
The Mayor asked that we get employees and nearby residents to come out and support his veto, with the primary emphasis that there are no health issues that exist, and that the plant has been operating safely, hence no reason for a buffer zone.  While we hope the veto will  not be overridden, there is still a need for publicizing the fact that long time residents are opposed to the bill for these reasons, and the fact that this is an issue which has been unnecessarily politicized.
As for what to say,  we are not going to write this out, since everyone’s experience is different, but this would be along the lines of their positions on certain issues such as
1.   Where their residence is.
2.   How long they have lived there.
3.   The fact that they have not had health problems they attribute to the plant, and there is no scientific or medical information which supports the creation of a one mile buffer.
4.   That creating a health and safety buffer radius of one mile is unjustified, and creates issues for people who have chosen to live and work in this radius, including concerns about property values.
5.   That this bill will create additional cost for the county in many areas.
6.   That health studies and monitors can be purchased with Asset Fund money without taking from community benefits, under the code and rules which already existed, before Bill 256 and 257.
7.   That until these hearings were held and the manner in which they were held, people did not complain about PGV, and politics and misinformation has created an unwarranted concern.
These are just suggested issues or concerns the vetoed bills raise, and others may have more to say or add.
3.    Please, share this information and request for support with all your friends and people in your networks.

See you there!

Much Aloha and Mahalo Nui Loa,
Petra, Jan & Loren