Power Brokers VI: Crossing the Pacific into Hawai’i


Brian Daffron

September 12, 2013

Power Brokers takes a turn over the waters of the Pacific to Hawai’i, whose indigenous population shares a common history with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives on the mainland. In 1893, the sovereign kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown, with the country seeing an eventual annexation by the United States five years later. Since statehood in 1959, there has been a growing movement of recognizing the importance of Hawaiian language, culture and sovereign recognition. This includes war crime complaints filed within the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council.

RELATED: Native History: When Hawaii Was Riding the Wave Toward Sovereignty

Because of the growing interest in Hawaiian sovereignty, it is important to recognize the members of the Hawai’i State Legislature who are open about their indigenous identity. Many of these indigenous legislators have been in office for several terms and hold majority leadership positions.

Lightning strike at geothermal well causes small release of hydrogen sulfide gas

lightning strike at a geothermal well in Pahoa today temporarily shut down operations and caused a miniscule release of hydrogen sulfide, Hawaii island firefighters said.

A resident in the Lani Puna subdivision reported the smell of hydrogen sulfide — a poisonous, flammable gas that smells like rotten eggs — about 1:35 p.m., firefighters said. The subdivision is west of Puna Geothermal Venture, a power plant that creates energy by tapping volcanic heat.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and found a power plant representative taking air readings of 62 parts per billion of hydrogen sulfide. Firefighters took their own readings and recorded less than 0 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide, well below the evacuation level of 10 parts per million, firefighters said.

A spokesperson for the power plant told firefighters that a lightning strike caused the shut down at the power plant and a small release of hydrogen sulfide, firefighters said. Power was restored and the plant’s operations were returned to normal.

Lightning strike at geothermal well causes small release of hydrogen sulfide gas – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Water shortages threaten renewable energy production, experts warn

The development of new renewable energy technologies and other expanding sources of energy such as shale gas will be limited by the availability of water in some regions of the world, according to research by a US thinktank.

The study shows the reliance on large amounts of water to create biofuels and run solar thermal energy and hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting gas from unconventional geological formations underground – means droughts could hamper their deployment.

“Water consumption is going up dramatically. We are introducing all kinds of technology to reduce the carbon impact of energy, without doing anything to reduce its impact on water,” Michele Wucker, co-author of the report, told a seminar at the New America Foundation, a thinktank in Washington.

The study, estimating the water consumption of conventional and renewable energy, found even so-called clean energy solutions use vast amounts of water.

Hydroelectricity far outstrips other forms of energy in its use of water, requiring 4,500 gallons to produce a single megawatt hour of electricity – or about the amount needed to run a flat-screen TV for a year. Geothermal energy uses 1,400 gallons per MW/h.

Corn-based ethanol uses a lot of water to irrigate crops, as do nuclear plants which rely on water for cooling systems. Even some renewable energy sources – such as solar farms – are water hogs because they rely on water for cooling.

Geothermal company eyeing Ulupalakua

KULA – The company that has delivered geothermal power to the Big Island for nearly the past 20 years is going to look for a place to create a similar plant on Ulupalakua Ranch land.

Christopher Heaps, a representative of Ormat of Reno, Nev., told Kula residents for the first time publicly that his company would be searching about 8,000 acres of leased ranch land for suitable sites to dig wells that could produce at least two-dozen megawatts a day of energy for the Valley Isle.

If it is able to find a viable drill site and get all the proper government permits, Ormat could break ground on the project as soon as next year, Heaps said. It would provide about 150 construction jobs and another roughly 30 full-time positions.

And, Ormat would pay millions in taxes and mineral rights royalties, one-third of which would go to the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, another third to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the final third to Maui County, Heaps said. In addition, the company would assist community needs, such as pay for more security officers in public parks or create a scholarship program, he said.

About 100 Kula residents attended the special meeting hosted Wednesday night by the Kula Community Association.

A few Kula residents, such as Hula Lindsey, said they were skeptical about the project because Heaps said it probably would not reduce their electricity rates even though it is in their backyard.