Hawaii Utility Company Applies For Geothermal Well Permits

Jun 4, 2019

File -- Puna Geothermal Venture plant
Credit U.S. Department of Energy

HILO — Applications for two new geothermal wells at the site of a power plant that was put out of operation by the Kilauea eruption are under review, officials said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is considering the applications submitted by Puna Geothermal Venture, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The applications filed March 1 are part of the company's attempt to resume operations after the volcanic eruption shut down its 38-megawatt geothermal power plant in Puna on the Big Island, officials said.

The plant produced 31% of the island's power and about half of its renewable energy in 2017, according to PGV and Hawaii Electric Light Company officials.

The applications are a contingency as the company assesses wells that were covered by lava or plugged during the 2018 eruption, said Mike Kaleikini, PGV senior director of Hawaii affairs.

"We just want to be prepared in the event for some reason we need a new well," Kaleikini said.

The land and natural resources department must approve the one-year permit applications for new wells.

The state Public Utilities Commission will require PGV and Hawaii Electric Light to hold a public hearing regarding construction of new transmission lines to the plant.

An environmental impact statement should be done before PGV restarts or builds new wells, said Bob Petricci, president of Puna Pono Alliance, which is critical of geothermal development. He said there are concerns about the "unknown reality" of the site.

"You know the geology is different, the resource has changed. It's hotter, it's more fluid." Petricci said.