Being open with the public will move the county and state of Hawaii forward towards the conversion to geothermal energy without repurcutions HILO,HI-The topic of geothermal energy here on the Big Island has been an on ongoing debate for almost the past two decades. Without personal insight, geothermal energy seems to have no negative side to it. “Who wouldn’t want to go green? Isn’t having renewable energy a good thing? ” are the type of questions that come to mind when asked to form an argument for it.
Alas, residents of Leilani estates, a neighborhood in the district of Puna, have been pestering the Big Island’s county council with their arguments about the geothermal power plant, Puna Geothermal Venture, and how it’s been negatively affecting their lives. After conducting some research, my eyes were opened to their 19-year old plea. The residents of Puna have very good reason to oppose the operation of PGV (Puna Geothermal Venture). Back in April of this year, Robert Petricci along with other Puna residents, lead an argument in a conference with Hawaii county, that opposed the operation of PGV.
Petricci was very specific in pointing out exactly what was wrong with the production of geothermal energy-the state did not ask the public, especially those most negatively affected by it, the residents of Leilani Estates, for their input on the start-up and continuation of a geothermal powerplant almost 20 years ago. Being so, the conversion to geothermal energy in Hawaii county has observantly become one of the most heated ongoing debates here on the Big Island.
Being that the debate is so intense, and has so many viewpoints to it, I am in agreement with those who oppose the production of geothermal energy at PGV and those who are for geothermal energy. While converting to geothermal energy is a step forward for the Big Island and the state of Hawaii, the way Hawaii county is going about obtaining that energy is a step backwards, making us as a state neutral in this argument; which is why I think we haven’t made much progress for the past two decades. There is too much talking going on and not enough steps of action taking place.
If we, the public of Hawaii Island can compromise with the county of Hawaii island to proceed in the right plan of action that will ensure the safety of those who are negatively impacted by the production of geothermal energy, the conversion to it can then be made without repurcusions. The arguments of those who reside in Leilani Estates are very credible, and I understand where they are coming from. But while having that understanding and a large amount of sympathy for those who reside in Leilani Estates, I can not side with them in terms of opposing geothermal energy as a useful resource.
Geothermal energy is a good source of energy due to the fact that it’s clean (gives off a low amount of carbon dioxide in its production), renewable, homegrown, and is available 24 hours a day. (EERE) I am one who is for the “going green” movement and geothermal energy fits into that category, therefore I am for Hawaii converting to geothermal energy as a resource for our energy. In a recent report to the public, it was stated that the Big Island has enough “geothermal capacity to become completely self-sufficient for it’s electrical power needs. (Stanfield 1) The report talked about how Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and due to that fact, the Big Island has enough geothermal activity to be independent of the mainland and the rest of the state when it comes to electrical power. That means that we wouldn’t have to spend millions of dollars on importing fossil fuels here, to burn up and pay large amounts of money for in our electric bills. The report made a great point saying that “electricity demand fluctuates and isn’t well-matched to geothermal’s most cost-effective base load production. As it is commonly known among people everywhere in the world, fossil fuel production is decreasing due to the amount of decreasing natural gas left in the world. Prices per kilowatt of electricity are going up because of it. If the transfer to geothermal energy were to be made, the price per kilowatt of electricity would stay constant because geothermal energy is renewable-making it unlimited. Although geothermal energy is good, it’s production is harmful to the human body. (Tenenbaum 1) Geothermal production is a long process that consists of drilling down into the earth’s core.
That drilling gives off hydrogen sulfide that, if inhaled in large concentrations, can cause loss of conciouness and even death. Being that PGV is in Leilani Estates, it gives off that dangerous gas to all those who live near it. Robert Petricci is one of those people who inhabit Leilani Estates and has had to visit the hospital a total of three times due to that fatality. (Tenenbaum 1) He along with many others have made countless pleas to the county to either relocate their homes to safe places or stop the operation of PGV. In return, the county has done very little to come to the aid of those pleas.
It was only recently that Dominic Yagong (the county councilman for the district of Puna) passed bill 256 (Callis 1), allowing the geothermal relocation and public safety fund to take action. Out of the 3. 3 million dollars that fund is made up of, five relocations have been approved by the county. (Callis 1) Although relocation is very expensive, I can not seem to make sense of why more of the county isn’t getting involved to come up with more solutions to this problem. The livelihood of human beings are at stake, and the county hasn’t given answers to those who have questioned for so long.
Back in March of this year, county of Hawaii mayor Billy Kenoi lead a “14-member delegation” (Sur 1) to the Phillipines to “investigate the potential” of fully converting to geothermal energy. Alas, one would think that the results of the trip would be released to the public; none whatsoever. In the conference back in April, Petricci made a great point in response to the information obtained on that trip by questioning the county if questions like “Has anybody ever gotten sick? ” and “Were there any oppositions from the community? ” were asked by any of the members of the delegation.
To this month, he’s never been given answers to those questions. Why is that so? What is the county hiding from the public that is so bad to the point where public relation issues can’t be discussed with the public? To ease a small amount of pain that Alan Yonan Jr. , The Honolulu Star-Advertiser,. “Geothermal Gaining Ground with Public. ” The Honolulu Star-AdvertiserMarch 14 2012. Web. Stanfield, Jeff. “Working Group: Geothermal could make Island of Hawaii Self-Sufficient for Power Needs. ” SNL Generation Markets Week January 17 2012Web. Tenenbaum, David. “Deep Heat. ” Earth 3. 1 (1994): 58. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Oct. 2012.