Categorized | Business, Energy

Exploring geothermal, biomass in energy independence (Aug. 27)


For 18 years, after some initial controversy, Hawaii Island has been producing geothermal energy pretty consistently and pretty quietly. Now, geothermal has been thrust onto the statewide stage as the possible keystone of Hawaii’s energy independence.

To get a clear picture of geothermal’s promise, along with a brief discussion on biomass, which Hawaii’s utility companies have historically purchased from local sugar mills, the “Homegrown Energy Forum” will bring together specialists to look at the potentials and pitfalls.

The free forum is open to the public, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at Aupuni Center conference room.

“There’s such renewed interest in geothermal, along with a lot of talk about whether it’s OK or not,” said Kaniu Stocksdale of ETA1 Hawaii, coordinator of the forum. “Getting these experts to the table gives us a chance to get their mana‘o and educate the community.”

Panelists will each give brief remarks, keeping the bulk of the forum open for questions from the audience.

Participants include:

* Michael Kaleikini, manager of Puna Geothermal Venture, Hawaii’s only operating geothermal producer; Kaleikini has 20 years experience in geothermal operations.

* Richard Ha of Hamakua Springs Country Farms and Wally Ishibashi of the ILWU Local 142, who are co-chairs of the County’s Geothermal Working Group.

* Don Thomas, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawaii Hilo. Thomas has been involved in geothermal studies since the beginning of Hawaii’s exploration more than 30 years ago.

* Robert Rapier, Merica International’s Chief Technology Officer, a biofuels specialist, focused on localized use of biomass-to-energy.

* Kristine Kubat, Moku Power, which seeks to use PowerTube technology for geothermal energy distribution. Founding member of HELCO’s citizen’s advisory group and a long-time grassroots activist.

* Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani, Kumu Hula, program coordinator for Hawaiian Lifestyles at Hawaii Community College, and executive director of the Edith Kanakaole Foundation.

* Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric Light Company; Ignacio has more than 15 years of engineering experience.

There also will be representatives from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, HECO, and Ormat Technologies of Reno, Nev.

No reservation is needed.

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