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Abercrombie: Embrace geothermal energy on Big Island

HILO >> Geothermal energy is as an important resource for future energy needs, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday, and he hopes to see it embraced quickly by Hawaii Island residents.

“I realize that there’s been discussion and interest and varying views, but with respect to the utilization (of geothermal), I hope that conversation can come to a quick conclusion,” he said as he prepared to sign a geothermal bill into law.

Senate Bill 2953 guarantees that 100 percent of royalties for using geothermal resources on Hawaiian Home Lands will be paid to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Abercrombie said he hopes it’s an incentive for the Public Utilities Commission to move forward on “incredible” Big Island geothermal resources.

“If there is anything on Earth, or in Earth, that says to us as a species, as stewards of this planet, that here is a resource for your utilization and for your proper regard, and to be a steward of, it’s geothermal,” he said. “And the Big Island could not be better situated for it.”

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is beginning work on a geothermal power project that would generate up to 50 megawatts on Hawaii Island.

The 38-megawatt Puna Geothermal Venture plant on the Big Island’s east side is the state’s only current source of geothermal power. Neighbors have said regulators should be doing more to consider health risks.

A September 2013 joint study group authorized by Mayor Billy Kenoi found that drilling and harnessing geothermal energy has health risks but there’s not enough data to assess whether the Puna Geothermal Venture has had an impact on residents’ health.

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