By Mililani B. Trask – In his letter to Hawaii Reporter refuting my initial editorial, State Rep. Chris Lee is unable to address his actions as Chair of the House Energy Committee, to refute the letter sent to by Mr. Isibashi, West Hawaii Planning Commissioner regarding Lee’s lengthy and unnecessary amendments, nor has Lee explained his preferential treatment for the Seaview Estates exemption from all state and county regulations for geothermal development.
Instead he alleges that I am a bought and paid for lobbyist for a company that is trying to “fast track” its development project.
Lee’s response is laughable. My company, Indigenous Consultants, and I have been in Hawaii for years, advocating for changes to our state energy policy.
I am a consultant to the IDG on energy projects here and internationally. I have not only presented to the Legislative Energy Committees during the interim period, but have submitted testimony on numerous bills in the state House and Senate during the legislative session.
My testimony and statements have been in behalf of my company and myself. I invite everyone to check the record and read my testimony.
Last session, the IDG, several State agencies and many others including the Big Island Community Council also submitted testimony on the state geothermal energy bills.
Back in the 2010 State Legislative Session, Senate Concurrent Resolution 99 was approved by a vote of 23-2 in the state Senate and was unanimously approved in the state House of Representatives.
SCR 99 created an 11-member Geothermal Working Group to study Geothermal and inform the legislature of their findings and recommendations. Two reports were submitted to the legislature (January 2011 and 2012) and both recommended that the state facilitate and expedite geothermal development. Lee has ignored the recommendations in these reports. During his tenure as Chair of the House Energy Committee, Hawaii’s Energy monopoly has expanded, the solar Industry has collapsed and the cost of energy has risen.
Lee’s empty allegations about “fast tracking” deals are ridiculous given the fact that geothermal development in Hawaii is subject to PUC competitive bid process and is regulated by state and county laws that require public hearings.
There is simply no way any company in Hawaii can “fast track” a geothermal development project.
On June 22, 2011, Hawaiian Electric Light Company released a “Request for Information – Geothermal Power Development: Island of Hawaii”, there were about 20 responses submitted according to the January 2013 Hawaii Geothermal Assessment and Roadmap Report compiled by the Pacific International Center For High Technology Research (PICHTR) under contract to Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, University of Hawaii. Since this time Hawaii is no closer towards the completion of a new geothermal power plant on the Island of Hawaii.
Yes, there has been an underhanded effort to “fast track” geothermal development for a few people w/political connections.
I refer to Senate Bill 2274 (2014) introduced as ‘Special Legislation’ by Senator Russell Ruderman for the subdivision, Seaview Estates, in Puna, which I consider to be illegal.
This measure granted Seaview Estates an exemption from all state and county regulations when it developed geothermal resources.
Lee prevented a public hearing on this measure before the House Energy Committee by waiving the hearing and passing the bill without a public or House review.
This was the only geothermal measure “fast tracked” in the last three years, all other geothermal projects and developers, including the IDG, are participating in the PUC process as it drags on into its fourth year.
The State PUC has finally issued an order requiring HECO/HELCO to respond and prevent any further HECO/HELCO delays.
Hawaii County Corporation Counsel has filed briefs stating that our County priority is to bring the price down for ratepayers.
Ratepayers have filed a class action suit in State Court against the State for Breach of the Public Trust for failing to protect our ratepayers against the HECO monopoly.
Lee needs to respond to the real energy issues in Hawaii, the Energy monopoly, the inability of our State to develop our States energy resources for our economy and his own dismal record.