IDG lobbyist Mililani Trask unhappy I chose our community over her employer

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Rep. Chris Lee
Rep. Chris Lee

BY REP. CHRIS LEE – I have nothing against Mililani Trask, but her recent editorial made very serious accusations about me. I would like to correct these false claims and explain why I am being attacked.

If there is one lesson in politics, it is that special interests with millions of dollars on the line will do anything to get what they want. Today they are coming after me because I chose not to play their game.


This is not the first time they have tried to influence elections. HawaiiNewsNow reported geothermal developers IDG and Honua Group illegally funneled tens of thousands of dollars to elect their own candidate in 2012. IDG hired Mililani Trask as their paid lobbyist and campaign finance records show the same developers are now funneling thousands to her campaign for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs where she can continue to push the projects her employers seek.

While I strongly disagree that any company should buy elections like this, I understand why these special interests and their lobbyist Ms. Trask are now coming after me. I wrote a bill to expand geothermal power to meet Hawaii’s clean energy goals – but I would not agree to give their company the exclusive ability to develop it. They opposed provisions the public asked me to put in the bill to require that developers adequately engage local communities about their plans before drilling begins.

They are upset with me because I supported a moratorium that would prevent them from “fracking” to unlock geothermal potential until the Department of Health(DOH) can ensure it will not contaminate our water table. As DOH explained in an April letter, “The Department does not currently have rules, standards or resources to monitor the quality of groundwater throughout the islands… typically such a program would take at least 2 years to establish…”

The bottom line is that these developers are trying to change the law to fast-track their projects, avoid community engagement, and will attack people like me who stand in their way. However, safety is paramount and I refuse to put the interests of their company before the interests of our community.

As expected, Ms. Trask tries to paint me as anti-renewable energy to pressure me to agree to her employer’s demands. But even a simple google search reveals her attacks are false. She claims I “heard every Bill proposed for the solar industry & made sure none passed…”  But in fact, House Bill 1943, which I introduced and passed, was the solar industry’s top priority to help put more solar on the grid. I was nominated by The Blue Planet Foundation and solar companies as Hawaii’s “Solar Champion” for stepping up on the issue.

Ms. Trask falsely claims I “ensure that any bill HECO opposes gets killed or deferred.” Yet, over HECO’s adamant objections I passed two bills out of the House to look at revoking HECO’s license to operate as a monopoly. She falsely claims I opposed hydrogen technology and a 100% renewable energy goal, but I strongly support both and passed these bills through my committee and rallied others to support them.

I certainly do not have space to refute all the wildly untrue claims from IDG and its lobbyist, but they could not be more false. However, it is when Ms. Trask drags my parents into her attack and resorts to accusing me of racism that it becomes apparent they will say anything to assault me. I know I should be upset by such slander, but I do not take it personally because politics is politics and I know Ms. Trask is just doing her job as a paid lobbyist for these special interests.

Despite these attacks, I stand firmly by my decision to expand geothermal energy in Hawaii the right way – open to whichever company has the best and safest plan, with an inclusive process that values public input, and without giveaways to special interests, because the only interest I serve is that of our community.

Chris Lee is a Democrat representing Lanikai, Kailua and Waimanalo in the Hawaii State House. Lee is currently the Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection (EEP). He also serves on the Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPC), Judiciary (JUD), Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs (OMH), and Water and Land (WAL) committees.





    • I suspect Mr. Lee didn't bother to review the 2 linked files with this story. They both collaborate what Ms. Trask is saying. Mr. Lee or whoever wrote the response for him is incredibly clueless of the facts and continues to lie to protect himself for reelection and to support his puppet handler, Hawaiian Electric.

      I suggest you review the files as well and judge for yourself.

      Look at her qualifications, including national AND international recognition on the About tab.


  1. Part 1 of 2

    "While I strongly disagree that any company should buy elections like this,"

    How about special interest companies like Hawaiian Electric buying politicians and therefore trying to buy elections like Neil Abercrombie is trying to do with millions of dollars? I wonder how much money Chris Lee gets, if any, from his handler, Hawaiian Electric,  and people and businesses with close ties to HECO.

    Hawaiian Electric uses its millions to control politicians and businesses all the time, including Abercrombie, and members of the legislature, to influence elections, to influence bill passage, so it ultimately gets what it wants to insure its survival as a monopoly, regardless of what the people want, and despite its gross incompetence and its continuing violation of its non-exclusive franchise.

    "I wrote a bill to expand geothermal power to meet Hawaii’s clean energy goals – but I would not agree to give their company the exclusive ability to develop it."

    Mr. Lee does not have the power to give anyone the ability to develop geothermal and I seriously doubt his assertion that IDG even suggested it be given exclusive ability is true. That is why there are 6 bidders for a new geothermal plant all going through HELCO & the PUC, but as usual, HELCO has been stonewalling the process because it doesn't want geothermal energy and / or because it wants to delay the process long enough so that all bidders drop out except its monopoly partner, PGV, and then HELCO can give the project to PGV by default. Even Senator Solomon sent a letter to the PUC about the foot dragging, and the story was picked up by Renewable Energy World, read both nationally and internationally.

    "They opposed provisions the public asked me to put in the bill to require that developers adequately engage local communities about their plans before drilling begins."

    I doubt that opposition ever existed because Mr. Lee has no clue about IDG's business model of community engagement prior to developing a plant, like the one it did in New Zealand, and giving back to the community. If I'm not mistaken, the geothermal RFP also includes requirements for community engagement so having a bill to require something that already exists is a waste of time and taxpayer money. It is just more foot dragging, stonewalling, and duplicative work to insure HECO/HELCO gets what is best for its profits, excessive dividend, and excessive executive compensation.

    "They are upset with me because I supported a moratorium that would prevent them from “fracking” to unlock geothermal potential until the Department of Health(DOH) can ensure it will not contaminate our water table."

    Once again, Mr. Lee is totally ignorant of the facts and continues to lie about it to stir up dissent on the Big Island in support of HECO/ HELCO. There is no such thing as fracking in geothermal development. It has never been done in Hawaii and never will be as a result of the type of volcanic permeable soil we have in Hawaii. Fracking was not used in New Zealand and it has never been used in Iceland for the past 50 years. I asked that specific question when I toured a geothermal plant while on vacation in Iceland a year ago.

    I suggest Mr. Lee take a vacation in Iceland and get his facts straight. He should also go to New Zealand to learn about their geothermal development and the community involvement.

    Can Mr. Lee even give one single instance where fracking has been used around the world to develop geothermal energy and the justification given for using it? Can he confirm that fracking has already been used in Hawaii? No.

  2. Part 2 of 2

    The fracking issue is just another blatant lie and scare tactic being perpetrated and spread around by Lee, Ruderman, and others to give HELCO what it wants – no geothermal energy because it will be too cheap and will help put the company out of business because it won't be able to compete. After paying its capital costs, PGV generated electricity at 8-9 cents / kWh while HELCO price gouges the people by selling that same electricity for 40-45 cents.

    Does Mr. Lee think that a military base, hospital, airport, the University of Hawaii, or Etc. can operate on solar or wind power with battery backup? Geothermal energy is firm power, not intermittent power. It produces power 24/7 rain or shine.

    "The bottom line is that these developers are trying to change the law to fast-track their projects, avoid community engagement, and will attack people like me who stand in their way. However, safety is paramount and I refuse to put the interests of their company before the interests of our community."

    And what is Hawaiian Electric doing but fast-tracking 6 solar projects with its preferred developers by circumventing the competitive bidding process, approved by the PUC, all the while it destroys the entire rooftop solar industry to insure its survival over all other businesses.

    "She claims I “heard every Bill proposed for the solar industry & made sure none passed…”  But in fact, House Bill 1943, which I introduced and passed, was the solar industry’s top priority to help put more solar on the grid.

    Was the bill passed in the Senate & signed into law? Where is the renewed vigor in approving more roof top solar? Many folks say they are being told that they must wait up to a year before getting approval to connect their PV system to the grid. They took out loans and now have loan and high electric bills to pay. Everyone is suffering so HECO can survive.

    Does Mr. Lee also disagree with the information contained in the 2 linked files in the story? Maybe he didn't bother to read them before making his response because one of them supports everything Ms. Trask stated.

    "because the only interest I serve is that of our community."

    The ONLY interests Mr. Lee serves are his own self interests to keep his job and those of his puppeteer, Hawaiian Electric, to insure its survival. Mr. Lee and Mike Gabbard are like 2 peas in a pod serving their false god, Hawaiian Electric Industries.

    Please vote for Wayne Hikida so Hawaii can move forward without more obstructionism from Lee, Gabbard, Ruderman, and Abercrombie, the biggest impediments to Hawaii's clean energy future.

    We also need Senator Malama Solomon to replace Mike Gabbard as chair of the Senate Energy Committee.

  3. I had a good laugh when I looked at Chris Lee's website and noticed at the bottom that he states that Honolulu Weekly
    votes Chris "Top Green Politician."

    He is living in the 19th century just like his puppet handler, Hawaiian Electric. Honolulu Weekly shutbdown in June of last year!

    Chris Lee is as incompetent as the utility monopoly he serves. What a joke!

    • He does no have or need one. He is quite capable of getting the facts and seeing through the BS. I have known Ed for almost 3 decades before retiring. We worked for the same agency but in different departments, his was primarily ITT and I was involved with analytical testing for substances of abuse. Ed like many others who have lived places other than Hawaii know very well the limited scope of the outside world is not very well known. I remember when I came here 50 years ago, it was called plantation mentality and people believed what those in power told them. That is changing because the newer generation go to the mainland to school, a lot of outsiders are moving to the islands and bringing their knowledge with the that makes to old boy network uncomfortable. Change is slowly coming to the political arena and they don't like it. This stuff with HECO, when have you read in our newspaper or heard on the local news stations anything about the current controversy. Only once that I recall and that was when the former US Sec of Energy, Dr Cho, a Nobel Prize winning Physisit, called HECO's lie about their grid BS. Our newspaper did print the full word for BS, but KHVH could us the initials BS. Our newspaper will not print letters to the editor critical of the HECO monopoly, the entire local mainstream media has been mum and when you call and talk to the general managers, investigative reporters and reporters, it goes nowhere because they know their livilyhood is at stake because of HECO's connection with the power structure. That is how things have always been done in the islands. Don't believe it, power is everything. The Kam School Board of Trusties were all political appointees, that were in my opinion ripping off the Hawaiian school to the tune of around $1.2 million each annually. That ended when a member had a conscience and blew the whistle which cost everyone on the Board their job when it was over. Now the Board members are reasonable compensated, the positions are not from the political plum tree ans I would Gus's the members are more attuned to managing the Trust and the school is benefiting. Now if only we, the people could get some factual reporting regarding the monopoly with the Electric Utility and why we do not have more Geothermal and why the foot dragging by the Legislature and HECO, perhaps progress might have been made. My suggestion is don't question the messenger, question the message and find out for yourself where the truth really is. I do have one guest ion that needs a public answer. Back when Carter was President and Hurricane Ewa did a number on the islands, an appropriation was initiated and completed under President Reagan, that if I have my facts straight, Some $800 million was given to our Electric Utility to upgrade the grid and other things. Just what was all that money used for, purchase a bank and another company or did it all go to upgrading the grid. I really don't have the answer, but I am looking into it. On final comment about HECO's 6 PV Solar farms that were given a short cut by the PUC as usual, no mention of any archeological surveys being required especially in the Ewa areas. BTW. Geothermal drilling does not use fracking technology. We already have an operational plant running so what is the problem with drilling more pukas and building the essentials to concert steam into electricity. No need more rules or bills, Rules already exist.

  4. “fracking” to unlock geothermal potential…

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  5. Here is Mililani Trask's response to Chris Lee's ongoing lies. He and his fellow HECO puppets, Ruderman, Gabbard, and Abercrombie, & maybe soon to be Senator Lorraine Inouye, could not tell the truth to the people if their lives depended on it. They are totally ignorant of the facts and continue to protect, support, and perpetuate our incompetent utility monopoly to the detriment of our economy and the financial stability of every man, woman, child, and business in Hawaii.

    I'll bet Chris Lee didn't bother to read these 2 supporting documents attached to her article.

    Here is the article:

    • Do you use a 20 year old computer or a modern up to date computer? Do you use a 20 year old rotary landline telephone or a modern wireless or cell phone? That is what you are talking about – 20 year old binary geothermal technology that no one uses any more.

      How many folks have asthma and other health problems as a result of living on an island with an active volcano producing its own rotten egg hydrogen sulfide smell and acid rain?

      Modern flash / double flash geothermal technology is now used all over the world. I suggest you do some research and get ready to ask questions when the winner of the geothermal RFP starts having community meetings next year to educate the people about of new, clean, safe technology that keeps advancing every 6 months like computer technology.

      In the meantime, I suggest you review this Hawaii Ratepayers Google+ page.

      I'm still waiting for my response, probably to the same Puna Resident, to be made public on Mililani's first commentary. She is over in Puna now, helping with the relief efforts, cleanup, delivering ice, etc. to help folks get back on their feet.


        Reference the above link to flash tech at PGV . I don't see anything new ED, can you explain the differance?

        Where exactly do you smell H2S (rotten egg not SO2 burnt math) volcanic emissions at? Natural H2S emissions from Kileuea are normally converted by a natural process into sulfur and other compounds almost immediately (long before they impact any community, according to USGS. That is why their samplers do not detect H2S in high vog areas, or anywhere else I am aware of.

        Geothermal is quite different, they bring up the H2S and other toxins from a mile down with no natural conversion process. Very different my friend. You really are out of your league and appear to be ignorant about that which you speak (Although you go on and on saying little of relative substance or merit). There is a lot of people who are at risk here Ed you really ought to come out and meet them. I can arrange it.

      • And you should go to Iceland and New Zealand to see what a modern geothermal plant is all about. PGV uses old binary technology. That is why it is so bad. Any new plant will use flash / double flash or maybe even something better. Technology advances rapidly.

        The USA and Congress are leading the charge to develop more geothermal energy.

        Like I said, do a google search and learn the difference between the 2 technologies. You still didn't read my message above.

      • I suggest you read the Federal and State studies done regarding health issues. They show that the health issues are the result of mold in the forests and the natural release of toxic agents from an active volcano. Look at the Bruce Anderson health analysis. You can also learn about volcanic gas emissions, including S02 and H2S here.

        Residents have complained that PGV is the culprit, but these reports say otherwise. In fact, some folks are complaining, not because they are experiencing health issues but because they want PGV to give them more money related to their lawsuit. PGV gave out $2 million and the folks want more.

        I have better things to do with my time that waste it trying to educate you. I suggest you go do your own homework on google and learn the truth about modern geothermal technology.

        I will not respond to any more comments on this page. It is time to move on.

      • Bruce Anderson is a political hack, and a corporate stooge. If that is the best you can do your in trouble. Next you will probably be quoting the god father of HGP-A and geothermal in Hawaii – Don Thomas. Neither have any credibility in lower Puna, they have both lied to the community. I said it publicly, they are liars. If it is not true tell them to sue me. I would love to do discovery on those two.

        PGV has paid damages to at least 143 people so far, Ed. Your very transparent in your role as IDG shill.

        I have lived here with geothermal for 33 years. PGV has paid me damages, for some of what they have done to me and my family. You got a problem with that suck an egg. Your position supports developers profiting by hurting the community, that is what I hear reading your repetitive and voluminous postings.

        Who runs a dangerous plant like that during a hurricane Ed? A greedy, heartless corporation. IDG would have done the same and is no better than PGV.

        What kind of monitoring system and regulatory oversight do you suggest? Is there an emergency response plan? How did hundreds get trapped in there homes and gassed if you can imagine what that is like. Pregnant women, children, our Kapuna. Shame on you Ed, your disdain and ontempt of the many families hurt here is telling of the kind of person you are. We will not stand by while more people are poisoned for your geothermal pipe dream.

        Guys like you motivate me, I know you care not about our families.

        I am looking at suing again but not for money, I am going after the regulators. I want PGV shut down What they did to people on August 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th of 2014, proves there is no monitoring system, there is no workable Emergency Response Plan and there is no regulatory authority protecting the community.

        Those video's I linked in previous post are just the tip of the iceberg. Remember I told you you would be hearing about this? Well you have no idea what else is about to be revealed over the next few weeks and months. Litigation is just a part of that.

        I know more about geothermal in Hawaii, than you can ever learn. Somethings you do not need a book to tell you. It's about money alright, corporate profits over people's safety. There have been 18 civil defense declared emergencies at PGV. Why is that? Name another power plant in Hawaii that ever had one much less 18. Oh and IDG could not carry PGV's technological gym bag, as they have little experience and care even less about the people here, all one need do is read their arrogant and nasty comments about the people that live here.

        There has been no new geothermal since 1991 for good reason. There will be no new geothermal now for booth economic and environmental reasons. Care to wager on the HELCO RFP not being issued Ed. See you at the PUC, good luck your going to need it with the fantasies you have about geothermal.

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