In 1993 the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant opened in the state of Hawaii and established the state as a leader in geothermal technology as an early adopter.
This article by Al Maiorino of the Public Strategy Group places the blame for Hawaii’s high electricity rates on two factors:
A "Not in my Backyard (NIMBY)" argument by opponents of geothermal power, which is, in some cases, a misconception about how geothermal energy impacts land values, gas emissions, and odors, rather than supporting the substantial benefits of inexpensive, local, and sustainable power for all of Hawaii’s people.
A botched public relations effort by the state and private developers when they launched Puna Geothermal Venture 20 years ago. Maiorino contends that builders of the plant should have begun a community awareness and benefit plan long before they began construction. That effort should have produced a complete package for the lower Puna community, including potential health problems, land value assessment issues, and remediation/mitigation efforts in the event of a plant shutdown. Instead, Maiorino suggests that plant developers went ahead without keeping the community in the loop. The union of failed planning and misconceptions concerning geothermal energy has produced a stalemate on this alternate power source and has led, in part, to the most expensive electricity rates in the county. Many of you won’t like the Maiorino’s analysis. But ignorance on both sides of the issue won’t solve Hawaii’s energy crisis. "Kicking the can down the road" will do little to resolve the issue of PGV or lessen the fear of further geothermal expansion on Hawaii Island. We either adopt geothermal and other energy alternatives or pay an ever increasing penalty for power. Of course, we could cut back our use of electricity and conserve what we have. That may be asking too much of a society that has grown accustomed to instant gratification. Aloha, Russ.