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Ormat Begins Study of a Maui Geothermal Plant

March 8, 2012, 7:50 PM HST
* Updated March 9, 1:30 PM
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The company that operates Puna Geothermal Venture in Puna is looking to establish a geothermal operation on Maui.

Ormat Technologies told the state Board of Land and Natural Resources in January that it will seek a geothermal mining lease for property owned by Ulupalakua Ranch in southern Maui near Makena and for nearby lands owned by the state.

Initial studies indicate there is a potential for commercial-scale geothermal resource on the slopes of Haleakela, the company said in a notice for the preparation of an environmental impact statement. The notice was prepared by Geometrician Associates of Hilo and filed with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Ormat intends to conduct exploratory drilling if it is successful in obtaining the mining leases and expanding the area’s geothermal resource subzone. Both require the approval of the Land Board.

The company anticipates producing 50 megawatts of electricity from the Maui plant, with 25 megawatts in place by 2015 and the remainder three years later.

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According to the notice, Ormat has developed 1,200 megawatts of geothermal power in 19 countries. It currently produces 500 megawatts, 382 of which is in the United States including the 30 megawatts from Puna Geothermal Venture.

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Ormat is also considering geothermal development in Kona and is in the early stages of a environmental impact statement for an operation there.

Meanwhile, the state is gearing up for the increased interest in geothermal energy (see related article: Undersea Power Cable Bill Moves Through Legislature).

The Engineering Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources recently sought and received permission from the Land Board to hire geothermal experts as consultants to help guide the processing of mining leases and other geothermal-related development.

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The department also needs assistance in auditing of geothermal royalties paid to the state by PGV, and in the updating of administrative rules relating to geothermal development that haven’t been revised since 1989.

“The Engineering Division currently has no staff in the Mineral Resources Section to address statutory responsibilities and coordinate numerous inquiries from potential geothermal developers in a timely manner as the quest for renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, becomes forefront,” the DLNR said in a submittal to the Land Board.

In addition to the consultants, the Engineering Division this month also will be advertising for a geothermal-related engineer position for its staff, a DLNR spokeswoman said.

 

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