PGV Plans to Begin Drilling on New Well

October 10, 2019, 5:30 PM HST (Updated October 10, 2019, 6:28 PM)
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The Puna Geothermal Venture plans to start drilling again in less than a week after operations were suspended in 2018 during the Kīlauea eruption. The depth of the well is expected to be 5,000 feet.

According to a notice sent out to all Puna residents, PGV plans to commence drilling operations for the geothermal well Kapoho State on Oct. 18. The estimated completion date is Jan. 16, 2020.

“We appreciate your patience with the ongoing drilling activities and want to assure you that we will take great care in minimizing any drilling-related impacts to our neighbors,” the notice states.

During the eruption, drilling equipment, three geothermal wells and two water wells were covered. Michael Kaleikini, senior director of Hawai‘i Affairs at the facility, said the plan was always to return to operational status by the end of the year, which he expects will happen.

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The plant has 11 wells that range from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. Kaleikini said they were planning to drill more wells but were forced to stop because of the eruption.

Sen. Russell Ruderman, who represents Puna and the town of Pahala in Ka‘u, told Hawaii News Now he believes drilling is still too dangerous.

“They’re taking a risk that wasn’t there before. The entire geological structure they’re drilling into has changed,” Ruderman told HNN. “Right now there’s lava still flowing underneath them that they’re going to drill into.”

Kaleikini couldn’t comment on what Ruderman said. However, he said PGV understands the risks of drilling rift zones and safety is their number one priority.

“We have many experts in the field of geology that we consult with,” he said. “We respect what the eruption has done and changed. We’re not going in blind.”

Kaleikini added they are confident they can start the drilling process successfully and safely.

Further information is available via the PGV information line, a daily-recorded message giving up-to-date information on power plant and well field activities. The information line phone number is 808-934-9072.

PGV also maintains 24-hour response lines, where a company representative will return calls. The response line phone number is 808-369-9094.

PGV is a geothermal energy conversion plant bringing steam and hot liquid up through underground wells. The hot liquid (brine) is not used for electricity at this time. The steam is directed to a turbine generator that produces electricity.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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