East Hawaii News

Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i Offers Webinar on Geothermal Power

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Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i, formerly Big Island Community Coalition, is offering a free webinar about geothermal power options in Hawai’i.

The webinar, titled “Geothermal Power — Options for Hawai‘i’s Future,” is scheduled for 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, via Zoom. Those interested in taking part can register in advance by clicking here.

“I’ve spent years studying what’s happening with oil, and it’s clear that within 10 years, we’re really going to start seeing the consequences of declining fossil fuels,” said local businessman and Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i Chairman Richard Ha. “Prices of everything will keep going up, and that will put pressure on what I call the ‘rubbah slippah’ folks. That’s those of us out here who are just trying to raise our families. We can’t afford endless discussions about what to do about it. We need to make decisions and changes now.”

There is a solution — geothermal energy.


Speakers and panelists for the webinar include:

  • Ha, who will talk about how using more geothermal energy can provide base power to keep electric utilities dependable and affordable, create a clean, hydrogen economy and help keep Hawai‘i affordable for residents.
  • Peter Sternlicht, Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i director, who will discuss oil and energy-related natural resources, their role during the past 150 years, where these stand now and how much longer people will be able to rely on them.
  • Donald Thomas, geochemist and director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, who will give a historical perspective on the Big Island’s geothermal resource from its earliest days to today.
  • Nicole Lautze, director of the Hawai‘i Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center at UH-Mānoa, leads a team of senior scientists in developing an updated geothermal resource assessment for the state, which she will discuss. The assessment involves collecting and compiling geological, geochemical and geophysical data throughout the state and developing and implementing a statistical methodology that integrates the data into a geothermal resource probability map.
  • Mike Kaleikini, senior director of Hawai‘i Affairs at Ormat and a former Puna Geothermal Venture plant and operations manager, who will talk about where Hawai‘i Island is with geothermal energy today, how it’s regulated, where geothermal fields are located now, what development options might be in the future and what a timeline might look like.
  • Mililani Trask, Hawai‘i Island attorney and kupuna, who will discuss her extensive research, knowledge and experience of geothermal operations.
  • State Rep. Nicole Lowen, chairwoman of the House Energy and Environmental Committee, who will discuss policy and regulatory considerations and relevant measures.

A second webinar planned for Feb. 19 will cover the obstacles to geothermal energy deployment and various strategies to address them.

Other future Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i webinars will focus on improving the economy and lifestyle of the Big Island’s people now and in the future. Future events will also discuss Maunakea and a proposed Culture and Science Center Above the Clouds.


“You’ll come away from our webinars knowing a lot more about the decisions we need to make now to improve life for our future generations,” Ha said.

Hawai‘i Island is lucky to be among the few locations in the world with prime geothermal conditions. Scientists say Hawai‘i will be over the “hot spot” and have geothermal activity for more than a million years. By creating and using energy from our geothermal resources, the state’s people will be able to achieve independence from gas and oil imports, enjoy lower energy costs and have opportunities to diversify the economy.

It will also contribute to the emissions reductions critical to solving climate change.


Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and security of life for Hawai‘i Island residents. For more information about the grassroots organization, click here.

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