Puna Geothermal Venture to hold public comment meeting on draft environmental impact statement
Puna Geothermal Venture will host a public meeting June 1 to provide background information and an opportunity for public comment regarding Puna Geothermal Venture’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was prepared in connection with the proposed Puna Geothermal Repower Project.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was published in the Environmental Notice on May 8.
The June 1 meeting will run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility at 15-2906 Pahoa Village Road in Pāhoa.
The session will begin with an informational open house from 4:30 to 5:20 p.m., opening remarks at 5:20 p.m., and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., oral comments will be accepted (to be recorded via audio and video).
“During the open house, representatives will be available to answer questions and provide information about the purpose of the Project and the DEIS,” said Michael Kaleikini, Ormat’s senior director, Hawaiʻi Affairs. “Following, there will be ample time for all to make their comments for the record.”
The public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is open until June 22. Comments can be made in person at the June 1 meeting or can be submitted in writing at the meeting, via email to [email protected] and [email protected], or mailed to Michele Lefebvre, P.O. Box 191, Hilo, HI 96721 and County of Hawaii Planning Department, Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 3, Hilo, HI 96720.
All substantive comments will be addressed in the next phase of the process, which is preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
On March 16, 2022, the Public Utilities Commission approved an amended contract between PGV and Hawaiian Electric, with the condition that Puna Geothermal Venture perform an Environmental Impact Statement. Stantec, a contractor working for Puna Geothermal Venture, began work on the Environmental Impact Statement in early 2022.
The Environmental Impact Statement’s two action alternatives were developed in coordination with the County of Hawaiʻi Planning Department and the Hawaiʻi Energy Office. The eight-megawatt increase alternative is based on the amount of geothermal energy production approved by the Public Utilities Commission in the amended contract, and the 60 megawatt total production alternative is based on the amount of energy allowed by the Geothermal Resource Permit issued by the County of Hawaiʻi.
Following development of the alternatives, Stantec identified the need for five baseline reports: (1) air quality; (2) noise; (3) biological resources; (4) archaeology; and (5) cultural impacts. These technical studies are incorporated into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In total, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement analyzes potential impacts from the two action alternatives, and also a “no action” alternative, to the following 12 resources: geology; hydrology; air quality and climate change; noise; biological resources; socioeconomics and environmental justice; historic resources; cultural practices; aesthetics; hazardous materials and solid waste; public health and safety; and transportation and access.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement describes potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts to these resources, and identifies potential protection and mitigation measures that should be implemented to minimize or avoid potential impacts.
The project would be constructed within the current Puna Geothermal Venture facility fence line, replace current units with more efficient and quieter equipment, and increase capacity of the geothermal plant from 38 to 46 megawatts. Under the amended contract, pricing for energy would be decoupled from oil costs with no escalation. “With the Project, we will be able to produce clean energy more efficiently for Hawaiʻi Island. Geothermal is a firm source of renewable energy and is a key part of meeting the state’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2045,” said Kaleikini.
The full Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available here. The appendices can be found here.
More information about the Environmental Impact Statement process can also be found on Puna Geothermal Venture’s website.