Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Future of Geothermal Energy in Hawaii’s Mix

Our Energy Futures program on Hawaii Public Radio on Monday will continue the discussion geothermal energy that began on the most recent show.

As we heard on July 27, some Native Hawaiians strongly object to using the volcano’s underground heat to generate electricity because, in their view, it degrades the power of their deity – the volcano goddess Pele.

The guests on Monday’s show will be State Senator Kalani English, vice chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, and Puna Geothermal Energy plant manager Michael Kaleikini (left and right in graphic). Both have Hawaiian heritage and will share their perspectives on the quiet debate on geothermal energy’s future.

The issue was far from quiet in the 1990s, when the proposed geothermal development in the Wao Kele O Puna rainforest on the Big Island was met with determined opposition that eventually ended that possibility.

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant has been providing about 30 megawatts of power to the island’s grid for nearly 16 years. Will that contribution increase or has geothermal energy reached an early peak that will never been exceeded?

That’s one of the issues we’ll explore with English and Kaleikini on Energy Futures, Monday at 5 pm HST (11 pm EDT) on KIPO-FM – 89.3 in Hawaii and streamed on the Internet.

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