A Recap Of The March 31 Geothermal Related Community Meeting

By Steve Hirakami
Ninety seven people signed in for the Geothermal Fact Finding Community Meeting on the evening of March 31, 2012. Since probably not everyone signed in, there seemed to be well over a hundred people in attendance. The meeting was called by Robert Petricci who is actively engaged in the organization of community members who live in close proximity to the Geothermal plant. This meeting was opened up to the greater Puna community and both sides were represented. Barbara Lively bravely volunteered to be the facilitator of the meeting. The format was devised by Steve Hirakami who has used Total Quality Management techniques at the Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science Public Charter School in Pahoa.
The format was used to honor everyone’s attendance and to give them a “voice” in a non-verbal way. If all of the attendees were to only speak for 3 minutes (which is rare in Puna) the event would have taken six hours to complete with no collective thought or result. The idea was for each person to express his or her idea via Post-its. The Post-its (which numbered in the hundreds) were pasted onto three 4◊8 white boards with only category titles of Benefits, Hawaiian Cultural and Religious Beliefs, Concerns, Alternatives, and Others.
Volunteers, which included Zendo Kern, James Weatherford, Gregor Ilacan, Diane Thomas, and Steve Hirakami sorted the Post-its into bullet points under the respective categories. While the boards were being organized, the audience broke into a lively dialogue and sharing. The audience was then directed to take three colored dots with different weights: blue=5 points; red=3 points, and yellow=1 point and place them into their personal weighted priorities. This was another lively exercise where people got to dialogue and strategize. The results of the voting are illustrated in the attached document: “Results of Multi-voting on Key areas”.
Based on the colorful representation of priority areas, the audience broke out into five group categories and were asked to meet, discuss, record, and report back to the group. The reports that were reported back to the audience are also attached. Of course, the benefits of geothermal were enumerated, but overall, the concerns were numerous and valid. A standout concern was about the protection by the US and State Constitution of Hawaiian spiritual and religious beliefs. Another valid concern was Health and Safety, learning from the past and looking to the future (if geothermal exploitation is increased). Geographical location was an immediate concern stating that extensive buffer and safety zones need to be in place with careful, comprehensive, and continuous monitoring of all environmental aspects. Alternatives were listed and the general message was not to put all our “eggs in one basket” but to use all the available sources of energy and distribute them in areas with the most demand. And the final topic was the secrecy behind the project and why community input isn’t being acknowledged or even requested.
The next meeting will determine action committees based on last Saturday night’s findings. The question will ultimately be: Is this a Pono development for the community? See you there.

Puna Geothermal Community Meeting
March 31, 2012
Results of Multi Voting on Key Areas (points)
Benefits
* Community building to create viable alternatives (5)
* Independent from imported oil (9)
* Renewable power
* Lower HELCO rates (3)
* Need for Alternative energy
* IDG Local Development (20)
* Clean energy (9)
* Economic Gain (jobs)
* Free Electric for Puna (12)
* Power for Oahu
* Use of relocation fund
* Use of compensation fund
* Locals buy direct from GEO at reduced rates
* Subsidize fire insurance for residents in Lava Zone 1&2 (1)
Hawaiian Rights; First Amendment Rights
* Culture (20)
* Pele: What would/will she do? (6)
* Spiritual/Religious Practice/Rights (142)
* Hawaiian People: Benefits? Respect? (10)
* Hawaiian beliefs on wind, wave energy (3)

Concerns
* Health (86)
* Safety (65)
* Air pollution ((8)
* Noise (7)
* Lights-astronomy-Seabirds (8)
* Cost
* Disclosure/Truth (25)
* Evacuation (16)
* Angering Pele (2)
* Property Values (6)
* Location in Residential (71)
* Outdated Technology
* Monitoring (30)
* Other world’s plants Success/Failure?
* Future Generations (5)
* Lava Zone
* Mitigation (3)
* Water Table Aquifer (22)
* Flawed process (5)
* Corporate Greed (4)
* Serving other islands (3)
* Underwater cables (13)
* Endangered species
* Over-riding EPA
* Traffic
* Fracking effects
* Earthquakes
* Blowouts (4)
* Lose Hot pond (8)
Alternatives
* Solar (12)
* Wind (8)
* Biofuel (1)
* Hemp (1)
* Hydro (5)
* Tesla (9)
* Conserve (2)

Other
* Political corruption (21)
* No Trust/Secretive (25)

Puna Geothermal Community Meeting
March 31, 2012
Working Group Feedback
Benefits
* IDG: 2% gross $$ into community trust to go towards job training/employment for community
* Energy provided for industrial park and agriculture
* Fair rates without avoided cost, ie: fixed rates (no oil adjustment)
* Transfer plant/project to public ownership
* Energy independence with firm power
* Local community employment
* Direct use: Ag related: hot-house, food drying, timber/bamboo drying, aquaponics
* Power for Technology Park
* Alternative fuel production, ie: hydrogen fuel cells, palm oil
* Location away from population
* Lower property taxes for nearby parcels
* Royalty income to OHA, State, County

Hawaiian Rights; First Amendment Rights
* Respect for Spiritual and Religious beliefs
* Explore Theology beliefs BEFORE imposing anything that is not of the Hawaiian culture onto the People of Hawaii
* State Constitution Article 12, Section 7 Religious Freedom Act (Hawaiian religion). Uphold customary, traditional, and spiritual beliefs
* Government is obligated to do a study on the impact of projects on religious beliefs
* Pele has been sending a continuous message about the desecration of sacred ground ever since January 1983. First started at the first Geo site at Kahaulea now known as Pu’u O’o
* Uphold the religion of the Hawaiian People and the Spirit of Aloha
* Lies by the government and corporations
* Expose the CLOSED DOOR DEALS and/or the Judicial corruption
* Stop imposing sacrilegious acts on Hawaiian people

Health and Safety
* Medical Survey: Study past health effects. Illnesses spiked during the 1993 blowout: asthma attacks, miscarriages, seizures, and other health deficiencies
* Need for baseline studies on Lead, arsenic, asbestos in our aquifer and offshore waters
* Once a year monitoring is not sufficient. No underground monitoring. No data/monitor verified
* Purchase monitors ($25K each) from Geo Asset Fund
* February 2, 2012 Huge explosion at plant. Skyquake? Police and firefighters respond. Public had no access to plant
* 2000 Hazard and Chemical report. 11 years without another report. Nothing implemented from the report.
* The State has no authority to implement actions to mitigate hazards
* Environmental Justice: The State needs attention to activate E.J. when they receive complaints.
* After blowout in 1991 State hired investigative team to see what went wrong. Need for Status Updates on regular basis.
* Educate public what an environmental complaint issue is
* Well on top of Ainaloa: Are the taxpayers paying for this research?
* Stop growing this industry (geothermal) and create new and smaller generation in appropriate locations (distributed generation)
* Hydrogen Sulfide is heavier than air, does not rise quickly in atmosphere. Lingers and makes people sick
Geographic Location
* Location, location, location
* Need for buffer zones/setbacks. 10 miles away from residential area. Safety Zone
* Monitoring-Ground.
* Notification like Robo-call (auto dialer to area residents). Immediate online notification
* Create new locations that meet requirements in areas where power is most needed
* Water Table Quality. No chemicals should re-injected into aquifer. Constant testing of water quality after baseline study.
* Loss of Hot Pond possibility
* Need for studies on costs, dependability, and maintenance for underwater cable, transmission lines to Kona/Kohala

Alternatives
* More Solar and wind generation
* Cost of undersea cable could put solar on every house
* Utilize multiple sources, decentralize. Biomass, OTEC, wave, night energy collection panels, methane gas extraction from landfills and sewers, macnuts, bamboo, etc. as fuel, micro wind and hydro turbines
* Bank excess energy
* Conservation: Change wasteful behavior, use energy efficient bulbs and appliances
* Increase use of Solar Hot Water (only 30% now)
* Create Solar “Credit Unions” (Banks)
* Legislative changes needed: Building code changes. HELCO limiting solar photovoltaic use.
Political corruption/Secrecy
* Lack of transparency
* What are community rights?
* Secrecy-By whom? For whom?
* Why are true costs externalized? (internalized?)
* Community is not being involved in decision making . Process leaves community out.
* The “Forces” outside our community give us no input
* Statewide planning needed with everyone concerned
* Decentralized energy (distributed generation)
* Money, control, and power versus Environmental justice
* Ask the State to enforce sunshine laws
* Energy projects being exempted from EIS requirements in legislature
* Support publically funded elections
* Residents will suffer the consequences without input
* Government is failing to serve us
* Need Mock Emergency Drill (enough gas masks, emergency responders?)

(Steve Hirakami is the principal of Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences Public Charter School and a candidate for the newly created State Senate seat representing Puna.)

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