HILO, Hawaii: During the council’s long day on Thursday, a few bills pertaining geothermal energy were passed on first reading.
Bill 256, dealing with the geothermal royalties paid to the county by the Puna Geothermal Venture, will be renamed and redefined in order to facilitate the relocation of people living within one mile of the geothermal facility. Many of the residents living that close to the power plant say they have been suffering health problems and place the blame on the geothermal company. The bill will also allow expenditures for air quality monitoring equipment. The money will no longer be used for general community benefits, like paving roads and so forth…
The bill was given a narrow OK and advanced to the second reading. But not before Puna councilman Fred Blas tried to toss the bill back to committee, so that Puna Geothermal Venture could first give an informational presentation.
The attempt left fellow councilmembers baffled.
Angel Pilago, weighing in from Kona by video conference, was not present for the committee vote a few weeks back. He said that he initially did not support the bill, but changed his mind after the hours of public testimony. And his words for the Puna Geothermal were harsh.
The county also passed Bill 257 on first reading, which directs Civil Defense to prepare an emergency response and evacuation plan for each geothermal power production facility operating in the County. Obviously, only the one in Puna that fits that description at the moment. The plan must be submitted by August 1, 2012.
“I think we should relocate Puna Geothermal Venture. Relocate PGV, not our families. And if we’re unable to relocate PGV, then this council should consider supporting a cease and desist order, pending a comprehensive health survey.” – Angel Pilago, Hawaii County Councilman for District 8