First, a Civil Defense message went out over the airwaves on Saturday concerning the power plant. Residents were put on alert that the goethermal power plant would be starting up Saturday morning after a week-long shut down for maintenance.
The Hawaii Electric Light Company told us the outage had been planned for more than a year.
However, PGV had an unplanned shutdown on Sunday, raising concerns in the community that there could be a steam release. The incident sent Hawaii County fire and hazmat crews scrambling to the Pohoiki area.
August 26 newscast – PGV starts-up, shuts-down (story 1)
A command post was set up at the intersection of Kapoho Road and Pohoiki Road, right next to a vandalized stop sign that shows how some in the community feel about the industry.
Resident and activist Bob Petricci was out taking hydrogen-sulfide measurements with a handheld monitor. He didnt come across any readings in the area surrounding the power plant.
We spoke to plant manager Cliff Townsend who confirmed there was an unplanned shutdown. Townsend said no steam was released and that it seemed to him the shutdown was not related to Saturday’s startup procedure, but the company was going to have to look more closely at why the operation tripped off line. Townsend planned to have the plant restarted immediately.
The weekend of geothermal alerts comes on the heels of last week’s March on HELCO. Hundreds demonstrated outside the Hawaii Electric Light Company’s Hilo headquarters – many of whom journeyed from Pahoa by foot over the course of three days – to present a petition to president Jay Ignacio asking the utility to stop its plans to contract with a yet-to-be-determined producer for another 50 megawatts of geothermal power on Hawaii Island.
March on HELCO – Day Three