HILO, Hawaii – Hawaii County Democrats debated the removal of a reference to geothermal energy in their party platform during the party convention held on Saturday, May 3rd, illustrating a deep divide in the political organization over the use of the resource on the Big Island.
For the most part, the platform’s section on “energy” reads the same as it has in recent years.
“We support energy independence and self-sufficiency,” platform chair Robbie Robertson read to the crowd, with a copy of the revised document in front of him, “first for Hawai‘i County and over time, statewide, through conservation and development of indigenous, sustainable, reliable, low cost alternative energy sources. We are committed to finding immediate and long term ways to reduce the high cost of electricity here on Hawai’i Island.”
But a proposed change to the platform would have eliminated the sentence, “including energy independence via geothermal as the base load carrier.” The removal of the line drew the applause of many in the crowd of delegates gathered at Sanga Hall that day.
Robertson continued to read from the platform, “we encourage government officials to require utilities to provide for the unlimited use of solar power.” Again, more applause.
The proposed removal drew heavy opposition from Democrats like Senator Malama Solomon, Patti Cook, and Greg Gauthier. In favor of the removal were Steve Sparks and Frankie Stapleton.
Ultimately, the delegates voted 58 to 28 in favor of retaining the language. For now – according to the official party platform, at least – Hawaii County Democrats are in favor of using geothermal energy to meet its goals for energy independence.