Video by David Corrigan
HILO, Hawaii – Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2953 at the Hilo Yacht Club on Tuesday. The new law provides that all royalties from geothermal resources on Hawaiian Home Lands shall be paid to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
“I hope (this bill) will act as an incentive and an urging to the PUC and to public opinion and opportunity to move forward on the incredible geothermal resources here on Hawaii Island.”Gov. Abercrombie – July 1, 2014
When the bill was first introduced in the legislature earlier this year, it proposed to give only twenty percent of geothermal royalties received by the State to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (with another twenty percent going to the county in which the geothermal resources are located). In March, after a request from DHHL chairperson Jobie Masagatani, Attorney General David M. Louie issued a Formal Opinion concluding that 100% percent of the royalties derived from geothermal resources development on Hawaiian home lands must be used for the benefit of native Hawaiians. Louie’s opinion also concluded that DHHL is the state entity authorized to manage geothermal resources on Hawaiian home lands.
“This bill is both a recognition of our obligations with respect to Hawaiian Homelands, and an incentive to develop geothermal to its full potential.”Gov. Abercrombie – July 1, 2014
During the ceremonial signing – which was attended by lawmakers and Hawaiian Home Lands commissioners and beneficiaries – the governor acknowledged the controversies that follow the development of geothermal energy on the Big Island.
“I realize that there’s discussion and interest and varying views with respect to how we utilize geothermal. But to use it at all – I hope that conversation can come to a quick conclusion. This is a resource that for the 21st century – in terms of alternative and renewable energy – probably is inexhaustible.”Gov. Abercrombie – July 1, 2014