Geothermal Push Makes for Strange Bedfellows

Sophie Cocke/Civil Beat

A revival of interest in geothermal energy brought key players to Waimanalo on Saturday to address the heavily Native Hawaiian community on the benefits of the renewable energy source.

Business plans were pitched as speakers warned of a looming energy crisis due to the state’s 90 percent dependency on imported fossil fuels for its energy needs.

Why Waimanalo? Local residents are sitting on a potential hot spot for development.

It was an unorthodox assortment of speakers that gathered at Bellow’s Air Force Base — people who haven't always gotten along.

There was Scott Seu from Hawaiian Electric Co., and Richard Ha and Ted Peck of Kuokoa, the company plotting to take over HECO. There was Mililani Trask, who led protests back in the 1980s on the Big Island that chased out one geothermal company and caused a chilling effect on future development for the next 20 years. She’s now working to develop the resource. And then there was Mike Kaleikini from Puna Geothermal Venture, the only company that managed to get a stake in the ground in the midst of the local uproar.

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