Geothermal Geology Technician, Daniel Dores: A Day in the GeoLife Series

Daniel DoresNAME: Daniel Dores
CURRENT TITLE: Geothermal Geology Technician
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Environmental geochemistry, hydrology, renewable energy
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 3
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Geology at the College of William and Mary, with Environmental Science and Policy Minor.
Masters of Science in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
TWITTER NAME: @RootsandRocks

What’s your job like?
I work for the Hawai‘i Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center. We’re a research group nested within the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Our projects – both big and small – support the exploration and monitoring of Hawai‘i’s groundwater and geothermal resources. The research we do involves a mix of fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and a good deal of data analysis back in the office. We also get to partner with a wide variety of groups around the state with interests or research goals similar to our own.

Daniel DoresWhat’s a typical day like?
A typical day in the office usually involves some sort of technical writing, data analysis, and group meetings on collaborative projects. While each team member has their own project or series of projects on which they’re working, we like to work together as much as possible and get multiple researchers involved in a project. Between grant proposals, technical reports, and journal papers, we’re usually always in the midst of writing up some of our most recent results. During field campaigns, our days look very different. Most of our fieldwork is here in the state, although we do travel to the different islands. Our work includes geophysical surveys, groundwater sampling, rainfall collection, and even deep groundwater well drilling.

What’s fun?
The fun part of this job is getting to work on real projects that will have a lasting impact on Hawai‘i’s environment. We’re working to answer some of the biggest environmental questions the state is facing today related to its freshwater resources and energy production. Being a part of these solutions for Hawai‘i allows us to meet a lot of interesting people and have some really important discussions. And, when it comes to doing fieldwork, it’s hard to find a better location than Hawai‘i!

Daniel Dores collecting data out in the field
 

What’s challenging?
The most challenging part of this job is balancing our project workload, although time management is hardly a challenge unique to the earth sciences. What makes work in a research-based organization so tricky is balancing your current projects with the pursuit of new and innovative topics for the next phase of work for the team.

What’s your advice to students?
My advice to students is to be open to new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take charge of the direction in which you want your career to move. There are so many programs out there that students and young professionals can use to their advantage. Undergraduate and graduate studies present a great window of time for you to learn new things, try different positions, and learn what excites you the most. Once you find the direction that interests you, make the most of exploring those avenues and pursuing that opportunity.

“Geothermal Geology Technician, Daniel Dores @RootsandRocks: A Day in the GeoLife Series”
September 5, 2020, Sandie Will, Rock-Head Sciences
http://rockheadsciences.com/dores-geothermal/

Puna geothermal power primed for restart

Puna Geothermal Venture road kipuka
A road that was destroyed by a lava flow in 2018 was bulldozed by Puna Geothermal Venture in April 2019. The road now connects Kapoho residents to their properties and leads toward Puna Geothrmal.

Hawaii island’s geothermal power plant is slated to start producing electricity again by month’s end after prior delays to rebuild the facility that was partially destroyed by lava in 2018.

Puna Geothermal Venture announced the planned restart last week and also said it will host virtual community meetings to provide operational updates along with other information and to answer questions from the public.

The company, which canceled in-person meetings in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, has scheduled its first online meeting Wednesday followed by another one Nov. 11.

Meetings will be at punageothermalproject.com and start at 4 p.m.

Puna Geothermal Venture lava 2018 Kilauea eruption
Lava from Kilauea volcano flowed near Puna Geothermal Venture power plant in Pahoa on June 10, 2018.

The meetings also will be recorded and notes will be posted on the website along with continuing weekly project updates. Residents with questions or concerns may also call 369-9094.

PGV’s 38-megawatt power plant in Puna went offline in May 2018 when lava from Kilauea covered three out of several geothermal wellheads, monitoring wells, an electrical substation and a drilling rig in a warehouse. Lava also cut off road access to the plant and burned down transmission lines during the eruption that also claimed roughly 700 homes, farms and scenic recreational areas.

Since then, the company owned by Nevada-based Ormat Technologies Inc. has been working to restore operations. That work was delayed by permitting issues that pushed back prior expectations to resume power production by the end of last year. COVID-19 also hampered work.

OrmatBefore the shutdown, PGV was supplying 31% of electricity on Hawaii island. The company said it expects to restart energy production between the middle and end of this month, and gradually ramp up to produce 29 megawatts of power by the end of the year while work continues to restore more generation capacity.

Last month, Ormat reported that it had completed drilling two new production wells, though one was blocked after a flow test, and that more well drilling work would continue.

The company also intends to expand the plant’s 38-megawatt capacity by 8 megawatts in 2022.

Mike Kaleikini

PGV began operating in 1992 and has long been opposed by many nearby residents, in part because of concerns over potential release of hydrogen sulfide or other potentially dangerous volcanic gases.

Michael Kaleikini, Ormat’s senior director of Hawaii affairs, said the company is thankful for community support to restore operations and wants to keep area residents informed.

“We are happy to provide our community the opportunity to hear updates and give feedback in a safe format that respects shelter-at-home guidelines,” he said in a statement.

“Puna geothermal power primed for restart”
September 7, 2020, by Andrew Gomes, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/09/07/hawaii-news/puna-geothermal-power-primed-for-restart/?HSA=f7cb7e48ee14812deb15ded444e0b5e6d5b027a8

Director Nicole Lautze Awarded Tenure!

Nicole LautzeCongratulations to our Director Nicole Lautze for obtaining tenure! She serves as an Associate Researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), University of Hawaii at Manoa.

HIGP Director Robert Wright said, “She is one of our most dynamic faculty members, executing, and pursuing a range of big projects.

Dr. Lautze also serves as the Associate Director of the UH Water Resources Research Center and received the 2017 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Education Award. Dr. Lautze received her PhD in Geology & Geophysics from UH Manoa.

2018: Lava Eruption Disrupts the Puna Geothermal Venture

Our Director Dr. Nicole Lautze provided her expert insight in the 2018 eruption of Kilauea and Puna Geothermal Venture:

Dr. Nicole Lautze … hopes that people will appreciate the success of Ormat’s mitigation measures: “This eruption has shown that infrastructure on topographically high locations along Kilauea’s East Rift Zone can survive eruptions along the rift, and [that] the mitigation measures initiated by PGV/Ormat worked. More broadly, the eruption demonstrates that there will be value in finding geothermal across the state, including in locations less prone to natural hazards.”

… In order to meet [Hawaii’s 100% renewable standard goal] by the 2045 deadline, Dr. Lautze believes that more test wells are needed on other Hawaiian islands to determine viable locations for development: “Geothermal is the only viable baseload renewable energy source. There is a lot of talk about solar and storage here, but the fact is that issues with long-term storage remain. To me, geothermal is key.”

Click on the images below to enlarge the pages.

 

 

 

 

“Lava Eruption Disrupts the Puna Geothermal Venture”
July/August 2018 issue, Geothermal Resources Council Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 4
https://geothermal.org/PDFs/Articles/18JulyAug.pdf
https://www.geothermal-library.org/index.php?mode=pubs&action=view&record=1040006
By the GRC Student Committee (Michael Mathioudakis, Molly Johnson, Katie Huang, Jon Golla, and Theo Renaud)

Ormat reports Q2 2020 financial results

OrmatThe parent company of Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), Ormat Technologies released its financial results for the second quarter of 2020 with additional details on its business in an investor call. Reportedly, Ormat made significant progress to bring the Puna geothermal power plant on Hawaii online. Ormat’s updates on PGV during the investor call include the following:

PGV’s recent developments:

TNG Energy Services recently assisted with installing a new wellhead, centralizer, and pack-off at Puna Geothermal Venture.

As of August 2020, Ormat continue its efforts to recommission its Puna power plant. The Company obtained all necessary permits to start operation, completed the construction of the substation and connected a new production well to the power plant. We expect to resume commercial operation during the fourth quarter with gradual increase of generation to 29MW by the end of the year, subject to on time completion of the transmission line by HELCO and additional field recovery work.

The construction of the substation was completed by Ormat with the local utility HELCO as offtaker now having to complete their part for the grid connection, which is expected in Q3 2020. The drilling of two production wells was completed, while one well blocked after flow test, one is a successful well. Cleanout and drilling of new wells continues.

Initial power generation is now expected to begin in Q4 2020 with gradual operation of 29 MW by the end of the year, all under the assumption that transmission line upgrades and field recovery is successfully achieved.

Financial Highlight Regarding PGV:

… The Company recorded business interruption insurance income of $3.3 million related to the 2018 volcanic eruption in Hawaii, which netted to zero Puna’s cost of revenues and reduced general and administrative costs by $0.6 million; In the second quarter 2019, the Company recorded business interruption insurance income of $6.8 million that resulted in a positive gross margin of $1.8 million.

Comments by CEO Doron Blachar:

This was another solid quarter of strong execution led by the improved profitably of our Electricity segment. I am extremely proud of how our team is operating through the challenging COVID-19 environment and how we were able to successfully complete the enhancement of our 19MW Steamboat Hills complex on time and make significant progress to bring Puna back online by the end of the year.

Ormat reports Q2 2020 financial results and improved profitability for electricity segment
August 6, 2020, by Alexander Richter, ThinkGeoEnergy
https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/ormat-reports-q2-2020-financial-results-and-improved-profitability-for-electricity-segment/

HECo’s Earnings for 2nd Quarter of 2020

HECo logo Hawaiian Electric From HECo’s earnings conference call:

Last month, the commission approved our application to rebuild the Puna Geothermal Venture, or PGV, transmission line. This will allow us to bring PGV back on to our system under the existing PPA, while awaiting approval of our amended PPA.

“Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc (HE) Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript”
August 7, 2020, By Motley Fool Transcribers, The Motley Fool
https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2020/08/07/hawaiian-electric-industries-inc-he-q2-2020-earnin.aspx

Scientific Observation Hole

scientific observation hole
3/25/91 Liz bagging drilling fragments from SOH #2.

As part of our efforts to disseminate legacy data and preserve the history of geothermal energy in Hawaii, we made an information page about the Scientific Observation Hole (SOH):

A geothermal experiment proved that the Kilauea East Rift Zone held geothermal potential. From 1990 to 1991, the Scientific Observation Hole (SOH) program operated three geothermal test wells in Puna, Hawaii. The data showed that a ten-mile interval along the Kilauea East Rift Zone held favorable high temperatures.

This page contains a brief history of SOH and links to relevant reports and data.

Scientific Observation Hole
http://www.higp.hawaii.edu/hggrc/projects/geothermal-digital-collection/geothermal-collections/geothermal-topic-guides/geothermal-projects/scientific-observation-hole/

Diversifying Hawaii’s Economy

Kayte Jones, the author of the commentary

Hawaii local Kayte Jones suggests developing the local geothermal energy industry as a way to invest in our own communities, residents, and industries.

We should continue to attract tourists and profit from it, but we should not be completely dependent on it. It’s time to shift our focus. Don’t we have more to offer than the exploitation of our land, people and culture? Couldn’t we be a model of sustainability for the future through research of our unique ecosystem and climate? Through developments in agriculture and green energy like solar power, wind power, algae farms and geothermal energy? Couldn’t we be an educational destination through investment and development into our university system?

From Civil Beat: Manini Beach Park at Kealakekua Bay on the Kona side of Hawaii island. The Big Island lacks the infrastructure of Oahu, even though it needs help.

Hawaii’s climate also creates a unique opportunity for our state to be a model of sustainability via research and development into sustainable sources of energy, such as solar power, wind farms, geothermal and algae farms. The University of Hawaii is a land-, sea- and space- grant institution recognized as a research university. Investing in research and education can make Hawaii an educational destination.

Hawaii’s Unhealthy Relationship With Tourism
July 24, 2020, Kayte Jones, Civil Beat
https://www.civilbeat.org/2020/07/hawaiis-unhealthy-relationship-with-tourism/

PhD Student Diamond Tachera Presents at Goldschmidt Conference

Diamond Tachera Profile Picture Ike Wai
Our PhD student Diamond Tachera

Our PhD student Diamond Tachera presented at the Goldschmidt 2020 conference:

Research on Hawaiʻi’s freshwater resources by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate students was featured at a recent international conference. The students and research assistants with HawaiʻiEPSCoR‘s ʻIke Wai project presented their work at this year’s Goldschmidt 2020 conference.

ʻIke Wai from the Hawaiian words for “knowledge” and “water,” respectively, is a $20-million project to ensure Hawaiʻi’s future water security through an integrated program of research, education, community engagement and decision support.

The annual international scientific conference organized by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry was held virtually in June and covered several themes in geochemistry to include scientific observations in Hawaiʻi and Oceania related to climate change, coral reefs and water resources.

Diamond Tachera presentation Ike Wai GoldschmidtThree PhD candidates from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology’s Department of Earth Sciences discussed their work through the ʻIke Wai project, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct research to understand Hawaiʻi’s aquifers.

Trista McKenzie, a Hawaiʻi Data Science Institute Data Science Fellow alumni, presented a deep learning model that accurately predicts submarine groundwater discharge off of Hawaiʻi Island’s Kona coast and discussed the benefits of pairing field-based measurements with big-data-driven approaches.

Goldschmidt 2020 Conference LogoBrytne Okuhata discussed a multitracer approach using radiocarbon and chlorofluorocarbons to determine fresh groundwater ages on the west side of Hawaiʻi Island. The data will be used to understand the aquifer system and to enhance their water model’s predictive capabilities allowing for better management of groundwater resources.

Diamond Tachera discussed groundwater geochemistry results from the Hualālai aquifer, located on the western side of Hawaiʻi Island. Tachera discussed how a data-driven method for a better understanding of subsurface properties is needed.

Data is currently available from the ʻIke Wai project with more data added regularly.

(NSF Award OIA #1557349)

Ike Wai Logo

The Abstract for Diamond’s Presentation
https://goldschmidt.info/2020/abstracts/abstractView?id=2020003212

Hawai‘i’s water security focus of UH student research
July 17, 2020, University of Hawaii News
https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/07/17/hawaii-water-security-student-research/ 

UH grad student earns Department of Defense fellowship

Ted Brennis checks a rain collector.

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate student and Hawaiʻi EPSCoR ʻIke Wai research assistant has been awarded the Department of Defense (DoDScience Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-ServiceTed Brennis is pursuing his master’s degree in Earth and planetary science.

“It’s a really cool fellowship and I’m really excited about it,” said Brennis.

The SMART program supports scholars in leading STEM fields that are in high demand by the U.S. government. SMART Scholars work within DoD labs and agencies that include Army, Navy and Air Force sponsor facilities, which impact national security and support the warfighter. Scholarship winners receive full tuition, monthly stipends, health insurance, book allowances and summer internships.

Ted Brennis, left works with Jeff Hesmbree of Koʻolau Mountain Watershed Partnership.

Brennis, who is also a U.S. Army veteran, began his research with Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology Associate Specialist Nicole Lautze. Lautze, who leads the ʻIke Wai geochemistry team, recruited Brennis to work on analyzing precipitation and spring samples on Oʻahu.

“I love [fieldwork]. I lucked out,” said Brennis. “Now I get to go out and collect data that is relevant and needed for a lot of water managers.”

Brennis manages 17 rain collectors across Oʻahu, including remote locations such as Kaʻala, the highest peak on the island. Collecting samples can involve 10-hour days with an 11-mile hike out and back from where precipitation collectors are located. Brennis who describes those kinds of days in the field as grueling, also admits that seeing the data that results from the collection is satisfying.

Incorporating data science

Ted Brennis travels by helicopter with KMWP to a remote area of Koʻolau mountains to service collector.

Hailing from Fayetteville, N.C., Brennis completed undergraduate studies at UH Mānoa following his military service. Brennis says data science is one of his favorite parts of research. He names School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Professor Neil Frazier as a mentor and attributes some of the knowledge he gained in scientific programming as a factor in being a competitive candidate for the scholarship.

“I use it in every class and every lab…it helps to visualize data and understand trends,” said Brennis.

The SMART Scholarship supports Brennis throughout the remainder of his graduate program. In addition, Brennis will complete a summer internship as a part of the SMART program, as well as serve as a federal employee upon completion of his degree.

As a husband and father, Brennis is focused on taking care of his family, completing his degree and is looking forward to learning more as an environmental scientist. He also looks forward to supporting the U.S. military’s mission and being a good custodian of the environment.

“UH grad student earns Department of Defense fellowship”
By Maria Dumanlang, University of Hawaii News
https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/04/24/brennis-dod-fellowship/

PGV reboot delayed again

OrmatCommercial operations at Puna Geothermal Venture are expected to begin in the fourth quarter, said parent company Ormat Technologies Inc. on Monday as part of a first-quarter earnings update.

Hawaii’s only geothermal power plant was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the facility.

PGV officials hoped the plant would be operational by the end of 2019 and could sell electricity early in 2020, but the facility experienced some equipment problems when attempting to come back online, and the startup was postponed.

During an earnings call Monday, Ormat CEO Isaac Angel said permits required for the construction and operation of the substation were received.

Two production wells also were drilled. While one was blocked after its flow test, Angel said the second is ready to be connected to the power plant and is expected to enable partial production as soon as transmission lines are rebuilt.

Hawaiian Electric is seeking to reconstruct two segments of its 69-kilovolt overhead transmission lines that are approximately 1 mile long and 1.5 miles long, according to the application filed with the state Public Utilities Commission in June 2019.

The matter is still before the PUC.

Additional field recovery work, such as cleaning out existing wells and drilling new ones, is continuing, Angel said.

“Currently, we expect (a) gradual increase of production to 29 megawatts by the end of the year, assuming all permits are received, transmission network upgrade is completed and field recovery (is) successfully achieved.”

Angel said, too, that all insurers accepted and started paying for the cost to rebuild the destroyed substation, while only some of Ormat’s many insurers are paying for business interruption coverage.

As of March 31, the company had received $27.8 million from its insurance providers for property damage and business interruption.

One insurer, however, rejected Ormat’s claim for business interruption coverage, and the company filed suit against that insurer.

Ormat contends the suit won’t impact its plans for restarting the Puna facility.

PGV reboot delayed again
By Stephanie Salmons, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Wednesday, May 13, 2020

PGV reboot delayed again

Ingrid Suter’s Senior Thesis

Student Ingrid SuterOur student Ingrid Suter will be presenting her senior thesis tomorrow, Thursday, May 14, 11 am, online via Zoom. For non-UH viewers, email earth-dept@soest.hawaii.edu for access to this presentation.

Title: Geoelectric data acquisition and modeling of dynamic hydrogeologic systems in Hawai‘i

Abstract: Dynamic hydrogeologic systems were studied in Hawai‘i on the islands of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. The dynamic systems studied include a coastal salt making pond on the Island of Kaua‘i, a leeward stream valley on the Island of O‘ahu, and the possibility of contamination in a basalt ridge/sediment valley interface. My objective has been to investigate these systems by the use of self-potential (SP) time series, 3D electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and numerical modeling of electric resistivity in a model of contamination in a valley ridge. The combined research demonstrates how geoelectric data acquisition and modeling can be interwoven to help answer questions individual methods could not answer on their own.

About Ingrid: An undergraduate Earth Sciences student, Ingrid has been helping HGGRC with groundwater chemistry research. She has been collecting rain samples from valleys on Oahu, sometimes hiking on steep terrain, and preparing lab supplies.

Ingrid, thanks for your contributions to HGGRC, and congratulations on your senior thesis!

TNG Energy Services at Puna Geothermal Venture

geothermal wellhead
Photo credit: TNG Energy Services

A geothermal industrial service company, TNG Energy Services recently assisted with installing equipment at Puna Geothermal Venture: “We recently helped install a new wellhead, centralizer, and pack-off on a geothermal well in Hawaii.” 

Photo credit: TNG Energy Services

Based in Bakersfield, California, TNG Energy Services provides geothermal products and services for industry.

 

2018 Kilauea Eruption at the 2020 GRC Meeting

geothermal resources council meeting linkedin kilauea eruption 2018This year’s GRC Annual Meeting is planning a special session on the 2018 Kīlauea, Hawai’i Volcano eruption. We got this news from Patrick Walsh, an Ormat vice president for geothermal resource and GRC board member. The 2020 Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting is scheduled for October 18-21 in Reno, Nevada (subject to change due to the coronavirus).

https://reno2020.mygeoenergynow.org/about

Kilauea 2018 eruption lava flow

Geothermal Resources Council Logo GRC

PGV restart pushed back to second half of 2020

Ormat Technologies Inc. is continuing its efforts to resume operation of Puna Geothermal Venture, company leaders said Wednesday during a fourth-quarter and 2019 year-end earnings update.

Isaac Angel, CEO of Ormat, the company that owns PGV, said the Puna plant is expected to restart operations in the second half of 2020, “due to a delay in a building permit that was received just last week.”

PGV, the state’s only geothermal power plant, was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant.

PGV officials had hoped the plant would be operational by the end of 2019 and could sell electricity early in 2020, but the plant experienced some equipment problems when attempting to come back online, and the startup was postponed.

OrmatAccording to a presentation posted on Ormat’s website, permits that have been required for the construction and operation of the substation were recently obtained.

Initial testing is expected to occur during the second quarter of the year. The company hopes the plant will be operating at full capacity by the third quarter, assuming all other permits are received, ongoing efforts to upgrade overhead transmission lines are completed, and the field recovery is successful.

HELCO, which is transitioning to the name Hawaiian Electric, is seeking to reconstruct two segments of its 69-kilovolt transmission line that are approximately 1 mile long and 1.5 miles long, according to the application filed with the state Public Utilities Commission in June 2019.

The matter is still before the PUC.

Additionally, all property insurers have accepted Ormat’s claims and are paying the cost to rebuild items damaged in the eruption, including the substation, according to Wednesday’s presentation.

Certain insurers, however, have rejected claims for business interruption coverage, and Ormat has filed suit against those insurers.

Ormat contends that these suits won’t impact plans to restart PGV.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, Ormat’s total insurance claim was $68 million, of which the company has received $21.2 million.

PGV restart pushed back to second half of 2020
Thursday, February 27, 2020, by Stephanie Salmons, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/02/27/hawaii-news/pgv-restart-pushed-back-to-second-half-of-2020/

Energy Week 2020 at Kyushu University

Nicole Lautze at Energy Week 2020, Kyushu UniversityOur director Nicole Lautze participated in an energy symposium at Kyushu University. An invited speaker, Nicole presented “Overview of Geothermal in Hawaii” and contributed to the discussion “Sustainable Energy Visions for Asia-Pacific” at Energy Week 2020, Q-PIT Annual Symposium.

Energy Week, an annual conference, focuses on “future energy” and features workshops, symposia, lectures from energy researchers, as well as public events that attract experts from academia, industry and government. The five-day conference promotes sustainable energy research.

Energy Week 2020, Q-PIT Annual Symposium, took place in January 2020 at Fukuoka, Japan.

Nicole Lautze Energy Week 2020 Kyushu University

GRC Bulletin: HGP-A: Hawaii’s First Successful Geothermal Well

Geothermal Resources Council GRC Council Magazine coverThe Geothermal Resources Council Bulletin featured HGGRC’s article: “Geothermal Well HGP-A: Hawaii’s First Successful Geothermal Well.” HGGRC got the photographs from The Geothermal Collection and HGGRC’s photo collection. To read the article, click on the images below or click on the pdf link below and go to pages 56-59.

Many thanks to Ian Crawford and the Geothermal Resources Council for publishing our article!

Geothermal Well HGP-A: Hawaii’s First Successful Geothermal Well
Geothermal Resources Council Bulletin, July/August 2019, P. 56-59
https://geothermal.org/PDFs/Vol48No4_JulyAugust_FINAL_Low_Res.pdf  

 

 

HELCo’s Reports about Puna Geothermal Venture’s Efforts to Go Back Online

Ormat logo Puna Geothermal VentureThe Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCo) has been writing quarterly reports with updates on Puna Geothermal Venture’s (PGV) efforts to go back online. Since June 2019, HELCo has been submitting them to the Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and the reports described the statuses of the following:

  • Permits necessary for operation
  • Negotiations for a restated purchase power agreement
  • Rebuilding transmission lines and the Pohoiki switching station
  • HELCo logo Hawaii Electric Light CompanyTest energy
  • Community outreach

You can view the quarterly reports at the PUC website.

PUC SENDS RESPONSE LETTER TO HELCO REGARDING HELCO-PGV REBUILD AGREEMENT
Public Utilities Commission, State of Hawaii
https://puc.hawaii.gov/news-release/puc-sends-response-letter-to-helco-regarding-helco-pgv-rebuild-agreement/

Job Openings at Puna Geothermal Venture

OrmatPuna Geothermal Venture is recruiting to fill these positions:

For more information, go to Ormat’s career site: https://www.ormat.com/en/company/careers/main/

HGGRC is neither affiliated with, nor is funded by, Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) or Ormat. 

HELCO seeks OK to rebuild transmission lines to PGV

OrmatA public hearing regarding Hawaii Electric Light Co.’s application to construct portions of overhead transmission lines that will reconnect Puna Geothermal Venture to the HELCO grid will be held next week in Pahoa.

The state Public Utilities Commission will hold the hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-3022 Kauhale St.

Statements may also be mailed to the Public Utilities Commission, 465 S.King St., Room 103, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, or emailed to hawaii.PUC@hawaii.gov. Written statements should reference docket No. 2019-0119.

PGV, the state’s only geothermal power plant, was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant.

Mike Kaleikini

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director, Hawaii affairs, said the 2018 eruption also covered several of the poles and transmission lines that connected PGV to the grid.

While the application to rebuild was initiated by the utility, Kaleikini said that “in order for PGV to export power and return back to full capacity, these transmission lines are required.”

Under a rebuild agreement between the two entities, HELCO, which is transitioning to the name Hawaiian Electric, will reconstruct two segments of its 69-kilovolt transmission line that are approximately 1-mile-long and 1.5-miles-long, according to the application filed in June 2019.

The utility had requested the application be approved by Oct. 15, 2019.

The docket, however, was suspended by the PUC in August, pending additional information regarding project permits and a renegotiated power purchase agreement between the two companies.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the electric utility was seeking the approval of an amended purchase agreement with PGV that will, among other things, de-link the cost of power from the price of oil.

In a November letter to the PUC, Kaleikini wrote that all permits required to operate the facility remain in effect, and no additional permits are needed to resume operations.

The PUC resumed the docket on Dec. 31.

PGV had previously anticipated returning to operation by the end of 2019, Kaleikini said Wednesday, but it experienced some equipment problems when attempting to come back online, and the startup was postponed.

The target now is sometime in the first quarter of this year, he said.

HELCO seeks OK to rebuild transmission lines to PGV
Thursday, January 23, 2020, by Stephanie Salmons, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/01/23/hawaii-news/helco-seeks-ok-to-rebuild-transmission-lines-to-pgv/

DLNR’s Geothermal Report to the Hawaii State Legislature

DLNR Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources logoDLNR submitted its report about geothermal development in Hawaii to the Hawaii State Legislature. This yearly report covers the royalties DLNR receives from geothermal energy in Hawaii and the status of developing the interisland cable transmitting geothermal energy. Formally known as the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, DLNR manages geothermal development in Hawaii.

More information about the report: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=DC&billnumber=63&year=2020

DLNR Geothermal Legislature DLNR Geothermal LegislatureDLNR Geothermal Legislature

The Women in Geothermal Campaign Featured Nicole Lautze

Nicole Lautze Women in GeothermalOur Director Nicole Lautze was featured in the Women in Geothermal campaign by the Geo Energy Marketing Services:

We continue our celebration of Women in Geothermal with a spotlight on Dr. Nicole Lautze, Director and Faculty Researcher / Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Dr. Lautze’s full quote is both inspiring and frustrating to know gender inequality is still so prevalent. We applaud and support Dr. Lautze in all that she’s doing for geothermal and women in geothermal / STEM.

“My passion for geothermal is derived from my fundamental concern for the planet. It has been an honor to lead the 5-yr-long Hawaii Play Fairway project, a statewide geothermal resource assessment, which includes a team of 5 male co-investigators and a number of both male and female students and employees. I enjoy working amongst bright and excited colleagues at all levels. Without intentionally setting out to be a champion of gender equality in geothermal and/or STEM, the gender-oriented roadblocks I have (and continue to) face(d) in my academic career are substantial. I am pulling for a sustainable planet and significant progress on gender equity into the future…”

Thank you for participating in our Women in Geothermal campaign Dr. Lautze. Your work is very important for our industry.

If you would like to participate in this campaign or know of someone who should be highlighted in this effort, then contact us in the comments below or DM us with questions.

Many thanks to Patrick Hanson and the Geo Energy Marketing Services for featuring Nicole!

Improved geothermal plant to offer more power at lower cost, PGV says

PGV
Puna Geothermal Venture

A Hawaii island geothermal power plant knocked offline in 2018 by lava from Kilauea aims to produce more electricity and at a lower cost under a new agreement subject to regulatory approval.

Puna Geothermal Venture has agreed to sell electricity from a restored and enlarged plant to Hawaiian Electric at a reduced price that would save a typical residential customer $7.50 to $13 a month a few years from now, according to Hawaiian Electric.

The proposed new power purchase contract was submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 31. Commissioners are tasked with deciding whether to approve the contract as is or with possible changes following a public hearing and input from the state Consumer Advocate.

Under the proposed new contract, PGV would increase its electricity production capacity to 46 megawatts from 38 megawatts. This increase would mean that 68% of electricity on Hawaii island would come from renewable energy sources. That compares with 31% currently and 63% right before PGV was knocked offline.

After the loss of electricity from PGV in May 2018, Hawaiian Electric turned to more production from oil.

PGV has had a contract with Hawaiian Electric since it began operating in 1992, and the geothermal plant in Puna owned by Nevada- based Ormat Technologies Inc. is paid the same price for power that oil-based producers receive. This contract doesn’t expire until 2027, and exists in contrast with renewable-energy producers including solar and wind farms that have been developed in recent years with contracts to sell power at fixed prices typically below the cost of oil-based production.

Last year the PUC suggested to Hawaiian Electric in a letter that an amended power purchase contract competitive with current renewable-energy prices should be part of any resumed PGV operations.

“If PGV does come back online, it should be under circumstances that take advantage of this opportunity to benefit (Hawaii island) ratepayers by lowering the costs of the (power purchase agreement),” the commission’s May 9 letter said.

Ormat had been seeking to expand PGV before the 2018 eruption, and as part of that effort was discussing an amended power purchase contract. But the PUC had some leverage to encourage an amended contract because rebuilding transmission lines to the PGV plant was necessary for PGV to resume energy production, and new transmission lines are subject to a public hearing and PUC approval.

The geothermal plant has long been controversial and opposed by many nearby residents, but PGV anticipates that it can get PUC approval and rebuild its destroyed infrastructure to resume energy production later this year.

As proposed, the amended power purchase contract would take effect in 2022, when upgrades to the plant are done, and run until 2052.

Hawaiian Electric said a typical residential bill should drop by about $7.50 a month starting in 2022 and by almost $13 a month in 2023 under the proposed contract amendment compared with current electricity rates.

Currently, a monthly bill for a typical Hawaii island customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity is about $182. Hawaiian Electric has to pay PGV about 16 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity under its current contract, and this would drop to between 11 and 13 cents depending on volume under the proposed new contract.

“We thank our regulators for the opportunity to revisit the agreement and find solutions that will reduce customer bills,” Sharon Suzuki, president of Hawaiian Electric’s Hawaii island utility subsidiary, said in a statement. “The pricing of renewables has dropped significantly in recent years. The owners of PGV recognize that and we appreciate their willingness to sit down and work with us on an amended contract that benefits customers and accelerates our transition to 100 percent renewable energy.”

Isaac Angel, chief executive of Ormat, said in a statement that the company is proud to partner with Hawaiian Electric and further clean energy production that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Hawaiian Electric said the additional 8 megawatts of power proposed by PGV would reduce the need to burn about 160 million gallons of oil over the life of the amended contract.

Improved geothermal plant to offer more power at lower cost, PGV says
January 4, 2020, by Andrew Gomes, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/01/04/hawaii-news/improved-geothermal-plant-to-offer-more-power-at-lower-cost-pgv-says/?HSA=fe6edf2024d595ac1cead6fdf0dd51c242ba4537

Hawaiian Electric, Puna Geothermal Venture reach new agreement to reduce cost, expand output

PGV Puna Geothermal Venture
Puna Geothermal Venture

Hawaiian Electric and Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) have reached agreement on an amended contract that will significantly lower electric bills on Hawaii Island, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the island’s renewable portfolio standard to nearly 70 percent.

The amended power purchase agreement was filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Dec. 31, 2019 for its review and approval.

An added benefit of the new contract is the upgrade of the 38-megawatt geothermal facility to produce an additional 8 megawatts of firm, lower-cost renewable energy, further reducing bills and the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Once the upgrade is completed, typical residential bills are expected to drop about $7.50 a month starting in 2022 and close to $13 a month in 2023, based on current prices.

An important element of the amended contract is that the rate paid by the utility to PGV will be fixed and no longer be linked to the price of oil. By eliminating the volatility of oil prices from the rate paid to PGV, the new fixed-price contract will ensure that bills are more stable. This new pricing arrangement follows guidance provided by the PUC.

“We thank our regulators for the opportunity to revisit the agreement and find solutions that will reduce customer bills,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Hawaiian Electric’s Maui County and Hawaii Island utilities. “The pricing of renewables has dropped significantly in recent years. The owners of PGV recognize that and we appreciate their willingness to sit down and work with us on an amended contract that benefits customers and accelerates our transition to 100 percent renewable energy.”

The PGV facility in Puna, which began operations in 1992, has been shut down since the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in May 2018. Currently, power production from oil-fired generators has been expanded to make up for the loss of the PGV facility.

In June 2019, Hawaiian Electric’s subsidiary, Hawaii Electric Light, filed an application with the PUC to rebuild two transmission lines that would reconnect PGV to the grid. In August 2019, the commission suspended the proceeding and gave PGV and the utility until Dec. 31 to provide information regarding an amended agreement.

Assuming the transmission line construction is approved and other repairs are completed on schedule, PGV expects to resume operations in 2020. The loss of PGV has increased electric bills by about $2 a month.

“We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Hawaiian Electric and Hawaii Electric Light and are grateful for its support of geothermal power,” said Isaac Angel, chief executive of Ormat Technologies, Inc., the owner of PGV. “We are proud to partner with Hawaiian Electric and enable Hawaii’s commitment to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As Hawaii continues to pursue the goal of achieving 100 percent of its electricity generation from renewable sources, PGV is an increasingly critical source of renewable energy and capacity, unaffected by volatile fossil fuel pricing, in this region.”

All of the repairs, including rebuilding the transmission lines and the switching station that ties PGV into the grid, are being done at no cost to utility customers.

The existing contract between Hawaiian Electric and PGV expires in 2027 and remains in place until it is succeeded by the amended contract when the upgrade is completed in 2022. The proposed amended contract would expire in 2052.

Until the eruption, Hawaii Island led the state in renewable energy production. If the amended contract is approved, once the additional 8 megawatts of firm power come online Hawaii Island’s renewable energy total will be close to 70 percent.

The plant’s additional production will also displace about 160 million gallons of oil over the life of the contract, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hawaiian Electric, Puna Geothermal Venture reach new agreement to reduce cost, expand output
Hawaii Electric Light Company, January 3, 2020
https://www.hawaiielectriclight.com/hawaiian-electric-puna-geothermal-venture-reach-new-agreement-to-reduce-cost-expand-output

HELCO seeks new power agreement with PGV

Sharon Suzuki

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is seeking approval of an amended power purchase agreement with Puna Geothermal Venture, according to documents filed Tuesday with the state Public Utilities Commission.

“Among other benefits, the amended and restated PPA is expected to result in significant cost savings for Hawaii Electric Light’s customers,” according to the filing.

“We’re thankful to our regulators for the opportunity to revisit the agreement and find solutions that ultimately lower customer bills,” Sharon Suzuki, president, Maui County and Hawaii Island Utilities, said in a Hawaiian Electric news release. “The pricing of renewables has dropped significantly in recent years. The owners of PGV recognize that, so we appreciate their willingness to sit down and work with us on an amended contract that benefits customers and accelerates our transition to 100% renewable energy.”

HELCO asked that the PUC approve the PPA early this year, stating in the filing it would provide “significant benefits,” including lower bills for customers, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and a “reduction in customers’ exposure to fossil fuel price volatility,” among others.

Under the new agreement, the rate paid by the utility to PGV will be fixed and no longer linked to the price of oil.

By eliminating the volatility of oil prices from the rate paid to PGV, the new fixed-price contract will ensure that bills are more stable, the news release stated. This new pricing arrangement follows guidance provided by the PUC.

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director, Hawaii affairs, told the Tribune-Herald in May that PGV was interested in de-linking the cost of power from oil to provide more certainty about its revenue, and that the parties entered those talks before the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano began.

The state’s only geothermal power plant was isolated by lava during the eruption. Lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant. It was otherwise spared significant damage in the eruption that began May 3, 2018, in lower Puna.

PGV officials said recently they hoped the plant would be operational by the end of 2019 and could sell electricity early in 2020.

Under the existing power purchase agreement, PGV provides HELCO with up to 38 megawatts of energy and capacity, the filing states.

As part of the amended agreement, PGV has agreed to modify its current facility to provide an additional eight megawatts of energy and firm capacity, which will further reduce bills and the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Once the upgrade is complete, residential bills are expected to drop about $7.50 a month starting in 2022 and close to $13 a month in 2023, according to the news release.

“We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Hawaiian Electric and Hawaii Electric Light and are grateful for its support of geothermal power,” Isaac Angel, chief executive of Ormat Technologies Inc., the owner of PGV, said in the release. “We are proud to partner with Hawaiian Electric and enable Hawaii’s commitment to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As Hawaii continues to pursue the goal of achieving 100 percent of its electricity generation from renewable sources, PGV is an increasingly critical source of renewable energy and capacity, unaffected by volatile fossil fuel pricing, in this region.”

The existing agreement expires in 2027 and will remain in place until it is succeeded by the amended agreement when PGV’s upgrade is complete in 2022.

The amended and restated PPA would expire Dec. 31, 2052.

A phone call to Kaleikini was not immediately returned Thursday.

HELCO seeks new power agreement with PGV
By Stephanie Salmons, Friday, January 3, 2020, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2020/01/03/hawaii-news/helco-seeks-new-power-agreement-with-pgv/