Puna Geothermal Venture plans to restart initial power generation in September. On Wednesday, company officials met with the community online.
In-person community outreach meetings were cancelled back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” said Michael Kaleikini, Ormat’s senior director of Hawaii Affairs, in a media release. PGV is an Ormat subsidiary. “We are thankful for the support of our community as we rebuild and prepare to relaunch our operations,” he added.
The online session including questions and answers from the community. Here are some notes from the session:
Most of the questions came from Cory Harden, who is a member of the Sierra Club Hawai’i Island Group (correction: the name “Moku Loa Group” has been changed to “Hawaiʻi Island Group”).
When asked about their emergency response plans, the PGV reps said they “have changed a few items” in the plan, but “as for plugging production and injection wells” and removing pentane, Hara said nothing has been changed since the eruption. “We followed everything to the T,” he said.
There are no plans for hydrogen production at the plant at this time, Hara said.
When Harden asked if PGV will do “enhanced geothermal, adding water to create steam”, Hara answered: “Nope, never have, and we do not intend to.”
Hara said PGV has not drilled a new injection well yet, but they are “looking at potentially one or two more in anticipation for our production.” Kaleikini said although there are new injection wells identified in the application for an underground injection control permit with the EPA, PGV “will only drill a new injection well when it’s needed.”
Kaleikini said PGV has all the permits necessary to restart the facility, however they “are going through a renewal for the injection wells with the EPA”. Existing permits are in force.
Prior to the eruption, PGV was re-injecting about 3,000 gallons per minute (gpm), Kaleikini said. Plant manager Hara added that it was equivalent to about 100 gpm per megawatt. When the plant restarts, they do not anticipate the re-injection rate will be much more than that. “It will be less”, Kaleikini said.
On noise mitigation, Hara and Kaleikini said PGV put up external sound blankets and uses sound walls on the production side. An acoustical engineer has been hired to do a survey, and when they get back to full production, PGV will do another sound survey.
When asked about the location of production well Kapoho State 18, or KS-18, Kaleikini said it is “to the east of well pad E, which is right next to KS-14.”
Work on KS-18 has been completed, they said. They are now working on KS-17.
Paul Kuykendall noted that PGV’s application refers to geological studies that are 30 years old, and asked how is that relevant after the lava flow? “We do not anticipate the geology to be any different than when we originally started operations here in 1991,” Kaleikini said, “and we’re basing that on the preliminary data that we have received from our new wells and the reworking of our existing production wells.”
Harden noted that the hearing on the renewal of the EPA UIC permit is October 7th.
Kaleikini said PGV does not have a waiver from competitive bidding, in answer to a question that was perhaps in reference to a recent Hawaiʻi Public Utilities decision regarding Hu Honua bioenergy in Pepeʻekeo.
When asked if PGV plans to do a new Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, Kaleikini answered: “We have not performed an EA or EIS, post lava eruption. We have looked into it in great detail, and our position at this time is that we will not be doing one.”