PGV gets OK for new wells

  • Mike Kaleikini

Applications from Puna Geothermal Venture for two new geothermal wells have been approved, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources confirmed Wednesday.

According to a DLNR spokesman, one permit was approved on Aug. 9. The second permit was approved Monday.

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Drilling can start drilling Sept. 20.

The permits required approval from DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case.

But permit approval doesn’t mean that work on new wells will necessarily commence.

The applications were a contingency as PGV assessed wells covered by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii affairs, said Wednesday the new wells are still under consideration.

“There’s work to do before we can be firm on the decision making,” he said.

In addition to the permits, Kaleikini said there are more notifications and discussions that need to take place.

PGV will host a community meeting in Pahoa next month, and by that time, “we will definitely have information we will be able to share with the community in general,” he said.

The PGV community meeting is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-0322 Kauhale St.

According to Kaleikini, permits are usually valid for one year.

PGV is allowed to build as many as 28 wells under a plan of operation approved in 2006.

It currently has 11 wells — five for injection and six for production — that range in depths of 4,000 feet and 8,000 feet.

The 38-megawatt plant produced 31 percent of the island’s power and about half of its renewable energy in 2017.

The well permit applications were filed in April and came as PGV, the state’s only geothermal power plant, moves to resume operations after being isolated by lava flows from last year’s Kilauea eruption.

The applications were reviewed and returned to PGV with comments in early June before they were resubmitted to DLNR for consideration.

“We continue to do assessments of our wells, and that’s going to be ongoing,” Kaleikini said. “There’s a lot more work to do. We still plan to be online by the end of the year. We want to be operational before year-end. That hasn’t changed.”

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PGV also is focused on safety and “just want to express our full commitment to HELCO and Hawaii Island … .”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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