Tuesday | April 25, 2017
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Rep. proposes shift in funding use

A Big Island lawmaker is proposing the state direct Hawaii County’s share of geothermal royalties to schools near Puna Geothermal Venture.

The county receives approximately $600,000 a year for its share of Hawaii’s geothermal royalties.

Currently, that’s deposited into a fund mainly used to relocate homeowners who want to move away from PGV.

But Rep. Mark Nakashima thinks that money could be better used to subsidize the energy costs of schools in the same district, or complex areas, as geothermal power plants. PGV is the only existing geothermal plant.

“I think that the people in the Puna area have not been really seeing the benefit of having Puna geothermal in their backyard …,” said Nakashima, D-Hamakua, Hilo.

The bill would also end the county’s relocation program.

The county has relocated five since the program was introduced in 1996. During the last few years, the number of requests ballooned, and there are 29 on the waiting list.

Nakashima said he would seek to get the state to cover those relocations if the bill moves forward.

It has to be reviewed by four committees, which significantly limits its chances of passing, he said.

The legislation, HB 1970, has six other sponsors, all from the Big Island.


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