Geothermal energy in Hawaii

Geothermal energy is energy that comes from the heat that boils and burns in the interior of the earth, and Hawaii is sitting on an oven.

"It is the one resource that we should be relying on," said Robbie Cabral of Innovations Development Group.

The state’s lone geothermal energy plant in Puna on the Big Island produces only 30 megawatts of power. There’s a plan to boost the output.

But Cabral and co-worker Mililani Trask are confident a mother lode of geothermal energy is going untapped. Their opinion is based on research that pinpoints multiple hot spots on the Big Island and other islands.

"There’s other hot spots such as on the island of Maui, in the area of Ulupalakua, Kula, and Kahikinui. Also on the island of Oahu, believe it or not," Cabral said.

She said temperature studies show Waianae and Waimanalo have geothermal potential, with Waimanalo being more viable. IDG is encouraged that lawmakers are now looking seriously at geothermal.

"They now realize that they can work with the Hawaiian people to develop protections which can be turned into qualifications to ensure that geothermal is developed in a sustainable, clean way," Trask said.

IDG has told Hawaiian Electric it wants to explore three areas on the Big Island, if it’s granted a bid to pursue geothermal with the utility.

Other companies are also interested as the state tries to wean itself off fossil fuel. "Geothermal is here. It’s a vast, available resource. It is a resource that we should be contemplating for serious use to provide base load," Cabral said.

You have to bore deep into the earth to see if a hot spot can produce enough energy to drive electricity for the power grid. Scientific research shows that Hawaii could be sitting on a geothermal goldmine.

Jim Mendoza,