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Geothermal development regulation bill amended

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The House Water and Land and the Energy and Environmental Protection Committees passed out an amended draft of SB2663, which establishes a framework to regulate geothermal resources development through a permitting process administered by the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the appropriate county authority.

Amendments to the measure includes language that would allow for public input, increased transparency, and maintains county home rule.

“The Big Island community has clearly expressed their desire for renewable energy and continue to ask why aren’t we developing more geothermal. This bill moves that discussion along and, if passed, will allow for public input on geothermal initiatives, give the counties the ability to get involved as a home rule issue, and will be very transparent at the beginning when they do the geothermal exploration so that everybody knows that they are involved in the discussion,” said Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), chairwoman of the Water and Land Committee.

The bill proposes to revise statutory provisions to include geothermal within the definition of a “renewable energy producer.” Act 97, SLH 2012 deleted the counties oversight of geothermal development.

This measure restores that authority to the Counties (for Agricultural, Rural and Urban Districts) and the Board of Land and Natural Resources retains authority over Conservation Districts.

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