OHA mulls geothermal development


HILO — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs could be getting into the geothermal business.

OHA’s Board of Trustees today will discuss whether to partner with Honolulu-based Innovations Development Group as it seeks to win a contract for providing up to 50 megawatts of geothermal electricity to island residents.

That deal would come with an investment of $1.25 million in the new power plant, assuming that the Huena Power Consortium, set up by IDG to bid on the next geothermal contract with Hawaii Electric Light Co., beats the competition. As a part-owner, OHA would get a share of the revenue that could exceed 20 percent of its investment, which would help fund programs for Native Hawaiians, said Patricia Madina Talbert, a legal adviser to IDG.

That would be in addition to the 20 percent of geothermal royalties OHA already receives.

“They would be a partner in developing their own resource,” she said.

Madina Talbert said the trustees have shown support for the Hawaiian-owned company’s “Native-to-Native” model that is based around using natural resources to benefit indigenous populations.

Whether a final vote on the proposal will be held today remains to be seen.

The board has scheduled an executive session to discuss the matter with legal counsel. It may choose to make a decision afterward, said Garett Kamemoto, OHA spokesman.

That land owner is the Kealoha Estate, which has offered 406 acres in Pohoiki for IDG to develop if it wins the contract.