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Hawaii Geothermal Workers Join IBEW


June 22, 2012

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Local 1260 Business Representative Michael Brittain (left) meets with a Puna Geothermal Employee after workers voted to join Honolulu IBEW Local 1260

Workers at the Puna Geothermal Venture in Hawaii tap into the island’s deep reservoirs of hot water and steam to deliver clean, renewable energy to Aloha State residents.

Now they are tapping into the power of the IBEW to win better wages and working conditions.

In May, the majority of the 20-person unit voted for representation by Honolulu Local 1260, giving workers in one of Hawaii’s fastest growing energy sectors a new voice in this increasingly vital industry.

Says Local 1260 Business Manager Brian Ahakuelo:

This is an important victory for our local union and the IBEW as a whole. Geothermal energy is an emerging and critical component in the move towards green energy.

Hawaii began geothermal exploration back in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that Puna Geothermal Venture went online, delivering a regular stream of clean energy to the Hawaii Electric Light Company.

And with a state mandate that 20 percent of electricity generated from public utilities come from renewable resources by 2020, geothermal’s growth potential is huge, says Ahakuelo.

It’s the future of energy on the island, and now the IBEW is part of it.

The plant’s workers drill wells deep into the ground to bring deposits of steam and hot water to the surface that can be used to generate electricity. The Puna plant currently fulfills a fifth of Hawaii Island’s energy needs.

 And a pending bill before the Hawaii legislature would give a further boost to geothermal.

As reported by AtisSun.com:

“The search to find a reliable clean energy source to displace oil demand is a must for the state, says state Sen. Malama Solomon, who is sponsoring the geothermal senate bills (2001 and 3003). While the state has already invested millions in solar energy tax credits, Solomon argues that Hawaii needs to focus more on geothermal which will bring down oil dependence and save the state billions in costs.

Says Ahakuelo:

As the best-trained and most experienced energy workers in the country, the IBEW has a vital role in building Hawaii’s renewable energy future, making sure green jobs are good jobs.

The local is negotiating a first contract.