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Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 11:44 AM HST

Big Island geothermal power expansion on hold

By Associated Press

HILO, Hawaii (AP) An effort to expand geothermal power on the Big Island is on hold.

Hawaii-Tribune Herald reports Hawaii Electric Light Co. is putting the brakes on the expansion plan after an independent observer criticized the utility for lacking sufficient planning.

The state Public Utilities Commission assigned Boston Pacific Co. to be the independent observer. In a letter to the PUC, Boston Pacific says HELCO was "putting the cart before the horse."

Boston Pacific says HELCO should study whether there's a need for the project and identify alternatives.

That's prompting HELCO to wait until a power supply improvement plan is completed before moving forward with the effort to seek up to 50 megawatts of additional geothermal power. The plan is expected to be completed by April 21.

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