But Kilauea's activity ratcheted up considerably on May 3 after an quake rattled the region; lava began spilling from newly created fissures and spreading through neighborhoods, turning parts of the Big Island into disaster zones.
Lava destroyed a building near the plant, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to almost 50, including dozens of homes.
On Monday, lava entered and then stalled on the property of a geothermal plant near one of Kilauea's new volcanic vents.
Hawaii County Civil Defense's latest alert said that authorities were monitoring the situation at Puna Geothermal Venture. The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy demand. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.
But first of all, the Kilauea eruption began to pick up steam a few days ago, creating a new hazard of "toxic steam" as the red-hot rock interacts with the Pacific Ocean; and secondly, the lava changed direction.
The Puna district's geothermal plant has been closed since shortly after lava began erupting on May 3 through newly opened fissures in the ground running through neighborhoods and roads in an area near the community of Pahoa.
Clinton says it was "incredibly powerful and hot" and he went into shock. Doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks. The air, especially in the southern part of the island, is increasingly risky.
The latest explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at around 1 a.m. (6 a.m. EST) sent a plume of ash over Hawaii's Big Island, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported in a statement. Officials are concerned that "laze", a risky product produced when hot lava hits cool ocean water, will affect residents. Inland, where molten rock is burning through jungle, methane explosions are hurling boulders while toxic gas is reaching some of the highest levels seen in recent times.
Known as "laze" - a combination of the words "lava" and "haze", the plume occurs when molten lava flows into the ocean.
U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall says the volcano is belching 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each day from ground vents that have formed since May 3.