Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016

Solar farms at Miloli`i that dwarf a home in the background show what may occur in Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos if a proposed project is built there. Photo by Peter and Ann Bosted
HAWAI`I PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION holds a public meeting tomorrow to collect testimony on an application by Hawai`i Electric Light Co. to build a substation and a high-voltage overhead line at the entrance to Ranchos subdivision in Ocean View. The hearing is mandated because the line will go through a residential neighborhood.
      The meeting is expected to draw a large crowd of Ocean View residents who are angry that this industrial project is planned for 17 three-acre lots in Ranchos, eight lots in undeveloped Kona South and one in Kula Kai. The developer, SPI Solar, was able to get permits under the utliity’s feed-in-tariff program to install 6.75 megawatts of power-generating arrays on lots interspersed with homes.
         According to Ranchos resident Ann Bosted, the law was intended to benefit farmers and ranchers with poor agricultural land by allowing them to build solar installations without having to go through the usual permitting process. However, it contained loopholes, which Shanghai-based SPI Solar was able to exploit. The county considers all the subdivisions in Ocean View to be “non-conforming” or old, and they are zoned agriculture. In 2011, SPI Solar, through a subsidiary, bought the Ocean View lots, taking advantage of the neighborhood’s good roads and infrastructure, including a three-phase electric line.
Mats Fogelvik, President of Hawaiian Ranchos
Road Maintenance Corporation.
Photo from Volcano Art Center
      “At the time, it appeared sneaky and underhanded,” Hawaiian Ranchos Community Association Secretary Sandra Shelton said. “Now, it looks like a very poor business decision. Given the huge opposition to the project in the community, the PUC cannot, in its right mind, allow this to go forward. We don’t want or need this project, or the substation, or the overhead high-voltage line. I just hope the Public Utilities Commission really does uphold the interests and wishes of the Hawaiian public and does not feel obliged to keep a multi-million dollar overseas company in business.”
      “The rules under which solar installation permits were issued actually allowed for the combination of two or more permits on one lot of land,” Hawaiian Ranchos Road Maintenance Corp. President Mats Fogelvik said. “At Miloli`i, they combined five permits to make a contiguous installation on ‘real’ ag land. They did not need a substation or a PUC hearing about an overhead line over there.
      “Here in Ranchos, SPI Solar could have done that instead of exploiting a loophole and using the law in a way it was not intended. It would be like a visitor breaking a window and crawling in to visit you, instead of walking in the front door. They could have achieved their ends without traumatizing a neighborhood. Now they have to face their critics, and the PUC will have to listen to us. This is our only chance to direct a decision that will have enormous consequences for all of Ocean View.”
      Tomorrow’s PUC’s public hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center on Leilani Circle. Anybody planning to testify should limit speeches to no more than three minutes. Any member of the public can also submit testimony of any length at puc.comments@hawaii.gov. Reference docket number 2015-0229.
     To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Maile David
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL HOLDS meetings in Kona this week. Committees meet Tuesday. Governmental Relations & Economic Development Committee meets at 9 a.m.; Human Services & Social Services, 9:30 a.m.; Finance, 10 a.m.; and Environmental Management, 1 p.m.
      Human Services and Social Services Committee Chair Maile Medeiros David requests formation of an ad hoc committee that would review applications and conduct interviews and site visits for the purpose of ensuring that the committee makes sound recommendations regarding appropriations of the total grant amount and then report its findings to the committee.
      At the Environmental Management Committee meeting, Kohala Council member Margaret Wille introduces a bill that would prohibit the sale, disbursement and use of polystyrene foam containers and food service ware by a food provider or vendor to customers effective January 1, 2018.
      According to Bill 140, the material “is neither degradable nor compostable. It is made from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals that can leach out over time into the environment, especially after contact with hot, greasy or acidic foods. When discarded, polystyrene foam often breaks into tiny pieces, is mistaken for food and ingested by land and marine animals, birds and fish. This is detrimental not only to wildlife but to other life forms in the food chain.”
      The full council meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. Ka`u residents can participate in all these meetings via videoconferencing at Na`alehu State Office Building.
      Agendas and live-streaming are available at hawaiicounty.gov.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

PRODIGIOUS PLUMES PRESENT Provocative Puzzle is the title of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s current issue of Volcano Watch. “In recent weeks, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has received a number of calls from local residents saying essentially: ‘Hey, is something up with Kilauea's eruptions? The plumes at Halema`uma`u and Pu`u `O`o seem to be enormous lately,’” the article states.
      “The short answer to this query is, ‘No, the summit and rift eruptions are going along steadily, as they have been for many months.’ But the story behind this answer is a little more involved and worthy of further discussion. …
Atmospheric conditions create more visible plumes at Kilauea's eruption sites. Photos from USGS/HVO
      “Seasoned fume and plume watchers know that the appearance and extent of Kilauea’s plumes is a function of several things, including the amount of gas coming out of the vents, the direction and speed of the wind, and the temperature and relative humidity of the air around the volcano. More gas discharge generally means a plume that looks bigger, but lower air temperature or higher relative humidity, which sometimes causes water vapor in an otherwise invisible plume to condense and become visible, can produce a similar result. The brisk wind speeds of Hawai`i’s prevailing trade winds typically press the plumes close to the ground and carry gas and particle emissions to sparsely populated areas southwest of Kilauea’s vents. 
      “The situation in recent months, especially the past few weeks, has been one in which Kilauea’s emissions have been fairly steady. We know this because HVO routinely operates instruments that precisely measure gas discharge. These sensitive instruments show that the volcano’s summit is releasing between 2,000 to 7,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas each day. The East Rift Zone has steadily emitted a much smaller amount, closer to 300 metric tons per day.
      “But atmospheric conditions during these same months have conspired to make Kilauea’s summit and rift emissions disconcertingly more evident to plume watchers.
      “First, since November, Hawai`i’s winter (hoʻoilo) has brought a seasonally characteristic disruption to the trade winds. Slow-moving southerly (Kona) winds have taken their place, bringing Kilauea’s emissions into nearby East Hawai`i communities, from Volcano to Hilo and beyond.
      “Second, but equally important, is the coincidence of the strongest El Niño in nearly 20 years. Typically, El Niño conditions in Hawai`i produce wind direction reversals, compounding the seasonal trend already in play. These wind reversals sustain very dry conditions, like those we’re currently experiencing in East Hawai`i.
      “According to the latest forecasts, we can expect this year’s El Niño to hang on until early summer (kau wela). If this prediction comes true, it’s likely that tall, vertically rising eruption plumes will adorn the skies above our steadily active volcano, giving Kilauea’s dedicated observers plenty to watch.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

PANA`EWA STAMPEDE RODEO at the Equestrian Center this side of Hilo continues today. Tickets are $8 at the gate; free for keiki under 12.

      Hana Hou Restaurant in Na`alehu serves prime rib, lamb kebobs, fresh ono and seafood fettucine. Reserve at 929-9717 for a time between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. 
      South Side Shaka’s Restaurant in Na`alehu offers prime rib, snow crab and a combo from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call 929-7404 for reservations.
      A buffet at Kilauea Military Camp’s Crater Rim Café in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. includes prime rib au jus, shrimp and mushroom alfredo, chicken picata, salad, soup, dessert and beverage. $27.95 adults; $14.50 children 6 – 11. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests.

VALENTINE’S WEEKEND HUKILAU continues today at Whittington Beach Park. The blanket and toy drive features Buddy Cage, of New Riders of the Purple Sage. $15 suggested donation; veterans free. 
      Tomorrow, Handijam’s fundraiser for music programs and instruments also features Buddy Cage at 12 p.m. at Na`alehu Park & Community Center. Hosted by Gary “Foggy” Cole.
      Call 917-561-4800.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_February2016.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf
and kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf.

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