Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016

Tours of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park's Puapo`o lava tube are available during the park's centennial.
See more below. NPS Photo by Stephen Geiger
MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES were topics of a roundtable hosted by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard this week. Leading local, national and international experts engaged in dengue and Zika virus research, readiness and response joined the meeting. They talked about the most accurate, up-to-date information on the diseases, the current situation of the dengue outbreak on Hawai`i Island and discussed critical steps that need to be taken to achieve immediate and long-term solutions to protect Hawai`i’s people and economy.
Ka`u's state Sen. Josh Green joined U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's
roundtable on mosquito-borne illnesses.
Photo from Office of Rep. Gabbard
      “The level of experience and expertise that gathered was great, as we discussed the current situation and next steps in the fight against mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and the Zika virus,” Gabbard said. “The meeting was productive, and the information presented was candid and constructive. As we move forward, it’s important that these experts and their resources are tapped into as Hawai`i builds and executes its strategy to deal with the outbreak of dengue and the prevention of Zika. We don’t have time to sit around and wait – too much time has already been lost. A coordinated, aggressive response to eradicate these disease-laden mosquitoes and their breeding areas must occur now.”
      Earlier at the state Capitol, Gabbard joined the Legislature’s Big Island Caucus members. They shared challenges and frustrations expressed by their constituents, ideas on how to better serve residents affected by the island's dengue fever outbreak, discussed how to ensure resources are getting to where they are needed most and explored solutions to improve vector response, access to dengue fever testing and timeliness of receiving results. Gabbard brought up these ideas and concerns at the roundtable meeting.
      Yesterday, Hawai`i Department of Health reported one newly confirmed case of dengue fever, bringing the total to 257. Two individuals are potentially infectious to mosquitoes, which spread the disease through bites.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION Chair Randy Iwase said his is disappointed with several of Hawai`i Electric Co.’s decisions to cancel plans for renewable energy projects. On Hawai`i Island, these recent events, which Iwase said may also work against goals of lowering electric rates for all customers and achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, include HECO’s stated intention to terminate the agreement for a biomass project in Hamakua, closing of a prolonged and unsuccessful solicitation by Hawai`i Electric Light Company, Inc. for new geothermal generation in Puna and slow progress to approve and connect customers that have signed up for new rooftop solar under the grid-supply option.
On Hawai`i Island project rejected by HECO is a biomass plant
at Pepe`ekeo in Hamakua. Image from Hu Honua
      “Collectively, these initiatives represent a substantial portion of ongoing opportunities for the development of clean energy in Hawai`i and to lower electricity rates,” Iwase said. “The commission currently has open proceedings to review each of these matters and will thoroughly investigate the conduct of the HECO Companies. However, as Chair, I must share my concern that, collectively, these events send the wrong message to third party developers that desire to compete for clean energy business opportunities in Hawai`i and appear to represent a step backwards from the state’s clean energy goals. It is my belief that, to achieve these goals and benefit customers, we must encourage fair and timely processes for competitive procurement and interconnection of clean energy projects. The events referenced above on the whole do not appear to show movement towards a more competitive and efficient marketplace that will assist in the achievement of these goals. …
      “I am concerned that the HECO Companies have not offered alternative projects that could deliver such low-cost clean energy by the end of 2016 – the date when the solar projects would likely have been completed. Finally, the February 2015 letter agreement that I signed with the president and CEO of the HECO Companies stated in part that ‘the policy is that the HECO Companies have an affirmative duty to interconnect a potential customer pursuant to existing statutory requirements, commission orders and the utility’s tariff where that project does not affect circuit or system level security and reliability.’
      “In light of the HECO Companies’ commitments and the spirit of this letter agreement … and the slow progress associated with approving new grid-supply applications raises serious questions about the HECO Companies’ actions pursuant to the letter agreement. Upon the commission’s review of these matters, the commission will determine whether the actions of the HECO Companies were consistent with the interests of its customers and also consider any further action that may be necessary by the commission.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Puapo`o explorers must be prepared for close quarters
and low ceilings. NPS Photo by Stephen Geiger
VISITORS TO HAWAI`I VOLCANOES National Park during its centennial year can reserve an adventurous guided hike into a large lava tube formed by Kilauea volcano centuries ago.
      Starting March 2, the park and its nonprofit partner, Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, offer weekly guided hikes into Puapo`o lava tube by reservation only. The challenging adventure is limited to 12 people, ages seven and up. Reservations must be made at least one week in advance.
      Ranger-guided treks of Puapo`o last about three hours and cost $30 per adult and $25 for youth seven to 12. FHVNP will offer programs through its Hawai`i Volcanoes Institute. Proceeds support Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. For dates, information and reservations, see http://www.fhvnp.org.
      The challenging four-mile trek is not recommended for inexperienced or claustrophobic hikers. There is a 500-foot elevation change, and hikers must be able to climb down a 15-foot ladder into the lava tube, scramble up and over large rocks and walk on uneven terrain with minimal light. Hikers will also have to walk in a crouched position for about 25 feet under a low ceiling. A helmet with headlamp, flashlight and gloves are provided.
      All other caves and lava tubes in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park are closed to the public due to the sensitive and fragile nature of cave resources, except Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the new guided tours of Puapo`o. Puapo`o is nearly as large as Nahuku, and its magnificent lava formations include lavacicles, driblet spires, lava lines and flow ripples. These fascinating features make Puapo`o one of the most ornate lava tubes in Hawai`i, and it has remained largely intact because access is restricted. The entrance to the cave is cloaked in native rainforest, and Hawaiian birds including `apapane, `oma`o, and `amakihi can be seen and heard.
      “We asked our publics how they’d like to celebrate the park’s centennial anniversary, and the resounding answer was to bring back an opportunity to explore Puapo`o lava tube,” Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said. “With our Friends’ group, we are able to offer visitors an unparalleled adventure into the depths of Kilauea volcano during our 100th anniversary.”
      For more information on park centennial events, see nps.gov/havo/getinvolved/100th-anniversary.htm.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U RESIDENTS CAN LEARN about the People & Lands of Kahuku tomorrow. This guided, 2.5-mile, moderately difficult hike over rugged terrain focuses on the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s human history. The three-hour program begins at 9:30 a.m.
      See nps.gov/havo.

Spaghetti dinner is a week from today.
PLAN TODAY FOR NEXT SATURDAY’S full schedule of events.
      Ocean Sanctuary Count of humpback whales takes place from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at various locations. Participants record whale sightings and activity on the second of three counts held the last Saturdays of January through March. Registration is required at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.
      Programs at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit feature `ohi`a lehua and a forested pit crater. Participants learn about the vital role of `ohi`a lehua in native forests during a one-hour program beginning at 9:30 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., botanist Sierra McDaniel and biologist Jon Faford lead a moderate, 2.4-mile roundtrip hike to a crater that naturally protects rare and endangered plant species.
      Learn about native dryland plants from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Discovery Harbour Community Hall. Ho`omalu Ka`u’s free second workshop focuses on propagation techniques and tips on landscaping with native plants. Register at 929-8526 or hoomalukau@gmail.com.
      `O Ka`u Kakou's fundraiser for Ka`u Hospital begins at 4 p.m. and continues to 7 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The event features spaghetti dinner, a silent auction and bake and craft sales. To donate to the auction, call Ursula D’Angelo at 896-2624. To buy $10 dinner tickets, call Nadine Ebert at 938-5124.


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

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