Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kumu Ab Kawainohoikala`i Valencia and his Halau Hula Kalehuaki`eki`eika`iu performed yesterday at Ka`u
Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a. See more below. Photo from Ka`u Coffee Festival
GREG SMITH, OWNER of Earth Matters Farm and president of Hawai`i Farmers Union United’s Ka`u chapter, is looking forward to industrial hemp production coming to the district. 
      “I believe Ka`u would be ideal,” Smith told Bret Yager, of West Hawai`i Today. “There is plenty of soil and a lot of small farmers struggling to find a crop they can make money on. It’s exciting. It’s never been done before here.”
Greg Smith hopes Ka`u farmers will produce industrial hemp.
Photo by Ron Johnson
      Yager said Smith is looking for strains of hemp that qualify for industrial cultivation and is planning a cooperative that could create a processing center.
      Smith touted hemp’s values, including Asian and Japanese markets wanting hemp-based medicine. He said there are industrial possibilities for the crop and that it could help rebuild soils depleted by sugar cane production.
      “Hemp is the new stepchild of cannabis, and it could easily be the next big thing once the drug classification is taken away,” Smith told Yager. “It’s not a drug; it doesn’t get you high.”
      Smith also pointed to Hawai`i’s year-round growing season that could produce three crops annually.
      “Hopefully, the state embraces the crop,” he told Yager. “The longer we wait, people in states like Colorado and Oregon are going to monopolize it, and it’s going to make this harder.”
      The recently adjourned state Legislature passed a bill allowing pilot programs for industrial hemp production, and Yager reported that state Department of Agriculture chair Scott Enright hopes farmers can begin production by this fall.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

The Gomes `Ohana, featuring Pahala's own Phoebe and Bobbie Gomes,
entertained at the ho`olaule`a. Photo by Julia Neal
THE EIGHTH ANNUAL KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL Ho`olaule`a saw a record turnout yesterday. An early threat of rain failed to materialize, and large, dark clouds filled the sky, keeping the crowd cool.
      Cars filled Pahala Community Center lawn and lined surrounding streets as visitors flocked to get a taste of award-winning Ka`u Coffee and other local treats. Musicians and hula dancers, including Miss Ka`u Coffee 2016 Pageant contestants, graced the stage and entertained the crowd throughout the day. Tours to scenic farms informed participants about Ka`u Coffee production. The Ka`u Coffee Experience offered an opportunity to taste coffee brewed using a variety of techniques.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Miss Ka`u Coffee 2016 Rochelle Koi onstage
at the annual Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a. 
Photo by Jesse Tunison/Ka`u Coffee Festival
HAWAI`I STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE last week asked Hawai`i Electric Light Co. for answers to tough questions, including who owns the Ocean View solar project, who benefits from the project, how power will be curtailed, and the cost of restoring residential land that the solar project would industrialize.
      The CA’s questions quizzed HELCO about some aspects of the project, but wide areas of concern from residents were not included, such as fire danger, the cost of compensating residents forced to move, and how power from the project would drive up the cost of retail power on Hawai`i Island.
      HELCO has applied to the Public Utilities Commission for permission to construct an overhead transmission line to serve 27 photovoltaic projects slated to be built on 19 three-acre housing lots scattered among existing homes in Ocean View Ranchos and eight lots in Kona South, an undeveloped subdivision without legal access. The PUC has opened a docket for the case. The CA has filed 24 pages of questions for HELCO in docket number 2015-0229.
      The Division of Consumer Advocacy’s role is that of a watchdog, and it is mandated to act in the “public benefit.” Executive Director Jeffrey Ono attended the PUC’s public hearing in Ocean View on Feb. 15, when many residents complained about having their rural neighborhood industrialized, the fire danger, the loss of property values, and the way HELCO’s Feed-in-Tariff program had been confounded. Since then, about 50 people and organizations have contributed “public comment” to the PUC’s docket on the case. With two exceptions, all are against the overhead transmission line, the substation and the project.
Miss Ka`u Peaberry 2016 Chazlynn Pua-Queja shares her
talent at the ho`olaule`a. Photo by Julia Neal
      In a set of Supplemental Information Requests, the CA asked detailed questions about the cost of not only placing the high voltage transmission line underground but also maintaining it for twenty years (the life of the project) and then removing the substation, transmission line and the project from home sites and restoring the sites. The CA has, as a participant in the FIT program, argued for lower rates to be paid to developers of PV projects for their wholesale power and has opposed the rate of 23.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. When the standardized rate was set, it was argued that the high rate was needed to allow the developer to cover the cost of building the PV installations. “The CA appears to be using this high rate to justify requiring the developer to cover all the costs of the project, including its dismantling, for twenty years, so that the costs are not passed on to future HELCO ratepayers,” said Ranchos resident Ann Bosted. “If the solar project goes forward and this tab is picked up by the developer, it will represent a huge saving for ratepayers down the line.” 
      The CA also raises questions of “curtailment” – the process by which HELCO can turn off power from generators when the grid is “full.” This happens during the day and after 10 p.m. when the supply of power exceeds the demand or the “load.”
Ka`u Coffee grower Leo Norberte shares his knowledge
with farm tour participants. Photo by Jesse Tunison/Ka`u Coffee Festival
      “If the CA finds that this power is not needed, he could recommend that the project not go forward as it is not in the public interest to build unneeded power generators,” Bosted said. “The developer, however, stands to gain from building PV generation projects, thanks to the very generous solar tax credits, by which 65 percent of the cost of the project will be paid back by state and federal governments, amounting to a subsidy by taxpayers. The CA will need to evaluate if the earning of these tax credits by the developer serves the public interest, in view of the fact that the Big Island is decades ahead of the state mandated renewable energy goals.”
      The FIT permits were issued in 2011. Since then the “load” has decreased by about 20 percent, and several renewable energy facilities have been constructed, including a 1.25-megawatt solar farm at Miloli`i.
Skylark, at right, emceed at the ho`olaule`a, with assistance
from Kumu Debbie Ryder and Makana Kamahele.
Photo by Jesse Tunison/Ka`u Coffee Festival
      The CA also quizzed HELCO for details about its claim that the substation is of benefit to the community because it will improve “reliability and power quality.” Ocean View residents have told HELCO representatives at public meetings that they do not have power outages and do not want the substation. The CA is now asking HELCO to document complaints over the last five years.
      See more in tomorrow’s Ka`u Calendar News Briefs.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Mayoral candidate and former Mayor Harry Kim, with festival organizer 
Chris Manfredi, attending the ho`olaule`a. 
Photo from Ka`u Coffee Festival 
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL’S ENVIRONMENTAL Management Committee last week supported banning Styrofoam. Bill 140 would prohibit the sale, disbursement and use of polystyrene foam containers and food service ware by food providers or vendors to customers effective Jan. 1, 2018.
      “I think this is the very first step in our effort as policymakers as opposed to coming with an all-out ban entirely, that we take this step to be mindful policymakers,” Ka`u’s council member Maile David said. “It might not seem fair to everyone, but we have to start somewhere, and we have to take responsibility.”
      With a 5-4 vote, the measure moves to the full council with a positive recommendation.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Delvin Navarro manned a booth at the ho`olaule`a showcasing
his coffee. Photo from Ka`u Coffee Festival
KA`U’S STATE SEN. JOSH GREEN AND Rep. Richard Creagan hold a Legislative Talk Story Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona.
      They and other Hawai`i Island lawmakers will review the past legislative session, the budget and other issues pertaining to the community. There will also be time for questions and answers.

HONU`EA: ENDANGERED HAWKSBILL Sea Turtles of Hawai`i is the title of After Dark in the Park’s program on Tuesday. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park has monitored and protected nesting honu`ea and their habitat since 1989. Honu`ea are critically endangered, and only 139 nesting females have been documented.         Lauren Kurpita, coordinator of the Hawai`i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project, reveals the differences between hawksbill and green sea turtles (honu), threats to hawksbills and the latest conservation efforts to protect the species from extinction. The program begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium.
      $2 donations support park programs; park entrance fees apply.


See kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.html
and kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_May2016.pdf.

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