Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, August 16, 2013

Hawai`i County opposes the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the electric companies, calling for an
evidentiary hearing unless the Public Utilities Commission agrees and denies the contract.
“SUBSTANTIAL DISAGREEMENTS CURRENTLY EXIST,” Hawai`i County said in its call to the state Public Utilities Commission for an evidentiary hearing regarding the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the electric utilities. `Aina Koa Pono’s plans are to grow and harvest feedstock on lands between Pahala and Na`alehu to produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala.   “Specifically, the written testimonies and answers to our information requests of the Hawaiian Electric Company and the Hawai`i Electric Light Company, (collectively the ‘HEl Companies’), the Consumer Advocate, their consultants and the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism have not sufficiently addressed issues the county raised concerning direct and indirect effects if the proposed contract was approved. Additionally, we find that the docket record has not been properly developed, and therefore a sound and thorough decision will not be reasonably attainable by the Commission. As a result, we remain in opposition to the proposed contract.”
      The county lists several reasons why it considers the contract not “reasonable and consistent with the public interest:
  • The Energy-mass-balance has not been adequately proven; 
  • The proposed technology as well as scale-up of this technology is unproven; 
  • The agricultural productivity claims of the developers/promoters seems untenable; 
  • The proposed contract is high-priced and long-term, locking in the majority of power-generation biodiesel supply for the next 20 years; 
  • The proposed contract further increases electricity prices in the State of Hawai`i which are already amongst the highest in the United States resulting in: 
    • Negative effects on the Islands’ economies; 
    • Limiting business development and retention; 
    • Further limiting our island resident’s disposable income that could be better devoted to their children’s education or general well-being of the family; and 
    • Finally, disproportionately distressing our low-income/fixed-income residents, as well as decreasing their ability to pay for basic necessities. 
  • The Island of Hawai`i already has achieved forty to fifty percent renewable generation and should be devoting its limited resources/time to lowering electricity prices; 
  • At forty to fifty percent renewable energy generation already on our Island and rates so high, we should be pursuing more cost-effective solutions like more geothermal, wind, solar, even hydro-electric generation, that can dramatically lower customer bills and help free up disposable incomes to reinvigorate our Island economy (and attract future business), as well as helping education, tourism, astronomy and other important or key sectors of our diversifying economy; 
  • The county believes that future efforts should be directed toward lowering electricity prices. Increasing efficiency as well as focusing more on transportation-solutions which we believe has greater economic-development potential than this proposed project; 
  • The proposed biofuels production facility will be located on our Island in the remote town of Pahala. The HEl Companies’ claims and analyses directed toward economic development, environmental impacts, positive and negative externalities, community impacts of this project are not well developed and remain unproven by the promoters; 
  • Pahala farmers have indicated interest for some of this agricultural land that may prove more economically beneficial for them and ensures their desired quality-of-life is in their control; 
  • The county remains convinced that other renewable energy projects, already proven on this island, will have more beneficial impacts in the future such as more wind, hydro, solar, geothermal and storages solutions (as well as efficiency measures); 
  • Cost-effective on-island biofuel renewable projects in transportation (and power-generation) are already available or currently under development at market prices; 
  • Cost-effective biofuels projects both on the mainland and on-island are being developed with business models that will enable market pricing; 
  • The parties who are in favor of this contract have not proven this contract is beneficial to the electric ratepayer, and; 
  • A majority of the public comments and testimony are in opposition to this contract.
      “If the Commission is in agreement, then the county would request that this application be denied. However, if the Commission is still undecided, the county reaffirms its position, that we have not been proffered appropriate or adequate responses to our information requests and must seek a means to compel parties to provide that information. Accordingly, at this time, only an evidentiary hearing will allow the county to compel these parties to provide that information so that the Commission can make a well informed decision.”
      The county proposed the following evidentiary hearing schedule:
  • Prehearing Motions – Nov. 15; 
  • Prehearing Conference – Dec. 3; 
  • Evidentiary Hearing – week of Dec. 8. 
      This and other testimony is available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

RICHARD HA, OWNER OF HAMAKUA SPRINGS COUNTRY FARMS, has installed a hydroelectric plant to battle Hawai`i Island’s high electricity costs. Ha told Sophie Cocke and Brad Watanabe, of Civil Beat, that he expects to cut his electricity bill nearly in half over the next twenty years.
      The story reported that, since 2002, average electricity prices have doubled on the neighbor islands and that Hawai`i farmers are paying three to four times more than their mainland competitors to refrigerate fruits and vegetables and pump water to irrigate their crops.
      See more at civilbeat.com.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Search and Rescue ranger John Broward stands at the location behind
Volcano House where a man fell 115 feet. Photo from HVNP
PARK RANGERS IN HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK on Tuesday, Aug. 13 rescued a man who had been stranded overnight after climbing over a barrier and falling 115 feet down a sheer cliff behind Volcano House. 
      At approximately 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, a hiker told park rangers at Kilauea Visitor Center she heard someone crying for help from the dense vegetation along Halema`uma`u Trail, which lies directly below the hotel.
      Rangers were able to locate the man, and the park’s Search and Rescue coordinator John Broward was lowered by helicopter and pulled him to safety as the sun began to set.
      The man was identified as 73-year-old Harry Osachy, of Kurtistown. Osachy told rescuers he had fallen Monday. He was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, with injuries to his pelvis and shoulder. He had numerous scrapes and suffered from dehydration.
      “Luckily, he landed in a dense thicket of native uluhe fern, which broke his fall,” Broward said.
      It is the 13th SAR mission in the park this year. Last year, park SAR crews responded to a total of 26 incidents.
      “Once again, risky behavior by a visitor endangered the lives of our staff,” said park superintendent Cindy Orlando, who was on site during the rescue. “We were able to execute an exemplary response from our cadre of specially trained first responders, and thankfully no one else was injured.”
      Hawai`i Tribune-Herald reported this morning that Osachy is in stable condition at Hilo Medical Center.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

James Courtright is the new fire management officer at Hawai`i Volcanoes
National Park. Photo from HVNP
JAMES COURTRIGHT IS THE NEW FIRE MANAGEMENT OFFICER at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. He will oversee fire management for 11 national parks in the Pacific Island Park network. 
      Courtright, who previously worked as the assistant fire management officer at Zion National Park and the Utah Parks Group, has extensive experience in fire and aviation management. He has helped extinguish countless fires in the western states and worked cooperatively with multiple agencies during his nearly 20-year career. His experience ranges from interagency management of wildland fires and all risk incidents, prescribed fire, aviation operations and engines to hotshot hand crews.
      In his new position, Courtright will coordinate fire management with partner agencies, including Hawai`i County Fire Department, Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry & Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Pacific Island Park network extends from the West Pacific and includes the National Park of American Samoa, American Memorial Park in Saipan, War in the Pacific National Historic Park in Guam and all eight national park units in Hawai`i.
      Courtright and his wife Leslie live in Volcano. They have twin three-year-old daughters and an eight-month-old son.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SHAKA’S FREE NATIONAL GUARD CONCERT at Punalu`u Beach is today from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Entertainment includes Bruddah Waltah, Randy Lorenzo and Keaiwa with Demetrius Oliveira. Organizer Rory Koi, of South Side Shaka’s Restaurant & Bar, said the National Guard is putting up $4,000 worth of giveaways. Other sponsors are KARMA, Big Island Image and Big Island Top Team.

VOLCANO RAIN FOREST RUNS late registration and packet pick-up takes place today until 6 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Registration for the 10K, and 5K is also available tomorrow until 7 a.m. Entry fees are $85 for the half marathon, $50 for the 10K run and $35 for the 5K run/walk. 
     A total of $500 in athletic equipment can be won by the Ka`u school who sends the most competitors to the event. The equipment can be for track, cross country, volleyball, tennis, football, soccer – any sport. The school with the most students represented wins the $500 gift certificate from Sports Authority. Competitors can enter any of the races to qualify their schools, which can be elementary, middle or high school. Registration fee is $20 per entry.
      The event begins tomorrow at 7 a.m., with Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya firing off the starting gun.
      See volcanoartcenter.org/rain-forest-runs.

OCEAN VIEW EVANGELICAL COMMUNITY CHURCH hosts a ho`olaule`a tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with food, entertainment, games and prizes.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL airs on Na Leo O Hawai`i Channel 54 tomorrow at 6 p.m. The 51-minute program was produced by Wendell Kaehuaea, who, along with Bobby Tucker, interviewed and filmed participants and some of the thousands of people who attended.

Participants learn about tea cultivation and production Sunday in Pahala. Photo from Tea Hawai`i
FREE TEA CULTIVATION AND PRODUCTION education comes to Pahala Plantation House Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by The Kohala Center, the workshop is led by tea grower Eva Lee. To register, call 928-9811.





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