Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, August 26, 2013

Projects such as the one proposed by `Aina Koa Pono to harvest plants and grow feedstock in Ka`u and produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala may not be able to compete with other energy sources, according to
Civil Beat's Sophie Cocke. Photo by Julia Neal
“THERE ARE SIGNS THAT BIOFUELS may not be able to compete with other energy sources,” reported Sophie Cocke in today’s Civil Beat. “Yet, the utility could be locked into long-term commitments to buy the fuel at a fixed cost.”
      According to Cocke, “Amid growing pressure from the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission to reduce electricity rates, HECO has stated in its new long-term energy plans for O`ahu, the Big Island and Maui County, that it will pursue liquefied natural gas, retire oil-fired generators that involve costly upkeep and solicit lower-cost wind and solar energy sources. In a changing energy landscape, where there’s a new emphasis on consumer cost, it’s not clear how biofuels will fit in.”
      Currently before the state Public Utilities Commission is the proposed 20-year contract for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel to the electric utilities. The PUC may decide to deny the contract or hold an evidentiary hearing as requested by Hawai`i County and Life of the Land.
      AKP plans to harvest plants and grow feedstock in Ka`u to produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala.
      The first AKP contract was rejected by the PUC three years ago when commissioners said the price of the fuel was too high and not in the best interest of consumers.
      According to Cocke, “AKP and HECO negotiated the price of the project down by $125 million, but the fuel from that bill would nonetheless add to customer electricity bills based on current projections for the price of oil.”
      Robert Rapier, an executive at renewable energy company Merica International, told Cocke, “If electricity prices fall, I suspect we are going to get stuck.” Cocked said, “By that, he means stuck paying for fuel that carries a significant premium.”
      Biofuels have been part of the utility’s renewable energy strategy since 2008, when the state and HECO signed the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative, according to Cocke. “It makes for an attractive option for HECO because the ‘clean fuel’ can be dropped into the utility’s generators, just like petroleum. And local companies seeking to produce biofuel have touted the economic benefits of the energy projects, saying they will create local jobs and bolster the Hawai`i economy.
      “Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in local start-up projects, but there has been little success so far, and some of the technology remains unproven.
      “HECO signed contracts with the biofuel companies before it received any assurance that their projects would be successful in delivering the fuel. Part of it was to help stimulate a market for local biofuels.
      See more at civilbeat.com.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Kulani Prison sits on 280 acres near Ka`u's eastern  border. Photo from
Environmental Assessment for reopening the prison
THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE is seeking plans for agricultural development at Kulani Prison, which is scheduled to reopen in July 2014 after closing in 2009 due to state budget cuts. In its request for proposals, which was provided to Big Island Now by the Department of Agriculture, the state is soliciting bids to develop a program that will “utilize land surrounding the former Kulani Correctional Facility … for the purpose of increasing agricultural productivity and to serve as a rehabilitation site for inmates.”
      According to reporter Nate Gaddis, the ag development is an effort to provide inmates with “a path to career success.”
      Funding is provided from the Agricultural Development and Food Security Special Fund, and priority is given to contractors who can successfully solicit matching funds for the project.
      The deadline for RFPs is Monday, Sept. 16. Interested parties can contact Sue Sakamoto of the Agricultural Development Division at 808-973-9576 or sue.h.sakamoto@hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ocean View resident Don Elwing raises awareness of plastic marine
debris by turning it into works of art. Photo from Don Elwing
WHAT’S IN YOUR OCEAN? Ocean View artist and eco-activist Don Elwing answers this question at his art exhibit, of the same name, on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Pohue Plaza swap meet grounds from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Elwing will set up his gallery of over 40 art pieces made exclusively from marine plastic micro debris collected from the shores of Kamilo Beach, near South Point. The event will also display art from other local Ka`u and South Kona artists who are creating pieces especially for the show. Elwing will also be showing at Hawai`i Wildlife Fund’s Kamilo Beach cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Wai`ohinu Park, where volunteers meet before heading to South Point. At the show, Elwing will raffle off one or two of his art pieces.
      Elwing visits Kamilo weekly, doing his part to clean up the environment by collecting ocean debris which he turns into pieces of art. Each week he spends about 10 to 12 hours picking up trash, eight to 10 hours sorting the material and then six to eight hours cleaning it before he even begins to work on a piece.
      Elwing, a wood sculptor by trade and union carpenter, calls what he does awareness art. “Not everyone can get down there, so I bring down there to them,” he said. His pieces vary greatly from landscapes and portraits to abstracts. His most recent piece is a motorcycle, which he calls Scooter Trash. He has pieces made entirely of bottle caps and others of just bottle bottoms. He even has work that imitates sand art, but is created from thousands of tiny plastic pieces. Another piece shows just how much trash is being consumed by marine life; it is made completely of plastic bitten by fish. The marks on the plastic indicate that “it is obvious they are eating it,” said Elwing. His favorite piece, though, is called “Terminal Indigestion,” which uses plastic debris to depict an albatross, an animal known for gorging on ocean trash, and shows viewers exactly what is in its stomach.
      Growing up and living in Oregon and Alaska and then in Hawai`i for the past 30 years, Elwing has always had a close connection to the sea. “I have always lived near the ocean; a lot of my food comes from the ocean; most of my friends’ ashes are in the ocean. The ocean is my church.”
      When Elwing came to Ka`u he was deeply moved by the amount of trash washing up at Kamilo. “I cried. I had to try somehow to make a difference.” Elwing said he considers it his “kuleana” to help people understand just how much trash is in the ocean and is washing up on land. “I think people are getting it.”
      To learn more about or get involved with upcoming Ka`u beach cleanups or the Hawai`i Wildlife Fund Hawai`i Island Marine Debris Removal Program, contact coordinator Megan Lamson at 769-7629 or kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE HAWAI`I METH PROJECT has announced its 2013 Break the Ice Art Contest, aimed at communicating the risks of methamphetamine through works of art. The contest is a way for teens to be recognized for their artistic ability while learning about the harmful effects of this drug.
      Hawai`i students ages 13 to 18 are eligible to enter the contest during the submission period of Sept. 1 through Oct. 20. Prospective entrants are asked to visit HawaiiMethProject.org and choose one of more than 350 pieces of content as direct inspiration for their artwork.
      The website includes interactive facts, videos, animations, image galleries, personal stories from users and information from experts.
      Using these tools from the website, teens can create a visual work of art in any style and medium, with the goal of influencing how people across the state view this harmful and detrimental drug.
      Specific rules and guidelines for the contest along with samples from last year’s competition can be found at the website.
      Judging will be based on how well the artist portrayed his or her meth prevention message, as well as for its artistic merit and creativity. Submissions will be evaluated on thought, planning, artistic effort and creativity. Winners will be announced at the end of November.
      The Hawai`i Meth Project is a nonprofit organization that implements large-scale, research-based campaigns and community action programs to reduce methamphetamine use in the state.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Harvesting rainwater is the topic at After Dark in the Park tomorrow.
Photo from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I’S TRISHA MACOMBER, author of Guidelines on Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawai`i, is guest speaker at tomorrow’s After Dark in the Park program. Macomber presents a number of options for insuring safe, clean drinking water for the future. Guests receive all the free rainwater they can drink.
      The program takes place at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park at 7 p.m. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply.

HA`AO SPRINGS AND MOUNTAIN HOUSE Agriculture Water Cooperative meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Wai`ohinu Park.




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