Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, Dec. 17, 2016

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has announced its Stewardship at the Summit schedule for January through March.
See story below. Photo from National Park Service

DID HELCO UNFAIRLY CHARGE CUSTOMERS FOR ELECTRICITY IT RECEIVED FOR FREE FROM ORMAT/PUNA GEOTHERMAL? Kaʻū’s County Council member Maile David is asking the state Public Utilities Commission to look into allegations that Hawai‘i Electric Light Co. received free power and sold it to customers. Instead of testifying Wednesday in Kona at the PUC’s public hearing on the proposed HELCO rate increase, where most people opposed the hike, David sent a letter to PUC Chairman Randy Iwase. At the hearing Iwase publicly stated that he received her letter and that David opposed HELCO’S proposed rate increase. Yesterday, David shared her letter with The Kaʻū Calendar. In the letter she writes:
     “With regard to HELCO’s application I respectfully request that no action or decision regarding the above application be taken until the PUC determines the following:
Randy Iwase (left) and the PUC heard testimony on HELCO’s rate hike and
received a letter from County Council member Maile David.
Photo from Big Island Video News
     · Whether Ormat/Puna Geothermal provided HELCO with electricity free of charge in 2009, 2010 or 2011?
     · Whether a docket or report for free electricity was filed with the PUC by HELCO?
     · How much free energy did HELCO receive in 2009, 2010 or 2011?
     · Was any free energy sold to the ratepayers of Hawai‘i County in 2009, 2010 or 2011?”
     David explained in her letter the back story of a case brought by whistle blowers against companies that operate the geothermal power plant in Puna and sell power to HELCO. The case involved a §1603 grant. This grant allows the U.S. Treasury Department to finance developers of renewable energy projects by providing funds in lieu of Investment Tax Credits. The whistle blowers alleged that the Puna geothermal developers abused the program. The whistle blowers filed a complaint.
    David writes: “The above inquiry is the result of my review of a 2014 United States District Court case entitled United States of
Maile David
Photo by Ann Bosted
America ex els. Tina Calilung & Jamie Kell v. Ormat Industries, Ltd., et al. and Puna Geothermal Venture II, L.P., et al. This was a complaint for damages and other relief under the False Claims Act. I understand that the case settled with Ormat paying the U.S. government $5.5 million (without an admission of guilt).”
     David points to Paragraph 272 of the Complaint, which states: “Though Ormat could not sell energy yet, it wanted to obtain a §1603 grant for the 8 MW Expansion. Accordingly, though plant operation was ‘on hold’ and Power Purchase Agreement approval from PUC was still outstanding, Ormat began delivering energy produced by the 8 MW Expansion to HELCO for free. Ormat believed that if the plant was operating and producing energy it could claim December 2011 as the placed-in-service date for the expansion and thereby qualify the 8MW Expansion project for §1603 funds.”
     David writes: “Although the lawsuit has settled, the question remains whether or not HELCO was provided free energy and more importantly, if it was, did the ratepayers of Hawai‘i county receive its fair share of this free energy?”
     David concludes her letter with an appeal: “I request that this commission look further into this matter. For the reasons set forth above, and, the fact that cost of energy for Hawai‘i County ratepayers are already at a high premium.”
     David told The Kaʻū Calendar that she needs answers, saying: “It is a valid question that I felt the PUC should address. If in fact HELCO did receive free electricity, then such benefit should rightfully be passed on or shared with ratepayers of Hawai‘i County – our citizens, local businesses, and state and county agencies.”
     David added that the HELCO rate case public hearing seemed to her to be a good opportunity to raise this question, as HELCO wants the ratepayers of Hawai‘i Island to pay more for energy and she is opposed to their request.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS K-12 in Hawaiʻi to support emerging environmental projects from Hawaiʻi’s public, private, and charter schools. Called the Hawaiʻi Youth Sustainability Challenge, the contest urges students to design, prototype, and implement innovative and creative sustainability ideas and projects. Sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Public Schools of Hawaiʻi Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and state Department of Education, the program is administered by the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance.
Individual students and teams can apply for mini-grans from the
Hawaiʻi Youth Sustainability Challenge.
Photos from Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance
     The Alliance “encourages fresh projects or ideas that emphasize their environmental passions and motivation, interests in conservation education and desire to create sustainable, localized change,” says a statement announcing the competition. One student can work with a teacher advisor or a group of students can work with a teacher advisor and create an entry for consideration.
   The sustainability project can be an effort to make a change in school or community to support Hawaiʻi’s goal of achieving a sustainable future, demonstrate  environmental passions and and a desire for environmental education as well as motivation to make change.
     Submit the HYSC Mini-Grant Application via the KHF Grant Portal by Jan. 29, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. No applications will be accepted after this date. See more at www.kokuahawaiifoundation.org .
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Volunteer uncovers a native plant that was
chocked by invasive ginger.
Photo from National Park Service
HELPING TO ENSURE THE FUTURE of the Hawaiian rainforest at the summit of Kīlauea volcano is an effort open for volunteers in the Stewardship at the Summit programs at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, January through March 2017. Stewardship at the Summit begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. The dates are: Jan. 6, 14, 21 and 27; Feb. 3, 11, 18 and 20 (Presidents Day and fee-free); and March 3, 10, 18, 25 and 31.
     Volunteers have dedicated more than 7,500 hours and restored more than 61 acres of native rainforest within the national park since 2012. Countless Himalayan ginger, faya, Australian tree fern, strawberry guava, and other invasive, non-native plants that threaten the native understory near the summit of Kīlauea volcano have been removed. In their place, once-shaded ‘ōhi‘a trees, ‘ama‘u and hāpu‘u tree ferns have re-emerged, and pa‘iniu, kāwa‘u, and other important native plants are returning to the stewardship plots.
     Volunteers help remove invasive, non-native plant species that prevent native plants from growing. Meet project leaders Paul and Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center at 8:45 a.m. on any of the above dates. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, rain gear, day pack, snacks and water. Gloves and tools are provided. No advance registration is required, and there is no cost to participate, but park entrance fees apply. Visit the park website for additional planning details: www.nps.gov/havo.
       “Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has entered its 100th year of stewarding this fragile ecosystem, and we need everyone’s help in making sure the Hawaiian rainforest remains intact beyond the next 100 years,” said volunteer and project leader, Paul Field. “We invite the community and visitors to join us. In addition to giving back to the land, you’ll learn to identify native and invasive plants, how to safely control invasive species, and how to avoid spreading other pest species, including Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death,” he said.
     Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park provides numerous ways for visitors to connect with and appreciate Hawaiian culture, active volcanoes, and native plants and animals. It is a designated World Heritage Site (1987) and International Biosphere Reserve (1980).
Kaʻū will be one of the sites for GoFarm Hawai`i
classes for new farmers. Photo from The Kohala Center.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

NEW AND ASPIRING FARMERS AND RANCHERS on Hawai‘i Island can choose from two comprehensive courses being launched by The Kohala Center in early 2017. Some classes will be held in Kaʻū. In addition to its Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program, which has graduated more than 120 students since 2013, The Center will host the state’s largest farmer training program, GoFarm Hawai‘i, for the first time on Hawai‘i Island. More information about both programs is available online at kohalacenter.org/farmertraining.
     The seventh cohort of The Kohala Center’s Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program begins Saturday, Feb. 4 in Honokaʻa, with classes held every other Saturday through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes will meet primarily in Honokaʻa but will rotate between training sites in Hawi, Kailua-Kona, and Kaʻū to encourage participation from multiple regions of Hawai‘i Island.
     The program provides 188 hours of coursework, on-farm demonstrations, workshops, field trips, and online resources covering topics such as soil fertility management, tropical crop production, livestock production, business planning and financing, and agricultural product marketing. Tuition is $250 for the full program and scholarship assistance is available. Students who successfully complete the program will be eligible for assistance in securing farm leases and capital to successfully produce, market, and distribute their crops. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development.
     GoFarm Hawai‘i @ The Kohala Center will offer students classroom instruction, tours of local farms, and hands-on experience in small-scale farming at The Center’s demonstration farm in Honokaʻa. Sponsored in part by Ulupono Initiative, Kamehameha Schools, and the County of Hawai‘i, the program is divided into three phases starting with an “AgCurious” introductory session, followed by four
Hands on experience in small-scale farming is part of the
GoFarm Hawaiʻi educational program.
Photo from The Kohala Center
     AgXposure site visits. AgXposure participants may then apply to AgSchool, an intensive, hands-on, four-month farmer training program. Applicants interested in GoFarm @ The Kohala Center are encouraged to attend the AgCurious session on Thursday, Jan. 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a. AgCurious will provide an overview of the GoFarm program and the current state of farming in Hawai‘i. AgCurious and AgXposure sessions are available at no cost, while enrollment in the 13-session AgSchool program is $20 per session. Interested applicants may email Derrick Kiyabu at derrick@gofarmhawaii.org to register and for more information.
     “Our farmer training programs were created with a specific goal in mind: to improve food security in Hawai‘i by training and empowering future generations of local food producers,” said Nicole Milne, director of food and agriculture initiatives at The Kohala Center. “Here in Hawai‘i we import roughly 85 percent of our food, the average age of our local farmers is increasing, and the number of farms in the islands and across the U.S. is declining. Encouraging island residents to consider careers in agriculture and give them the knowledge and support they need to succeed are critical elements in our strategy to reduce Hawai‘i’s dependence on imports and move us toward greater food self-reliance.”
     Although no previous farming experience is required, preference is given to applicants who have taken steps to become agricultural producers but would benefit from a comprehensive curriculum.
See more on The Kohala Center at www.kohalacenter.org.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Kaʻū ʻOhana Band plays Christmas music tomorrow at
Ocean View Swap Meet at 9:30 a.m.
KAʻŪ OHANA BAND will play Christmas music at 9:30 a.m. at the Ocean View Swap meet tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17. The conductor is Steve Moon.

FRIEND-RAISER IS NĀʻĀLEHU ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S Winter Fest is tomorrow, Saturday. Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Make New Friends,” declares the poster, which also reports on opportunities to enjoy shave ice, drinks, hot dogs – all for $1. Games are 50 cents. Also featured is a bounce house, raffle, bake sale, splash booth, jail, face painting and information vendors. Winter Fest is sponsored by the Nāʻālehu School Council.

LEARN ABOUT THE JAPANESE DETAINMENT CAMP at Kīlauea Military Camp, during a walk tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Staff leads the way. Free. Park entrance fees apply. Meet at the flagpole.

KMC when it was a detention camp for Japanese during
WWII. Take a walk to learn the history this Saturday.
Image from KMC
REP. RICHARD CREAGAN’S OCEAN VIEW FORUM will be held at Ocean View Community Center next Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Creagan represents District 5 in the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives and chairs the Committee on Agriculture. District 5 includes Honuʻapo to Nāʻālehu, to Ocean View, to Capt. Cook, Kealakekua and part of Kailua-Kona.

KEIKI FUN DAY AND OPEN HOUSE will be held at Pāhala Community Center on Tuesday, Dec. 20 fron 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Pāhala Community Center, sponsored by Tutu & Me.

OCEAN VIEW’S OWN MUSICAL CONDUCTOR Michael Cripps will lead the Chamber Orchestra of Kona in a Christmas Concert, Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Sheraton ballroom at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchsed at www.chamberorchestraofkona.com and at the door.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp through the holidays.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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