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

A USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist tracks the progress of Kīlauea’s “61g” flow on June 28, 2016,
as the ‘a‘ā lava advanced down the flank of the volcano. The 61g flow remains active today,
with lava streaming into the sea at the Kamokuna ocean entry and small lava breakouts near Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō.
See story below. USGS photo

NO TO HELCO RATE HIKES for electricity was the clear message from Hawaiʻi Island residents who testified before the Public Utilites Commission in Hilo and Kona hearings this week. Hawaiʻi Electric Light Co. asks the PUC to approve rate increases, revised rate schedules and changes to its tariff, which represents a 6.5% increase in revenue equal to $19.3 million per year. HELCO also seeks approval to buy the naptha-burning power plant in Hamakua, which, if approved, will result in a 12.5% rate hike. The PUC is directed to determine whether the rate hike is “just and reasonable.” Opposition continues in 19 public comments e-mailed to the Commission in docket 2015-0170.  
HELCO Pres. Jay Ignacio.
Photo by David Corrigan, Big Island Video News

      During the hearings, 

HELCO President Jay Ignacio told the audience about the increase in use of renewable energy sources and that the proposed rate hike is the first in six years. “We need to demonstrate that we are providing safe, reliable electric service and at the same time are making real progress in replacing fossil fuels with renewables. Your feed back is important to us.”  
     He listed his company’s financial needs, including technical solutions to integrate nearly 11,000 customer-owned rooftop systems into the grid. He also talked about the expense in cutting and clearing away downed and dangerous trees, like albizia, that take out power during storms.


Dean Nashina, state Consumer Advocate, explained that his department “will take and independent look at HELCO’s request for approval of this rate increase.” 


Speaking in Hilo, Cory Harden, of the Hawaiʻi Island chapter of the Sierra Club, told the commissioners that she hoped HELCO’s future plans “will avoid unworkable hazardous approaches.” She contended that “Puna Geothermal sickened scores of people with a toxic release during tropical storm Iselle. Its air quality permit is two years out of date. Neighbors are pursuing three legal actions over health and safety. It’s a high risk for lava flows.” She listed another concern as “naptha going to power at Hamakua Energy Partners.” She stated that “a barge loaded with naptha came very close to exploding in Hilo Habor in 2004.  It would have killed many people. The naptha now is carried down the Hamakua coast by trucks described by one official as potential bombs.” 
Henry Curtis, of Life of the Land
Photo by David Corrigan, Big Island Video News
   Another Harden worry is a proposal for an interisland cable to take geothermal energy to more populated islands. “It would be really difficult and expensive to build and it would burden outer islands with environmental impacts that benefit Oʻahu and its not clear how you would fix something that deep down in the sea.”  
   The proposed Ocean View solar farm is also on her list. She described it as “a scheme that would line the pockets of developers, but harm residents. I hope plans for the future are for environmentally friendly sources like solar, wind, waves, thermal energy conversion. I hope we look at new models like multiple decentralized sources, rooftop solar, microgrids, co-operatively or county owned electric company,” Harden testified.


Well known energy guru Henry Curtis from Oʻahu, representing the Life of the Land and the Puna Pono Alliance, told the commissioner that he opposes the proposals in the rate case. He said he will be filing a request for intervention into the rate case by Dec. 27. He said timing is tight since the electric company is expected to submit is latest renewable energy plan on Dec. 23, which could relate to the rate case. He also brought up the rate case dealing “heavily with geothermal and with albizia  and those are important issues that we will address in writing.”
State Consurmer Advocate Dean Nashina
Photo by David Carrigan, Big Island Video News


State Sen. Russell Ruderman testified that Hawaiʻi Island has the highest rates, and is the poorest island. “My district is the poorest district in the state. Paying the electric bill is not a trivial matter and it disproportionately affects poor people. Therefore, it’s a civil rights issue to me. It’s a humanitarian issue. Its not strictly speaking a business economic issue. I don’t think we can further burden the poorest citizens to enrich one of the wealthiest in the state any more. HELCO is a remarkably profitable company already.”


Toby Hazel told the commission: “I am sure there are a lot of different technologies that could be utilized besides gassing us in our homes. I am a mile and a half from geothermal which, although it causes a problem in my health, I am not unconscious on the floor of my house, thank goodness.” 


 Deborah Ward told the commission: “I am a farmer, landowner, business owner and retiree after 30 years service. I oppose a regressive tax on the poorest people. I believe we have a state mandate to be fossil fuel free by 2045. HELCO needs to be working much, much harder towards this goal. HELCO needs to stop buying new trucks and thinking about ways to conserve like everybody else on the island. We do not address line loss and it would be better to have distributed power.” 
   Dave Kaiser gave his account of living with geothermal in his neighborhood. “I was one of the ones who was directly affected when they released, inadvertently, their hydrogen sulphide along with a stew of heavy metal gasses. I have been seeing a naturopath for getting all that crud out of my system for the last two years now.”
Corey Hardin, of the Sierra Club.
Photo by David Carrigan, Big Island Video News


Robert Petricci gave an account of his life with geothermal. “Puna has become a sacrificial community,” he said, pointing out, “We use between 2.5 and 6 megawatts in Puna, but the PGV power plant produces between 30 and 40 megawatts so that power goes around the island to other places, but we have to breathe the gasses and emissions from that power plant. There have been 17 declared civil defense emergencies at that power plant. Our community keeps a suitcase packed so the next time the power plant blows up, we can get in our cars and get out of there if there is not a hurricane blocking the roads. I want to know what the distribution costs are. 
    “We should be going independent solar and microgrids out in those communities as opposed to all these poles, brand new trucks, wires and things that are needed. The grid is a way for HELCO to maintain a monopoly and there is a conflict of interest with solar with the prices of solar coming down so fast. Technologies are advancing faster than most people can keep track of it. The batteries now are catching up with what solar panels are, and the costs are dropping.”


PUC Chair Randy Iwase and the state Consumer Advocate will continue with their review of HELCO’s request. In 2017, the PUC will hold the Contested Case trial-like hearing when the Consumer Advocate and any other party allowed to intervene can present arguments and testimony. 
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FIGHTING THE THREAT OF ZIKA VIRUS will receive $1.1 million from the federal Centers for Disease Control to the Hawaiʻi state Department of Health. U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said the funds will bolster Hawaiʻi’s lab testing capacity as well as a variety of education, and vector control measures. She said, “Hawaiʻi needs to be vigilant against the continued threat posed by Zika, and this funding increases the Hawaii Department of Health’s capacity to prevent and respond to a potential Zika outbreak.”
    Keith Kawaoka, sate Deputy Director of Environmental Health, said: “With the high volume of travel and warm weather we experience in Hawaiʻi year-round, growing our vector control detection and response capabilities is crucial to preventing potential mosquito-borne disease outbreaks statewide.”
The Aedes mosquitos live in Hawaiʻi and are capable of
carrying Zika though no locally transmitted cases
have been identified here.
Photo from state Department of Health
     State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said: “These funds will allow us to support and enhance key Zika-related department programs to safeguard our state’s public health in the long run. In addition to building a greater capacity for disease investigation and laboratory testing, we’ll also be better able to support the mothers and babies who have been impacted by the effects of Zika.”
      The Centers for Disease Control will fund these programs: Zika Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Activities ($919,149) – supports vector control programs, strengthens laboratory capacity, and bolsters participation in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants; Public Health Preparedness and Response Activities ($58,603) – awarded to communities at high risk for Zika outbreaks, and can be used to rapidly respond to a Zika outbreak, and to strengthen coordination between government and non-government first responders; and Zika Birth Defects Surveillance Activities ($200,000) – establishes systems to rapidly detect microcephaly–a serious birth defect directly linked to Zika– and other adverse outcomes potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
     Zika is carried by Aedes mosquitos that also carry dengue fever and health officials urge everyone to get rid of standing water around homes and other buildings. There have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in Hawaiʻi, though persons with Zika have come here. The virus has been locally transmitted in southern Florida and is expected to spread over time.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

EXPLAINING THE 61G FLOW is the focus of this week’s Volcano Watch, presented by the scientists of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The writers ask the question: “Have you ever wondered why Kīlauea Volcano’s current lava flow is called the ‘61g’ flow?” They explain:
     “It all started on Jan. 3, 1983, with fissures erupting intermittently along the middle part of Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone. In June 1983, the eruption became localized at a single vent that was later named Puʻu ʻŌʻō. For the next three years, Puʻu ʻŌʻō erupted approximately once a month, usually for less than 24 hours at a time. These eruptive episodes were characterized by spectacular lava fountains up to 470 m (1,540 ft) high, followed by periods of inactivity.
     “HVO scientists kept track of these early intermittent and episodic events by assigning numbers to them (1–47). They were initially called ‘phases,’ but later changed to ‘episodes.’ 

      “It’s important to note that when this eruption began, no one had a clue it would still be going 33-plus years later. It’s difficult to label a series of events if, at the start, the number of events and the duration and style of activity are unknown. In July 1986, episode 48 began with fissures opening uprift and downrift of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, but no episodic lava fountains. Each fissure was given a letter to identify it – 48a, 48b, and 48c. Episode 48c eruptive activity persisted, becoming the Kupaianaha vent, which was active for six years and eventually sent lava flows through Kalapana.
   “This change in eruptive style to nearly continuous effusion complicated the ‘episode’ numbering scheme. Nevertheless, since 1992, as the location of Kīlauea’s active vent has shifted up and down the East Rift Zone near Puʻu ʻŌʻō, episode numbers have been used to track the activity. But, new lava flows from different vents have not always resulted in a new episode number. For instance, during the decade-long episode 55 (1997–2007), new flows were given informal names based on calendar events corresponding to the day on which they began. Examples are the ‘Mother’s Day’ flow and the ‘MLK’ flow (Martin Luther King’s birthday). 
    “These informal names enabled USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists to differentiate multiple flows within the same episode. The Mother’s Day, MLK, and other flows were all grouped as episode 55 flows because they were all fed from vents on Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s south and west flanks. There was also no significant break between the flows, and many were simultaneously active.
The 61g Flow continues to enter the ocean near Kamokuna. USGS photo
    “Kīlauea’s current episode – number 61 – began in August 2011 with the refilling of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō (61a). That event was followed by the ‘Peace Day’ flow (61b) that began on September 21 (International Day of Peace). Other episode 61 flows from related vents on Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō include flows named for land divisions or start dates – the ‘Kahaualeʻa’ flows (61c and 61d) and the ‘June 27th’ flow (61e), which threatened Pāhoa and other Puna communities in 2014-2015.
    “Naming lava flows can be tricky given the challenge of determining when one episode ends and another begins. Also, it has become increasingly difficult to settle on an appropriate informal name for each new flow. So, in late May 2016, when related flows broke out yet again on the north and east flanks of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, HVO simply called the flows ‘61f,’ which was short-lived, and ‘61g,’ which persists today. This decision was due mainly to the lack of an obvious feature, land division, or noteworthy calendar event for which the flows could be informally named. 
     “To answer our opening question, Kīlauea’s current flow is called ‘61g’ because it is the 7th flow (g) in the sequence of events that compose the 61st episode of the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. Recent breakouts on Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō are from the 61g vent, so they are still known as 61g flows.
     “A key point to remember is that none of the lava flow names – whether they are episode numbers/letters or based on calendar dates or land divisions – are official, or formal, names. They are just a way for HVO scientists to distinguish the flows they’ve monitored since 1983. While HVO’s informal naming system is not perfect, it has served its purpose over the years – helping us track the many vents and lava flows of Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption.”
Downslope of Puʻu 'Ōʻō along the 61G Flow. USGS photo 
     Volcano Activity Updates: Kīlauea continues to erupt at its summit and East Rift Zone. This past week, the summit lava lake level varied between about 9 and 31.5 m (30–103 ft) below the vent rim. The 61g lava flow continued to enter the ocean near Kamokuna. Recent breakouts from the 61g vent area on the flank of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō remained active, with a small surface flow slowly advancing to the east. The 61g lava flows do not pose an immediate threat to nearby communities.
     Mauna Loa is not erupting. During the past week, earthquakes occurred primarily at the upper Southwest Rift Zone at depths less than 5 km (3 mi). A magnitude-3.3 earthquake occurred in the upper Southwest Rift Zone at a depth of 2.4 km (1.5 mi) on Dec. 12. Deformation related to inflation of a magma reservoir beneath the summit and upper Southwest Rift Zone continued.
     HVO website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) offers past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea daily eruption updates, Mauna Loa weekly updates, volcano photos, recent earthquakes info, and more; call for summary updates at 808-967-8862 (Kīlauea) or 808-967-8866 (Mauna Loa); email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.
    Volcano Watch (hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/) is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

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.

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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