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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013

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Country road between Na`alehu and Pahala leads to coffee farms, pastures and the Pacific Quest farm for youth. `Aina Koa Pono, turned down this week by the state Public Utilities Commission, would have cleared trees and brush on some 11,000 acres and planted biofuel crops to be trucked to a refinery planned for the edge of Wood Valley. Photo by Julia Neal
IN ITS DENIAL THIS WEEK OF THE SECOND proposed 20-year contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the Hawai`i utility companies to produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala using feedstock grown in Ka`u, Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission expressed concern about several issues. 
      The PUC questioned AKP’s intended use of microwave depolymerization at its refinery, saying the technology “appears unproven on a large, commercial scale basis.” The PUC agreed with previous statements about Micro Dee’s unproven status by Sen. Russell Ruderman, Mayor Billy Kenoi, energy expert Peter Matlock, Hamakua farmer Richard Ha and Life of the Land director Henry Curtis.
The PUC and others took issue with AKP's Micro Dee refinery process.
Photo from biofuels-solutions.com
      According to AKP, the Micro Dee process would “convert biomass into a crude oil using modular units of a microwave process, compressing to about an hour what in nature takes thousands, even millions of years.” In Oct. 2012, AKP announced that it was planning to bring a 33-ton-a-day Micro Dee unit to its proposed refinery site independent of PUC approval and refine transportation fuel. Last January AKP said the unit would be installed “within the next several months and be operational before second quarter, 2014.” While AKP’s consultant AECOM recently announced that the technology is “optimal for renewable liquid fuel production.”
      Regarding HELCO’s statement that there are no development, technological or financial risks to customers of paying for anything other than the per-gallon price of the biofuel that is delivered to HELCO in accordance with the contract specifications, the PUC said, “The (utility) companies’ reasoning misses the point. The commission’s approval of the contract is a prerequisite for AKP to obtain the funds to finance the project, which includes the use of the Micro Dee technology on a large, commercial-scale basis. Hence, if the commission ultimately approves the contract and the companies’ corresponding requests, HELCO and HECO ratepayers risk being ‘stuck’ with a long-term, twenty-year contract that is designed to provide AKP with a known amount of revenue and a steady revenue stream during the contractual time period when the price of the AKP-produced biofuel is likely to be higher than the price of the diesel fuel that it is replacing.
      “Moreover, the contract, if approved by the commission, will result in a fifty-month period between the contract’s effective date and AKP’s commercial operation date. During this approximate four-year and two-month ‘placeholder’ period, other renewable energy resource options, at potentially lower costs, may not be vetted or otherwise considered by HELCO while a determination is made as to whether AKP … is able to deliver the contracted volume of biofuel to HELCO in accordance with the contract specifications.”
      According to the PUC, HELCO must demonstrate that the project provides cost reduction benefits to ratepayers, directly or indirectly, by improving and maximizing the integration of additional lower cost renewable energy. “AKP’s Biodiesel Supply Contract fails to meet this objective,” the PUC stated.
      The decision and all other documents filed in the docket are available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-1085. Go to Dockets, Trending Dockets, `Aina Koa Pono and to documents.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FUNDING FOR PRE-KINDERGARTEN CLASSES is being sought by Hawai`i State Teachers Association. Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this week that, according to the union, the effort is preserve jobs for teachers and help children who will be too young to enter kindergarten. A new law requires kindergarten students to be at least five years old by July 31, causing an estimated 5,000 children not to be eligible. 
      “Our initiative is to have all children provided with a free pre-kindergarten education with a qualified teacher,” said HSTA president Wil Okabe.
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie applauded HSTA’s announcement, saying he “welcomed the opportunity to work with” the union.
      See staradvertiser.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

New Year's Day fireworks in Pahala could return in 2015. Photo by Kris Bakken
NO FIREWORKS for Pahala this New Year’s Day. Rodney Freitas, a licenses pyrotechnic expert who has been sponsoring News Year’s Day night fireworks said this morning that without funding, he cannot continue. He said some promises of funding just came in, but that it is too late to organize purchase of the fireworks and any needed permissions. He said he would be happy to start building a fund for 2015. 
      Call Freitas at Big Island Klimate Kontrol, 987-8918, or email info@bigislandklimatekontrol.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FIREWORKS PERMITS ARE NOW AVAILABLE through midnight on New Year's Eve. Each permit costs $25 and entitles the holder to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers. Multiple permit purchases are authorized. Permits shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older, are non-transferable and non-refundable.
      Permits are not required for purchasing novelties and paperless firecrackers. Setting off of fireworks for the New Year celebrations is allowed between the hours of 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Permits must be visibly displayed at the site of use during the time of the firing.
      Hawai`i Fire Department asks everyone to kokua in helping prevent fires and also to avoid the unnecessary injuries caused by fireworks each year.
      Regulations and recommendations regarding fireworks are available at hawaiicounty.gov.
      For more information on purchasing fireworks permits, or use of fireworks, call the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932-2912 (Hilo) or 323-4760 (Kona).
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Aikido ceremony at Old Pahala Clubhouse with yellow belts Troy Gacayan, Kyle Pitcher, Sensai Alan Moores, Melinda Eder, CC Ortega and Fresno Eder. Photo from Pahala Aikido Club
AIKIDO STUDENTS IN KA`U displayed their progress Monday at the Old Pahala Clubhouse, where they earned new belts. Instructor and Sensai Alan Moorse said the students earning yellow belts after the first season of classes and the Fifth Kyu – yellow belt grading – are Troy Gacayan, Kyle Pitcher, Melinda Eder, CC Ortega and Fresno Eder.
Aikido teaches practitioners how to defend themselves without hurting
others, as demonstrated by Fresno Eder in white and Troy Gacayan.
Photo from Pahala Aikido Club
      Aikido meets every Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Moores at 928-0919 or artbyalan2011@gmail.com.

HOLIDAY EVENTS CONTINUE in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. 
      The 14th annual Invitational Wreath Exhibit continues at Volcano Art Center Gallery. Gallery artists, working in a wide variety of media, materials, and techniques, present their concepts of “wreath,” from the whimsical to the traditional. Call 967-7565 for more information.
      During Kilauea Military Camp’s Holiday Challenge through the end of the month, visitors can vote for their favorite decorated cottage. Ballots are available at the front desk.
      Park entrance fees apply.

A GUIDED HIKE AT THE KAHUKU UNIT of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park on Sunday focuses on the area’s human history. The 2.5-mile, moderately difficult hikes over rugged terrain is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 985-6011 for more information.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER HOSTS A PRESENTATION about Mauna Loa’s eruptive history and current status on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Frank Trusdell, U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist who has studied Mauna Loa for two decades, presents his free talk about Earth’s largest volcano at 6:30 p.m. Trusdell’s talk is one of many programs offered by HVO in January, Hawai`i Island’s fifth annual Volcano Awareness Month.
      Mauna Loa, one of Hawai`i’s most active volcanoes, has erupted 33 times since 1843 –most recently in March 1984. During that 23-day-long eruption, lava flows reached to within four miles of Hilo city limits.
Erupting vents on Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone in March 1984 sent massive flows
toward Hilo, reaching to within four miles of city limits. Photo from USGS
       The volcano has now been quiet for almost 30 years. As a result, many Hawai`i residents may not be aware that it is an active volcano. But Mauna Loa will definitely erupt again, and it could be in your lifetime, according to Trusdell.
      “When Mauna Loa erupts, it is capable of disrupting lives and commerce throughout the Island of Hawai`i,” he added.
      In 1950, lava erupted from a fissure on Mauna Loa’s Southwest Rift Zone at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet and reached the ocean in less than three hours. By the time this eruption ended, lava flows had crossed Hwy 11 in three places, burying more than one mile of the road and destroying about two dozen structures. 

      It’s important for all Hawai`i residents to become aware of the volcano’s potential activity so that they are prepared for its next eruption,” Trusdell said.

      For more information about this presentation, email askHVO@usgsg.gov or call 967-8844.  

KA`U HOSPITAL URGES RESIDENTS to complete its Community Health Needs Assessment at surveymonkey.com/s/93HQ5MX. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 31.
SEE THE DIRECTORY 2013 from the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce at kauchamber.org

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.



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