Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Dec. 27, 2013

`Aina Koa Pono says it plans to forge ahead with its project which called for cutting trees, brush and grasses between Pahala and Na`alehu. Photo by Julia Neal
`AINA KOA PONO PLANS TO MOVE FORWARD with its plans to construct a $450 million refinery and Ka`u biofuels farm, reports Alan Yonan, Jr. in this morning's Honolulu Star-Advertiser. After its second proposed contract with Hawai`i utility companies was turned down by the state Public Utilities Commission this week, AKP said it still has a contract with Georgia-based Mansfield Oil Co. to distribute up to 24 million gallons of AKP’s biofuel for transportation use. AKP's plan has been to produce the fuel at a microwave refinery on the edge of Wood Valley above Pahala using trees, shrubs and grasses cut from lands between Pahala and Na`alehu.
      In an email to the Star-Advertiser, AKP co-founder and partner Kenton Eldridge said, “AKP is very disappointed with the PUC’s decision but will continue to pursue our plan to produce both biofuels as well (as) biochar.” Biochar is a byproduct of the refining process that AKP said can be used as a soil conditioner.
AKP says it has a contract with Mansfield Oil to distribute up to 24 million gallons
of biofuel annually for transportation use.
      Previously, Eldridge had said Mansfield Oil Co. would transport 16 million gallons of biofuel annually from the Ka`u refinery to HELCO’s Keahole power plant as well as distribute an additional eight million gallons of biofuel annually “with preference to Hawai`i. If sold here, it would represent 16 percent of Hawai`i’s transportation diesel demand based on the 2011 data of the Federal Highway Administration,” Eldridge predicted, saying, “Mansfield is an industry leader in fuel handling and distribution and will handle all the fuel logistics from the Ka`u facility.”
      In its unanimous decision, the PUC stated, “AKP, at its option, is free to pursue a scaled-down version of its proposed bio-refinery for the purpose of supplying biofuel to the transportation and other non-utility generation sectors. Such a venture will not require the commission’s approval of the resulting biofuel supply contract as a prerequisite to obtaining financing for a scaled-down version of any proposed AKP bio-refinery.”
      Hawai`i Electric Light Co. president Jay Ignacio told the Star-Advertiser, “We respect the commission’s decision, and our companies will continue to focus on alternatives to meet Hawai`i’s clean energy goals and lower the cost of electricity for our customers.”
      State energy administrator Mark Glick told Yonan the PUC decision “reflects the state’s energy policy of balancing technical, economic, environmental and cultural considerations on energy projects to ensure making the best use of land and resources.”
      Eldridge is also quoted in Pacific Business News: "We’ve had a Plan B for awhile. We will continue to pursue our project for the transportation fuels and will have more to say in the coming days.”
      The land for which `Aina Koa Pono representatives said they had a lease is owned by the Edmund C. Olson Trust and the Mallick family. It is used for ranching and farming, with planned expansion of food crops and coffee production as the market for Ka`u Coffee is exploding.
      See staradvertiser.com and bizjournals.com/pacific.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Pohakuloa Training Area wants to add four helicopter landing zones to its current 31.
Photo from Environmental Assessment
BUILDING FOUR HELICOPTER TRAINING LANDING ZONES along with access and connecting trails within Pohakuloa Training Area is the subject of an Environmental Assessment released Monday. The military’s conclusion, according to the EA, is that the project would have no significant impact on the natural or human environment. 
      The zones, on the northern slope of Mauna Loa, would be used for pilots to train on varied terrain, under diverse conditions and at multiple altitudes. The locations would allow pilots and troops to be trained to proficiency in austere environmental conditions above 8,000 feet.
      No increase in training flights is being proposed. PTA estimates that approximately 10 percent of current training flights occurring at PTA would use the new landing zones once they are constructed.
      There would be a maximum of 420 flights a year following a flight path within PTA’s airspace and perimeter and a maximum of 20 landings per day on the proposed zones. Multiple helicopters could be in the air and conducting maneuvers simultaneously.
      While there are no cultural resources within the landing zones, three potential cultural sites identified along a trail during a survey in February and March can be avoided during construction activities, the EA stated.
      “Impacts to sensitive species from construction activities are anticipated to be low because of the lack of habitat and the implementation of measures to mitigate potential habitat loss and species injury/death,” the EA stated. Impacts from noise to sensitive species are anticipated to be low, “because species would not be attracted to the noise and would vacate the area until the noise subsides.”
      The EA is available online at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov and garrison.hawaii.army.mil/NEPA/NEPA.htm. Copies are also available at public libraries in Kailua-Kona and Hilo.
      Comments are being accepted through Jan. 18. Send to Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division (IMHW-PWE), Attn: Dale Kanehisa, 948 Santos Dumont Ave., Building 105, Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Barracks, 96857-5013.
      For more information, contact Kanehisa at 656-5670 or email dale.kanehisa@us.army.mil.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Scott Enright replaces Russell Kokubun as Ag chief.
Photo from Office of the Governor.
THE GOVERNOR HAS APPOINTED A NEW CHAIR of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. Scott Edward Enright has been named to replace Russell Kokubun, who is retiring at the end of the year.
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Enright’s appointment Thursday. “Scott is a respected member of the community whose collaborative spirit has served to bring all parties to the table toward nurturing and sustaining the agriculture industry in Hawai`i,” Abercrombie said. “With Scott’s experience, we will continue to strengthen our agriculture industry by improving infrastructure, building our local markets and expanding exports.”
       Abercrombie touted the Hamakua Coast resident’s agricultural experience, including his efforts to develop the state’s grass-fed beef industry.
      Enright has served as Kokubun’s deputy since February 2012. His previous experience includes working as a consultant for the Hawai`i Sustainable Agriculture and Renewable Energy Project and as a cultivation and irrigation superintendent for Hamakua Sugar Company.
      He earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and philosophy from University of Hawai`i – Hilo.
      The appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

HOLIDAY EVENTS CONTINUE in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      The 14th annual Invitational Wreath Exhibit continues at Volcano Art Center Gallery. Call 967-7565 for more information.
      Kilauea Military Camp’s Holiday Challenge ends New Year’s Eve. Visitors can vote for their favorite decorated cottage 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.

Volcano Awareness Month is featured at January's After Dark in the Park programs
Photo from USGS/HVO
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN LOOK FORWARD to the fifth annual Volcano Awareness Month coming up in January. Among other events, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory presents programs at After Dark in the Park each Tuesday except New Year’s Eve. The programs begin at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. 
      On Jan. 7, geologist Tim Orr reviews highlights from the past 31 years of eruption and talks about recent developments. On Jan. 14, geologist Matt Patrick presents an update on Kilauea’s summit eruption, including an overview of the volcanic processes occurring within the vent. Ben Gaddis, a long-time HVO volunteer, tells the story of Kilauea’s most violent eruption of the 20th century from the perspective of the people who lived through it on Jan. 21, and on Jan. 28, geochemists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias offer an update about volcanic gases, especially those related to the 2008-2013 activity at Halema`uma`u Crater. An optional gas tasting party follows the talk.
      For more on Volcano Awareness Month, see hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

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.


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