Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Jan. 10, 2014

Keaiwa, here performing at a National Guard concert in August, returns to the stage tomorrow for a United Way benefit concert at Pahala Community Center. Photo by St. First Class Christian Stasvkow
NA`ALEHU RESIDENT RICHARD CREAGAN is the new state representative for District V. Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced his appointment of Creagan to the seat recently left vacant by the resignation of Rep. Denny Coffman. The appointment is effective immediately and for the balance of the term. 
      “Richard’s diverse experience as a physician, researcher, farmer, Peace Corps volunteer and educator will contribute greatly to his service to the people of Hawai`i,” Abercrombie said.
Dr. Richard Creagan
replaces Denny Coffman
     Creagan first came to Hawai`i in 1966 and trained for the Peace Corps on Moloka`i for two months. He then served as a health care worker in the Marshall Islands for two years. He speaks fluent Marshallese. Creagan is vice president of Kiolaka`a Mountain Farms.
      As a physician, Creagan worked for 10 years in California prior to moving to Hawai`i full-time 23 years ago. Since then, he has worked in the Emergency Department and served as vice-chief of staff at Kona Community Hospital, monitored disease outbreaks for the state Department of and helped found and run Hualalai Urgent Care.
      As an educator, Creagan has taught junior scientists at Yale and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer, seventh- and eighth-grade math and science in Pittsburgh, PA and tutored students in English at Na`alehu Elementary School.
      Creagan graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and then with an M.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Hawai`i – Hilo.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Expanding early education is one of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's priorities.
Photo from Office of the Governor
PAHALA AND NA`ALEHU SCHOOL CAMPUSES are among the 30 statewide that would offer prekindergarten classes next year if the plan is approved by the state Legislature. 
      The program is intended to serve 640 children who qualify based on income and age requirements. Children must be four years old by July 31, which follows the new kindergarten age requirement beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Department of Education teachers and educational assistants will staff the classrooms.
      The program is being modeled after prekindergarten classrooms established with Race to the Top funds in the Ka`u-Kea`au-Pahoa complex. “These classrooms were successful due to the leadership of Complex Area Superintendent Mary Correa, the professional development support provided through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded P-3 grant to ensure quality, and the understanding of the importance of early learning by the principals,” said Dr. GG Weisenfeld, Executive Office on Early Learning director. “Our partnership with DOE in creating this program is a critical step to providing more of our children access to a high-quality prekindergarten program.”
      Selection of the 32 classrooms was based on Title I status, in which 35 percent or more of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, limitations of preschools in the community such as in rural areas, available space at schools, currently operating DOE prekindergarten classrooms with federal money that is about to end and the interest and willingness of principals to work with EOEL on implementing a quality program.
      “It’s really the beginning of something that we can be very optimistic about,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "We’re creating access for children statewide.”
      Mountain View School, which serves Volcano families, would also offer the program.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I STATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION is currently investigating state electric utilities’ rate-setting practice know as decoupling, which separates the utilities’ revenue from changes in energy sales. Decoupling, as asserted by its proponents, has the benefits of encouraging the substitution of renewable resources, distributed generation and energy efficiency for the utility’s fossil fuels production by reducing a utilities’ disincentive to promote these types of resources and programs, while simultaneously protecting a utilities’ financial health from erosion as these types of programs go into effect. 
      Hawai`i County sees it differently. It says decoupling “is glowingly described as beneficial in transferring all revenue risk from the utilities to ratepayers. For a $3.1 billion business that is essentially a ‘hyper-monopoly’ (given physical isolation of the Islands and lack of interconnecting grids), with at least some level of community service obligation, how much risk are ratepayers expected to assume, all? Is it the obligation of ratepayers to support a business organization whose pay and benefits are so high that the average citizen can only dream of attaining?”
      The County says it is “appropriately concerned about shifting ever more financial risks to ratepayers, as well as the consequences of decoupling regarding incentives to control costs.”
      Hawai`i County questions the need for decoupling. “Having already achieved 46.7 percent renewable energy generation, the focus now for the Island of Hawai`i (and going forward for the state) is on energy projects that provide cost reduction benefits to ratepayers (whether directly or indirectly) and that improve and maximize integration of additional lower cost renewable energy.” It refers to a statement made by the PUC in its recent denial of the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Light Co. that supports this view.
 According to Hawai`i County, HELCO, which operates Keahole Power Plant in Kona,
recognizes that clean energy is "cost-competitive."
      “With so much renewable power already produced/utilized on the Island of Hawai`i, there is no longer a need to automatically penalize one form of energy against others,” the county states. “Given that renewable energy sources in Hawai`i are often lower cost than fossil-fuel generation, transparent and accurate pricing that is accessible to power generation investors/entrepreneurs and ratepayers can be more effective than current mechanisms, especially decoupling.”
      The county states that, “when alternative energy is available at competitive prices, decoupling is not needed as further incentive to adopt it, nor will decoupling be an effective incentive for consumers when compared to reduced pricing. The county says Hawai`i Electric Co. “recognizes that clean energy is –‘cost-competitive’ in Hawai`i” and that the utility describes multiple renewable projects that promise lower production costs.
      “Utility markets and their regulators have long struggled with challenges of how to emulate a competitive market and obtain market-based benefits in regulated, monopoly utility conditions, especially in conditions as insulated as Hawai`i,” the county states. It says it supports mechanisms that can automatically adjust electricity pricing in a fair, economically effective and timely manner, as well as based on verifiable data.
      “The county encourages all efforts to move Hawai`i’s electricity system closer to a more market- and performance-driven approach, with pricing mechanisms that accurately reflect underlying cost structures, marginal production costs, proper dispatch, and appropriate operations and maintenance expenditures,” the county says. “Further, ratepayers’ interests versus shareholder interests should be given more balance.”
      “Decoupling revenues from actual volumes of electricity sold … fails to provide correct economic incentives/signals to drive new energy sources and energy efficiency,” the county states. “Decoupling is particularly pernicious for price-based economic responses because neither customers nor investors will know the final price of electricity in one year until either the Revenue Adjustment Mechanism or a rate case is settled the following year.
      The County questions “why an ever-expanding list of business risks should be transferred from the utility to its customers.”
      The county says more attention is needed on current avoided-cost contracts and system efficiencies, dispatch and demand-response, rather than on decoupling.
      The County notes that creating “’financial indifference’ is a weak incentive for, and quite possibly irrelevant to, encouraging increased availability of lower cost and/or renewably sourced energy.”
      More about the PUC’s investigation is available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2013-0141.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.   

Ka`u High senior Kamrie Koi is producing tomorrow's concert
at Pahala Community Center.
A CONCERT BENEFITING UNITED WAY takes place tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Entertainment includes Just in Case, JR Band, Keaiwa, Boni Narito, Honokua, Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko, Ka`u High School ensemble class and more. There will be vendors, games, raffle tickets and prizes. For more information, call producer Kamrie Koi at 430-4964 or Jolene Koi at 936-6249. 

VOLCANO ART CENTER’S Colossal Rummage yART Sale is tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village.

THE COLOR OF SACRED, Christina Skaggs’ exhibit of new art, opens tomorrow with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply. Call 967-7565 for more information.

KA`U HOSPITAL URGES RESIDENTS to complete its Community Health Needs Assessment atsurveymonkey.com/s/93HQ5MX. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 31.
CORRECTION: KA`U NEWS BRIEFS’ Jan. 7 story about Ka`u Council member Brenda Ford’s Bill 109 regarding genetically modified organisms contained an error. The bill would ban all GMO crops and require their removal within 30 months, rather than 30 days.

SEE THE DIRECTORY from the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce at http://snack.to/fzpfg59c.


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