Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Legislation calling for tax relief on donations to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan is on its way to President Barack Obama.
Map from wunderground.com

AS THE MILITARY PLANS TO EXPAND TRAINING areas and the number and sophistication of war games conducted on the Big Island, its leaders plan to meet with warriors and defense industry leaders from around the world next month in Waikiki. The conference, April 8 – 10, is called Land and Power in the Pacific.
Officials said one aim of LANPAC is "assuring security and stability in the Pacific."
     Representatives from more than thirty countries are invited to the confab. Speakers include generals from the U.S., Japan and Bangladesh. The Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare and the U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Pacific Command are organizing LANPAC. A statement says that one aim is “assuring security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
      See a map at afcea.org/events/tnlf/east12-/documents/MathewsRevRecvd.pdf.
      “Participants will explore, in depth, the concept of strategic land power and the future of the Asia-Pacific theater with valuable perspectives from U.S. military and civilian leaders, industry leaders and service leaders from allied countries in this very important region of the world,” retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, president of AUSA, said in a release.
      Seven of the 10 largest armies in the world are in the Pacific theater, and 22 of the 27 countries in the region have an army officer as chief of defense, according to John R. Deni at the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. 
      However, the Army has struggled to establish its place in the Pacific in a time of downsizing and a stated Pentagon goal of avoiding the type of foreign nation occupation operations that fell to the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.
      Featured speakers will include Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, head of U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, along with Gen. Dennis Via, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command; Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander, U.S. 7th Fleet; Gen. Kiyofumi Iwata, chief of staff, Japan Ground Self Defense Force; Gen. Iqbal Karim Bhui­yan, chief of staff, Bangladesh Army; Lt. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, U.S. Army chief information officer; and Brig. Tim Gall, land component commander, Headquarters, Joint Forces, New Zealand.
      Last year’s inaugural LANPAC forum was advertised as a way to “leverage the strategic location of Hawai`i to bring together government and industry representatives.”
      More than 600 attended the symposium, including representatives from 17 countries, U.S. Army Pacific said.
      The event, held last year and also this year at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, will feature industry exhibits.

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CO., HAWAI`I ELECTRIC LIGHT CO. and other electric utility companies are in danger of being FedExed, “like the post office got FedExed,” as rooftop photovoltaic systems become lower-priced, said former Energy secretary Steven Chu. 
      Chu suggested that utilities go into the rooftop solar business. He presented his arguments for the new business model at the University of Chicago, as reported in Forbes by Jeff McMahon.
Steven Chu
      “This is not a radical model,” Chu said. “This is the old telephone system model, where the telephone companies owned the phone, they rented you the phone for so long, they maintained it.” In Chu’s model, the utility would own the panels and batteries and sell electricity to customers at a much lower rate.
      The model benefits the utilities and their customers, according to Chu.
      Utility companies could expand without needing to install new transmission lines, complete environmental impact reports, “and all of that stuff,” he said. They would also benefit from a distributed network of panels and batteries “where they need it the most, at the end of the distribution system, for grid stability.”
      Besides getting lower rates, customers would get solar power without having to pay for installation, as well as get a battery backup that works up to a week.
      Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, criticized HECO’s slowing of rooftop solar installations because of concerns about capacity and safety. “Solar installations don’t threaten grid stability until they approach 20 percent of the customer base,” Chu said. As of January, seven percent of HELCO’s customers had solar systems.
      Lynn Unemori, of HECO, told McMahon the company has adopted “a more cautious approach to applications for new PV systems on circuits with a large amount of PV already installed, solely for reasons of safety and reliability.”
      See forbes.com.

LEGISLATION TO OFFER TAX RELIEF on charitable donations to the Philippines is on its way to President Obama after being passed by Congress. 
      The Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will allow Americans who make donations for storm relief and recovery in the Philippines to deduct them from their taxes.
      Under this bill, donations must be made after the President signs this bill into law and before April 15, 2014 in order to qualify.
      Sen. Mazie Hirono co-sponsored the legislation. “Given the great deal of help still needed, the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will help spur another round of new contributions when charitable giving has tapered off and help American families get more back from their tax returns this year,” she said.
      Ka`u’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who co-sponsored similar legislation in the House, said, “In the past several months, people in Hawai`i and across the country have shown a tremendous outpouring of compassion and support for so many of our friends and family who were deeply impacted by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. I continue to pray for those who lost loved ones, and I encourage everyone to not forget that there is still so much work to be done, and to consider how we can help in their efforts.”

      Legislation to provide tax incentives for charitable giving was also enacted following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

ALOHA BLUEGRASS BAND AND KEOKI KAHUMOKU present a free concert at Pahala Plantation House this evening at 7 p.m. Donations are welcome.
      Information about the performers is available at alohabluegrassband.com.

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND AND NATURAL AREA RESERVES teams invite volunteers to their annual Manuka Natural Area Reserve shoreline hiking cleanup in South Kona this Saturday. The region includes anchialine pools, rugged beaches and a couple of embayments.
      “Every year, we are able to cover more ground and move further north along this rocky, remote shoreline,” said HWF coordinator Megan Lamson.
      Space is limited. RSVP to Lamson at 769-7629 or kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.

Whale Tale Photo from Thomas C. Stein 
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK encourages volunteers to register to help count humpback whales during the final 2014 Sanctuary Ocean Count held this Saturday, March 29 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
      Ka`ena Point, near the end of Chain of Craters Road, is one of Hawai`i Island’s 21 Sanctuary Ocean Count sites. It is the first pullout along the ocean, close to the end of the road – about a 45-minute drive from the park entrance. Bring a cushion or chair to sit on, snacks, sun and rain protection. Binoculars are optional. Check in with Sanctuary Ocean Count site leader, park ranger Adrian Boone.
      Volunteers on shore monitor humpbacks in nearshore waters for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Residents and visitors look forward to this yearly event, which provides important population and distribution information about humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands.
      “The Sanctuary Ocean Count is an ideal opportunity for the community and the park to work together as stewards of the ocean,” said Public Affairs officer Jessica Ferracane. “These splendid creatures swim more than 2,000 miles to Hawai`i from Arctic waters every winter, and the annual count is one way to observe and record their behavior and ensure their future.”
      For more information, see hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov. To register online, see sanctuaryoceancount.org, or simply show up for all or part of the count.
      For additional questions, call the Ocean Count Hotline 808-268-3087.



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