Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One of the goals of Ka`u Farmers Union United, which holds its second meeting Saturday, is to increase food production in Ka`u.
Photo by Julia Neal
COFFEE BERRY BORER was one of the main topics at the Ka`u Coffee College last Sunday. Sponsored by the Ka`u Coffee Festival, with help from the state Department of Agriculture, scientists came to the festival and the college to both encourage and to warn farmers about the pest as well as new pests that may just be entering Hawai`i. A new disease that is complex, involving fungus and bacteria, with mites as the vectors, was discussed. It may be slow moving, but growers on one farm in South Kona took down all of their coffee trees to make sure they did not become the breeding ground that would spread the pest throughout the coffee lands, said Rob Curtis, an entomologist with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture.
Ka`u Coffee farmers are warned to look out for coffee rust, which can devastate
coffee plantations. Photo from Smartse
      Coffee farmers were also warned to be on the look out for rust, which is not yet in Hawai`i, but destroys coffee trees in other parts of the world. Rust could come in on plant materials, imported illegally without inspection. It could come in on spores on bags of coffee that are imported. One way to prevent rust from coming here is by refraining from bringing coffee plants or beans from overseas, recommended scientists attending the Ka`u Coffee College.
      Keeping out pests coming in with shipments of plants or coffee is difficult. In New Zealand, for example, a shipment of grain with a pest that could destroy grain crops there would be destroyed. In Hawai`i, such a shipment of a commodity with a pest would more likely be treated and still allowed into the state. New Zealand has more protective laws for keeping out invasive species and pests than Hawai`i, Curtis said.
      Hawai`i identifies about 20 new pests each year, and the agricultural inspection of imports is far from 100 percent. People can bring in a pest with a handful of plant seeds in their pocket on the airplane. A pest can come on imported potted plants or in bags of beans or other raw foodstuffs shipped into the islands. Scientists try to fend off the invasive pests and weeds with pesticides and by looking for predators of the pest – other insects, for example, that can be imported after being approved for release in Hawai`i.
      One concern with the coffee berry borer is that it is similar to a native beetle, and agriculturalists have to be careful to protect the native beetle while going after the borer.
      One improvement in the way plants are inspected is planned coordination between federal and state agricultural inspectors, said Curtis.
      See more on Ka`u Coffee College in tomorrow’s Ka`u News Briefs.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.
“RENEWABLES MAKE SENSE, NOT ONLY ENVIRONMENTALLY, but it makes economic sense as well in Hawai`i because we have the opportunity to displace that high price of imported oil,” Hawaiian Electric Industries president and CEO Constance Lau said at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Honolulu last week. “Our job is to integrate as much as we can, and the company is committed to doing that.” 
Constance Lau, CEO of HEI, says
renewable energy makes economic sense.
      Duane Shimogawa, of Pacific Business News, reported Lau saying that 850 solar-energy systems had been installed by 2008, while 40,000 had been installed by last year. In this year’s first quarter, 3,000 systems were integrated into the grid, Lau said. 
      “We are trying to set a pace for the future,” she said. The state Public Utilities Commission “wants lower, more stable bills, expanding customers’ options and improving reliability. We share this vision, and our strategy is based on these principles. It’s critical to continue to modernize our grid; it’s the backbone of the utility of the future (with) such investments as smart-grid technology and energy storage.”
      HECO reported a first-quarter net income of $35.4 million, up 45 percent from $24.4 million in the same quarter in 2013. The company cited lower operational and maintenance expenses and higher revenues.
      According to Shimogawa, Lau also said Hawaiian Electric Co. imported three million fewer barrels of fuel last year because of its use of renewable energy, saving $350 million. She also said 18 percent of the energy on HECO’s grid is renewable, higher than the target of 15 percent. “We have integrated distributed renewables at a record-setting pace,” she said. “We are making Hawai`i a leader in clean energy.”
      See bizjournals.com/pacific.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

U.S. SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ APPLAUDED PRESIDENT OBAMA and his administration following an announcement that the President will be making more than 300 private and public sector commitments to create jobs and cut carbon pollution by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency. The President announced executive actions that will lead to $2 billion in energy efficiency investments in federal buildings; smarter appliances that will cut carbon pollution by more than 380 million metric tons and training programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020.
      “These clean energy actions by President Obama will protect our environment and cut carbon pollution by more than 380 million metric tons – the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road for one year,” Schatz said.
Sen. Brian Schatz supports clean energy.
      According to Schatz, America has increased its electricity generation from solar more than tenfold and tripled electricity production from wind power since 2009. Last year, about a quarter of new power generation capacity was from solar – second only to natural gas. Growing deployment, led in large part by the utility sector, has driven down costs: over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 50 percent – helping to give more and more American families and businesses access to affordable, clean energy.
      Last month, Schatz co-introduced the Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives Act, legislation that would boost energy efficiency in government, in industry, and in commercial and residential buildings, which account for more than 40 percent of energy consumption in the United States.
      Schatz is also a cosponsor of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. This bipartisan bill uses a variety of low-cost tools to reduce barriers for private sector energy users and drive adoption of off-the-shelf efficiency technologies that will save businesses and consumers money, make America more energy independent and reduce emissions.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL HOLDS A SPECIAL MEETING tomorrow at 9 a.m. to consider the operating budget submitted last week by Mayor Billy Kenoi. The budget is 3.4 percent larger than the budget in effect when Kenoi took office in 2008. “This budget continues our strategic investments in county services and infrastructure to support our working families and businesses, while carefully controlling the cost of government,” Kenoi said.
Mayor Billy Kenoi
      Kenoi’s budget cites funding for additional police officers in Ka`u and staffing positions at the Ka`u District Gym & Shelter as examples of support for and investment in the community.
      Kenoi says the state Legislature’s recent increase in the cap on the amount of transient accommodations tax will provide an additional $1.86 million to Hawai`i County. He allocates the entire amount into pre-funding future employee health benefits, also known as GASB 45. “That allows the county to increase its contribution to GASB 45 to $6.09 million for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, which is nearly double the contribution budgeted for the current fiscal year,” Kenoi says.
      Kenoi concludes, “The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island.”
      The budget Kenoi submitted to the County Council is available on tomorrow’s meeting agenda. See hawaiicounty.gov.
      Ka`u residents can participate in the meeting via videoconferencing at Ocean View Community Center.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

TEANA KAHOOHANOHANO SHARES HER KNOWLEDGE and love of native hula adornments during a ti leaf kupe`e demonstration tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

A STAFF MEMBER FROM U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD’S office meets with constituents and assists with casework and other issues tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. For more information, call 987-5698.

KA`U FARMERS UNION UNITED’S second meeting is set for this Saturday, May 17 at 5 p.m. at Ka`u Coffeehouse & Guesthouse next to the 76 gas station in Na`alehu.
      “We set out some strong goals with our last meeting, and we have a lot of momentum to keep going,” said organizer Malian Lahey. The goals include growing more food in Ka`u, long-term leases for ag water from Department of Land & Natural Resources and integrating agricultural and environmental education into the public school system. Also, “People need to eat food from Hawai`i and know where their food comes from,” Lahey said.
      For more information, email Lahey at malian@kauspecialtycoffee.com.


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