Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kahuku Unit of Hawa`i Volcanoes National Park invites everyone to programs in June, including the Palm Trail Hike, which crosses this 1868 lava flow. Photo from NPS
THE COST OF SOLAR PLUS STORAGE for residential consumers of electricity in Hawai`i is already competitive with the price of utility grid power, according to Barclays, the seventh largest bank in the world. Barclays has downgraded the entire U.S. electric sector corporate bond market over concerns that declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic power generation and residential-scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo. While utilities account for almost 7.5 percent of Barclays’ U.S. Corporate Index by market value, according to Michael Aneiro of Barron’s Magazine, the bank is recommending that investors consider alternatives to utilities in areas where solar plus storage is competitive.
      According to a report from Barclays, “in the 100-plus year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power. We believe that solar plus storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade. We see near-term risks to credit from regulators and utilities falling behind the solar plus storage adoption curve and long-term risks from a comprehensive re-imagining of the role utilities play in providing electric power.”
Rob Wile, of Business Insider
      Reporting on Barclays’ downgrade, Rob Wile, of Business Insider, said times are changing for the “regulated monopolies” which “face almost no competition and enjoy access to cheap credit.
      “Cheap solar panels combined with cheap storage will spark a grid ‘defection spiral’ that will pry away utilities’ grip on the power monopoly.”
      Wile noted that Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the annual output of PV modules increased almost 30 times in the past decade, making them much cheaper, and battery storage system costs have declined from as much as $17,000 in 2009 to about $3,700 in 2013.
      “It’s been a good run (for the utilities),” Wile concluded.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

“IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO THOSE of us in Hawai`i who know Gen. Eric Shinseki that he would assume responsibility for the reprehensible conduct of those in the VA, whose misconduct has led to unacceptable delays in serving the veterans for whom he has been and is a champion,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie regarding the resignation of the Kauai-born U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
      “Twice wounded himself, he has had as his chief ambition since becoming secretary, the welfare of veterans and their families,” Abercrombie said. “That accounts for his resignation today. A man of Gen. Shinseki’s integrity could not allow focus on him to obscure taking the necessary steps to address the pressing issues involved. 
      “It is a measure of his values, Hawai`i’s values and his lifelong commitment to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces that he wants his resignation to lead to a systematic review of, and the taking of action on, the challenges facing the VA in terms of personnel and program support.
      “Eric Shinseki was and is a true son of Hawai`i.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS TOMORROW and continues through Nov. 30. Are you ready? A Hurricane Preparedness Guide is available on the Civil Defense page of hawaiicounty.gov.
      The guide tells what Ka`u residents should do to get ready for a disaster in advance:
  • Determine safe evacuation routes; 
  • Learn locations of official shelters; 
  • Make emergency plans for pets; 
  • Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and cell phones; 
  • Buy food that will keep, and store drinking water; 
  • Buy plywood or other material to protect your home; 
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts; 
  • Trim trees and shrubbery; 
  • Determine where to move boats in an emergency; and
  • Review insurance policies. 
      See more on hurricane preparedness in future Ka`u News Briefs.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

IMPROVING LAVA-FLOW RISK ASSESSMENT for populated areas is the topic of the current issue of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Volcano Watch. HVO is testing a new technique that can help identify structures, thereby enabling civil authorities to know how many are in a geographic region threatened by lava flows.
      Hawaiian Ocean View Estates was one area where HVO ran tests involving image classification. They used satellite images in combination with geographic information systems software to locate and classify structures. They then checked their accuracy by going into the area and manually counting the number of structures.
      “Our study shows that classifying satellite images can be useful in estimating the number of structures potentially in harm’s way,” HVO concluded. “Ultimately, it will enhance our ability to assess our island’s vulnerability to future lava flows.”
      For more, see hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U RESIDENTS ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE in Hawai`i County government meetings this week. County Council holds a special meeting Monday at 9 a.m. for its second reading of the County Operating & Capital Improvement Project budgets.
      Committees meet Tuesday, with Government Relations & Economic Development at 9 a.m.; Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability, 9:15 a.m.; Finance, 9:30 a.m.; and Planning, 10:30 a.m.
      Hawai`i County Council hold its regular meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m.
      All meetings take place at Council Chambers in Hilo. Videoconferencing is available at Ocean View Community Center.
      Agendas are available at hawaiicounty.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

NA`ALEHU PUBLIC LIBRARY HOSTS a Hardware Science Program Tuesday at 3 p.m. HouseMart, Ben Franklin Crafts and Ace Hardware are partnering with Hawai`i State Publi Library System to present this inspiring program that uses simple equipment and tools available at hardware and craft stores to teach Science, Technology, Math, Art and Engineering concepts by providing hands-on experiences that can be replicated at home. Program is recommended for ages 8 years old and up.
      Call 939-2442 for more information.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK INVITES KA`U residents to participate in free Kahuku programs in June.
      During the `Ohi`a Lehua program, participants learn about the vital role of `ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the `ohi`a tree, and the lehua flower. Visitors traveling through the park will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent tree in the Kahuku Unit. The program is offered Sunday, June 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Yellow `ohia lehua is one of many forms of the `ohi`a tree found at Hawai`i
Volcanoes National Park's Kahuku Unit. Photo by Dave Boyle
      People and Land of Kahuku is a moderate two-mile, three-hour guided hike that loops through varied landscapes to explore the human history of Kahuku. Emerging native forests, pastures, lava fields, and other sites hold clues about ways people have lived and worked on the vast Kahuku lands – from the earliest Hawaiians, through generations of ranching families, to the current staff and volunteers of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Participants learn about the powerful natural forces at work here and how people have adapted to, shaped and restored this land. The guided hike is offered Sunday, June 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
      Palm Trail is a moderately difficult, 2.6-mile loop traversing scenic pasture along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, sections of remnant native forest and amazing volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered Sunday, June 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
      For all programs, enter the Kahuku unit on the mauka side of Hwy 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Sturdy footwear, water, raingear, sun protection, and a snack are recommended.


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