Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs, June 6, 2013

Hawai`i Health Connector, which is designed to help everyone get health insurance, joins Tropic Care free medical services in Pahala and Ocean View. Photo from www.hawaiihealthconnector.com
THE HAWAI`I HEALTH CONNECTOR will join Tropic Care, which is offering everyone free health screening and care from Army and Navy reserve physicians, dentists, and optometrists. The screening and care takes place at Pahala High School and Ocean View Community Center daily through June 12. Hawai`i Health Connector will be onsite this weekend and early next week to assist individuals with obtaining health insurance as required by new federal law and help locate them appropriate programs. Tropic Care representatives said they welcome everyone regardless of income or state of health to come to one of the two locations for free care from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until noon next Wednesday.

HELCO CAME TO KA`U yesterday evening to go over its Integrated Resource Plan for the future which it will soon submit to the Public Utilities Commission. The meeting was poorly attended by local residents compared to the meeting late last year when residents asked numerous questions about the proposed `Aina Koa Pono refinery. The `Aina Koa Pono issue is still alive, however, with more answers from Hawai`i Electric Light Co. and Hawaiian Electric Industries to be submitted to the PUC within the next week.
      According to the plans presented to the public last night by HELCO biofuel is one of the possible future sources of energy for the electric company. HELCO officials, including the company president Jay Ignacio, talked about possibly using wood chips from existing eucalyptus plantations and other trees to feed its existing Puna electric plant that currently uses oil. Another possibility is the use of Liquid Natural Gas and HELCO is studying the cost of both along with the price to refit the power plant.
HELCO President Jay Ignacio came to Ka`u last night with plans for the future.
Photo by Julia Neal
     The utility and its sister companies across the state are making plans to lower customer bills, create a clean energy future, modernize the grid and come up with fairness policies, utility company representatives said. Fairness involves such issues as which source of electricity should be purchased when too much is coming on line for the load. For example, should all the power coming from existing windmills be purchased before taking the power produced by photovoltaic panels on homes? Under current pricing, the photovoltaic energy on homes is purchased at a higher price than alternatives, like wind, hydroelectric and geothermal. Is it fair to turn down more energy from those who have made large investments in wind, hydro, geothermal and even solar farms as more people install photovoltaics on their houses to feed back into the system?
      HELCO engineer Ken Waltjen explained that technologies are changing very fast and the utility has to make plans for the future that are flexible. Action plans will be made every three years and updated constantly, he said. The last Integrated Resource Plan for the electric companies was completed in 1998.
      Will Rolston, the county's Energy Coordinator, urged the public to weigh in on the planning and other utility issues on the PUC website by reading the documents and sending in comments to be posted in the official docket. Open dockets include `Aina Koa Pono and the planning for the utility company's future.
      Plans being made by HELCO include upgrading the hydroelectric plants on Wailuku River, decommissioning the Shipman electric plants Three and Four in Hilo, which are now on standby, and completing the review of proposals for independent energy producers to provide more geothermal for the grid. HELCO also plans to further study waste to energy projects and will confer with the county, which has also shown interest in making energy from waste that comes from households, businesses and other sources. To read HELCO and HECO planning documents, see www.irpie.com.

SOLAR HUB REPRESENTATIVES met with the Hawaiian Ranchos residents at Ocean View this week to answer questions about its planned solar installations on 18 empty houselots in the subdivision. Pat Shudak, of Solar Hub, told residents that the state and the governor of Hawai`i are committed to getting off of foreign oil. The premise is to use solar to keep the electricity cost from going higher, he said. He explained that the Public Utilities Commission and HECO started a feed in tariff program, allotting 60 megawatts for solar developers on O`ahu, 10 megawatts on Maui and 10 megawatts on the Big Island. He said the utility will buy the power for a cheaper price than the utility can produce it from oil and said the purchase price will be 23 cents per kilowatt hour. He said Solar Hub is locked into a set price for 20 years, which should help keep electric prices from going higher.
Eighteen one-acre solar panel installations are planned for Ranchos.
Photo from www.hawaiianliving.com
    Shudak said, in addition to his project, about ten other solar projects are proposed by developers mauka of the Hwy 11 in Hawai`i Ocean View Estates.
      The lots that were purchased by Solar Hub required three-phase power to accommodate the solar project.
"What are you bringing to this community?" asked one resident, contending that HELCO will not give the community cheaper electricity despite the solar project. Several talked about possible wear and tear on roads.
    One Solar Hub spokesman said the project would fund a  new substation near the highway that will stabilize power. A resident responded that there has never been a problem with black outs in Ranchos.
      “You are turning our subdivisions into an industrial complex,” said one person. Another said he preferred a responsible company – like Solar Hub - to come in and clean up lots and make nice landscaping over some uncared for lots where people raise dogs in Ranchos.
      Shudak said the solar lots would not be industrial eyesores. There would be one acre of solar panels on each 3-acre lot surrounded by a security fence and landscaping.
      One resident asked whether the Solar Hub project would preclude him from having his own feed-in tariff program in Ranchos. Shudak said he was told that the improvements to the electric grid brought in by the project should make it easier for the residents to install their own.
      HELCO is still negotiating with Solar Hub, which will be required to build a new substation for  HELCO, Shudak said.

LOW-INCOME FAMILES can sign up for assistance in paying their electric bills tomorrow at the Old Pahala Clubhouse on Maile Street from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and every Friday during the Month of June. Residents can also sign up Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hawai`i Economic Opportunity Council office in Na`alehu office behind the community center.

OCEAN VIEW SUMMER FUN PROGRAM sponsored by Hawai`i County Parks & Recreation Department, will run from Monday, June 10 through Friday, July 19 at Kahuku Park from 8
a.m. to 2 p.m. for keiki who have completed kindergarten through sixth grade. There is still space available. Teresa Anderson (formerly
Teresa Anderson and Genny Galletes run Summer Fun in Ocean View.
Photo by Madalyn Mcwhite-Lamson
Alderdyce) was recently hired by Hawai`i County as a recreation technician at Kahuku Park and will lead the program with Genny Galletes. Both have been involved in organizing youth activities for many years in the Ka`u community.
      Registration fee is $100 per child ($20.00 payable by the parent/ family) and the remaining $80 to be subsidized by Friends of Kahuku Park, a committee of Ocean View Community Development Corp., as well as community donors. Robin Lamson , who started Friends of Kahuku Park in 2002 to improve the park, has retired as chairperson and has passed the torch to Genny Galletes.
      Summer Fun will have arts, crafts, sports, games, music and dance, nature exploration, special guests, snacks, etc. as well as five different excursions on Wednesdays to Pnalu`u Beach (6/14 & 7/3), Makalapua Cinema (6/19), Kona Aquatics Center (6/26), and K.M.C. Bowling at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park (7/10). Register by or call Teresa at 929-9113 or Genny at 217-5593. Last day to register is June 28.

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