Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Hawai`i County is trimming a tree at Ka`u High School parking lot to prevent its roots from further intruding on a drainage ditch.
Photo by Julia Neal
TRIMMING TREES ACROSS THE ISLAND has become a priority for county and private tree trimmers in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle, which felled trees across roads and power lines and onto some houses. The tree trimming today on county Department of Parks & Recreation land at the parking lot of Ka`u High School, however, was previously scheduled. Being cut back is a huge rubber tree that shaded the parking lot below the athletic field. However, it will not be completely removed, said area parks maintenance manager Dennis Riordan. He said the ficus needs to be trimmed to prevent its roots from further intruding on a drainage ditch that services the school grounds and drainage coming through Pahala from above the village. The ficus is also impeding on power lines, and a branch fell on an adjacent house lot.
      The county’s liability is always at stake when neighbors complain about trees, said Riordan. A row of large shade trees was cut down at Pahala Community Center several years ago after complaints from an adjacent church.
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The state Board of Agriculture has approved an Emergency Loan Program
for farmers and ranchers who suffered tropical storm damage.
Photo by John Cross
THE STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE HAS APPROVED an Emergency Loan Program for farmers and ranchers who suffered damage due to Tropical Storm Iselle, according to board member and Big Island farmer Richard Ha.
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s declaration of the entire state of Hawai`i as a disaster area due to Iselle authorizes expenditure of state monies for disaster relief.
      The main elements of the Board of Agriculture’s emergency loan program are: 
  • Maximum loan amount: $100,000; 
  • Terms to be determined on a case-by-case basis as needed. Consideration will be given to applicants based on prior performance and projected cash flow based on reasonable assumptions of revenue and expenses; 
  • Interest rate: three percent (Federal loan program may have a lower interest rate.); 
  • The credit-elsewhere requirement shall be waived for loans of $50,000 or less; 
  • The three-year residency requirement for U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens shall not apply; 
  • Collateral requirements may be modified or waived, as necessary, on a case-by-case basis. 
      Applications can be accepted until Dec. 31, 2014.
      For more information, see hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/home/emergency-loan-program or call 933-9975.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FOLLOWING REJECTION OF THEIR Integrated Resource Planning Report in April by the state Public Utilities Commission, Hawaiian Electric Companies, which include HECO, Maui Electric and Hawai`i Electric Light Co., have proposed plans for Hawai`i’s energy future that they say will lower electric bills and give customers more service options. They say they plan to nearly triple the amount of distributed solar while achieving the highest level of renewable energy in the nation by 2030. 
      The PUC directed each of the HECO companies to file Power Supply Improvement Plans to address critical power supply resource planning issues. In its order, the PUC said, “The PSIPs are to include actionable strategies and implementation plans to expeditiously retire older, less-efficient fossil generation, reduce must-run generation, increase generation flexibility and adopt new technologies such as demand response and energy storage for ancillary services, and institute operational practice changes, as appropriate, to enable integration of a diverse portfolio of additional low cost renewable energy resources, reduction of energy costs and improvements in generation operational efficiencies.” 
      “Our energy environment is changing rapidly, and we must change with it to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president of corporate planning and business development. “These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar.”
HECO president and CEO Dick Rosenblum
      According to HECO, the companies will support sustainable growth of rooftop solar and plan to almost triple the amount of distributed solar by 2030. They will issue a clear, open planning process that will let customers and solar contractors know how much more solar can be added each year. Grid enhancements will make possible increased integration of solar power, and optimized control settings for solar equipment will improve safety and reduce the risk of power outages.
      As part of the PUC’s recently opened distributed generation docket, the companies will support policies that ensure fairness to all customers. This includes fair pricing both for customers who generate power but who also rely on the company for additional electricity and/or backup, as well as those who remain “full-service” utility customers.
      The companies will also expand use of energy storage systems, including batteries, increasing the ability to add renewables by addressing potential disruptions on electric grids caused by variable solar and wind power.
      The companies will develop smart grids to help customers monitor and control energy use, enable more customer service options, make service more reliable and improve integration of renewable energy. HELCO proposes to complete installation of smart grids on Hawai`i Island by the end of 2017.
      The companies plan to offer new products and services to customers. Community solar and microgrids will give customers new options for taking advantage of lower-cost renewable energy, and voluntary demand response programs will provide customers financial incentives for helping manage the flow of energy on the grid.
      The companies will switch from high-priced oil to lower-cost liquefied natural gas. Energy needs not met by renewables will largely be met with cleaner and less expensive LNG. Most existing oil-fired generating units will be converted to run on LNG. Older generating units will be deactivated by 2030 as new, more efficient, quick-starting LNG fueled generators come online.
      “Achieving this transformation requires significant upfront investment by the utilities and unaffiliated companies to build the necessary flexible, smart, and renewable energy infrastructure to continue to provide reliable service to customers,” HECO stated.
According to the company, customer bills are expected to decline, with some fluctuations, by an estimated 20 percent by 2030.
      “This plan sets us on a path to a future with more affordable, clean, renewable energy,” said Dick Rosenblum, HECO president and CEO. “It’s the start of a conversation that all of us – utilities, regulators and other policymakers, the solar industry, customers and other stakeholders – need to be a part of as we work together to achieve the energy future we all want for Hawai`i.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE INAUGURAL KA`U COFFEE TRAIL RUN around and above the Ka`u Coffee Mill along Wood Valley Road will also feature an `Ohana Day on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with kids activities, entertainment, games, silent and live auctions, food, crafts and more events. In addition to a Half Marathon, 10K and 5K trail runs, `O Ka`u Kakou, which is organizing the event, is offering a Kendama Tournament. 
      Registration is online at race360.com/21357. The races will take competitors through “breathtaking landscapes and panoramic views of the Ka`u coastline and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Run through macadamia and coffee fields, eucalyptus and `ohi`a tree forests and cattle grazing pastures. Prepare yourself to negotiate various terrains and moderately challenging grades up to the summit at 3,100-ft. elevation,” says a statement announcing the race.
      Competitors are expected from around Hawai`i and the mainland as well as Japan.
      Sponsors are the county, Ka`u Coffee Mill, Edmund C. Olson Trust II and OKK. 
      Runs and walks start at 7:30 a.m., beginning at the coffee mill at 96-2694 Wood Valley Road.
      To sign up for food, arts & crafts, retail and information booths, contact Gay Polido at 808-638-1831 or gay.polido@yahoo.com.

VOLUNTEERS MEET AT KILAUEA VISITOR CENTER in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s to help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from park trails Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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