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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014

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The public is invited to Ka`u Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and $15 dinner today at 6 p.m. at Gilligan's Cafe in Discovery Harbour.
HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES HAS AGREED to merge with NextEra Energy. The transaction is valued at approximately $4.3 billion.
      HEI said in a statement, “NextEra Energy shares Hawaiian Electric’s vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawai`i’s dependence on imported oil, integrating more rooftop solar energy and, importantly, lowering customer bills. Hawaiian Electric has filed plans with the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission that seek to enhance Hawai`i’s energy future by lowering electric bills, giving customers more service options and nearly tripling the amount of distributed solar, while achieving among the nation’s highest levels of renewable energy by 2030. NextEra Energy is supportive of Hawaiian Electric’s plans to accomplish these goals.
Connie Lau
      “NextEra Energy’s principal subsidiaries include Florida Power & Light Company, one of the nation’s largest and most well-respected electric utilities, and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which together with its affiliated entities … is North America’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Through NextEra Energy Resources, NextEra Energy brings to bear all the capabilities of a renewable energy leader, including utility-scale and distributed solar, wind and battery storage, as well as the resources to help accelerate Hawaiian Electric’s efforts to pursue a new energy future in Hawai`i. Together, FPL and NextEra Energy Resources have completed more than $24 billion worth of major capital projects since 2003, overall on time and under budget.”
      “Since 2001, FPL has reduced its reliance on foreign oil by more than 99 percent, improved its overall fuel efficiency by 20 percent and saved its customers more than $6.8 billion in fuel costs. FPL’s operational excellence has supported low customer bills, including typical residential customer electric bills that are the lowest in Florida for the fifth consecutive year and approximately 25 percent lower than the national average. Additionally, FPL’s highly efficient generation fleet is one of the cleanest and most modern among utilities nationwide. FPL also has developed, built and operates one of the nation’s most modern grid networks and offers the highest reliability among Florida’s investor-owned utilities, ranking in the top quartile nationally, with more than 99.98 percent reliability.”
      Connie Lau, HEI’s president and chief executive officer and chair of the board, said, “In NextEra Energy, Hawaiian Electric is gaining a trusted partner that can help the company accelerate its plans to achieve the clean energy future we all want for Hawai`i. NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric share a common vision, a more affordable clean energy future for Hawai`i. While our goals are among the most ambitious in the nation, including increasing renewables to 65 percent, tripling solar and lowering customer bills 20 percent by 2030, we are confident that by leveraging both NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric’s expertise and the additional financial resources that NextEra Energy brings, we can meet these targets even sooner.”  
      The merger is subject to Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission approval. According to HEI’s statement, “the merger approval application that NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric intend to file within the next 60 days with the Hawai`i PUC will demonstrate that the combination will ensure customer interests are protected and that customers will receive measurable and significant value and savings. In addition, the jurisdiction of the Hawai`i PUC over Hawaiian Electric will not be diminished as a result of the transaction. The companies look forward to demonstrating the benefits that this transaction will offer Hawaiian Electric’s customers and Hawai`i.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Wesley Machida
Douglas Murdock
GOV. DAVID IGE HAS NAMED SIX ADDITIONAL members of his Cabinet and two deputy directors. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
       “We are committed to finding the best and brightest in our community to serve as effective leaders in state government,” Ige said. “These appointments show a variety of talented and dedicated individuals from both the public and private sectors who have decided to work together to create a better Hawai`i for future generations.”
      Wesley Machida has been named Director of Finance and head of the Department of Budget and Finance. Machida is currently Executive Director of the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawai`i.
      Douglas G. Murdock has been named Comptroller and will head the Department of Accounting and General Services. Murdock is presently vice president for Administrative and Fiscal Affairs of Hawai`i Tourism Authority.
      James Nishimoto is Director for the Department of Human Resources Development. Nishimoto has 38 years of government service and has served in a wide range of positions.
Laurel Johnston
      Luis P. Salaveria is Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Salaveria brings more than 20 years of public and private sector experience and most recently served as Deputy Director of Finance.
      Mary Alice Evans will continue as Deputy Director at DBEDT. She took the post in April 2011 after working as an employee of the Department for 33 years and serving as DAGS’ deputy comptroller for two years.
      Rachael Wong, DrPH, will serve as Director of the Department of Human Services. Wong has most recently served as Vice President and chief operating officer of Healthcare Association of Hawai`i.
      Maria Zielinski is Director of Taxation and head of the Department of Taxation. She previously served as Deputy Comptroller and accounting administrator for Maui County.
      Pankaj Bhanot is Deputy Director at the Department of Human Services. He is currently serving as the department’s division administrator for the Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division.
      Laurel A. Johnston has been selected as Ige’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Former Director of the University of Hawai`i System Budget Office, Johnston has served as a researcher, writer, and administrator in diverse policy areas.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

A Pahala firefighter has been arrested for conducting lava tours through two closed
areas, including Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. Map from USGS/HVO
MATTHEW HOEFLINGER, A COUNTY FIREFIGHTER based at Pahala, is one of two persons arrested by Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers on Monday. Charges follow the pair leading lava viewing tours through the state Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve and Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve. 

DOCARE officers conducted an undercover operation, which resulted in the arrest of Hoeflinger, of Kea`au, and Christa Nicholas, of Mountain View. Hoeflinger and Nicholas were charged with 

reckless endangering in the second degree, conducting illegal commercial activities within a forest reserve, entering a closed area within a natural area reserve and conducting illegal commercial activities within a natural area reserve, all of which are misdemeanor offenses. They are also being charged with trespassing in the second degree and entering a closed area in a forest reserve, which are petty misdemeanor offenses. 
      Entry into closed lands is a violation of Hawai`i Administrative Rule Sec. 13-221-4 and Hawai`i Revised Statute 171-6 and is subject of penalty up to $5,000 for the first offense.
      “DLNR intends to prosecute any trespassers who willfully violate the closures and place enforcement officers and emergency personnel at increased risk,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.
      Signs have been posted at various access points warning the public of the hazardous conditions.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL MEETING & DINNER is today at Gilligan’s Restaurant in Discovery Harbour at 6 p.m. Dinner is $15 a person for pizza or spaghetti, salad and dessert. Beverages include beer, wine or soda. Money will be collected at the door.
      Membership with a listing in The Directory 2015 is $35 and will be accepted at the meeting.

KOHALA PERFORMS A HOLIDAY CONCERT tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp Theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Advance $15 tickets are available at Volcano Kilauea Kreations, Kilauea General Store and Kilauea Kreations II in Hilo. $20 at the door.

ENTRANCE FEE IS A CAN OF FOOD for the food bank when Tiki Mama and Friends present the first annual Goddess Festival, a family fun event. Featuring art, music, food, dance, vendors and craft activities for children the celebration is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 939-9817 for more information.  

VOLCANO ART CENTER PRESENTS a visual sound movement performance and art collaboration Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Dance performers are Shizuno Nasu, Jenn Eng and Rieko Inoue. Sound and music is by Joe Okuda. Art includes painting by Susumu Sakaguchi and sculpture by Stephen Freedman.
      Tickets are $12 for VAC members and $15 for non-members. Call 967-8222.

VOLCANO FESTIVAL CHORUS OFFERS its free annual gift to the community Saturday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp Theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. KDEN presents old favorites and modern arrangements.

HANA HOU RESTAURANT’S KEIKI CHRISTMAS party is Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. in Na`alehu. Previous announcements in Ka`u News Briefs of it being today, Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. are incorrect.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.










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