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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014

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Individuals can still sign up to participate in Pahala Christmas Parade a week from today on Sunday, Dec. 14. Pahala Preschool rode in the parade last year. Photo by Julia Neal
CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD HAS JOINED a group of bipartisan colleagues to call attention to significant policy provisions that were inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 without a vote or serious debate. The annual defense bill includes a two-year extension of the authority to equip and train so-called moderate Syrian rebels.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
      “It is absolutely unacceptable to include an open-ended policy of arming and training so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels in the NDAA without any serious public debate or a standalone vote,” said Gabbard, a twice-deployed veteran who has repeatedly criticized the strategy to arm Syrian rebels. “Giving weapons and training to these rebels whose stated purpose is to overthrow President Assad will have lengthy and costly consequences because it continues the broken policy of overthrowing regimes and nation-building that has cost so many precious lives and our nation’s treasure, drawing us into another country’s civil war. I voted against this provision on Sept. 17, when the Administration promised Congress would be able to reassess this strategy in December 2014. To the contrary, Congress has had no opportunity to discuss, debate, or vote on this standalone question. There is no reason to bury this issue in a major must-pass annual defense bill that includes critical provisions for our military’s readiness and our troops’ well-being. We must have a standalone vote so the American people’s voice can be heard.

      “Congress cannot continue to offer tacit support for a strategy that does not support achieving our mission of destroying ISIL and the Islamic extremists who seek to harm us. By continuing to funnel weapons to rebels in Syria, whose vetting and loyalties are questionable and untested, we face the likely outcome of our weapons falling into the hands of our enemies yet again, to be used against Americans and innocent civilians.”
      Gabbard joined a bipartisan letter led to Speaker John Boehner reiterating these concerns about the Syria train-and-equip provisions inserted into the NDAA agreement.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono
HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES’ merger with NextEra Energy is receiving widespread reaction. In its announced last week, HEI said NextEra is supportive of its plans “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.” 
      HEI called NextEra “one of the nation’s largest and most well-respected electric utilities” and “North America’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun.”
      The announcement is “profound and historic for Hawai`i,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono. “Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. is well established in this community, and the decision to combine with NextEra Energy, Inc. … deserves careful scrutiny on behalf of Hawai`i consumers and residents. I look forward to meeting with HEI and NextEra leaders to hear how Hawai`i can lead in clean energy and protect the interests of the customer.”
      Richard Ha, owner of Hamakua Springs Country Farms and a proponent of geothermal energy, said the merger “will be very good for Hawai`i,” on his blog at hahaha.hamakuasprings.com.
      “NextEra has the balance sheet and other resources to support significant investment in Hawai`i’s transmission and distribution system to enable much higher levels of renewable energy sources,” Ha said. “Most of all, this change in ownership of our electrical utility will finally make much needed new and different approaches possible. What we all want is a lower cost of electricity.
      “We are unique on the Big Island. Beside solar, wind and biofuels, we have proven geothermal. Once it’s developed, geothermal wants to run 100 percent of the time, and the more it runs, the cheaper it is to the ratepayers.
Richard Ha
      “What if we guaranteed the geothermal developer, say, 25 megawatts, and put no restriction on generating electricity for hydrogen manufacturing over and above the 25 megawatts. If, for instance, the geothermal company installed a 30-megawatt generator, they could sell 25 megawatts to the utility and sell the excess five megawatts cheap to make hydrogen. That would solve our liquid transportation problem, via hydrogen fuel cells, and we could make nitrogen fertilizer so as not to be dependent on petroleum byproducts. That’s only one example of what we could do with new thinking.
      “This sale is an unexpected but very interesting turn of events. We welcome NextEra.”
      Henry Curtis, director of Life of the Land, which promotes sound energy and land use, expresses skepticism. On his blog at ililanimedia.blogspot.com, he says NextEra’s subsidiary, Florida Power and Light, “is not a renewable, energy-efficiency paradise.”
      Curtis cites FPL’s Ten-Year Power Plant Site Plan 2014-2023, which shows 0.139 percent of its power being generated by solar in 2013, with that increasing to 0.145 percent by 2023.
      He also cites an article in the current issue of Sierra Club Magazine claiming that FPL “recently petitioned its state’s public service commission to reduce its efficiency goal to two one-thousandths of one percent.” 
Henry Curtis
      While FPL’s 10-year plan includes “a number of conservation/energy efficiency and load management initiatives,” David Guest, managing attorney for Florida’s Earthjustice office, said in the Tampa Tribune that “this summer, FPL abruptly yanked its rebate program that offered $1,000 back to customers who installed solar water heaters.”
      Guest said the energy-efficiency programs that the utilities do offer “unfairly apply to high-end homeowners. The majority of low-income people, who are most in need of a break on their monthly power bills, don’t get affordable incentives to make their homes more energy efficient.”
      According to Curtis, Robert Harris, Hawai`i representative of The Alliance for Solar Choic, said, “NextEra is very supportive of renewable energy that they own, they control and they can sell.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAIIAN VALUES, CULTURE, TALENT AND FOOD are celebrated today at the annual Makahiki held at Punalu`u Beach Park with everyone invited. Local bands volunteer, and free food is served up both days, with many people camping out.

DARREN GOODMAN GLASS EXHIBIT opens tomorrow and continues through Saturday, Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

KA`U FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT RALPH GASTON invites members and prospective member to it meeting tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation is a nonprofit organization of farming families united for the purpose of analyzing problems and formulating action to ensure the future of agriculture thereby promoting the well-being of farming and the state’s economy. 
      On its website at hfbf.org, the organization states, “Our guiding policies originate at the grassroots County Farm Bureau level with the ideas, opinions and contributions of our concerned membership. We encourage the participation of every member and try to have open communication with them through our annual convention, county meetings and our monthly newsletter. Policies are adopted after discussion at our county and state meetings.”

Santa returns to Hana Hou for the annual Keiki Christmas
Party Wednesday. Photo by Julia Neal
HANA HOU RESTAURANT’S KEIKI CHRISTMAS party is coming up Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. in Na`alehu. The event features gifts for keiki, food for everyone and a visit from Santa. 

PAHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE IS A WEEK from today on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. Floats, walking groups, tractors and classic cars, choirs, public officials, schools and more wind their way through Pahala from the armory to the hospital and to Holy Rosary Church for refreshments. Everyone is welcome. To sign up, call 928-0808.

KA`U SCHOOL OF THE ARTS OFFERS a free Christmas Concert after Pahala Christmas Parade. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 14 at Pahala Plantation House, featuring Ka`u `Ohana Band, Halau Hula O Ka `Imina Na`auao Kahiko and a sing-along with Ka`u Community Chorus. Potluck refreshments are welcome.

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




See kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf.




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