Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Jan. 5, 2015

Coffee farmer Francis Marques removes huge albizia and eucalyptus trees from the road to Moa`ula to help growers reach 
their orchards. Photo by Trini Marques
KA`U COFFEE FARMERS were able to clear the way to their orchards at Moa`ula yesterday after more than a day of cutting through fallen trees on the roads. On Saturday, after the powerful windstorm subsided, Francis Marques began clearing the old cane haul road from Pahala side, and Bill Lorenzo started making a driving path from Aikane Plantation side. Up the road to Moa`ula, farmers met early yesterday morning with their chain saws and Marques’ equipment to clear tall eucalyptus and albizia trees that isolated the farms and kept away coffee pickers for all of Saturday and Sunday during the heaviest picking season in Ka`u Coffee history. When they reached the farms, the growers found most coffee trees intact, with some windbreak trees and branches down. One Norfolk Pine fell but missed the historic Pahala mill weigh station building that Francis and Trini Marques moved to their coffee farm after the sugar company shut down in 1996.
Farm families found their coffee orchards isolated by fallen trees and went to work 
cutting and pushing them off the roads. Photo by Trini Marques
      Up the steep side of Moa`ula gulch, shredded albizia trees appeared trashed in the forest, some down and many broken by the warm winds that hit Ka`u over the weekend. Toward Na`alehu, cattle grazed in broken stands of eucalyptus. 
      Closer to Pahala, trees blocked numerous roads to pastures and agricultural plots, including the one to the Hester family farm.
      University of Hawai`i Agricultural Extension Service urged farmers and ranchers to document damage and make reports to the agency and insurance companies.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

WINDSTORM TOOK OUT POWER over the weekend for some homes and businesses. Midday Sunday, there were about 17,000 customers without electricity islandwide. Hawai`i Electric Light Co.’s statement named isolated areas of Volcano, Ocean View, Lorenzo Road and Wai`ohinu as places where electricity was restored yesterday evening.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

A WATER RESTRICTION ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT for Wai`ohinu area customers, according to Kanani Aton, of the county Department of Water Supply. Due to a main break on South Point Road and reduced source water output, customers in Wai`ohinu mauka, Discovery Harbour mauka and along South Point Road have no water service.
Ka`u Coffee growers stand on tree trunks to cut through downed trees to get them
off the roads. Photo by Trini Marques 
      Until further notice, Wai`ohinu area customers are advised to restrict water use to essential needs only.
  • Keep water use to an absolute minimum. 
  • Water should be used for essentials only (cooking, drinking and sanitation). 
  • Do not wash cars or water lawns. 
  • Turn off or disconnect any devices or fixtures that regularly draw water. Such devices include automatic icemakers and irrigation systems. 
      An emergency water spigot is available at Wai`ohinu Park for customers while main repairs are completed.
      For any emergency water concerns, call 961-8790.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I’S DRY SEASON LAST YEAR was the wettest in the last 30 years despite late August and early September dryness, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Most of the state had near to above average rainfall

 from May through September, and the Big Island had near to above average at most locations.
      NOAA said this is one of the rare cases in recent years where the state is in relatively good shape in an El Nino wet season, which usually allows some heavy rain events to impact the state.
      El Nino is projected to be weak.

 Probabilities favor below average rainfall through spring but not as dry as 2009 – 2010 and 1997 – 1998.
      Some drought development expected early this year and will mainly affect the agriculture sector and those with catchment systems.
Fallen trees blocked numerous roads throughout the district, including the one
to the Hester family farm above Pahala. Photo by Julia Neal
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I IS MOVING FROM THE CENTRALIZED utility model of electricity generation toward the decentralized micro-grid and building-grid paradigms, according to Life of the Land director Henry Curtis. However, “large centralized utilities like NextEra are attempting to create a backlash, to return to the glory days of centralized power,” Curtis says on his blog at ililanimedia.blogspot.com. NextEra is the mainland company that is purchasing Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries.
      Curtis describes various future energy scenarios. One he calls the “Utility Knows Best Scenario,” in which some utility consultants assert that upgrading the entire system into one massively complex creature will lower costs, increase reliability and make customers safer. Curtis likens these schemes with names such as Smart Meters, Smart Grids, Grid Modernization, Grid Intelligence, Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Distribution Automation to the National Security Agency. The utilities would develop computer, telecommunication and surveillance technology “so they can receive messages from and send controlling messages back to every single electric device connected anywhere and everywhere on the electric grid at the transmission, distribution and household level.”
Cattle graze among downed eucalyptus trees along the cane haul road between Pahala and Na`alehu yesterday after the windstorm.
Photo by Julia Neal

      Another paradigm is “Innovators Know Best.” According to Curtis, “it makes more sense to have entrepreneurs, innovators and venture capitalists develop small smart micro-grids. These can be net metered to the utility transmission spine. The micro-grids cannot only export and import to the utility grid, but they can also supply voltage and frequency support. In Hawai`i micro-grids are being planned by the military and Parker Ranch.
      Building-based smart grids is the third, and to Curtis, most logical, paradigm.
      “Global solar installations have grown at over 40 percent per year for over a dozen years,” Curtis states. “This rapid deployment is leading to massive innovation and sharply lower prices. The battery revolution is now being launched. Each year it is and will continue to become cheaper and cheaper to install solar and batteries. Tesla is building a massive battery factory. Technology currently exists to interlink the power in buildings and batteries in vehicles.
      “On the Neighbor Islands it is cheaper to rely on solar and batteries than to remain attached to the grid. Many people don’t take the chance. But what happens in five or ten years when the prices off solar and batteries have dropped by 70 percent and Costco offers standardized ‘utility-in-a-box’ packages that homeowners can install without middlemen? The traditional utility will cease to exist.
      “Sides of buildings and window panes will be coated with thin micro-scale and nano-scale solar energy devices. Utilities will be relegated to the same realm occupied by faxes, microfiche and land-lines,” Curtis concludes.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Mud Alley. After the storm, blocked from going to coffee lands, the Rodney Freitas
family had fun in the mud.
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN PARTICIPATE in Hawai`i County Council’s first meetings of the New Year via videoconferencing at Ocean View Community Center. Committees meet tomorrow, and the full council meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. All meetings take place at council chambers in Hilo.
      Committees meetings are 9 a.m., Governmental Relations and Economic Development; 10 a.m., Public Works and Parks and Recreation; 11 a.m., Planning; 1:30 p.m., Finance; and 2:30 p.m., Environmental Management.

WALK INTO THE PAST tomorrow at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., beginning at Kīlauea Visitor Center and entering the Whitney Vault in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Ka`u resident Dick Hershberger brings Hawaiian Volcano Observatory founder Thomas Jaggar to life every other Tuesday.

AFTER DARK IN THE PARK offers updates on Kilauea’s two eruptions at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick talks about Halema`uma`u lava lake and presents a brief overview on the first 30 years of Pu`u `O`o’s eruption and the lava flow that has advanced toward Pahoa over the past six months. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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