Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Jan. 23, 2015

Ka`u residents can learn about natural farming at Earth Matters Farm workshops tomorrow and next Saturday.
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL MEETINGS are now live online, beginning with today’s meeting at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. County Council committee meetings will also be live-streamed, giving Ka`u residents unprecedented access to county government.
Ka`u residents can now watch Hawai`i County
Council meetings with member Maile Medeiros
David live online.
      According to a story in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, the county has contracted with live-streaming and captioning provider Granicus for $25,420 for the first year and $7,000 less for subsequent years. Closed-captioning is an additional $145 per hour.
      The meetings will also be archived for later access online.
      “We’re excited to have it start,” County Clerk Stewart Maeda told reporter Nancy Cook Lauer.
      Julia Neal, Editor of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper, said, “This will give our news team and the whole Ka`u community a better ability to cover County Council meetings and Ka`u issues even though they take place more than an hour’s drive from most places in Ka`u. We look forward to increasing our reporting.”
      Videoconferencing continues at Ocean View Community Center, where Ka`u residents can provide testimony during meetings.
      To view meetings, see hawaiicounty.gov and click on the Council Meetings link at left.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO COMMENDED President Obama’s State of the Union address in which he discussed efforts to strengthen the U.S. middle class and provide higher education.
      “The President made it clear he is on the side of the middle class, and I’m proud to stand with him on the side of working families,” Hirono said. “I will support the President’s efforts that strengthen our economy and grow the middle class… .
      “The President’s forward thinking initiative to fund two years of community college will be a game changer for families I’ve met in Hawai`i and across the country. We must make investing in our keiki and our future a top priority — from expanding Pre-K to making college more affordable… .
      “I also stand with the President against any efforts to dismantle critical Wall Street reforms and environmental protections. In our island state, we are particularly aware of how important it is to protect our land, water and other natural resources in the face of our changing climate.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono
      “Tonight the President laid out how we must invest in our middle class families, which means investing in our infrastructure. In Hawai`i, investing in our roads, ports, public transit systems and airports will not only be good for commerce but also create jobs and strengthen communities.”
      “I look forward to working with the Administration and engaging in many spirited debates with my colleagues to achieve an agenda that works for Hawaii and is on the right side of American middle class and working families, homeowners, and students.”
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE ALLIANCE FOR SOLAR CHOICE and other clean energy advocates are pointing out what TASC calls the hypocrisy of Hawaiian Electric Companies plan to change Hawai`i’s net energy metering program, which allows customers full credit for each kilowatt hour of energy they produce for the grid, and to expand the amount of solar that will be allowed on each circuit. Under its proposed new interconnection plan, HECO pays roughly half the retail rate for exported kilowatt hours, according to TASC.
      “The solar parties applaud the finding that there are no technical or engineering impediments to doubling the amount of rooftop solar,” said Robert Harris, spokesperson for TASC. “The industry worked long and hard to address any and all technical concerns raised by HEI. We have consistently maintained that more rooftop solar could be installed safely, and we are happy HEI is proposing to serve more of its customers with a renewable and clean option of providing power. 

      “We think it’s sheer hypocrisy that HEI would finally agree to allow more rooftop solar but in the same breath propose eliminating net energy metering,” Harris said. “This is a play out of the national utility playbook to stop rooftop solar – allege costs and try to make HEI’s expensive fossil fleet more competitive with solar. Net energy metering is a popular program found in 44 states and is the bedrock of solar adoption across the United States.
      “TASC advocated for comprehensive rate reform that reflects the new world HEI finds themselves in, where rooftop solar is vastly cheaper than utility power from fossil fuels… .

      “As observed by Hawai`i’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, HECO’s plan to abandon net energy metering and to charge each customer at least $55 is intended to ‘enhance the Companies’ bottom line, serve to disincentives customers from investing (in) Distributed Generation systems or lead to policies that unduly restrict DG integration options.’ Moreover, to the extent HEI now maintains this is a priority issue, HEI hasn’t taken the logical step of trying to change rates in a rate case over the past several years.
      “In June 2014, HECO stated ‘it is foregoing a rate increase request in recognition that its customers are already in a challenging high electricity bill environment.’ In December 2014, Maui Electric Company filed its rate-case application and did not propose any revisions to its current tariffs or rate schedules.

      “If this issue is so urgent, why isn’t HEI asking for rate adjustments in their standard rate cases?” asked Harris. “Rate case proceedings are the obvious forum for a rate design discussion. The law specifically prevents single-issue ratemaking the way HECO now proposes.

In hindsight, perhaps HEI’s lack of attention to this issue in commission proceedings is the result of the utility leadership’s focus on finalizing terms to sell itself to a mainland company. Now that NextEra, which owns one of the most hostile utilities to rooftop solar in the country, has agreed to purchase HEI, the utility is re-engaging on rate reforms that would significantly increase its customers’ costs to go solar.”
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND WISHES KA`U residents the very best in 2015, “and we hope to see you soon,” said Ka`u Coast Cleanup coordinator Megan Lamson. 
      Starting today, HWF has a round of community cleanup events in the coming months that Ka`u residents an participate in as volunteers.
      Today, HWF collaborates with Sustainable Coastlines Hawai`i (O`ahu) and Kona Brewing Company to clean up around the hoists at South Point. Cleanup takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and free lunch from KBC after that. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/367218540119436/.
      On Sat. Feb. 7, HWF will host a Ka`u Community Coastal Cleanup event at Pa`ula/Lepana on the Kalaemano property. Volunteers are asked to RSVP to kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com. 4WD vehicles are needed, and space is limited in HWF vehicles. This cleanup is made possible with logistic support by Kuahiwi Ranch. Meet at Wai`ohinu Park at 7:45 a.m. for carpool/caravan to cleanup site.
      On Sun. March 15, HWF teams up with Kona Boys and Hawai`i State Parks for it second annual kayak and cleanup event at Ka`awaloa (Captain Cook Monument) in South Kona. Space is very limited, so please RSVP early. Volunteers must be over 16 and be able to swim, paddle a kayak and haul debris over 25 pounds.
      On Saturday March 28, HWF host another Ka`u Community Coastal Cleanup event at Kamilo Point along the Wai`ohinu coastal strand.
      Volunteers for all events are asked to RSVP to kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.
      These cleanups are made possibly by grant funding from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and in-kind support from community groups and businesses.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

IN SPORTS, KA`U HIGH BOYS VARSITY BASKETBALL team scored a win in Hilo on Tuesday, 49-40. JV lost, 27-57. The teams host Kohala today at 6 p.m.
      On Wednesday, girls varsity basketball lost to Konawaena 27-81. JV did not play. The senior game is tomorrow at 6 p.m., hosting Hawai`i Preparatory Academy.
      Kamehameha-Hawai`i shut out Ka`u boys soccer team Tuesday, 0-9. The team travels to Kohala tomorrow for a match at 3 p.m.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

`O KA`U KAKOU’S SEVENTH ANNUAL Fishing Tournament & Canned Food Drive takes place tomorrow at Punalu`u Beach Park. Ages one to 14 check in between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for fishing from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. OKK provides poles, bait and free lunch. Registration is available.
      Call 217-2253 or 937-4773 for more information.

KA`U NATURAL FARMING WORKSHOP begins tomorrow and continues next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Earth Matters Farm at South Point and Kama`oa Roads. Participants learn about creating soil health & nutritional food.
      $100 for both days includes garden lunch.
      Register at 939-7510.

Whale season is in full swing off Punalu`u.
Photo by Susan Field
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS HUMPBACK WHALE National Marine Sanctuary is looking for volunteers for the 2015 Sanctuary Ocean Count. Now in its 20th year, this project uses volunteers to count whales and record their behaviors from over 60 shore sites on the islands of O`ahu, Kaua`i and Hawai`i. The project allows the public to learn more about humpback whale population, distribution and behavioral trends while being involved in a volunteer monitoring effort. Sanctuary Ocean Counts will be held on Saturdays, Jan. 31, Feb. 28 and March 28 at selected sites from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
      Interested volunteers may register online a  http://sanctuaryoceancount.org.


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