Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

Hawai`i Wildlife Fund held its first Ka`u Coast Cleanup of 2015 last Friday with 161 participants. Photo from HWF
CUSTOMERS COULD SAVE NEARLY $60 MILLION if the acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. by NextEra Energy is approved, according to the companies’ joint application filed with the Public Utilities Commission yesterday. The $4.3 billion deal between Hawai`i’s largest utility and the Florida company is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
      The companies expect benefits from improved financial standing, strong vendor relationships and economies of scale, and technical expertise.
      The applicants also say they will not request an increase in general base rates for at least four years following transaction close. They affirm commitments to continue operating under current name and retain headquarters in Honolulu. “Hawaiian Electric will continue to be locally managed, with no involuntary workforce reductions for at least two years post close,” the application states. The companies also expect to maintain HECO’s overall current level of corporate giving.
      “Hawaiian Electric stands at the forefront in addressing a vast array of complex issues associated with Hawai`i’s clean energy transformation,” the application states. “By combining with NextEra Energy, Hawaiian Electric will gain a leading-edge partner, with deep operational, technical and managerial expertise, financial capacity and a proven clean energy track record. The proposed combination is expected to provide Hawaiian Electric with the added capacity, resources and access to expertise to strengthen and accelerate Hawai`i’s transition to a more affordable, equitable and inclusive clean energy future, while delivering substantial customer benefits, including lower costs and improved reliability over time.”
HECO would retain its name if the NextEra purchase goes through.
      “The filing of this application begins an important review process that we believe will ultimately result in a more affordable clean energy future for Hawai`i,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawai`i, LLC. “We share 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, and we believe our combination will help to accelerate Hawai`i’s clean energy transformation. … As we move forward, our focus will be on applying our expertise and resources, alongside Hawaiian Electric’s, to bring significant benefits, savings and value to Hawaiian Electric customers and to create the clean energy future we all want for Hawai`i.” 
      Alan Oshima, HECO’s president and chief executive officer, said “As the filing outlines, joining with NextEra Energy provides Hawaiian Electric with the unique opportunity to strengthen and accelerate our clean energy transformation.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

LIFE OF THE LAND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Henry Curtis filed a motion to participate in the Public Utilities Commission’s examination of NextEra Energy’s acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co.
      “The HECO-NextEra deal is more than just changing the ownership of the HECO Companies,” Curtis said. “It is also about the Game Plan and the speed of transition to some future. The issues include ratepayer bills, reliability, smart grids, interisland cables and liquefied natural gas.
      “Life of the Land intervened in the proceeding to protect our people, our environment and our cultural resources.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Prof. Donald Thomas
Photo from UH
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I RESEARCHERS have discovered a large fresh water supply on the Big Island. In March 2013, researchers from the UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo began drilling at 6,400 feet above sea level between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the saddle region of the Big Island. 
      UH-Manoa professor Donald Thomas is leading the effort, called the Humu`ula Saddle Hydrologic Study Project. What they discovered seven months later may radically change conventional wisdom regarding the state’s most valuable resource: fresh water.
      “The conventional model that we worked with for years and years is that we have a relatively thin basal fresh water lens, is what we call it,” said Thomas, the director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes. “A layer of fresh water saturated rock that rises very slowly as we move inland.”
      According to that conventional model developed decades ago, the research team should have had to drill for 5,900 feet to 500 feet above sea level before reaching the Big Island’s fresh water supply.
      “We found something just completely different,” Thomas said. “The stable water table in the saddle is not 500 feet above sea level. It’s more like 4,500 feet above sea level. So we are almost 10 times higher than we could have expected when we started out on the project.”
      Geologists have long thought that only a small fraction of rainwater is stored in the islands because the geological makeup of Hawai`i is volcanic and porous.
Pohakuloa Training Area currently trucks water to the site. Photo from UH
      “With our findings here, it looks as though the islands really act as huge containers,” Thomas said. “What we really need to do is go back and look again, using modern geophysical methods, to really define the ground water systems within all of the islands,” said Thomas.
      The next step for the Humu`ula Saddle Hydrologic Study Project is a second drill site six miles from the first to measure the extent of the groundwater discovered. If that test well proves successful, it will also provide strong support for high-level water beneath a large tract of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property on the eastern side of the Humu`ula Saddle where their lessees have long needed a reliable source of water for ranching operations.
      The United States Army is funding the project in hopes of finding water for its Pohakuloa Training Area, where the first drill site is located. Currently, the Army spends $1.5 million each year trucking fresh water to the training camp for use by troops and support staff.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

VOLUNTEERS COLLECTED MORE THAN 1,700 pounds of marine debris from the Ka`u Coast last Friday, Jan. 23. Debris collected by 161 participants included 125 pounds of derelict fishing nets and line and 1,263 cigarette butts.
      Hawai`i Wildlife Fund, Kona Brewing Co. and Sustainable Coastlines Hawai`i sponsored the event.
      The next Ka`u Coast Cleanup is Feb. 7. Volunteers can sign up with Hawai`i Wildlife Fund coordinator Megan Lamson at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or 769-7629.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB FAMILY NIGHT with dinner is once a month at Pahala Community Center, where 45 children attend the afterschool program. During last night’s session, islandwide Chief Professional Officer Zavi Brees-Saunders said Boys & Girls Club aims to help children do well in school, continue with education, give to the community and live healthy lifestyles. Exercise and nutrition are part of the program.
Brees-Saunders thanked Pāhala Club Director Dolly Kailiawa for her ability to be creative and skillful in managing and mentoring children.
      Brees-Saunders noted that it costs $4,000 per year per child to operate the club. Parents pay $10 a year. She said the staff and board of directors are applying for grants and need donations. Punalu‘u Bake Shop recently donated $500. Local businesses and other community members who want to donate can call Ka‘ū board of directors member Julia Neal at 928-9811 or Saunders at 961-5536.
      Funding can be available from various agencies, Brees-Saunders said. From one source of funding, when a club is 60 percent native Hawaiian, a club can receive extra funds. Serving low-income families can also draw funding, she explained, but families have to help with documentation.
      To sign up a child, call Kailiawa at 756-5285.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U HIGH’S BOY BASKETBALL TEAMS hosted Kea`au yesterday. Both teams lost to the visitors. Scores were 37-46 for junior varsity and 46-63 for varsity. Ka`u’s high scorers were Kaliikupapalani Aipia-Dolan with 15 points and Brian Gascon with 14. 
      Next week, the teams travel to Kamehameha on Wednesday.

AFTERNOON JAZZ AT PAHALA PLANTATION HOUSE tomorrow from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is a fundraiser for the Brass Band Afterschool Project at Ka`u Middle School supported by Volcano Art Center. Musicians include Jr. Volcano Choy on trumpet, Brian McCree on acoustic bass, Bruce David on drums and vocalist Betsy Curtis. Keoki Kahumoku and the Ka`u youth `ukulele players will also perform.
      Suggested donation is $15.

THE FIRST OF THREE SANCTUARY OCEAN COUNTS of humpback whales takes place tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Local sites include Ka`ena Point in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach Park, Ka Lae Park and Miloli`i Lookout.
      Interested volunteers may register online at http://sanctuaryoceancount.org.

DURING STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., volunteers help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park trails. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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