Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kumu hula Bobo Palacat with Hula Halau Na Pua Ha`aheo `o Kona perform Saturday. Photo from Volcano Art Center
HAWAI`I COUNTY AND TAWHIRI POWER, which generates electricity with windmills at South Point and sells it to Hawai`i Electric Light Co., oppose the proposed merger of Hawaiian Electric Co. and NextEra Energy. As intervenors in the Public Utilities Commission’s examination of the deal, the two entities submitted testimony to the PUC this week. 
      William Rolston, energy coordinator at the county Department of Research and Development, testified for the county. “Whether admitted or not by incumbent utilities, a revolution has begun with individuals taking their energy destiny in their own hands,” Rolston said. “The death spiral for the Vertically Integrated Investor-Owned Utility seems to have started already, particularly in a region such as Hawai`i, where extremely high prevailing electricity rates provide sufficient ‘headspace’ for alternatives to deliver more favorable economics and a more desirable ‘value package’ to consumers. The electric utilities are seeing decreasing demand year after year, in large part due to their high prices, and are holding tightly to the mechanism called Decoupling that ensures their business model will persist even with these imminent warning signs.”
Tawhiri Power, which operates windmills at South Point, opposes
the proposed merger of HECO and NextEraEnergy.
Photo by Peter Anderson
      As an example of “individuals taking their energy destiny in their own hands,” Rolston noted that “our Ka`u residents are extremely self-sufficient and survive many interruptions of power, including, for example, when they have been regularly cut off from help due to steady rains that led to flooding, cutting off road access to any outside assistance.”
      Rolston pointed out what he considers a lack of trust of many Hawai`i residents toward outside entities. “Most communities are wise enough to let each newcomer know, especially in tight-knit communities (such as those that comprise the Island of Moloka`i, Island of Lana`i, the areas of Puna and Ka`u, as well as many others) that they have heard all the promises before. Rightfully, they are suspicious as they have years of experience with failed promises from outsiders and even the HECO companies themselves.”
      Rolston also said, “There is significant lack of transparency with this transaction in terms of ‘what, how, when things will be done.’ Further, the ratepayer is not guaranteed any cost reductions. Therefore, if the commission decides to approve the merger, it must include ... conditions to protect the public interest.”
      Tawhiri is concerned that the merger as currently formulated may severely impact its interests. “The application … does not contain any provisions or commitments that the applicants will ensure adequate protection of current long-term power purchase agreements with independent power producers, said ­­­­­Steve Pace, president of Apollo Energy Corp., the managing member of Tawhiri, which has a PPA that expires in 2027. “Without such mechanisms, independent renewable energy producers like Tawhiri must consider the possibility of losing its PPA subsequent to the Change of Control of the Hawaiian Electric Companies. Additionally, the proposed Change of Control has no assurances that Tawhiri will not risk incurring substantial loss of revenues because of increasing curtailment of energy deliveries to the utilities because of either significant load migration or uncontrolled growth of affiliates.
      “The application for the proposed Change of Control does not present any means for preventing continued shrinkage of HECO Companies loads, specifically the load of Hawai`i Electric Light Company, Inc. This is a very serious problem that exists today. Even worse, the Application seems to be endorsing the HECO Companies’ plans to triple investments in Distributed Energy Resources without any sound planning or consideration of the commission’s inclinations. Without sound planning and consideration of the Commission’s inclinations, DERs will syphon away customer loads from utility-scale renewables which will result in a negative impact to Tawhiri. 
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case
Photo by John DeMello
THE FOREST LEGACY PROGRAM, administrated through Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, is accepting applications for conservation acquisition assistance to protect important working forest lands from the threat of conversion to non-forest uses. 
      The program works with private landowners, state and county agencies and conservation nonprofit groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Roughly 58 percent of the land in the state is privately owned. According to DLNR, millions of acres of privately managed, working forests nationwide have been lost or converted to other uses in the last 10 years, with millions more that are projected to be at risk in the next decade. Hawai`i is not an exception to this trend.
      “With the help of land trusts and conservation-minded landowners, we have been able to protect our important forest resources, preserve forest health and watersheds, shelter endangered species and safeguard our culturally important sites,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.
      More than two million acres of threatened private forests in the U.S. have been protected under the Forest Legacy Program, of which 45,000 acres have been protected in Hawai`i. DOFAW is currently working on projects that will protect an additional 5,000 acres of important forested watershed lands through the establishment of conservation easements.
      Conservation easements are a relatively new conservation tool that allows a landowner to retain ownership of the restricted title to their property while providing permanent protection from development or unsustainable uses. Often, this economic opportunity provides landowners with an alternative to selling their land to development companies. Conservation easements are strictly voluntary to enter into, and the restrictions are binding to all future owners in perpetuity.
      “The national Forest Legacy Program is very competitive with only a few dozen projects funded by the U.S. Forest Service each year,” Case said. “Hawai`i always puts in strong projects that compete well in this national program.”
Norman Arancon as the King of Siam
Photo from KDEN
      The Hawai`i Forest Legacy Program has identified forest lands throughout the state as important and in need of permanent protection. More information about this status can be found in the state’s Assessment of Needs at (http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/). The Hawai`i program accepts both fee title and conservation easement acquisitions. Fee title acquisitions are voluntary and can provide landowners with the knowledge that their property will be managed and owned in perpetuity by the state of Hawai‘i.
      The deadline for the next round of applications to the program is Aug. 17. Applications can be found at the website above and should be submitted to Irene Sprecher by email. Landowners and nonprofit entities who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Sprecher at 808-587-4167 or by email at Irene.M.Sprecher@Hawaii.gov to discuss their property and interest in the program.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FINAL PERFORMANCES OF KDEN’S summer production of The King and I take place this weekend. Showtimes are tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp Theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Tickets are $14 general admission, $12 for seniors and students and $10 children 12 and under. Available at Kilauea General Store, Kea`au Natural Foods, The Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo and at the door.
      Call 982-7344 or email kden73@aol.com for more information.

VOLCANO ART CENTER PRESENTS HULA Saturday. Kumu hula Bobo Palacat with Hula Halau Na Pua Ha`aheo `o Kona perform from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the hula platform near VAC Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Loke Kamanu and `ohana share Na Mea Hula on the gallery porch from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

VOLCANO ART CENTER’S SUMMER Jazz In The Forest concert series continues on Saturday with a Miles Davis Tribute Concert and Island All-Star Jazz Jam. The evening at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village features the Jr. Volcano Choy VAC Jazz Ensemble jamming with various jazz stars of the Big Island. Performances are at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

      Tickets for matinees are $15 for VAC members ($20 non-members) and for the evening shows are $20 for VAC members ($25 non-members).
      A Wine and Beer Room is open to enjoy before and after the concert. Ticket holders can purchase Volcano Red Ale and Mauna Kea Pale Ale from Mehana Brewing Company as well as wine before each performance.
      Also, an area has been set aside for dancing.
      Tickets are available through tomorrow at volcanoartcenter.org, VAC’s Administration Office, VAC Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Basically Books in Hilo. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door. Tickets may be picked up at VAC's office today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or held at Will Call on Saturday.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_July2015.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf
and kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf.

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