Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Solar photovoltaic panels are going up around Ka`u, including the Pahala Quilting building on Maile Street in Pahala. Photo by Julia Neal
RIVAL ELECTRIC UTILITY COMPANIES would be legal in Hawai`i even with Hawaiian Electric Co.’s monopoly on O`ahu, Hawai`i Island, Maui, Lana`i and Moloka`i, states Life of the Land director Henry Curtis. He writes in Civil Beat this morning about a new paradigm for delivering electricity to Hawai`i.
Henry Curtis supports a non-grid
connected and renewable approach
to electricity generation.
      A New Utility “could be county-owned, private or utilize a co-op model. It would be regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. The same funding streams that were available for KIUC (a community cooperative on Kaua`i) to buy Kaua`i Electric from its Connecticut owners are still available today, writes Curtis.
      Curtis points out that, “Over the past 10 years, the global-installed solar photovoltaic capacity has grown at an astounding 44 percent increase per year. This has fueled vast technological advances and cost reductions.
      “Last week former Obama Energy Secretary Stephen Chu told National Public Radio of his vision. He would like utilities to start installing solar panels and batteries in people’s homes. “The (utility) will say, allow us to use your roof, allow us to use a little corner of your garage, and we will equip you with solar power. We own it. We maintain it. We’re responsible for it. You don’t have any out-of-pocket expenses. You just buy electricity at the same rate, or maybe even a lower rate.”
      This is similar to a proposal presented by Curtis to the Moloka`i Clean Energy Initiative. “The New Utility will be a facilitator,” Curtis writes. “They would serve as a link between communities, financial institutions and private energy efficiency and renewable energy companies to install PV and batteries in peoples’ homes. The solar/battery facilities would be leased to customers while maintained by the installers.”
      Curtis gives the example of Maui, where, he writes, “the cost of solar-based electricity is about half of the cost of grid-based electricity. Batteries cost between 30-100 percent of the cost of the solar photovoltaic system. Thus, a non-grid connected renewable energy system is cost-effective on Maui today. A New Utility could test the alternative model at a community level in places such as Hana, Lahaina or Moloka`i. To incentivize the solar/battery deal, free high-speed wi-fi would be offered to subscribers.
      “The New Utility could also facilitate the leasing of electric vehicles. On Nov. 23, 2011 Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission commissioner Michael Champley addressed the Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea, Maui: “What the utility Maui Electric (and) Hawai`i Electric are having to decide is, what is their long-term business model? Because their rates are going in one direction, up. And the competing new technology prices are going down.   “Maui’s electric rates are three to four times the national average. Rates are going up because MECO is pushing the Smart Grid concept that requires costly infrastructure: new generation, new transmission lines, computer software, new telecom systems and cyber-security systems.
      “Imagine the price of electricity eating up ever more of a family budget. Imagine the rising cost of doing business in Hawai`i. Imagine not conducting price comparisons to see whether grid-based or stand-alone systems offer the greatest reliability at the least cost.

      “Time is on the New Utility side. Solar prices are decreasing in cost. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Labs, the installed price of solar is expected to fall five to seven percent per year for several years. There is also a downward price trend for batteries.”
      Regarding financial arrangements for the new sources of electricity, Curtis points out that “in early 2014 the Hawai`i PUC plans to implement On-Bill Financing for homeowners, renters and small businesses. The program would allow customers to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy systems at no upfront cost. Customers simply pay a reduced monthly electric bill, part of which pays for the systems.
      “Similar financial arrangements should be implemented for non-grid applications,” states Curtis. “National firms like One Roof Energy, Sun Run (http://www.sunrunhome.com) and Solar City have entered the Hawai`i market. These solar brokerage firms and solar installers are being financed by major investors. They are offering fixed-cost, no money down, long-term leases for on-site systems that they maintain.”
      Curtis told The Ka`u Calendar, “My paradigm shift can also be applied to the County of Hawai`i. The county is lagging in its economic recovery, and many people are hurting. The creation of a New Utility for Hawai`i County would offer a great alternative: same reliability, less cost!”
      See more at civilbeat.com.

THE SIRENS THIS MORNING at 11:45 a.m. were a test by Hawai`i County Civil Defense to evaluate repairs performed after the July 1 monthly test. Civil Defense sent out a notice saying, “We apologize for any disruption with today’s test and thank you for your patience and understanding.”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa
          “The public is reminded to turn on the radio and tune into the local broadcast stations any time you hear a siren as information regarding the siren sounding and possible instructions will be broadcasted,” said the Civil Defense notice.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE COLLEEN HANABUSA announced Hawai`i will receive $703,100 in grant awards from the U.S. Department of Labor to help put unemployed individuals back to work.
      “This funding will be of great benefit to Hawai`i,” Hanabusa said, “and I am grateful to the Department of Labor for helping get our state’s unemployed back to work.
      “We know that changes in the workplace have made it harder for some workers to find employment. In addition to helping our local economy, the individualized attention and local-market information that will be available under this grant will make it more likely that those who have encountered these problems will have the satisfaction of finding good employment. I believe this is an excellent investment in our community.”
      The funds will be used to provide individuals who receive unemployment benefits with personalized, re-employment plans based on their career interests and local labor market information. Participants are able to receive referrals to job assistance services and training by the American Job Center. The program also performs a complete review of participants’ unemployment insurance benefits to help reduce incidences of improper payments.

Kaho`iwai prepares teachers to tackle unique academic needs of
Hawaiian students. Photo from Kamehameha Schools
KAHO`IWAI, A BIG ISLAND-BASED TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAM that focuses on developing educators to work with Native Hawaiian students has earned national accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, according to an Associated Press story in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald.
      The program provides an alternative to traditional university-based programs. The program focuses on charter schools, but those who earn licenses can teach anywhere in the state, director Joe Fraser told reporter Jennifer Sinco Kelleher.
      “Hawai`i has a shortage of teachers,” Fraser told Kelleher. “It’s trying to meet the needs of Hawaiian students in the school system in real terms.”
      The program involves six five-day residential sessions in Waipio Valley and online coursework. “It’s alternative in that there’s no bricks-and-mortar university,” Fraser said. “It’s a values-based program.”
      It’s important to give teachers training in how to be effective in non-traditional schools, such as charter schools, said Wil Okabe, president of Hawai`i State Teachers Association. “This is an opportunity for teachers to get the training they need to identify with Native Hawaiian kids,” he said.
      Hawai`i Teacher Standards Board is expected to ratify Kaho`iwai’s accreditation next month, Fraser said.
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.

$500 IN ATHLETIC EQUIPMENT can be won by the Ka`u school who sends the most competitors to the annual Volcano Rain forest Runs on Saturday, Aug. 17. The equipment can be for track, cross country, volleyball, tennis, football, soccer – any sport. The school with the most students represented in the runs – which include a 5K, 10K and half marathon, wins the $500 gift certificate from Sports Authority.
      Competitors can enter any of the races to qualify their schools, which can be elementary, middle or high school. Registration fee is $20 per entry. To register see rainforestruns.com or call 967-8240. The event is a fundraiser for Volcano Art Center and its educational programs.
      Bobby Barba, who coached at Ka`u in the 1960s, said he can’t remember a time with no school football. He said that during several years when he coached and didn’t have enough players for varsity, he put together a JV team so there was JV Trojan football for the seasons and preparations for the younger players to go on to varsity in coming years.

Bento Rakugo performs tomorrow at Na`alehu Public Library.
A PERFORMANCE BY BENTO RAKUGO tomorrow at Na`alehu Public Library honors one of the most popular traditional forms of Japanese theatre while bringing a modern twist to the Japanese comedy. The program begins at 2 p.m. and is suitable for ages 5 and older. Call 939-2442 for more information.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK Visitor Center hosts Haunani’s Aloha Expressions tomorrow from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The hula group of native Hawaiians for years has shared the aloha spirit with visitors arriving at the Port of Hilo and Hilo International Airport and patients at hospitals and health care centers around the island.



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