Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Sept. 4, 2015


Volunteers have completed repairs on Ka`alaiki Road, above the waterfalls. Ka`u residents and visitors use the road when flooding closes Hwy 11 during heavy rains. Photo by Julia Neal
A BAND OF COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS has finished major improvements on the old cane haul road between Na`alehu and Pahala. The effort with $12,000 in funding for materials from County Council member Maile David began with rancher Al Galimba and farmer-rancher Phil Becker of Aikane Plantation using their own equipment. Becker, Galimba and crew worked several weeks to widen about 90 percent of about a ten-mile stretch where grass and shrubs had encroached on the old cane haul road. The project culminated in two days when Wally Andrade, Bob Taylor, Aikane and Galimba, The Nature Conservancy, Forest Solutions and Olson Trust furnished machines and manpower to clear more and to pave. 
      Volunteers showed up with hand tools. About 40 people participated. The total cost in materials was about $19,000. Monetary donations were promised and more are needed, said Galimba, who can be reached at 938-7472.
      “Not only did the communities of Pahala and Na`alehu help, we also had volunteers from Kona, Waimea, Hilo and Honolulu,” Becker said. “Al and I thank all of the many workers and companies that made this project a success. It truly was a community project.”   
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Maile David discusses her resolutions with other
County Council members.
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL APPROVED two resolutions introduced by Ka`u’s Council member Maile David this week that proposed amendments to Hawai`i County’s General Plan. 
      David’s Resolution 258-15 relates to roadway access in Ka`u during times of flooding. David wants the county to investigate potential solutions to prevent the closure of Hawai`i Belt Road due to flooding, including improving, acquiring and maintaining alternate routes.
      Resolution 256-15 calls for the General Plan to apply values, philosophy and geographical features of the ahupua`a system as a land use model to regulatory decisions and government programs, fulfilling sustainability goals and land use policies with consideration for resource management.
      David affirmed that her resolutions are recommendations for the Planning Department to consider when updating the General Plan.
      “This is a really cool resolution,” Planning Director Duane Kanuha said. “I think it’ll make what we end up with pretty unique in terms of planning programs and documents.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I LAWMAKERS ARE EXPLORING publicly owned utilities as an option to investor-owned utilities as the state Public Utilities Commission considers the merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries and NextEra Energy. Ka`u’s state Sens. Russell Ruderman and Josh Green and Rep. Richard Creagan join more than forty state and county leaders representing all islands – including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – in moving forward to examine the potential of public utilities owned by the people.
Rep. Richard Creagan
      “Public utilities don’t need higher rates to make profits for shareholders, and as a result they tend to have significantly lower rates than for-profit utilities across the country,” said Rep. Chris Lee, Chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “We have an obligation to explore this option, especially if it can save residents a lot more money in the long run.”
      Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto-Chang said, “As Republicans and Democrats, we have differences, but we can all agree that the skyrocketing cost of electricity is detrimental to local families. Until NextERA provides a framework for customer savings, it would be irresponsible not to explore options like co-ops and other alternatives,”
      In addition to state legislators from every island, Hawai`i County officials involved include Council Chair Dru Kanuha; Council member Margaret Wille, Chair of the county Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee; and Councilmember Karen Eoff, Chair of the Finance Committee. 
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

FORMER STATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION Chair Mina Morita considers discussion of alternative electric utility ownership models to be “a distraction from the main issue of acquisition,” she wrote on her blog Energy Dynamics in regard to the proposed merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries and NextEra Energy. Morita was PUC chair during time of `Aina Koa Pona proposing a refinery on the edge of Wood Valley and turning pasture and farm lands between Pahala and Na`alehu into a biofuel plantation. The PUC turned down the proposal twice, stating that the price of fuel would be too high.
      “The electricity sector is in a period of high uncertainty with significant shifts in technology, customer preferences and the regulatory environment,” Morita wrote. “Irrespective of type of utility ownership, to navigate during this time of transformation a well-functioning electric utility will require insightful leadership, nimble and flexible strategic planning and strong analytical capacity. A particular ownership model does not guarantee any of the characteristics or qualities required for a successful energy transformation and may, in fact, hinder it with decisions based on politics rather than fact, technology and economics.
Former PUC Chair Mina Morita
      Morita described alternative ownership models including municipal utilities, cooperatives and investor-owned utilities.
      “A municipal, or publicly owned, utility is a government entity, established or enabled by state constitution, law or county charter,” Morita said. “Typically structured to have autonomy, a municipal utility is governed through an appointed or elected board of directors. Revenues to operate are generated by taxes and user fees assessments. Financing of infrastructure is through the issuance of municipal bonds or appropriations from state or county treasuries. … While there is explicit language about a county’s ability to manage water, sewer and solid waste, there is no mention of providing electric service. This may be the first hurdle to establishing a publicly owned electric utility. It should be noted that all risks are borne by taxpayers and ratepayers.
      “Electric cooperatives are private, nonprofit electric utilities owned by the members they serve. An elected board, held accountable to and by its members, governs the business and broad affairs (not the day-to-day operations) of the cooperative. Most electric cooperatives have been initially financed by he Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Subsequent financing needs are usually obtained from the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, also a cooperative whose members are electric cooperatives throughout the county. Typically, electric cooperatives are unregulated entities as there is no shareholder/member conflict. …
      “An investor-owned utility is a privately owned electric utility whose stock is publicly traded. It is rate-regulated by a Public Utilities Commission or similar type of entity and authorized to achieve (not guaranteed) an allowed rate of return. Stockholders (investors), bonds and bank borrowing are an IOU’s means to finance the business. Utility rates are set to recover costs and earn a reasonable return as profits for investors in return for the risk they bear for investing in new facilities.”
      See minamoritaenergydynamics.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

PARTICIPANTS DISCOVER Hawaiian goddesses Pele and Hi`iaka and the natural phenomena they represent on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Kahuku unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Visitors will experience the sisters coming alive through epic stories depicted in the natural landscape of Kahuku on this moderate one-mile walk.
      Call 985-6011 for more information.

ALL COFFEE FARMERS ARE INVITED to learn Intergrated Pest Management practices at a free workshop tomorrow at Pahala Community Center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Hands-on activities at a coffee farm follow a potluck lunch.
      Call Ann Fontes at 987-7448 for more information.

Ka`u residents are invited to join Friends of the Ka`u Libraries.
Photo by Julia Neal
FRIENDS OF THE KA`U LIBRARIES hold their annual meeting Thursday, Sept. 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House. Light refreshments will be served. 
      The nonprofit organization’s main purpose is to support Pahala Public & School Library and Na`alehu Library. Members volunteer to help the libraries improve their services and resources.
      Members participate in community events, fundraisers for the libraries and assist the libraries with their special educational programs. Residents are invited to join and learn more. The group also looks forward to former members renewing memberships. Annual fees are $5 for adults and $2 for seniors 55 and over.
      One of the group’s recent projects was to collect My Coke Reward code numbers that are printed on Coke products. Sharing these reward points with the libraries turned rewards into magazine subscriptions for the libraries.
      For additional information about the meeting, call Doris Davis at 928-0919 or Ann Fontes at 987-7448.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_September2015.pdf.

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

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