Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015

Ka`u residents can sign up through tomorrow to help Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park remove invasive weeds from the park on Friday. FHVNP Photo by Elizabeth Fien
PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO A PROPOSED solar project in the Ocean View Ranchos neighborhood is acknowledged in a document Hawai`i Electric Light Co. filed with the state Public Utilities Commission. “The residents of Ocean View Ranchos are divided on the subject of the proposed solar projects, with significant outspoken opposition,” the document states.
HELCO seeks PUC approval of overhead electric lines to connect a new
substation to existing lines. Map from HELCO application to PUC
      HELCO is planning to build a substation on Kohala Blvd. near the intersection of Hwy 11 to accept power generated by a PUC-approved solar project that would cover more than two dozen heavily wooded, mostly three-ace lots in Ranchos with solar arrays. The utility is asking the PUC to approve installation of overhead high-voltage power lines, as opposed to underground lines, to connect the substation to its grid.
      According to the document, “the Ocean View Substation is being built to serve the Ocean View subdivision. The area is currently developed with three-acre homesites. The proposed overhead 69kV line extension to the new Ocean View Substation will be visible from adjacent parcels and the highway. The terrain and vegetation obscure visibility for most residents of Ocean View Estates and Ocean View Ranchos. One home, across the street on Kohala Boulevard, will have a clear view of the substation and line extension.”
      The document states that the substation is fully funded by the solar project developers. “During peak production, the FIT companies will produce more than 700 percent of the daytime load, and the excess energy will need to be exported to the transmission system,” the PUC filing says.
      “The plan is for the Ocean View Substation construction to occur at the same time that (the solar) projects are constructed in Ocean View, starting in 2015 and completing in 2016,” the document states. “Construction of the 69 kilovolt line extension is expected to start in 2016 and be completed by the end of the third quarter 2016. (The 69kV line extension will be needed to energize the Ocean View Substation.) The (solar) projects need to be completed in 2016 in order for tax benefits to be realized for the developers.”
      A public hearing on the transmission line is expected to be scheduled. According to HELCO, “whenever a public utility plans to place, construct, erect or otherwise build a new 46kV or greater high-voltage electric transmission system above the surface of the ground through any residential area, the public utilities commission shall conduct a public hearing prior to its issuance of approval thereof.”
      The public can submit testimony at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2015-0229.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE SOLAR PROJECT PROPOSED at Ocean View Ranchos is receiving criticism from energy experts. According to Bret Yager, of West Hawai`i Today, the price for Hawai`i Electric Light Co. to pay for the energy produced by the project developers is higher than standard. Under the Feed-in-Tariff program whereby energy producers sell to HELCO, SPI is eligible to sell at 23.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
According to West Hawai`i Today reporter Bret Yager, SPI did not respond
to several inquiries about its proposed solar project in Ocean View Ranchos.
Image from SPI
      Stephen Holmes, a retired former energy and sustainability coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu, told Yager, “You should be under 16 cents per kilowatt hour for a project of that combined size. They (SPI Solar) are breaking a large megawatt-scale project into smaller Feed-In Tariff projects, so ratepayers are not able to benefit from better pricing. The PUC should have rejected this.”
      Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar and director of the new nonprofit Hawai`i Island Energy Cooperative, told Yager, “The Feed-In Tariff unfortunately turned into something of a fiasco with companies — some local and others from the mainland — making a very nice return on investment at the expense of the rest of us.”
      According to Mangelsdorf, because the price of commercial and utility-scale solar energy has dropped significantly, utilities now can close deals with solar developers at rates lower than SPI’s.
      “FIT has been a boon for the developers who have been able to bring projects online quickly, and a boondoggle for the rest of us,” Mangelsdorf said. “We end up subsidizing that.”
      Former Public Utilities Commission chair Hermina Morita told Yager, “The purpose of FIT was to encourage smaller projects, not as a loophole for larger projects, which would have been negotiated under different terms.”
      Yager also reported that although the PUC has approved SPI’s applications, agreements with HELCO to buy the electricity have not yet been executed.
      “It’s a crummy deal,” Holmes told Yager. “I think the Public Utilities Commission should revisit the whole thing.”
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KILAUEA VOLCANO’S STATUS CHANGES are discussed in the current issue of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Volcano Watch. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of when the June 27th lava flow began erupting from Pu`u `O`o on Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone. At that time, it was considered by HVO scientists to be an imminent threat to Kaohe Homesteads residents in Puna. 
      “On Sept. 4, 2014, HVO increased the USGS Volcano Alert Level for Kilauea Volcano from watch to warning as the flow advanced to within 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) of the Kaohe Homesteads boundary,” HVO scientists wrote. “Since early July, the lava flow had been advancing an average of 250 m (820 ft) per day.
On Sept. 12, 2014, the leading edge of the June 27th lava flow burned
through thick forest less than 220 yards from Kaohe Homesteads.
Photo from USGS
      “When the warning notification was issued, lava was just emerging from the third set of ground cracks that the flow had poured into along the East Rift Zone about 13 km (eight mi) from Pu`u `O`o. At the average rate of advance, HVO scientists projected that the lava flow could reach the Kaohe Homesteads within five to seven days, if it stayed within the rift zone’s ground crack system. 
      “Instead, lava escaped the cracks and flowed along a northerly path on the west and north boundaries of Kaohe Homesteads. The flow eventually advanced in fits and starts another eight km (five mi) into the middle of Pahoa town by late October 2014, and then to the outskirts of Pahoa Marketplace in late December 2014 through March 2015.
      “During this time, the flow fronts were only a few hundred meters (yards) from homes, businesses and power and communication lines, so HVO kept the Volcano Alert Level for Kilauea at warning.
      “A series of breakouts from the lava-tube system near Pu`u `O`o in early 2015 spawned many surface flows far upslope of Pahoa, which eventually helped to break down the tube system only six km (four mi) from the vent. With no lava moving through the lower part of the tube, surface flows near Pahoa Marketplace became completely inactive by March 13.
      “With the active parts of the June 27th lava flow far from inhabited areas and moving very slowly, they were no longer considered to be an immediate threat to people and property. So, HVO decreased the USGS Volcano Alert Level to watch on March 25, 2015, where it remains today.
      “The volcano watch and warning alert levels might sound a lot like notices issued by the National Weather Service for hazardous meteorological events, including the parade of tropical storms and hurricanes that have approached Hawai`i this summer. That’s because the USGS adopted these familiar terms to create a similar standardized notification system for volcanic activity in the United States. A full description of the USGS Volcanic Activity Alert-Notification System is provided in a USGS Fact Sheet, available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3139/fs2006-3139.pdf.
      “This notification system was formalized in 2006 to include Volcano Alert Levels that inform people on the ground about a volcano’s status –normal, avisory, watch, and warning. For Kilauea, the current watch level means that an eruption is occurring but poses limited hazards to people and infrastructure on the ground. For a volcano that is not erupting, it means that the volcano is showing elevated signs of unrest with the potential of eruption increased but not certain.
      “The notification system also includes an Aviation Color Code to inform the aviation industry (especially flying aircraft) about a volcano’s activity, with a particular focus on volcanic ash – green, yellow, orange and red. Kilauea’s color code today is orange, which means an eruption is underway with no, or minor, volcanic-ash emissions. Thus far, the color code has not changed from orange during the June 27th lava flow activity.
      “USGS volcano notifications are issued by all five U.S. volcano observatories, including HVO, based on analyses of data from monitoring networks, direct observations and satellite-based sensors. You can receive all or some of these notifications via email by subscribing to the USGS Volcano Notification Service at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns/. We encourage island residents to sign up for this free service and to stay informed about the status of Hawaiian volcanoes!”
      See hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Faya is on the Hawai`i State Noxious Weed List. Photo from NPS
TOMORROW IS THE DEADLINE to sign up for Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Forest Restoration Project taking place Friday Sept. 11. Volunteers remove invasive faya plants in the park from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register at forest@fhvnp.org or 961-5012.

OCEAN VIEW VOLUNTEER FIRE Department meets tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7033 for more information.

VOLCANO WINERY'S HARVEST FESTIVAL is a week from today on Sunday, Sept 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The third annual event benefits Volcano School of Arts & Sciences. Live music, heavy pupus, souvenir wine glass and vineyard tours are included in the price of $40 for adults over 21 and $20 ages 2 – 21. Buy tickest at 967-7772 or volcanowinery.com.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_September2015.pdf.

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

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