Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, July 30, 2013

South Point waves in the wake of Tropical Storm Flossie, which veered north, sparing Ka`u but bringing some surf
and a few showers yesterday. Photo by Peter Anderson
“ULTIMATELY, OUR GOAL IS TO CHART A FUTURE PATH to provide our customers with reliable, clean electricity at the lowest possible cost,” Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman Peter Rosegg told Civil Beat. He was responding to Carl Freedman’s decision not to certify HECO’s five-year energy plans that were released in June. Freedman was hired by state regulators as an Independent Entity to oversee the utility’s planning process.
      In his report, Freedman says, “Several aspects of the Integrated Resource Planning Report and Action Plans are not compliant with specific framework requirements and do not meaningfully address several of the principal issues.”
      He also says that “the rate and bill impacts of the Action Plans are understated and downplayed in the IRP Report but represent substantial concerns for all of the HECO Company systems. Rates and bills for all customer classes for all of the HECO Companies are projected to increase substantially over the initial five-year Action Plan period.”
      Freedman says that concerns about customers installing renewable energy systems in order to lower their electric bills in response to higher rates, which further exacerbates rate impacts on those who cannot afford such systems, “have not been sufficiently addressed or dispelled in the IRP Report.”
      Freedman also criticizes HECO for not involving an advisory group more in the planning process. Because the IRP process fell substantially behind schedule, “consideration of advisory group comments was minimal.” He said that, while “the amounts of analysis, progress and work performed by the HECO Companies in the final weeks of the IRP process were impressive, … there was very limited opportunity for clarifications regarding the new material presented.”
      Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land and a member of the advisory group, told Civil Beat, “I think there’s enormous risk and opportunity in the near future about how we shape energy policy, and Hawaiian Electric Co. is no longer in the driver’s seat. There are many players out there, and we are all going to shape where energy policy goes in this state.”
      See more at civilbeat.com.
      To comment on this story, go to https://www.facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Flossie's fleece in bands of clouds and little moisture brought to Ka`u by
the tropical storm yesterday at South Point. Photo by Peter Anderson
TROPICAL STORM FLOSSIE HELD A DIFFERENT PERSONALITY than Hurricane Flossie of 2007, who sat off South Point and ground herself into exhaustion, never coming onshore. The Flossie of yesterday made a right turn and headed away from Hawai`i Island, bringing slight moisture, little wind and a lot of humidity that remains in the air today.
      County and state offices have re-opened, and Hele-On bus service is back on schedule. Hawai`i Electric Light Co. offices are also open.

HAMAKUA MACADAMIA NUT CO. made Pacific Business News’ list of the 2013 fastest 50 growing companies. The majority owner of the company, Edmund C. Olson, and Hamakua president and founder Richard Schnitzler will attend the presentation in Honolulu at Hawai`i Convention Center on Aug. 15. Schnitzler said this marks the third time Hamakua has been ranked in the Fastest 50, previously ranked 28th and 38th in the statewide listings. Olson said this morning, “I am just happy to have another successful operation that employs Ka`u people growing and harvesting more tons of nuts for Hamakua each year.” 

THE HAWAI`I STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION has received notification from the U.S. Department of Education that its Race to the Top grant is no longer considered “high-risk” and is in good standing.
      “This is great news that validates the good work that’s been done by the teachers, educational leaders and our community partners,” superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “The transformation of our public schools is in full swing. We are staying the course in our mission to ensure all students graduate from our public schools prepared for college and careers.”
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie said, “The commitment made by the Hawai`i State Department of Education to get to where it is today speaks for itself, and I congratulate all of those involved for a job well done. It is clear that transformation in our education system is taking place at all levels from the Board of Education meeting room to the classroom.”
      Key improvement areas in the DOE’s transformation efforts include:
  • Aligned state, complex area and school planning and monitoring. This allows for a cohesive system at all levels focused on shared goals for students. From the strategic plan to the school’s academic plans and evaluations of educators, administrators and teachers are tracking students to ensure all graduate college and career ready. 
  • Worked with union partners to formalize new evaluation systems for teachers and principals. 
  • Improved communication both internally and externally. Earlier this month, the DOE launched its new website and is in the process of establishing an intranet service for staff that allows for increased exchange of information. 
      The DOE also provided clarity of roles, responsibilities, and vision both within the system and in the community.
      Find out more at 

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD PRAISED the decision by the U.S. Department of Education to remove Hawai`i’s “High Risk” grant designation and allow the state to continue receiving $75 million in Race to the Top grant funding. 
      “I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Education has recognized our schools are making changes that will serve all of our keiki,” Gabbard said. “I recently visited five of Hawai`i’s Race to the Top schools in West O`ahu and Hawai`i Island and saw firsthand the hard work our local schools have done to improve our students’ education and prospects for success. As Hawai`i moves into the last year of its Race to the Top grant, I look forward to continued improvement and sustained support for improving our schools across the islands.”

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS has announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June declined to 4.6 percent from 4.7 percent in May. The last time the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent was in September 2008.
      Statewide, there were 617,250 employed and 29,700 unemployed in June, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 646,950. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in June, unchanged from May.
      Initial claims and weeks claims decreased by 48, or -2.5 percent, and by 1,796, or -13.0 percent, consecutively for unemployment benefits compared to one year ago.
      The unemployment rate figures for the State of Hawai`i and the U.S. in this release are seasonally adjusted, in accordance with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology. The not seasonally adjusted rate for the state increased to 5.2 percent in June from 4.5 percent in May.

Sugarcane being loaded onto train cars. Photo from thetrainmuseum.com
LAUPAHOEHOE TRAIN MUSEUM is the topic at this evening’s After Dark in the Park. The program begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply. 

VOLUNTEERS CAN HELP HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK by cutting invasive kahili ginger on park trails Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Loppers and gloves are provided. Participants are encouraged to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and closed-toed shoes. Work is often in the shade of the forest with sounds of native honeycreepers like `apapane, `amakihi and `oma`o above. Water, snacks, rain gear and sun protection are recommended. This project is open to the public, and no reservations are required. Interested people can stop by Kilauea Visitor Center to get directions and more information. The hike is about one mile and a moderate round trip into Kilauea caldera down Halem`auma`u trail, leaving from Kilauea Visitor Center. The hike involves walking over rough, uneven terrain on a dirt and rock path with up to a 400-foot elevation change.




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