|The Public Utilities Commission has scheduled public hearings on proposed electricity rate hikes connected with |
`Aina Koa Pono's biofuels project for Tuesday, Aug. 2 in Hilo and Kona.
THE STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE has given Hawaiian Electric Co., Inc. until Wednesday, July 27 to answer more questions about its proposed rate hikes that would help pay for the $350 million `Aina Koa Pono refinery planned for land between Pahala and Wood Valley and its biofuel farm planned for land between Pahala and Na`alehu. Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono asks that the electric company discuss the current status of all necessary reviews and studies related to permitting and construction of the proposed biofuel facilities, which are planned for seven acres just off Wood Valley Road on Meyer Camp Road.
He also asks about the impact on Hawai`i Electric Light Co., which operates on O`ahu and Hawaiian Electric Co., which operates on this island, if `Aina Koa Pono should encounter permitting and environmental issues.
The consumer advocate asks what costs above the cost of fossil fuel the electric company plans to recover by raising electric rates to pay for `Aina Koa Pono’s method of making electricity.
The Consumer Advocate also notes that the electric company says in its rate hike application that the biofuel may displace other renewables. “If a renewable energy source is curtailed in order to enable the Companies to meet the commitment to purchase 16 million gallons and the cost of the renewable energy source is already reflected in base rates, the fuel that was replaced was not petroleum but a renewable source.” He asks the electric companies to explain how they would calculate rate hikes when displacing other alternative energies.
COUNTY FURLOUGHS ARE COMING BACK, with a new two-year agreement with the Hawai`i Government Employees Association. The deal brokered by Mayor Billy Kenoi and the union continues a limited county furlough program to save an estimated $2.1 million per year. The agreement, reached this week, calls for HGEA members to accept furloughs of one day per month for the two-year period that began July 1. That equates to a pay reduction of 4.615 percent from pay levels in effect before furloughs first took effect last year.
“This is a fair agreement that reduces costs and prepares us for the uncertainties ahead,” Kenoi said. “It is a part of a larger effort to move the county to more solid financial ground, and to position us for the future.”
The new agreement with HGEA retains the existing 60-40 employer-employee health insurance premium cost split, the mayor noted.
“This agreement carefully balances the interests of both the public and public employees,” said Kenoi. “We are asking public workers to pay more each year as health insurance premiums increase, and that burden weighs most heavily on our lowest paid employees. This agreement strikes a fair balance on health care costs.”
Under the new agreement, the county will impose the first furlough day of the new fiscal year on Friday, July 29. Starting in August, the furlough days will be imposed on the first Friday of each month for the rest of this fiscal year, and will continue in fiscal 2012-13. So expect county offices to be closed the first Friday of the month starting in August, plus the last Friday of this month.
|Students help rescue the honu `ea at Punalu`u.|
|Dr. George Balazs sizes up|
the honu `ea.
BOTTOMFISH SEASON BEGINS Sept 1. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, Western Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service will hold free public workshops on new bottomfish fishery rules and regulations.
Workshops will feature interactive booths with information on the new state annual bottomfish vessel registration and new state commercial bottomfish reporting requirements. There will be information on changes to the bottomfish Deep-7 annual quota from a total allowable catch to an annual catch limit. Information on federal non-commercial bottomfish permit and reporting programs will also be presented. A forum will be conducted by Fishery Management Council staff on options for non-commercial fishery data collection.
Admission is free. Big Island workshops will be Saturday, July 23 in Kona at King Kamehameha Beach Hotel from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and in Hilo on Monday, July 25 at the University of Hawai`i Kanakaole Building, Room K-127 on Kapiolani Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.