About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs Sept. 7, 2011

HELCO President Jay Ignacio joined `Aina Koa Pono to explain the proposed refinery project to Pahala residents in January.
`Aina Koa Pono will be back Sept. 19 for another public meeting at the community center. Photo by Julia Neal
NEW `AINA KOA PONO TESTIMONY from the public is posted on the website of the state Public Utilities Commission this week regarding the proposal to build a refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and a biofuel farm between Wood Valley and Na`alehu, as well as raise electric rates to support the project.
     The most recent comments include questions about the cost of making the biofuel. A letter from Ed Wagner, who opposes the project, points to news articles from Europe where the technology was developed. One article says that the oil produced by the microwave processing is similar to raw oil and must be refined –“in the same way as the case with crude oil.” It also says that the catalyst powder used for the process is not exactly cheap and weighs heavily on the expenditure side.
     Wagner also states that Marion County Florida rejected a similar project in 2009, concluding that the process was an unproven technology. He encourages the PUC to do the same in Hawai`i.

CHARLENE ON GREEN, a radio, internet and television show on O`ahu, has made a special campaign opposing the `Aina Koa Pono proposal. A letter from its producer to the Public Utilities Commission states that the project will be “a nail in the coffin for energy independence,” as the oil produced would be used to fire up the electric company’s existing power plants rather than incentivizing more geothermal, solar, wind and other alternatives. Charlene on Green asks: “Do you not see” that energy prices in Hawai`i are four times higher than the rest of the nation? “Do you not see the artificial limitations HECO places on residents and businesses who wish to generate their own energy?” How can you vest so much of the interest of this great state to one single entity, the electric company? asks Charlene on Green.

`AINA KOA PONO plans to present its plans to the community group `O Ka`u Kakou tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Aspen Center in Punalu`u. `Aina Koa Pono also hosts a public meeting on Monday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Pahala Community Center, its first public meeting in Ka`u since February.

OTHER PUBLIC TESTIMONY posted on the Public Utilities Commission docket this week includes a letter from Dr. Dennis Elwell, a retired Stanford University professor who lives in Discovery Harbor. Elwell asks the PUC to look more closely at the cost of electricity that would be produced by using biofuel.
Dr. Dennis Elwell urges PUC to read Scientific American.
     “The viability of the proposed biofuel plant in Pahala is an important aspect of the request before you to raise electricity rates to consumers in O`ahu and Hawai`i island. Before you reach a decision on whether to approve the HECO/HELCO request, I urge you to read the review of biofuels in the August 2011 issue of Scientific American. The article, titled Biofuels' False Promise, states that ‘biofuels are still not commercially competitive’ and gives many examples of expensive projects that have failed.
     “This conclusion, from a highly respected magazine with no motivation to misrepresent the facts, agrees with my testimony at the hearing in Hilo that AKP does not have a proven process with demonstrated commercial viability,” Elwell writes. “It takes energy to make fuels, and the best location for a commercially sound project for biofuel production is not one with outstandingly high rates for electric power.
     “As I understand it,” states Elwell, “the PUC charter is to help provide customers with reasonable rates. With rates four times the national average, HELCO should focus on cost reduction, not on experiments in unproven technologies. I ask you to imagine the public outcry if HELCO management were in charge of Hawai`i's gasoline and asked consumers to pay $16 a gallon!”
     “They are requesting a rate hike assuming that the AKP project is successful. What kind of rate hike would they request if it were approved and failed?” Elwell asks the PUC.

A WORKSHOP ON THE PROPOSED NEW BUILDING CODE will be held today, Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The new building code makes single wall construction almost impossible and calls for more safety measures and insulation. County Building Department staff will explain and clarify proposed changes. The state building code was adopted in 2010, and adoption of Bill 270 would bring the county into compliance with state law. To view a copy of Bill 270, Draft 3, go to http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/0/doc/756796/Page1.aspx. To view a copy of the current Hawai`i County Code, Chapter 5, relating to building, go to http://co.hawaii.hi.us/countycode/chapter05.pdf. To view a free copy of the International Code go to http://www.iccsafe.org/Store/Pages/OverviewFreeCodes.aspx and http://www.iccsafe.org/Store/Pages/FreeCodes.aspx