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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 13, 2011

Lani Cran directs cattle from the branding corral to the eucalyptus forest, which is also crossed by hunters who cooperate with Kapapala Ranch.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION is determining whether public hearings should be held regarding a proposal that would allow Hawaiian Electric companies on Maui, O`ahu and the Big Island to raise rates to help pay for the proposed $350 million `Aina Koa Pono Refinery between Pāhala and Wood Valley and biodiesel crop farm between Pāhala and Na`alehu.
     The PUC previously turned down the request from HECO and `Aina Koa Pono to increase rates across the customer base for the initial higher cost of producing the biofuel, ruling that Hawai`i law disallows Maui and O`ahu customers to be charged for biofuel that would be used only on the Big Island. HECO and `Aina Koa Pono, however, went to the Legislature to change the law. They argued that in order to balance the electric company’s alternative energy portfolio and develop new energy sources, rate hikes could be appropriate for all customers since they could eventually be using the new energy. They also said that the biofuel, though initially costing more than fossil fuel, would eventually be less expensive than traditional petroleum.
     The Legislature passed the law, and it was recently signed by the governor.
Hawai`i Renewable Energy
Alliance logo
     Life of the Land and the Hawai`i Renewable Energy Alliance both asked the PUC to intervene in the contract proposal between the electric company and `Aina Koa Pono, but were turned down by the PUC. Life of the Land has intervened in earlier rate cases and takes credit for stopping a HECO plan to import large quantities of biofuel in the form of palm oil from Asia, where rainforests are taken down to plant palm trees for biofuel. The Energy Alliance, which represents the company that owns the windmills at South Point, said its members are concerned that HECO would be deterred from buying more wind and other alternative energies, should the `Aina Koa Pono contract be approved.
     The County of Hawai`i also attempted to intervene in the `Aina Koa Pono discussion at the PUC, stating that the county is Hawai`i Electric Light Company’s largest customer and wants to discuss the energy alternatives available to the island. The PUC said the county was too late to enter the discussion.
     The PUC has asked the electric company to submit briefs by this Friday regarding whether public hearings are required and where they should be held, regarding Act 69. This is the new law that could allow the electric company automatic rate increases for the cost of producing the biofuel, should it be higher than using fossil fuel.
     The PUC is posting various letters regarding the issue in the dockets section of its website under `Aina Koa Pono in the documents file.

Paul Chow helps to process cattle after an easing of years
of drought and problems of vog.  Photo by Julia Neal
HUNTERS AND RANCHERS are now getting along well, according to Kapapala Ranch manager Lani Cran. She said a new call-in line for hunters that coordinated their trek through Kapapala ranch to mauka hunting grounds is working out. The hunters go through a eucalyptus grove where ranchers sometimes keep their cattle. The hunters call in for the day they want to hunt and are provided the combination for the gate on the road that leads to the hunting grounds. The locks are changed often, and hunters must provide their contact information.

KAPAPALA RANCH posted 4.9 inches of rain in May, well above its average rainfall of 2.7 inches for the month. Other Ka`u rain gauges showed lower than normal rainfall, with 3.21 inches versus the normal 3.8 inches. South Point received 1.02 inches versus the normal 2 inches. Kahuku Ranch received 2.06 inches of rain in May; normally it receives 5.1 inches. With the rain, Kapapala had a successful branding over the weekend, as it makes a recovery from the recent drought and the heavy vog that took a toll on the cattle, especially the young calves. Vog is still affecting the ranch, though less often than in recent years, Cran said.

Satellites are a new way to track Hawai`i's
 state endangered bird, the Nene goose.
NENE IN THE SPACE AGE is the topic at After Dark in the Park on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Wildlife biologist Steven Hess discusses the use of satellite telemetry to track the state bird across Hawai`i Island.

THE MISS KA`U COFFEE PAGEANT airs on Na Leo O Hawai`i Community Television this month on channel 54. It will air on Wednesday, June 15 at 6 p.m.; Friday, June 17 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, June 19 at 9:30 a.m. and Wednesday, June 22 at 6 p.m.