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, March 26, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 26, 2012

Ka`u High students, with advisor Theodore Brattstrom, competed in FIRST over the weekend.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TAX CREDIT REDUCTIONS for solar hot water and photovoltaic and wind systems could be on the horizon. The state Legislature is considering several bills. Senate Bill 2288 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee last week, after going through amendments. The latest version would initially raise maximum tax deductions for solar hot water systems from $2,250 to $2,500 and photovoltaics for single-family houses from $5,000 to $7,000. It would eliminate the $500,000 cap on deductions for commercial properties. However, by 2015, the tax credits would be reduced from 35 percent to 20 percent of the cost of purchasing the systems. The new law also would prohibit the tax deductions when the system is established with a power purchase agreement with a government agency, and it would allow one tax credit per tax map key, reducing incentives for putting in solar on `ohana units and for duplexes, triplexes and other multifamily units.
Installations of photovoltaics may decline if tax
credits are reduced. Photo from forms.iapmo.org
      The Solar Voltaic Coalition opposed the reduction in tax credits over time, noting that 15 percent of all construction jobs in Hawai`i in 2011 were related to solar power installations. “The measure’s impact on the residential market will have the greatest impact on PV specialists contractors, who perform the bulk of residential installations. The disruption caused by this measure will ensure that many of these entities will be forced out of business as the market adjusts to the radically changed incentive regime,” the Coalition testified. 
      Blue Planet opposed the House Draft of the measure, saying it would significantly reduce the incentive to invest in renewable energy, likely damage the solar and wind industries in Hawai`i and deliver a major setback to the state’s clean energy efforts.” 
      The Hawai`i Renewable Energy Association also opposed the changes, testifying that they would “set the state back in its overall efforts to increase our use of renewable energy, reduce employment in the construction sector at a most inopportune time, and stymie efforts by state agencies to reduce their energy costs and thereby save taxpayer dollars.” The Sierra Club called the measure “penny-wise, pound-foolish.”
      The state, however, claims it is losing tens of millions of dollars each year to the write-offs for installing alternative energies.
      See more testimony and the bills themselves at hawaii.capitol.gov.

Thermal camera shows temperatures in lava flow field.
Photo from USGS/HVO
HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY has increased its webcams from 6 to 14 webcams these days and has upgraded its website to provide more real time seismic, deformation and gas concentration data, webcam images of eruptive areas and maps, photos and videos. 
      Four of these new webcams are thermal cameras. These cameras provide a picture of temperatures in the field of view, with cool colors (blue, purple) depicting lower temperatures and hot colors (orange, red, white) showing higher temperatures. Lava at Kilauea is erupted at around 2,012 degrees F, but normally develops a cooler crust within seconds of being exposed to the air. One of the primary benefits of the thermal cameras, compared to conventional webcams, is that they can “see” through thick fume (although it may depress the measured temperatures). See more at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

GASOLINE PRICES ROSE an average of 6.7 cents per gallon across the state in just one week, averaging $4.50 per gallon yesterday. The national average went up to 3.86 per gallon, a 4.5 cent increase, reports the website HawaiiGasPrices.com. Prices in Hawai`i yesterday were 29.2 cents higher than the same day a year ago and 23.5 cents higher than a month ago. The national average is 29.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
      The national average rising 21 consecutive days is “a troubling sign,” said gasbudd.com analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Typically, we expect such increases to occur more so in April,” he said.
      Prices in Ka`u this morning for regular: $4.72 at Ka `u Gas in Pahala and $4.76 at the 76 Station in Na`alehu. In Ocean View prices were $4.60 at Kahala Gas and Ocean View Market and $4.55 at Kahuku Country Market.

Members of the Ka`u High Robotics Team adjust their
 machine. Photo by Andrew Suenobu
KA`U HIGH’S ROBOTICS TEAM is back from the FIRST competition at the Stan Sheriff Center at University of Hawai`i on O`ahu. The students built a robot that competed in putting balls through a hoops in a game called the Rebound Rumble. Team leader Leilani Desmond said the Robotics group is looking for financial support to help pay for their expenses. The faculty advisor is chemistry teacher Theodore Brattstrom. 
      Kohala High and Kealakehe High School teams will travel from the Big Island to the national competition in St. Louis beginning April 25. “Every year student competitors amaze everyone with their teamwork and outstanding technical skills,” said Shelley Rowley, co-chair of FIRST in Hawai`i regional competiton. FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. To contribute to the Robotics Team, call Ka`u High at 928-2088.

INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS AND STUDENT GROUPS from public, charter and private schools, as well as for-profit or nonprofit youth organizations are eligible to apply for the county’s Student Malama Award, the first Hawai`i Island student sustainability award to highlight and celebrate youth-led stewardship and sustainability initiatives on the Big Island. Outstanding student leaders in this field will be awarded $500 scholarships.
       Projects may include, but are not limited to, topics such as renewable energy and energy efficiency; agriculture such as school gardens and local foods; resource management such as zero waste, community-based volunteerism, social and community service and environmental projects such as conservation and preservation of the ocean, land and forest.
       Scholarships will be awarded to winners in K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade categories. An awards ceremony luncheon with Mayor Billy Kenoi will be scheduled for the end of the school year.
      Applications are available on the Office of the Mayor’s website at www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-the-mayor/categories/SMA. The deadline is April 15.
       For more information, contact Barbara Kossow at 323-4448 or Lisa Robertson at 961-8211.

Loulu, Hawai`i's ancient native palms, are the topic at
After Dark in the Park tomorrow. Photo from NPS
AT AFTER DARK IN THE PARK tomorrow, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park ranger John Stallman discusses the natural history and conservation of Hawai`i’s ancient native palms. The program begins at 7 p.m. in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply. 

PARTICIPANTS LEARN HOW TO WEAVE lauhala bracelets from the leaves of the hala tree on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.