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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Aug. 16, 2012

Runners make their way through the race course of 2011 Volcano Rain Forest Runs. This year's event is this Saturday.
Photo from Volcano Art Center       

THE `AINA KOA PONO proposal to build a refinery along Wood Valley Road and to clear trees and brush and grow biofuel crops on pasture and other lands in Ka`u is receiving testimony at the Public Utilities Commission from area residents. Ka`u resident Dr. Dennis Elwell, a physicist and materials researcher who worked at Stanford University and Hughes Aircraft, wrote:
       “Our community has read that there is a resubmission of the proposal to construct an experimental biofuels plant near Pahala, Hawai`i island. We hope that the Commission will reject reconsideration of this proposal since it appears to link the project with hikes in electricity rates, a link that the PUC rejected last year. I believe that I can speak for the whole community in expressing an opinion that developmental projects should be funded by research funds and not by downstream promises of a burden on the consumer. HECO/HELCO already charges rates that are around four times the national average and are a burden on all activities in the state (see recent complaints in the press by UH-Hilo about the huge and growing burden that the outrageous electricity rates place on them as an institution). I suggest that the PUC should urge HECO to fix its fundamental flaws that lead to its excessive rates before it indulges in partnerships with high-risk developments.”
       Dr. Linda-Jane Irwin, a Volcano resident, former Volcano Rotary Club president and physician, wrote: “I am a resident of Volcano and emailed you last October to thank you for your very appropriate decision to deny the HELCO and `Aina Koa Pono application to supply and utilize biofuel for local energy. Many of us in the area (especially a large number of people in Pahala where they will be most impacted) have worked hard to learn about this venture and are very disturbed about multiple issues (especially environmental impacts). I detailed some of these in my previous correspondence, and I realize environmental issues are not your primary concern, so this time I will address primarily the impracticality of this approach to reducing our dependence on oil.
       “Perhaps you have seen the Honolulu Star Advertiser editorial which expresses some of these concerns very well. Please allow me to quote, as they are more articulate than I.
Mark Glick
       “‘As new energy options develop, the focus must be on projects and strategic plans that are justifiable to consumers and cost-attritioned, not ones that depend on ratepayers for exorbitant or indefinite subsidies.’ The editorial also states that Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s ‘administration agrees with environmentalists that biofuel should be used directly to power transportation rather than replace oil in power plants. Mark Glick, the state Energy Office director, says the HECO contracts may someday extend to use of biofuel in the way the state desires. However, the use of biofuel in power plants should not dampen advances in other sources of energy — solar, wind and geothermal. We really advocate moving away from power generation as the focus for biofuels.’
      “I certainly agree. The scientific articles that I have seen regarding biofuel point out many flaws in the justifications initially used to promote them. From a practical standpoint, it makes no sense on this island to use ‘sterile grasses’ or truck invasive species to the plant (thereby risking spreading them in new areas on the route) when we have much better energy options. In addition, even considering any surcharge for this fiasco in the state with the highest energy charges in the nation would be ludicrous.
      “I implore you to once again reject the new application for this expensive, unwanted and unnecessary venture.”
      Anyone can write in to the PUC regarding its role in determining whether to approve the 20-year contract between HELCO and `Aina Koa Pono that would allow the utility to raise the electric rates to buy the biofuel. `Aina Koa Pono says it will make jobs, including the 400 for construction workers who would build the refinery over three years and 200 permanent mill and field jobs.

HA`AO SPRINGS & MOUNTAIN HOUSE Ag Water Co-op meets today at 2:30 p.m. at Wai`ohinu Park. Anyone interested in restoration of ag water to the area is invited.

RUNNERS IN SATURDAY’S RAIN FOREST RUNS can pick up their race packets tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. A runners’ welcome luncheon with complimentary pupus and wine takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Niaulani Campus, and an all-you-can-eat carbo-load and salad buffet is available from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Cooper Center.
      Opening ceremonies are at 6:30 a.m. at Cooper Center on Wright Road. Half Marathon starts at 7 a.m., 10K at 7:30 a.m., 5K at 7:45 a.m. and Keiki Runs at 10 a.m. All events are open to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Registration fees range from $35 to $75. Contact Sharron Faff at 967-8240 or rainforestruns.com.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION’S monthly BBQ takes place Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Call 937-7033.

KA`U HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI AND FRIENDS’ annual potluck reunion happens Sunday at 11 a.m. at Pahala Community Center. Everyone is invited.