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.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Aug. 18, 2012

Proposed location of `Aina Koa Pono's refinery at the mouth of Wood Valley, where 400 construction
workers would build the biofuel plant over three years. Photo by Julia Neal
THE `AINA KOA PONO CASE before the Public Utilities Commission will include participation of the County of Hawai`i, if the PUC approves the county’s request, Mayor Billy Kenoi told West Hawai`i Today. According to a Colin M. Stewart story this morning, the mayor said, “We’re not interested in more renewable energy. We’re interested in cheaper renewable energy. Unless it has lower rates, we will not support it.”
Mayor Billy Kenoi
Photo by Julia Neal
       Kenoi said his administration will ask to legally participate in the discussion on the proposed agreement between Hawai`i Electric Light Co. and `Aina Koa Pono. The contract would set a 20-year fixed rate for purchase of biofuel that `Aina Koa Pono promises to make in a refinery it would build over three years with 400 construction workers at the mouth of Wood Valley above Pahala. The location would be near the corner of Wood Valley Road and Meyer Camp Road near Ka`u Coffee Mill.
       The contract would allow Hawai`i Electric Light Co. to raise electric rates to households on the Big Island and O`ahu by $1 per month for every 600 kilowatt-hours used. The biofuel sold to the electric company would be trucked from Pahala up Hwy 11 to the power plant next to Keahole Airport.
      The contract focuses solely on feeding the one power plant at Keahole and does not address the prospect of additional broad-based electric rate increases should `Aina Koa Pono or other companies propose additional biofuel refineries to make fuel for other electric plants around the state.
       Last year, the county wrote to the PUC that the county is possibly HELCO’s single largest customer, with a bill of approximately $30 million a year. The county also said it is concerned about “the impact the proposed facility and contract with HECO companies will have on the development of other renewable energy resources that do no have the land and greenhouse gas emission impacts associated with the biofuels proposal.”

Pastures between Na`alehu and Pahala are proposed for biofuel crops by `Aina Koa Pono, which says it would work with ranchers to grow feed for their cattle as cattle ranches are displaced for biofuel crops. Photo by Julia Neal
       Last May, the county told the PUC: “The County is not opposed to biofuels as one of a number of possible sources that contribute to the State of Hawai`i’s renewable energy goals, and indeed for the Big Island we are encouraged with the possibilities that a biofuels industry can diversify our island economy. At the same time, we also want to ensure that the development of renewable resources is accomplished in a sustainable fashion. We would point out that the proposed contract will provide an amount of fuel that will account for a substantial percentage of HELCO’s annual energy production. The contract value proposed may be in the range of $50-100 million a year. This represents one of the largest biofuels contracts in the State and is certainly one of the largest that could be contracted on the Big Island for the immediate future.
       “Because the proposed contract is long-term, twenty (20) years, this contract would essentially lock in a cost structure and generation mix for Hawai`i Island that may preclude additional biofuels contracts, and it may well preclude many other forms of renewable energy resources available on the Big Island, including proven technologies such as geothermal, wind and solar. While the immediate impacts of the proposed contract will fall on the citizens of the County, we do believe there are policy implications for the entire State of Hawai`i that this docket will address, including the impact on competition in the renewable generation sector, the proposed surcharge, and HELCO’s proposed generation dispatch modifications.”

Keahole power plant near Kona Airport would be the recipient of
biofuel trucked from Wood Valley Road up Hwy 11.
Photo from Power Plants Around the World

TESTIMONY ON THE `AINA KOA PONO PROPOSAL to sell biofuel at a fixed rate for 20 years to Hawai`i Electric Light Co. for its power plant near Kona Airport is being received by the state Public Utilities Commission.
       One of the latest submissions comes from Larry Johnson, a scientist and resident of Pahala and Alaska. He writes: “First, given the present very high HELCO rates, it is imperative that the PUC limit any increases to the absolute minimum. Contracting for biofuels with AKP by artificially raising rates does not meet this criteria.
      “Second, biofuels have had a troubled technical and economic history across the U.S. One of the leading scientific journals (Scientific American, Aug. 2011) in The False Promise of Biofuels, has detailed many of the technical problems that have repeatedly derailed their production. Even substantial government grants and subsidies have not prevented the closure of many biofuel plants upon the termination of such government funding. The PUC, especially considering the existing high rate structure, should not burden HELCO customers by approving a long-term subsidy for such a high-risk venture. Any subsidy should be pursued through a short-term grant by AKP that both relieves HELCO customers from increased long-term financial liability and would allow HELCO, if they so desire, to contract with AKP at a rate below existing rates.
A rendering from `Aina Koa Pono of  refinery to be built near Wood Valley.
       “Finally, almost two years ago AKP promised that they would release a ‘wells to wheels’ energy analysis for the proposed biofuels project utilizing microwave technology. They have not done so. Whatever the reason (lower energy returns than expected, difficulties in accurately determining energy costs for the microwave technology, etc), the lack of this study raises questions both about AKP’s reliability and the feasibility of the project from both an environmental and an economic standpoint.
       “I appreciate the time and effort spent by the PUC to insure that electric rates for the Big Island are kept as low as possible,” writes Johnson.
       Testimony, referencing docket 2012-0185, can be submitted to the PUC by emailing hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov or mailing to 465 South King Street, #103, Honolulu, HI 96813.

HAWAI`I POLICE DEPARTMENT will hold a community meeting on Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The purpose is to allow the public to meet the Police Department’s command staff and to discuss police-related concerns with the police chief and commanders who oversee police operations in Ka`u.
      Those interested in participating but unable to attend may email their concerns or comments to copsysop@hawaiipolice.com.
      For more information, call Captain Andrew Burian at 939-2520.

Boys & Girls Club in Pahala seeks community input at a meeting this
Wednesday. Photo from Boys & Girls Club
BOY & GIRLS CLUB OF PAHALA presents a community stakeholders event at Pahala Community Center Wednesday at 6 p.m. The purpose is for youth organizations, schools, businesses, families, club members and other interested parties to talk about problems facing youth and how to share resources and create partnerships to better serve youth. “This is an opportunity for the community to tell the Boys & Girls Club of Pahala how it can better serve the community,” said Dolly Kailiawa. RSVP by calling Kailiawa at 756-5285.

AN INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT workshop about the coffee berry borer is scheduled for next Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kona Hongwanji in Kealakekua. Dr. Luis Aristizabal, from Colombia and currently with University of Florida, will be the featured speaker. Topics include What has been successful internationally, what is different in Hawai`i, when CBB swarms, when it moves into trees, proper times to spray and trap as well as effective harvest techniques. Two days of classroom and field lectures cover effective control of CBB.
      Aristizabal has spent his career focusing on control of pests in coffee and has done participatory research with farmers on CBB management for many years. While with the coffee research organization Cenicafe, he taught farmer workshops on IPM for CBB, as well as published a number of studies on biological control.
      $25 registration fee includes lunch on Friday. Register online at kohalacenter.org/cbbworkshop/registration.html or contact Cortney Hoffman at 887-6411 or choffman@kohalacenter.org.