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, October 18, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 18, 2012

Vog plume from Halemaumau Crater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Alan Cressler 
FEW PEOPLE ARE PROVIDING INPUT to the Interagency Task Force on Vog which was created last year by the state legislature through the effort of Rep. Bob Herkes to bring in testimony on the impact of vog on people who live in the path of Kilauea volcano emissions. 
Click to enlarge. Chart from hiso2index.info
      A Tom Calis story in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune Herald quoted Herkes saying: “Absent public participation, it made no sense.” The 15-member committee owes a report to the 2013 State Legislature when it convenes in January. According to the story, the Pahala meeting last March drew about a dozen people. A Hilo meeting drew a few. A meeting in Pahoa in June drew no one. “When we went there, we entertained ourselves,” Hawai`i County Civil Defense Director and chair of the committee Ben Fuata told the Tribune Herald.
      The next public input meeting is being organized for November but no date has been set. “Even without the public input, the committee has collected data on volcano pollution,” Fuata told the Tribune Herald. “I think it’s been successful in that we kind of have an idea … a better grasp on what the concerns of the public are.” See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.

`AINA KOA PONO’S PROPOSAL, which promises to help solve energy dependency problems by using biofuel produced from trees, brush and grasses that would be harvested in Ka`u, is compared to the costs of geothermal in a statement this week by Big Island Coalition and state Department of Agriculture board member Richard Ha.
Puna Geothermal Venture. Photo from Ormat
      “What if we substituted geothermal electricity for `Aina Koa Pono's biofuels proposal, in order to replace the 80MW that the Keahole liquid fuel-fired plant produces?” Ha estimates that “`Aina Koa Pono’s proposed plan would cost rate payers the equivalent of $200/barrel of oil. The ‘barrel of oil equivalent’ for geothermal-produced electricity is $57/barrel, and this price will be stable for 500,000 to a million years,” claims Ha. He writes that “geothermal is competitive with – though cheaper than – natural gas, which is $5.16 per million BTUs and breaks even with oil at $57/barrel; and nuclear power, which breaks even at $6.26 and $69.”
      Ha concludes: “At today’s oil prices, there is an 11 cent difference between oil- and geothermal-produced electricity. Geothermal is cheaper by far.” He does some arithmetic: “The Keahole plant’s capacity (where the `Aina Koa Pono fuel would be trucked from Wood Valley up Hwy 11) is 80MW, which is 80,000 kilowatts per hour. Using geothermal would save $8,800/hour, $211,200/day, and $6,336,000/month. In a year, the savings would be $76 million,” Ha states.
      Ha suggests saving money by using geothermal to lower ratepayers bills, and the other half to retire debt. “The electric utility should not be punished for trying to achieve its renewable energy goals. But we have to realize there may be alternatives that better prepare us for the future. Let's not lock ourselves out of these opportunities by signing a 20-year contract just because of an arbitrary time schedule.
Image from biofuels-solutions.com
      “In the end, with geothermal we would pay the oil equivalent of $57/barrel on our electric bills. If we go `Aina Koa Pono’s route, we pay the equivalent of $200/barrel. Am I missing something?” Ha asks.
      Ha and the Big Island Community Coalition are urging citizens to testify at the Public Utilities Commission hearings on the contract for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel to Hawai`i Electric Light Co. with a fixed-price, 20-year contract.
      Big Island hearings, which also include an additional 4.2 percent rate hike for HELCO separate from the `Aina Koa Pono proposal, are Monday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m., Hilo High School cafeteria and Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m., Kealakehe High School cafeteria in Kona. Another hearing will be scheduled for O`ahu.
      For the `Aina Koa Pono hearing, HELCO asks the PUC to allow increases through a surcharge for all electric ratepayers on the Big Island and O`ahu – to average $1 per 500 to 600 kilowatt-hours used.
One of 27 microwave depolymerization units, called
Micro Dee, that `Aina Koa Pono intends to bring to Ka`u.
Photo from biofuels-solutions.com
      The `Aina Koa Pono proposal involves clearing and growing crops on land between Pahala and Na`alehu and a refinery near Wood Valley Road that would provide 16 million gallons of biodiesel a year to sell to HELCO for use at the power plant near Kona Airport. Another eight million gallons would be sold to a Georgia-based fuel distributor, to be sold preferably in Hawai`i, according to `Aina Koa Pono.
      `Aina Koa Pono says its project would create 200 permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs, The complex would be comprised of 27 microwave depolymerization units to create the refinery. There would be a cooling tower, a processor to turn biomass into pellets before putting them through the microwave process, parking lots for worker vehicles, trucks, loaders and other machinery, a mill yard to store the biomass brought to the property along with additives such as xeolite to be imported from off island, and diesel storage tanks to hold the biodiesel before trucking it out of Ka`u.
      At recent meetings held in small groups of invited people in Ka`u and Hilo, `Aina Koa Pono representatives said that they would start with one microwave unit before adding on the others, to make sure the operation is acceptable to the community before proceeding. Representatives also said that one truck of biofuel per week would be sent to Hilo to be used as transportation fuel.
      See ainakoapono.com, biofuels-solutions.com and puc.hawaii.gov where the proposals and testimony can be found.

Ag tourism regulations for the Big Island are being
discussed by the County Council. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
AG TOURISM REGULATIONS are making their way through the County Council with several amendments added yesterday. Most amendments on yesterday’s agenda were offered by council member Brenda Ford. Among them was a proposal to require a site visit and approval by the county Planning Department before ag tourism would be allowed. The measure passed. Another, which was turned down by the council, would have limited the size of structures where ag products would be sold and would have set a minimum for sales of ag products to prevent such places from becoming tourist trinket and tee shirt shops rather than predominantly ag product sales locations. She also unsuccessfully proposed limiting the number of visitors to such ag tourism operations to no more than 80 a day, which is nearly 30,000 visitors a year.
      Another amendment, which did pass on first reading came from Dominic Yagong, which would ban ag tourism in places served only by four-wheel drive roads. The amendment was designed specifically for Waipio Valley, where taro farmers are bothered by an overabundance of tourists. The amendments will go back to the full County Council for another vote.

SOUTH KONA POLICE STATION, another initiative of Brenda Ford, passed, authorizing $30 million in general obligation bonds, which includes $16.8 million for the station.

Lani Weigert. Photo from tedxmaui.com
THOSE INTERESTED IN FREE AGRITOURISM WORKSHOPS through the Hawai`i AgriTourism Association are urged to attend an organizational meeting this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Pahala Community Center. Information will be provided on scope and timing. Those with agritourism potential in Ka`u can sign up for the workshops, which are funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.
      “The intention of the trainings is to help build economic development for the Ka`u agricultural community and it’s partners,” says Hawai`i Agritourism Association Executive Director Lani Weigert. For more, visit hiagtourism.org. Those interested in attending can reserve a seat by emailing lani@hiagtourism.org or calling (808) 283-3777.

KICK ICE SIGN WAIVING takes place tomorrow in front of Na`alehu School gym from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

PIANO HINGE, UNHINGED, where Charlene Asato dispels the mysteries of the piano hinge structure as used in bookbinding, is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Volcano Art Center. Cost is $35 per person for general public and $31.50 for VAC members, plus $10 for supplies. Call 967-8222 to reserve space.

KIPUKA`AKIHI HIKE, within the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants explore an isolated refuge of rare plants in a remnant old-growth forest. Pr-registration required. Call 985-6011.

AUDITIONS FOR THE AWAKENING OF EVERYONE will be held this Saturday, Oct. 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House. The play is a modern revival of the 15th century Greek morality play The Summons of Everyman by Anonymous. It will be performed locally in early December. 
      The cast requires about 15 characters. Rehearsals will be held for about two hours, three times a week until production. Not all cast members will be required to attend all rehearsals. Call 928-0007 for more information.