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, October 29, 2012

Ka`u New Briefs Oct. 29, 2012

Lava in the fiery vent in Halema`uma`u continued to rise and fall over the weekend and could spill over onto the crater floor.
  Photo by Teresa Tico
HALEMA`UMA`U DREW REPEAT VISITORS to the overlook at Jaggar Musuem at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park over the weekend. Photographers on the ledge said they were coming to the summit night after night to see the light show and hear the rumble with hopes of lava rising high and spilling onto the crater floor. The park is open 24 hours a day, and rangers urge visitors to remain safe by obeying traffic signs, carrying flashlights and looking for cracks, rocks and other hazards as they drive and walk to viewing places. Several pairs of nene, the federally endangered goose and Hawai`i’s State Bird, are nesting near Jaggar Museum parking lot and are seen along roadsides and trails. Drivers and hikers are cautioned to be alert for the birds and their nests.
      Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily Kilauea status updates, visit the USGS HVO website, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

The Punalu`u tsunami siren worked on Saturday but will be double-checked by Civil Defense
personnel who will be stationed there during the next monthly test. Photo by Julia Neal
TESTING OF ALL CIVIL DEFENSE SIRENS on the Big Island next month will involve the county stationing personnel at all locations “to ensure that they are operating as expected in concert with Hawai`i State Civil Defense,” says a statement released by Hawai`i County on Sunday. State Civil Defense owns the sirens and takes care of repairs, while Hawai`i County Civil Defense coordinates the operation of the sirens and conducts monthly tests. Several failed to sound the alarm when the first tsunami warning was sounded on Saturday. 
      The statement also reviewed the county response to the tsunami warning that began following a 7.7 earthquake off British Columbia at 5:04 p.m. Saturday and the advisory that lasted until 3:58 a.m. on Sunday.
      “Although there were technical challenges initially with our siren system during (the) tsunami warning, the challenges were addressed. The sirens are just one facet of our comprehensive emergency notification strategy, which includes sounding sirens, sending phone, text, and email alerts through mass notification systems, Civil Defense messages on radio and television stations, and manual notification by Police, Fire, and Civil Air Patrol.
       “Police and Fire personnel were deployed immediately to shoreline areas to notify people of the evacuation. Two fire helicopters, a privately contracted helicopter, and a Civil Air Patrol plane were in the air to monitor the shoreline and further notify people in difficult to access shoreline areas and ensure that the areas were clear.
       “Our human response was executed according to plan. In spite of the technical challenges earlier in the evening, we were able to safely execute a complete islandwide evacuation of shoreline and low-lying areas by 10:05 p.m.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO case before the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission are today at Hilo High School cafeteria and tomorrow at Kealakehe High School cafeteria, both at 6 p.m.  The contract would tie up the cost of diesel for 20 years. The diesel would be manufactured in a micro-wave depolymerization refinery that would be built along Wood Valley Road. Sixteen million gallons a year would be trucked to the HELCO power plant near Kona Airport. Another 8 million gallons would be manufactured for transportation fuel. Testimony pro and con is available at puc.hawaii.gov

OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSAL comes from Wood Valley resident Sandra Reha. She focuses on the proposed increase in electric bills, though the increase is less than proposed last year when the PUC turned down `Aina Koa Pono.  The new $1 increase for each 500 to 600 kilowatt hours used is “important because that will be on top of the 4.3 rate increase HELCO is currently seeking." She also writes about the  20-year, fixed price contract for HELCO to buy diesel from `Aina Koa Pono - a price hidden from the public.
Proposed site of AKP's biodiesel refinery is between Pahala and Wood Valley,
along Meyer Camp Road.  Photo by Julia Neal
      "The way the world turns, 20 years is a long time to keep everyone in their clutches. It seems many will go to solar. That creates problems for those left to pay the bills.
      “Who knows what changes and opportunities lie in our future? So many improvements occur in five years it is staggering. It is questionable from many authorities if biomass isn’t an obsolete process as an oil producer, presently.
      "I keep reading that there are more worthy ways to create energy. I suggest we consider those.
     "I want to be open-minded about `Aina Koa Pono because of employment opportunities. But, when I read what the process involves, the number of people needed to perform all the varying tasks, the equipment and vehicles, and parking lots needed, the improvement of infrastructure, the facilities needed, the offices...
Sandra Reha
      “I also have trouble understanding how it could be possible not to have to run an Environmental Impact Study... The technology they plan to adopt hasn’t even been in use. Please question this very carefully... it is said that because they grow ag no environmental study needs to happen. The ag is in one location; the oil refinery is in a totally separate location! But in truth it is an oil refinery,” she writes. “I also understand, if `Aina Koa Pono isn’t successful with grasses they can use garbage and old tires. Is this not true? Are we opening up ourselves to something other than biomass here.....?"
      Reha writes that she wonders “how this site was determined, while there is much land fallow near the biomass growing sites. Why haul it 12 miles down a steep grade just above Pahala Town? It is not efficient and conceivably could be quite dangerous.”
      Reha says she is concerned about “the polluting effects on Pahala and Wood Valley and all Ka`u and the entire island. If anymore vog and polluted air flows into the valley, there will be more serious health problems than already exist.... that same air flows down to Pahala each evening from above. ...One other factor that looms for us in the Wood Valley, along with air pollutants, there is the issue of sound pollutants. Sound carries dramatically up to the valley and is even greatly magnified,” Reha says. 

Larry Gilbert
SUPPORT FOR `AINA KOA PONO comes from Honolulu resident Larry Gilbert, managing partner, CEO and chairman of Kairos Energy Capital. Gilbert states that Kairos’ “mission is to bring renewable energy projects to successful, profitable conclusions.” Gilbert is also on the board of directors for Sennet Capital, a Hawai`i merchant bank led by `Aina Koa Pono chairman Kenton Eldridge. Sennet lists `Aina Koa Pono as one of its Transactions.
In his letter to the PUC, he says that, “as the cost of electricity fluctuates with the price of fossil fuel used in power plants, the monthly Energy Cost Adjustment charge reflects the cost. Both the high cost of our electric energy and the large and unpredictable fluctuations are extremely harmful to Hawai`i’s economy.
      “It is in the public’s interest to develop a long term, sustainable biofuels industry along with our other renewable energy efforts. In addition to helping stabilize and eventually bring down our energy costs, agriculturally based biofuels projects have the potential for many other collateral benefits to our community, from expanding agricultural infrastructure to providing long term stable employment in rural communities to helping preserve the rural feel and beauty of so many parts of Hawai`i.
      “The Commission should rightly be concerned about costs, but it is crucial to look at both the big picture and the long term picture. What seems like a high cost now will very likely seem low in 10 years, and even a cost that is comparable to current fossil fuel is better because it can be kept stable and predictable. And in the big picture of things, the Commission must recognize that it is making an investment that will facilitate other projects in the future which will benefit from the lessons and proof of concept established by the first projects, and hence be able to deliver lower cost product. First projects require intense capitalization; once successful, subsequent facilities cost less to develop and reap greater benefit to the community, the government and to the investors.
      “Nor will `Aina Koa Pono impact the development of other alternative sources for electric generation. The timeframe for new geothermal sites will likely be at least a decade. Both HECO’s Robbie Aim and the State Energy Office’s Mark Glick have both advocated for Hawai`i’s energy portfolio to be diversified and not rely upon only one energy source; relying on one source—imported oil—has gotten the State into its current energy predicament,” says Gilbert.