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.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 2, 2012

Kerrilynn Domondon (l), Marley Strand Nicolaisen and Kaila Olson led the Ka`u Trojan wahine to semifinals in the state Division II high school volleyball championships on O`ahu. Photos from www.expressionshawaii.net
ECONOMIC RECOVERY is expected to continue, according to the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization quarterly report released today. UHERO predicts that Hawai`i’s gross domestic product, the GDP, adjusted for inflation, will grow 0.9 percent this year and 2.5 percent during 2013. Residential building permits statewide are up 20 percent over last year. Building permits for all construction have increased for three consecutive quarters, the first time in six years. UHERO projects construction jobs to increase 7.7 percent next year and that unemployment statewide will drop to 5.6 percent in 2013 and 5.0 percent in 2014, one of the lowest rates in the United States.

THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION has posted a petition on its website opposing the `Aina Koa Pono contract with more than 250 names. The petition was presented by Sen. Malama Solomon at the PUC’s public hearing in Kona on Tuesday. It says:
      “We oppose this idea on the basis that a large, long-term contract is risky and offers no guarantees to lower rates for consumers due to ever-changing and improving technological advancements. In a twenty-year span, energy sources may be generated by much more affordable technologies. Generating profit and meeting renewable energy goals should not be mixed. There should be a thorough evaluation and financial analysis of the natural energy sources on our island such as geothermal, wind, solar, ocean and hydro power generation before committing to long-term contracts with any supplier or contractor in the biofuel industry.
      “We sincerely request your consideration and support. Your decisions will affect our lives and livelihood as well as those of future generations.”
      The petition also opposed “any rate increase affecting customers of Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Those signing the petition live islandwide, from Kamuela to Waikoloa, Holualua, Kailua-Kona, Keauhou, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Honaunau, Ocean View and Pahala. The biofuel would be used at HELCO’s Kona power plant, which serves many of their neighborhoods.

Sen. Malama Slomon testifies before the PUC, opposing the `Aina Koa Pono proposal. Photo by Julia Neal

MORE TESTIMONY HAS BEEN POSTED from Ka`u on the Public Utilities Commission website. Lee McIntosh, who ran for County Council in the primary election, writes: “I am opposed to raising our electric rates. Our rates are three times the national average. High electric rates are hurting our struggling families on the Big Island. Instead of raising our rates, HELCO should be considering ways to reduce them.
Lee McIntosh
      “I encourage `Aina Koa Pono to move forward with their plans, build their plant, and sell their products to potential buyers. Then, when it is cheaper to use biofuel than oil, `Aina Koa Pono and HELCO can enter into a contract that will immediately lower our electric rates. By then, `Aina Koa Pono should have proven their technology, refined their process, and addressed residents’ fears and concerns. This is my solution for `Aina Koa Pono.”

SUPPORTING `AINA KOA PONO IS the Hawai`i Building Trades Council. Its letter to the PUC says its mission “is to promote a healthy and vibrant construction industry and to provide our members and their families with opportunities for a better quality of life.” Kika G. Bukoski writes that `Aina Koa Pono “is posed to offer a stable cost of energy that is projected to provide an overall cost savings to the rate payer over the long term.” He mentions the 200 promised permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs and contends that the project “will not supplant other renewable energy, but will replace currently used imported fossil fuel diesel and further assist Hawai`i in achieving its goal of energy independence and stability.”
      He also writes that the Trade Council “fully understands and respects that there may be local community concerns regarding operational impacts this project may cause and sincerely look forward to continued collaborative dialogue to mitigate such concerns.”

THE PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENT hired to promote AKP also submitted testimony supporting the diesel refinery and charged that some commentary opposing AKP is “playing loose with facts with scare words like ‘risky.’”  While the AKP proposal would charge ratepayers more for biofuel than fossil fuel, Barbara Hasting, of Hastings & Pleadwell: A Communications Company, states, “The risk is assumed by private entities, not taxpayers or rate payers." Hastings writes: “Some of the people who raise these negatives want to take over the utility; some support geothermal, prefer wind, solar. Some even think we’ll be OK with oil.” She characterizes opponents who have testified to the dangerous conditions of the winding road between Pahala and Kona where the biofuel would travel in tanker trucks by writing: “Others have semi-retired to the gentlepeople life in quiet Ka`u – once a thriving sugar area – and don’t want a noisy truck on the road.”
Barbara Hastings, of the PR firm
hired by `Aina Koa Pono      
     Hastings contends that there are many who support AKP but are not bold enough to testify. “However, these are the people who would benefit from 400 construction jobs, 200 permanent jobs and a reinvigorated agriculture industry,” writes `Aina Koa Pono’s hired PR person.
RETIRED FROM THE AIR FORCE, Diana Miller, of Kurtistown, writes that she lives off grid but depends on income from rental units that are on the HELCO grid. She says she opposes `Aina Koa Pono for the following reasons: "Biofuel from this source would cost $200 a barrel? Too costly; Not another surcharge!; Ag land should be used for food production, not crops that provide fuel to burn; Location of proposed biodiesel crops down slope Mauna Loa in the high lava hazard area? Mauna Loa will erupt again,” she writes.
      “HELCO really has nothing to lose since all the costs and potential losses will be passed on to the consumers, many of whom must stay on the grid because they have no resources to pursue non-HELCO powers sources,” testifies Miller.

SENIOR CITIZEN DIANE WARE, of Volcano, writes in opposition to `Aina Koa Pono. She says she is on very limited income and conserves “to the point of sacrifice (I only turn on my hot water system for one hour 15 days a month).
      “What we need is more choices for alternative energy producers and ones that don’t link charges to price of oil, or require rate payers to pay for start up costs such as for `Aina Koa Pono, which is anything but pono. Please do not accept this contract which is the same end result as last contract – more for HELCO and whole Land and Power good ole boys. This is a risky business crafted to make profits for the utility and investors and their politico backers. The environmental, social and cultural effects have not been evaluated. At a minimum no decision should be made until an EA is complete. And the local community voice and ratepayers and common sense should prevail. There are other alternatives with much less impacts and sustainable processes. We have infinite solar and wave potential, good wind and safe geothermal possibilities that could result in great savings and sustainability,” she writes.
      See more testimony at http://puc.hawaii.gov/dockets.

Coach Joshua Ortega
AFTER TROJAN WAHINE made it to the semifinals in the state Division II high school volleyball championships, they were taken down by St. Francis. Last night St. Francis defeated Ka`u in three close games with scores of 25-23, 25-21 and 26-24. Marley Strand-Nicolaisen came up with 12 kills and 1 ace, while Kaila Olson came up with 8 kills and 1 ace. Coach Joshua Ortega said he was proud that Ka`u High School, one of the smallest in the state with competitive athletics, came up with such a winning volleyball team, earning the Big Island Interscholastic Federation title and plowing through Waimea on Wednesday to make it to the semifinals. The Trojans play for third place in the state today at 2 p.m. at Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, televised on OC16.

THE 7TH ANNUAL KAHUMOKU `OHANA HAWAIIAN MUSIC AND LIFESTYLE WORKSHOP begins tomorrow in Pahala and continues through Sunday Nov. 11 with scholarships for local students. A free concert in honor of Veterans Day is set for Saturday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of Pahala Plantation House. Visit konaweb.com/keioki or call Tiffany Crosson at 938-6582.

VOLCANO ART CENTER presents Contra Dance tomorrow at 7 p.m. at its Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Dances get more complicated as the evening progresses. Wear soft-soled shoes or socks to protect the floor. Everyone is welcome, and no experience is needed. All dances are taught and called. The band is the New Lost Puna Ramblers. Fee is $5. Call 965-8685 for more information.

A HIKE ON THE NEW PALM TRAIL takes place Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park between miles 70 and 71 on Hwy 11. This relatively easy, guided 2.6-mile loop crosses scenic pasture along an ancient cinder cone with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. For more information, call 985-6011.