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, November 10, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 10, 2012


HELCO released its draft Request for Proposals to add 50 megawatts of geothemral power to the island grid, which would provide
electricity to most houses on the island. Photo from HELCO
MORE GEOTHERMAL for the Big Island is proposed by Hawai`i Electric Light Co., which filed a draft plan on Friday with the state Public Utilities Commission and released a draft Request for Proposals for potential geothermal developers. The plan calls for increasing geothermal production to 88 megawatts, which could power an estimated 57,200 housing units - most of the households on the island. The plan says geothermal would be “renewable, dispatchable energy” with “firm capacity.”
      HELCO plans to issue a final RFP by the end of this year or early in January. HELCO will ask geothermal developers to submit proposals that would be due 60 days after the final RFP is published. The winning bidder would be announced next summer. HELCO would submit a proposed contract to the PUC by Spring of 2014.  The plan calls for achieving “a target date for commercial operations between 2018 and 2023 or earlier.” The contract could be for up to 20 years.
      HELCO President Jay Ignacio said: “The primary goal is to lower rates for our customers through the use of a renewable energy source like geothermal,” noting that geothermal is “available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be dispatchable. We can control its output and it can respond to grid needs.”
      The proposal calls for 50 additional megawatts to be used on this island. It does not include a cable to send geothermal energy to other islands. Locations for producing geothermal are not restricted to Puna where Puna Geothermal Venture is already approved for 38 megawatts. Geothermal hot spots have been identified in the Ka`u Desert, near South Point, Hualalai Volcano above Kona and other places on the island. A statement from HELCO says that the added geothermal power “must also blend operationally with other resources, including renewable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro.”
HELCO's proposal for increased geothermal says it will have to blend with other renewables like wind energy at South Point.
Photo by Peter Anderson
      Last year HELCO asked for information on developing geothermal to be provided to the utility and received 20 responses. The Geothermal Working Group released a study saying that geothermal could provide 500 to 600 megawatts, less expensively and cleaner than using oil, generating much more than the island’s electrical needs. The statement from HELCO says that interested parties, including bidders, can read the proposal to the PUC and the draft RFP at www.helcohi.com and may submit comments on the Draft Geothermal RFP to the HELCO Geotheral RFP email at GeothermalRFP@helcohi.com and to the PUC. HELCO has set the tentative date of Wednesday, Dec. 5 for a webinar technical conference on the subject of geothermal. Questions to be discussed during the webinar must be submitted in writing and signing up for the webinar will be through the website www.helcohi.com once the time of the conference is determined. 
      The County Council and Planning Commission are discussing monitoring and analyzing possible health risks of living near geothermal operations, concerning emissions from blowouts and constant low level emissions. Another area of study is the risk of dependence on geothermal and planning for back up generation of power, should a large earthquake or lava cut off a geothermal well.

STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE Jeffrey Ono has asked for public input on whether Hawai`i county residents would support the proposed `Aina Koa Pono biofuel project if there were no electric bill hikes on the Big Island associated with the project. Ono brought up the question at last week’s public hearing on the proposal to build a refinery, develop a biofuel farm and produce diesel to sell to HELCO. 
Richard Ha opposes raising electric bills on
O`ahu to pay for `Aina Koa Pono.
Photo by Julia Neal
      Richard Ha, a supporter of geothermal and opponent of HELCO purchasing `Aina Koa Pono diesel for the HELCO power plant in Keaohole, responded in writing: “Would we change our minds if all the costs were given to the O`ahu rate payers?,” the answer is no! I think that giving AKP a 20-year contract will forego the opportunity of developing lower cost alternatives. And it will take up valuable time. Liquid natural gas is an option. Ocean energy might be ready within the 20-year period. “Geothermal is an affordable, proven technology. For instance, there is an 11 cent difference between geothermal and oil today. We could replace liquid fuels with 80MW of geothermal electricity, and apply that savings to pay the remaining debt of the Keahole 80 MW liquid fuel burning plant.(80 MW is equal to 80,000 kilowatts. That 11 cents/kilowatt hour savings multiplied by 80,000 kilowatt hours equals $8,800 that you save each hour. And the savings per day is $211,200. That times 365 days equals an annual savings of $77 million. That is enough to write off the plant and still give the rate payers a break.),” writes Ha.
      Ha writes that “Most of the time, making electricity has to do with making steam to turn a turbine. You can burn coal to make steam, or you can burn oil to make steam. You can burn firewood to make steam, or use the steam from underground – that’s geothermal.  AKP takes the long way. They grow plants using fossil fuels, then they use electricity to make microwaves to vaporize the plants, then take the liquid that rises and convert it to a burnable liquid, and haul it to Keahole, where they burn it to make steam. It isn't surprising that it is expensive.
      “More than a few engineer folks tell me that this process uses more energy than it makes. And if that is the case, it will always be more expensive than oil. This is not a good bet for us,” says Ha. See more at http://hahaha.hamakuasprings.com/. See `Aina Koa Pono’s testimony and proposal at www.hawaii.puc.com and its website at www.ainakoapono.com.
Wallace Ishibashi, of the ILWU
THE BIG ISLAND COMMUNITY COALITION released a newsletter yesterday thanking citizens for “helping to demonstrate to the Consumer Advocate that folks on the whole Big Island are concerned about the rising electricity rates. With your help, the Public Utility Commission’s hearings in Hilo and Kona strongly made the point that people cannot take continuously rising electricity rates and that the Consumer Advocate should be on our side.” The newsletter points out that deadlines to submit letters to the PUC is Nov. 30 on both the proposed 4.2 percent rate hike proposed by HELCO and the separate application for the contract with `Aina Koa Pono that would raise electric bills by an average of $1 per month per household. 
      The newsletter says that the $1 average increase in the electric bill per household “does not stop simply at our monthly bill. It is reflected in virtually all goods we purchase and all services we receive. A 1 percent or even $1 increase to us comes back to us in either more costly or reduced service for essential services from our government. Just look at the uproar that a potential tax increase causes – such increases are now virtually unthinkable to our political leaders. 
OHA Trustee Bob Lindsey
      “In a community that pays four times the national average for its power is it any mystery why our long term economy is stalled? Is it any question why many of our citizens are stuck living like they are in a third world country? And yet we are now being asked to pay an additional surcharge – for the ‘benefit’ of buying fuel at twice today’s market cost. It is hard not to wonder if we have found ourselves living with Alice in her Wonderland.” 
      The newsletter points to geothermal and imported natural gas as lower cost options currently available and solar, wave action and other alternatives becoming more affordable soon.
      The Steering Committee of the Big Island Community Coalition is comprised of state contractors licensing board member John E.K. Dill; vice president of student affairs at University of Hawai`i, Rockne Freitas; state Board of Agriculture member and farmer Richard Ha; union leader in the ILWU, Wallace Ishibashi; geothermal proponent Ku`ulei Kealoha Cooper; former military attorney and renewable energy advocate D. Noelani Kalipi; executive director of `Imiloa Observatory, Ka`iu Kimura; the Big Island’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Robert Lindsey; Big Island rancher H.M. Monty Richards; Dean of University of Hawai`i – Hilo School of Business and Economics Marcia Sakai; Kamehameha School – Keaau Principal Kumu Lehua Veincent and W.H. Shipman President Bill Walter. See www.bigislandcommunitycoalition.com.

SONNY LIM, JOHN AND HOPE KIAWE, DIANA AKI, THE KAHUMOKUS, JAMES HILL and many more Hawaiian musicians and dancers celebrate Veterans Day until 4 p.m. this afternoon on the grounds of Pahala Plantation House. The concert is free and is the culmination of the Hawaiian music workshop all week where students came from around the world and local youth received scholarships to study with Hawaiian music masters.