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, December 06, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Dec. 6, 2012

HELCO's long-term plans, including purchasing biofuel refined from feedstock grown in Ka`u, is the topic at the company's meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Photo by Julia Neal
TONIGHT HAWAI`I ELECTRIC LIGHT CO. takes public input for its long-term planning. The meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pahala Community Center involves a presentation from the utility company concerning its future plans for renewable energy. This is the last of three public meetings during this planning phase, with one this week in Hilo and another in Waikoloa. Pahala was chosen given the proposal for a refinery off Wood Valley Road and a biofuel farm to be established in pasture and shrub lands between Pahala and Na`alehu.
      During the Monday meeting, incoming state Senator Russell Ruderman was represented by Richard Bidleman. Bidleman announced that Ruderman will be taking his opposition to expanding geothermal to the Senate. He said Ruderman believes that solar is the preferred sustainable energy source for Hawai`i rather than geothermal. Bidleman also addressed the high costs of electricity, saying that HELCO has a responsibility to stockholders who have invested in the company, but because they are a public monopoly, they also have an obligation to ratepayers. Bidleman said later that his own home is on net metering with HELCO, feeding power created from solar back into the grid. He said he has lived off the grid with solar and on the grid with solar and prefers to be making power to feed into the utility so he doesn’t have to maintain batteries to store energy for his home.

KAHU 91.7 FM COMMUNITY RADIO IS DISMANTLING ITS ONLY TOWER, according to a press release sent out statewide. The release from Christine Kaehuaea, who says she is the owner, president/director and station general manager, states that KAHU “is in the process of dismantling its only tower site in Na`alehu, in the southern region of Hawai`i Island due to the station’s increasing operational expenses over the last year and lack of consistent public, local business and corporate funding.”
Some transmission equipment moved from KAHU 91.7 FM radio station
to a site near Na`alehu in Oct. 2011 will return to the station, says general
manager Christine Kaehuaea. Photo by Julia Neal
      She writes that she and her management team “have decided to strip the station down to its studs and stabilize the foundation of the organization with a new simplified direction.
Upon FCC (Federal Communications Commission) approval in December, antennas and equipment will be removed from the Na`alehu tower, with some pieces being liquidated and some re-installed at the radio station in Pahala.”
      Says Kaehuaea: “The downsizing will reduce the overall budget and allow for more focus on funding acquisitions, while ensuring a reduced but consistent FM broadcast from its transmitter in Pahala.
      “Continued servicing of KAHU 91.7 FM’s global community will remain in tack with the ability to ‘listen live’ via any mobile device or computer as the station slowly rebuilds during the next two years.
      “Downsizing will enable our station to lower its expenses while still providing service,” Kaehuaea says, “with our monthly expenses at approximately $8,500, coupled with the lack of consistent and substantial funding, we’ve had to weigh our options to either downsize and regroup or risk permanent closure by the end of December 2012, which would heavily impact the communities we literally serve in the District of Ka`u, especially in the event of an emergency. “With all of the people that have invested in keeping us on the air, I’m proud to say that we’ve chosen to keep swimming.”
      Kaehuaea also says that “as a Native Hawaiian owned and operated community radio station, KAHU 91.7 FM is the only radio station heard from Volcano to Na`alehu and impacts 11,225 residents from Ocean View to Volcano and down to Kalapana, as well as approximately 398,695 visitors that pass through the Ka’u.”
      She also states that “co-owner of KAHU 91.7 FM and director of Ka`u Community Radio Inc., Wendell J. Kaehuaea, has retired from daily radio station operations.”
      Kaehuaea said that recently the radio station has been receiving help from members of `O Ka`u Kakou. OKK has donated some money and helped clean up the parking lot across from the where the station is sponsoring the Wednesday farmers market. On her own, Nadine Ebert has a morning show on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.

OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS encourages Native Hawaiian students and young professionals to apply for a full-ride scholarship for the spring 2013 semester at George Washington University. The recipient would also have an opportunity to work on Capitol Hill. Applications for the scholarship, sponsored by the Native American Political Leadership Program, are due Saturday, Dec. 15. For more information and to apply online, visit semesterinwashington.gwu.edu. 

TESTIMONY REGARDING THE PROPOSED CONTRACT between `Aina Koa Pono and HELCO is available on the Public Utilities Commission website.

CHRIS MANFREDI, OF KA`U FARM & RANCH CO., which he says leases approximately 6,000 acres of coffee farms and ranches to nearly 40 families in Ka`u, sent testimony in opposition of the project.
Chris Manfredi
      “The applicant uses the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook high estimate to calculate the cost assumptions to the ratepayer through the biofuels surcharge,” Manfredi writes. “This estimate pegs the price from $175-200 per barrel for the life of the contract. It’s unreasonable to ask the public to pay a higher price for biofuels based on this projected estimate. The low estimate hovers around $60 per barrel, and the AEO reference used in 2012 is approximately $90-130 for the same period. Cherry-picking the high estimate makes an unfair and overreaching assumption. This approach fits the AKP narrative that claims their project would stabilize the cost of energy and minimize price spikes. Raising the cost to continually high levels to eliminate price spikes is clearly not consistent with the public interest.
      “Despite claims, the technology licensed by AKP is unproven. Nowhere in the world is microwave depolymerization being utilized to produce biofuels on the scale described by AKP. It is premature and unreasonable to ask ratepayers (to) participate in a process that stretches the limits of technical plausibility. The European Union Joint Research Centre has a methodology by which the viability of emerging biofuels technologies may be measured. The PUC has a duty to seek out industry professionals to analyze feasibility and to obtain third-party verification of the technology upon which the application is based. Alternatively, the applicant should first demonstrate the feasibility of the technology and the agricultural plan, and allow costs to stabilize before asking the public to participate.
      Other topics covered by Manfredi include impacts on the livestock industry, air quality, watersheds and use of public roadways.
      Manfredi concludes, “The project poses threats to food production, bio diversity, and a diversified local economy. History has taught us that monocropping leads to boom and bust cycles that are dependent on economic and biological influences that are often beyond our control. A diverse economy for Ka`u is the sure way to advance a resilient, sustainable community.
      Manfredi’s entire letter, as well as other testimony, can be read at puc.hawaii.gov/dockets. Docket number is 2012-0185.

Richard Onishi
STATE REP. RICHARD ONISHI is holding public meetings to gather input about residents’ concerns and issues that he can take to the state Legislature. Sunday’s meeting will be at Pahala Community Center from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Other meetings are tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Hilo AJA Hall and Monday at 7 p.m. at Kea`au Community Center. His contact number is 808-586-6120. 

KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN Steering Committee holds a business meeting next Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. “This is a business meeting and not intended as a community forum to discuss draft CDP materials or strategies,” said long-range planner Ron Whitmore. 
      The two business items are an update on CDP production and an orientation to the CDP background analysis. “Public comment on agenda items is always welcome and encouraged,” Whitmore said.

MAILE YAMANAKA PRESENTS a brief history of Hawai`i in Myth, Chant, Dance & Song from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Hula from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Keiki Hula from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at Volcano Art Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Call 937-4249 for more information.

PAHALA COMMUNITY CEMETERY CELEBRATION takes place tomorrow at 10 a.m. to commemorate completion of renovations. `O Ka`u Kakou led the renovation efforts, with Olson Trust II, Island Rock Masonry, Ka`u Andrade Contracting, Inc. and Taylor Built Construction, Inc. contributing money, material and/or machinery. Various community groups volunteered labor.

Sign up to participate in Pahala Christmas Parade this Sunday.
SENIORS ARE INVITED FOR LUNCH & BINGO tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Organizers ask participants to bring a donation of canned or non-perishable food. For transportation, call Carol Massey at 929-9001 or Wayne Kawachi at 937-4773.

COMFORT AND JOY is the title of Volcano Festival Chorus’ concert on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp Theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The concert is free, and park entrance fees apply. 967-8371

PAHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE is Sunday at 1 p.m. All community groups and businesses are invited to participate. Call 928-0808 to sign up.