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.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 9, 2013

Ancient Dreams is part of Boone Morrison's exhibit Silver Magic opening Saturday at Volcano Art Center Gallery.
UTILITY-BILLED SOLAR PANELS at home may be in the future, further cutting Hawai`i’s dependence on fossil fuel. A study commissioned by the Public Utilities Commission shows that “on-bill financing, which allows residents to pay for systems through their electricity bills over a period of years, could work well in Hawai`i,” says a story in Civil Beat.
Utility-billed solar panels may be in the future.
      The Sophie Cocke story notes that “Blue Planet Foundation, a renewable energy advocacy group that has lobbied hard for the program," offers an overview on its website blueplanetfoundation.org:
      “This solution removes two major hurdles to participation: cost and complexity. Many folks who want to adopt clean energy don’t have an extra few thousand extra dollars to purchase a solar water heater or upgrade their old appliances. The existing sea of financing options, cluttered with differing terms and interest rates, requires credit checks and considerable effort to navigate. On-bill streamlines this process, removing the guesswork and applying the payment directly to the reduced electric bill. The financing is worked out between the program administrator and a local bank, removing the customer’s burden of negotiating the transaction. 

Think about it this way. How many people would pay $2,400 for an iPhone? Probably not many. Mobile service providers realize this. They provide a discounted phone and require customers to sign a multi-year contract—spreading out usage payments instead of requiring it all upfront. Similarly, if the electric company required payment for 10 years of power upfront ($22,000 for most families), who would be able to afford electricity? Yet that’s what the current system requires of residents who want to purchase clean energy. If we want to achieve energy self-sufficiency, we need to stop getting in our own way and make it easy to do the right thing.”
     See more at www.civilbeat.com and blueplanetfoundation.org.

CONCERNING THE `AINA KOA PONO proposal, the Public Utilities Commission this week published responses to questions asked by the state Consumer Advocate, Hawai`i County, the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, and Life of the Land. The questions concern the proposed contract for `Aina Koa Pono to annually sell, at a fixed price for 20 years, 16 million gallons of diesel that would be manufactured at a refinery off Wood Valley Road above Pahala. The fuel, produced in 27 microwave units, would be sold to Hawai`i Electric Light and Hawaiian Electric Companies, with most of it trucked up Hwy 11 to a power plant in Kona. It would mean higher electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island.
      Hawai`i County asked the utilities for clarification on several points of the contract.
      The county asked if AKP would provide year-round, reliable production of biofuel. The utilities replied that, according to AKP, it would, because crops would be grown in “sequential maturation plots to allow for sequential harvesting.”
      Regarding the county’s question of price stability, the utilities contended that the price would be “relatively stable because the starting price of the biodiesel is fixed for the first year and, in subsequent years, the fixed price is adjusted only once per year in accordance with the fixed annual escalator. Therefore, the price is known for the life of the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract, and fluctuation in the biodiesel price is very minimal.”
Pellets are put into the system to be microwaved into gas that is turned
into diesel. See a film of the operation at
      Performance of the microwave catalytic depolymerization technology was questioned by the county. HELCO and HECO’s response was that AKP’s plant in North Carolina is “running at 2.15 tons per day using pine wood pellets and has successfully produced biofuel capable of being distilled to meet the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract fuel specification.” The utilities also contended that the single pilot unit ccould be scaled up to run at 33 tons per day and that, prior to construction of the larger Ka`u facility, a single 33 tons per day unit would be constructed and tested “prior to completing the remainder of the units at Ka`u to achieve commercial scale.”
      The utilities report that AKP has a target date of March 1, 2013 to reach final confirmation of commercialization scale capabilities. Also, regarding energy balance, or the ratio of energy used to energy created, AKP expects data to be available by the end of this month and that “AKP will be able to provide the data at that time.” 
      “A concern that arises from the proposed contract is the twenty-year commitment to providing biodiesel at a price based on parity with oil at above $200 per barrel, with escalation,” the county said in its information request. “Please explain your rationale for burdening the ratepayers with this level of commitment to an early-stage technology.” In its reply, the utilities said that the “forecast price of petroleum diesel exceeds the AKP biodiesel price several years before the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract term ends. The AKP biodiesel price reaches parity with the forecast diesel price during the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract term and succeeds in displacing fossil fuel with a lower cost, locally sustainable, renewable fuel.”
      To the county’s question as to whether it would be “worthwhile to investigate more alternatives before making a long-term commitment to one particular approach, especially one that is at the very early stages,” the electric companies replied that AKP’s biodiesel price is competitive with commercially available biodiesel. It said that biofuel pricing is often based on the price of fossil fuel. “The AKP biodiesel price is intentionally delinked from oil to provide price stability to the Companies and their customers,” the utilities stated. “There are no provisions in the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract to adjust the biodiesel price based on the cost of other energy or fuel options. AKP did not base the biodiesel price on market economics of other fuels or on other energy options that may be available to the Companies. The AKP biodiesel price is based on the AKP project economics and financing while providing the Companies with a stable and competitive biodiesel price.” They also pointed out that the contract with AKP is the result of a competitive bidding process.
Mansfield Oil would transport biofuel from Wood Valley
to Kona's Keahole Power Plant in 34 trucks per week.
Photo from mansfieldoil.com
      The county asked for information about the transportation of fuel from Ka`u to Keahole Power Plant. The utilities replied that, according to AKP, Mansfield Oil would handle all ground transportation and related logistics. According to the utilities, AKP estimates that 34 trucks per week would each transport 9,000 gallons of biodiesel. They also noted that “AKP is only replacing fuel that is currently being imported to the Big Island and already being transported via truck to Keahole, so there should not be an increase in the amount of vehicles used.”
      The utilities said that AKP is preparing a Traffic Impact Assessment and that AKP “intends to propose as required improvements to maintain safety of the traveling public.”
      When asked about adverse impacts on quality of life and the visitor industry, the utilities replied that, “according to AKP, AKP plans to work closely with the residents of Pahala and Na`alehu to minimize or eliminate any adverse effects on these communities. AKP also intends to minimize any adverse effects on tourism.”
      Hawai`i County asked if AKP has an engineering-procurement-construction contract that guarantees the cost of the AKP plant, the schedule for completion of the AKP plant and the performance specifications of the AKP plant. The utilities response was that AKP requires an engineering-procurement-construction contract with all those guarantees. “AKP requires a performance guarantee in order to secure financing for the large scale project,” the utilities said.
      When the county asked if AKP’s engineering-procurement-construction contract contains liquidated damages if the project is late or does not perform as expected, the electric companies replied that AECOM, AKP’s engineering, procurement and construction management partner, would provide a performance guarantee for the plant to be built in Ka`u.

SHARY CROCKER, OF MARK TWAIN ESTATES, offers classes in Compassionate Communication beginning tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Crocker has been practicing and facilitating groups for five years. All levels are invited. For more information and to register, contact her at 929-7647 or grantcrocker@aol.com.

Boone Morrison Photo by James Hawkins
VOLCANO ART CENTER’S FIRST EXHIBIT of the New Year, a collection of landscape photographs by Boone Morrison, begins Saturday, Jan. 12. Hours at the gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. An opening reception takes place Saturday at 5 p.m.
      “We are honored to feature Boone as our first artist of 2013,” said gallery manager Emily Catey. “More than a friend, neighbor and longtime supporter, we affectionately refer to him as our Founding Father. This exhibition will be a welcome homecoming nearly 40 years in the making and sets the standard for the rest of the year.”
      Ansel Adams mentored Morrison from 1966 to until 1971, and his photographs have since been widely exhibited across the U.S. and Hawai`i. He has taught fine arts photography for University of Hawai`i in Manoa and Hilo, as well as for Volcano Art Center.
 In addition to awards received in the field of architecture, Morrison has been repeatedly recognized for his fine arts photography, arts advocacy and entrepreneurship in Hawai`i.
      The exhibit, entitled Silver Magic, is free to the public, and park entrance fees apply. For more information, visit www.volcanoartcenter.org or contact Emily Catey at 967-7565 or gallery@volcanoartcenter.org.