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, January 28, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 28, 2013

Merle Becker and a donkey greeted USA Today writer and photographer Laura Bly to Aikane Plantation Coffee Co.
Photo by Laura Bly for USA Today. See www.usatoday.com
KA`U COFFEE INSPIRED A FULL PAGE STORY over the weekend in USA Today, the largest circulating newspaper in the country. USA Today claims to have more than 3.2 million readers.
      Reporting from Pahala, writer Laura Bly begins at Ka`u Coffee Mill, quoting a visiting Texas health food store owner Shelly Oerlemans saying she will “travel far and wide for a great cup of coffee. Her latest destination: the Ka'u (say "KAH-ooh") Coffee Mill, surrounded by rows of coffee and macadamia nut trees on the windswept slopes of the Big Island's Mauna Loa volcano.”
          Bly writes that “The brews dispensed here — which starry-eyed connoisseurs describe as ‘chocolate, cherry and coconut, accompanied by floral notes of orchid and citrus’ — are generating nearly as much buzz as their more famous cousins from the Kona coffee region, a two-hour drive to the northwest. And with price tags commanding $20 to $100 a pound, they're part of a percolating business that's luring Hawaiian vacationers way off the standard Mai Tai circuit.”
       The story quotes Ka`u Coffee Mill’s Brenda Iokepa Moses saying, "Most of our farmers are in a beautiful situation: They're selling out as soon as they produce their coffee." The story reports that Ka`u Coffee Mill “welcomes as many as 100 visitors a day to a tasting showroom that opened last March.”
       Bly reports that “This year marks the 200th anniversary of coffee cultivation in Hawai`i, and bright red "cherries" (dead ringers for cranberries) are grown and processed on each of the state's five major islands.
Flyn' Hawaiian Coffee van made 3.2 million circulation USA Today over the
 weekend with a photo by writer and photographer Laura Bly.
See www.usatoday.com
       “But the heart of Hawai`i's $31 million-a-year coffee industry is on the Big Island, where a combination of rich volcanic soil and ideal climate — sunny mornings and misty afternoons, with wet summers and cool, dry winters — has translated to ideal growing conditions," the USA Today story reports.
       In a section titled “Roots clear back to 'papa,'” USA Today describes another Ka`u Coffee farm.  She writes about a pair of donkeys, Madeline and Jasmine, who "constitute the official greeting party at `Aikane Plantation Coffee Company, one of about 50 small farms that are transforming the economic landscape in the Big Island's sparsely populated Ka'u region.
       “Though Ka'u's coffee industry took off when the area's sugar cane plantations folded nearly two decades ago, its roots go back much further — in Aikane Plantation's case, to co-owner Merle Becker's great-grandfather 'Papa' J.C. Searle. Today, Merle and her husband Phil combine cattle ranching with coffee growing from the same trees 'Papa' planted in 1894.
       “Visitors who manage to find the place — tucked off an old sugar cane road that connects the small towns of Na`alehu and Pahala — are welcomed with award-winning java, a taste of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or peaberries (single, rare coffee beans prized for their taste) and a free tour of their 150-acre spread.
       Bly writes: “From picking to pulping, the business of coffee is clearly tough work — but one infused with passion."
      The story also mentions the Ka'u Coffee Festival, this coming April 27-May 5 and Kalaekilohana Bed & Breakfast Inn as one of the places to stay when visiting Ka`u Coffee country. The online photos include a shot of famous Ka`u Coffee farmer Lorie Obra and both online and print editions show the Flyn’ Hawaiian Coffee van in Na`alehu. See more at www.usatoday.com.
Lorie Obra at her award-winnning Ka`u Coffee farm is included in the
online USA Today photos by Laura Bly.
`AINA KOA PONO’S PROPOSAL before the Public Utilities Commission has received another round of comments and questions from Life of the Land. The community group was given an intervener status on Friday, which means it can become more involved in the court-like proceedings on whether to approve the proposal that would allow a 20-year contract between Hawaiian Electric Light Co. and Hawai`i Electric Co. for a fixed-price purchase of biofuel from `Aina Koa Pono.
      AKP plans to cut trees, shrubs and grasses between Pahala and Na`alehu to make pellets to feed into a microwave refinery it plans to build just off Wood Valley Road. The clearing would be followed by an effort to establish a biofuel farm on land that includes thousands of acres of cattle pasture. The contract would mean higher electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island. The plan is to truck the diesel to the power plant in Kona.
      Life of the Land questions a HECO and HELCO statement that the AKP proposal is reasonable and in the public interest. “How is that possible?” asks Life of the Land.
    The organization also points to the utilities’ statement in justifying `Aina Koa Pono’s plan: “It is probable that it will be easier to achieve higher levels of renewable energy generation on islands other than O`ahu.”
      Stated Life of the Land, “That statement is certainly in HECO’s interest but is it reasonable and in the public interest in light of the U.S. Department of Energy report that the recoverable ocean wave energy off O`ahu can supply ten times the electricity consumed statewide?” Life of the Land pointed to another statement that O`ahu can produce almost 1,000 MW of photovoltaic; and University of Hawai`i scientsts’ assertion that O`ahu can have several 100 MW OTEC facilities.
The pastures on and around Makanau table top mountain would become part of the `Aina Koa Pono biofuel farm, which would truck
diesel from its refinery off Wood Valley Road up Hwy 11 to the HELCO power plant. Photo by Julia Neal
      The brief filed by Life of the Land pointed to the acreage that biofuel farms would need to generate enough fuel for electricity. It said that using `Aina Koa Pono’s projection of how much biofuel could be produced per acre, over 65 percent of the agricultural land on O`ahu would be needed to supply that island’s energy needs.
       Life of the Land asked about the potential of other energy sources. “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for photovoltaic?”
      “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for wave?”
      “Does HECO/HELCO dispute the estimates of the potential renewable energy available on O`ahu for OTEC?” Life of the Land asked HECO/HELCO to “Please provide all documentation that O`ahu lacks sufficient renewable energy resources to provide all of its renewable energy needs.”
      HECO/HELCO responded: “The Companies have no documentation that, with certainty, either supports or refutes that ‘O`ahu lacks sufficient renewable energy resources to provide all of its renewable energy needs.”
      Regarding the 20-year, fixed-price contract that AKP and the utilities desire, Life of the Land pointed to a statement by the utilities that they “had discussions with AKP regarding the possibility of shortening the term of the 20-year AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract. However, AKP’s financiers indicated that the project could not be financed for a term shorter than 20 years.”
A sovereignty flag flies over Kawa when Abel
Simeona Lui visits. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
Life of the Land asked for a “list of all financers HECO/HELCO met with re AKP. Please provide all documentation that HECO reviewed as part of its due diligence analysis regarding this statement and asked “Is this response based on your discussion with AKP financers?”
   Regarding the biofuel farm that AKP plans to develop, after cutting trees, shrubs and grasses to process in its refineries, Life of the Land asked, “Is the existing acreage bare or vegetated? What soil additives will be needed? What pesticides and in what quantities will be used? What fertilizers and in what quantities will be used? Haw any crop testing involved genetically-engineered crops?”  See more on the PUC discussion at www.puc.hawaii.gov, under the `Aina Koa Pono docket.

AFTER DARK IN THE PARK on Tuesday will feature Hawaiian Volcano Observatory chief technical support specialist Kevan Kamibayashi who will explain installation and operation of monitoring sensors. He will describe the way signals are sent to the observatory from remote locales. The presentation will be in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park at 7 p.m. Two-dollar donations appreciated and park entrance fees apply.

THE FUTURE OF KAWA is the subject of a public meeting to be held by Hawai`i County and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources this Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. County representatives have been meeting with local families to help plan the management of the more than 700 coastal acres recently acquired by the county through state and federal funding to protect estuaries and through county property taxes. 
   Kawa is the main surfing beach for Ka`u and a place for shore fishing and hiking. It has been the subject of a land dispute in which Abel Simeona Lui claimed ownership through his family lineage and Native Hawaiian sovereignty rights over the property where he lived for some 20 years, but lost his claims in court. He said he will attend the meeting and his flag can be seen flying over the property when he visits Kawa.