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, February 20, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Feb. 20, 2013

A thousand moths are being released in Kamuela today and could lead to fireweed control in Ka`u as well, where pastures are being devastated. Fireweed can look like a daisy patch but is poisonous to cattle.
Photo from hawaiianinvasivespecies.org
PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT LAW was severely threatened yesterday by the state Senate with a unanimous vote and no discussion regarding scrapping the agency. The decision to rid the state of the Public Land Development Corp. that would allow private entities to partner with the state to develop public lands follows the state House of Representatives voting last week to get rid of the PLDC. The decision follows months of protests and promises during the campaigns of elected officials last fall to either radically change the law allowing the PLDC or to dissolve the agency altogether. West Ka`u’s Rep. Denny Coffman said he made a mistake voting for the PLDC last year. New East Ka`u Sen. Russell Ruderman campaigned on getting rid of the PLDC, as did West Ka`u Sen. Josh Green. East Ka`u Rep. Richard Onishi said he wanted the law to be rewritten to give more home rule or to be overturned.
      Final wording of the agreement to abolish the agency will be hammered out by the House and Senate. Another bill that is moving forward at the 2013 Legislature, however, would allow the state and developers to use public school lands for development.

Caterpillar that eats fireweed becomes the madagascar fireweed moth.
Photo from  state Department of Agriculture
MADAGASCAR FIREWEED MOTH, Secusio extensa, is being introduced today on the Big Island – a thousand to be released at first at Kahua Ranch in Kamuela. Fireweed is native of Madagascar and believed to have been imported by mistake from Australia in the 1980s. It is toxic to cattle, horses, and even goats and sheep, causing slow growth and liver problems The daisy like weed is fast spreading in Ka`u as well as other parts of the Big Island and Maui.        The state Department of Agriculture plans to release more than a million moths this year, hoping to hold back the infestation which has reached more than 850,000 acres. The moth controls fireweed when its caterpillar eats the invasive plant.

CONCERNING THE `AINA KOA PONO proposal, the Public Utilities Commission yesterday published responses to more questions asked by the state Consumer Advocate, Hawai`i County 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.
      “Does the MicroDee process directly produce biodiesel following the microwave depolymerization step, or is the product pyrolysis oil that requires further upgrading to biodiesel?” asks Hawai`i County. “If the latter, then what is the composition of the pyrolysis oil (and variability in this composition based on the proposed feedstock or multiple anticipated feedstocks), what facilities will be required to upgrade the pyrolysis oil, will these facilities be on-site (and if not, where will upgrading be performed), and what will be the source of hydrogen to obtain the final biodiesel product? Could this product be called green diesel or simply renewable diesel? Have any additional transportation costs and raw material (especially hydrogen) costs been incorporated in the analysis?”
      HECO and HELCO responded, “According to `Aina Koa Pono-Ka`u, LLC, the MicroDee process produces a pyrolytic oil. An on-site scalable upgrade process will be provided to further process the pyrolytic oil to a synthetic renewable diesel. The source of hydrogen would be from a commercially available mobile skid unit or in industrial supply tanks.
      “According to AKP, the finished fuel is a synthetic renewable diesel; any additional transportation costs and raw material (including hydrogen) costs have been incorporated in their analysis.”
      Hawai`i County asked, “What are the predicted final overall economics? When electricity is finally made by the proposed process, is the net energy balance positive or negative, and is the total amount of petroleum input per kilowatt-hour more or less than if the electricity had been made by using the petroleum directly, or if the biomass were simply burned? Is there a potential that this project will potentially increase the Islands’ reliance on imported petroleum?”
      “According to AKP, the net energy balance will be positive,” the utilities replied. “When the feedstock is processed, biochar and biodiesel will be produced. The biochar will be used to generate electricity to power AKP’s facility while the biodiesel will be sold to HELCO and third parties. As a result, the total amount of petroleum input per kilowatt-hour will be lower than if electricity had been made by petroleum directly. The overall MicroDee process is far more efficient than simply burning biomass because it yields multiple products; biochar which can be used to power the AKP facility and biodiesel which can be used by HELCO at Keahole to generate electricity.
      “According to AKP, their project will not increase the island’s reliance on petroleum.’
      Life of the Land asked, “HECO/HELCO has told the Commission that both AKP1 and AKP2 are reasonable and in the public interest. How is that possible?”
      The utilities responded, “At the time the AKP1 Biodiesel Supply Contract was executed and filed with the Commission, the Companies’ believed that the AKP1 Biodiesel Supply Contract was reasonable and in the public interest over the twenty year term. The Consumer Advocate’s Statement of Position was also generally in agreement with the Companies’ position that the AKP1 Biodiesel Supply Contract was fair and reasonable. However, the Commission issued its Decision and Order in Docket No. 2011-0005 denying the AKP1 Biodiesel Supply Contract on Sept. 29, 2011. One of the main reasons for the denial was that the Commission concluded that the contract price was unreasonable and not in the public interest.
      “Since the denial of the AKP1 Biodiesel Supply Contract, a lower per gallon price of AKP biodiesel was agreed upon by both parties. Because of this, the Companies believe that the proposed AKP biodiesel price is reasonable and in the public interest.… The lower biodiesel price will amount to a lesser ratepayer impact over the twenty-year term. The proposed AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract is reasonable as a hedge against unpredictable fossil fuel prices and provide security of fuel supply through locally available resources.”
      Previously, Life of the Land had asked the utilities to provide all documentation that O`ahu lacks sufficient renewable energy resources to provide all of its renewable energy needs. The companies replied that they “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.’”
      Life of the Land then asked, “Will HECO/HELCO stop asserting that O`ahu is resource poor?”
      The companies replied, “O`ahu currently has the lowest renewable portfolio standard compared to the neighbor islands and, as explained in the Companies’ (earlier) response, the renewable technologies mentioned by LOL are either being developed, demonstrated (wave energy, OTEC and deep water offshore wind) or are not firm and dispatchable (wave energy, PV, offshore wind). At some time in the future, these renewable technologies may make the transition to a commercial state for installation on or about O`ahu. However, as LOL is aware, even if some of the as-available energy such as wave energy or offshore wind becomes commercially viable, this as-available energy is not a replacement for firm, dispatchable energy, which is needed in part to help the Companies provide firm and stable power to its customers.”
      Ka`u News Briefs will cover more responses in the coming days.
      Complete responses to all questions are online at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.

KA`U AG WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meets tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Orchards field office in Pahala. For more information, call Jeff McCall at 928-6456.

Sen. Russell Ruderman
PROCESS PAINTING - SPIRIT OF CREATIVITY is the topic at a workshop Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Patricia Hoban encourages participants to experiment, explore, discover and play. No previous art education or experience needed. $45/$40 for VAC members plus $5 supply fee. Advance registration is required at 967-8222. 

SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN holds a talk story at Pahala Plantation House Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Ruderman meets with constituents to discuss issues before the state Legislature. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 974-4000, ext. 66890.