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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Feb. 24, 2013

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National  Monument is the topic of this Tuesday's After Dark in the Park.
Photo by James Watt
OF THE 2,000 BILLS INTRODUCED to the 2013 Hawai`i State Legislature, the sugary beverage tax, which has failed in past sessions, is one of about 300 with the possibility of success this year. The bill would impose a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages. It would also establish the obesity and chronic disease prevention special fund and the Hawai`i interagency obesity prevention council to support obesity prevention programs. It would make an appropriation from the obesity and chronic disease prevention special fund to the state Department of Health. SB1085 passed second reading in the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Josh Green, who represents Ka`u. It also passed the Committee on Judiciary and Labor. The two no votes came from Republicans Sen. Mike Gabbard and Sen. Sam Slom. The measure is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
      The language of the bill states that, “In Hawai`i, childhood obesity increased by 38 percent between 1999 and 2009, and adult obesity has more than doubled between 1996 and 2011. As a result of health risks and complications related to obesity, this generation of children may be the first generation not to outlive their parents.
A tax on sugary drinks would fund state obesity prevention and health
promotion programs. Image from nih.gov
      “Obesity-related medical expenditures in Hawai`i were calculated to be over $470 million in 2009 and are continuing to increase. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been identified by many scientific studies as a major contributor to the costly obesity epidemic.
      “A 2004 study found that sugared soft drinks are the single largest contributor of calorie intake in the United States.
      “According to nutritional standards, sugar-sweetened beverages such as non-diet soft drinks, energy drinks, sweet teas and sports drinks offer little or no nutritional value and contain massive quantities of added sugars and calories. For example, a twelve-ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of approximately eight to ten teaspoons of sugar.”
      The American Diabetes Association wrote, “If we do not do something about this growing epidemic, the quality of life and the economic cost to Hawai`i will be crippling.” The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Hawai`i Public Health Association support the bill.
      The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Hawai`i Bar Owners Association, and local soft drink manufacturers oppose the bill.
      The tax would be one cent per ounce and would increase the cost of an average soft drink by 17 percent. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s testimony said the tax is “expected to reduce consumption by eight to 10 percent and maybe even higher on youth. If this bill passes, in 2014-15 we are hoping to raise $38 million in new revenue and will use these funds to support childhood and adult obesity prevention and health promotion programs,” wrote Abercrombie.
      Other supporters of the tax include The Queen’s Health System and numerous health organizations.
      Progress on this and other bills in the state Legislature can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.

REGARDING THE `AINA KOA PONO proposal, the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday 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. Electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island would increase.
      County of Hawai`i asked the utilities to explain what it called “the rationale behind raising electricity prices to support a single new industry sector that may decrease the profitability of other sectors.”
      The county cited a Biofuels Study incorporated in the Final Report to the Legislature in Accordance with Act 203, Session Laws of Hawai`i, 2011, which, according to the county, states that “biorefineries produce a variety of products, including a variety of biofuels, enabling one or more of the products (such as fuel for electricity generation and/or fuel for the Department of Defense) to be supplied under long-term contracts at known prices.
      “This process has been identified by the industry as extremely important for success, and should be viewed as contributing to, rather than competing with, the success of other biofuel products. Having long-term contracts at high prices is attractive in any industry, but when electricity prices in Hawai`i are already the highest in the nation and eroding other industry-sector profits, there may be a net-negative effect to the economy from such contracts.
      HELCO and HECO replied, “As explained in the Application, the approval of the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract is reasonable for, among other reasons, (1) the use of the biodiesel will help to meet State energy policy objectives and Hawaiian Electric’s, HELCO’s and Maui Electric Company, Limited’s mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards requirements; (2) the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract provides a locally sourced fuel supply which will contribute to the State’s goal of greater energy security and energy self-sufficiency; (3) the fixed biodiesel price, with a nominal escalation provision, is reasonable and is projected to fall below the price of petroleum diesel during the term of the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract; (4) use of the biodiesel in place of petroleum diesel will not result in any additional curtailment of existing as-available renewable resources or otherwise impede the consideration of additional renewable resources to HELCO’s system; and (5) the AKP Biodiesel Supply Contract is consistent with HELCO’s third major integrated resource plan.
      “HELCO is also aware that having its customers absorb the entire differential between the cost of the biofuel and the cost of the fossil fuel that the biofuel is replacing is unfair, especially given that the use of the biodiesel helps the Hawaiian Electric Companies, in total, meet the Renewable Portfolio Standards requirements. Therefore, the Companies are proposing the establishment of a Biofuel Surcharge Provision that will pass through the differential between the cost of the biofuel and the cost of the fossil fuel that the biofuel is replacing, in the event the cost of the biofuel is higher than the cost of the fossil fuel, over the customer base of the Companies, based on kilowatt-hour usage. Using the Biofuel Surcharge Provision, HELCO estimates that the impact to HELCO’s customers is relatively small, with the estimated overall bill impact (without MECO) for the Companies in the range of $0.84 to $ 1.00 per month (which is lower than the $1.55 to $ 1.86 per month from AKP1) for a residential bill of 500 to 600 kWh.
      “Finally, it is important to note that the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ strategy is to actively seek and incorporate a diverse portfolio of new renewable energy resources (as opposed to a single sector) including wind, solar power, hydro, geothermal, biomass, biofuels, and other types of renewable generation that may emerge and become commercially viable several years down the road (e.g., wave energy, ocean thermal energy). Along with adding new renewable energy resources, biofuels are a critical component of a “green” energy future for the Hawaiian Electric Companies because biofuels can be used to generate energy from existing conventional generating units which provide essential grid services including load following, frequency response, voltage control and on-line operating and spinning reserves. Moreover, utilizing biofuel in existing generating units is expected to achieve cleaner air emissions and facilitate compliance with new and revised environmental regulations. Increasing the use of biofuels in existing power plants will ensure that the Hawaiian Electric Companies meet the Renewable Portfolio Standards requirements.”
      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.

Sen. Russell Ruderman
A TALK STORY WITH SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN takes place at Pahala Plantation House Tuesday 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. 

PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA Marine National Monument is the topic at After Dark in the Park on Tuesday. Toni Parras, communications manager for the monument, presents an overview of Hawai`i’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The program, which covers the people, the partnerships and the promise for the monument, begins at 7 p.m.
 at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.