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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 26, 2013

A consultant for the state Consumer Advocate has testified that the cost of biofuel, proposed to be refined near Wood Valley from crops grown between Pahala and Na`alehu, is reasonable. Photo by Julia Neal
FUNDING FOR IMPROVEMENTS to Ka`u irrigation system has been approved by the state House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for further consideration. The Capital Improvements Project funding amounts to $2.5 million. Several other House Bills regarding agriculture have also made their way to the Senate for further consideration.
Rep. Richard Onishi
      HB353 would appropriate funds to the Department of Agriculture for the United States Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestations. It would provide a grant for the coffee berry borer task force for control of the coffee berry borer and mitigation of damage.
      HB487 would expand livestock feed subsidy to include feed for goats, sheep, lambs, fish and crustaceans. It would create a subsidy for qualified feed developers.
      HB489 would provide, under certain circumstances, an exemption from building code and permit requirements for nonresidential buildings or structures on farms.
      HB1264 would allow for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects. It would modify the new farmer loan program of the Department of Agriculture to promote the development of innovative technologies and to assist new farm enterprises.
      “Agriculture is an important component of life for residents who live in my district and for all of us on Hawai`i Island,” said East Ka`u Rep. Richard Onishi. “I am pleased that the House has approved legislation that supports, improves and strengthens this vital part of our economy and lifestyle. If we truly want to achieve food sustainability for Hawai`i and put more local food in our markets and homes, we need to assist farmers in every way we can.”

Sen. Brian Schatz
“DENYING COMMITTED COUPLES the right to marry is unacceptable,” said Sen. Brian Schatz in a statement as the Supreme Court hears arguments to determine the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. “Because we all have friends, relatives and loved ones in devoted same-sex relationships, I encourage everyone to stand up for equality. It affects all of us. It is my hope that the arguments heard in the Supreme Court will further prove what millions of Americans know is just — marriage equality must be a constitutional right for all Americans. I am a proud supporter of marriage equality, and I will continue to join President Obama in speaking out to end this type of discrimination. My hope is that the Supreme Court does what is right for this country.”
      The Supreme Court will also hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage between a man and a woman, thereby denying federal benefits to same-sex couples.
      Schatz joined his Senate colleagues in filing testimony in the DOMA case that is before the Supreme Court.

James Richard Hornby
IN TESTIMONY TO THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION on behalf of the state Consumer Advocate regarding the proposed contract for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel refined in Ka`u to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co., James Richard Hornby, an energy consultant hired by the Consumer Advocate, concludes that “the cost of biofuel under the proposed Biofuel Supply Contract is reasonable. The AKP Biofuel Supply Contract will enable the Companies to provide reliable service at reasonable rates relative to continuing to rely upon fossil fuels.”
      Hornby is a senior consultant at Synapse Energy Economics of Massachusetts, a research and consulting firm specializing in energy and environmental issues including electric generation, transmission and distribution system reliability, market power, electricity market prices, stranded costs, efficiency, renewable energy, environmental quality and nuclear power. Hornby has presented testimony and provided litigation support on these issues in the United States and Canada. His clients have included staff of public utility commissions, state energy offices, consumer advocate offices and marketers. He has a Master of Science degree in energy technology and policy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of industrial engineering degree from Technical University of Nova Scotia.
      To reach his conclusions, Hornby said he relied on responses to various information requests, recent projections of prices for relevant fossil fuels, Commission orders in other relevant proceedings, Hawai`i energy policies and relevant resource planning proceedings of other utilities in which he has participated or which he has reviewed.
      Hornby acknowledges that “the prices the Companies will pay for biofuel under the AKP contract are likely to be higher than diesel prices according to current Reference Case forecasts for diesel prices.” However, he considers other factors that he claims justify the higher prices. “In exchange,” Hornby says, “the Companies and their customers will receive a number of benefits from the AKP contract.” He lists following benefits that would be received:
  • reduced dependence on fossil fuels; 
  • reduced exposure to increases in electricity costs in periods when diesel prices prove to be higher than current Reference Case forecasts as well as reduced exposure to the volatility associated with diesel prices; 
  • reduced emission of air pollutants; 
  • a contribution to compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements (Hornby says “HECO needs the AKP biofuel supply in order to meet its requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard statute.); and 
  • diversification of the resources used to meet Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements. 
      Hornby also says his “analyses indicate that entering the AKP contract will not prevent the Companies from acquiring additional resources that prove to be cost-effective in the future. The Companies will continue to have that flexibility.”
      This and other testimony is available at puc.hawaii.gov.

Ocean View Community Center has videoconferencing
facilities for county government meetings.
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN PARTICIPATE in this week’s county government meetings via videoconference at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle. Council committees meet tomorrow, and the full Council meets Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. The videoconferencing system is available until 3 p.m. or later if public witness testimony has not been completed. For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.
      Agenda items include several improvements to Kahuku Park in Ocean View being pursued by Council member Brenda Ford. Agendas for the meetings, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at hawaiicounty.gov.

KA`U AG WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT members and potential members are invited to learn about being ag water co-op members and how the development process is proceeding at a workshop tomorrow at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      Another workshop for co-op board members takes place Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      The workshops will present the basics of co-op membership and board directorship while allowing for ongoing questions and answers. A few exercises will help participants work through the basics. Workbooks will be passed out to take home or show those who couldn’t make it.
      For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

Volunteers Paul and Jane Field remove Kahili ginger on a park trail.
NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane
STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT is the name of the weekly program in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park that has volunteers help cut invasive Kahili ginger along trails. On Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, participants hike into Kilauea caldera down Halem`auma`u Trail, leaving from Kilauea Visitor Center. The hike involves walking over rough, uneven terrain on a dirt and rock path, with up to a 400-foot elevation change.

VOLUNTEERS HAVE ONE MORE opportunity this year to count humpback whales and record their behavior during the Sanctuary Ocean Count Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Sites for the count in Ka`u are South Point, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach and Ka`ena Point at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Sign up at sanctuaryoceancount.org.