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, March 27, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 27, 2013

Testimony from a consultant for the state Consumer Advocate says emissions associated with HECO's use of `Aina Koa
Pono biofuel would be at most one-third of the emissions associated with HECO's use of fuel oil. Image from AKP
LEASING PUBLIC SCHOOL LANDS to commercial entities is the topic of a bill being heard by state legislative committees today. SB 237 SD2 establishes a three-year pilot program to generate revenue for improvement to public school facilities and infrastructure “to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and to improve the overall quality of education in Hawai`i. The pilot program will lay groundwork for a statewide approach and plan to optimize public school lands and modernize public school facilities,” the bill states.
Sen. Russell Ruderman
      “The considerable amount of underused public school lands on the state’s 257 school campuses is an untapped resource that would provide infrastructure that could make classrooms, campuses, and communities suitable for the twenty-first century,” the bill says. “A preliminary review by a real estate expert indicates that ten parcels that have unused lands are valued at $120,000,000 under existing surrounding uses. These lands could be developed solely for the benefit of Hawai`i’s public school children. The beneficiaries would be the children of Hawai`i.”
      All proceeds generated from the lease of public school lands would go into a fund used to build or upgrade school facilities.
      The bill is moving through the Legislature at the same time as other bills calling for repeal of a law establishing of the Public Lands Development Corp., which was created by the Legislature in 2011 to develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
      Sen. Russell Ruderman is one of the introducers of the bill. He explained his support for the bill leasing public school lands at a talk story session in Pahala recently, saying the program is very limited in scope and that it makes sense to generate funds on state school properties that have a high value and are under-used. His staff said he is reviewing the latest rendition of the bill today to decide whether to continue his support.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
A BILL PREVENTING a federal government shutdown next week has passed Congress with significant bipartisan support, passing with a vote of 318-109.
      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard praised both parties coming together “to ensure that greater flexibility in funding was provided to the Department of Defense, as well as addressing some domestic priorities like agriculture, public safety, and rural development.”
      The bill reinstates Department of Defense tuition assistance education programs that were initially suspended due to across-the-board cuts, which were put into effect earlier this month. “These earned educational benefits exist to ensure our troops gain further leadership skills and to set them up for success upon their eventual transition from military to civilian life,” Gabbard said. “Our service members have made tremendous personal sacrifices for our country. This is a step toward ensuring they are properly served in return.”
      Gabbard said “there is still much work to be done to ensure we are protecting and serving those most in need. As we plan for our long-term future, I will continue to push for common-sense initiatives that strike a balance between targeted spending cuts and closing tax loopholes for special interests.”
      The bill, which funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

THE `AINA KOA PONO PROJECT “has many of the characteristics of an environmentally sustainable process,” testified Patrick Luckow, an energy consultant hired by the state Consumer Advocate to submit testimony to the Public Utilities Commission regarding the proposed contract for AKP to sell biofuel refined near Wood Valley from crops grown between Pahala and Na`alehu to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Luckow, an associate with Synapse Energy Economics, of Massachusetts, conducts research focusing on a variety of issues related to electric utilities, including integrated resource planning, federal and state clean air policies, emissions from electricity generation and electrical system dispatch. He also performs modeling analyses of electric power systems. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from University of Maryland.
      “The fact that the feedstock will be grown on former sugarcane land is positive, as intensively managed soils typically have lower terrestrial carbon stocks,” Luckow testifies. “Research has shown gains in soil and above-ground carbon with certain biofuel feedstocks, although the re-establishment of native and invasive grasses and Christmas berry trees may have improved soil conditions in recent years. Once a final feedstock is chosen, it will be important to conduct an updated assessment of the net change in soil carbon as a result of this project.”
      Luckow claims that biochar, a by-product of refining biofuel, is another benefit that contributes to the projects sustainability. “In addition to helping soils retain water and nutrients, biochar holds onto its carbon for hundreds of years,” Luckow says. “Sequestering carbon through the use of biochar as a soil amendment has been explored recently as a cost-effective way to offset greenhouse gas emissions.”
      Luckow discusses greenhouse gas emissions associated with production and use of the biofuels HELCO is proposing to acquire from the project. He says he relied on “the Company’s application, its responses to various information requests and relevant recent studies on the use of biomass and biofuels” to draw his conclusions.
      Luckow testifies that “generating electricity from biomass and biofuels that are well tracked and produced in a sustainable manner can produce lower emissions of carbon than generating electricity from conventional fossil fuels such as diesel, low sulfur fuel oil, natural gas and coal. Various studies, based on long-term economic models of energy use, have shown that it is more cost-effective to reduce carbon emissions substantially through strategies that include biomass and biofuels than through strategies that do not include those resources.
      “In the electricity sector, biomass and biofuels help improve the cost effectiveness of these strategies because they produce electricity in a consistent, dispatchable manner and because they can be shipped over long distances using existing transportation infrastructure.
      “In order for biomass and biofuels to play this important role, they must be produced in a sustainable manner. In particular, for each proposed source of biomass and biofuels, one must identify the carbon emissions at each stage of production and use, including emissions from the use of the land to produce the feedstocks and emissions resulting from any activities displaced from that land. It is important to consider both the carbon absorption and the carbon emissions associated with biomass production – absorption in order to give accurate credit to biomass and emissions from land use to prevent unjustified clearing of land.”
      Luckow estimates that emissions associated with HECO’s use of biofuel would be at most one-third of the emissions associated with HECO’s use of fuel oil. He says that a report prepared by Eichleay Engineers, Inc. over-estimates benefits associated with use of biofuels. The report includes emissions associated with feedstock production, conversion to biofuels and transport of biofuel to the power plant but does not include an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions associated with combustion of biofuel at Keahole power plant, Luckow says. However, he claims that even after those emissions are included, they would be considerably less than the emissions associated with HELCO’s use of diesel.
      This and other testimony is available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.

Front row l-r: Wen-Jing Yang, Marileah Lalin, Romina Sembran, Wen-
Hui Yang. Back row l-r: Jemy-Ray Palancia, Carlos Uribe-Buonus,
Coach Hi`ilani Lapera, William Mitchell, Andrew Garcia.
Photo courtesy of Ka`u High School Yearbook
TRAINING FOR MEMBERS and potential members of Ka`u Ag Water Cooperative District takes place today at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      Another workshop for co-op board members takes place tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      The workshops present basics of co-op membership and board directorship.
      For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

IN SPORTS, MEMBERS OF KA`U HIGH varsity tennis team reported wins against Kea`au and St. Joseph’s this month. Trojan Andrew Garcia, playing in boys team second singles, defeated Pahoa (6-4, 6-4), as well as St. Joseph’s (6-3, 6-4). Senior Jemy-Ray Palancia competes in boys team first singles and shut out St. Joseph’s 6-0 and 6-2. Ka`u’s girls second singles player Wen-Jing Yang emerged victorious versus Kea`au. Scores were 6-4 and 6-2. Hi`ilani Lapera, longtime coach for Ka`u High bowling, has stepped up as coach for Trojan tennis.