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.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ka`u Auto Repair issues drunken driving and other road risk warnings every year by parading a smashed vehicle. This
morning's offering at the Na`alehu Independence Day Parade was a sporty sedan with a crushed front end.
Photo by Ron Johnson
FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND is one of the two busiest challenging times for first responders. The other is the New Year holidays. Irresponsible firecracker and illegal fireworks use can not only lead to injury, but also to brush fires that endanger homes, ranches, macadamia orchards, coffee and vegetable farms, as well as native forests and parklands. This weekend’s forecast is for high winds that heighten the fire danger in Ka`u.
Pahala volunteer Fire Captain Ron Ebert and volunteer
firefighter Liz Polido are ready for summer fire season
and joined the Na`alehu Independence Day parade this
morning. Photo by Ron Johnson
     Hawai`i County police and fire departments warn in a statement: "Fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burns and eye injuries. Young children and fireworks do not mix. Never give fireworks, even sparklers to young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Older children should only use fireworks under the direct supervision of an adult. Always read and follow all warnings and instructions listed by the manufacturer for the safe use and handling of fireworks. Make sure you have a clear, flat area to use the fireworks; away from structures, dry grass or brush, or other readily ignitable materials. Have a water hose or bucket of water readily available in case of a fire."
     Increased traffic on the roads can also add fuel to the fire this weekend, particularly when cigarettes are thrown out the windows.
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 OBJECTIONS TO HIGH VOLTAGE OVERHEAD ELECTRIC LINES for a proposed industrial solar project on numerous empty lots among homes in the Hawaiian Ranchos community have come from state Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono.
     In recommendations to the state Public Utilities Commission, tasked with approving or disapproving the project, Ono recommended that developers of the solar farms in Ranchos install underground instead of overhead lines. He wrote that underground lines would minimize impact on the community and address its concerns. The cost of the underground transmission lines, however, would be $1.375 million, more than eight times the $168,000 cost of running overhead lines. It would be the first underground high voltage transmission on Hawai`i Island.
Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono recommends underground
lines for the Ranchos solar project, and much more.
Photo from Big Island Video News
   Ono also recommended the developers shoulder additional equipment and maintenance costs, plus a promise of removal of the solar project facilities, should the endeavor fail.  Ono pointed to the solar developers’ “failure to conduct an adequate and effective community outreach program.”
     The solar project is permitted by Hawai`i’s Feed In Tariff, in 2009 conceived as a procurement method for cheap renewable energy. The state issued 32 permits for 32 mid-size projects on the Big Island. Twenty-six of the 32 permits were obtained by two developers who intended to combine them to create an industrial scale 6.5 megawatt project on 26 housing lots in Ocean View. When they applied for the FIT permits, the developers agreed to a project completion date of Sept. 15, 2012. No site work is done and developers still need a contract with the local utility, Hawai`i Electric Light Co.
    Many Ocean view residents voiced opposition at public meetings and in testimony submitted to the PUC. Concerns included a view that forested lots cleared for a massive solar project within a neighborhood would industrialize the rural town, spoil views and ambiance, push up the cost of power, attract vandalism, increase fire danger, and force many to sell their homes at a loss and move out. 
     The developers, claim numerous residents, could qualify for lucrative federal and state tax credits totaling 65 percent. If they were to “flip” the projects they could create huge profit without generating any of the promised solar power.  
Ranchos and other Ocean View residents testify before the PUC about
industrial solar proposed on lots in their neighborhood.
Photo from Big Island Video News
      Other concerns included: the developers’ long delay in starting; ambivalent commitments to the project; accusations of opportunism; the view that such expensive power is no longer needed; locating the project in three adjacent housing subdivisions to the detriment of residents, and accusations that developers have attempted to circumvent the competitive bidding process by creating an industrial-size  6.5 megawatt project.
     The Consumer Advocate routinely offers advice to the PUC.  In the case of the Ocean View application, Ono wrote a 24-page Statement of Position to list concerns, many of them mirroring those of the community. He wrote: “The FIT process was deemed necessary at the time to encourage renewable energy project development, but the need for the FIT projects, at compensation rates that are no longer reasonable, may not be consistent with the public interest at this time. Ono referred to the wholesale price of 23.8 cents per kwh that HELCO would pay and the 28.5 cents per kwh that HELCO charges consumers."  
    Ono also suggested the substation location be reviewed to “ensure that optimal, and not convenient, placement occurs before substation construction work occurs.” Ono challenges HELCO’s decision to locate the substation at the entrance to Ranchos. Residents have objected, calling it an eyesore and urging HELCO to revert to the an original plan to locate it on the developer’s land, where ‘Ohi’a trees can screen the substation.
 
A ground-mounted solar array on one lot, similar to those planned for Ranchos on 26 separate lots,
 this one from enspisolar.com.
     Ono recommended extra equipment, “such as security cameras, fencing or walls,” and monitors to be paid for by developers. Another Ono recommendation, a large expense if the PUC agrees: “developers should also be required to provide assurances that the costs to remove, if and as necessary, the substation, transmission lines and the FIT projects themselves will be paid for by the developers.” Ono writes that the assurances must be “meaningful.”
     “The removal of the proposed substation and transmission line should not fall upon the general ratepayers.” wrote Ono. “Whether by performance bonds, escrow accounting, or some other alternative, the Commission should require an acceptable means of addressing this concern . . . customers [should not be] required to fund removal because the responsible parties are no longer available or capable of meeting this obligation.”
   Ono also recommended that developers be responsible for all operating and maintenance expenses associated with the substation, transmission line and supporting infrastructure.
Local vendors like Millie Akau sell at farmers markets but could also
apply to sell to schools. Photo by Julia Neal
    Ono concluded: “In this instance it is apparent that the Solar Project Owners effectively 'gamed' the FIT process in order to avoid going through the more rigorous competitive bidding framework. Furthermore, the failure of the Solar Project Owners to conduct an effective community outreach program with mere promises of a community benefits package should not be condoned.”
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LOCAL FARMERS CAN HELP SCHOOLS SERVE HEALTHY FOOD and reduce dependency on imports by applying to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables. The state Department of Education is seeking qualified local farmers and vendors to submit bids by July 13. See invitation for bids at http://spo3.hawaii.gov/notices/notices/ifb-d17-005.
    The initiative is spearheaded by Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, who said: “With Hawai`i importing about 85 percent of our food, the Farm to School Initiative is one way we are working towards becoming food sustainable in our state. While supporting local farmers and our economy, we are also feeding our students with locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Earth Matters Farm at Kama`oa and South Point Roads.
Photo from Earth Matters 
     The state education and ag departments are working to address supply and demand issues surrounding purchasing local food for school cafeterias. Ka`u has two public school cafeterias, one in Na`alehu and one in Pahala. State licensed charter schools, Ka`u Learning Center in Discovery Harbour and Volcano School for the Arts & Sciences, also serve food to students. The state school system operates 256 public schools and its School Food Services Branch feeds approximately 100,000 students and staff each day.
     The Initiative aims not only to increase state purchasing of local food for school menus. It attempts to connect keiki with local agriculture through using food products produced here.
     “We’ve made it a priority to purchase local produce, however, our options have been limited,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are hopeful that this initiative will allow for more locally based products to be used in our schools’ food services while keeping costs reasonable.”
     Hawai`i Board of Agriculture Chair Scott Enright said, “We encourage local farmers to participate in this program. One of the challenges farmers face is the uncertainty of supply and demand and this program will help farmers plan and grow their crops with the knowledge that there will be a market for their produce. In addition, keiki will be able to grow up with an appreciation of locally grown fruits and vegetables.”
     Across the nation, farm to school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. Farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.
Rodeo finals are Sunday in Na`alehu. Photo by Julia Neal
     In April, organizers of the Farm to School Initiative gathered information from farmers and ranchers. After farmers and ranchers apply to participate, vendors will be chosen. The Farm to School Initiative Pilot Project is expected to begin in 2017.

FINALS FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY RODEO in Na`alehu are tomorrow, Sunday July 3, with gold buckles sponsored by local businesses and citizens.  Events include youth barrels, dummy roping and goat undecorating for keiki. Adult contests include po`o wai u, bull riding, tied down roping, wahine breakaway, wahine mugging, double mugging, open dally, team 90s and kane-wahine mugging. Ticket prices are $8 at the gate. Food and non-alcoholic drink will be available
    Slack roping starts at 8 a.m. with the rodeo at noon. This annual event is sponsored by Ka`u Roping & Riding Association.
Augie T, Frank De Lima,
Mel Cabang in Pahala
on Sunday.

LIVE & LOCAL COMEDY for all ages comes to Pahala Community Center Sunday at 7 p.m., featuring Augie T, Frank De Lima and Mel Cabang. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
      Call 990-0474, or see AugieT.com.


SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
See www.kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_June_2016