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, December 27, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016

`Alalā, are back in captivity after their recent reintroduction into the wild with two of the five surviving after
a short time in the forest near Volcano. Photo from National Park Service
TWO YOUNG ENDANGERED HAWAIIAN CROWS, the `Alalā, were moved back into an aviary at the State of Hawai‘i’s Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve last week, as conservationists work to overcome challenges faced by the birds during their reintroduction. A joint news release issued today from San Diego Zoo Global, the state Department of Land & Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service states: "A group of five birds were released into the protected reserve on Dec. 14. Although the birds had been observed doing well and eating from feeders placed in the area, three birds were found dead over the last week. The confirmed cause of the deaths is currently unknown but conservationists hope to gather information about what happened to the birds through necropsy examinations."
Condolences have come from around the world since three of five ‘Alalā perished
after their recent release into the forest. The surviving two have been placed back
 into an aviary.  Photo from San Diego Zoo
    John Vetter, a wildlife biologist with the DLNR's Division of Forestry & Wildlife, said, “Some level of mortality is to be expected when reintroducing a species back into the wild and we were prepared for that possibility. The initial days of release are always the most difficult stage of any release program, and the level of uncertainty is also highest with the first release cohort. We decided to recapture the remaining birds to ensure their safety while we await the results of the necropsies, so that we can learn, respond, and continue to strive for the long-term success of the ‘Alalā.”
      Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists have worked to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents the type of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline. The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global's Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.
      Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, remarked, “The loss of these three birds is difficult for the entire community, including the many people who have cared for these birds since their hatch and have worked steadfastly to prepare for their release. Condolences for this loss have come from around the world.”
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RENEWABLE ENERGY TAX CREDITS provided by the State of Hawai`i to taxpayers totaled $112.1 million in in 2014, slightly down from the 2013, according to the tax credits report released by the state Department of Taxation earlier this month. 2014 is the last year for which there’s data available. The Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Credit offers taxpayers who install rooftop solar systems a tax credit for 35 percent of the cost and a 20 percent credit for wind-powered systems. For single-family homes, the amount of the credit was capped at $5,000 for solar energy systems and $1,500 for wind-powered systems. For commercial operators, the credit was capped at $500,000 for wind or solar systems.
     The report said that close to 15,000 tax filers made claims totaling $112.1 million in 2014, which amounted to 35 percent of all tax credit dollars claimed for that year. This is lower than 2013 when the state gave out $118.3 million in renewable energy tax credits. In 2012, a still record-setting $164 million in credit dollars were claimed, at the height of the solar photovoltaic industry.
Pakini Nui wind farm. Photo by Ann Bosted     
     For the three-year period from 2012 to 2014, more than $394 million was claimed, by far the largest sum of any of the state’s tax credits.     This tax credit provides an incentive for Hawaiian families to install rooftop solar systems, as they are able to claim refunds of 35 percent of the cost from the state of Hawai’i as well as 30 percent on federal taxes. According to HELCO, there are nearly 11,000 customer-owned rooftop solar systems on the Big Island. 
     The very popular Net Energy Metering program, whereby an owner of a solar system could earn a credits for electricity after the sun went down in return for surplus daytime power, ended in October 2015. Under the NEM program, most household electricity bills could be as low as $25 per month, depending on how the project was financed. The end of the NEM program also ended the “boom and bust” cycle which ran from 2011 to 2015, during which time local solar installation companies’ revenues were up.
     State and Federal Energy credits are also a huge incentive for overseas companies to install utility-sized solar farms, such as the one planned for Ocean View by SPI Solar, an international corporation which is based in Shanghai. SPI Solar wants to build a 6.75 megawatt utility-scale solar installation in a rural town under the Feed In Tariff Program. 
    This project is now on hold following a Formal Complaint filed with the Public Utilities Commission by Ocean View residents. If the PUC allows the project to proceed, as HELCO argues is should, then SPI Solar will sell power to HELCO for 23.8c per kWh, which is roughly ten cents higher than four recently permitted solar farms, according to a story in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Sept. 14.
 
Industrial solar farms incentivized by federal and state
tax credits. Photo by Ann Bosted
   In a February 2013 study, the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization revealed that the state renewable energy tax credit could cost $1.4 billion in lost revenue based on 1,100 megawatts of installed systems. The Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Credit was 35.2 percent of the total tax credits claimed in tax year 2014. Some 14,902 claims were filed for the renewable energy systems credits. The majority of the credits were for solar systems with 14,144 solar claims filed. Roughly $55 million in tax credits went to individuals who installed solar systems. Corporations received $42 million in tax credits for solar systems. Claims totaling about $39,000 were filed by individuals for wind systems.
     The solar industry has been struggling since the state ended the NEM solar incentive program in October 2015. Net energy metering paid residents the full retail rate for excess electricity sent into the grid.
     The state PUC replaced NEM with two programs called “grid-supply” and “self-supply.” Grid-supply credits customers roughly 8 cents less than those who enrolled in NEM. Self-supply encourages the use of batteries as it prohibits customers from sending excess energy into the electric grid. The only program currently available is self-supply because the Big Island reached the limit the PUC placed on the amount of solar systems that could enroll in grid-supply earlier this year.
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CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

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