|Volunteer Coach, Pastor Kevin Brown, leads a prayer before Trojans beat the Daggars 54-28 on Saturday. See more below. |
Photo by Mark Peters
ELECTRICITY BILLS WOULD GO UP IF THE INDUSTRIAL SOLAR PROJECT GOES FORWARD at Ocean View, according to the state Consumer Advocate who works for the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs. The opinion of Consumer Advocate was provided on Friday as four parties to a Formal Complaint to the Public Utilities Commission filed post-hearing briefs on the matter. The Consumer Advocate filed a 14-page brief while the industrial solar developer filed 25 pages and the
utility companies Hawaiian Electric and Hawaiian Electric Light Co. filed a single page.
The Consumer Advocate argued that all 26 projects on 26 separate lots in Ocean View that are in the FIT program under one owner should be reviewed and subjected to the Competitive Bidding Framework. The FIT program was established in 2008 as an agreement between the electric company and the state as "a policy designed to support the development of renewable energy sources by providing a guaranteed, above-market price for producers."
HECO set the FIT rates high, at 23.8c per kWh, which resulted in a "feeding frenzy" according to Big Island energy guru, Mark Mangelsdorf.
The FIT Program opened to applicants in December 2011, and 10 megawatts were allocated to the Big Island. However, one developer, Solar Hub, was allocated 4.5 megawatts and another, Mr. Braunthal, was allocated 2.25 megawatts, all to be sited in three makai subdivisions in Ocean View. This meant that 65 percent of all the power intended for generation on the Big Island, under the FIT program, was slated for generation in Ocean View. In 2015, SPI, a large solar company based in Shanghai acquired the applications from both developers, creating a 6.5-megawatt project on 26 sites.
Since 2011, the price for solar power projects with battery storage has dropped to 9c per kWh – the rate negotiated for the new Waikaloa Project. It has been calculated that the difference between 23.8c per kWh and 9c per kWh amounts to $60 million over the 20-year life of the project – an amount that would be passed through to ratepayers.
The Complainants, Peter and Ann Bosted, argued that since Solar Hub's initial project had a capacity of 4.5 MW, and since SPI's current project has a capacity of 6.5 MW the project should not be in the FIT Program. However, the attorneys for SPI argue that since 17 of the projects are in the name of 17 shell companies, all owned by SPI, they are not required to be competitively bid.
The most recent Consumer Advocate's brief arguing that the project should be competitively bid became the third brief it has filed in support of the Complainants who wish to have the Ocean View project removed from FIT.
In 2016, when the construction of a new Transmission Line to cross Highway 11 was needed by the project, the Consumer Advocate criticized the project. At that time, the Consumer Advocate wrote:
"With the understanding that 26 of the 27 remaining projects are owned or controlled by the same entity/entities, these projects may have been an attempt to circumvent the competitive bidding process since the combined capacity of the 26 projects in question exceeds the competitive bidding threshold for the Island of Hawai'i."
In 2020, the Consumer Advocate filed a Statement of Position urging the PUC to "consider 1) current market conditions that support a lower price per kWh for renewable energy projects, 2) the realization of recent market prices that were attained through a competitive bidding process, 3) the value of moving on from legacy programs or past parameters, as evidenced by the Commission's recent decision in the CBRE
On Friday the Consumer Advocate cited a precedent set in 2011 when the Commission decided that a developer who planned to create multiple TMKs or lots from a single large agricultural lot, using the condominium property regime (CPR), locating one FIT project on each lot. The PUC decided against his proposal, citing the fact that it would resemble a large project that had been segmented to qualify for FIT.
The Consumer Advocate noted that the "petitioner proactively sought a Commission decision before the FIT rules were finalized and presumably before any substantial investments were made on his part".
The CA argued that, if the Commission had been asked first, the Commission would have refused permission, it concluded: "The Commission should find in favor of the Complainants, by finding that the 26 projects are subject to the competitive bidding and not eligible for the FIT Program."
|Ocean Nihipali-Sesson rolls out to pass with Camdon Higbee in pass protection. Photo by Mark Peters|
KAʻŪ TROJANS DEFEATED PAHOA DAGGERS 54-28 at the home football game on Saturday in front of a supportive home fanbase at Pāhala Ballfield. It's the second win in a row, with the last two games racking up 118 points, a school record. Next Saturday, Trojans travel to Waimea to take on Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, with game time set for 2 p.m. The final two games are home games, the first on Saturday, Oct. 14 against Kamehameha High School at 1 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 20 against Honoka‘a, with game time set for 6 p.m.
|Records broken as the Trojans nail their second straight win,|
racking up 118 points in two games. Photo by Mark Peters
Adahdlyah Ellis-Reyes turned 12 carries into 164 yards. Jaestin Karasuda added five carries for 54 yards. The 134-yard gained in passing was led by Adahdiya Reyes-Ellis with 121 yards and two touchdowns, both caught by TJ Kuahuia-Faafia. He achieved five catches for 106 yards to lead the Trojan receivers.
|Trojan offense clears the way for Kaʻū ground game. Photo by Mark Peters|
|Jaestin Karasuda carries the ball around the end for a touchdown. Photo by Mark Peters|
HAWAIIAN CRAFT VENDORS are sought for Ho‘okupu Hula No Kaʻū Cultural Festival to be held on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Keola Pu‘uhonua cultural grounds behind Nāʻālehu Bake Shop. The celebration of hula, craft and culture will feature performers from Mexico, Japan, Virginia, O’ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island and will be sponsored by Hālau Hula ‘O Leionālani. It is a free event and the public is invited to bring lawn chairs.
Any interested Hawaiian craft vendors can call Kumu Hula Debbie Ryder at 808 -649-9334.
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