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Monday, November 20, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Monday, Nov. 20, 2023

Nexamp's website suggests pasturing pigs and other animals between solar panels. Nexamp held a community meeting in Nāʻālehu on Monday and plans a 20-acre solar farm. Another community meeting will be planned for early 2024. Photo from Nexamp.com
A NĀ‘ĀLEHU SOLAR MEETING drew a small group to Nāʻālehu Community Center on Monday evening, with the gathering also accessible through Zoom. Nexamp representatives, who plan a solar farm near Waiohinu in ahupua‘a of Kahilipali, stressed the importance of solar to help prevent wildfires by displacing flammable invasive grasses, and pointed to solar's global purpose as clean energy. 
    The 180 acres makai of Hwy 11 in Wai‘ōhinu has a quarry and was described as otherwise scrubland. The solar farm is planned for about ten percent of the acreage. A condition of doing the project is that the land would be returned to its current state at the end of its use for solar, which could be for 20 years, with a possible short extension. 
   The Nexamp representative mentioned that the project is not building a golf course or a resort and that local people are not going to be displaced by people who buy land and come here to live. He said solar has a very low impact. It doesn't make noise. "It is only really an upside to your community." He also noted that the solar installation "will not stay forever," like "smokestacks built of concrete."
Nexamp proposes to use some 20 acres on a 180 parcel near Wai‘ōhinu in
ahupua‘a of Kahilipali. Map from Nexamp

   After the Nexamp man referred to Maui with its wildfire and managing land here to prevent a wildfire, a man who identified his own Wai‘ōhinu family as Hawaiian said, "We are talking about Kaʻū, not Maui," and that people care very specifically about what happens to the land here.
    A community member said, "This land is precious" and that the community wants to make sure that the project is good. She suggested inviting community members to the land so they could better understand what the construction would look like on the land. She said to clear a path and show people.
    The Nexamp man said that he would have to get permission from the owner of the land who is planning to lease to Nexamp.
    Nexamp provides solar to those who sign up for it to save on electric bills. It is designed for those would would not install their own solar panels. Roof-top solar generates tax credits and dumps or reduces the electric bill while raising the value of the property, but requires a cash investment or a loan to pay for it.
Nexamp solar has no upfront costs, no long-term contracts and brings instant savings with no work required of the property owner. The savings with Nexamp have been calculated at around ten to 15 percent.
    Nexamp representatives said they will be back for another community meeting in the first quarter of next year, in February or March. and that anyone who wants to be notified by email can send their email address. They also said they are available to answer questions and listen to community concerns. See www.nexamp.com.
   Nexamp is based in Boston and is led by CEO Zaid Ashai, who earned an MBA from Harvard University and Masters of Public Administration from Kennedy School of Government. He is a General Partner at Point Judith Capital and worked at Good Energies, a global Clean Tech venture capital firm; HarbourVest Partners, a global private equity firm; and as a banking analyst in Credit Suisse's Technology Group. See more on Nexamp at www.nexamp.com.

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NEXAMP SUGGESTS PASTURING PIGS AT SOLAR FARMS. Calling the approach Agrivoltaics: A Sustainable Synergy, Nexamp, the company planning a solar farm in ahupua‘a of Kahilipali near Waiohinu, suggests that raising free-ranging pigs between the solar panels could become a successful venture to feed people, provide electricity and take care of the land.

Pasturing pigs to manage land at solar farms is
suggested by Nexamp, which is planning a solar
project near Waiohinu. Photo from Nexamp 
    Its website says, "solar farms, consisting of rows upon rows of photovoltaic panels, can generate a substantial amount of electricity. Still, the land occupied by these solar arrays typically goes unused, leading to questions about its potential....Agrivoltaics involves the dual use of land for both solar energy production and agricultural purposes, allowing for a harmonious coexistence that maximizes the utility of the land.
    "At the heart of Nexamp's agrivoltaic approach lies the introduction of pasture pigs. These animals are not your ordinary farm animals; they play a crucial role in maintaining the solar farm's functionality and ecological balance." Nexamp contends that pigs are good in numerous ways.
    Natural Land Management: Pasture pigs are expert foragers. They graze on the vegetation beneath and around the solar panels, keeping the vegetation in check and preventing it from shading the panels. This natural form of land management reduces the need for heavy machinery and herbicides, making the solar farm more eco-friendly.
    Fertilization: As they graze and root around, pasture pigs also contribute to fertilizing the soil. Their natural behaviors improve soil health, creating a more conducive environment for the growth of cover crops and other vegetation.
    Reducing Maintenance Costs: By enlisting the help of these natural grazers, Nexamp significantly reduces the maintenance costs associated with solar farms. This not only benefits the environment but also makes solar energy more economically viable.

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The heaviest Boar came in at 128 lbs., nailed by Team Mauka Ready with Tyrell Mason and crew. The tournament raises money for Kaʻū keiki to travel to play in Hokulele Basketball Club competition, including, in yellow shirts, Kainui and Kalea Kaupu-Manini and Lawai‘ia Kaupu. The islandwide tournament was called You FEED 'em, we EAT 'em.
Team Rumblah with Kalani Vierra and crew.

Team Watusi with Cy Lopez, Jr. and crew.
THE RESULTS ARE IN FOR LAST WEEKEND'S PIG HUNT, which began at midnight on Friday with the weighing in at Pāhala  Hongwanji grounds on Saturday. The hunt, called You FEED em, we EAT em, organized by the Kaupu family and friends, raised money to help youth from Hokulele Basketball Club of Kaʻū to travel for competition.
    For Heaviest Overall, with weigh-in at 151 lbs., winner is Team JB Cowboys with Jere Benevides and crew.
    For Heaviest Boar, with weigh-in at 128 lbs., winner is Team Mauka Ready with Tyrell Mason and crew.
    For Heaviest Sow, with weigh in at 117.8 lbs., winner is Team Quincy, with Quincy Kaawa and crew.
    The other teams that weighed in were Team Sub D Boyz, with Chisum and Cameron Silva, Jaron Garcia and crew; Team No Fck Around with Kawika Santiago and Trieso Pascubillio; Team Rumblah with Kalana Vierra and Crew; and Team Watsui with Cy Lopez, Jr. and crew.
    Other entries were Team Mauka Mafia with Kalei Fernandez and crew; Team Fatson, with Kekoa Ching and crew; Team Sub D BoyZ with Wrangler Silva and Davedon Cabreros; Team Give 'Em Hell with Clinton Navas-Torres and crew; Team Creature, with Derek Nakagawa and crew; Team M.V.B. with Calvin Llanes and crew; Team Go Look See with Chance and Bubu Emmsley and crew; Team Rubbah with Kaikea Kaiao and Kaielana; Team Raunchy with Jeremiah Dacalio and crew; Team Click Clack Boom with Mana Joe Jamal and Darren; Team Malosi with Sage Santiago and crew; Team Try EM with Kama Medeiros and RJ Kahele; Team Big Mike; and Team Bloody Backs with Travis Pama and crew.
    The organizers said they thank all hunters and sponsors, including Pono's Used Cars, Pearls, Tokunaga, Natin2Krazy, Rusty Boar, Pork Fat (Bulla Kaleo) Papa Bull and Mama Donna, Uncle Ots, Aunty Kaeza and Kylie Rae, Darren Kai and family, and Uncle Jojo and family. They also thank Glenn Okumura and Wayne Kawachi for Pāhala Hongwanji for the weigh-in venue.
With the big trophy and prizes, above, JB Cowboys with Jere Benevides and crew hunted down Heaviest Overall, weighing
 in at 151 lbs., below. Photos from the pig hunt tournament. 
  One of the organizers, Sasha Kaupu, said, "This tournament will help relieve any costs for our parents in sending young members of Hokulele Basketball Club of Kaʻū to travel during the season. Each year, we have the privilege and opportunity to travel to other islands to compete with teams from around the world. Our parents try their best to help us excel in the opportunities we are given and to not take them for grant
   "Coming from a small town, Pāhala, our dreams are big and often we are told, 'It's just a dream.' As parents, we and our peers want to strive to believe that no dream is ever too big!"

Heaviest Sow weighed in at 117.8 lbs, hunted down by Team Quincy with Quincy Kaawa and crew.

Team No Fck Around with Kawika Santiago and Trieson Pascubillio, along
 with three of the young recipients of the funding for travel to compete for
 Hokulele Basketball Club. Photos from the tournament.
AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING PREFERENCE FOR HAWAI‘I ISLAND RESIDENTS was signed into law by Mayor Mitch Roth on Monday. Bill 72 amends provisions of Hawaiʻi County's Affordable Housing Policy (Hawaiʻi County Code Chapter 11) to enhance access to affordable housing for those who live and work on Hawaiʻi Island.
    "Our local kids and their families are our number one priority," said Mayor Mitch Roth. "Signing Bill 72 into law solidifies our County's commitment to our people and ensures they will legally have preference in receiving housing under our County's Affordable Housing Policy. We would like to thank the visionary efforts of Council Chair Kimball and Councilman Inaba for seeing this much-needed piece of legislation through from draft to signing. Our County is better off today because of collective leadership grounded in the prosperity of future generations."
    The measure was spearheaded by Council Chair Heather Kimball and Vice Chair Holeka Goro Inaba.
    "The passage of this ordinance signifies the County's commitment to addressing the affordable housing crisis and ensuring that its residents have the opportunity to secure suitable housing. These amendments seek to create a more inclusive and flexible framework to meet the diverse needs of Hawai'i County residents seeking affordable housing options," said Kimball.
    "I am excited to see Bill 72 come to life. The production of affordable housing is a necessity; however, we need to ensure that our own residents, workers, and keiki are being prioritized for these units. Bill 72
Team SUB D BOYZ with Chisum and Cameron Silva, Jaron Garcia and crew.

does this and gives hope to the many individuals and families who apply for housing where applications are received and evaluated by the County," added Inaba.
    First, it revises the definition of an "eligible buyer" to mean a person who meets eligibility requirements, including income limitations, as established by the chapter or by rule. This change effectively broadens the eligibility criteria, potentially allowing more residents to qualify for affordable housing.
    Second, the bill adds language defining three types of qualified applicants for affordable housing: a "qualified resident," a "qualified returning student," and a "qualified worker."
These new definitions aim to provide a more comprehensive framework for determining eligibility based on residency and employment within the County.
    The third amendment to Chapter 11 establishes preference criteria for affordable housing applicants. It outlines specific applicant preferences based on the three new definitions listed above. The housing administrator is given the authority to set the order of preferences and the selection process for applicants for any given County-managed affordable housing
    "When we are investing and using public funds on affordable housing projects, we want to make sure that we can give Hawaiʻi residents preference for housing when possible. This law creates the mechanism to do just that for projects overseen by the Office of Housing and Community Development," said Housing Administrator Susan Kunz. "The Office thanks the County Council for its work to create this law benefitting Hawaiʻi Island residents."

Mayor Mitch Roth signs Bill 72 on Monday, accompanied by Council Chair Heather Kimball (left) and Housing Administrator Susan Kunz (right). 
Photo from the Mayor's Office

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Kaʻū News Briefs Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023

This young monk seal was seen recently at Honu‘apo, with a photo taken 80 yards from the animal. Photo by Bob Martin

The Marine Mammal Center takes in sickly and injured monk seals
 and is supported by volunteers. Photo from Marine Mammal Center
 A YOUNG MONK SEAL has been seen along the Kaʻū Coast, most recently at Honu'apo. Bob Martin took the photo from about 80 yards away from the endangered seal as it rested on the rocky shore. Other recent monk seal sightings along the Kaʻū Coast have been reported, including at Punalu‘u with Facebook posting.
   Martin said he reported the Honu‘apo sighting and sent the photo to The Marine Mammal Center, which described the monk seal as juvenile or sub-adult. The young seal is apparently not banded and its sex cannot be determined in the photograph.
    It is recommended to be no closer than 50 yards to any monk seal on land and in the water. The Marine Mammal Center urges people with any monk seal sightings to call 808-987-0765. While observing, "Give Seals Space" is the headline for The Marine Mammal Center guidance. "If the monk seal is looking at you or has changed its behavior, you're too close." Before making the call, "Determine the monk seal's exact location for accurate reporting. Note physical characteristics such as size and coloring. Does the seal appear weak or skinny? Does it have any open wounds, entanglements or markings?"
    According to The Marine Mammal Center, "These animals are endangered, so every sighting provides valuable information to our researchers, and seals in distress may require emergency care."
    The Marine Mammal Center hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained teams respond to  Hawaiian monk seals in need 365 days a year.

TO VOLUNTEER WITH THE MARINE MAMMAL CENTER ON HAWAI‘I ISLAND, fill out an application by Nov. 25. The Marine Mammal Center's response volunteers can assist with assessment, rescue and release of injured and recovered monk seals and also travel to outreach events. Volunteers can also participate in education or assist in the operation of The Marine Mammal Center facility in Kona. Volunteering can include a variety of skills from photography and video and social media production to journalism, art and design, to vehicle, equipment and facilities maintenance, welding, landscaping and gardening, to music and communicating in foreign languages. See the application at https://www.volgistics.com/appform/1130305120. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.                    According to The Marine Mammal Center, some employers of volunteers have supported its mission with financial contributions. See its worldwide program at www.marinemammalcenter.org.

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A public meeting in person and online regarding
Nexamp's Nāʻālehu Solar project will be Monday
at  5:30 p.m, at Nāʻālehu Community Center.
NEXAMP HOSTS A PUBLIC MEETING ON ITS NĀ‘ĀLEHU SOLAR PROJECT on Monday, Nov. 20 at Nāʻālehu Community Center at 95-5635 Hwy 11, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The proposed renewable energy project is sited south of the highway and "will generate clean power and help lower electricity costs for qualified low-to-moderate-income subscribers," says the announcement.
    The company needs government approvals and is reaching out to the community. Participation is also available online by registering at http://bit.ly/NaalehuSolarMeeting or scan the QR code below.   
    The project website says, "Hawai‘i is moving away from fossil fuels and into a renewable future. Nāʻālehu Solar is designed to support the island’s goal of being 100% renewable by 2045. The project, located south of Mamalahoa Highway, will generate clean power, build grid reliance, and help lower electricity costs for qualified low-to-moderate-income (LMI) subscribers through the CBRE shared solar program.
    "Nexamp will finance, construct, own, and operate the project. We plan to use local labor at prevailing wages for construction and ongoing maintenance and have already established relationships with local contractors." The projected timeline is to receive permit approvals by next May and begin construction next June with commercial operations to begin by June of 2025.
    Learn more at nexamp.com/naalehu-solar.

GABE MORALES, OF OCEAN VIEW, HAS RELEASED A BOOK OF POEMS AND DREAMS, focusing on places around the island and particularly on Kaʻū where he makes his home. Its title is Poems and Dreams of the Big Island of Hawai‘i.
    On local places, He writes "We call it Punalu'u. You may call it Black Sands. It is a very sacred place for that we raise our hands." In Your Hale, he writes, "If you build your Hale strong, It will Survive a hurricane. If you think way too hard, It can destroy a brain. Think things out but Go with your heart."
    On people he writes "You do not have to be blood to be ‘Ohana. ‘Ohana is the foundation of the meaning of life."
    In addition to places and people. Morales celebrates flora and fauna, describing a rooster like "a beautiful hibiscus flower." Popoki the cat "Plays like you are really important, Then stops and boringly yawns." The rescue dog is "the neighborhood Prince."
    His book of poems is available at  Lisa'a Gift & Garden Shop in Ocean View. Contact the author at gcmorales2002@yahoo.com.

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