Mayor Kenoi Unveils Geothermal Working Group Report

Hawai‘i Island is rich in resources to address our energy needs. All that is needed is cooperation and initiative to make the move to 100% renewable energy, agreed all the speakers at the unveiling of the Geothermal Working Group’s final report today at Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office.

“Hawai‘i County should aim and commit to being 100 percent renewable. Federal, state, county, community, we’re all in this together. We all recognize our commitment to our children and future generations and the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island.”

“Hawai‘i County should aim and commit to being 100 percent renewable,” Mayor Kenoi said. “Federal, state, county, community, we’re all in this together. We all recognize our commitment to our children and future generations and the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island.”

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At the urging of the Hawai‘i State Legislature – Sen. Gil Kahele and Rep. Mark Nakashima were present and gave remarks at the unveiling – Hawai‘i County convened the Geothermal Working Group to map assets, discuss, examine, and make proposals to maximize geothermal energy toward the goal of making Hawai‘i Island and the State of Hawai‘i the leaders in renewable energy.

“On this island we spend over a billion dollars every year to import oil for our energy needs here on the island,” said Wallace Ishibashi, co-chair of the Geothermal Working Group. “That money can stay right here to build a better community.”

The group’s mission was to evaluate geothermal energy as the primary source of baseload power on Hawai‘i Island – that is, power that is reliably generated at a constant level. Though all renewable energy technologies do and will continue to play a role in Hawai‘i’s energy future, many renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are not viable candidates to supply baseload power because of the fluctuating nature of their production.

Geothermal, however, has proven a very stable supply of power. Puna Geothermal Ventures’ 30 MW plant provides between 25 and 30% of the electricity on Hawai‘i Island. “When the sun doesn’t shine, when the wind doesn’t blow, geothermal is there,” Ishibashi said.

Power demand on Hawai‘i Island ranges between 90 and 185 MW. Geothermal power potential on Hawai‘i Island has been estimated at between 500 and 700 megawatts, according to the report.

The report recommends that government play a more active role in the facilitation of geothermal development with a review of the permitting process, regulatory capabilities, and possible investment incentives. The report also suggests establishing a community advisory board to guide the use of geothermal royalties paid by geothermal energy producers.

Under state law, royalties paid by Hawai‘i Island geothermal energy producers are shared amongst the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (50%), the County of Hawai‘i (30%), and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs (20%). The highest annual royalties to date were paid in 2009, a total of $3.1 million.

Mayor Kenoi spoke with Lt. Governor Brian Schatz shortly before the unveiling of the Working Group’s report, and he reported that both Governor Neil Abercrombie as well as the Lt. Governor reiterated their commitment to move forward, to remove barriers, to facilitate investment to maximize geothermal’s potential.

For a full copy of the report, click here: Geothermal Working Group Report

Supreme Court Rules Election Maps Unconstitutional… Big Island Will Gain Senate Seat Now

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The Big Island will now get another seat in the Senate:

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the new election maps for the state of Hawaii are unconstitutional.The court ordered the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission to draw up new maps that conform with state law….

Bay Clinic CEO Resigining to Become CEO of AlohaCare

Bay Clinic’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Strauss announced today that he will be resigning from his post and leaving Hawaii Island at the end of January. Strauss will serve as the new Chief Operating Officer for AlohaCare, Hawaii’s third-largest health plan administrator based in Honolulu.

Strauss joined Bay Clinic, Inc. in 2007 following a tumultuous time for the Hilo-based nonprofit. During his five year tenure as CEO, Strauss provided the instrumental guidance needed to stabilize and grow Bay Clinic’s infrastructure and care capacity.

According to Bay Clinic’s Board Chair Mike Gleason, Strauss helped bring focus to the vision and mission of Bay Clinic in meeting Hawaii Island’s need for affordable health care, enhancing service delivery and bolstering the organization’s financial position.

“We gladly credit our successes to Paul,” commented Gleason. “Thanks to his tireless, visionary leadership, Bay Clinic is stronger than ever. We are grateful for his service to the organization and to our patients. He will be missed. Fortunately, we are more prepared than ever to continue to grow to serve our community with a new CEO.”

Under the leadership of Strauss, Bay Clinic has grown from four to eight Family Health Center service sites, experienced a 29% increase in patients and a 46% increase in patient visits. He helped expand staffing from 95 in 2006 to 155 today. Strauss dedicated much of his time to nurturing relationships with academic partners and as a result, Bay Clinic now hosts over 200 interns each year. These internships provide valuable experience for pharmacists, nurses, counselors, social workers, dentists and physicians while simultaneously cultivating a new generation of health care workers dedicated to public health and community service.

Bay Clinic’s 10-member community-based Board of Directors is conducting a full search for the next CEO. “The board has already started the process,” reported Gleason. “We will conduct a thorough search for the right candidate to help Bay Clinic continue on in the direction inspired by Paul. The pursuit of excellence, care and compassion does not end here.”

True to form, Strauss is sparing no time and will begin his new role at AlohaCare immediately after his departure from Bay Clinic. He remarked that the decision to leave was a difficult one, influenced by a desire to help nurture the statewide healthcare delivery system for those most in need and to be closer to family on Oahu. As COO of AlohaCare, the health plan that serves Medicaid / Quest beneficiaries, Strauss will continue to work with Community Health Centers including Bay Clinic.

A farewell luncheon is being hosted by Bay Clinic staff on Thursday, January 12th at the Church of the Holy Cross in Hilo from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Those who wish to thank him for his service to our community are invited to attend. For more information, please contact Monica Adams at madams@bayclinic.org or call (808) 961-4080.

Big Island Police Seeking Hamakua Man Wanted in Connection with Sex Assault

Big Island police are requesting the public’s help in locating a 27-year-old Hāmākua man wanted for questioning in connection with a reported sexual assault of an adult female at a South Kohala public beach during the early morning hours of December 28.

Eagle Adam Tobin

Detectives are seeking Eagle Adam Tobin, last known to have lived in Waipio Valley and Honokaʻa town. He is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes, a medium build and a fair to lightly-tanned complexion.

Detectives with the Juvenile Aid Section—which is responsible for sexual assault investigations—are continuing this investigation.

Police ask that anyone with information on Tobin’s location call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential

Volcano Scientist Presents Two Talks About Kilauea’s Ongoing Eruptions

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s 1912–2012 Centennial—100 Years of Tracking Eruptions and Earthquakes

Matt Patrick, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will present two talks about Kīlauea Volcano in East Hawai‘i in the coming week.   The presentations are part of a series of HVO talks being held during Hawai`i Island’s 3rd annual Volcano Awareness Month in January 2012, and in celebration of HVO’s 100th anniversary.

An update on the active volcanic vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea will be the topic of Patrick’s talk on Tuesday, January 10.  This “After Dark in the Park” presentation will be held in the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at 7:00 p.m.  The talk is free, but Park entrance fees apply.

The vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater opened in March 2008.  Since then, the eruption has consisted of constant degassing, occasional explosive events, continuing ash emissions, and fluctuating lava lake activity within an open vent that has now grown to more than 430 feet wide.  Patrick will present an overview of this ongoing summit eruption and its current status.

Tracking Kīlauea’s ongoing eruptions will be the topic of Patrick’s second presentation, which will be at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Thursday, January 12, at 7:00 p.m.  This talk is free and open to the public.  It will be held in the University Classroom Building, Room 100, on the UH–Hilo main campus, 200 W. Kawili Street, in Hilo. A map of the campus is available online.

In addition to the summit eruption that began in March 2008, Kīlauea has been erupting essentially nonstop for the past 29 years at vents along the volcano’s east rift zone.  During those years, the volcanic activity has included erupting fissures, spectacular lava fountains, and numerous flows of ‘a‘ā and pāhoehoe lava.  Patrick will review these significant events and will describe how USGS scientists track Hawai‘i’s volcanic activity.

For more information about Patrick’s presentations, other Volcano Awareness Month programs, and HVO Centennial events, please visit the HVO website or call (808) 967-8844.