Banana Slug String Band Stops By Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale

The Banana Slug String Band is doing a Hawaii Tour and will be playing at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in Hilo this Thursday, February 12, 6:30-7:30pm.

Banana Slug String Band

The Banana Slug String Band is a group of lovable musicians, songwriters, and educators who blend music, theater, puppetry, and audience participation to create a lively learning environment. Their music is designed to inspire all ages, especially 5-12 year olds.

Suggested donation is $5 and there will also be a Chili Bowl Dinner from 5:00-6:00pm. Call 808.982.7701 for more info, or visit the band’s website to learn more:

Hawaii Electric Bills Are at a Four-Year Low

Customers of the Hawaiian Electric Companies are benefiting from lower electric bills due to lower fuel prices. Typical residential bills are at their lowest level in about 4 years.Shaka For HELCO“We are happy to pass these savings straight through to our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “At the same time, we’ve seen oil prices drop before, only to rise again. Today’s lower oil prices must not distract us from reducing our dependency on imported oil.

“We remain committed to reaching our goal of getting 65 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030,” he said.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies also continue working to reduce costs to customers through efficiency improvements and by pursuing cleaner, low-cost natural gas to replace oil while continuing to increase use of renewable energy.

* On Oahu, the residential effective rate is 27.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). A typical 600 kWh bill is $177.45, a decrease of $9.77 since last month, and the lowest since March 2011.

* Hawaii Island’s residential effective rate is 33.8 cents per kWh and a 600 kWh bill is $214.71; that is $12.49 lower than last month, and the lowest since October 2010.

* Maui’s effective rate is 31.5 cents per kWh and a typical 600 kWh bill is $198.78, $21.46 lower than last month and the lowest since February 2011.

Big Island Geothermal Plant Canned

Plans for a new geothermal plant on the Big Island of Hawaii has been canned.

Eastland Geothermal

Eastland Geothermal Plant in New Zealand

Eastland Group Ltd has pulled the plug on a potential $10 million investment in a project to build a geothermal power plant in Hawaii.

More than two years after the idea was first mooted, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd yesterday confirmed the company decided last month not to take the process any further…

…Eastland Group’s investment in building a 25MW plant on Hawaii’s Big Island would have been as a 20 percent partner, costing $5m-$10m, with Innovations Development Group (IDG) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Eastland Group had an investment option in the project through its relationship with Hawaii-based IDG in geothermal projects in eastern Bay of Plenty. In 2012, it wrote-off a $1.25m loan to IDG associated with this option.

Eastland Generation Ltd’s subsidiary company Eastland Hawaii Inc first made a bid to Hawaiian Electric Company (HELCO) to build the plant in 2013, with a decision expected to be made in September of that year.

Mr Todd said all costs associated with the work done in Hawaii were part of the company’s business development budget. Expenses, including the $1.25m loan to IDG, would not be recovered.

Eastland Group subsidiary Eastland Generation already runs a 8.5MW geothermal plant near Kawerau.

The decision to pull out of the Hawaii deal will not affect plans for a second power plant at Kawerau, or the company’s relationship with IDG, said Mr Todd.

Last year the company received consent for Eastland Generation’s Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project to go ahead, with plans to build a 15MW to 20MW plant.

Mr Todd said that project was still a partnership between Eastland Generation, Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust and IDG.

“Eastland Generation holds the majority interest in Te Ahi O Maui, with its partners each holding a minority position. The relationship hasn’t changed.

“The Te Ahi O Maui project is progressing as planned, with resource consents now in place for 15,000 tonnes a day of geothermal fluid for a 35-year period. The consents allow for the design and construction of a sustainable geothermal power plant on a site 2.3km north-east of Kawerau.”

Full story here Hawaii Plan Canned.

New Study Looks at How People Cope with Vog

A new study to examine how people who live downwind of Kīlauea Volcano cope with volcanic gas emissions, or vog, is currently underway.


Photo by Dr Claire Horwell


Led by Dr. Claire Horwell, Director of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network and a researcher at Durham University in the United Kingdom, the study is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It will reach across multiple agencies, organizations, and communities in the State of Hawaii to help ensure that official advice about living with vog incorporates a wide range of experiences and knowledge.

Vog, the pollution formed from acidic gases and particles released by active volcanoes, is composed primarily of sulfur dioxide gas and its oxidation products, such as sulfate aerosol.  Sulfur dioxide from Kīlauea, now in its 33rd year of nearly continuous eruption, results in vog that continues to challenge communities, agriculture and infrastructure on the Island of Hawai‘i, as well as across the State.

Communities downwind from Kīlauea’s active vents frequently experience vog as a visible haze or as a sulfurous smell or taste. People exposed to vog report a variety of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, sore throats, and headaches. The Hawaii State Department of Health and the American Lung Association offer advice on vog protection measures, such as staying indoors and limiting physical activity when vog levels are high.

According to Dr. Horwell, she is investigating how Hawai‘i communities use this advice and if they have developed their own strategies for protecting themselves from vog.  “We’re working with State and county agencies with the end goal of providing consistent online advice, an informative pamphlet on vog exposure and protection, and updated guidance on how to access resources about vog,” she said.

Knowledge gained from the study in Hawaii, which has been funded by the British Council, under the Researcher Links initiative, will also be relevant internationally, not only in volcanically active regions but also farther afield, as volcanic gases can travel downwind for many miles.  For example, UK government agencies can draw on the Hawaii study as they prepare for the potential effects of future Icelandic eruptions.

Outcomes of the vog study will eventually be available online through the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network.  IVHHN serves as a clearing house for information on the health impacts of volcanic eruptions and provides detailed information on volcanic gas and particle impacts.

Dr. Horwell is currently meeting with community and agency focus groups on the Island of Hawai’i and, in the coming weeks, will conduct surveys in a number of communities regularly affected by vog, including Volcano, Pāhala, Ocean View and South Kona.

Hawai‘i residents are encouraged to record how they cope with vog on the ‘Vog Talk’ Facebook page established by Dr. Horwell.

Information on when and where community surveys will be conducted between now and the end of March is available on the ‘Vog Talk’ Facebook page or by calling 808-967-8809.

For more information about Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions, please visit the USGS HVO’s website. Answers to “Frequently Asked Questions about SO2and Vog” are available online.

Missing – Duane Mathew Truax

A California father is looking for his son who was last known to be homeless in the Pahoa area of the Big Island.

Duane Mathew Truax

Duane Mathew Truax

Duane Mathew Truax, 35, last made contact with his family in California on October 6th 2014.

If you have any information, please contact his father Wayne at (559) 905-9805 or the Clovis California Police Department, Officer Sobel (559) 324-2400 (Ref: 2015-6946)