Big Island Police Looking to Question Man Caught on Tape at Scene of Suspicious Fire

Hawaiʻi Island police want to question a man whose image was captured on a surveillance video at the scene of a suspicious fire.

arson suspectAt 6:10 a.m. Thursday (February 26), Kona Patrol officers responded to a report of a fire at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Captain Cook. When they arrived, firefighters were on the scene and the north rear entrance was fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and determined that it was deliberately set. Damages, estimated at more than $80,000, were limited to the north side of the building.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section are investigating the case as arson. They recovered a photograph from a surveillance video that shows a Caucasian man in his 50s who appears to be tall with a large build and who has light hair with a receding hairline and a mustache. He was wearing dark shorts, a long-sleeved shirt light in color, and rubber slippers.

Police ask anyone who knows the identity of the man in the photo or who has any information about the fire to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Sean Smith at 326-4646, extension 262, or ssmith@co.hawaii.hi.us, or Detective Walter Ah Mow at 326-4646, extension 238, or wahmow@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 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.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Continues to Accept Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Applications

Contrary to some reports, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are continuing to accept solar photovoltaic (PV) applications through the current net energy metering process, which includes a technical review for safety and reliability. The companies are also making significant progress clearing pending applications on circuits that already have very high amounts of solar.

Shaka For HELCOOverall, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light continue to lead the nation in rooftop PV. An estimated 12 percent of the utilities’ customers have rooftop solar system, compared with the national average of less than one percent.

These efforts are part of the companies’ commitment to meet three overarching energy commitments by 2030. These include:

  1. Nearly tripling the amount of distributed solar
  2. Achieving 65 percent renewable energy use
  3. Lowering customer bills by 20 percent

“We know rooftop PV is an important option for our customers. We are continuing to follow the current net energy metering process while the Public Utilities Commission considers our proposal to transition to a fairer, more sustainable program. It’s critical for our community that we increase solar in a way that maintains reliability and is safe and fair for all customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

A recent letter to some Hawaii Electric Light customers who submitted applications for projects in areas of Hawai‘i Island with high amounts of solar has been mischaracterized by a national solar group as an effort by the Hawaiian Electric Companies to stop all solar installations.

“We apologize for the confusion and want to assure our customers that we are continuing to process solar applications. We are reviewing our notification procedures to improve communication with our customers,” Alberts said.

Highlights of progress made

  • Earlier this week, Hawaiian Electric reported to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that it notified an additional 548 O‘ahu customers who have been waiting for their net energy metering applications to be processed. Hundreds more are now being approved.
  • This was the first large group of Oahu customers to be cleared from a backlog of 2,749 applications, all from neighborhoods with high existing amounts of PV as of last October. Hawaiian Electric has committed to clearing 90 percent of that backlog by April, with the remaining customers applications to be approved by the end of 2015.
  • In addition, Maui Electric approved 331 applications in neighborhoods with high amounts of solar, nearly clearing its entire backlog. Hawaii Electric Light had 336 applications under review in neighborhoods with high amounts of solar, and approvals have since begun.
  • Overall, more than 3,000 net energy metering applications have been approved since the beginning of the year across the five islands that the Hawaiian Electric Companies serve.

In January, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light proposed a new program that would support the continued growth of rooftop solar while ensuring equitable rates for all customers. The new transitional distributed generation program would help address the current growing cost shift for operating and maintaining electric grids from customers who have rooftop solar to customers who don’t. At the end of 2013, that cost shift was approximately $38 million. By the end of 2014, that subsidy borne by non-solar customers had grown to $53 million.

In conjunction with this transitional distributed generation program, the utilities expect to be able to help the growth of solar by more than doubling the threshold for neighborhood circuits to accept solar systems. This would eliminate in most of those cases the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

Public Workshops Scheduled For Input On Statewide Water Resource Protection Plan

The Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) is in the process of updating the statewide Water Resource Protection Plan (WRPP) and is seeking the community’s input on water resource issues of importance.

The purpose of the Water Resource Protection Plan is to establish policies and identify actions needed to ensure the long-term protection and sustainability of Hawaii’s precious and limited ground and surface water resources.

Commission staff will be holding seven workshops statewide starting next week, so people on each island may participate. All workshops are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will include a short slideshow about the Water Resource Protection Plan. This will be followed by smaller group discussions to talk in more detail about specific water resource issues in each community.

The meeting schedule locations and dates follow.

water meetings

For more information, visit the WRPP update website at  http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/cwrm/planning/hiwaterplan/wrpp/wrpp2014/