Legislators, Unions Gather in Support of Hu Honua

More than 30 Hawaii Island officials in government and labor gathered this morning at Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) in Pepeekeo for a briefing on the biomass project’s status.
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Hu Honua spokesperson Harold “Rob” Robinson said yesterday’s filing with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requests that the regulatory body conduct a technical review of the actions surrounding Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) termination of the power purchase agreement (PPA).
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Robinson, a member of Hu Honua’s board of managers, and president of Island Bioenergy, the parent of HHB, said for more than a year, HELCO delayed meaningful response to Hu Honua’s repeated requests for milestone extensions and reduced pricing proposals.
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“We have provided the utility with a pricing proposal that significantly reduces HELCO’s costs,” said Robinson. “More importantly, we believe Hu Honua will provide a hedge against rising oil prices, which have historically whipsawed Hawaii Island consumers.”

Hu Honua has invested $137 million to date in the biomass-to-energy facility and has secured an additional $125 million to complete the project. All that’s needed is an extension of the PPA, which Robinson said, we are trying to negotiate with HELCO but are concerned they are stalling a decision.

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“The public should know that despite what HELCO claims, Hu Honua’s proposals will deliver value to ratepayers,” said Robinson. “Our project will have more than 200 workers on site during construction. After completion, the community will benefit from more than 180 new jobs and the formation of an invigorated forestry industry. There will also be environmental benefits when old HELCO power plants are deactivated and replaced with renewable energy from Hu Honua in 2017.”

During the conference, various government officials expressed support for the project and welcomed the creation of additional jobs and industry for Hawaii Island. Many were hopeful that the utility would work with Hu Honua to amend its PPA.

Valerie Poindexter, Hawaii County councilmember for the district, talked about growing up in a sugar plantation camp and the demise of the island’s sugar industry. “Hu Honua would revitalize the culture and lifestyle of the sugar days, and create jobs so people don’t have to travel so far to work.”

State Senator Kaialii Kahele touched on the importance of energy security. “If a catastrophic event happens on the West Coast, we’re stuck because we are out here in the middle Pacific, heavily reliant on fossil fuels and food imports. We must come up with creative solutions to address those issues,” said Kahele. He stressed that while he welcomed mainland investment, any and all development must be done the pono way, and commended Hu Honua’s new collaborative, collective style of leadership.
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Hawaii County Councilmember Dennis Onishi said Hu Honua would help reduce energy costs and put more renewable energy on the grid. Onishi suggested starting a dialogue between the County and Hu Honua to explore the possibility of processing green waste streams to divert what’s going to landfills.

Robinson explained that significant investment made in emissions control equipment, including a new turbine generator, will result in increased efficiencies, generating capacity and cleaner emissions.

Following the event, Robinson addressed a statement issued by Hawaii Electric Light Company that criticized Hu Honua. “The utility’s reference to the cost of the project is a smokescreen. When a utility builds a power plant, that cost is passed to ratepayers. This is not the case for us. We decided to invest in increasing generation capacity from 21 to 36 megawatts, but that has no impact on the price to consumers or the ratepayer. The financial risk of the project cost is ours,” he said.

Click to view Affidavit

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New Imported Case of Dengue Fever Reported on the Big Island of Hawaii

This is a Civil Defense Message. This is a dengue information update for Friday, May 20, 2016.

Mosquito BiteThe State Department of Health has identified a single imported case of dengue on Hawaii Island. Vector control crews have treated the person’s residence and adjacent properties today.

Again, this is a single imported case. There is no evidence to indicate a local transmission has occurred. There have been no reported dengue cases attributed to local transmission since March. Imported cases occur from time to time and remind all of us to always be vigilant and fight the bite.

As the summer approaches and more travel is anticipated, the public is reminded that the most effective method to reduce the spread of dengue or other mosquito borne illnesses is for everyone to avoid and prevent mosquito bites. Fight The Bite by wearing clothing that minimizes exposed skin, using mosquito repellent, and avoiding activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest. If feeling ill and unsure if you may have dengue, remain indoors to avoid getting bitten and infecting mosquitoes and contact your health care provider.

For information on dengue, visit health.hawaii.gov or call the Department of Health at 974-6001.

Hawaii Department of Health Issues Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses – Posts Merit-Based Scores for Licensees

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) began issuing licenses today for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

Medical MarijuanaThe eight selected licensees have completed the full payment of licensing fees and were given the option of picking up their license or having it delivered by certified mail.

Licensees were selected based on the scoring of 13 merit criteria. The total scores used in the selection of each licensee are provided below and will be posted today at health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/latest-updates-and-news/.

City & County of Honolulu Score
Aloha Green Holdings Inc. 475
Manoa Botanicals LLC 470
TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu 470
Hawaii County
Hawaiian Ethos LLC 480
Lau Ola LLC 471.5
Maui County
Maui Wellness Group, LLC 510
Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC 470
Kauai County
Green Aloha, Ltd. 433

DOH is in the process of notifying in writing all unselected applicants of their total score and ranking for their respective group. After all unselected applicants confirm receipt of their written notification from the department, the total scores of all applicants will be posted on the medical marijuana dispensary website.

For more information and updates from the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program go to health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/ and select “News & Updates.” Questions about the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Programs may be emailed to medmarijuana.dispensary@doh.hawaii.gov.

Police Arrest 15-Year-Old After Threatening Notes Found at Waiakea High School

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with threatening notes left at Waiākea High School in Hilo.

Multiple notes threatening violence were left on bathroom walls sometime between 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. Thursday.
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At 9 a.m. Friday, police arrested the suspect at the school. Because he is a minor, no additional details are available about his identity.

He is being held at the South Hilo police station while detectives from the Area I Juvenile Aid Section continue the investigation.