Hawaii Governor’s Statement on PUC Decision Regarding NextEra, HECO Merger

I want to thank the Public Utilities Commission and stakeholders for their participation in this historic process. This ruling gives us a chance to reset and refocus on our goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
Governor Ige Profile
The proceeding helped define the characteristics and parameters of Hawaii’s preferred energy future. We look forward to creating a process to find the best partner in the world.

No matter who owns the company, the energy vision for Hawai‘i remains very clear – 100 percent renewable energy with a ransformation to a customer-centered utility focusing on smart meters, smart grid, distributed local solutions, and as much consumer choice as possible.

— Governor David Ige

Gov. Ige Supports Foster Youth and Resource Caregivers with Bill Signing

During the 2016 legislative session, Department of Human Services (DHS) advocated alongside the community for two bills that expand the opportunities for young people to discover who they are through education and experiences, supported by people who care for them. On June 29, Governor David Ige signed into law these two pieces of legislation.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

In a bill signing ceremony, Gov. Ige first signed House Bill 2350 into law as Act 133. This law supports resource caregivers, giving them more discretion to allow youth to participate in activities that will help them grow, learn, and thrive. Additionally, Gov. Ige signed Senate Bill 2878 into law as Act 134. This law extends the application period for former foster youth to access higher education benefits to age 26 and supports Imua Kākou, helping ease the transition for foster youth to adulthood.

The two laws brought together the community, DHS, and the very young people whose lives are impacted by the bills to work with legislators and stress the importance of these supports. The legislature’s passage and governor’s signing of these laws demonstrate the power of these young people and our government’s commitment to supporting them. The two laws represent shared commitment across the community and the three State of Hawai‘i branches of government, which was displayed in each branch’s presence at the bill signing ceremony.

Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative Response to PUC Rejection of HECO-NextEra Deal

hiec statement“It’s been a long road these past two years for the people at Hawaiian Electric with a lot of hard work put into trying to close this deal. We have a great deal of respect for their efforts. As to why this transaction did not close, we leave the reading of those tea leaves to others. 

As far as HIEC, we will continue to maintain open and friendly communication with HEI management and contribute where we can to advocate for the best interests of the residents of the Big Island. We have said in our public filings on the docket that we believe exploring a cooperative alternative for Hawaii Island is in the best interests of our community, and we stand ready to begin that process at any time.”

–Statement attributed to Marco Mangelsdorf, HIEC Director & Spokesperson

P.S. Here’s a summary of the PUC’s decision and order


Media digest of this decision:
Honolulu Star-Advertiser – PUC rejects NextEra’s purchase of Hawaiian Electric
KHON 2 – PUC denies HECO-NextEra merger in 2-0 vote
Pacific Business News – Hi regulators shoot down $4.3B NextEra-HECO deal

Volcanoes National Park Offers More Tips On Viewing Lava

Visitors may hike and bicycle along the gravel emergency access route at the end of Chain of Craters Road to view and access lava as it flows down the Pūlama Pali and spreads out onto the coastal lava plain in the national park, and towards the ocean.

Visitors enjoying slow-flowing lava on the coastal flow field in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo.

Visitors enjoying slow-flowing lava on the coastal flow field in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo.

From Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the easiest vantage point to view this current eruptive activity is from a distance at the end of Chain of Craters Road. Visitors are encouraged to stop at the Coastal Ranger Station (CRS) to talk with park rangers, view eruption and hiking tip exhibits, and watch a four-minute lava safety video.  A public spotting scope is available to view the eruptive activity from a distance, as staffing allows. The park is open 24 hours a day.

Hiking to the lava from the park is allowed, but it’s not for everyone. From the CRS, it’s a long, hot, and grueling 10- to 12-mile roundtrip hike. Hikers can walk along the gravel emergency access route for about 3.8 miles, and then turn inland at a light beacon which marks the closest point to the active flow front, currently about a ½ mile from the route. The flow field is a rough hike, with deep earth cracks, uneven terrain, and razor-sharp lava from older flows.

Rangers placed another light beacon 4.8 miles down the emergency access route, about 50 yards inland from the road, as a suggested starting point for hikers from the Kalapana side. The county Kalapana Lava Viewing Area near the park’s eastern boundary also offers a vantage point of the current eruption, and is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Hikers are urged to be prepared, and to head out in daylight. There is no trail or marked route to the lava, which continues to flow and change daily. It is easy to become disoriented after dark. Each person needs about a gallon of water, sturdy closed-toe hiking shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions. Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Each person needs a flashlight and/or headlight with extra batteries.

“If you’re planning an excursion to the lava flows, go during daylight hours,” advised Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando, who hiked out across the lava plain earlier this week. “It’s still a long, tough hike, but the viewing has been excellent by day,” she said.

Experienced bicyclists can also use the emergency access route, but the loose gravel makes it a challenging ride for inexperienced riders. Cyclists are urged to ride during daylight hours only. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.

Orlando also reminds hikers to respect Hawaiian culture. Many native Hawaiians believe that lava is the kinolau, or physical embodiment, of volcano goddess Pele. Poking lava with sticks and other objects is disrespectful. It’s also illegal in national parks. Federal law prohibits “possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging or disturbing” natural and cultural resources (36 CFR § 2.1). Pets and unmanned aerial systems, or drones, are also prohibited on the flow field in the national park.

Volcanic gas is another hazard, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems, and infants, young children and pregnant women. If air irritates, smells bad or makes breathing difficult, visitors should leave the area.

Click to view USGS Video

Click to view USGS Video

Volcanoes are dynamic and ever-changing natural phenomena. The information provided can change at any time.

For hiking tips, visit the park website https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/Hiking-Tips.pdf. For the latest eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php. Monitor air quality at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.

2 Pilots Rescued From Downed Small Plane Off Kona

Survivors of a downed small plane were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard off Kona, Thursday, following a joint search involving the U.S. Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews.

Coast Guard and Hawaii Fire Department personnel stand with the mother of Sidney Uemoto following her daughter's rescue nine miles off Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016. Uemoto and David McMahon were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Coast Guard and Hawaii Fire Department personnel stand with the mother of Sidney Uemoto following her daughter’s rescue nine miles off Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016. Uemoto and David McMahon were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew hoisted the survivors at 11:35 a.m. about nine miles north of the Kona airport, a mile and half offshore. They were flown to the airport where they were met by awaiting emergency medical crews and treated for minor injuries.

The mother of Sidney Uemoto checks on her daughter following her daughter's rescue nine miles off Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016. Uemoto and David McMahon were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper/Released)

The mother of Sidney Uemoto checks on her daughter following her daughter’s rescue nine miles off Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016. Uemoto and David McMahon were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper/Released)

A commercial helicopter flying along the Kona coast sighted a debris field and reported it to the Coast Guard. One of the Dolphin crews was diverted to investigate and sighted the survivors. They vectored in a second Dolphin crew with a rescue swimmer aboard to conduct the hoist. The survivors were both wearing lifejackets and were swimming toward shore at the time.

Coast Guard crews safely deliver David McMahon and Sidney Uemoto to emergency medical personnel in Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016, following their rescue nine miles off Kona. They were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. They reportedly sustained only minor injures in the crash. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper/Released)

Coast Guard crews safely deliver David McMahon and Sidney Uemoto to emergency medical personnel in Kona, Hawaii, July 15, 2016, following their rescue nine miles off Kona. They were both rescued by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew following an expansive joint search by Navy, Royal New Zealand air force, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard crews. They reportedly sustained only minor injures in the crash. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper/Released)

Involved in the search were:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane crews and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Air Station Barbers Point
  • A Navy MH-60R helicopter crew from the USS Chung Hoon (DDG-93) and the crew of the ship
  • The USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349)
  • A Royal New Zealand air force P3K2 Orion airplane crew
  • HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from the 353rd Special Operations Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan

At 3:15 p.m. watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from Honolulu control facility personnel that the pilot of a dual engine aircraft with two people aboard radioed them reporting and in air emergency. The tower confirmed they then lost contact with the pilot and the plane no longer appeared on radar.

The plane was reportedly traveling to Kona from Oahu, not Maui as previously reported, with the last known position approximately 25 miles northwest of Kona. A Navy P3 Orion airplane was on approach to Kona and overheard the pilot’s call to the tower. The Orion crew initially diverted to investigate the report, but is not involved in the search.

Watchstanders immediately issued an urgent marine information broadcast advising mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to JRCC. They also directed the launch of assets to respond.

Me at the helm of USS Chung Hoon

Me at the helm of USS Chung Hoon

The Chung Hoon is homeported in Pearl Harbor. The Galveston Island is homeported in Honolulu. The Chung Hoon, Royal New Zealand air force and U.S. Air Force HC-130 are participating in RIMPAC 2016.

Hawaii Attorney General Opinion Supports Governors Appointment of New PUC Commisioner

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin opined today that the Hawaii Constitution authorized Governor David Ige to appoint Tom Gorak on an interim basis to the Public Utilities Commission after Commissioner Mike Champley’s term expired on June 30, 2016. Commissioner Gorak’s appointment lasts only until the full Senate considers it when the Legislature is back in session.

Tom Gormack

Tom Gorack

The opinion was prompted by a letter last week from Senate President Ronald Kouchi asking the attorney general to answer several questions regarding the Governor’s interim appointments authority, how it interacts with applicable state statutes, and whether previous attorney general opinions on related but distinct issues were still valid.

Senator Kouchi’s questions expanded on advice that was previously provided by the attorney general to Governor Ige on June 27, 2016 and to Senator Rosalyn Baker on June 30, 2016.

As noted in the opinion, the governor may fill vacancies in certain public offices under the interim appointments provision in article V, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution. That provision provides that “when the senate is not in session and a vacancy occurs in any office, appointment to which requires the confirmation of the senate, the governor may fill the office by granting a commission which shall expire, unless such appointment is confirmed, at the end of the next session of the senate.”

Today’s opinion only addresses interim appointments, not the Senate’s “advice and consent” role for appointments when the Senate is in session. Previous attorney general opinions in 1973 and 1980 addressed different issues from those raised regarding the PUC commissioner. Both of these have been superseded, at least in part, by intervening changes in the law.

By statute the attorney general provides opinions upon questions of law submitted by the governor, the state legislature or its members, or a state agency head.

Hepatitis A Infection in Taco Bell Employee

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a new case of hepatitis A infection in a food service employee. The employee worked at the fast food restaurant, Taco Bell, located in Waipio at 94-790 Ukee Street.

94-790 Ukee Street, Waipio, HI

94-790 Ukee Street, Waipio, HI

The department is advising persons who consumed any food or drink products from this store from June 16 through July 11, 2016 (actual dates: June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11) that they may have been exposed to the disease.

Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

“It is important to note that neither the Waikele Baskin-Robbins nor the Waipio Taco Bell have been identified as the source of infection for this outbreak,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “These are merely places where the victims were employed. The likelihood that patrons of these food establishments will become infected is very low, but to prevent possible additional cases, we are notifying the public so they may seek advice and help from their healthcare providers.”

Additional food service establishments may be affected as the number of cases continues to grow. Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. All food service employees should strictly adhere to good handwashing and food handling practices.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Victims of Attack in Nice, France

At the direction of the President of the United States, the national and state flags will be flown at half-staff at the State Capitol and upon all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard in the State of Hawai’i as a mark of respect for the victims of the attack in Nice, France.

half flag

The flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As a mark of respect for the victims of the attack perpetrated on July 14, 2016, in Nice, France, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, July 19, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thisfifteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA

Hokulea Arrives in Salem, Massachusetts

Hokulea, the legendary voyaging canoe from Hawaii, arrived in Salem before noon on Thursday, July 14. The canoe and her crew left Boston at around 6:30 a.m., where they spent four days interacting with local Native American communities, schools and maritime groups.

Salem3Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Salem Maritime National Historic Site Superintendent Paul DuPrey, and representatives from the Salem community welcomed Hokulea with a ceremony at Salem’s Central Wharf. The engagement highlighted the connection between Salem’s maritime community and Polynesian seafaring history.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Hawaii’s iconic voyaging canoe to Salem’s historic waterfront. We’re proud to be one of your global voyage ports in the midst of your multi-year circumnavigation of the globe to raise awareness of Polynesian maritime culture and ocean conservation,” said Driscoll. “Amazing, this vessel, and the trip that you’ve made. Courageous, I should say,” added Driscoll. During the arrival ceremony, the mayor presented the Hokulea crew with the official city seal.

During their stay at Salem, the crew plans to hold environmental and cultural education programs and offer canoe tours to the public. The public is encouraged to follow the Salem Maritime NHS event page and Hokulea on Facebook for scheduling updates and changes.

Pending weather and safety issues, Hokulea will be departing for Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Saturday morning. The Worldwide Voyage will continue to spread its Malama Honua message over the summer as it sails up the east coast to Maine.