Kīlauea’s Summit Lava Lake on the Rise Again

During recent summit deflation, the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater dropped out of view of overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

But since the switch to inflation early Sunday morning (September 18), Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake has been rising again, bringing the lake surface back into view. This morning the lake level was measured at 12 m (39 ft) below the vent rim, with sporadic spattering visible from the Park’s Jaggar Museum Overlook.

Click to enlarge

This telephoto image provides a closer view of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and spattering on the lake surface. Click to enlarge

This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, the crater wall of Halemaʻumaʻu behind the eruptive vent is about 85 m (~280 ft) high.

This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, the crater wall of Halemaʻumaʻu behind the eruptive vent is about 85 m (~280 ft) high.

Big Island Church Burglarized

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking the public for help with information about a burglary at a church on Kupulau Road in Hilo.
new-hope-hilo-sign

Sometime between 11:00 a.m Sunday (September 18) and 7:00 a.m. Monday (September 19), unknown persons broke into the New Hope Christian Fellowship and removed miscellaneous tools and equipment.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to contact Officer Lisa Ebesugawa or Officer Chuck Cobile at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Iconic Hawaiian Bird Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

In response to a 2010 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protection for the ‘i‘iwi as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This bird, a bright-scarlet, nectar-feeding Hawaiian honeycreeper, was once widespread across all of the main Hawaiian Islands, but is now primarily found at higher elevations on East Maui and the island of Hawaii. The number one threat facing the species is climate change, which is driving the spread of highly lethal mosquito-borne diseases.

The ‘i‘iwi. (Photo by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity.)

The ‘i‘iwi. (Photo by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity.)

“The ‘i‘iwi is a spectacular, iconic Hawaiian bird that desperately needs Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” said the Center’s Loyal Mehrhoff. “But the good news is that if we protect it, it has a good shot at dodging extinction. A recent study by the Center found that the majority of U.S. birds with endangered species protection are improving.”

The ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea, also known asVestiaria coccinea) is a medium-sized honeycreeper that lives in native forests of ohia and koa. It is one of more than 50 species of honeycreepers that evolved, in a spectacular example of adaptive radiation, from a single finch-like bird that colonized Hawaii 2.5 million to 4 million years ago. Two out of three Hawaiian honeycreepers are now extinct, and most of the remaining honeycreepers are either already listed as threatened or endangered, or are declining. The ‘i‘iwi has seen a 92 percent decline on Kauai in the past 25 years and a 34 percent decline on Maui. As temperatures increase with global warming, so does the spread of introduced mosquito-borne diseases like avian malaria — which is almost 100 percent fatal to the bird.

“Protected areas that we once thought could save the ‘i‘iwi are now expected to be uninhabitable in the future because of the expanding range of mosquitoes and malaria,” said Mehrhoff. “So it’s crucial for the ‘i‘iwi to get the help it needs to avoid extinction and recover. This will require removing or greatly reducing the threat from introduced mosquito-borne diseases, as well as restoring and protecting native Hawaiian forests.”

Dept. of Education Reminds Parents to Secure Vehicles in School Parking Lots

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reminds parents to always secure their vehicles in school parking lots to prevent thefts.  Five vehicle break-ins using similar methods of entry have occurred at East Oahu public schools in September during after-school hours.  In each case, vehicle windows were broken and small items inside were stolen, including purses, bags, cell phones and laptop computers.

break-in

“Parents are reminded to be vigilant and always remove valuables or hide them from direct sight,”said HIDOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz.  “Although there is normally lots of activity on campuses during afterschool hours, such crimes of opportunity can take place in seconds, especially when valuables are left in plain sight.”

Parents can take actions to make their vehicle less attractive to property theft, including avoiding leaving valuables inside in open view, locking valuables in the trunk and installing anti-theft alarm systems.  Bags, such as backpacks and shopping bags, may be seen as a carrier of valuables by thieves and should be hidden from view.

Hawaii Electric Bills to Increase – Company Cites Albizia Trees and System Upgrades for Increase

Company cites costs of albizia clearing, system upgrades

Hawaii Electric Light proposed the first increase of base rates in nearly six years to help pay for operating costs, including expanded vegetation management focusing on albizia tree removal, as well as system upgrades to increase reliability, improve customer service and integrate more renewable energy.

The request is for a 6.5 percent increase in revenues, or $19.3 million.

Rate reviews are required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) every three years.

If approved, a typical residential bill for 500 kilowatt hours on Hawaii Island would increase by $9.31 a month to $171.16. The proposed rate change will be reviewed by regulators and would likely not take effect until the summer of 2017 at the earliest.

Thanks to lower fuel prices, bills reflecting the new rates, if approved today, would still be lower than a year ago.

In 2013, with PUC approval, Hawaii Electric Light withdrew its request to increase base rates, leaving in place the same base rates established in 2010.

As part of the current review, Hawaii Electric Light is proposing benchmarks to measure its performance in key areas, such as customer service, reliability and communication for the rooftop solar interconnection process and to link certain revenues to that performance.

$14M spent clearing albizia since 2014

Among the increased operating costs driving the rate change is an extensive vegetation management and tree removal initiative.

albizia

The threat from invasive albizia trees toppling in high winds became clear after Tropical Storm Iselle in 2014 and led the company to triple its annual spending on vegetation management. Since 2014, Hawaii Electric Light has spent $14 million on tree trimming and removal, concentrating on areas where falling albizias threaten utility equipment and highways.

The tree removal program, which is continuing, reduced the impacts of the recent tropical storms Darby and Madeline on roads and power lines, resulting in fewer outages and faster power restoration.

Investments in customer service pay off

Hawaii Electric Light has also spent more than $14 million over the past six years improving customer service systems, developing technical solutions to integrate more private rooftop solar, replacing and upgrading equipment to improve efficiency and reliability and developing detailed plans to achieve the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The company has absorbed a large portion of these increased costs in the years between rate cases without passing them on to customers.

Investments in more customer service staffing and new technology have resulted in significantly improved service, including reduced call-waiting times. The percentage of customer calls answered within 30 seconds went from 33 percent in 2010 to 93 percent in 2015. And in surveys of customers who called in to stop, start or change electric service in 2015, 94 percent said they were satisfied with the experience.

Renewable energy use grows to 49%, highest in state

Hawaii Electric Light has increased its use of renewable energy from 35 percent in 2010 to 49 percent today, using wind, hydroelectricity, solar and geothermal to replace oil imported to generate electricity. The company reduced its use of oil by 13 percent over the same period. Part of the proposed rate adjustment will help pay for continued improvements to the power grid to help integrate even more renewable resources while improving reliability.

By the end of 2016, Hawaii Electric Light will have made more than $290 million in capital investments over the past six years, including replacing and upgrading transmission lines in West Hawaii; modernizing generation equipment to increase efficiency; increasing grid capacity and system reliability; and adding or replacing lines and transformers as well as more than 4,500 poles for new and expanded service.

Hawaii Electric Light has “decoupled” rates – a regulatory model that periodically adjusts rates to remove the company’s need to increase sales to recover a level of PUC-approved costs for providing service to all customers. The company is required to submit full rate cases every three years for an updated review by the PUC of the current costs of service.

Hawaii Health Centers to Receive $753K for IT Enhancements

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced today that 14 Hawaiʻi Health Centers will receive a total of $753,064 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health information technology (IT) enhancements. The funding is part of more than $87 million provided by HHS to 1,310 health centers in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. The funding will support health IT enhancements to accelerate health centers’ transition to value-based models of care, improve efforts to share and use information to support better decisions, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation. This is the first significant investment directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health IT since 2009.

health-center“Health centers across Hawaiʻi provide high-quality health and wellness services that our communities depend upon. Yet, in Hawaiʻi and in states across the country, remote locations, lack of funding, and staff shortages make it difficult to keep up with rapidly changing healthcare technology,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Investing in our local health centers will increase information sharing, improve electronic healthcare record systems, and expand access to comprehensive, quality care for people in every county across the state.”

The following organizations are the Hawaiʻi recipients of the HHS health IT enhancement funds:

  • Hilo – $66,682 for the Bay Clinic
  • Wailuku – $52,900 for the Community Clinic of Maui
  • Honokaʻa – $46,535 for the Hamakua Health Center
  • Hana – $42,428 for the Hana Community Health Center
  • Līhuʻe – $46,320 for Hoʻola Lahui Hawaiʻi
  • Honolulu – $73,739 for the Kalihi-Palama Health Center
  • Honolulu – $54,075 for Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
  • Kahuku – $48,198 for the Koʻolauloa Community Health and Wellness Center
  • Lanaʻi City – $41,749 for the Lanaʻi Community Health Center
  • Kaunakakai – $42,884 for Molokaʻi Ohana Health Care
  • Waiʻanae – $81,237 for the Waiʻanae District Comprehensive Health and Hospital Board
  • Honolulu – $55,087 for the Waikiki Health Center
  • Waimānalo – $46,056 for the Waimānalo Health Center
  • Kailua-Kona – $55,174 for the West Hawaiʻi CommunityHealthCenter

For a list of all fiscal year 2016 Delivery System Health Information Investment Awards recipients, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/dshii/fy2016awards/index.html

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html

To find a health center in your area, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/