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Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

The Governor’s Office in West Hawai‘i Presents:  Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum on Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6-8 p.m. Doors Open at 5:30 p.m Hawai‘i Community College, Palamanui Campus located at 73-4225 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room 127

Little fire and and queen ant.

Little fire and and queen ant.

With presenters from: Hawai‘i Ant Lab, State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, County of Hawai‘i  Department of Research and Development.

Little Fire Ants, one of the most detrimental invasive species in Hawai‘i, threaten agriculture, native ecosystems, animals, and people. Come learn how you can prevent and control this pest.


Hokulea on Display at Virginia’s Mariner’s Museum as Crew Conducts Vital Maintenance Work in Preparation for Journey Home

Legendary voyaging canoe, Hokulea, is currently in dry dock at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia to undergo her last major maintenance of the World Wide Voyage.  This process brings her out of the water for about three weeks to undergo routine inspection and maintenance. During the dry dock period, visitors at the Mariner’s Museum are able to see the iconic sailing vessel while her crew completes their work. In conjunction with Hokulea’s visit, the museum is holding a new exhibition called Polynesian Voyagers, which celebrates the Malama Honua message and voyaging heritage of Polynesian wayfinding.
“This is an educational opportunity to display Hokulea’s beauty and history to an audience unfamiliar with the complexities and skills of Polynesian navigation,” said Nainoa Thompson, President of Polynesian Voyaging Society. “It also allows us time to take necessary care of our seafaring home, our canoe.”
hokulea-drydockHokulea’s last dry dock was in Cape Town, South Africa; the process includes varnishing, repainting or repairing parts of the canoe. At the museum, the crew is working on sealing and replacing parts such as the canoe’s main steering blade.
“It’s so important for any vessel to be examined and refurbished out of the water,” said Bruce Blankenfeld, Pwo navigator overseeing the dry dock procedures. “But especially for Hokulea, as she journeys an unprecedented expedition that even motorized vessels don’t attempt.”
hokulea-drydock2Hokulea will remain at the museum until early November, when she will leave Virginia to embark on the last legs of her journey around the world before arriving home in June 2017. To help ensure Hokulea is safe, seaworthy and beautiful for the thousands of nautical miles that lay ahead, supporters can help fund the 2016 dry dock efforts at Hokulea.com/give.

Explosions at Volcano Summit – More Reminders Why Halemaʻumaʻu Crater Area is Closed

Two explosions in as many days were triggered by rocks falling into Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake.

hvo-102116The event shown above occurred around 12:26 p.m., HST, yesterday (Thursday, October 20). The other explosion happened around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19. Both events are reminders why the area around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains closed to the public.

hvo-102116aYesterday’s explosion, triggered by a rockfall from the south-southeast wall of the summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, blasted spatter (molten lava) and rock fragments on to the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, as well as on to the closed section of Crater Rim Drive, about a quarter-mile from the vent.

hvo-102116bFollowing yesterday’s explosion, spatter (bit of molten lava) and fragments of solid rock littered this closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This section of the road, adjacent to the former Halemaʻumaʻu Crater parking area, has been closed since 2008 due to elevated sulfur dioxide emissions and other ongoing volcanic hazards, such as today’s rockfall-triggered explosion.

hvo-102116cSpatter and “ribbon bombs” (stretched fragments of molten lava) up to 30 cm (about 12 inches) long fell to the ground surface on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the two most recent explosions from Kīlauea’s summit lava lake. The black, glassy lava fragment shown here, about the size of a standard donut, landed amidst smaller, solid pieces of rock blasted from the vent.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A close-up of spatter and rock fragments blasted from the summit vent during the recent explosions.


These pieces of rock and lava, now scattered among the Pele’s hair that blankets the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, remind us of the hazards that still exist in this area.


Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

international-space-stationIt will be visible beginning tonight, Friday, October 21 at 6:41 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 75 degrees. It will appear 10 degrees above the Northwest part of the sky and disappear 12 degrees above the Southeast part of the sky.

Hawaii First Becomes First Blue Zones Approved Worksite in Hawaii County

Hawaii First Federal Credit Union has been approved as a Blue Zones Project Worksite, an initiative to creating a healthier, happier and more purpose-driven work environment. Hawaii First joins the Blue Zones Project, sponsored by Hawaii Medical Services Association, to take a systematic approach to community transformation.

blue-zonesHawaii First becomes the first financial institution to be Blue Zones approved in the state of Hawaii. The 60-year-old credit union is also the first Blue Zones approved worksite in Hawaii County.

The Blue Zones Project was first introduced to Hawaii in 2013. The Blue Zones principles are at work in cities and communities in seven states. The initiative is based on nine evidence-based common denominators of communities across the globe where people happily live the longest.

For Hawaii First, the goals for improving well-being includes reducing healthcare costs, lowering absenteeism and improving productivity. By promoting better lifestyle principles, the credit union says better retention and a more engaged, focused and happy workforce will ultimately lead to happier members.

“Our world – what we do every day –  is about putting people first,” said Hawaii First President and chief executive Laura Aguirre. “The Blue Zones Project is a movement among movements that provides the tools and resources to support healthier choices. We fully embrace making Hawaii a Blue Zone where our residents live longer, happier, healthier lives.”

Within two branches, Hawaii First employs 21 full-time and three part-time employees. The credit union serves 7,756 members on the Island of Hawaii.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Offer Customers a Lower-Cost Daytime Option With Time-of-Use Rates

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are offering an optional Time-of-Use rate program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

Developed under the direction of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, these rates encourage customers to use electricity when solar power is abundant and enable cost-effective integration of renewable energy.

This program will provide customers with an opportunity to save money if they shift their energy use to daytime hours. For example, customers who do laundry, cook, or heat water during the day may be able to save. Customers who charge electric vehicles or energy storage systems in the day may also benefit. The amount of any savings will depend on how much a customer changes their usage. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

Here’s how the rates will compare with current residential rates for October 2016 (all prices in cents per kilowatt-hour):


As directed by the PUC, this program will run for two years and these rates are only for residential customers. Participation will be voluntary and limited to the first 5,000 customers who enroll.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the normal residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program at any time if they feel it isn’t the right fit for them.

To enroll or for more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/timeofuse or call:

  • Oahu: (808) 548-7311
  • Maui: (808) 871-9777
  • Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461
  • Hilo: (808) 969-6999
  • Kona: (808) 329-3584
  • Waimea: (808) 885-4605

Temple Children Brings Global Artists, Public Art to Hilo

This week, seven globally renowned artists are on Hawai‘i Island to paint large-scale, sustainability-themed murals throughout Downtown Hilo.
The concerted effort to beautify and revitalize the community is the third public art activation of its kind driven by Temple Children, an arts and sustainability organization that coordinates projects to strengthen communities, promote social and environmental innovation, and incite positive global change.
The public and media are invited to drop by the following locations between Wednesday, October 19 and Saturday, October 21, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to view artists paint live:

  • Hilo Backpacker’s Hostel on Waianuenue Ave // Artists: Rick Hayward and Emily Devers (Brisbane, Australia)
  • Agasa Furniture Store on Ponahawai St // Artist: Yoskay Yamamoto (Toba, Japan)
  • Downtown KTA Super Stores on Keawe St // Artist: Kai Kaulukukui (Puna, Hawai‘i)
  • Former Ebesugawa Flower Shop on Furneaux Ln // Artist: Jet Martinez (Oakland, California)
  • Hana Hou Hilo on Bayfront // Artist: Brandy Serikaku (Hilo, Hawai‘i)
  • Nikisa Properties Building on Ponahawai + Kinoole // Artist: Sam Yong (Auckland, New Zealand)

The public art and sustainability project is made possible with financial support from Novo Painting (Cole and Lisa Palea), OluKai, K. Taniguchi, Ltd., Hana Hou Hilo, Agasa Furniture Store and PUEO.

HPM Building Supply donated Pratt & Lambert paint; ladders and lifts supplied by Takamine Construction; and artist meals donated by Sweet Cane Café, Aloha Mondays and Loved by the Sun. Additional local donations were provided by Moon and Turtle, Big Island Booch, OK Farms, The Locavore Store, Island Naturals and Shark’s Coffee. Onsite support and keiki volunteers provided by Circle of Life Hilo’s Leandra Keuma and local artist Kathleen Kam.
Aside from painting, artists participated in a lo‘i restoration workday in Waipi‘o Valley organized by local non-profit Pōhāhā I Ka Lani. To round out the artists’ stay, Kilauea EcoGuides will lead an educational hike to the lava flow prior to artists’ departure.

The October project is led by Temple Children founders, Miya Tsukazaki and David “MEGGS” Hooke, and Regional Director Ashley Kierkiewicz. It is being documented by Cory S. Martin, a freelance cinematographer, director and editor based in Buffalo, New York.

The murals are expected to be complete by Sunday, October 23.

Rescued Newell’s Shearwater Chick Heads To Sea – Miracle Bird Highlights Extraordinary Recovery Effort

At the Nihoku predator-proof enclosure at the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, it was designated Newell’s Shearwater (‘A‘o) Chick #8.  On Sunday evening this healthy chick left its manmade burrow and headed out to sea; one of eight young birds that had been translocated to Nihoku as part of an extraordinary effort to save Hawai‘i’s endemic seabirds from extinction.

newells-shearwater-chick“This particular chick holds a special place in our hearts because it was rescued from one of the upper montane colonies after being found lost, alone, and hungry on a trial in the Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve in August,” explained Dr. Andre Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP). “If the chick had been left by itself in the colony it would have surely died, so it’s great to see it now flying safely out to sea as a strong and healthy fledgling.”

It was the first time KESRP team members have encountered a live chick out in the open. Typically the only reason why they are found outside of their burrows is because they have been attacked and eaten by predators, including rats and feral cats.

Initially, #8 was flown by KESRP to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) program at the Kaua‘i Humane Society, where Tracy Anderson, SOS program coordinator and her staff gave it fluids and food. Ultimately it was translocated to the Nihoku enclosure, where over the course of the past month it continued getting daily feedings and health checks. “I’m glad that we could give him a second chance and that he might be one of the founders of this new colony of Newell’s Shearwaters”.

Robby Kohley of Pacific Rim Conservation (PRC) is one of the team members responsible for the daily care of this chick.  He said, “It’s one of those lucky things that the colony monitoring team people found this little chick.  It acclimated to its burrow well and its weight and wing cord (wing length) steadily increased, so it’s a nice team effort. There are so many birds that don’t make it; the fact that they were able to rescue this bird is pretty exciting. It is a bit of a miracle and a bright spot.

Adding to the bright spots is the fledging of 4 other Newell’s Shearwaters translocated to the Nihoku enclosure from burrows deep in Kaua‘i’s mountain forests in September. The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its Hawai‘i partners conducted the first ever translocation of endangered Newell’s Shearwaters in an effort to establish a protected breeding colony at the national wildlife refuge.

Dr. Lindsay Young, project coordinator with PRC explained, “Team members removed seven, large, healthy chicks from their mountain burrows by hand.  Once they arrived at Nihoku their growth was carefully monitored and they were hand fed daily, a slurry of fish and squid.  Once they were big enough, their caretakers opened their burrows to allow them to depart when the time came.”

Newell’s Shearwater chicks imprint on their birth colony location, once they emerge from their burrows, and as adults will return to breed at the same colony. Since the chicks were removed from their natural burrows before the critical imprinting stage, it’s hoped they’ll imprint on the artificial burrows and return to the predator-proof colony as adults in three to five years.

Hannah Nevins, director of ABC’s Seabird Program said, “The new colony will be the only fully protected colony of this species anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands. It’s an enormous step toward recovering this rare seabird and we hope it marks a turning point in the downward trend for this species.  The future of the Newell’s Shearwater on Kaua‘i is dependent on multiple actions, from colony protection in the mountains to creating new predator-free colonies with fences, and continuing to mitigate light and collision impacts.”

Dr. Young concluded, “We are very excited to have accomplished a major recovery objective for one of Hawaii’s endemic seabird species.  What we learn from this project will be crucial in implementing what we hope will be many more projects like this on Kaua‘i and across the state.”

The recovery team has a year’s worth of experience under its belt, having translocated endangered Hawaiian Petrels to the nearly eight acre Nihoku enclosure a year ago.  Those birds fledged successfully last year and next week a new group of Hawaiian Petrels will be removed from their mountain burrows and flown to the enclosure.

Hawaii Department of Health Cites Companies for HI-5 Violations

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has issued Notices of Violation and Order against six companies for failure to submit payments and reports required of beverage distributors by the State’s Deposit Beverage Container law.

hi-5The companies were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 2016 and each company was fined an administrative penalty fee of $400 for failure to comply with deposit container requirements. Each company may request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty.

The companies cited were:

  • Arakaki Store, Inc.
  • Hawaiian Fresh Farm dba Culture Brew
  • La Hiki Ola
  • Williams-Sonoma
  • World of Aahs!
  • World Pac, Inc.

Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit semi-annual distributor reports and payments to DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period. DOH conducts regular inspections of beverage distributors and certified redemption centers to ensure compliance with Hawai‘i laws. The companies received multiple written notices informing them of reporting requirements prior to the issuance of a penalty.

Coast Guard Continues Search for Missing Big Island Man

Responders are continuing the search for Charles Locklar, 26, near Lapakahi State Park, Big Island, Monday.

  • Crews currently engaged in the search are:
    HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Crews of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu and USCGC Kiska (WPB-1336) from Big Island
  • A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Maui
  • A Navy MH-60 helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
  • Air and surface assets with divers from the Big Island Fire Department
  • Weather in the area is reported as 27 mph winds with waves at 6 feet.

Locklar was last seen swimming toward shore with his uncle after their 10-foot skiff reportedly capsized due to high winds approximately a half mile offshore, Saturday.

Charles Locklar

Charles Locklar

An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast has been issued alerting mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center.

locklar-rescue-areaAnyone with information that may help locate Locklar is asked to contact the Sector Honolulu command center at 808-842-2600.

Bay Restoration Supported by Hawaiian Electric Grant

Malama Maunalua was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Hawaiian Electric Companies to support critical conservation projects in Maunalua Bay. The grant was presented by Sean Moura, Hawaiian Electric’s wildlife biologist and an environmental scientist in the company’s Environmental Department, during a community workday at the Bay.

malama-maunalua“This award from the Hawaiian Electric Companies is an important investment in the restoration of Maunalua Bay, which is such a significant, yet fragile marine resource. We are very grateful to the Hawaiian Electric Companies for joining other organizations in making our projects with the community and scientists possible,” said Jennifer Taylor, Board President.

Hawaiian Electric’s grant will help expand the Habitat Restoration Program which includes increasing community “huki” (pull) events where volunteers assist in removing invasive alien algae, launching an initiative to restore native sea grass, developing a bay algae consortium to address the implementation of restoration techniques and monitoring, and expanding community engagement through research, internships and careers. In addition, a priority for Malama Maunalua is the development of a partner-supported knowledge geo-database to be used to guide management priorities and strategic uses for the bay.

Moura, a Hawaii Kai resident who has volunteered with Malama Maunalua, said the organization’s efforts to raise awareness of marine conservation and grow community participation aligns with Hawaiian Electric’s value of environmental stewardship. “Developing the next generation of marine stewards by engaging with public and private organizations speaks to the long-term conservation of the Bay, and we gladly support that effort.”

Malama Maunalua is a community based non-profit organization committed to restoring the health of Maunalua Bay, the near shore area in East Oahu which stretches from Black Point to Portlock Point. Malama Maunalua focuses on reducing the three major threats to Maunalua Bay – removing invasive alien algae, reducing run-off of sediment and pollutants and increasing marine life. Malama Maunalua is finding solutions to these problems through working with thousands of community volunteers and collaborating with community and conservation partners and government agencies.

Volunteer board members are Jennifer Taylor (President), Mitch D’Olier (Vice President), Jean Tsukamoto (Treasurer), Amy Monk (Secretary), Dawn Dunbar, Steve Schatz and Dr. Leighton Taylor.

To donate to the organization or to participate in a community workday, visit www.malamamaunalua.org or contact info@malamamaunalua.org.

Lend a Hand to Protect Volcanoes National Park on Public Lands Day this Saturday

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates 100 years protecting native ecosystems and invites everyone to lend a helping hand on National Public Lands Day (NPLD) this Saturday, Sept. 24. It’s a fee-free day, and while all park visitors can enjoy the park at no charge, NPLD volunteers will receive a free pass to use on another day of their choosing.

Keiki cut invasive Himalayan ginger from rainforest near Devastation Trail. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Keiki cut invasive Himalayan ginger from rainforest near Devastation Trail. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Join volunteers on Saturday for the Stewardship at the Summit program, from 8:45 a.m. to noon. Meet NPLD coordinator Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center, then head into the rainforest to remove invasive Himalayan ginger from the summit of Kīlauea. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, sunscreen, raingear, snacks, and water. Loppers/gloves provided.  No advance registration required.

While pretty and fragrant, Himalayan ginger (also called kāhili) is one of the most invasive plants in the park, and on earth. It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. The park strives to protect the rainforest habitat of native birds and plants, but Himalayan ginger takes over the native rainforest understory, and makes it impossible for the next generation of forest to grow. This inedible ginger species crowds out many native plants, including pa‘iniu (a Hawaiian lily), ‘ama‘u fern, and others.

Every year on NPLD, the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States, all fee-charging national parks offer free entry. Many parks and public lands across the nation organize stewardship projects and special programs to raise awareness about why it is important to protect our public lands. To find out more, visit www.publiclandsday.org.

New Lava Flow Map Shows Recent Changes to East Rift Zone

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field at the coast. The area of the active flow field as of September 12 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on September 20 is shown in red. The dashed blue line shows the pre-1983 coastline. The base is a Digital Globe image from January 2016.

hvo-map-92016Lava deltas – the new land accreted to the front of an older sea cliff – are prone to collapse because the loose underwater lava rubble on which they are built can sometimes become unstable and slide. The interaction of the hot rock composing the delta and cold seawater has led to violent explosions that blasted rocks in all directions, caused local tsunami, and produced billowing plumes of ash and hot, acidic steam.

The dotted line surrounding the Kamokuna lava delta indicates a distance of 300 m (790 ft), which is the maximum documented distance that rocks and spatter have been thrown inland from the older sea cliff by delta explosions that occurred during the Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. It is possible that debris could be thrown even farther during exceptionally large explosions.

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.

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.”

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.


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.

Video – Ali’i Drive Open Following Watermain Break

The Hawaii Police Department reports that Alii Drive between the intersections of Hualalai Road and Walua Road in Kailua Kona is now open.


This portion of Alii Drive was previously closed due to ponding as a result of a watermain break.

Video via Councilman Greggor Illagan:

New HVO Map Shows Location of New Lava Breakout

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field.

hvo-map-91916The area of the active flow field as of September 1 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on September 12 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

Map of coastal flow field with thermal overlay

This map includes a georeferenced thermal image mosaic showing the distribution of active and recently active breakouts on the coastal flow field.

hvo-map-91916a The thermal mosaic was acquired during a helicopter overflight on September 12. The episode 61g flow field is outlined in yellow to show the extent of the flow.

Informational Meeting for Manta Ray Viewing Rules This Weekend

A public information meeting will be held this Saturday to discuss new, proposed rules for the Makako Bay and Keauhou manta ray viewing sites in Kona.

manta-rayThe Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Boating and Ocean Recreation Division (DOBOR) has scheduled the meeting on September 24, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palamanui Campus of Windward Community College, 73-4255 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room B-126, in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i. The meeting was rescheduled from Sept. 3 due to severe weather forecasts earlier this month.

Manta ray viewing opportunities on the Kona coast are unique worldwide  Tours are presently conducted in two specific areas where mantas tend to congregate at night to feed on plankton – at Makako Bay (Garden Eel Cove) and at the coastline fronting the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel.  The activity has become so popular in recent years that it has reached a point that is unsustainable and unsafe. Regulation is needed to preserve the resource and address the dangers posed by overcrowding of boats and swimmers/divers in the water.

The first part of the meeting will be devoted to discussing the history of manta ray viewing on the Kona coast. The second part of the meeting will be to present DOBOR’s proposed management plan in detail and collect feedback from all interested stakeholders.

DOBOR staffers have been working closely with DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources staff, commercial tour operators, the staff of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel and other stakeholders to draft administrative rules to mitigate environmental hazards and decrease the potential risk for accidents causing harm to people or manta rays.

In 2016 DOBOR has been surveying the two manta viewing sites to determine where and how additional moorings could be placed to alleviate coral damage from vessel anchoring and allow for a safe, sustainable and environmentally conscious regulation of commercial manta diving activities.

DOBOR has drafted a proposed management plan and potential management options for the sites based on two years of collected stakeholder input.  The proposed management plan contemplates strategies such as prohibiting anchoring at the sites, limiting the number of commercial operators, prohibiting rafting, and restricting live boating to improve safety.

In order to give stakeholders time to review the proposed management plan before the September 24 meeting, DOBOR released the plan on its website on September 10, 2016.  Interested parties can access the proposed management plan and get meeting updates by visiting DOBOR’s meeting announcement page: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/meetings/

(The original meeting announcement was issued Sept. 1, 2016).

Hawaii DLNR Conducting Animal Control Aerial Shooting Activities on the Big Island

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), Palila Mitigation Lands, and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawai‘i.

mouflonAerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawai‘i.

Control schedules are October 25 and 26, November 14 and 15, and December 19 and 20, 2016.  Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve, Palila Mitigation Lands, the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:

  • 7 a.m. October 25, November 14, and December 19, 2016
  • 6 a.m. October 26, November 15, and December 20, 2016

These actions are pursuant to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Ch. 13-130-19 and § 13-104-23(a) (3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.  The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, both the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea State Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:

  • Locked 7 p.m. October 24, 2016, and reopened 7 p.m. October 26, 2016
  • Locked 7 p.m. November 13, 2016, and reopened 7 p.m. November 15, 2016
  • Locked 7 p.m. December 18, 2016 and reopened 7 p.m. December 20, 2016

Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.

Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. October 19, 2016, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only.  Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in.  A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Pu‘u Ko‘ohi location and 15 permitted vehicles at the Pu‘u Mali location.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicle are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.

Salvage locations are subject to change:

  • On October 25, November 14, and December 19, 2016, at Pu‘u Ko‘ohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea Recreation Area at 7 a.m. sharp.
  • On October 26, November 15, and December 20, 2016 at Pu‘u Mali. Permittees must meet across from the Waimea Veterinary office on Mana Road at 6 a.m. sharp.

Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.