Hawaii Lobster Season Closed Until End of August

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) reminds the public that the season for taking ula and ula papapa (spiny and slipper lobsters) and Kona crabs in state waters is closed this month through the end of August.

Spiny Lobster

Hawaii Administrative Rules prohibit the taking, killing, sale or offering for sale, or possession of any ula, also known as spiny lobster (Panulirus penicillatus, P. marginatus) and ula papapa or slipper lobster (Scyllarides squammosus, S. haanii) from state waters during the closed season, which started May 1. It is also illegal to take, possess, or sell Kona crab during May through August.

“These rules are in place to protect lobsters and Kona crabs during the summer months, which are the peak of their reproductive season, and to help ensure their populations will continue to be sustainable,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR chairperson.

However, any commercial marine dealer may sell, or any hotel, restaurant, or other public eating house may serve spiny or slipper lobster lawfully caught during the open season by first procuring a license to do so pursuant to section 13-74-41, Hawaii Administrative Rules.

During the open season catching, taking or possessing of female spiny and slipper lobsters and female Kona crab is prohibited as a result of the passage of Act 77 by the 2006 State Legislature.

Also during the open season, any spiny or slipper lobster, or Kona crab, caught with eggs must immediately be returned to the waters from which it was taken. Taking or killing of females is prohibited year round.

The Hawai‘i Fishing Regulations booklet, available at all Division of Aquatic Resources offices and most fishing supply stores, shows how to determine the sex of spiny lobsters and Kona crabs. Or go online to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/how-to-determine-sex-of-regulated-invertebrates/

For more information on regulations concerning these and other marine invertebrates, including minimum sizes, go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/  or call the Division of Aquatic Resources.

To report any violation of these or other fishing regulations call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 643-DLNR.

Nation’s First Federal Combined Solar Power Purchase Launched

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy and General Services Administration announced the first ever federal partnership to purchase solar power. This action follows President Obama’s order last month requiring federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase their renewable energy use to at least 30 percent over the next 10 years.

Click to read document

Click to read document

The federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the nation. Government-wide, the electricity bill is $5 billion a year, paying for 57 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in nearly 500,000 buildings. As Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, is implemented, the annual savings are estimated to be almost $1 billion in avoided energy costs.

The Federal Aggregated Solar Procurement Project (or FASPP) is a contract solicitation designed to take advantage of economies of scale in solar installation. Due to contracting challenges and high costs, agencies have made limited progress installing solar systems. Agencies in the FASPP will use the same contract solicitation and contractor for greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, and third-party financing to cover upfront costs. The project includes nine federal sites in San Jose, Menlo Park, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Bruno, Santa Rosa, Carson City and Reno, and the Forest Service regional office at Mare Island. Initially, the project will produce up to 5 megawatts of solar power across multiple federal sites in California and Nevada.

“This model can help us achieve the President’s Executive Order calling for federal agencies to work together on procurements to increase clean energy use,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By combining our efforts with our federal partners at the Forest Service, Department of Energy, and GSA, we are proving that solar power and other clean energy will save money, protect our air and water, and help us fight climate change.”

“It is an honor to be involved in this cutting-edge, collaborative project that directly supports the federal sustainability goals of the next decade,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service. “The solar arrays planned for our Regional Office will offset approximately 90 percent of projected electrical use and demonstrate our commitment to increasing use of renewable energy and striving for more net-zero energy facilities.”

“Procurements like the Federal Aggregated Solar Procurement Pilot will help agencies achieve expanded renewable energy goals,” said Tim Unruh, Director of DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program. The Energy Department is committed to developing and delivering new technologies and practices that can accelerate existing solutions to scale, addressing our nation’s long-term energy goals.”

“Issuing this solicitation is the latest in GSA’s ongoing efforts to green the federal government and to provide additional savings to GSA customers and ultimately to the American taxpayer,” said Samuel J. Morris III, GSA’s Acting Pacific Rim Regional Administrator. “By combining the procurement for these nine sites, we anticipate realizing lower utility rates. This innovative strategy, if successful, will serve as a model that can be replicated across the country.”

Inspired by the success of Silicon Valley’s local government aggregated procurement, EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region convened a strong team of federal entities interested in procuring renewable energy produced at their facilities. GSA agreed to provide contracting and project management support. DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provided technical expertise and support. The Forest Service and GSA plan to host the solar systems and buy the renewable energy.

The FASPP contract solicitation will be open through Friday, May 29, 2015. Businesses interested in submitting can review the Request for Proposal on FedBizOpps.gov.

UHHSA Approves Permaculture Parking Lot Unanimously

The University of Hawaii Student Association (UHHSA) voted unanimously to support the Permaculture Parking Lot (PPL) at last Thursday’s senate meeting (see video here).
permaculture

The bill will fund the creation of the Permaculture Parking Lot in the UH Hilo Science and Technology Building Lanikaula Parking Lot adjacent to the Kumukoa House.

The project is supported by the UH Hilo Sustainability Committee, UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Global HOPE, The Agriculture Club, and over 500 students and faculty members: see supporter video here

“The purpose of this project is to create an educational venue for the different edible plants that can grow in Hawai’i. The Permaculture Parking Lot will inform and inspire students and community members,” said principal project designer Wade Bauer. Over 80 different types of edible plants will be going into the parking lot (for complete list see below)

Earth Day Fair founder a professor Dr. Noelie Rodriguez fully supported the project. “Students could gain both skills and a way to lower their food costs,” she said.

UH Hilo neighbor Justin Avery jokingly said, “It could be a parking lot and we’ll put up a paradise,.” “This project has been a team effort to grow food on campus and be an example for the community, it’s a real win-win“ Avery said.

Over the past 3 and a half years The Kumukoa House has been organizing ‘yard days,’ where students and community members work in the gardens all day with trained gardening and landscaping experts. In the past 2 years, with the blessing of UH Hilo, the project has extended to the parking lot. “This is using the momentum we have from the past years to launch this project,” said Avery.

Agroforestry and permaculture consultant Dave Sansone said, “It’s not often that you have people who know what they are doing stepping in and offering free services and free labor. I see a real win-win. This project goes from having this idea on paper to lead the way in sustainability to actually doing it.”

UH Hilo is joining the national trend by moving in the direction of sustainability. Alex Lyon, University of Massachusets student and Kumukoa House resident, sees how permaculture gardens can serve as a recruitment tool for the university. “From 2010 UMASS started a permaculture garden at the university and has attracted considerable amount of students to enroll. The food goes straight from the campus gardens into the dining hall. You look outside of the dining hall and see 6 permaculture gardens. Students enroll in UMASS because of the garden, it has become a center of the university,” Lyon said.

The Kumukoa House invited everybody to come out for Yard Days on the 1st and 3rd Saturday from 9am-3pm. Mahalo!

NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric to Hold Informational Meetings Across State

NextEra Energy, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. and Maui Electric Company Limited (collectively referred to as Hawaiian Electric), today announced that the companies will be hosting a series of 13 open house informational meetings across Hawaii to introduce residents to NextEra Energy and the benefits of the companies’ pending merger as well as to provide members of the public with the opportunity to provide input directly to company officials.

NextEra Logo

The open houses will take place on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai from April 7 to April 16.

“Since we announced our merger late last year, we’ve been gratified at the reception we’ve received as well as the high level of interest in this important topic for Hawaii,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii, LLC. “NextEra Energy shares Hawaiian Electric’s vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil, integrating more rooftop solar energy and, importantly, lowering customer bills. We recognize that addressing Hawaii’s energy challenges requires Hawaii-specific energy solutions, and that is why we look forward to meeting with and listening to residents across Hawaii. The meetings will provide us with the opportunity to receive valuable feedback while allowing residents to learn more about NextEra Energy and the significant near- and long-term benefits this merger will deliver to Hawaiian Electric customers and the state of Hawaii.”

“In selecting NextEra Energy as our partner, we will join a company that shares our community and environmental values, has a proven track record of lowering electric bills, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and is committed to rooftop solar in Hawaii,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “We can’t imagine a better match to help us accelerate the clean energy transformation we all want for Hawaii. We hope our customers will take the opportunity to meet members of the NextEra Energy team and learn firsthand why NextEra Energy is the right partner to help us achieve a cleaner and more affordable energy future for Hawaii.”

About the Open House Meetings

Each open house meeting will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time. Senior leaders and other employees from NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric will be available to discuss NextEra Energy’s track record of increasing renewable energy, lowering customer bills, creating innovative solutions for modernizing the grid, and supporting local communities, as well as all the expected benefits from the proposed merger with Hawaiian Electric.

The dates and locations for the meetings are as follows:

Maui County

April 7

  • Central Maui: Maui Electric Auditorium
  • South Maui: Kihei Community Center

April 8

  • West Maui: Lahaina Civic Center
  • Lanai: Lanai Community Center

April 9

  • Molokai: Kaunakakai Elementary School Cafeteria

Hawaii Island

April 13

  • Hilo, Hawaii: Hilo High School Cafeteria
  • Puna, Hawaii: Pahoa High School Cafeteria

April 14

  • West Hawaii: Kealakehe High School Cafeteria
  • Waimea, Hawaii: HPA Village Campus Dining Hall

Oahu

April 15

  • West Oahu: Kapolei High School Cafeteria
  • Leeward Oahu: Pearl City High School Cafeteria

April 16

  • Honolulu: Ward Warehouse, Kakaako Conference Room
  • Windward Oahu: Windward Community College, Hale Akoakoa

Website

To learn more about the benefits of the transaction, please visit www.forhawaiisfuture.com.

Hawaii Residents Urged to Chase Water Waste this Week

The average American family could be wasting more than 10,000 gallons of water each year due to easy-to-fix household leaks, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program. That amount of water could increase a water bill by as much as 10 percent while wasting precious resources.

That’s why EPA is encouraging consumers to participate in WaterSense’s seventh annual Fix a Leak Week, March 16 through 22, 2015, by finding and fixing leaks around the home.

If every household in Hawaii lost as much as 10,000 gallons of water per year to leaks, residents would be, cumulatively, spending more than $48 million dollars on water lost to easily detectible and fixable leaks. According to the U.S. drought monitor’s March 3rd report, over 50% of the state is experiencing drought conditions.

Drought Monitor March
“Finding ways to conserve our precious water is everyone’s responsibility,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Household leaks in Hawaii may account for 5.26 billion gallons of water wasted each year.”

By following three simple steps—check, twist, and replace—consumers can save water and make their homes more efficient.

Here’s how to get started finding and fixing leaks:

Check: Look at your water meter, usually located outside your house, before and after a two-hour period of no water use. If the number has changed, there is likely a leak, which could be as simple to fix as replacing a worn rubber flapper in the toilet tank.

Twist: Fix dripping pipes, fixtures, or hoses by using a wrench to twist and tighten the connections. If needed, pipe tape can help seal shower fixtures or hose connections. Remind everyone in the house to turn faucets and showers off tightly, and check washers and valves for persistent drips.

Replace: For old or inefficient fixtures that are not easily repaired, look for WaterSense labeled models to replace them. These water- and money-saving high-performing products are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform well. You can find the label on the product packaging or the website of your favorite plumbing brand and they are available in a variety of styles and prices at home improvement stores.

To help consumers find and fix leaks, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply is hosting a Fix A Leak Week social media campaign that will encourage residents to check for leaks at home and work and to select high-efficiency fixtures wherever possible. Please also check with your local water supplier for more tips.

Visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak to learn more about finding and fixing leaks. The WaterSense Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EPAWatersense also has a map to help you find Fix a Leak Week events in your

 

Paniolo Power Files Motion to Consolidate Merger, PSIP Dockets

Paniolo Power Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Parker Ranch, Inc., filed a motion today to merge two of the most important cases currently before the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission into one docket—the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO)-NextEra acquisition and the HECO clean energy plan.

Paniolo Power Company

The Change of Control docket addresses NextEra Energy, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of the HECO Companies. The PSIP docket addresses HECO’s long-term clean energy strategy and transition plan.

“The issues in both the Change of Control and the PSIP dockets are inextricably linked,” said Jose Dizon, General Manager of Paniolo Power. “HECO’s lack of focus on customer value has led it to continue to use oil-fired power plants, with the associated high fuel prices that are passed on to the ratepayers.”

Understanding the destructive effects of fuel volatility, Dizon added, the PUC in April 2014 issued harsh guidance to the Hawaiian Electric Companies to accelerate power plant retirements and aggressively pursue clean energy sources.

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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.

Hawaii Electric Light Company Selects Ormat to Provide Additional Geothermal Energy

Following a rigorous review of bids submitted as part of a competitive bid process, Hawai‘i Electric Light Company has selected Ormat to provide an additional 25 MW of geothermal energy for Hawai‘i Island.

Puna Geothermal Venture

Puna Geothermal Venture

The next step in the process is to begin contract negotiations with Ormat, with an agreement to be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval.

“We have continued to pursue ways to increase our use of renewable energy and lower costs to our customers, while also ensuring reliable service,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawai‘i Electric Light Company president. “Ormat was selected based on numerous criteria, including attractive pricing, technical design and capability, financial soundness, as well as commitment to resolving all environmental issues and to working with our Hawai‘i Island communities.”

Geothermal technologies provide renewable, controlled dispatchable energy and firm capacity that allow Hawai‘i Electric Light to schedule and control output from the geothermal plant to its island-wide grid.

Firm energy sources like geothermal support the integration of intermittent renewable resources, such as wind or solar, while maintaining reliable service for Hawai‘i Island customers.

A draft Geothermal RFP was issued in early November 2012. The PUC also selected an Independent Observer, Boston Pacific Company, to monitor and advise on all steps of the competitive bidding process to ensure that the process is fair and adheres to the PUC Framework for Competitive Bidding.

More than 47 percent of electricity on Hawai‘i Island is already generated from renewable resources, including hydro, wind, distributed solar and geothermal.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose Plan to Sustainably Increase Rooftop Solar

As part of its transformation to deliver a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawaii, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are proposing a new program to increase rooftop solar in a way that’s safe, sustainable and fair for all customers.

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.

Sustainable Solar

Under the proposal, existing Net Energy Metering (“NEM”) program customers and those with pending applications would remain under the existing NEM program. Any program changes from this proposal would apply only to new customers.

The initiative is part of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ clean energy transformation to lower electric bills by 20 percent, increase the use of renewable energy to more than 65 percent, triple the amount of distributed solar by 2030, and offer customers expanded products and services.

“We want to ensure a sustainable rooftop solar program to help our customers lower their electric bills,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “That means taking an important first step by transitioning to a program where all customers are fairly sharing in the cost of the grid we all rely on.”

Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service, added, “At the end of 2013, the annualized cost shift from customers who have rooftop solar to those who don’t totaled about $38 million. As of the end of 2014, the annualized cost shift had grown to $53 million – an increase of $15 million. And that number keeps growing. So change is needed to ensure a program that’s fair and sustainable for all customers.”

New Transitional Program

Currently, NEM customers use the electric grid daily. Their rooftop solar systems send energy into the grid, and they draw power when their systems do not provide enough for their needs, including in the evenings and on cloudy days. However, many NEM customers are able to lower their bills to the point that they do not help pay for the cost of operating and maintaining the electric grid.

As a result, those costs are increasingly being shifted from those who have solar to those who don’t.

The new transitional program would create a more sustainable system and ensure the costs of operating and maintaining the electric grid are more fairly shared among all customers.

Under the current NEM program, customers receive credit on their electric bills at the full retail rate for electricity they produce. This credit includes the cost of producing electricity plus operation and maintenance of the electric grid and all other costs to provide electric service.

The Transitional Distributed Generation program would credit customers at a rate that better reflects the cost of the electricity produced by their rooftop solar systems. This is consistent with how Kauai Island Utility Co-Op compensates its solar customers.

Increasing PV Integration

If this transitional program is approved, the Hawaiian Electric Companies expect to be able to modify their interconnection policies, more than doubling the solar threshold for neighborhood circuits from 120 percent of daytime minimum load (DML) to 250 percent of DML. In many cases, this will eliminate the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

To safely integrate higher levels of solar, rooftop systems will need to implement newly developed performance standards, including those established using results of a collaboration among Hawaiian Electric, SolarCity and the Electric Power Research Institute. Through this partnership, the performance of solar inverters was tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. These standards can reduce the risk of damage to electronics in a customer’s home and to utility equipment on the grid, safety hazards for electrical line workers, and even widespread power outages.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies will also make strategic and cost-effective system improvements necessary to integrate more rooftop solar. They will work with the solar industry to identify areas where demand for upgrades is highest. Planning for these upgrades will also consider the needs of the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program, which will make low-cost loans available to customers who may have difficulty financing clean energy improvements like solar.

To further support even more customers adding solar on high solar circuits, Hawaiian Electric will also be doing several pilot projects for “Non-Export/Smart Export” solar battery systems with local and national PV companies in Hawaii. These projects will provide real-world operational experience on their capability to increase solar interconnections on high-penetration circuits.

The company is also developing a community solar program as another option to help make the benefits of solar available to all customers, including those who may not be able to install rooftop solar (for example, renters or condo dwellers).

Hawaiian Electric is asking the PUC to approve the new program within 60 days. Under the utilities’ proposal, the Transitional Distributed Generation program would remain in effect while the PUC works on a permanent replacement program, to be developed through a collaborative process involving stakeholders from across the community, including the solar industry.

The PUC has stated it believes programs designed to support solar energy need to change. In an Order issued in April 2014, the PUC said:

“It is unrealistic to expect that the high growth in distributed solar PV capacity additions experienced in the 2010 – 2013 time period can be sustained, in the same technical, economic and policy manner in which it occurred, particularly when electric energy usage is declining, distribution circuit penetration levels are increasing, system level challenges are emerging and grid fixed costs are increasingly being shifted to non-solar PV customers.”

Across the three Hawaiian Electric Companies, more than 51,000 customers have rooftop solar. As of December 2014, about 12 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers, 10 percent of Maui Electric customers and 9 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. This compares to a national average of one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent) as of December 2013, according to the Solar Electric Power Association.

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Master Food Preserver Trainings Set for Kona, Hilo

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) and the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) presents two food preservation trainings this spring.

Ken Love and his Same Canoe Lifetime Achievement Award from the One Island Sustainable Living Center

Ken Love and his Same Canoe Lifetime Achievement Award from the One Island Sustainable Living Center

Taught by Master Food Preserver Ken Love, executive director of HTFG and the Hawaii Master Food Preserver Program, the 64-hour training session is targeted to individuals looking to expand their knowledge of safe, home food preservation—plus learn the business side of selling syrups, preserves and sauces. Learn the steps for canning fruit and vegetables, plus pickling, fermenting and more.

Participants must be able to commit to an eight-day training and volunteer at least 20 hours in a year. Graduates earn a master food preserver certificate from UH-Hilo.

Kona dates are February 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 23 and 24 at the classroom/kitchen at 81-6393 Mamalahoa Hwy. in Kealakekua. Applications are due January 28. Hilo dates are March 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 23 and 24 at the Komohana Research and Extension Center, 875 Komohana St. Applications are due February 16.

“The training is designed to teach small agribusinesses and local residents how to safely preserve delicious and attractive, value-added products from underutilized produce,” explains Love, who is certified to teach the course by the University of California Master Food Preserver program. “It’s like the old adage, ‘Waste not, want not.’”

Tuition is $100. Apply by contacting CCECS 808-974-7664 or ccecs@hawaii.edu.

The classes are made possible by a grant from the Hawaii Department of Labor Workforce Development Division.

New Fee Added to Electric Bills to Support Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program

A new line on electric bills starting this month will finance the State of Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program. However, a corresponding reduction of the monthly Public Benefits Fund surcharge, collected to pay for the State’s conservation and energy efficiency programs, means most customers will likely see little net change on their electric bills. For a typical residential customer using 600 kWh a month, the green infrastructure fee will be $1.29 per month.

GEMS Office

The new line item, titled “Green Infrastructure Fee,” will appear under the listing of “Current Charges: Electric Service” beginning with December 2014 monthly bills of all Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light customers.

As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the Green Infrastructure Fee. The new fee will enable the State of Hawaii to borrow $150 million for its GEMS program. The State Department of Business, Economic Development will initially administer GEMS. The program will make low-cost loans so green infrastructure improvements are more affordable and accessible for customers who cannot afford upfront costs or cannot qualify for other financing.

The GEMS program will initially focus on clean energy investments so customers can take advantage of green initiatives such as photovoltaic systems, energy storage, advanced inverters and energy monitoring devices.

To learn more, visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Energy Office website (http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/gems) or call 808.586.2407.

Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

More than 45 of Hawaii Island’s top officials in government, business, construction, academia and the non-profit sector gathered last week in Hilo to discuss the Puna lava situation and its effects on the island’s housing market.
Lava Housing

The emergency housing forum, hosted by HOPE Services Hawaii, Hawaii Island Realtors, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Day Lum Rentals & Management, included roundtable discussions that focused on short- and long-term housing planning, legislative policy and expanding community resources.

The November 24 forum was intended as the beginning of a larger conversation focused on building more affordable housing on Hawaii Island. An action plan that outlines next steps and leverages private and public partnerships is being created by the forum’s hosts and expected to be complete by first quarter 2015. The plan will identify short and long-term solutions, which will help inform possible legislative policies and provide the basis for maximizing community resources.

During the forum, agency heads discussed what organizations are experiencing as a result of the lava breakout, which started in late June and has travelled 13.5 miles since. Some presented ideas to alleviate the demand for housing outside of Puna, noting, however, that today’s quick fixes should complement the island’s long-term housing and development plans.

“No one is pretending to have all the answers,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “There’s no lava flow manual, so many policy decisions are being made with the best information available. What we’re facing as a community is significant, but the challenges are not insurmountable. The County has been and will continue to be all hands on deck, ready to collaborate, and to share information as it becomes available to lessen anxiety and uncertainty.”

Brandee Menino, chief executive officer for HOPE Services Hawaii, said that while HOPE primarily helps homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition off the streets and obtain stable housing, her office has been getting calls from families displaced by Tropical Storm Iselle and potentially isolated by the lava. She noted that even before this year’s natural disasters, the need for rental units had been identified.

“A 2011 Housing Planning Study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation revealed that Hawaii County would need 1,753 rental units by 2016 in order to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Menino. “This report was done in 2011, when lava was not a concern, so we must make a concerted effort to prioritize creating more affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s families.”

Paul Normann, executive director of the Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP), a resource for distressed families, said Puna has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the State. “Because of the disruption caused by Iselle and the active lava flow, NPP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, July through October, NPP has already served 106 families. To put that in context, over the course of the entire 12 months of the previous fiscal year, NPP served a total of 130 families.

Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum said that some families wanted to get ahead of the lava and moved from the area. But Cabral is concerned with who haven’t. “There are a lot of residents who have not been preparing for what’s coming. It seems they are waiting for government to step in and rescue them, so we really need to take steps to ready the housing market.”

Cabral offered solutions to stave off a potential housing crisis including working with hotels to temporarily rent out rooms, helping families uproot and move homes to vacant lots and lobbying the State to relinquish control to the County of affordable units such as Lanakila Housing, which can move faster to make the units available to those looking to relocate from Puna.

Mark Kimura, an economic geography researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who conducted an informal survey of Puna residents, said almost half reported they had no one to rely on or place to go if they needed to move. 14 percent said they have already left the area or are preparing to leave and 25 percent said they could move-in with family or friends on-island. He said many don’t want to give up their homes because they are still paying a mortgage, have farms, can’t afford to move and have difficulty finding places that are pet-friendly or retrofitted for people with disabilities.

Amanda Donaldson, President of NARPM’s East Hawaii chapter, which is made up of about 20 local residential property managers, said members get nearly a dozen additional calls a day from families looking for housing outside the lava zone. She said NARPM agents are willing to add addendums that allow individuals in the lava impact zone to break their lease once lava hits.

Kehau Costa of Hawaii Island Realtors championed a “one-stop-shop” rentals website where interested renters can view available units on the island, which would speed up house hunting. Costa also suggested a “new landlord resource fair” because of the increasing number of individuals asking how they can convert part of or their entire home into a rental.

Additional ideas that came out of the forum include exploring commuter housing, house sharing, prepping lands for modular housing, fast tracking County building permit processes as well as County take over, repair and rental of foreclosure homes.

Any individuals or organizations interested in taking part in future discussions may contact Brandee Menino at bmenino@hopeserviceshawaii.org or (808) 933-6013.

EPA Awards $200,000 to Children’s Defense Fund – Will Advance Environmental Stewardship on the Big Island

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded an environmental education grant of $200,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund for their “Mauka to Makai” project designed to improve environmental education in their summer learning centers and partner schools on the Big Island.
EPA LOGOThe “Mauka to Makai” (Mountain to Sea) project will incorporate environmental themes across all core and non-core academic subjects with an emphasis on resource management and habitat restoration.

“We’re pleased to be part of an environmental education effort highlighting flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The “Mauka to Makai” stewardship will increase the protection of Hawaiian ecosystems from threats like invasive species, climate change, and habitat loss.”

Using a combination of student learning experiences, professional development for classroom educators, and strengthened partnerships linking public schools and local environmental agencies, the project will implement an environmental education model to increase community-wide knowledge of important environmental issues and foster the skills needed to help students, educators, families and the community make decisions about environmental responsibility and stewardship. The Mauka to Makai project aims to increase environmental knowledge on the Big Island by educating more than 7,000 students, providing professional development to over 100 educators, and supporting community projects through sub-awards.

The larger goal is to make the Mauka to Makai a model program that can be replicated across the nation with local partners and national experts. The project can be replicated with a similar focus on land to water resource issues or its focus can change with geographic location to highlight the regional environmental priorities of any given area.

The EPA Environmental Education Model Grants Program supports environmental education projects that increase the public’s awareness about environmental issues and provide them with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. The EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Office received over 80 applications this year, and the Mauka to Makai project is one of two projects in the Pacific Southwest Region that received an environmental education grant.

HELCO Power Restoration Update – 2,700 Customers Remain Without Power

Hawaii Electric Light reported continued progress in restoring power to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. Service to an additional 1,100 customers was restored yesterday. Currently, an estimated 2,700 customers remain without power. Service was restored to the end of the Pahoa-Kalapana Road.

A pole down in Hawaiian Beaches

A pole down in Hawaiian Beaches

More than 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 26 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 30 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. The combined workforce will include crews from Hawaii Island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and contracted companies.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews expect to continue making progress in the following areas: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates, Seaview Estates, Hawaiian Beaches/Hawaiian Shores, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Acres and other portions of upper Puna.

Some areas of focus today include:

  • Nanawele Estates – In Nanawale Estates, crews are working on the main power line that brings electric service to the subdivision. Contracted crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Leilani Estates – In Leilani Estates, crews have restored power along Leilani Boulevard and are now working on Kahukai Street and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.
  • Seaview Estates – In Seaview Estates, crews are working on the main power line that brings service to the subdivision. Contracted crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Hawaiian Beaches/Hawaiian Shores – In Hawaiian Beaches, crews have restored main lines to the end of Kahakai Boulevard. Crews are still addressing side streets in the vicinity of Puni Makai North and South.
  • Hawaiian Paradise Park – In Hawaiian Paradise Park, crews have restored most of the main lines along Makuu and are focusing on Paradise Drive between 19th and 12th Avenues and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from trees. Crews will be replacing poles on side streets within the subdivision and restoring power.
  • Hawaiian Acres – In Hawaiian Acres, crews are working to restore power along Roads 1 to 4.

Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

New location for Customer Information Center in Puna

Beginning today, Hawaii Electric Light’s Customer Information Center has moved to the Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna. The center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches is closed. Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there. The center will remain open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues.

Background on restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

Puna Disaster and Recovery Assistance Centers Announced

This is a Civil Defense message.

This is a Community Assessment and Assistance information update for Tuesday August 12at 7:00PM.   

Cots were set up in various parts of the Pahoa Community Center today.

Cots were set up in various parts of the Pahoa Community Center today.

HELCO crews continue to work on restoring power in the affected areas. About 6,800 customers remain without power. Thank you for your patience and understanding with this effort. Please do not interfere with the operations of the HELCO crews.

County, National Guard, and private crews continue to clear debris from roadways. All subdivisions currently have access to highways and main roadways, however there may be debris and obstructions within the subdivision roadways. Crews report that access to Wood Valley in Pahala has been cleared. Remember that all downed power lines should be treated as energized and avoided to ensure safety.

Hawaiian Shores reports that their water system is now operational and safe to drink.

Community Assistance Centers will be open tomorrow, Wednesday from noon to 4 P.M. at Community Centers in Hawaiian Shores, Leilani Estates, and Nanawale, as well as the Kalani Retreat Center.

These centers will offer water, ice, and other supplies while they last. Bring a container for ice or water as bags or bottles may not be available. If you are able to get to a retail store to get your supplies, we encourage you to do so and leave these supplies for those who cannot get to a store.

Damage assessments are ongoing and being conducted by the County Office of Housing and Community Development and the Hawai‘i National Guard.

The Hawai‘i State Emergency Management Agency and the County of Hawai‘i will set up Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers on Hawai‘i Island to provide information and services to people whose property was damaged by the storm.

The schedule and location for the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers is:

  • Thursday August 14 and Friday August 15 from 8:00am to 8:00pm at the Pahoa Community Center
  • Saturday August 16 and Sunday August 17 from 8:00am to 8:00pm at the Mountain View Gym

For more information on the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers, contact the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency at (808)733-4300 or askcivildefense@scd.hawaii.gov

HELCO Update – 10% of Big Island Remains Without Electricity

Hawaii Electric Light crews continue to work on restoring power as quickly as possible to customers who lost electricity as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. About 8,100 customers (approximately 10 percent of total Hawai‘i Island customers) remained without power, mostly in the Puna District but also in smaller pockets on the east side of the island. Power was restored to a portion of Hawaiian Paradise Park late Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Crews have made significant progress repairing the main transmission lines that serve as the backbone of the island’s electric grid, making the overall system more stable. Now crews can focus their attention on restoring power to individual neighborhoods.

Customers who have not yet reported their outage should call 969-6666 to report it.

Customers who are still without power at this time should expect an extended outage into next week and, in some cases, much longer.

Hawaii Electric Light will continue to prioritize work that will bring service back to the largest number of customers while keeping the grid stable. This systematic approach will help ensure that power will stay on once restored. For example, on Saturday, crews restored power to major roads in Hawaiian Paradise Park. This work brought the power back on for customers on Kaloli, Beach Road, and parts of Paradise Drive. By fixing the lines that bring power into the neighborhood, crews can now focus on individual streets in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Hawaii Electric Light urges customers to remember downed power lines should be considered dangerous. Do not approach a downed line or attempt to move it. If you see someone injured by a downed line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Customers are asked to check that stoves and other appliances are turned off or unplugged to avoid safety hazards or damage to their appliances as power is restored.

Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric are sending crews, vehicles and other equipment to assist with the restoration. In addition, contracted construction and tree-trimming companies are also participating. Collectively, this will nearly triple the number of crews in the field conducting damage assessment and working to restore power to customers.

All workers participating with the restoration process will be wearing badges identifying them as employees of Hawaii Electric Light, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, or an approved utility contractor. Customers should feel free to ask for proper identification if approached by someone who says they are from Hawaii Electric Light or any other organization. Utility company vehicles are clearly marked. Approved contractors have signs for their vehicles indicating they are working on behalf of the company.

Hawai‘i Electric Light’s business offices will reopen for normal business on Monday. Some services, such as new service requests, may be delayed as work crews focus on the restoration effort. Statement from Jay Ignacio, president of Hawai‘i Electric Light:

We understand the frustration of our customers who are still without power and sincerely apologize to them. We understand that customers want estimated restoration times so they can plan. Unfortunately, the extent of damage is worse than anything we’ve ever seen here. We’re working on providing more specific, reliable estimates and hope to do so by tomorrow (Monday) morning. Customers without power should expect to remain without it well into next week, if not longer. Again, we apologize and ask for their continued patience.

“Our first priority was to repair our high–voltage transmission lines. With the backbone of the island’s electric system restored, and our grid more stable, crews can start working on restoring neighborhood circuits for customers who are still without power.”

When Iselle hit Hawai‘i Island, the wind and rain caused trees to topple and fly into power lines, breaking lines and poles. We were in a very precarious situation at the end of last week. As Iselle hit our island, we started losing our transmission lines – the backbone of our electric grid – and came very close to losing the whole island. Of the 35 transmission lines on the island, we lost more than half during the storm. Both the north and south transmission lines were lost as well as the transmission lines serving Puna Geothermal Venture. 

As soon as Iselle passed, crews began working to repair the high voltage transmission lines. Some of these lines could be restored through automatic switching. 

But others, like the line that runs from Papaikou to Kalopa Mauka/Makai, have to be partially rebuilt. Some of the broken poles were on very high embankments. Crews worked around the clock to rebuild this section of the line, only to have another tree fall onto lines in another area. 

The transmission line serving Puna Geothermal Venture goes through a forested area near Nanawale Estates, and our crews cannot reach this line because of the many fallen trees. That area has at least 19 broken poles and will take a very long time to rebuild, starting with bulldozers to clear a path for trucks and crews. We were working on an alternate transmission line in an effort to get PGV back into service, but changed our focus early Sunday to restore customers as soon as we safely can. 

We thank our customers for their efforts to reduce energy use on Friday so we could meet the energy demands of the whole island.”

Governor Presents $1.6 Million to Innovative Zero-Waste Biofuel Program in Hilo

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today presented a $1.6 million check on behalf of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center’s (DKI-PBARC) zero-waste biofuel and high-protein feed program on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture Agribusiness Development Corporation check presentation to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture Agribusiness Development Corporation check presentation to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

DKI-PBARC, and Florida-based BioTork LLC, have invested more than $1 million to successfully develop an economically sustainable zero-waste conversion project producing biofuel and high-protein animal feed from unmarketable papaya and other low-value agriculture feedstock. The conversion process takes fewer than 14 days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment, meaning no sunlight is needed using organically optimized algae/fungi developed and patented by BioTork.

The state’s $1.6 million is in addition to its initial $200,000 investment that will assist DKI-PBARC in moving the Hilo-based project to demonstration scale as a prelude to commercial production. The ADC will become a venture partner to globally export the rapid conversion technology in association with PBARC and BioTork.

“Our investment promotes further use of agricultural crops to provide clean energy and leads us on a more definitive path towards food sustainability,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We need to focus on projects like this as Hawaii emerges as a global leader for biofuel and feed research and development.”

“Another by-product of this process is the production of high-protein feed and fish feed,” explained Scott Enright, HDOA chair. “The feed can greatly benefit cattle, swine, poultry and support aquaculture operations.”

The state also hopes to develop a long-term revenue generator as a partner exporting this technology. At full scale, more than 1,000 jobs are projected.

While papaya was chosen as the initial feedstock, this technology can be applied to any plant material as a carbon source. In Hawaii, other identifiable feedstocks are unmarketable sweet potato, sugar cane, mango, molasses and glycerol. Invasive trees, like albizia, could also be used as feedstock in this zero-waste program.

It is imperative that we provide support to build the necessary infrastructure which opens up new markets for agriculture,” said Jimmy Nakatani, ADC executive director. “Progress at DKI-PBARC has been nothing less than stellar to accomplish this, through efforts led by Research Plant Pathologist and Program Manager Dr. Lisa Keith.”

Funds are also being used to research the conversion of locally produced molasses. Samples from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company are being tested to determine which high-value and economically viable co-products can be developed using natural methods to create much more value to the local economy.

Hawaii Energy, DLNR Release Two New Handbooks To Encourage Water Conservation And Greater Energy Efficiency

Two of Hawaii’s leading authorities on water conservation and energy efficiency jointly announce the distribution of two new handbooks written for Hawaii’s water and wastewater utilities that can help save up to 20 percent, or $16.1 million, in electricity costs annually – enough to power 9,400 homes in Hawaii.

Kate Aurilio, Energy Engineer, Hawaii Energy (Left); Ray Starling, Program Director, Hawaii Energy; Ernest Lau, Manager/Chief Engineer, Board of Water Supply and William Tam, Deputy Director, Commission on Water Resource Management (Right)

Kate Aurilio, Energy Engineer, Hawaii Energy (Left); Ray Starling, Program Director, Hawaii Energy; Ernest Lau, Manager/Chief Engineer, Board of Water Supply and William Tam, Deputy Director, Commission on Water Resource Management (Right)

Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program for Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu, developed the Water & Wastewater Energy Management Best Practices Handbook to help water and wastewater facilities operate with increased energy efficiency.

The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Commission on Water Resource Management released the Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual to assist all public water systems in Hawaii to assess their water supply efficiency through water audits and water loss programs.

Hawaii Energy’s Water & Wastewater Energy Management Best Practices Handbook

Water and energy usage are inextricably linked, referred to as the water-energy nexus, due to the significant energy required to transport and treat water and wastewater.

Based on a Hawaii Energy survey conducted in 2013, the state’s public water and wastewater systems consume an estimated 290.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is approximately 3.2 percent of the electric utilities’ total sales.

The generally accepted industry standard for water and wastewater facilities is that energy efficiency measures can generate 20 percent or more in energy savings. For Hawaii, the 20 percent potential savings translate to more than 58 million kWh per year (or $16.1 million) based on an average electricity rate of 28 cents per kWh.

“The handbook is another example of our commitment to increase the adoption of energy conservation and efficiency throughout Hawaii,” said Hawaii Energy Program Director Ray Starling. “The water and wastewater best practices have been proven effective in other parts of the country, are simple to follow and offer a wide spectrum of energy-efficient measures.”

It is written as a practical guide to help water and wastewater management personnel make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption in all aspects of facility operations, repair and investment. It outlines how to develop and assess an energy management program, implement capital and operational improvements to reduce energy usage and track energy performance.

The handbook provides an overview of each energy-efficient best practice and outlines the potential impact on productivity, the economic benefit and potential energy savings. Each practice is presented in a one-page format for easier readability and reference.

Portions of the handbook were developed with the permission of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable resource program, Focus on Energy.

Municipal and private regulated water and wastewater utilities provide service to 95 percent of Hawaii’s population. There are 206 regulated wastewater treatment facilities with a treatment capacity of more than 243 million gallons per day and an average daily flow of 121 million gallons, according to the state Department of Health.

The drinking water sector includes 130 regulated public water supply systems that consist of surface and ground water sources that produce approximately 260 million gallons per day, according to the State of Hawaii Annual Public Water System Compliance Report from 2010.

DLNR’s Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual

DLNR’s Commission on Water Resource Management funded the development of the Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual, which was prepared by the Hawaii Rural Water Association.

The commission acknowledged that a water utility’s energy bill is one of its largest operating expenses. By improving water system efficiency, the utility can prevent unnecessary waste, defer costs for new water source development and reduce energy bills.

“The majority of Hawaii’s drinking water comes from groundwater wells that require substantial amounts of electricity to pump out of the ground, into elevated storage reservoirs and then transported to customers,” explained William Tam, deputy director for the Commission on Water Resource Management. “If a lot of water is lost during this process, more energy is needed to pump additional water to compensate for the shortfall. Reducing water loss reduces energy consumption.”

The additional benefits of implementing water audits and water loss control programs include the following: increased knowledge of the water distribution system; reduced water loss by identifying problem/risk areas; efficient use of existing supplies; less legal liabilities and minimal service disruptions to customers.

The manual was developed based on the International Water Association’s (IWA) and the America Water Works Association’s (AWWA) “IWA/AWWA Water Audit Methodology.” The methodology was selected based on its research, industry acceptance, simplicity, adaptability and standardized performance indicators.

The manual was adopted from the Georgia Water System Audits and Loss Control Manual (September 2011, Version 1.0) with permission from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Georgia Watershed Protection Branch.

In April 2014, the commission conducted water audit training workshops in the four counties for drinking water utilities. Future workshops may be held based on interest. Water audits are not required in Hawaii. However, the commission is evaluating the implications of requiring water audits in the future.

Downloadable Versions
Hawaii Energy’s Water & Wastewater Energy Management Best Practices Handbook can be downloaded by visiting www.HawaiiEnergy.com/water-and-wastewater. For more information, call 839-8800 on Oahu or toll-free at (877) 231-8222 on the neighbor islands.

To download the Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual, visit the commission’s water conservation website at www.dlnr.hawaii.gov/cwrm/planning/conservation.
For more information, call (808) 587-0214.

Video – Simulated Mars Mission Complete

The HI-SEAS Crew 2 had a live Google Hangout event today when they returned to “Earth” from “Simulated Mars”.  They have been living in a Mars simulation located on Mauna Loa for the past 120 days.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

Here is the video:
[youtube=http://youtu.be/YvUIh2Y8fns]

Resource Caregivers Receive Increased Board Payments

Families that care for children placed with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Service (CWS) Branch will receive a foster board pay increase, effective July 1, 2014. Called resource caregivers, families will receive their first increased payment in August.

Department of Human Services

To ensure that resource caregivers receive the funds necessary to provide safe, healthy, and nurturing environments for children awaiting permanent placement, the DHS requested a legislative appropriation of $8,502,936 in 2014. The budget request was passed in its entirety as part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 executive budget package.

“Hawaii’s rate increase is based on the DHS’ review of foster care rates and practices in 46 other states,” explained DHS Director Patricia McManaman, “and the benefits that Hawaii resource families currently receive in addition to tax-free monthly foster care payments.”

Children enter and exit the foster care system throughout the year. They can remain in resource family homes for days, months, or years in some cases. While siblings are often placed together, resource families also may care for two or more unrelated children.  In 2013, the average number of children per month in resource homes was 1,096.  In June 2014, a total of 1,156 children were in foster care across the State.

Representative Mele Carroll, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, was a strong supporter of increasing foster board payments.  “The bill is a huge step forward to help support the foster families that are integral members of our communities.”  Her Senate counterpart, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland agreed.  “I am very happy with the passage of this legislation and am grateful to the Department of Human Services, Governor, Legislature, advocates and foster families for this team effort!”

The increase in basic board payment also applies to families eligible for adoption assistance, permanency assistance, youth receiving higher education board allowance payments, and to young adults who choose to enroll in DHS’ new program of extended Voluntary Care to Age 21.

Foster board payment rates vary across the nation. Hawaii based its new rates on an age-tiered system indexed to documented costs contained in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Expenditures on Children by Families annual report.   The monthly per child payment to Hawaii resources caregivers has been increased from a base rate of $529 to $575 for 0-5 year olds, $650 for 6-11 year olds, and $676 for children aged 12 and above.

Similar to other states, Hawaii’s resource caregivers also receive QUEST health insurance benefits for their foster children, difficulty of care payments, and a clothing allowance. Difficulty of care payments are provided to resource caregivers that support children who require more intensive physical, emotional, psychological or behavioral care and supervision, as determined by a treating professional.

Resource families also are eligible to receive special circumstances or events payments, designated transportation costs (school bus fare or private car mileage, local bus fare) that effect child placement or promote family reunification, and $500 per child per year for extracurricular activities, social activities, hobbies, and camp funds.

Reimbursable costs include attendance at authorized meetings, respite care and child care coverage, limited liability insurance training, and  enhancements necessary for the child’s growth and development (e.g. Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, community soccer, community baseball, community swimming, Boys and Girls Clubs).

To learn more about becoming a resource care giver or attending one of the statewide informational briefings, please visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/ssd/home/child-welfare-services/foster-and-adoptive-care/