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:

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/ 

Hawaii’s State and County Leaders Formalize Joint Sustainability Commitment

“Aloha+ Challenge” Sets 6 Targets by 2030

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s four county mayors, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) leadership jointly launched the Aloha+ Challenge: A Culture of Sustainability – He Nohona ‘Ae‘oia at a declaration signing held today at the Hawaii State Capitol. The statewide joint leadership commitment sets clear targets for clean energy transformation, local food production, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart growth, climate resilience, green jobs and education by 2030.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

“The Aloha+ Challenge brings us all together across jurisdictions, agencies, sectors and communities to build a sustainable Hawaii for current and future generations,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who as a member of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is in a strong position to provide recommendations on how the federal government can support local efforts outlined today. “The targets transcend political timelines with a longer-term vision that also calls upon us to take bold action now. As a microcosm of the world’s sustainability challenges, it is time for Hawaii to become a global model of how to develop innovative and collaborative solutions.”

The Hawaii State Legislature unanimously passed the Aloha+ Challenge through resolution this year. Hawaii Green Growth, which brings together key leaders from federal, state, county, business and nonprofit organizations, hosted the declaration signing to show broad support.

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Hawaii’s commitment to the Aloha+ Challenge is already creating international attention. With the U.S. Department of State, Hawaii has been invited to announce the Aloha+ Challenge on the world stage at a high-level Global Island Partnership event in Samoa this September, during the United Nations’ International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which focuses on sustainable development.

“Alternative energy sources like H-Power, solar and wind, combined with fewer car trips and reduced energy consumption, will help us sustain our island for future generations,” said City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We have to invest in our future, and now is the time to do it.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said: “The Aloha+ Challenge is about protecting our Hawaii and maximizing our resources to improve the quality of life for our communities. It reinforces that our decision-making as a state must focus on sustaining our resources for generations to come, and must be rooted in aloha.”

“The Aloha+ Challenge is about leading by example,” Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said. “Our goal is to provide a higher quality of life for our children, and to build a community for our grandchildren that they can be proud of.”

“We are a state separated by ocean, but we are connected in so many ways – by families, by businesses and by shared values and traditions,” said Mayor Bernard Carvahlo of Kauai County. “It is important for us to always remember that. When our leadership focuses on one vision, we are united.”

“We must honor our past while also preparing for our future,” said Kamana‘opono Crabbe, chief executive officer for OHA. “The active participation of the community partners in this effort will also play a major role in bringing about a better, brighter future for all people of Hawaii.”

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie's Twitter feed.

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie’s Twitter feed.

In addition to sharing tools and knowledge and expanding partnerships, Hawaii’s top elected officials have agreed to develop a joint system of tracking progress and to increase long-term financing mechanisms for conservation and sustainability programs geared towards reaching the 2030 targets.

The Aloha+ Challenge commits Hawaii to reaching six targets by 2030:

  1. Clean Energy: 70 percent clean energy – 40 percent from renewables and 30 percent from efficiency (reinforcing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative)
  2. Local Food: At least double local food production – 20 to 30 percent of food consumed is grown locally
  3. Natural Resource Management: Reverse the trend of natural resource loss mauka to makai by increasing freshwater security, watershed protection, community-based marine management, invasive species control and native species restoration
  4. Waste Reduction: Reduce the solid waste stream prior to disposal by 70 percent through source reduction, recycling, bioconversion and landfill diversion methods
  5. Smart Sustainable Communities: Increase livability and resilience in the built environment through planning and implementation at state and county levels
  6. Green Workforce and Education: Increase local green jobs and education to implement these targets

In 2011, Gov. Abercrombie signed Act 181, which established sustainability as a priority in the Hawaii State Plan and incorporated the definition, goals and principles of sustainability from the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan into Chapter 226. More than 10,000 citizens participated in the Hawaii 2050 planning process.

24th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference Coming Up

The 24th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference is September 12-14 at the Kahili Golf Course. All attendees registering before August 1 enjoy a discounted fee of up to $75; visit hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers.org for details.

Geared to farmers, educators, orchard managers and proponents of sustainable agriculture, the weeklong event is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) and open to the public.

The conference is titled “It’s All About Production” and offers a variety of breakout sessions, plus visiting researchers and agro experts.

Roger Leakey

Roger Leakey

Professor Roger Leakey, crop physiologist, will give the keynote address, “The Domestication of Tropical Trees as New Fruit and Nut Crops.” Dr. Leakey is the former director of research at the International Center for Research in Agroforestry and professor of agroecology and sustainable development of James Cook University in Australia.

Other speakers include tree-pruning expert Dr. Yoshimi Yonemoto of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, who will offer “Training and Pruning for Production,” He will demonstrate how to keep mangos under 5 feet tall and produce copious amount of fruits, while Dr. John Preece of the USDA and National Clonal Germplasm Repository in California will discuss “Vegetative Propagation of Difficult Woody Plants.”

Considered the world’s leading expert on post-harvest technology, the University of Hawai’i’s Dr. Robert Paull will do a dinner presentation on “Phenology, Productivity and Profits.”

Ken Love of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers displays varieties of mangos grown in Hawaii.

Ken Love of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers displays varieties of mangos grown in Hawaii.

HTFG Executive Director Ken Love says intimate breakout sessions will cover specific crops, while delving into a wide range of topics like “Selling to Whole Foods” by Steve Carey and “Soil Vitality and On-Farm Mentoring” by Vince Mina. Breakout presenters include Scot Nelson, Gabe Sachter-Smith, Craig Elevitch, Tom Baldwin, Brian Lievens, Leakey, Yonemoto, Preece and Paull. In addition, there will be Sunday roundtable and panel discussion touching on marketing and “Where Do We Go from Here?”

The annual gathering continues September 15-19 with day-long mini sessions in Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Hilo and Kona. Mini-conferences will include presentations by speakers, plus on-site visits to member’s farms and greenhouses.

Registration forms and fee schedule are available at www.htfg.org or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

Governor Abercrombie Signs 5 Bills Relating to Energy

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed five energy-related measures (Acts 106 to 110) that address solar energy device warranties or guarantees, the energy systems development fund, the Public Utilities Commission, modernization of the electric grid and a car-sharing vehicle surcharge tax.

Energy Bills

“We spend billions of dollars a year on imported oil,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Let’s keep our money within the state by investing in clean, renewable energy development that will reduce carbon emissions in the process, helping to mitigate climate change. These bills are critical to Hawaii’s future and demonstrate our commitment to a more sustainable state for our residents.”

Senate Bill 2657 (Relating to Renewable Energy) requires contractors installing solar energy devices to notify private entities that installation may void roofing warranties or guarantees and to obtain written approval and follow written instructions for waterproofing roof penetrations from the roof manufacturer, unless the private entity forgoes the roofing warranty or guarantee. The measure also requires a roofing contractor that waterproofs roof penetrations related to the installation of a solar energy device to honor the roof warranty or guarantee.

Senate Bill 2196 (Relating to Energy) reestablishes the energy systems development special fund that was repealed on June 30, 2013. The measure also extends the allocation of revenues collected from the environmental response, energy and food security tax, also known as the “barrel tax,” to various special funds from 2015 to 2030.

Senate Bill 2948 (Relating to the Public Utilities Commission) transfers the administrative placement of the Commission from the Department of Budget and Finance to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and clarifies its authority to concerning standard administrative practices, including operational expenditures and hiring personnel. The measure also enables the commission chair to appoint, employ and dismiss an executive, fiscal and personnel officer.

House Bill 1943 (Modernization of the Hawaii Electric System) amends the Public Utilities Commission principles regarding the modernization of the electric grid.

Senate Bill 2731 (Relating to a Car-sharing Vehicle Surcharge Tax) establishes a car-sharing vehicle surcharge tax.

Hawaii Applauds Obama Administration’s Climate Change for Power Plants – Rest of the Country Following Hawaii’s Lead

The White House today released new rules under the Clean Air Act governing what existing power plants must do to reduce earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.  These rules provide states flexibility to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as outlined in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), as compliance measures.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

Gov. Abercrombie applauded the new rules, stating, “Hawaii is at the forefront of responding to climate change through our Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which serves as a substantial economic driver while reducing our dependence on imported oil.  By building such flexibility into the rules, President Obama is encouraging the rest of the country to follow Hawaii’s lead in pursuing clean energy.”

New financial tools under development by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) to increase deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are well-timed to empower the state’s energy consumers to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions through use of renewable energy like rooftop solar.

“Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization financing tool, or GEMS, will expand low-cost financing to clean energy solutions while helping the state gain credit for reducing carbon through lesser use of petroleum products to generate electricity,” said DBEDT Director Richard Lim.

Proposed by the governor in his 2013 State of the State address and signed into law later that year, GEMS is an innovative, clean energy financing program designed to make clean energy improvements affordable and accessible to Hawaii consumers, especially underserved markets such as low- and moderate-income homeowners, renters and nonprofits.

These new rules requiring carbon dioxide emissions reductions from power plants were issued pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  During the its extensive process to hear from stakeholders throughout the nation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached out to Hawaii.  The state submitted a set of consolidated comments developed by the Hawaii Department of Health, Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and DBEDT regarding state plans to meet federal carbon emission reduction targets for existing electricity generation units.

Mark Glick, the administrator of the State Energy Office, acknowledged EPA’s innovative approach and outreach to Hawaii.  “EPA is clearly recognizing innovative policies like the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, by allowing states to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy as greenhouse gas compliance measures.   Hawaii is able to comply with little or no financial impact on our businesses and residents by allowing our ongoing clean energy agenda to count for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Glick said.

Gov. Abercrombie added:  “Hawaii is working with the Obama Administration to align our state’s commitment to go beyond 40 percent renewable energy in the electrical power sector by 2030 and our federal and state policies to reduce our carbon footprint.   As a leading test bed for clean energy, Hawaii can demonstrate to the world how to stimulate our economy while improving the environment for future generations.”

The new EPA rules allow states to employ a range of measures to meet carbon emission targets, including renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. In Hawaii, numerous such initiatives are underway in the power generation sector under the umbrella of the HCEI.

Ongoing PUC dockets include those relating to energy efficiency portfolio standards, requests for proposals for renewable energy production, and interconnection matters. In addition, the PUC and DBEDT are working with the Hawaiian Electric Companies to better align the utility’s business model with consumer interests and the state’s public policy’s goals.

UH Hilo and County of Hawaiʻi Offer Sustainable Farming Forum

The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the County of Hawaiʻi will host a free public forum on “Building Momentum Toward a Resilient and Sustainable Local Farming Culture” on Thursday, May 22, 9-4:30 p.m., in UH Hilo’s UCB Room 100. The forum aims to share collective knowledge and brainstorm ideas about the future of Hawaiʻi Island agriculture, beginning with how to improve soil health.

UH Hilo Moniker

Dr. Hector Valenzuela of the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and Dr. Norman Arancon of CAFNRM will be the lead presenters with discussion facilitation by Interim CAFNRM Dean Bruce Mathews and County Councilwoman Margaret Wille, chair of the County Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy, and Sustainability.

Morning presentations and panel discussions focus on eco-friendly agro-ecological models, integrated crop-livestock systems and feed options, improving soil health, and increasing economical options for high quality compost. The afternoon sessions includes a discussion on red fire ant control strategies and facilitated breakout sessions to follow up on the morning topics.

For further information, call CAFNRM at 932-7036.

Hawaii Ranked 7th in Solar Electric Power Association Analysis

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) this morning named the Top 10 American electric utilities that in 2013 added the most new solar power to their systems and the most solar on a watts-per-customer basis.

Watts

This annual ranking, which identifies the companies that are integrating solar into the nation’s power grid, is part of the seventh annual Utility Solar Rankings report.

The full report, which will be released in June 2014, identifies leading solar industry trends such as total installed capacity, market share and industry growth rates.

Utilities ranking in this year’s SEPA Top 10 by Solar Megawatt accounted for 82 percent of all capacity integrated in 2013, up from 73 percent in 2012.

The top three leading implementers of utility solar in the Megawatt rankings hail from the western half of the United States:

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
  2.  San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E)
  3. Arizona Public Service (APS).

Rounding out the Megawatt list are:

  • Southern California Edison (SCE)
  • Duke Energy Progress
  • National Grid
  • Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G)
  • Hawaiian Electric Company
  • Georgia Power
  • Duke Energy Carolinas.

Six of the ten utilities were previously ranked in 2012. Newcomers to the list include Duke Energy Progress, National Grid, and Georgia Power. This is the sixth year that Pacific Gas and Electric Company has topped the list.

“We are firmly committed to renewable energy and solar is a vital part of California’s energy mix,” said Steve Malnight, PG&E’s Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions. “Given both PG&E’s large-scale solar procurement and our customers’ ongoing support of solar and other clean technologies, we are confident we will continue to be a renewable energy leader.”

The SEPA Top 10 Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings take into account the number of customers each utility serves relative to its solar megawatts installed, giving small utilities a   means to measure the relative intensity of their solar energy capacity on an equal footing with any other utility, regardless of size.

Leading the Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings is Sterling Municipal Light Department (SMLD), a public power utility in Massachusetts that serves 3,700 customers. Following Sterling is San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E), and a second public power utility, Silicon Valley Power. The remaining Top 10 providers include Arizona Public Service(APS), Hawaiian Electric Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Hawaii Electric Light, Maui Electric Company, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), and Imperial Irrigation District (IID). In the Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings the Hawaiian utilities and Imperial Irrigation District from California were in the top ten in 2012 as well.

“We are very excited to be receiving recognition for our solar program,” said Sean Hamilton, general manager, Sterling Municipal Light Department. “We owe the success of the program to our entire community of staff, supporters and partners.  The Sterling Light Commission, employees, Sterling Selectmen and Planning Board, our business partners, E.H. Perkins, CES Sterling LLC, INDU Solar Holdings, groSolar, as well as many others, all played a role in creating a public-private partnership that included an educational piece for our local schools. This achievement is something the whole town can be proud of for many years to come.”

“We are thrilled to see milestones surpassed and barriers broken from coast to coast,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “It’s truly inspiring to see utility partners and their consumer communities rally around implementing solar programs that are changing the nature of our national energy portfolio.”

For additional information:

The complete rankings can be found here

UH Hilo MOP Students Take Top Awards in Annual Symposium

Four University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Marine Option Program students were recently awarded top honors at the 31st Annual Marine Option Program System Symposium held on April 12 at Kapiolani Community College on O`ahu.
UH Hilo Moniker
The Award for Best Overall Research Paper went to Marine Science senior Amber Forrestral for her project entitled, “Bioimpedance and Condition of Reef Fish Across a Landscape Gradient.”

The Award for Best Internship Project was won by Rebecca Rogers for her project on “Automated, Remote and Near Real-time Sampling and Detection of Harmful Algae using the Environmental Sample Processor.”

Jenae Olson received the Award for Best Poster. Her project, in association with the Division of Aquatic Resources, was on “Determination of the Oxygen Tolerance of Valamugil engeli (Marquesan mullet).”

The PACON International (Hawai’i Chapter) Award for the best project integrating marine science and technology, with a Pacific focus, went to Bradley Young for his project, “Establishment of High Frequency (HF) Radar and Kiosk Interpretation in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.”

Four other UH Hilo students presented their work in the form of oral and poster presentations on research and internship MOP projects that were well received. These students were Christina Crockett, Kevin Bruce, Emily Wallingford, and James Stilley.

The UH Hilo MOP is a hands-on program open to students in any field of study who have an interest in the ocean. It is a certificate granting program that offers courses on marine project development through the Department of Marine Science.

The annual symposium rotates between UH campuses and will be hosted by Windward Community College in April 2015.

For more information, email uhhmop@hawaii.edu or lparr@hawaii.edu.

Parker Ranch Launches Paniolo Power Company

Parker Ranch has launched a new subsidiary, Paniolo Power Company LLC, Neil “Dutch” Kuyper, CEO of Parker Ranch, Inc., announced today.
Parker Cows
“The preliminary results from our energy team, led by Siemens, tell us there is the real opportunity to attract capital to invest in our community grid concept,” Kuyper said.

Parker Ranch hired a consortium led by Siemens to evaluate the merits of a community-based energy solution for Greater Waimea and Kohala as well as prepare a utility-grade integrated resource plan.

Hawaii Island electric rates from Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCO) are consistently more than 37 cents a kilowatt-hour, and often well over 40 cents, despite nearly half of the island’s electricity being generated from renewable sources. The national average for electricity rates last year was 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“We think that the residents and businesses of the Big Island could be better served by a series of community solutions with regional level distributed generation focusing on our plentiful renewable resources,” said Kuyper.

“Because our island is so large, it is in a sense a few islands within the island.  Waimea is 55 miles from Kona and 60 miles from Hilo.  A combination of several regional solutions for the various parts of the island seems to make logical sense.”

Kuyper said that Paniolo Power has begun discussions with potential operating and capital partners to manage and fund the effort. “We are pleased and excited about the inquiries that we have received in recent months to co-invest in our concept.  My background lends itself to raise capital for these kinds of investments,” said Kuyper.

Parker Ranch will present the preliminary findings on its Integrated Resource Plan study to the Waimea Community Association Thursday, April 3, 5:15 p.m. in the Waimea School Cafeteria.

Hawaiian Electric Company President and CEO to Speak at Next Exceptional Energy Lecture Series at NEHLA

Friends of NELHA (FON) will host the fourth in a series of free lectures regarding energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Monday, April 7.

NEHLA

Makai side of the NEHLA plant

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., President and CEO Dick Rosenblum will be the featured speaker and presenting “Energy Resource Optimization:  What’s Best for  Hawaii?” The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series events start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Dick Rosenblum was named president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian  Electric Company, Inc. in 2009. He has 32 years of experience in all facets of the utility business at Southern  California Edison (SCE), one of the largest electric utilities in  California. He retired from SCE in June 2008 as senior vice president of generation and chief nuclear officer responsible for all power generating facilities, including nuclear and related fuel supplies.

During that tenure, Rosenblum helped initiate one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic projects which aimed to install 250 megawatts of solar generating capacity on commercial rooftops in Southern California.

Previously, he served as senior vice president of SCE’s transmission and distribution business unit, responsible for high-voltage bulk transmission and retail  distribution of electricity in their 50,000 square mile service territory of 4.6 million customers.  He has also held the positions of vice president of engineering and technical services responsible for engineering construction, safety oversight, and other engineering support activities; and vice president of SCE’s distribution business unit, including responsibility for customer service.

Originally from New York, he has also been a part-time resident of Hawai‘i Island for more than 20 years.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Rosenblum serves on the board of Aloha United Way (Board Chair); Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America; Hawai‘i Business Roundtable and High Technology  Development  Corporation.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Share Daily Solar and Wind Power Data

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are now sharing “Renewable Watch” for Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, online displays that show the daily contribution of solar and wind generation on each island and how energy from these resources changes throughout the day.

The orange line measures the amount of energy produced by PV throughout Hawaii Island. The green line measures the wind energy production from wind facilities on Hawaii Island. The blue line represents the net system load, which is the amount of energy met by utility generation. The light blue line is the gross system load, which is the total demand, or the total amount of electricity used by customers, on the system. This demand is met by a combination of what is served by the utility and what is provided by local distributed systems, such as PV on rooftops. The difference between the blue and light blue lines represents the estimated aggregated distributed generation produced by local PV generation. This estimate provides a good estimate of how much energy is being produced by rooftop PV systems without our having to meter every rooftop PV system. This perspective provided operations and planning personnel with the information to gauge the impact of rooftop PV on system load and helped explain the decrease in mid-day load. (Click to Enlarge)

The orange line measures the amount of energy produced by PV throughout Hawaii Island.
The green line measures the wind energy production from wind facilities on Hawaii Island.
The blue line represents the net system load, which is the amount of energy met by utility generation.
The light blue line is the gross system load, which is the total demand, or the total amount of electricity used by customers, on the system. This demand is met by a combination of what is served by the utility and what is provided by local distributed systems, such as PV on rooftops.
The difference between the blue and light blue lines represents the estimated aggregated distributed generation produced by local PV generation. This estimate provides a good estimate of how much energy is being produced by rooftop PV systems without our having to meter every rooftop PV system. This perspective provided operations and planning personnel with the information to gauge the impact of rooftop PV on system load and helped explain the decrease in mid-day load.
(Click to Enlarge)

Displays for each island can be found on the homepage under Clean Energy Future at www.hawaiianelectric.com for Oahu, on www.mauielectric.com for Maui Island and www.hawaiielectriclight.com for the Island of Hawaii.

Each island’s display shows the measured output from large wind and solar facilities combined with the estimated output from residential rooftop PV systems. These sites graphically show how renewable energy resources can vary significantly by region, day, and time of day due to changes in weather, such as wind strength and cloud cover. (Non-variable renewable energy generation — such as geothermal on Hawaii Island, bagasse-fired generation from HC&S on Maui and HPOWER on Oahu — are not shown.)

“Hawaii is blessed with abundant sunshine and strong winds. With the ‘Renewable Watch’ displays, anyone can see at a glance that these are extremely productive resources with output that varies throughout the day,” said Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric vice president for energy resources and operations. “With the help of these resources and others, we reached a record 18% renewable energy percentage in 2013.”

The Solar Electric Power Association ranks Hawaii number one in the nation for solar watts per customer. At the end of 2013, over 40,000 solar installations across the three companies’ service territories had a combined capacity of about 300 megawatts.

To maintain reliable electric service for all customers, utility engineers must adjust the output of firm sources of generation up or down as the output from variable sources like solar and wind rises and falls throughout the day. The Hawaiian Electric Companies developed “Renewable Watch” to help system operators and engineers obtain information about the contribution of energy from the variable solar and wind resources.

“This information can help us integrate higher levels of renewable energy more effectively. Solar and wind power are increasingly important to our energy mix, so we need to understand when and how these resources affect our system,” Seu said.

Data from wind facilities and utility-scale solar facilities for “Renewable Watch” comes from utility system-monitoring equipment. Data for customer-sited solar power comes from regional estimates using solar sensors strategically placed throughout the islands and other sources.  Solar sensors monitor irradiance (the rate at which solar energy falls onto a surface) to help estimate the energy generated by thousands of PV systems across the island.

Displays of additional renewable resources will be added to “Renewable Watch” screens as they come online.

UH Hilo Students Awarded Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong Scholarship

Three students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo were awarded the Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong Scholarship at the third annual Bee-coming Sustainable event sponsored by the Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong program held on March 8 at the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory in Panaewa.

Māpuhonehone, the bee friendly garden, is at the UH Hilo farm in Panaʻewa, Hawaiʻi.

Māpuhonehone, the bee friendly garden, is at the UH Hilo farm in Panaʻewa, Hawaiʻi.

The program is a collaborative partnership with Chef Wong and UH Hilo to bring greater awareness to the importance of honey bees and support the educational beekeeping activities at UH Hilo.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Stephen Zilch, Kawehi Lopez and Kirsti Vedenoja. Chancellor Don Straney and Marketing Director for Alan Wongs, Nicole Ng, presented the recipients with a check for $1,000 each.

The event also showcased the advanced beekeeping students who presented walking tours through Mapuhonehone, the bee garden, van tours to the apiaries, educational demonstrations and displays of honey extraction, honey sampling, frames, and a live observation hive. In addition, Chef Wong’s staff treated adopters to food samplings made with honey, such as pizza, pulled pork sliders, ice cream and salad dressing with Hawaiʻi Community College-grown greens.

To learn more about the program, visit: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/adoptabeehive/.

Friends of NELHA Continues Energy Lecture Series

Friends of NELHA (FON) will host the third in a series of free lectures regarding energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Wednesday, March 19.
NEHLA Aerial

Pacific Biodiesel Technologies Vice President and co-founder Kelly King will be the featured speaker on “Fuels and Transportation.” The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series event will start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Kelly King cofounded Pacific Biodiesel, a renewable energy company, with her husband Robert King in 1996. The company was the first commercial biodiesel firm in the US and was initially created to alleviate the disposal of waste cooking oil at Maui’s landfill. As director of marketing and communications, Kelly has helped to develop 13 biodiesel plants in the US and Japan.

The company’s newest venture, Big Island Biodiesel, began production in the 4th quarter of 2012.  This 5.5M- gallon-a-year biodiesel plant located in Kea’au on Hawaii Island is the most modern facility in the world.  Featuring zero-waste processing, this plant produces the highest quality biodiesel available in the country.  The company also has a grease trap and used cooking oil operation servicing the entire Big Island.

In 2006, with Daryl Hannah and Willie and Annie Nelson, Kelly co-founded the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a national nonprofit organization that is developing a certification process for sustainable biodiesel practices.  In Hawaii, Kelly has been active as a board member on many local nonprofits and served on the Hawaii State Board of Education, representing Maui County.  She is currently chair of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and serves on the board of Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance, Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, and UHMC Sustainable Sciences Management Advisory Council.  She is working on several agriculture-related projects with Pacific Biodiesel.

Since its founding, Pacific Biodiesel has been involved in all aspects of the biodiesel business, from fuel crop research and waste oil collection to fuel processing, quality management, and distribution. The company designs, owns, builds, and operates scalable, multiple-feedstock biodiesel plants utilizing used cooking oil, yellow grease, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, tallow, and other feedstocks.  The company’s community-based biodiesel model has become a standard for the sustainable, renewable fuel industry.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Hawaii State Department of Education Announces Historic Sustainable Energy Program

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is embarking on a multiyear effort to harness sustainable energy and modernize campuses while expanding real-world educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

DOE ReleaseYesterday, the DOE announced it has selected Chevron Energy Solutions to help lead implementation of the five-year sustainable energy program, to be called Ka Hei.

The name Ka Hei comes from a specific type of snare used by the Hawaiian god Maui to capture the sun, according to Hawaiian tradition. The DOE’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program educational specialists provided the name for this ambitious program.

Ka Hei will include the installation of sustainable energy generation equipment in all public schools statewide, positioning the DOE among the state’s foremost environmental stewards.

Another meaning of Ka Hei is, “to absorb as knowledge or skill.” As an extension of facility upgrades, Ka Hei will feature educational opportunities to engage students and staff in energy awareness and STEM. Components of the program include living laboratories, energy conservation hands-on learning, green energy simulators, STEM career exposure and student school contests. Students will receive real-time data on clean energy systems, creating relevant lessons about real-world scenarios.

Educational, environmental and financial benefits of Ka Hei will extend well beyond the five-year plan. The initiative will help boost student achievement in STEM while enhancing the financial stability of the DOE through the implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other sustainability projects.

“Ka Hei offers exciting opportunities on a number of levels, from educating our students about a multitude of energy components and workforce opportunities to strengthening communities and partnerships in the state’s energy sustainability goals,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Additionally, Ka Hei is a critical pillar of the DOE’s Strategic Plan to enhance learning opportunities in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We look forward to our partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions in shaping curricula for our schools and collaboration with our utility companies in exploring all that this program has to offer.”

Speaking at a press conference today at Kaimuki High, one of several DOE campuses currently powered partly by rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Matayoshi reinforced the DOE’s commitment to Hawaii’s sustainable future. In 2011, the DOE began a pilot program to install PV systems at four Oahu high schools. The pilot expanded a year later to include 28 more schools on Oahu, and all 15 on Kauai. Building on the success of the pilot, which now includes a total of 47 schools on Oahu and Kauai, the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services is rolling out the Ka Hei program.

Ka Hei Phase I will begin implementation of renewable energy integration at three schools – one each on Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu. As schools become more self sufficient, they can add additional value to the integrated electric grid of the future. The DOE will be a pioneer among the nation’s school districts by demonstrating the commitment and capability to becoming self-reliant for energy needs.

Brian Kealoha, regional manager for Chevron Energy Solutions, said, “Ka Hei is a comprehensive program that goes well beyond a traditional facilities improvement project but rather, focuses on driving broad-based impacts and results for the Department of Education and the communities which it serves.”

The DOE and Chevron Energy Solutions are working with Hawaiian Electric Company to find solutions to anticipated limitations on distributed generation on some neighborhood circuits.

“Hawaiian Electric Company is at the cutting edge of integrating utility-scale and customer-sited renewable energy generation and our collaboration with the Department of Education and Chevron Energy Solutions is key to ensuring that our future generations understand and act upon the importance of energy sustainability in our island state,” said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Dick Rosenblum.

The overarching goals for Ka Hei are:

· Reduce energy consumption and cost at all 255 DOE schools;
· Build a diverse portfolio of new, clean, and on-site energy generation;
· Implement aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures including demand response;
· Support the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals and the DOE’s goal of 90 percent clean energy by 2040; and
· Leverage this transformation to create educational opportunities and stimulate the economy through employment of local expertise and labor.

Kaimuki High administrators today demonstrated the school’s data dashboard showing real-time feeds of its energy system. Kaimuki High, in partnership with the Office of Naval Research, will integrate renewable energy efforts into its curriculum beginning fall 2014 with the debut of a STEM Academy. Kaimuki’s STEM Academy is part of the school’s Wall-to-Wall Academies, featuring college-style classes providing personalized education as well as college and career preparation for students. The STEM Academy will focus on the engineering design process.

“Kaimuki High is not only doing its share to heighten the awareness of energy efficiency and sustainability but we are also raising the bar of student learning in STEM subjects and career pathways,” said Wade Araki, principal. “We are very excited about expanding our pilot efforts and the department’s partnerships going forward to shape our curriculum into real-world application.”

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United Response to John Doe vs. County of Hawaii GMO Lawsuit

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United is aware of the legal action  “John Doe vs. County of Hawaii” filed in State Superior Court against the County of Hawaii…

Farmers and Ranchers UnitedWe “STRONGLY SUPPORT and Stand United with our fellow Farmers in this suit. Brought by Farmers who are frightened by the potential implications of complying with these unjustified and intrusive requirements – specifically, harassment of their family and employees and vandalism of their operations by anti-technology activists.

In John Doe vs. County of Hawaii, the complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief from implementing the registration and disclosure provisions of “Hawaii Bill 113.”

Due to the immediacy of the registration deadline, this complaint seeks relief only in connection with the registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113, even though the entirety of Bill 113 is legally invalid because it stands in direct conflict with numerous federal and state laws.

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, the County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most GE crops.

The registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113 unfairly target growers of genetically engineered crops, primarily papaya growers, by forcing them to disclose personal and commercially confidential information about themselves and their operations without any scientific or factual justification:

Without any assurances that the County can or will protect the registration information from public disclosure as allowed under Bill 113, these farmers and growers have good reason to believe that providing this information could result in real harm – including the vandalizing of their crops or intimidation or harassment of their family and/or employees.  Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-genetically engineered or anti-GMO agriculture political activism in Hawaiʻi (and throughout the United States) has crossed the line from a spirited debate to extremism, vandalism, and violence.

The lawsuit alleges that the disclosure provision of Bill 113 is in direct conflict with two State laws – the Uniform Information Practices Act and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act – and violates Plaintiff’s rights to privacy and due process under the Constitution of Hawaii.

Accordingly, it asks the court to enjoin or suspend the registration process until the court ultimately determines the lawfulness of the disclosure provision and how this information will be treated under state law.

House Bill Directs the PUC to Accomodate Modernization of Hawaii’s Electric Grid System

The House passed a measure that will help resolve the inability for thousands of Hawaii families to install photovoltaic solar panels while being left in limbo by electric utilities. The measure directs the Public Utilities Commission to establish new guidelines and rules that will support the upgrade and modernization of Hawaii’s electric grid and accommodate growing energy generation from residential and business customers.

capital

Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo) who introduced the bill said, “We cannot let families make an investment to save on their electric bills but then be left waiting months or years for utilities to finally connect them to the grid. They should be able to connect to the grid in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost, and know what to expect before they put their money down.”

HB 1943, HD 2 asks the commission to address technical, policy and economic issues associated with modernizing the state’s electric grid and include policies that would support a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and expand options for customers to manage their own energy use. The measure also directs the PUC to begin proceedings to discuss upgrades to the grid no later than July 14, 2014. The bill was drafted in response to the inability of the current grid system to accommodate all of the individuals and businesses interested in purchasing their own photovoltaic system and hooking it up to the grid.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its review.

Crew for Second HI-SEAS Mission Announced – Next Extended Simulation of Mars Exploration Begins March 28

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015.  “Hawai‘i provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

HI-SEAS crew members were required have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old.  Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood – A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Ross is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman – An officer in the US Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Casey now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams – Director of the Neuropsychology Department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Ron holds a PhD in Neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer – Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory.  Tiffany was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet – A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center.  Lucie designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio – A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control, and life support systems. Anne is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai, a mechanical engineer and Captain in the US Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa.  The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems:  crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

More information, photos, and full biographies for the 2014 crew members are available on the HI-SEAS website at http://hi-seas.org/.  Members of the media can download high-resolution photos from the previous HI-SEAS mission at:  http://go.hawaii.edu/GQ

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org/

Public Invited to the Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival

The public is invited to the 7th annual University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival on Sunday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hilo’s Bayfront Beach Park.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This free, event is hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Pacific Island Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) in partnership with the County of Hawaiʻi, EPSCoR Hawaiʻi IMUA III, UH Hilo Student Activities Council, UH Hilo Student Association, Board of Media Broadcasting, Board of Student Publications, and the University of Hawai’i Sea Grant.

Since its debut as Ocean Day in 2007, the festival has become a popular community event, drawing crowds in excess of 2,000 participants. Volunteer Coordinator Amelie Sterling says the event also serves as an important learning resource for students.

“Ocean Day is a great volunteer opportunity for students to gain a service learning experience as well as enhance their resumes and build skills for the future,” Sterling said. “Some faculty members even offer it as an opportunity for students to gain extra credit or fulfill a community service requirement within their course.”

The Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival is focused on increasing awareness of ocean and coastal issues such as conservation, sustainable use of resources and ocean safety through interactive displays, activities and booths. Activities include fishing games, marine critter touch tanks, craft making, makahiki games, face painting, poi-pounding, seed planting, marine debris displays, and more. The event also showcases ongoing research while providing opportunities to interact with people interested in working together to care for island and ocean communities.

For more information, email: UHpipes@hawaii.edu or call Amelie Sterling at 933-0707.

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.