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/.

Hawaii Senate Committee Advances Bills Protecting the Environment

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced legislation to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources. The committee passed bills that, if made law, would have immediate and far-reaching effects on beach shorelines, invasive species control, conservation, sustainability, climate change and disaster planning efforts.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

“We must continually work together to maintain our unique island home for the health and pleasure of our families and, also, the stability of our economy through the visitor industry,” said Sen. David Ige, WAM Committee chairman. “These bills passed today touch on many facets of the environment both with immediate actions and long-term planning, and will require more meetings and consensus for success.”

The environment protection measures passed today include:

SB2742 – Establishes the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability to provide the structure and opportunity for a new generation of leaders to emerge who possess the ability to address Hawaii and the Pacific-Asia region’s risks from natural and man-made hazards and to develop solutions for sustainable economic growth within the region’s unique physical and cultural diversity.

SB3035 – Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for planning for and construction for the realignment of Kamehameha Highway mauka of Laniakea beach on the North Shore of Oahu.

SB3036 – Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to create a North Shore beach management plan for the North Shore of Oahu stretching from Sunset beach to Waimea Bay.

The Senate WAM Committee last week advanced two joint majority package bills that support efforts to address invasive species and climate change. The measures are:

SB2343 – Appropriates funds to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning.

SB2344 - Addresses climate change adaptation by establishing the interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to create a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report that addresses sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050. Tasks the Office of Planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations using the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other statewide climate impacts identified under Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012. Appropriates funds for staffing and resources.

Grassroot Institute Issue Brief Looks at the Minimum Wage Debate

A recent Issue Brief from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii considers the effects of an increase in the minimum wage, concluding that the raise in the minimum wage currently before the Hawaii Legislature will not advance the goal of improving the plight of Hawaii’s working poor.

Click to read brief

Click to read brief

The report, entitled Four Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate in Hawaii, identifies four key areas of concern that are at odds with the objectives of the legislation. They are:

  • Raising the minimum wage will benefit less than 4%of low-income working families.
  • The current proposed minimum wage raise increases the costs of low-skilled labor by 39%.
  • Raising the minimum wage will not lift working families out of poverty.
  • Raising the minimum wage is expected to reduce teenage employment.

Though the intent of a minimum wage increase is to lift Hawaii’s working families out of poverty, the brief concludes that such legislation will do little to achieve this objective while placing a substantial burden on Hawaii’s small businesses and employers. In effect, states the brief author, “[a]n increase in the minimum wage would accomplish no more than to increase benefits for a handful of low-income working families at the expense of teenage workers and small business owners. The one thing that the minimum wage proposal does accomplish, however, is to effectively divert the political narrative away from the real causes of poverty and inequality in Hawaii.”

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii continues to advocate for free market solutions to our state’s economic problems,” states Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Unfortunately, the proposed raise in the minimum wage is nothing more than a band-aid solution that will burden Hawaii’s businesses without effectively helping our state’s working families. What we really need is a reduction in the obstacles that the state places on business and entrepreneurship in Hawaii, as a vibrant and growing economy is the best way to improve the situation of low-wage workers.”

You can read or download this brief in its entirety at: http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2014/02/four-things-you-should-know-about-the-minimum-wage-debate-in-hawaii/.

NELHA, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Jump into Energy Storage Race

The state, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Company announced a strategic partnership to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona, managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NEHLA Aerial

“This strategic partnership highlights NELHA’s value to our state as a test-bed for new technologies and driver of innovation and economic development,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who last month released more than $13 million for capital improvements at NELHA facilities.

“With the significant cost reduction in clean energy generation over the years, some consider lower cost energy storage to be the ’missing link’ and one of the most challenging elements in the design and function of a clean energy microgrid,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour.

Energy storage is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant potential for future growth as microgrids require higher degrees of reliability and power quality, sophisticated generation-load balancing.

According to some reports, the worldwide market for energy storage systems for wind and solar will grow from less than $150 million annually in 2013 to $10.3 billion by 2023 and an installed capacity of projected to total 21.8 GW.

“The good news is that we have already developed the necessary infrastructure to allow for the ‘real-world’ grid connected standardized testing and validation of energy storage devices at HOST Park,” Barbour said. “NELHA plans to offer low-cost outdoor and indoor sites for testing, up to 30kW of power, power sensors, and real-time monitoring data of energy storage devices at no additional cost.”

“Hawaii Island offers an ideal opportunity to develop technologies that will allow more cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions to benefit our residents,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Our mission is to provide secure, clean energy for Hawaii,” said Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio. “There are great opportunities in energy storage to increase clean energy, support reliability and ultimately lower costs for customers. This partnership will help our efforts to identify economic and reliable energy storage options that support our mission.”

Added Barbour, “Efforts like these are providing a backbone that NELHA can build out further in the coming years and greatly assist in making the critical seawater system more cost efficient for businesses at HOST Park.”

Natural Farming Learning Lab Grows Healthy Community in Kohala

On Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 9 am – 2 pm, the Palili ‘O Kohala project welcomes the Hawai‘i Island community to attend the blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab in Hawi, North Kohala. The program will include Hawaiian music, local food, workshops, demonstrations and a blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab, including the new Natural Farming Pig and Chicken House. The cost is $15 per person (children under 10 are free) and includes a Kohala grown lunch.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Afternoon workshops include: Introduction to Natural Farming with Chris Trump, from Cho Global Natural Farming Co-op; Raising pigs using Natural Farming with Mike DuPonte from the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; Taro Cultivation with Bert Kanoa and his students from Palili ‘O Kohala and Ka Hana No‘eau; Making Natural Farming inputs with Palili ‘O Kohala families and Ka Hana No‘eau students.

Hawaiian Ki Hō‘alu slack key guitar master Cyril Pahinui will be headlining the musical slate as well as teaching a mini-workshop in playing ukulele.

There will be ongoing talks and demonstrations on: poi pounding; raising chickens the Natural Farming way; Natural Farming, Hawaiian Saddle Making and more with the mentors and students of Ka Hana No‘eau; ukulele making with Guy Sasaki and his students from the Ka Hana No‘eau ukulele making class, and; learning about ‘uala (sweet potato) and the Kohala dryland field system with Ulu Mau Puanui.

 

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala is a project of Kohala-based non-profit Kahua Pa‘a Mua, Inc. The Palili ‘O Kohala project is a ten family taro growing cooperative that addresses food self-sufficiency, food security and economic development in North Kohala. The project provides training, as well as resources for the growing, processing and distribution of taro and value added products from taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. The Natural Farming Learning Lab has been created to demonstrate the efficacy of and teach others about Natural Farming methods of growing taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. Natural Farming is a methodology that uses “indigenous microorganisms” to increase yields, eliminate the use of chemicals and reduce needs for water in crop management and animal husbandry.

The North Kohala community, in its County mandated Community Development Plan (CDP) is committed to 50% community food self-sufficiency by 2018. The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala are part of the community effort to reach that goal by cultivating traditional crops and using Natural Farming to grow chemical free food.

The Palili ‘O Kohala project has been generously supported by County of Hawai‘i County Council, County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, Local Initiatives Fund of RSF Social Finance, Honsador Lumber, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawai‘i Community Foundation Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund and Partners in Development Foundation. Community partners include Partners in Development Foundation Ka Hana No‘eau and North Kohala Eat Locally Grown.

Tickets are limited and advance purchase is required. Tickets can be bought online at foodhubkohala.org, in person at the EBT Booth at the Hawi Farmers Market or by phone at 808-224-1404. For information please visit foodhubkohala.org.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $15.85 Million for Agriculture, Watershed Preservation

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $15.85 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) administered by the state Department of Agriculture in support of the local agriculture industry and further preservation of Hawaii’s watersheds.

“Hawaii’s agriculture industry is vital to our local economy and supports thriving rural communities,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “It’s essential to protect our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Our state’s watershed initiative remains a top priority, and it is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$12,500,000 – Agricultural Land, Oahu – Funds to purchase three land parcels in Wahiawa for agribusiness operations; the properties have access to roads, municipal water, and utilities, which make it efficient for transport of produce and cost effective for agribusiness operations (A fourth parcel may be purchased, pending negotiations with another buyer)

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

$1,500,000 – Lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project, Island of Hawaii – Construction to repair flumes, ditches, reservoirs and tunnels; remove sediment in the ditches; modify intake structures; and install new lateral distribution lines for the irrigation system

$1,000,000 – State Agricultural Water Use Development Plan, statewide – Project planning to continue to inventory irrigation systems throughout the state, prepare historic description of the original irrigation infrastructure, assess the current condition, propose maintenance improvements, identify irrigation source and water use requirements, and develop long-term water use projections

$700,000 – Kunia Agricultural Park, Oahu – Design of the 150-acre Kunia Agricultural Park in Royal Kunia; design plans will include provisions to subdivide the land parcel into 26 lots and coordinating adjacent infrastructure to make utilities available to the parcels

$75,000 – East Kauai Irrigation System, Kauai – Construction for upgrades and repairs including clearing, lining, repairing and stabilizing the access roads, ditches, flumes, tunnels, reservoirs, diversions and intakes

$75,000 – Waimanalo Irrigation System Improvements, Oahu – Design for the extension of the main irrigation pipeline; the extension will be approximately 1,500 linear feet

Solar Photovoltaic Installations in Hawaii Continued to Grow in 2013

Solar photovoltaic installations in Hawai‘i continued growing at a strong pace in 2013. A total of 17,609 solar installations with more than 129 megawatts capacity were added to the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company grids in 2013. This is 39 percent more than was added in 2012.

The total of solar photovoltaic systems interconnected on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids as of Dec. 31, 2013 is 40,159 with a total capacity of 300 MW. Of those installations, 96 percent take advantage of net energy metering, a program that began in 2001 to encourage the adoption of rooftop solar. With net energy metering, customers with rooftop solar receive full retail credit for electricity they generate and send to the utility grid. They use that credit to offset the electricity they take from the grid when solar power does not meet their needs at night or on cloudy days.

More than 70 percent of rooftop systems are on Oahu.  With 29,558 PV systems and 221 MW as of Dec. 31, 2013, 10 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers now have rooftop solar, a higher percentage than any mainland utility. On Hawaii Island, 7 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. And 8 percent of Maui Electric customers have rooftop solar.

This unprecedented rapid growth in rooftop solar in Hawai‘i has resulted in some neighborhood circuits reaching extremely high levels of photovoltaic systems. An increasing number of distribution level circuits have rooftop PV capacity exceeding 100 percent of the daytime minimum load, the trigger for interconnection studies and possible implementation of safety measures or upgrades before new PV systems on that circuit can be interconnected to the grid. This condition slowed the pace of rooftop solar growth in the last quarter of last year.

“Our first priority is the safety and reliability of service to all our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “At the same time, we remain committed to a strong, sustainable solar industry in Hawaii. We continue to approve new solar systems for interconnection daily. And we are working to find ways to add more solar power, including on circuits that already have large amounts of PV installed.”

Solar installations and capacity by utility as of December 31, 2013

  Solar Installations Capacity in MW
Hawaiian Electric 29, 558 221
Maui Electric 5, 246 41
Hawaii Electric Light 5,355 38
TOTAL 40,159 300

Cumulative solar growth in Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories, 2005-2013 (Data subject to change)

Big Island Rep. Onishi Calls for Stronger Protections For Hawaii’s Farmers and Ranchers

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act.

HB2506

Hawaii’s right-to-farm law is designed to protect and preserve agricultural operations by allowing farmers, who meet all legal requirements and use accepted farming management practices, protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.

The law also documents the importance of farming to the local community and State of Hawaii and puts non-farming rural residents on notice that generally accepted agricultural practices are reasonable activities to expect in farming areas.

“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.

“But if we are interested in sustainability and moving Hawaii toward greater self-reliance, we will have to strike a better balance between our rural and urban needs. This measure is designed to do just that by protecting our local farmers and ranchers. They have a right to farm in the best way they see fit, as long as they follow legal and accepted agricultural practices, whether we’re talking about ranchers, poultry, hog, vegetable, flower and plant farmers.”

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bill at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2506&year=2014

My 2013 Year in Review

Well 2013 was another interesting year.

Some quick site stats:

  • In 2013, 817,155 people visited this site with the most being in the month of November with 114,001 people visiting it:
  • The average amount of people that visited this site each day was 2,239 with the most average amount also being in November with 3,800 people per day:

    2013 Site Stats

    Click to enlarge

2013 Average per day

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I appreciate all my sponsors, family, friends and readers that have given me the opportunity to do some of the things I’ve gotten to do in the past year.

Andrew and I

Vincent, Mayor Kenoi and Kate at the Big Island Film Festival

Vincent, Mayor Kenoi and Kate at the Big Island Film Festival

  • May was also the month that one of my best friends from when I was younger decided to have his bachelor party in Las Vegas.  Besides going go-karting, attending the Last Cowboy Standing Rodeo Competition, hitting comedy clubs up and just partying in general… well I also jumped off the Stratosphere!
Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington at Imiloa Astronomy Center announcing the beginning of HuffPost Hawaii.

Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington at Imiloa Astronomy Center announcing the beginning of HuffPost Hawaii.

Family members of the Body Glove International Company

Family members of the Body Glove International Company

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie.

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie.

  • And at the end of 2013, I got to spend time in Ko Olina while my uncle and aunt renewed their 50th wedding vows:

James Tucker Ohana