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Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org

Building and Design Expo Feb. 12-14 – Live Cooking Demo and Book Signing with Sam Choy

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce presents the 11th annual Building & Design Expo February 12 – 14 at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay‘s Kaleiopapa Convention Center.

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy, known for his Hawaiian cuisine, will feature his newest kitchen accessories line, Sam Choy’s Hawaiian Kitchen. He will also do a live cooking demo and book-signing.

Abbas Hassan of Tiki Shark Art, Sam Choy and Kirstin Kahaloa, Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Abbas Hassan of Tiki Shark Art, Sam Choy and Kirstin Kahaloa, Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Touted as “Hawai‘i Island’s largest home show,” more than 40 vendor booths will exhibit their goods and services in the three-day event. From general contracting and materials to home design and décor including fine art, the expo often features furnishings, blinds and shutters, window-tinting, kitchen countertops, cabinets and flooring, pest control PC solar and financing.

Event sponsors include Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Hawaii Gas, P.A. Harris Electric, Renewable Energy Services, Sam Choy & Tiki Shark Art and West Hawaii Today. Contact the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce office at marketing@kona-kohala.com or 808.329.1758.

Neighbor Island Lawmakers Ask Governor NOT to Sign Wastewater Rule Change – New DOH Rules Would Ban New Cesspools Statewide

Nearly a dozen legislators are asking Governor David Ige not to sign off on a proposed state Department of Health rule change that would ban new cesspools statewide.  A letter, dated February 1, was signed primarily by neighbor island state representatives and senators whose constituents include many rural communities that rely on existing cesspools or the ability to install new ones.

CesspoolThe letter points out that a previous version of the rule change would have required conversion of all cesspools to septic systems, and would have cost Big Island homeowners, with over 50,000 cesspools, $1.5 billion.

“A bill to do that same thing was introduced into the Legislature in 2015 and DID NOT PASS.  In fact, a bill to ban new cesspools was NOT passed.  The will of the Legislature should thus be clear,” the letter states.  “Furthermore, this rule change greatly discriminates against the poorest of our citizens who might not be able to afford to build a home if a septic system is required.

“While the department claims that these rule changes are necessary to protect the public health and preserve our natural resources, the arguments in that regard are weak and unsubstantiated, and in fact contradictory and contrary to current legislative intent.”

The letter also notes that septic systems in Hawaii cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to install, compared to cesspools which range from $2,000-$3,000.

Neighbor island representatives and senators signing the letter include: Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu), Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo), Rep. Richard Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona), Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea), Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), Rep. Angus McKelvey (West Maui, Maalaea, North Kihei), Rep. Kyle Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului), Rep. Lynn DeCoite (Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Molokini), Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau), and Senator Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).

Hawaii Survey Shows Many Young Adults Erroneously Believe Government and Health Insurance Cover Long Term Services and Supports

The majority of people in Hawaii erroneously believe their health insurance plan and government programs will cover the costs for long term services and supports, according to a recent statewide survey commissioned by of the State of Hawaii Executive Office on Aging.

Department of HealthThe survey, conducted by Market Trends Pacific as part of a long term services and supports public awareness campaign, showed that slightly more than half of respondents, about 54 percent, are very or fairly familiar with long term care, while about a fourth of the respondents, or 24 percent, has any familiarity with long term services and supports. Those who are least aware of long term care are younger residents who have been in Hawaii for 20 years or fewer, non-home owners, persons without a college degree, and males.

Uncertainty about Payment for Long Term Care

The survey results showed many are unclear about who pays for long term care: 39 percent think that their health insurance covers long term care, and 24 percent trust that the government will help them. The majority of respondents identified health insurance, personal savings, Medicaid or Medicare as funding sources.

“Many in Hawaii may be aware of the need for long term care, but there is clearly a smaller percentage who are aware of the need to prepare for the costs associated with that care,” said Terri Byers, director of the Executive Office on Aging. “We know that we should save and plan for college or retirement, but long term care is not often part of the picture, despite the fact that 70 percent of us will use long term services and supports at some point in our lives. We recognize that we must begin to change this.”

Hawaii’s Younger Population Most Vulnerable

The cost of long term care is one of the obstacles to preparing for long term services and supports. Young adults may have other financial obligations and may already have difficulty making ends meet. “This is not an issue on their radar and the costs may make many shy away from even trying to plan for long-term care,” Byers said.

“The Executive Office on Aging is launching a public awareness campaign in early 2016 to help people understand their options and the need to plan ahead to enjoy more choices, and to avoid the risks of not being financially prepared,” Byers said. Many have been led to believe impoverishing themselves to qualify for government assistance is the best solution, but this ultimately limits their options.”

“It is clear that there are no private products available on the market that provide an answer for everyone and the best made plans don’t always materialize. Our ultimate goal is to initiate a conversation and inspire more people to find out all they can to be prepared mentally, emotionally and financially to create a personal plan for care that is sustainable and adaptable.”

Survey Information

Market Trends Pacific, Inc. conducted a total of 603 surveys of full-time residents (six months or more) of Hawaii who were 18 years of age or older. The sample included RDD (random digit dialing) residential landline and cell phone numbers from a professional national survey sampling firm. Respondents were also encouraged to complete the survey online. Market Trends Pacific developed the questionnaire in conjunction with communications consulting firm, Strategic Communication Solutions, and the Executive Office on Aging. There was a total of 297 landline phone and mobile interviews and 306 online questionnaires.

The survey results are available from the Executive Office on Aging’s Aging and Disability Resource Center website at www.hawaiiadrc.org.

In the survey, 366 interviews were completed with residents of the City & County of Honolulu, 108 with Hawaii County residents, 73 with residents of Maui County, and 56 with Kauai residents. The statewide data file was weighted on the basis of estimates of the number of householders by county and age from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census, with equal gender counts assumed. The sample design in the table below features expected sample precisions for the counties ranging from plus or minus 5.12 to 13.08 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level and a precision for statewide results of plus or minus 4.06 percentage points.

Support for Proposed Merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries Grows

NextEra Energy, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. today announced that support for the companies’ proposed merger continues to grow at a steady pace, as evidenced by the more than 25 diverse groups that in recent weeks have voiced support for the transaction.

NextEra Logo

“As we continue to listen, learn and constructively engage with customers and communities throughout the state, we are extremely pleased to see so many diverse and important stakeholders – from organized labor such as the AFL-CIO and IBEW to business leaders and organizations including multiple chambers of commerce – all echo their support in recognition of the significant and tangible benefits this merger will bring to Hawaii,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii. “The support we have received from these organizations, alongside our recent agreements with the Department of Defense and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, further strengthens our belief that NextEra Energy is the right partner to help Hawaiian Electric achieve Hawaii’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2045, while integrating more rooftop solar, modernizing the electric grids and lowering customer bills.”

“We are thankful and pleased to see so many Hawaii residents and local groups across our state publicly lend their support for the merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “With its comprehensive commitments to our customers and our communities, NextEra Energy stands ready to be a strong, long-term partner as we work together to build a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawaii.”

The following chambers of commerce, labor unions, local companies and community organizations have voiced support for the proposed merger in recent weeks:

  • Hawaii State AFL-CIO
  • Hawaii Construction Alliance
  • Building Industry Association (BIA) – Hawaii
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1
  • Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 630
  • Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
  • Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii
  • Kauai Chamber of Commerce
  • Kapolei Chamber of Commerce
  • Molokai Chamber of Commerce
  • Hunt Companies
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1186
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1357
  • KTA Superstores
  • L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
  • Makai Ocean Engineering
  • Nalo Farms
  • Navy League Honolulu Council
  • Pacific Resource Partnership
  • Partners in Development
  • Stanford Carr Development
  • United Public Workers Local 646
  • Waianae Coast Community Foundation

60% of Hawaii Adults Living With at Least One Chronic Disease

Dr. Howard Koh, former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other national experts in chronic disease prevention joined the Department of Health and local experts today at a symposium, “The Weight of the State: Solving the Chronic Disease Crisis through Innovative Policy Change.”

Weigh of Hawaii

The event focused on shared best practices and policy priorities that are relevant for Hawaii, given the state’s rapidly rising obesity rates and its contribution to developing debilitating chronic health conditions.

“Our state is facing an epidemic of obesity and diabetes type 2 that is preventable, and costly to our health and pocket books,” said Director of Health Virginia Pressler. “We need to work collaboratively with leaders across every sector of society if we want to reduce this unnecessary burden on our people and economy.”

Dr. Koh explained in his keynote address that health is shaped by the policies, conditions, and environments in which people live, labor, learn, play, and pray. Over 100 elected officials, leadership from state agencies, healthcare and community organizations attended the symposium.

More than 60 percent of Hawaii adults or 3 in 5 are living with at least one chronic disease or condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Obesity is associated with a significantly increased risk of preventable chronic disease. Obesity has doubled in the past 15 years, and we are now seeing similar trends with diabetes rates.

The Department of Health reported that when data is adjusted for age and awareness, the rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes in Hawaii correspond to rates of obesity. Forty-two percent of Native Hawaiians and 49 percent of Other Pacific Islanders are obese, and 25 percent and 27 percent respectively are estimated to have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Additionally, Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million on obesity-related medical costs and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs annually. These figures do not account for indirect costs such as reduced worker productivity and absenteeism that results from having one or more of these diseases or conditions.

A mural developed with input by over 30 organizations statewide was also unveiled at the symposium. The policies illustrated were highly recommended by more than 140 community partners who participated in the 2015 Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Forum, which took place in May.

Health Policies

This mural, called “Healthy Policies for a Healthy Hawaii,” depicts the implementation of 19 state-level policies across four sectors of society: Communities, Worksites, Schools, and Health Care Systems.

It is a vision for Hawaii where physical activity and access to healthy food, are integrated into our daily lifestyle choices, where residents live, learn, work, shop, and care for each other. Health is integrated into the social, economic, and physical landscape. The illustrated policies include: creating “complete streets” to ensure that all people in Hawaii have the ability to safely walk, bike, and access mass transportation; fostering a more robust local food system to reduce imports and producing more locally produced foods; institutional policies to access healthier food and beverage options; increasing health and physical education requirements for middle school students; and many others.

“It’s been amazing to see partners from all sectors come together and identify solutions to the complex issue of obesity and chronic disease prevention,” said Jessica Yamauchi, Chair of the Obesity Prevention Taskforce. “This mural provides a sense of place and what a health promoting community looks and feels like when these recommendations are in place.”

To learn more about the policy recommendations of the PAN Forum, please visit: http://health.hawaii.gov/chronic-disease/events.

Ground Broken For Lalamilo Wind Farm

The County of Hawai‘i and the Department of Water Supply held a groundbreaking event for the construction of a wind farm in South Kohala earlier today.  Contributing to the State’s Clean Energy Initiative’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, this project will consist of 5 wind turbines that will altogether generate 3.3 MW.

New 3.3 MW wind farm will save Hawai'i Island water customers $1 million a year on energy.

New 3.3 MW wind farm will save Hawai’i Island water customers $1 million a year on energy.

A benefit to Water Supply customers, Hawai‘i County, and the state of Hawai‘i; construction of this new facility will create about 50 temporary construction jobs, and about three permanent positions to operate the wind farm.  Construction is estimated to be complete in approximately one year.  Commercial operation is expected to begin the latter part of 2016.

The completed wind farm will provide a less expensive renewable energy source for the DWS wells in the area which serve an average 5.1 million gallons per day to residential, resort, park, industrial and commercial areas from Mauna Lani Resort to Kawaihae.  To maximize the use of renewable energy, controls will be installed to coordinate DWS operations with the wind generated energy production.

The DWS awarded Lālāmilo Wind Company LLC the project and executed a Power Purchase Agreement that includes a contract energy amount of 7,620 megawatt-hours/year (MWh/yr) to be supplied to the DWS. The current energy demand is approximately 11,000 MWh/yr. with an annual electrical cost of $4.1M.  The Lālāmilo wind farm is expected to save $1.0 million per year in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Innovative Wave Power Device Starts Producing Clean Power in Hawaii

With support from the Energy Department and the U.S. Navy, a prototype wave energy device has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing.

The device, called Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.

The project supports the Energy Department’s mission to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from clean energy resources, including water. Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical.

With further progress towards commercialization, MHK technologies could make substantial contributions to our nation’s electricity needs. To accelerate commercialization of wave energy devices, the Energy Department funds research and development—from laboratory and field-testing of individual components, up to demonstration and deployment of complete utility-scale systems.

The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype—at the same scale as the new deployment—in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those successful tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.

To further advance Azura towards commercialization, NWEI recently launched its grid-connected 20-kilowatt demonstration project at WETS. The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deepwater, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology.

NWEI, with $5 million in additional funding from the Energy Department, will apply lessons learned from this current phase of development to modify the device design in order to improve its efficiency and reliability. NWEI plans to then test the improved design with a full-scale device rated between 500 kilowatts and one megawatt at WETS at even deeper test berths of 60 meters to 80 meters over the next several years, further supporting efforts to build a robust and competitive MHK industry in the United States.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative approaches that reduce both the risk and costs of bringing MHK technologies online. Watch our Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy video, and learn more about the Department’s efforts to support MHK research and development.

Hawaii Lobster Season Closed Until End of August

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

Spiny Lobster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nation’s First Federal Combined Solar Power Purchase Launched

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

Click to read document

Click to read document

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UHHSA Approves Permaculture Parking Lot Unanimously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric to Hold Informational Meetings Across State

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

NextEra Logo

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

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

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

About the Open House Meetings

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

The dates and locations for the meetings are as follows:

Maui County

April 7

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

April 8

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

April 9

  • Molokai: Kaunakakai Elementary School Cafeteria

Hawaii Island

April 13

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

April 14

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

Oahu

April 15

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

April 16

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

Website

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

Hawaii Residents Urged to Chase Water Waste this Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paniolo Power Files Motion to Consolidate Merger, PSIP Dockets

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

Paniolo Power Company

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

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

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

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Hawaiian Electric Companies Continues to Accept Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Applications

Contrary to some reports, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are continuing to accept solar photovoltaic (PV) applications through the current net energy metering process, which includes a technical review for safety and reliability. The companies are also making significant progress clearing pending applications on circuits that already have very high amounts of solar.

Shaka For HELCOOverall, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light continue to lead the nation in rooftop PV. An estimated 12 percent of the utilities’ customers have rooftop solar system, compared with the national average of less than one percent.

These efforts are part of the companies’ commitment to meet three overarching energy commitments by 2030. These include:

  1. Nearly tripling the amount of distributed solar
  2. Achieving 65 percent renewable energy use
  3. Lowering customer bills by 20 percent

“We know rooftop PV is an important option for our customers. We are continuing to follow the current net energy metering process while the Public Utilities Commission considers our proposal to transition to a fairer, more sustainable program. It’s critical for our community that we increase solar in a way that maintains reliability and is safe and fair for all customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

A recent letter to some Hawaii Electric Light customers who submitted applications for projects in areas of Hawai‘i Island with high amounts of solar has been mischaracterized by a national solar group as an effort by the Hawaiian Electric Companies to stop all solar installations.

“We apologize for the confusion and want to assure our customers that we are continuing to process solar applications. We are reviewing our notification procedures to improve communication with our customers,” Alberts said.

Highlights of progress made

  • Earlier this week, Hawaiian Electric reported to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that it notified an additional 548 O‘ahu customers who have been waiting for their net energy metering applications to be processed. Hundreds more are now being approved.
  • This was the first large group of Oahu customers to be cleared from a backlog of 2,749 applications, all from neighborhoods with high existing amounts of PV as of last October. Hawaiian Electric has committed to clearing 90 percent of that backlog by April, with the remaining customers applications to be approved by the end of 2015.
  • In addition, Maui Electric approved 331 applications in neighborhoods with high amounts of solar, nearly clearing its entire backlog. Hawaii Electric Light had 336 applications under review in neighborhoods with high amounts of solar, and approvals have since begun.
  • Overall, more than 3,000 net energy metering applications have been approved since the beginning of the year across the five islands that the Hawaiian Electric Companies serve.

In January, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light proposed a new program that would support the continued growth of rooftop solar while ensuring equitable rates for all customers. The new transitional distributed generation program would help address the current growing cost shift for operating and maintaining electric grids from customers who have rooftop solar to customers who don’t. At the end of 2013, that cost shift was approximately $38 million. By the end of 2014, that subsidy borne by non-solar customers had grown to $53 million.

In conjunction with this transitional distributed generation program, the utilities expect to be able to help the growth of solar by more than doubling the threshold for neighborhood circuits to accept solar systems. This would eliminate in most of those cases the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

Hawaii Electric Light Company Selects Ormat to Provide Additional Geothermal Energy

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

Puna Geothermal Venture

Puna Geothermal Venture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose Plan to Sustainably Increase Rooftop Solar

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

In conjunction with this “Transitional Distributed Generation” program, the utilities expect to be able to help the growth of solar by more than doubling the threshold for neighborhood circuits to accept solar systems. This would eliminate in most of those cases the need for a longer and costly interconnection study.

Sustainable Solar

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

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

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

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

New Transitional Program

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

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

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

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

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

Increasing PV Integration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Master Food Preserver Trainings Set for Kona, Hilo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEMS Office

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

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

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

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

Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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