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Hawaii Electric Bills Fall to Lowest Levels in More than Five Years

Customers of Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric this month are seeing the lowest monthly electric bills in more than five years, largely due to the continued drop in fuel prices. And on Hawaii Island, customers of Hawaii Electric Light are benefitting even further, with the lowest monthly bills in more than six years.

“Lower oil prices are helping our customers right now, but we know our state needs to stay committed to long-term solutions, which means developing a diverse portfolio of low-cost renewable energy resources. It’s critical that we keep working toward our state’s goal of a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard,” said Darren Pai, Hawaiian Electric spokesman.

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Currently, 22 percent of the electricity needs of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ customers are met using renewable resources and Hawaii is by far the national leader in the percentage of customers with rooftop solar. And the Hawaiian Electric Companies are continuing to increase renewable resources and develop new options for customers to manage their bills. Recent actions include:

  • Proposed time-of-use rates for residential customers, public schools and electric vehicle owners
  • Expansion of utility-owned electric vehicle fast chargers
  • Piloting intelligent energy storage systems
  • A proposed community-based renewable energy program that would benefit customers who cannot or chose not to take advantage of rooftop solar to receive the benefits of renewable energy
  • Plans to install 137 megawatts of solar power from grid-scale projects to be completed in 2016

Friends of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority Names New Executive Director

Candee Ellsworth is the new executive director of the Friends of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority (FON). A new Hawai’i Island resident, Ellsworth most recently worked as executive director of the Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation & Conservation Education in Ohio.

Candee Ellsworth

Candee Ellsworth

The Midwest native also served 16 years as conservation coordinator of the Toledo Zoo and was a graduate program adjunct professor at Miami University. Ellsworth has a master’s degree in biology from Miami University and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from The University of Findlay.

As executive director, Ellsworth will oversee the organization’s operations, which includes weekday public tours and presentations focusing on cutting edge renewable energy and aquaculture at the ocean science and technology park. Tour volunteers are needed; phone 329-8073 for details.


FON is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing education and outreach at NELHA for the responsible and sustainable use of renewable resources for energy, aquaculture and ocean technology. It offers weekday tours and presentations headquartered from NELHA’s Gateway Visitor Center—a LEED Platinum, sustainable, zero-net energy facility located in Keahole-Kona on Hawai‘i Island. www.FriendsofNELHA.org


Major Players in Energy Debate for Live Televised Discussion

Should the state allow a major Florida company, NextEra Energy, to buy Hawaii’s largest public utility provider, Hawaiian Electric?

PBS Hawaii Presents

This week, PBS Hawaii’s live public affairs program, Insights on PBS Hawaii, brings together some of the leading figures on different sides of this hotly contested issue.

President of NextEra Energy Hawaii Eric Gleason; Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection; Jeffrey Ono, Executive Director of Consumer Advocacy for the State of Hawaii; and HECO President and CEO Alan Oshima have agreed to take part in this live unscripted discussion about the potential merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries and its subsidiaries and NextEra Energy, and the future of Hawaii’s largest power utility, on Insights at 8:00 pm Thursday, October 22. Daryl Huff will moderate the discussion. Viewer questions are welcome.

While NextEra Energy says the proposed multi-billion-dollar merger would provide a more affordable clean energy future for Hawaii, opponents have concerns over how a merger might impact consumers and Hawaii’s renewable energy goals. The proposed deal also has prompted some to examine the merits of other options, such as utility cooperatives and county-run utilities.

The one-hour program also will be streamed live at pbshawaii.org. Viewers are encouraged to phone in questions at (808) 973-1000 or (800) 238-4847; send an email to insights@pbshawaii.org ; or tweet the hashtag #PBSInsights on Twitter.

UKIRT Observatory on Mauna Kea to be Decommissioned

The University of Hawaiʻi has identified the third observatory to be decommissioned and removed from the summit of Maunakea, advancing the implementation of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan. The third observatory is the UKIRT Observatory, formerly known as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope.


The decommissioning of three observatories is part of Governor David Ige’s plan announced in May to enhance the stewardship of Maunakea. Since then, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory has ceased operations and begun the decommissioning planning process, and UH Hilo has initiated the decommissioning process for its Hoku Kea telescope. Detailed planning for the removal of the UKIRT observatory and restoration of the site will begin some time after the decommissioning processes for the Caltech and Hoku Kea observatories and will be completed in accordance with the governor’s plan. No new observatories will be built on the three sites.

The general decommissioning process for observatories is outlined in the Office of Mauna Kea Management’s Comprehensive Management Plan to ensure that the decommissioning is handled properly and in a culturally and environmentally respectful manner. The process starts with the development of a site decommissioning plan that must include an environmental due diligence review, deconstruction and removal plan, site restoration plan and remedial action plan if necessary.

The UKIRT Observatory began operations in 1979 and was built and operated by science agencies of the United Kingdom. Ownership recently was transferred to UH, and the observatory is currently operated as a research partnership with UH, the University of Arizona and the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Advanced Technology Center. It remains highly productive, with current work areas including orbital debris studies, observation and cataloging of Near-Earth objects and world-leading astronomical survey projects. UH is confident that UKIRT’s scientific program will continue to be at the highest level during the remaining life of the observatory.

New High-Speed Private Fiber Link to Link Hawaii Film, Television & Creative Media Industry with Hollywood

With brand new private fiber technology, competitive tax incentives, state-of-the-art studios, postproduction facilities and a development fund…it’s time to rethink Hawai’i’s Film, Television & Creative Media Industry.

A new Hawai’i-based digital technology is connecting the filmscape of paradise with a secure, high-speed Private Fiber back to the heart of Hollywood and more than 400 studios across three continents.

History was just made for Hawaii-in-Hollywood as GVS Connect (http://www.globalvirtualstudio.com), together with Hawai`i's Creative Industry DBEDT Officials, State Film Office and technology experts presented a dynamic, "LIVE" multimedia demonstration that connected Honua Studios in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaii, with more than 100 Hollywood influencers who gathered at Jack L. Warner's personal Screening Room #5 at Warner Brothers Studios in California.

History was just made for Hawaii-in-Hollywood as GVS Connect (http://www.globalvirtualstudio.com), together with Hawai`i’s Creative Industry DBEDT Officials, State Film Office and technology experts presented a dynamic, “LIVE” multimedia demonstration that connected Honua Studios in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaii, with more than 100 Hollywood influencers who gathered at Jack L. Warner’s personal Screening Room #5 at Warner Brothers Studios in California.

This new, high-speed, private fiber technology by GVS Connect is a game-changer for Hawai’i’s creative industry. This advanced connectivity, along with Hawaii’s post and VFX incentives, will enable filmmakers to conduct POST, AUDIO and VFX via remote collaboration, as well as transfer and simultaneously edit burstable gigabytes of raw, high-definition dailies to producers and studios around the world. This private fiber technology is the industry’s leader in content sharing with a commitment to security, cost efficiency and smart-device capability.

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015, representatives from the Hawai’i State Film Office, Creative Industries; GVS Connect; tech advisors and industry influencers gathered at Warner Bros. Studio to present “Hollywood – Hawai`i Film & Media Connect,” a live, point-to-point demonstration, of real-time, high-speed data transfer between Kailua-Kona (on the Island of Hawai`i at Honua Studios) and Los Angeles.  Hawai’i’s Film, Television & Creative Media industry is now well positioned to support state-of-the-art global production, as well as export creative content developed in Hawai`i.

 This never-before-seen interactive demonstration was made possible by a NEW private fiber technology that is now available in the islands which allows burstable gigabytes of HD data to be shared in real-time with global producing entities (more than 400 studios across three continents). This new, advanced technology is a GAME-CHANGER for Hawaii's creative industries allowing filmmakers to conduct POST, AUDIO and VFX via remote collaboration.  This breakthrough invites the world to rethink Hawaii's vast multimedia and broadband entrepreneurial potential and capability.

This never-before-seen interactive demonstration was made possible by a NEW private fiber technology that is now available in the islands which allows burstable gigabytes of HD data to be shared in real-time with global producing entities (more than 400 studios across three continents). This new, advanced technology is a GAME-CHANGER for Hawaii’s creative industries allowing filmmakers to conduct POST, AUDIO and VFX via remote collaboration. This breakthrough invites the world to rethink Hawaii’s vast multimedia and broadband entrepreneurial potential and capability.

“With a strong commitment from government and private investors, Hawai’i is creating a compelling environment for filmmakers and media professionals to capitalize on the state’s growing production, post, and VFX infrastructure,” says David Cunningham, founder of GVS Connect.

Hawai’i’s competitive tax incentives, are considered among the most reliable credit programs in the country:

  • 20-25% film, digital and television rebate
  • No overall spending ceiling
  • Per production credit cap of $15 million – POST, VFX, ANIMATION, GAME DEV included
  • Above-and-below-the-line/resident and non-resident salaries/wage qualification

Hawai`i is now part of a global, collaborative media network. With Hawai’i’s first private fiber technology, a production can maximize its economic potential with global reach to its producing entities. In addition, Hawai`i has an award-winning accelerator program, called the GVS Transmedia Accelerator (http://www.gvsaccelerator.com), which fast-tracks and funds development for content creation in Hawai`i, the Creative Lab which is a feeder content development program, and a follow-on development fund available for accelerator content produced in these programs.

With a long-term vision and commitment, the State of Hawai’i has allocated millions to develop a cable-landing infrastructure that will further increase Hawai’i’s global broadband connectivity and capacity.

Time Warner Cable Subscribers Having Difficulties With Facebook

I started noticing that Facebook was giving me problems earlier today and it seemed as though it was going in and out of service.

I thought it was just a Facebook problem… but it turns out the problem is actually with Time Warner Cable and they are working on the problem.

Apparently their servers are having difficulties aligning with the Facebook servers in California.

Time Warner Help responded to my twitter inquiry asking if Facebook was having difficulties and they posted the following reply:

Time Warner Help

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

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

International Space StationIt will be visible beginning tonight, Thursday, October 1st at 6:57 PM. It will be visible for approximately 4 minutes.  Maximum Height: 50 degrees and it will appear in the West Southwest part of the sky and disappear to the North Northeast.

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.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

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

International Space Station

It will be visible beginning tonight, Wednesday, July 29 at 808 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes.  Maximum Height: 87 degrees and it will appear in the Southwest part of the sky and disappear to the Northeast.

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.

Thirty Meter Telescope to Resume Building Wednesday Morning

Statement from Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board:

TMT laser

“After more than two months of consultation, education, and dialogue with many stakeholders, we humbly announce that the TMT International Observatory Board has decided to move ahead to restart the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the morning of Wednesday, June 24. Our period of inactivity has made us a better organization in the long run. We are now comfortable that we can be better stewards and better neighbors during our temporary and limited use of this precious land, which will allow us to explore the heavens and broaden the boundaries of science in the interest of humanity.

“We look forward to a positive relationship with all Hawaiians, while we understand that the majority of Hawaii’s people are supporting the TMT project. We deeply respect and are mindful of those who have concerns, and yet, we hope they will permit us to proceed with this important task while reserving their right to peaceful protest.

“As done at any construction site, we plan to first investigate and assess any possible oil leakage and ensure we can provide proper maintenance of machines and equipment so they operate safely and correctly – in order to protect Maunakea and preserve the sensitive environment. We will then begin to repair and install fencing in the interest of public safety.

“As we proceed, TMT is open and willing to allow cultural practitioners in the area of the construction site to continue customary and traditional practices. Allowing this practice to continue to occur will require further dialogue and mutual agreement to work out the details in order to establish a cooperative and harmonious environment for all parties.

“In an effort to be sensitive to and observant of the Native Hawaiian host culture, we will deepen our knowledge of the cultural, ecological, and spiritual aspects of the mountain and continue to learn how to better respect and appreciate Maunakea’s important cultural areas.

“On behalf of TMT, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the people in Hawaii for their understanding and support.”

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

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

Hawaii residents can see the space station tonight.

Hawaii residents can see the space station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, May 30 at 7:47 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes.  Maximum Height: 48 degrees and it will appear in the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear to the Northeast.

Commentary – TMT Has Bent Over Backwards to Address Concerns

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district.

Click to view

Click to view

In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.

This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites.

However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033.

This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene,

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

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

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, April 25 at 8:10 PM. It will be visible for approximately 1 minute.  Maximum Height: 43 degrees, and it will appear in the West Northwest part of the sky and disappear to the Southwest.

University Board of Regents Holding Special Meeting to Discuss TMT Future – Public Comments Welcome

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will be having a special board meeting to discuss the future of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. at the University of Hawaii Hilo campus.
Board  Meeting

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.

Canada Announces $243-Million Contribution for Thirty Meter Telescope Project

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will provide up to $243.5 million over 10 years for the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the Government of Canada’s intention to provide significant support for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an international project that will build one of the world’s largest and most advanced astronomical observatories in Hawaii. The Prime Minister made the announcement following a tour of Vancouver’s Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory. He was joined by James Moore, Minister of Industry.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

The Government’s support would provide resources over 10 years to enable Canada’s participation in the construction and commissioning of the TMT, alongside participants from the Japan, China, India and the United States.

The majority of the Government’s support for the TMT will be spent in Canada, creating high-quality jobs related to the construction and assembly of key telescope components, including a precision-steel enclosure by Dynamic Structures Limited, based in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and cutting-edge adaptive optics technologies, to be developed by the National Research Council in partnership with Canadian companies. As part of the project, dozens of Canadian businesses are expected to develop advanced capabilities and products transferable to future applications in the health, defence and telecommunications sectors – helping to create and maintain high-quality jobs in communities across Canada.

Canada’s contribution will also secure a viewing share for Canadian researchers at the TMT once it is operational in 2023-2024. This access will help to maintain Canadian scientific leadership in astronomy, paving the way to important scientific discoveries and helping to train highly-qualified personnel at post-secondary institutions across the country. Canada’s pursuit of new scientific discoveries will also help spark young Canadians’ interest in science disciplines for decades to come.

Quick Facts

Canada has world-leading expertise in astronomy and astrophysics, as noted by the Council of Canadian Academies in its 2012 State of Science and Technology. Canadian research publications in this field are highly impactful and Canadian expertise in astronomy is sought after internationally.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that Canada is first in the G-7 in terms of our support of research and development through our universities and colleges, relative to the size of our economy, since 1996.

Prime Minister Harper also recently announced a new $1.5 billion legacy investment to make Canadian research world-leading through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. This new program is for world-leading research that will raise Canada’s standing globally.

Canada’s Space Policy Framework positions our domestic space industry at the forefront of cutting edge space activities; it strengthens strategic relationships with international partners in the interest of science and technology; and it advances Canada’s excellence in the key capability of space optics.

The TMT will employ advanced adaptive optics systems that will allow for the correction of atmospheric turbulence (what makes stars “twinkle”) and enable the clear observation of some of the faintest celestial objects and bodies.

The TMT’s enclosure, to be built in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, will incorporate a unique design to protect the telescope both from temperature and winds.

When completed, the telescope will stand in an observatory 22 18 stories tall, with a primary mirror extending 30 metres across, giving it approximately half the surface area of a National Hockey League rink.

ZipMobile Repairs Successful – What Went Wrong

The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) two ZipMobiles used for the H-1 Freeway ZipperLane are both in operational condition after breaking down on Tuesday, Mar. 31, due to electrical malfunctions.


The original ZipMobile breakdown on Tuesday morning was caused by an intermittent electrical problem with its computer battery pack unit.  As a result, the on-board CPU card was corrupted.  A replacement was attempted using the computer battery pack unit and CPU card from the backup ZipMobile, but it suffered the same electrical problem.

A technician from ZipMobile vendor, Lindsay Corporation, was flown from California to Hawaii and was able to diagnose the problem, replace the battery pack units and reprogram the CPU cards on Wednesday.  All other mechanical components of the vehicles were unaffected.

Both ZipMobiles were restored to full operational condition on Wednesday with the first at approximately 1 p.m. This ZipMobile closed the deployed ZipperLane between 2 and 4 p.m.  The second ZipMobile was fully restored at approximately 5 p.m. and opened and closed the ZipperLane overnight for normal rush-hour operation this morning.

HDOT will be examining all aspects of the vehicle maintenance plan and its public outreach plans to better inform motorists of large-scale traffic incidents.  These will include such items as:

  • Backup units for the computer battery pack that failed will now be held in reserve in the event of future problems. Previously, this unit was not held in reserve due to its limited, one-year shelf life in storage.  HDOT and Lindsay Corp. are also preparing a list of additional electronic backup parts that are practical to keep on hand.
  • Lindsay Corp. will allow HDOT use of its proprietary software and train local staff on reinstallation procedures.
  • HDOT is submitting a budget proposal to the State Legislature this week for the long-term rehabilitation or replacement for one or both ZipMobiles.
  • Highway operational improvements are being considered to formalize use of freeway shoulder lanes during afternoon rush-hour traffic in various locations, such as the H-1 right shoulders from Pearl Harbor to Salt Lake and from Aiea to Pearl City, that were used in the Tuesday and Wednesday traffic backups.
  • HDOT will be working with the City & County of Honolulu to improve public outreach for future traffic incidents. This will include regular media updates to television, radio and social media outlets.
  • HDOT will be working will all counties and other state departments for major event coordination.

All H-1 ZipperLane operations next week will proceed as normal. HDOT again sincerely thanks Oahu’s motorists for their patience and kokua this week.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

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

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Tuesday, March 21 at 7:51 PM. It will be visible for approximately 2 minutes.  Maximum Height: 48 degrees, and it will appear in the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear to the South

Hawaii County Announces Web Based Puna Traffic Cameras

The County is pleased to announce the launch of punatraffic.com, a publicly available web based traffic monitoring service for the lower Puna to Kea`au area.

Click to view current conditions

Click to view current conditions

Traffic conditions along several transportation corridors that may be affected by the June 27th Lava Flow, including HWY 130, will be monitored with thirty cameras. The images are available for public viewing at punatraffic.com.

The camera images refresh every three to five minutes and are meant to assist the public in making their travel plans. The website also provides estimated drive times based on current traffic conditions.

The traffic monitoring system is a part of the County’s overall plan to monitor traffic flow that may have to be re-routed as a result of the June 27 Lava Flow.

The cameras were installed by ICX Transportation Group. The service went live on March 25, 2015.

The cameras are government property and specifically programmed to only work with government equipment. Please kokua and respect this public benefit and service.

The website also provides social media links to Civil Defense and the County of Hawai`i and can be updated to inform the public about road incidents.