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Commentary – Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III Should Be Top Transportation Project

Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III should be top transportation project for Hawaii County in North Kona. This segment will connect Hina-Lani Street to Kaminani Drive, so we’ll be able to drive from Henry Street to Kona Palisades without having to use Mamalahoa or Queen Kaahumanu highways.

Much attention was paid to honoring the culture and the place in building the Ane Keohokālole Highway. Markers indicate the boundaries of the ahupua‘a that the road runs through, like this one where Keahuolū meets Kealakehe.

This will help address chronic traffic circulation issues prevalent in this area. Its frustrating to see  the horrible traffic congestion on Highway 190, especially in the mornings and afternoon at Hina-Lani Street intersection. The intersection at Kaiminani Drive and Queen Kaahumanu Highway is  another traffic congestion hot spot. Both of  these issues will be addressed if the county proceeds with Phase III of Ane Keohokālole Highway.

There has been some discussion about resurrecting the Alii Parkway
project in light of the completionof the Alii Drive Extension (Mamalahoa Highway bypass) instead of proceeding with Ane Keohokālole Highway. I strongly believe this would be a huge mistake. Hawaii County has spent decades and untold millions of dollars to construct this road with nothing to show for it. I highly doubt the lingering archaeological issues will ever be resolved, especially with the renewed focus on preserving sensitive Native Hawaiian archaeological sites.

The Hawaii DOT has started preliminary planing to widen  Queen Kaahumanu Highway Extension (from Henry Street) and  Kuakini Highway past Kamehameha III Road, which should adequately address the ongoing congestion issues in this area.

I hope Mayor Kim’s administration decides to proceed with Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III instead of Alii Parkway. The latter project divided the community  when the county tried to proceed around 13 years ago.  Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III is a better choice for the community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Delta Announces New Daily Nonstop Flights Between Seattle and Kauai

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement regarding the announcement that Delta Air Lines will be launching daily nonstop flights between Seattle and Kauai beginning this December.

“Delta’s expansion of service to Kauai from its Pacific Northwest hub speaks to the confidence the airline has in the Garden Isle to drive demand from travelers in the greater Seattle area and nationally.

“Reliable air access extending throughout the Hawaiian Islands is instrumental to our tourism industry’s continued viability to support businesses and residents statewide. Delta’s new Seattle-Lihue service strengthens Hawaii’s ties to one of our major gateway cities, and will make it easier for travelers anywhere in the mainland U.S. to make daily flight connections to Kauai.

“It’s gratifying that Delta has factored Kauai into its nationwide expansion plans considering the options available to the airline. HTA meets with Delta’s route planners on a regular basis, which included the Airline Summit we hosted last September at the Hawaii Tourism Conference. As HTA does with all carriers, we provided information on the advantages of increasing flights to Hawaii, especially to the neighbor islands.

“Kauai’s economy will benefit significantly from this new service. Delta’s Seattle-Lihue flights on Boeing 757 aircraft will add 63,510 air seats annually to Kauai, generating an estimated $77.9 million in direct visitor spending for the island, and $9.1 million in tax revenue for the State.”
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Hawaiian Airlines to Begin Nonstop Service Between Kauai and Hawaii Island

Tickets as low as $89* one way now available for flights starting March 12

Hawaiian Airlines, Hawai‘i’s flagship carrier, today announced it will launch once daily non-stop service between Kaua‘i’s Līhu’e Airport (LIH) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawai‘i Island beginning Sunday, March 12. This is the first time in the airline’s history that it will connect Līhu‘e and Kona with a direct flight.

“Demand from our kama‘āina and visitors for travel between Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i has been growing steadily over the past few years,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are proud to now offer our guests direct access between these islands, in addition to our connecting flights through Honolulu or Maui. This gives travelers greater flexibility and convenience when traveling through the Hawaiian Islands.”

The 263-mile flight becomes Hawaiian’s longest Neighbor Island route, besting its flights between Hilo, Hawai‘i Island (ITO) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on O‘ahu by nearly 60 miles.

LĪHU’E (LIH)/KONA (KOA) SCHEDULE
*beginning March 12, 2017

Flight Route Departs Arrives  Frequency
HA 599 KOA – LIH 9:38 a.m. 10:36 a.m. Daily
HA 500 LIH – KOA 3:44 p.m. 4:44 p.m. Daily

Hawaiian first launched flights to Kona from Honolulu on July 10, 1949 and started service from Honolulu to Līhu‘e six months later on Jan. 8, 1950. Today, the state’s largest and longest serving carrier operates an average of 21 daily departures from each airport with its Boeing 717 fleet, including:

  • LIH – HNL: 17 flights
  • LIH – Kahului Airport (OGG): four flights
  • KOA – HNL: 16 flights
  • KOA – OGG: five flights*
    *two flights operated by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s ATR42 aircraft

During the busy summer months, Hawaiian also offers direct flights from both Kona and Līhu‘e to Los Angeles and from Līhu‘e to Oakland, California.  In December 2016, Hawaiian started its first-ever international service from Kona with thrice-weekly flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

*Tickets between Līhu‘e and Kona, starting as low as $89 one way including taxes and fees, are now available for purchase online at HawaiianAirlines.com.  Fare is available for non-stop, one-way flights between Līhu‘e, HI and Kona, HI. Tickets must be booked by 1/19/17 for travel between 3/12/17 – 5/24/17 and are only valid in the Economy (coach) cabin.  Fares are subject to seat availability during the travel period shown. Other restrictions apply. Additional baggage charges may apply. See HawaiianAirlines.com for terms and conditions.

Island Air Blesses New Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

Island Air held a blessing and naming ceremony today for the first of three new Q400 turboprop airplanes it is acquiring as part of a long-term plan to upgrade its fleet and expand the company’s presence in the interisland market. Island Air owners, managers and employees, along with elected officials, visitor industry partners and other special guests gathered at the Island Air hangar off Lagoon Drive to bless and dedicate the new aircraft prior to its inaugural interisland flight tomorrow morning.

“The launch of our first new Q400 aircraft is a significant milestone not just for the Island Air team, but also for residents and visitors who travel between the Hawaiian Islands to visit family, conduct business and to enjoy our special island lifestyle,” said David Uchiyama,‎ president and chief executive officer, Island Air. “After extensive evaluation, review and comparison studies of different aircraft, as well as input from our pilots and operations crew, we reached the conclusion that the Q400 is the right aircraft that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers and provide them with the best interisland travel experience.”

Island Air’s new fleet of aircraft will bear names that recognize seven core values developed by the airline’s team members and are integrated into the company’s mission and corporate philosophy. The first Q400 aircraft is named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do.” The names of future planes will focus on other core values including genuineness, doing the right thing, accountability, striving for the highest summit, trust and persistence.

“Like so many Island residents, our team members have been raised on key values that guide their everyday lives, including strong work ethics and commitment to one another and the local community,” said Uchiyama. “In brainstorming names for the new aircraft, the Island Air ‘ohana wanted to reflect the values we strive to uphold, while reminding us that each time a plane arrives and departs, we must always share aloha with our valued customers and never lose sight of what it means to Fly the Island Way.”

With the addition of the new aircraft, which will be put into service on Jan. 12, Island Air will increase the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kahului from six to seven, and the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kona from five to six. The new flight schedule also will see slight time changes in the six daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Līhu‘e. The new flight schedule is available on Island Air’s website at www.islandair.com/flight-schedules.

Island Air plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400 aircraft and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service. The Q400 turboprops are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited. The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive later this week, and the third is expected to be delivered in April.

The Q400 has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet. The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advanced noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai‘i market. In addition, its noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which will be less disruptive to the community as it flies overhead.

Hokulea Completes Transit Through Panama Canal and Returns to Pacific Waters

After two days of transit through the Panama Canal, iconic voyaging canoe Hokulea reached the Panama city of Balboa today at 2:54 p.m. EST.

The canoe went through three sets of locks on the man-made waterway and returned to Pacific waters for the first time in nearly two years. Because Hokulea has no engines, and because of the turbulence and currents within the canal, the canoe was safely towed by a powerful work vessel – DWS Linda – through the canal.

Crewmembers moored the double-hulled canoe at Balboa Yacht Club and will remain docked in Balboa for about seven days. From Balboa, Hokulea will depart for the Galapagos Islands, a sail that is expected to take approximately 10 days.

While in Balboa, Hokulea’s crew will engage with several indigenous organizations and leaders of the Panamanian community. Crewmembers will also use their time in Balboa to provision the vessel for her upcoming sail to the Galapagos Islands and then Rapa Nui, ensuring she is in exceptional condition for the remainder of her voyage home to the Hawaiian Islands.

Hokulea Makes its Way Through First Lock of the Panama Canal

Famed voyaging canoe Hokulea has begun her journey through the Panama Canal lock system, following a one-day delay due to maintenance on the waterway.
In preparation for the next set of locks, Hokulea has been moored in Lake Gatun for the night and will continue her transit through the man-made waterway towards the Pacific Ocean tomorrow. Crews are expected to arrive in Balboa, Panama tomorrow, Jan. 11.

Hokulea will be welcomed by Panama’s indigenous organizations and community leaders after her arrival in Balboa. The crew will prepare and restock the vessel for her departure to the Galapagos Islands and then Rapa Nui, paying close attention to hull cleanliness to assure respect and care for these vibrant ecosystems.

To follow the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, visit http://hokulea.com/track-the-voyage

Hokulea Transit Through Panama Canal Delayed

Traditional voyaging vessel Hokulea’s historic transit through the Panama Canal has been delayed due to unforeseen repairs being performed on the east lane of the Canal. The canoe was scheduled to make its legendary crossing today towards the Pacific Ocean and through the Atlantic Locks. Crewmembers have docked Hokulea in Colon, Panama and are now expected to commence her transit through the Panama Canal possibly as early as tomorrow, Jan. 10.

Crossing the Panama Canal from Colon to Balboa will take the crew approximately two days. Hokulea crewmembers will use their time in Balboa to work alongside indigenous communities and organizations to offer culturally relevant maritime activities to the Panamanian public. The canoe will also undergo necessary assessment and preparations before setting sail to the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui and French Polynesia.

Hawaiian Airlines Carries Record 11 Million Passengers in 2016

Hawaiian Airlines welcomed a record 11,050,911 guests in 2016, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year. Hawai’i’s largest and longest-serving airline today announced its system-wide traffic statistics for the month, quarter and full year ending December 2016.

The record passenger count in 2016 marks 12 straight years of growth as the airline continues to expand its network and fleet, providing travelers with more options to fly to and within the Hawaiian Islands than any other carrier.

In July Hawaiian launched daily non-stop service between Narita and Honolulu international airports, and last month it inaugurated triweekly service between Haneda and Kona international airports. This past summer Hawaiian added one A330-200 aircraft (bringing the company’s A330 fleet to 23), and took delivery of two Boeing B717-200s in November and December for a total of 20 of the aircraft type. The company also operates eight Boeing 767s on transpacific routes and three turboprop ATR-42 through its interisland subsidiary, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.

The carrier has recently unveiled several product investments to enhance the flight experience, including the debut of a new Premium Cabin featuring lie-flat seating and luxury amenities, additional Extra Comfort seating, and a first-class auction upgrade service called Bid Up.

The Company expects to recognize a $5 million non-cash loss in non-operating expense from the translation of its foreign currency denominated bank accounts.

In December, the Company announced its intention to early retire its fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft by the end of 2018 resulting in a non-cash impairment charge of approximately $45 – $50 million.  In addition, the Company completed an agreement with a third-party maintenance vendor for its Boeing 767 aircraft and expects to record an additional financial charge of approximately $21 million.

Apple Mapping Car Being Spotted Around the Big Island

This afternoon as I was driving in Hilo, I noticed a weird car drive by me with all these cameras on top of it.  At first I thought it was the Google Car that I had seen a few years ago on Bayfront but learned it wasn’t.
I was driving down the Mohouli extension road and the car turned on to Loko Place.  Knowing that Loko Place was a dead end street that was just recently built… I flipped a U-Turn and pulled over on the side of Loko Place and positioned myself to take a picture of the car.
It turned out it was an “Apple” car that was doing mapping for it’s “Maps” application http://maps.apple.com.

Apple Maps states:

Offering an all-new design and a host of innovative features, Maps makes finding and getting to your destination faster and easier than ever. With turn-by-turn spoken directions, interactive 3D views, proactive suggestions, and the ability to use third-party apps right inside Maps, there’s so much to explore.

Maps now predicts the places you’re most likely to go and suggests the fastest way to get there based on traffic, your current location, the time of day, and events on your schedule. So in the morning, Maps can provide a proactive suggestion for the best route to work that avoids traffic. And any upcoming meetings on your calendar are presented with suggested routes. Simply tap the suggestion to display the directions and start navigation.

It looks as though they are trying to compete with Google for customers.  The last time that I can recall the Google car being on the Island was in 2011 but I could be wrong.

The Google car in Wailoa Park

The Google Car works in connection with the Google Bike as the bike can take folks on even narrower roads and trails where the car can’t go.

Senator Kahele Invites Public to His Last Landing with Hawaii Air National Guard

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 8th 2017, Senator Kai Kahele will command his final flight back to Hilo with the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, where his flying career began in 1992 as an 18 year old student pilot at Benchmark Flight Training.

Senator Kahele has told me that this is open to the public and folks will be able to check out the C-17 in person. He is estimated to arrive at 10:00AM and will have the C-17 Globemaster III on display for the public until 11:15AM.

Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Major Kahele was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 2001. He earned his USAF pilot wings at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi in 2002 and has flown numerous aircraft in the USAF to include the T-37, T-38, F-15, C-130 and C-17. He is a veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and has accumulated over 3000+ hours of worldwide military flight time. He has commanded numerous USAF combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the USAF Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal & USAF Commendation Medal.

“Mahalo to my HIANG 204th airlift squadron ‘ohana for a great pau hana Saturday before my C17 final flight tomorrow back to where it all started…Hilo” stated Sen. Kai Kahele tonight on his Facebook page

Children, friends, family and aviation enthusiasts are invited. Participants will get to view the cockpit and the entire aircraft as well as talk to an F-22 Raptor Pilot and other C-17 pilots and loadmasters about how to become a United States Air Force military pilot and pursue a USAF career.

**Bring your kids and family to Hilo airport tomorrow morning at 10:00AM to check out the C17 Globemaster** (Old Hilo Airport Tower/Cargo Terminal by NAS Swimming Pool)

Cameras are welcome and please bring your families!

Hawaiian Airlines Named Most Punctual Airline in the World

Hawaiian Airlines has been named the world’s most punctual airline in 2016 according to results released by air travel intelligence company OAG in its annual ranking of on-time performance (OTP) for all airlines and airports. The OAG Punctuality League, covering 200 airlines from every corner of the globe, revealed that 89.9 percent of Hawaiian’s flights arrived on time in 2016.

“This accomplishment was won through the hard work and dedication of our more than 6,000 employees,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Together they have made Hawaiian an industry leader not only in punctuality but also in the quality of service they deliver every day to our guests.”

Hawai‘i’s largest and longest-serving airline provides daily non-stop service to Hawai‘i from 11 gateway cities in North America – more cities than any other carrier – using Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 767-300 aircraft, along with service from Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti. Hawaiian Airlines also operates approximately 160 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands using Boeing 717-200 aircraft.

The OAG Punctuality League is derived from the most comprehensive airline schedules database in the world and is the most transparent global benchmark for the world’s airlines and airports.

The report is available online http://www.oag.com/punctuality-league-2016.

Punahele Street Closed for Road Construction Project

Starting on Monday, January 9, 2017 through Saturday, January 21, 2017, roadway reconstruction work will be done on the mauka (western) half of the intersection at Komohana Street and Punahele Street.   Work is scheduled between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Due to construction activities, Punahele Street will be closed (24 hour closure) to thru traffic from Komohana Street to Punawai Street.   Only local traffic will be allowed in and out of this section of Punahele Street (near Punawai St.).

The County of Hawaii and the Contractor apologizes for any inconvenience and request that all drivers use caution when traveling through the area.  Should there be any comments or questions, please contact the County of Hawaii, Department of Public Works at (808) 961-8321 or Yamada and Sons, Inc. at (808) 933-8434.

Hokulea Reaches Colon, Panama and Prepares for Historic Canal Crossing

Thirteen days since departing Key West, iconic sailing canoe Hokulea arrived yesterday in Colon, Panama, a seaport located by the Caribbean Sea near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. The crew will spend the next two to three days preparing for their historic crossing through the 48-mile isthmus of Panama. Upon completion of the waterway, Hokulea will arrive in Balboa to re-enter the Pacific Ocean for the first time in nearly two years.

“It’ll surely be a sight to see Hokulea travel through the Panama Canal,” said pwo navigator and Hokulea captain, Bruce Blankenfeld. “Like Hokulea, the Panama Canal brings international communities together and serves as a bridge between the Atlantic and the Pacific.”

The Panama Canal has been an international landmark for over 100 years. The unique geography of Panama has allowed for increased international trade, fortifying international relations through modern technology. The canal continues on a new purpose with the passage of Hokulea, where both the vessel and its mission to share a message of caring for Island Earth will travel through the stretch of man-made waterway.

It will take the crew about two days to make their way from Colon to Balboa through the canal. With her return to the Pacific as an ancestral homecoming, Hokulea will continue with the mission of engaging with local communities worldwide before she reaches Hawaii.  The canoe will make stops in the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui and French Polynesia. Hokulea will conclude her Worldwide Voyage with a historic homecoming at Magic Island on June 17, 2017.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for 3 People Aboard Possible Downed Aircraft Off Molokai

The Coast Guard suspended the active search Sunday at sunset for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard near Ilio Point, Molokai.

The search continues for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard approximately 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point, Molokai, Dec. 31, 2016. Crews from the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu, an HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point are searching the area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of Michael, Whitney and John,” said Lt. Nic Iannarone, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center command duty officer. “Suspending a search is an incredibly difficult decision to make, especially during the holiday season. Our crews along with Maui County Fire Department and the National Parks Service have completely covered the search areas on ground and sea and have found no trace of the Cessna.”

Responders conducted a total of 29 searches covering 1,473 square miles over a span of three days.

Involved in the search were:

  • Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews and C-130 Hercules airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Crews of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) and USCGC Galveston Island (WBP-1349) from Honolulu
  • Crews aboard Air and surface assets from Molokai Fire Department and Maui County Fire Department
  • National Parks Service personnel
At 7 p.m. Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a call from personnel at the Honolulu Control Facility stating a Cessna with three people aboard reportedly disappeared from radar while enroute from Molokai airport to Honolulu.

Hawaiian Airlines Leasing Plane From China – Phasing Out B767-300s

Hawaiian Airlines will dry-lease an A321neo from China with delivery scheduled for 2018.

As previously reported, Hawaiian plans to phase out its fleet of eight B767-300s by the end of 2018. To expedite the process, it has ordered one A330-200 from Airbus Industrie, and will lease one more A321neo in addition to this one.

Hawaiian plans to phase in sixteen A321neos by end of 2020, plus the two leased aircraft, which will free up some its fleet of twenty-three A330-200s for more flights to Asia. It also has eighteen B717-200s which it uses for flights between the islands of Hawaii.

Coast Searching for Downed Plane Off Molokai with Three People Aboard

The search for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard near Ilio Point, Molokai, continues Saturday.

The search continues for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard approximately 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point, Molokai, Dec. 31, 2016. Crews from the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu, an HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point are searching the area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The search now extends up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point.

Missing are: Michael Childers, pilot, and two passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. They were flying in a Cessna with tail number N174LL.

Crews currently engaged in the search are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Crew of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu
  • Air and surface assets from Molokai Fire Department and Maui County Fire Department

Aircrews from Air Station Barbers Point have deployed three self-locating datum marker buoys to aid in the search.

Weather in the area is reported as 23 mph winds with waves at 6 to 8 feet and scattered showers.

At 7 p.m., Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a call from personnel at the Honolulu Control Facility stating a Cessna with three people aboard reportedly disappeared from radar while enroute from Molokai airport to Honolulu.

More information will be released once it becomes available.

Komohana St. Reconstruction Project Update

Reconstruction work will continue this week at the Komohana Street and Waiānuenue Avenue intersection between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., weather and construction conditions permitting.  No work will occur on the upcoming New Year’s holiday weekend.

The intersection will remain open and the contractor will work on one approach at a time with Special off-duty police officers directing motorists around work area.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call Yamada and Sons, Inc. at (808) 933-8434 or Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

50 Nene Killed by Vehicles on Kaua’i Highways in the Last Two Years

In the final weeks of 2016, eight Nene (Hawaiian Goose) have been killed by vehicles along a two mile stretch of the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha. Nene are only found in Hawai‘i and are listed as endangered due to their low number, with an estimated 1,200 remaining on Kaua‘i. In the past two years 50 Nene have been struck and killed by cars across the roadways of Kaua‘i. Typically the majority of vehicle strikes occur in Hanalei and Kilauea, however the most recent strikes are occurring on the west side of the island.

It is believed that 25,000 Nene were present in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. By the mid 1940’s only 50 birds remained. Since then, through captive breeding efforts and extensive predator control the population is beginning to grow with almost 3,000 birds statewide. Even with ongoing conservation efforts Nene are still considered to be the rarest goose species in the world.

Nene begin building nests and laying eggs as early as August although the greatest number of road strikes occur  between December and April during the peak of the breeding and molting season. It is during this time of year that both adults and goslings are flightless for a period of time and are especially vulnerable. Nene are often seen foraging along the edges of highways  and ditches as a result of regular mowing and runoff from the pavement creating especially desirable grass in these areas.

Jean Olbert, a Nene biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “With recent rains on the west side, reports of Nene crossing the highway in Kekaha have increased dramatically. Nene regularly cross the road in the evening and early morning hours making it even more important to be on the lookout during these times. Nene remain with their mates for life and travel with their families during this time of year. After a Nene is killed on a road the remaining family members are often unwilling to leave the body, resulting in multiple birds being killed over a short period of time.”

Nene crossing signs have recently been posted by the Department of Transportation along the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha and the Kuhio Highway in Hanalei in regions where birds frequently cross roadways. DLNR/DOFAW is working with county and state transportation departments and federal partners to potentially add more signs in high-strike zones. Drivers are asked to please slow down and be extra attentive in these areas, especially in low light conditions.

To report an injured or dead bird on Kaua‘i please contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 808-274-3433.

5,000th Electric Vehicle Registered in Hawaii, Drive Electric Hawaii Formed to Promote Electric Transportation

Eight key organizations have agreed to collaborate on electrification of ground transportation in Hawaii as an essential part of achieving the state’s clean energy goals.

Drive Electric Hawaii seeks to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles through coordinated collaboration, and to make it easier to expand vehicle-charging infrastructure in a way that brings more renewable energy onto the electric grid.

The new organization’s launch coincides with registration of the 5,000th electric vehicle in Hawaii.

Click to read memorandum

Founding participants who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding are: Blue Planet Foundation; Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation (HDOT); Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); Hawaii State Division of Consumer Advocacy; the Hawaiian Electric Companies (including Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light); Kauai Island Utility Cooperative; Rocky Mountain Institute; and Ulupono Initiative. Other agencies and organizations are expected to join as the initiative moves forward.

“The primary focus of the Drive Electric Hawaii Initiative is to accelerate the cost-effective electrification of transportation in all passenger vehicles, public transit vehicles, and fleet vehicles…,” the memorandum states. “This effort will play a meaningful part toward the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative objective of increasing energy security and self-sufficiency by eliminating Hawaii’s dependence on imported fuels for both electricity and ground transportation.”

Hawaii is second in the nation (after California) in per capita electric vehicle registrations and a leader in charging facilities. Despite low gasoline prices, plug-in passenger vehicles registered in the state increased 26 percent last year. At the same time, gasoline and diesel vehicle registrations fell by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.

“We are in the midst of a massive transformation,” said Richard Wallsgrove of Blue Planet Foundation. “Electric vehicles can use renewable energy, enabling us to drastically reduce our state’s carbon pollution. At the same time, electric vehicles can help to lower the cost of energy for everyone. This can be a true win-win.”

With over one million vehicles registered in the state, Wallsgrove said, “Reaching 5,000 electric vehicles is an early milestone. But every great journey starts with one step. The goal of Drive Electric Hawaii is to accelerate this progress, reaching our clean energy goals faster, together.”

“Being able to offer EV users power that is generated from renewable sources is a high priority for us at Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. At 36 percent, we are well on our way to reaching – and exceeding – our goal of 50 percent renewables by 2023,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO.

The initiative grew out of Rocky Mountain Institute’s eLab Accelerator initiative – “a boot camp for electricity innovation”– where earlier this year Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric, Ulupono Initiative, and other Hawaii representatives brainstormed ways get more electric vehicles deployed and successfully integrated into the grid. Colorado-based RMI is an independent, global non-profit organization dedicated to sustainability, with a focus on market-based innovations for energy and resource efficiency.

“We think smartly integrated electric vehicles could be a boon — not a burden — for a Hawaii grid that is increasingly renewable, and Drive Electric Hawaii will help all stakeholders consider how to approach EV integration holistically,” said Jesse Morris, a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute focused on enabling the integration of distributed energy resources like EVs.

The Drive Electric Hawaii shared vision includes:

  • Building a broad coalition in support of renewable transportation
  • Encouraging use of electric vehicles
  • Increasing electric vehicle charging opportunities that support 100 percent renewable energy
  • Developing policies, regulations and laws to unlock the full value of electrified transportation

“The memorandum reinforces much of the ongoing work being done at DBEDT and elsewhere to improve the synergies between the electricity and transportation sector,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “We are grateful for the leadership taken by energy and transportation stakeholders in advancing this very important piece of our clean energy transformation.”

“Drive Electric Hawaii is a great opportunity for the public, private and nonprofit sectors to collaborate on accelerating Hawaii’s bold energy and transportation goals,” said Greg Gaug, vice president of investments for the local impact investment firm Ulupono Initiative. “As part of our energy system strategy, we look forward to working with the state, utilities, and transportation and energy stakeholders to get more EVs on our roads.”

“Many individuals, organizations and agencies must work together to achieve a clean transportation energy future. No one can do it alone,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president for corporate planning and business development. “We believe that, along with renewable generation of electricity, transportation electrification can help us achieve stable, reliable and lower-cost service for all our customers,”

With signing of the memorandum, participants will begin to establish a work plan and initiatives to move forward.

Hokulea’s Crew Celebrate Christmas in Caribbean Waters

Crewmembers aboard the historic vessel Hokulea are celebrating Christmas Day at sea while in transit to Panama where they will clear customs before crossing the Panama Canal.

With approximately a week to go before Hokulea reaches Panama, the crew took the opportunity to decorate the canoe with festive trimmings to get into the holiday spirit while they are away from their families and loved ones over the holiday season.

“Not many people get to celebrate the holidays while at sea on the deck of Hokulea during this epic around-the-world voyage,” said Hokulea captain and pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld. “As much as we’d love to be home in Hawaii with our loved ones at this time of year, we are all truly honored to be sailing Hokulea to share our Malama Honua message with communities around the world.”

Hokulea was sailing along the coast of Cuba today and will arrive in Panama around December 31, where the crew will possibly ring in the new year. Once she re-enters the Pacific Ocean, Hokulea will make stops in the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui and French Polynesia before her sail west back to a celebratory homecoming at Magic Island in June 2017.