Hawaiian Electric Companies Introduce Ohana Energy Gift Program

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today introduced their new Ohana Energy Gift Program, a thoughtful and practical way for customers to give the gift of energy to their friends and family or to help others in need.

HELCO Logo

The program allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to make payments toward a designated recipient’s electric account. The recipient will receive an acknowledgement letter once the gift amount has been applied to his or her account.

“In Hawaii, we’re blessed to live in a very supportive and generous community. We created this program because over the years we’ve received many requests from our customers for this kind of service,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

Gift givers will receive a confirmation letter once the designated recipient’s account information has been verified and the gift amount has been applied. Ohana Energy Gifts are not tax deductible donations.

The gifts may be anonymous, or the gift giver may choose to also send a special acknowledgement card with a personalized message.

If a recipient is not designated, the energy gift will be given to individuals and families in need. Application forms may be downloaded from the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light websites or picked up from any of the companies’ customer service centers.

For more information and downloadable application forms, please visit www.hawaiianelectric.com/gift, www.mauielectric.com/gift, or www.hawaiielectriclight.com/gift.

Lawsuit Charges State Of Hawaii With Breach Of Public Trust – Electric Monopoly

On Wednesday afternoon, September 25, Honolulu attorney, John Carroll, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, charging the State of Hawaii with breach of the public trust for its failure to address the State’s energy crisis to the satisfaction of its residents.

The defendants in the case are the State of Hawaii and Neil S. Abercrombie, sued in his capacity as the Governor of the State, responsible for the faithful execution of State law.

HELCO Lawsuit

Click to view lawsuit

Plan Boosts Big Island Geothermal

The electric utility on Hawaii island published Friday the first draft of a plan to add 50 megawatts of geothermal power to the island’s electric grid.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. will seek public comment on the draft to help guide renewable energy developers as they prepare their bids to supply geothermal power to HELCO. A final draft of the document is scheduled to be completed by January, and selection of the winning bidder or bidders is expected by July or August.

An existing 38-megawatt geothermal plant on Hawaii island already accounts for about 20 percent of the island’s peak electrical load. An additional 50 megawatts would push the amount of geothermal generation to nearly 50 percent of peak load.

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

“This project combines our efforts to increase renewable resources on our island with a commitment to reduce costs for consumers,” HELCO President Jay Igna­­cio said.

HELCO customers pay among the highest electricity rates in the state.

HELCO plans to conduct a technical conference webi­nar next month to allow prospective bidders to ask questions and provide comments on the draft document, known as a request for proposals, or RFP.

The contracted price HELCO will pay developers for the geothermal energy will not be linked to the cost of oil, as is the case with many of the other renewable energy projects on Hawaii island.

“This is incredibly important for ratepayers on the Big Island,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. “This will help stabilize prices. What people on the Big Island need is clean, affordable energy, and that’s the purpose of this RFP.”

One of the keys to making the plan work is engaging the community, he added. “We are working hard to have it done right, respecting the environment and the culture,” Schatz said.

Puna Geothermal Plant

Bringing another 50 megawatts of geothermal power online will pave the way for the eventual retirement of fossil fuel-burning electrical generators on Hawaii island, he said.

More than 40 percent of the electricity consumed on Hawaii island is generated from renewable resources, the highest percentage of any island in the state.

Besides geothermal, Hawaii island has hydroelectric, wind and distributed solar power generation.

Survey Shows Support for Aina Koa Pono

Media Release:

Aina Koa Pono (AKP) received support from Hawaii Island residents in a recent survey, but a larger number revealed that many are still unaware of the company and its Kau project.

The survey results were released today to coincide with the Hawaii Public Utilities’s Commission hearings on Hawaii Electric Light Company’s request for approval of the biofuels contract.

Aina Koa Pono is proposing a biorefinery in Kau which would produce 24 million gallons of biofuel annually—16 million gallons will be used at HELCO’s Keahole power plant and eight million gallons will be distributed by Mansfield Oil for transportation, with preference to Hawaii. When completed, AKP can supply 18 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable resources.

“Hawaii Island residents were surveyed because we wanted to get a sense of the level of acceptance and support for the Kau project,” said Chris Eldridge, partner of AKP. “What we learned was that while there’s support, we need to do more education and outreach.”

AKP engaged SMS Research and Marketing of Honolulu to conduct the survey. The survey, taken in September and October, found that 85 percent support “developing more renewable energy sources for the Island of Hawai‘i.”

The Kau project would provide “base load” electricity, which is essentially steady electricity, as opposed to other alternatives such as wind or solar, which are intermittent and depend on weather conditions.

Aina Koa Pono’s operation would initially convert invasive plant species, coconut husks and macadamia nut hulls to biofuel using Microwave Catalytic Deploymerization (Micro Dee). Microwave technology has been successfully and safely used in the herbal extraction and pharmaceutical industries for decades.

SMS Research has served organizations in Hawaii for more than 50 years.

The research also indicated that a large minority Hawaii Island residents do not know enough about Aina Koa Pono or its project.

SMS Research found that only 10 percent of those interviewed knew about the Aina Koa Pono project when asked on an unaided basis. Of the residents who knew of the project, 65 percent support the project compared to 16 percent who do not.

A description of the project was provided to all respondents and when asked whether they favor or oppose the project, 56 percent stated they were in favor of the project as compared to 11 percent opposed— a 5-to-1 ratio. 33 percent stated they did not know enough about the project.

“We have been meeting with folks in Kau and will be increasing our outreach to the community so they are aware of our project,” Eldridge said.

Excluding those who do not know enough, the support for Aina Koa Pono development is strong in the areas of safety, keeping money in the State, additional jobs, revitalization of Hawaii’s agricultural industry, reduction of electric bills for Island residents, and more.

Again, excluding those who do not know enough, some of the concerns with the project include the perception that Aina Koa Pono will be run by outsiders, may have some impact on traffic, biofuel will cost more to produce than imported oil, and the plant will be too expensive to build.

“Serious misinformation is circulating throughout the community. Aina Koa Pono is locally owned and the $450 million project is privately funded,” Eldridge said. “Eight to 12 trucks a week will deliver biofuel to Keahole. The project poses no financial risk to ratepayers, who pay nothing until the biofuel is produced and accepted by HELCO.”

The Aina Koa Pono project would increase electricity bills for HECO and HELCO customers by 84 cents to $1 a month for typical 500 to 600 kWh usage.

At the conclusion of the survey, participants were asked again the level of support or opposition to the development of the biofuel plant at Kau, a majority of 63 percent support versus 12 percent who oppose with 25 percent having no opinion.

The final report will be released by SMS Research shortly.

(Research Methodology: 303 interviews conducted between September 20 to October 3, 2012, margin of error is +/– 5.6 percentage points.)

Big Island Gets Hit Hard by Island Wide Black Out

Well we had an island wide black out that affected a lot of events on the Island.

Here’s a picture of the event:

Over at Kona Bowl… they had to cancel “The Green” concert (update:  they were able to carry on about an hour later.) At Hilo Civic they had a big concert that was going on.

I’m wondering if all these events going on this 4th of July weekend just caused our power grid to get overwhelmed?

Two Weeks of Palani Road Work Begins Monday

Media Release:

Roadwork on Palani Road in North Kona begins Nov. 30 and will continue through Dec. 14.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, Bolton Inc., will resurface and widen Palani Road near Grace Community Church .  Night roadwork hours are 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.  Off-duty officers will direct traffic and motorists should expect delays. Future night roadwork is planned for later to install a turn lane.

During the week of Dec. 7-14, Bolton personnel will work on a water system for Grace Community Church . Traffic is not affected

The week of Dec. 2-4, HELCO will install four concrete utility poles, at the intersection of  Palani Road , Palihiolo Street and at the new Kealaka’a Extension Street .  Phone and cable work is scheduled to begin early 2010, after the utility poles are installed.

From Dec. 7-10, traffic on Palani Road will be re-routed to the new Kealaka’a Street Extension and to Ulua‘o‘a Street. HELCO will lay the foundation to begin work on transmission lines.  Kealaka’a Street to Palihiolo Street will be closed.

One night during the week of Dec. 14, traffic on Palani Road will again be re-routed to the new Kealaka’a Street Extension and to Ulua‘o‘a Street.  HELCO will transfer power lines from Kealaka’a Street to Laimana Street .

HELCO will hire Aloha Security to direct traffic during roadwork between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Palihiolo Street remains closed and residents of Queen Liliuokalani subdivision are asked to continue using Konalani Street .

Call the County hotline at 334-9559 for project updates for Grace Community Church and HELCO.