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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.

EPA Fines Hawaii Businesses for Cesspool Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has completed enforcement actions with the Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui, Vacation Inns International on the North Shore, Oahu, and Shaka’s in Pahoa on the Big Island, for failure to close their large capacity cesspools. Travaasa will pay a penalty of $187,500, Vacation Inns International will pay $40,000, and Shaka’s will pay $82,425.

In addition, EPA has also filed a civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward of Waimanalo for operating two illegal cesspools that serves Serg’s Mexican Kitchen restaurant.

“Cesspools serving resorts and restaurants can pollute the groundwater and nearshore waters where people swim,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s precious water resources by closing down all large capacity cesspools.”

Cesspools, which are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state, discharge raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui

Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui

The Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) has voluntarily closed a number of its cesspools over the last three years, and has committed to closing its remaining 14 large capacity cesspools within the next two years, replacing them with state-approved septic systems.

The same is true for Vacation Inns International (also known as Backpackers Hawaii Vacation Inn) and its six cesspools, located on the North Shore of Oahu, a popular destination for surfers from around the world.

Shaka’s Pahoa LLC that operates the Pahoa Café nightclub has closed one cesspool and has another remaining cesspool to close.

The civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward of Waimanalo where two illegal cesspools for Serg’s Mexican Kitchen operates, stems from an EPA inspection in 2011. Mr. Ward allegedly refused to submit a proof of closing for the cesspools that provides service to the restaurant. Serg’s is located in the Waimanalo watershed, targeted by EPA and the State because it is burdened by multiple sources of water pollution.

Throughout the state of Hawaii, over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed, many through voluntary compliance, since the ban was instituted in 2005. Large capacity cesspools include those discharging untreated sewage from multiple residential dwellings, and from non-residential locations that have the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools or to non-residential cesspools that do not have the capacity to serve 20 or more people.

For more information on the completed cases visit:
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-heavenly-hana.html
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-vacation-inns.html
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-shakas-pahoa.html

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban, please visit:
http://www2.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

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.

UKIRT1

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.