Utility Infrastructure Upgrades to Resume on Hamakua Coast – Delays Up to 45 Minutes

Hawaii Electric Light announces that construction work along Highway 19 will resume starting January 18, 2016. One lane will be closed to traffic along sections of the highway from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily between the 24-mile marker in Papaaloa and the 27-mile marker in Laupahoehoe on the Hamakua Coast.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of February, weather permitting.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of February, weather permitting.

Security personnel will direct traffic, and motorists are advised to drive with caution through the construction area. Delays of up to 45 minutes or less are anticipated. Motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes, if possible.

This project will improve system reliability by upgrading utility infrastructure. It involves removing and installing poles and upgrading transmission and distribution lines and equipment. Work is expected to be completed by the end of February, weather permitting. Regular updates will be provided to local media and posted on the company’s website www.hawaiielectriclight.com and Twitter account @HIElectricLight.

Hawaii Electric Light regrets any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding. For questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

EPA Finds Puna Geothermal Venture Violated Chemical Safety Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Puna Geothermal Venture for Clean Air Act chemical safety violations at its geothermal energy plant in the Puna area of the Island of Hawaii. After an EPA inspection, the facility has now complied with the rules designed to minimize accidental chemical releases. The company has also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $76,500.


“The goal of EPA’s inspections is to protect the health and safety of the workers at the plant and the residents in the community,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our continued oversight will help ensure that it operates in a safe manner by complying with federal requirements.”

EPA conducted a chemical facility inspection in August 2013 and found that PGV had failed to take necessary steps to prevent accidental releases of hydrogen sulfide. Specifically, the company had not tested and inspected its equipment with the frequency consistent with manufacturers’ recommendations, good engineering practices, and prior operating experience.

The inspectors also found that with respect to PGV’s storage, use and handling of pentane, a flammable substance used as a working fluid in the facility’s electricity producing turbines, PGV failed to:

  • Conduct periodic compliance audits of its accident prevention program and document that identified deficiencies have been corrected.
  • Implement adequate written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for safely conducting activities.
  • Ensure that the frequency of inspections and tests of equipment is consistent with manufacturers’ recommendations, good engineering practices, and prior operating experience.
  • Analyze and report on a worst-case release scenario and estimate the population that would be affected by an accidental release of pentane.

Today’s penalty action is taken under the federal Clean Air Act’s Section 112(r) General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program requirements.

The General Duty Clause requires facilities to minimize the probability and consequences of accidental chemical releases to better protect workers, communities and the environment. The Risk Management Program requires development of a Risk Management Plan that includes: a hazard assessment detailing the potential effects of an accidental release; a chemical accident prevention program that includes process operation, maintenance, and employee training measures; and an emergency response program that spells out procedures for informing the public and local response agencies should an accident occur.

EPA’s August 2013 inspection was prompted by releases of hydrogen sulfide from the facility to the atmosphere in March and April 2013. The April 2013 release was caused by a pump failure, resulting in a leak of geothermal condensate (composed primarily of water with some contaminants, including hydrogen sulfide) for about 15 minutes before PGV personnel were able to isolate and stop the leakage. The March 2013 release was attributed to the tripping of a breaker in the local power grid, and PGV’s emergency shutdown and hydrogen sulfide abatement systems functioned as designed.

In addition to EPA’s oversight, including the Risk Management Plan updates that PGV must submit, the air permit issued to the facility by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health requires PGV to submit regular air quality monitoring reports to the state.

For more information on EPA’s Risk Management Program, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/rmp

For more information on the Clean Air Act’s General Duty clause, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/rmp/general-duty-clause-fact-sheet

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 213

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 3 more case since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 213.

Mosquito Bite

As of January 12, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 3 new cases of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 1 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
1 Illness onset  1/2/16
Cases no longer infectious
212 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/1/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)

Of the confirmed cases, 193 are Hawaii Island residents and 20 are visitors.
172 cases have been adults; 41 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/2/16.

As of today, a total of 874 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

For a map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases, click HERE**. (Updated January 6, 2016)

For Hawaii Island Dengue Fever Unified Command Updates, click HERE. (Updated December 2, 2015)

CDC Interim Assessment of the Response by the Hawaii State Department of Health to the Dengue Outbreak on the Island of Hawaii

Hawaii Department of Health Meets EPA Interim Targets Ahead of Jan. 29 Deadline – More Funding for Water Quality Projects

The Hawaii State Department of Health Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program disbursed more than $10.36 million in federal funds in the last half of 2015 to support infrastructure improvements in the public water systems for all four counties. This exceeded the interim target of $7.67 million in disbursements.

Clean Water Act

In addition, as of Jan. 4, the Department of Health made commitments to provide funding totaling over $32.7 million, exceeding the $28.28 million interim target. The commitments for the four Hawaii County Department of Water Supply water system improvement projects include:

  • Over $4.1 million for the Laupahoehoe Reservoir;
  • Almost $12.9 million for the Waimea Water Treatment Plant microfiltration project
  • $823,420 for phase one of the Halaula well development project;
  • $3.2 million for the Ahualoa-Honokaa transmission waterline.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply commitment involves $11.65 million for multiple water system improvements.

Each year, Congress appropriates funds that are administered by the EPA to provide grants to states to capitalize low-interest loan programs for public water system infrastructure improvements. The funds come with stipulations.

This year, Hawaii had to meet two interim requirements by Jan.29, 2016, and these were met well ahead of schedule by Jan. 4, 2016.

“We must continually demonstrate our stewardship of the federal funds and account for how the funds are being used before we can receive additional funds,” said Joanna Seto, Safe Drinking Water Branch chief. “Our SRF team and County customers were all aware of the pending deadline and what was at stake. There was great teamwork and collaboration to meet the deadline.”

The EPA awarded the Hawaii Department of Health $688,000 on Sept. 28, 2015, and withheld a little over $8 million in federal funds, pending the Department of Health’s ability to meet specific targets by Jan. 29, 2016.

Since it began in 1997, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has disbursed more than $201.5 million in low interest loans.


There are two funds for water system infrastructure improvement projects: the Clean Water State Revolving Fund infrastructure loan program, established by the Clean Water Act of 1987, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund infrastructure loan program, established by the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is also referred to as Hawaii’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, provides low-interest loans to Hawaii’s four counties to construct high-priority wastewater, storm water, and non-point source water pollution projects.

Since it began in 1991, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund has disbursed more than 705.8 million in low-interest loans, providing significant savings in interest costs to the counties.

Martin Luther King Report: Hawaii is the Most Racially Integrated State

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day around the corner and race relations being a top issue facing the nation today, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s States That Have Achieved the Most Racial Progress.

To identify the states that are most racially integrated and have come the furthest in their efforts of racial progress, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 10 key metrics. Our data set ranges from median annual income to homeownership rates to voter turnout.

In this report, we examine the differences between only blacks and whites in light of the high-profile police-brutality incidents that have sparked national controversy in recent years and the Civil Rights Movement — in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., played a prominent role — that involved mainly black and white groups.

Racial Integration in Hawaii (1=Biggest; 25=Avg.)

  • 2nd – Median Annual Income Gap
  • 1st – Labor-Force Participation Rate Gap
  • 8th – Unemployment Rate Gap
  • 21st – Homeownership Rate Gap
  • 1st – Poverty Rate Gap
  • 1st – Business Ownership Rate Gap
  • 8th – % of Residents with at Least a High School Diploma Gap
  • 1st – NAEP Test Scores Gap

Note: All of the above comparisons refer to the gaps between whites and blacks, according to the most recent available data.

For the full report, please visit:

Source: WalletHub