Senator Inouye Announces Funding for Natural Energy Lab’s Seawater System

Senator Lorraine R. Inouye announced that $850,000 in General Obligation reimbursable bonds were recently released by Governor David Ige for improvements and upgrades to the seawater system of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA)

“The addition of new funding will help NELHA in its mission to develop and diversify Hawaii’s economy,” Senator Inouye said, “which is even more important at this time of economic upheaval caused by the closure and scaling back of many industries due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

NELHA is one of the largest single green economic development projects in the world. Its main facility is located on 870 acres just outside of Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i Island.

NELHA and Hawaii Tourism Authority Receives President’s “E” Award

Today in Washington, DC, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in awarding two ‪#Hawaii companies—Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and Hawaii Tourism Authority—the President’s “E” Award.


The “E” Award is the highest honor the United States Government can give to an American exporter and export service provider. Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority and Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority were two of 123 U.S. companies and organizations recognized at today’s ceremony.

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the “E” Awards presentation. For the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Of this year’s 123 honorees, 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

In 1961, President Kennedy created the “E” Awards to recognize companies supporting the expansion of U.S. exports. The President’s “E” Award recognizes persons, firms, or organizations which contribute significantly in the effort to increase United States exports. The President’s “E Star” Award affords continuing recognition of noteworthy export promotion efforts. More information on the awards can be found at:

NELHA, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Jump into Energy Storage Race

The state, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Company announced a strategic partnership to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona, managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NEHLA Aerial

“This strategic partnership highlights NELHA’s value to our state as a test-bed for new technologies and driver of innovation and economic development,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who last month released more than $13 million for capital improvements at NELHA facilities.

“With the significant cost reduction in clean energy generation over the years, some consider lower cost energy storage to be the ’missing link’ and one of the most challenging elements in the design and function of a clean energy microgrid,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour.

Energy storage is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant potential for future growth as microgrids require higher degrees of reliability and power quality, sophisticated generation-load balancing.

According to some reports, the worldwide market for energy storage systems for wind and solar will grow from less than $150 million annually in 2013 to $10.3 billion by 2023 and an installed capacity of projected to total 21.8 GW.

“The good news is that we have already developed the necessary infrastructure to allow for the ‘real-world’ grid connected standardized testing and validation of energy storage devices at HOST Park,” Barbour said. “NELHA plans to offer low-cost outdoor and indoor sites for testing, up to 30kW of power, power sensors, and real-time monitoring data of energy storage devices at no additional cost.”

“Hawaii Island offers an ideal opportunity to develop technologies that will allow more cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions to benefit our residents,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Our mission is to provide secure, clean energy for Hawaii,” said Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio. “There are great opportunities in energy storage to increase clean energy, support reliability and ultimately lower costs for customers. This partnership will help our efforts to identify economic and reliable energy storage options that support our mission.”

Added Barbour, “Efforts like these are providing a backbone that NELHA can build out further in the coming years and greatly assist in making the critical seawater system more cost efficient for businesses at HOST Park.”

Second “Exceptional Energy” Lecture Series Event Features Renewable Energy Specialist Andrea Gill

Friends of NELHA (FON) will continue its series of lectures about energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Thursday, January 30. The second speaker in the series is Andrea Gill, State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) Renewable Energy Specialist. Her topic will be “Understanding Energy/Electricity
Costs.”  The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series event will start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill has lived in Hilo since 1979.  She hails from Honolulu and attended Roosevelt High School and Stanford University. While at Stanford, Gill co-authored a four-volume report on biomass energy for Hawaii.  After graduation, she began working for the State’s energy program, managing a solar planning project and then opening the Hawaii Energy Extension Service office in Hilo.  She has authored a number of papers on ocean energy and the direct use of geothermal energy for presentation at energy industry conferences.

Andrea Gill also served as co-chair of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s Electricity Working Group, which discussed programs to expand the use of renewable energy in Hawaii through increased generation and improvements in transmission and distribution systems.  Among her recent projects was the development of Renewable EnerGIS, an online mapping tool that permits landowners, developers, and policy makers assess the renewable energy resources and pertinent attributes – like rainfall and zoning – for specific land parcels and ocean locations statewide.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development. A lecture on “Energy Resource Optimization” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Rest In Peace Guy Toyama – The “Mayor” of NELHA

I’ve just learned of the passing of a good friend and a great person, Guy Toyama.

According to Hawaii24/7:

“…Toyama, 42, finished the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Miracle Mile fun run Saturday evening and later collapsed.

He was rushed to Kona Community Hospital and later airlifted to The Queens Medical Center on Oahu, but could not be saved…”

Here are some of the awesome things Guy has done in just the last year:

Just last month he interviewed Mayor Kenoi:

Just last month Guy Toyama interviewed Mayor Kenoi on his new talk show.

A few months before that he introduced us to the Hydrogen Powered Scooters:

Guy Toyama rides a hydrogen fuel scooter

Back in March, his Abalone Poke won the Sam Choy’s Poke Contest in Keauhou:

I’m glad I got a chance to meet him personally and I’m saddened to hear of this.

Ian Kitajima wrote the following:

…He was NELHA’s evangelist…and will forever be the Mayor of NELHA. I am grateful that I got to spend a beautiful Saturday with Guy as he gave me an amazing behind the scenes tour of NELHA. Guy and NELHA are amazing!

Commentary: O’oma Development – For or Against?

Debbie Hecht

Commentary by Debbie Hecht:

The developer at O’oma is asking for reclassification of almost 300 acres of shoreline between Kaloko -Honokohau National Park and the airport from conservation to urban to build  between 950-1200 units:

  • 450-560 single-family residences
  • 160-200 multi-family residences
  • 320-400 units in the Mauka mixed-use village
  • 20-40 units in the Makai mixed-use village
  • This information is from the FAQ page from the O’oma website: :

Take the poll at West Hawaii Today, scroll down to find the turquoise box on the right hand side:

Click here to see the O’oma Master Plan:

This development is less than a mile from the airport. People that purchase homes  will be in the path of aircraft and hear the noise at the airport.  Mitigation measures for people who live with this type of noise are to insulate houses and use double pane windows. If you open your windows to let the sea air cool your home, you will hear the noise of aircraft landing and taking off. Ever been to the beach at NELHA? You cannot even hold a conversation when the planes fly over.   Want more infor on  airport noise?  Click here to watch the video of testimony on airport noise:

This subdivision is right where the traffic is worse at rush hours (between Costco road and the airport).  Traffic engineers estimate 10 car trips per day per home.  Twelve hundred homes will add 12,000 car trips per day to Queen Ka’ahumanu highway.  Kealekehe schools are full now, where will these children go to school?  IN the final Environmental Impact Statement it is unclear how fresh water will be supplied to these homes. The developer promises more jobs, but there are plenty of houses that are vacant now.  Will this be another stopped/ failed subdivision like Kohanaiki or Hokulia?

My opinion: This is a good design, it’s just in the wrong location.

Mahalo for your interest in our community!
Debbie Hecht

Video Clips From the August 21st, Public Hearing on the Shoreline Access

Media Release:

Senator Josh Green, and Representatives Denny Coffman and Cindy Evans knew they had to respond to the public outcry over the closure of the public access road along the coast that leads to the Kohanaiki Beach area.

Little did they know the extent of the publics unrest. Thousands of signatures were gathered in a matter of weeks, and hundreds showed up in person to let their representatives know, that either NELHA opens the gate, or the people would open it themselves.

Some of the people wanted to go down that night and open it, others suggested the next day, everybody agreed that if it was not open in a 30 day period, it would be time to act.

Ron Baird, the CEO of NELHA, has given a number of reasons for closing the gate, but none of them really seem to hold water, adn none of them seem to justify the manner in how it was done.

Giving just two weeks notice, Baird ordered that the gate be locked for good.

It is the general sentiment that he should not onlly open the gate, but resign.

Needless to say the public is upset, and unruly to say the least. 30 days seems like the longest people will wait for NELHA to respnd.

A lot of credit most be given to Josh Green for holding this informal meeting to gather information. The Senator and two Representatives took a lot of heat from the public, who sometimes blamed them for the gate being locked. The truth of the matter, is that they were there to gather information to find a remedy.

That remedy appears to be to open the gate, restore access, and replace Baird with someone who has more respect for the residents that call Kohanaiki their second home.

Big Island Live broadcast the whole meeting live, and is playing reruns periodically. This is a short edited version of a two and a half hour public outcry.