Hawaii’s Energy Future


Taro Production Up 10%

The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Hawaii farmers produced 4.4 million pounds of taro in 2008. That’s a 10 percent increase over the 4 million pounds of the traditional island staple and poi base that was cultivated in 2007…

…The service said the total value of Hawaii’s taro crop rose 16 percent in 2008 to $2.7 million…

…The number of taro farms remained unchanged last year at 105. But taro acreage increased by 10 acres to 390 acres…

More Here

Big Island Kalo Farmer Jerry Konanui

Big Island Kalo Farmer Jerry Konanui

VOG Legislation: Rep. Souki… “This is a Natural Disaster, and No One’s in Charge.”

Hat tip to Georgette Deemer over at the Hawaii House Blog for blogging about the recent VOG hearings at the capital which obviously affect us all.

Deemer blogs “Who’s in Charge?“:

Six House committees met jointly this morning to hear VOG related bills in order to make it easier for testifiers from the various state/county agencies and the public. Rep. Robert Herkes coordinated the hearing, as chair of the House Special Committee on VOG Effects…
…At the end of the hearing, Rep. Herkes summed it up by saying that Rep. Souki hit the nail on the head when he concluded that “This is a natural disaster, and no one’s in charge.” Rep. Herkes has and continues to be frustrated by a lack of response from certain state agencies in addressing the immediate problems faced by the people on the Big Island…
…Although the state administration has established an Interagency Task Force on Vog, Rep. Herkes exclaimed that the task force has no chair and has only met twice. Rep. Souki added, “Meanwhile, the whole island is going to pot.”

Full Blog here

The other day, I posted our own District 5 Councilwoman’s testimony that she submitted to the legislature. You can view that interesting piece of testimony here.

Deemer also lists the following “VOG Package” that is before the legislature this year:

HB313 RELATING TO HIGHWAYS. This bill requires the Department of Transportation to conduct more reviews of the highway guardrails on the Big Island, as they are deteriorating from exposure to acid rain caused by VOG.

HB318 RELATING TO VOG. This bill requires the Department of Agriculture to work with the University of Hawaii to determine the best methods of VOG treatment and to research VOG-resistant varieties of plants.

HB316 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE. This bill establishes a temporary reimbursement program for tenants of state agricultural lands in VOG-impacted areas in order to reimburse tenants for costs of reapir and maintenance of fencing and other infrastructure.

HB312 RELATING TO HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES. This bill directs the Department of Defense to develop and implement a program to ensure that an adequate number of monitors are in place throughout the state where high VOG and sulfur dioxide incidences are known to occur.

HB317 RELATING TO MOBILE MEDICAL CARE. This bill authorizes the use of the federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds for mobile emergency and clinical medical care for the people in the southern sections of the Big Island.

HB314 RELATING TO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION. This bill requires the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to develop rules for workers’ compensation claims involving VOG-related medical conditions.

HB315 RELATING TO VOLCANIC EMISSIONS. This bill requires the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to establish standards to promote worker safety during high incidences of VOG or sulfur dioxide.

Deemer concludes, “As the Labor Committee had a quorum, they passed HB314 as is, and passed HB315 with amendments. The other bills were deferred for decision making next week.”

Richard Ha Goes National… And a Few Rebroadcasts From the Past

Big Island farmer Richard Ha, of Hamakua Farms, is going to be on the season opener for PBS’s national show  “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” which will be aired Saturday, February 7th, at noon on PBS Hawaii.

Leslie Wilcox reminds us that tonight, Richard will be on a re-broadcast of Hawaii’s Long Story Short w/ Leslie Wilcox tonight at 11:00 pm as well as on Sunday, February 8th at 4:00 pm on PBS Hawaii.

…Richard Ha isn’t your average farmer. He’s been called a visionary farmer. An innovative small business owner, Ha offers his employees profit sharing, has found a way to generate electricity on his property outside of Hilo, initiated an adopt-a-class program at Keaukaha Elementary School, advocates native Hawaiian practices of ahupua‘a and writes a blog on his website

For more on Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, click here.

You may have seen this commercial on TV before:


Will Hawaii Based Algae Fuel Primarily Be Used for the Military?

Knowing me… I’m probably reading into this completely wrong.  But it does seem a bit strange for us to be focusing so much on “alternative energy” only to just give it up to the military.

Jet fuel and other fuels made from algae are being developed in San Diego. Some of the research is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense.

DARPA has provided $35 million to San Diego-based companies SAIC and General Atomics to pursue the creation of algae-based jet fuel…

Military Jet Fuel Focus:

…The DARPA money for SAIC could total up to $24 million to develop algae based military jet fuel JP-8 that costs $3 per gallon, according to an article on the Web site Earth2Tech.com

…The Web site CleanTechnica.com also noted the interest in algae fuels. It reported, “SAIC says there will be two phases to the project. The first will involve refining the technology and developing lab-scale production capabilities. The second phase will involve the construction of what SAIC calls a pre-pilot scale production facility.”

CleanTechnica.com also stated, “SAIC will do the work at company facilities in Georgia, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. The company will work with a team of industrial and academic partners.”

Here is a recent CleanTechnica article on the Maui Algae Plant.

…While a number of factors still need to be put in place before the first phase of the program can begin, the anticipated start date could be as early as 2011…

However, it appears to me, that it was sold to the State as something else:

This innovative partnership can help move Hawaii one step closer to securing energy independence and achieving our goal of having 70 percent of Hawaiis energy come from clean sources by 2030, said Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle”…

Maui Algae Plant

Maui Algae Plant

Hawaii Agencies Launch Food Safety Program

The State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Farm Bureau have partnered for a three-year pilot RFID program designed to promote food safety by enabling product visibility throughout the supply chain. The Hawaii Produce Traceability initiative uses RFID technology to track fresh produce down to the farm, or even field, level.

The initiative, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers a win-win situation for consumers and participating growers. When a food safety issue arises, product recalls can be enacted within an hour. With traceability down to the field level, growers can localize the impact of a recall to the relevant area, minimizing losses.

Beyond improving food safety, growers, who can participate by either slap-and-ship tagging or usage of a hand-held RFID system, can reap a bounty of other benefits from the program. Gathered data can be used to optimize harvest productivity, strengthen food processing controls, increase cold chain visibility, reduce produce dwell time on shipping and receiving docks, accelerate transportation times between trading partners and improve inventory turns; all this can help increase profit margins in a competitive industry.

Lowry Computer Products developed the first phase of the system, which includes hardware from Motorola and Symbol Technologies, software from Globe Ranger, and UPM Raflatac RFID inlays paired with waterproof labels. Lowry’s own Fresh Harvest tracking solution unifies these components, providing real-time supply chain data including when boxed produce is planted and harvested, what pesticides are used, and when and where RFID-tagged boxes are scanned. All this information is automatically uploaded into a database accessible to both program participants and, via the initiative’s web portal, the general public.

State officials are now planning for the next two phases of the initiative. Enhancements may include RFID-enabled cellphones to enable more farms to participate, and implementing produce temperature tracking to reduce the threat of food spoilage. The program may eventually be expand to cover 5,000 Hawaiian farms.

Funding for the pilot program was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program, and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation.

Your Energy Bill: The Poll

I’m curious how much people are spending on their electric bills these days.

[polldaddy poll=”1272347″]

Rep. Gene Ward Calls for Solar Power on EVERY Roof… The Video


From his office at the State of Hawaii Capitol, Representative Gene Ward discusses the necessity of solar energy.”


Continental Successful Using Jatropha as Jet Fuel

A few weeks ago I blogged about how Continental Airlines was planning to use jet fuel derived from Jatropha to lift off.

Then a week ago I posted the video of the New Zealand jet that took off using Jatropha.

Today, Continental Airlines finally demonstrated the use of it.

“…Continental Airlines on Wednesday became the first U.S. commercial carrier to conduct a demonstration flight powered in part by alternative fuels, though large-scale use of such fuel is forecast to be several years away…”

More Here

Video of New Zealand Jet Fueled by Jatropha

Jatropha is a crop that people on the Big Island have been talking about growing as an alternative energy source. Here is the just released video of the New Zealand jet that was fueled by it.


First Earthdome Built in Hawaii… The Video and Explanation

Dave Corrigan and I were talking about this Earthdome House that we saw on a flyer at the Pahoa Parade.

Wikipedia picture of an Earthdome

Wikipedia picture of an Earthdome

I just saw this video of Mark Hansen talking about the construction of this Earthdome that someone posted on youtube today.

Using Cal-Earth design technology Mark Hansen builds first ever home using all local materials from the Big Island of Hawaii:


Damon Dollars Now Being Sold… “Pimp My Blog”

If you have been following my blog, you know by now that I’m looking for a job.

I’ve had some good leads and things look to be on the upside.   I recently got fingerprinted by the FBI for a “Subbing” position with the DOE.

I figured I’d try and be creative and give people a chance at their own little piece of advertisement on what I will coin “Damon Dollars”.

Here’s the deal.  You get to write a message on a dollar and then send it to me.  I’ll post it on my website for the world to see your message.

You get your message posted at the top of this site under “DAMON DOLLARS”… I get a “Damon Dollar”!

I can tell you now… I’ll proceeds will go directly into my pocket.  Well then back into the community as I spend them.

So I’m now investing my first one dollar into this:


And hey… if even if you don’t want to post a message… you can still send a brother a dollar!

Damon Tucker, P.O. Box 1982, Pahoa, Hawaii 96778

P.S. Business cards look good on Lincolns.

Oops… PGV Drills Into Magma! The Untold Story

Hat tip to Andrew Cooper for posting about this incident that  happened in 2005 and is only now being reported:

Drillers looking for geothermal energy in Hawaii have inadvertently put a well right into a magma chamber

…This is not the first time drillers have encountered magma; the depth of the hit and the setting are, however, thought to be unique…

…”At no time were we in danger of losing control of the well.”

The breakthrough was made in 2005. Only now are researchers confident enough about their work to discuss the details publicly

More Here

HECO and Khosla Ventures Very Strange Duo or Is It?

HECO on Tuesday announced an agreement with a clean tech venture capital firm in California to test new “green” technologies.

HECO said it will help test emerging clean technologies being developed by startups backed by Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif…

More Here

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla

The choice of Khosla Ventures is a bit curious to me.

VC Ratings blog provides a list of 26 renewable energy startups that Vinod Khosla’sKhosla Ventures’ has invested in. He is well known for his investments in biofuel related companies, but the list reveals a much broader scope. Many, if not most, of these companies have a long way to go before they pay off, and some will not make it, but it interesting to see what he is doing. Here are the categories he uses and the specific companies (except for 5 that he labeled as stealth) that he has invested in.

From The Energy Blog (April 4, 2007)

Howard Dicus… Use Big Island to Charge Big Batteries?

I see Howard Dicus was interested in the PGV Anniversary today.

Puna Geothermal, now celebrating 15 years of operation, produces a fifth of the Big Island’s electricity needs, and could easily produce more than twice that much by drilling a second hole.

But Hawaii County, which also gets power from oil-fired generating stations, wind turbines, solar panels, and even hydro, just doesn’t need that much juice. And cables to Maui may not be as feasible as cables from Maui County to Oahu due to the ocean being a lot deeper in the channel between the islands.

So is there anything else we could put on the Big Island to use it? One idea is to charge big batteries there

He’s got a strange sense of humor at times, but I like his idea of using PGV to charge Big Batteries.

Sounds a bit science fiction like… but I bet it’s doable!

Lt. Governor Aiona… “The Era of Oil is Over” – Puna Geothermal Ventures Anniversary Pictures

Naeole, Kenoi, and Aiona eat with Ormat Chief Technology Officer, Lucien Y. Bronicki

District 5 Councilwoman Emily Naeole, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Lt. Governor Duke Aiona eat with Ormat Chief Technology Officer, Lucien Y. Bronicki

Today marks the 15th anniversary of producing renewable geothermal electricity on Hawaii Island.

…In the early 1990s, Puna Geothermal Venture, a partnership between two mainland power companies, received a permit to produce renewable geothermal energy at a site in Puna in the East Rift Zone. The facility went online in 1993

More Here

Puna Geothermal Venture will be holding a celebration and luau today in honor of the occasion.

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona gave a brief speech about Hawaii becoming more self sustainable.  His key words that I picked up on were:

“The Era of Oil is Over”

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona with Ormat Chief Bronicki

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona with Ormat Chief Lucien Y. Bronicki and Wife

Billy Kenoi and Some Ex-Blogger

Mayor Billy Kenoi and Some Ex-Blogger/ Mayoral Stalker (Hunter Bishop)

Geothermal Electric Vehicle

Geothermal Electric Vehicle

Kainui Stocksdale and Representative Hanohano

Kaniu Stocksdale and House Representative Faye Hanohano

Cousins Councilwoman Emily Naeole and State Rep. Hanohano

Cousins Councilwoman Emily Naeole and State Rep. Hanohano

Emily Naeole's New Legislative Aide(s) R.J. Hampton and Sativa

Emily Naeole's New Legislative Aide(s) R.J. Hampton and Sheryle "Sativa" Sulton

Kau Kau

Kau Kau

Emcee - Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti

Emcee - Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti

Click on  thumbnails for larger pictures (I’m not sure why there are a few doubles?):

Last week, Senator Kalani English posted this youtube video about the importance of Geothermal:


I saw lots of other media outlets there.  I’ll update this list as I see other articles.

Big Island Video News as well as Hawaii247 were also in attendance.

*Edit* I just received this PR:

(Pahoa, Hawai‘i—December 10, 2008)—Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) celebrates 15 years of producing renewable geothermal electricity on Hawai‘i Island as the state seeks to tap greater levels of clean renewable energy resources—particularly for electric transportation.

“When Big Island residents are sleeping, geothermal energy might be charging their electrical vehicles or producing hydrogen fuel,” said Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona, Jr.

Roughly 200 business and community representatives, supporters and employees of PGV attended a luau luncheon at the plant facility in Pahoa, Hawaii today (Wednesday, December 10, 2008).

Hawaii recently announced plans for electric vehicle recharging stations across Hawaii. An electric car powered by geothermal energy was on display at the PGV event.

“Hawai`i Island promises to be in the forefront of the electric vehicle network because our island already has more than 30 percent of its electric power coming from alternatives—20 percent from here at PGV,” said Mike Kaleikini, PGV Plant Manager.

In operation since 1993, Puna Geothermal Venture delivers 30 megawatts of firm, renewable energy to Hawaii Electric Light Company, providing nearly 20 percent of the Big Island’s electricity needs. The only commercial geothermal power plant in the state, PGV is located in Puna District in Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone. State-of-the-art technology generates power by extracting steam and hot water from this volcanic hot spot and converting it into electricity. One hundred percent of its fluids are injected back into the Earth’s interior without exposure to the open air. As a result the plant has near zero emissions.

“The underground geothermal resource at PGV has the capacity to generate considerably more than 30 megawatts,” says Kaleikini. “We are poised to expand our production to help meet the Big Island’s emerging energy needs.”

Geothermal energy is what’s known as a “firm” resource—when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, heat from the earth continues to produce steady flows of geothermal steam used to produce electricity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

PGV employs about 30 people as well as routine and seasonal contractors, contributing to payroll revenues to Hawaii Island. PGV is also a good neighbor, sponsoring local educational and civic organizations.

“We at Puna Geothermal Venture consider this geothermal resource a gift, to be used wisely,” said Kaleikini. “We recognize that we—all of Hawaii—are in fact the beneficiaries of this tremendous natural and sustainable resource. In this special year for our company, we want to express our sincere appreciation to our Big Island friends and neighbors, staff, suppliers, stockholders, and colleagues around the state for their continuing support as partners in our growth.”

Puna Geoethermal Venture is an affiliate of Ormat Technologies, In., based in Reno, Nevada. In operation since 1993, Puna Geothermal Venture produces geothermal electricity that provides electricity for nearly 20 percent of the electricity needs of Hawaii Island.

Ads on My Blog… Will Blog for Food!

Someone suggested a while back ago that I should try and put ads on my blog. I thought about it, and I really don’t like those GOOGLE ads that automatically pop up on peoples blogs. I decided if I was going to have Ads, they would be something that I would control.

After realizing that I’m getting a decent amount of readers and recently being listed as one of the Top 100 Growing WordPress Blogs of the Day (#82 in the world 12/8/2008), I thought what the heck do I have to lose?

So if your interested in putting a little ad on my site… I’m much cheaper then the newspaper ever will be… and better yet… I’ll barter with a business if they want… any good restaurants reading? ;)

I can put business cards, pictures, link to websites, or even help create an ad for your business… just let me know how I can help you!

Continental Jet to Lift Off with Fuel Based from Hawaii Algae and Jatropha From Africa

Late in the morning on Jan. 7, a Continental Airlines jet is scheduled to lift off powered in part by algae from Hawaii and a tough shrub from Africa called jatropha.

The historic flight, from Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, will mark the first time a commercial aircraft of a U.S. carrier has flown on biodiesel fuel. Airlines hope biofuels can reduce their dependence on jet fuel and lower global carbon emissions…

More Here

“Project Better Place” Unveils More Information

I’ve been blogging on and off about “Project Better Place” for the last few months.

Today, the company released more information on how these cars will work:

In every electric car on the network, Better Place will install its operating system to serve as the intelligence for the car and the network. The system will centralize the energy consumption of the car and help drivers plan travel routes so that the car always has enough power to get to and from a destination, according to a company release.

The Better Place software in the car will be connected to the service control center, which is designed to provide information and solutions for driving destinations in real time. The control center centralizes the energy consumption, regulates the different demands, and produces an energy consumption plan that is fitted to each car…

More Here

It kind of sounds like a “Big Brother is Watching You” type of car.  The company will know exactly where you are and what your driving habits are when ever they feel like it.

I think that it’s great that we are looking towards sustainable living, I just don’t know enough about these cars to really stand behind this project at this time.

But if Project Better Place wants to use me as a guinea pig… I’d be happy to try out one of the cars!

More on Project Better Place in Hawaii here.

“These Days, You Gotta Blog if You’re a Farmer”

Richard Ha recently spoke before Hawaii’s House of Representatives.

The Hawaii House Blog has a summary of Richards talk on their post entitled “The Rodney Dangerfield of the Economy”:

…The world has changed. He has had to lay off 20 workers recently. He says you can tell that farming is bad when fertilizer sales go down. Fertilizer sales have been going down since last spring. There is, however, an opportunity to use agricultural lands for energy crops. A bill passed last year allows farmers to finance loans for energy projects, although this may not be quite enough incentive to bring more people into farming.

He has a blog now. “These days, you gotta blog if you’re a farmer…”