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Ka‘ū News Briefs, Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Many visitors are expected at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park during the holiday season. See tips from the Park 
on how to avoid the crowds and have a good visit, below. NPS photo







VOLCANO GOLF COURSE IS IN PLAY, with tee times between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.daily, following the fire that burned the retail and administration portion of the country club building on Thursday, Nov. 14, with extensive smoke damage in the restaurant area. The new check-in point is within the golf cart shed.
     The property is owned by Kamehameha Schools and operated by a Japanese company. Its spokesperson on island said the hope is to raze the building, and use insurance money, in part, to rebuild the facility. In the meantime, the undamaged greens and fairways with their large ʻōhiʻa and other native trees remains unscarred.

Golf course operators at Volcano Golf & Country Club are hoping
 to raze the building where smoke damage extends to the restaurant. 
Tee times remain from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Photo by Julia Neal
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AN INDUSTRIAL SOLAR DEVELOPER is renewing efforts for a green light from the state Public Utilities Commission to install solar farms among houses in three Ocean View neighborhoods. The plan is to build a 6.5 megawatt installation on 26 lots, precluding their use for houses. The project would require cutting down native ʻōhiʻa trees and installing industrial fences with signs reading "Danger" and "High Voltage" and "Keep Out."
     The multi-national corporation, SPI Energy, headquartered in Hong Kong, recently asked the PUC to dismiss a formal complaint filed with the PUC by two Ranchos residents over three years ago. The complaint alleged that the utility companies, HECO and HELCO, did not hold the developers of the
6.5 megawatt solar project in Ocean View in compliance with the Feed in Tariff (FIT) program – the foundation of its permit request. SPI Energy controls 19 shell companies that leased the 26 sites in Ocean View for its project.
     The complaint was filed in August 2016. In September 2016, then PUC Chair Randy Iwase suspended an application by HELCO for a high-voltage overhead transmission line to service the project, until the complaint could be resolved. Iwase told the Honolulu Star Advertiser at the time: "Nobody is going to move on the FIT project. We have suspended any action on the application pending a review or an investigation or resolution of the complaint filed by the (Annie and Peter) Bosteds.
Ranchos residents said they oppose leveling of the landscape for 
industrial solar farms. Photo by Annie Bosted
     Iwase was also quoted as saying that the FIT program is obsolete because the cost is too high.
     Jeff Ono, then state Consumer Advocate, wrote: "It is apparent that the 26 solar project owners effectively 'gamed' the FIT process in order to avoid going through the more rigorous competitive bidding framework." He added that the original compensation rates of the projects are no longer in the public interest.
     The Kaʻū Calendar has established that if the PUC were to dismiss the Bosteds' complaint, then ratepayers would pay 23.8 cents a kilowatt-hour for daytime-only power from the Ocean View project. A solar project in Oʻahu, that includes battery storage, is selling power for less than 8 cents per kilowatt hour. Hawaiʻi has the highest electricity rates in the nation, and the state's ratepayers have paid 280 percent more per kilowatt hour than the U.S. average over the past ten years, according to ValueAct Capital.
     Since 2016, the PUC's three commissioners and Consumer Advocate are new. Commissioners are James P. Griffin, Chair, Jennifer M. Potter, and Leodoloff "Leo" R. Asuncion. The former chief executive of Hawaiʻi Electric Light Co, Jay Ignacio, has retired. The former spokesman for SPI Energy has also been replaced.
     Complainant Peter Bosted told The Kaʻū Calendar: "I see this as a last-ditch effort by the developers to persuade the PUC to not investigate how HECO and HELCO mismanaged the FIT program to the advantage of the developers and to the detriment of the ratepayers.
     "We have been patiently waiting for our day in court. We have presented our case according to the PUC's schedule and are waiting for the PUC's considered verdict. SPI Energy does not want that.
A Kona solar farm similar to the ones planned for 26 sites in three Ocean View neighborhoods.
Photo by Annie Bosted
     "They want the PUC to end the case on their say so. Their 130-page memo is written as though SPI Energy is a defendant, not an intervenor. We are faulted for not stating a claim 'under which relief can be granted.' In other words, we won't be bought off. HECO and HELCO are the respondents, so if anyone should be negotiating, it's them, not SPI Energy.
     "We want this case to be scrutinized and the FIT Program to be ended. SPI Energy obviously wants to make money from the over-priced lemon they bought," added Bosted.
     Former President of the Ranchos Road Maintenance Corporation, Mats Fogelvik, told The Kaʻū Calendar that time has not mellowed the Ocean View community's opposition to the project. "Everyone I know is dead against this boondoggle project. If SPI tries to build here, they will have to contend with sabotage and grass roots resistance bar none.
     "Other solar developers are building two huge solar projects near Waikaloa, and the power from that will cost ratepayers about 7 cents to 8 cents a kWh. Those developers reached out to the Waikaloa community in meetings, and received the community's prior approval.
     "Here, HELCO and SPI Energy colluded to keep us all in the dark until they needed our approval for the overhead transmission line. And even then we were told that it was a 'done deal' and resistance would be futile. The Bosteds' complaint says otherwise. I really hope the PUC scrutinizes the case," added Fogelvik. See more history of the project in tomorrow's Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs.

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Avoiding the crowded summit area between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. is one tip from Park rangers on how to
have a good visit during the holiday season. NPS photo
AVOID CROWDS AT HAWAIʻI VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK this holiday season by following tips from the Park. Hit the park website before hitting the trail. Avoid the crowded summit area between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     The website, nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes, is the first stop all visitors and tour operators before coming to the Park. Recent updates includes the Plan Your Adventure landing page that features tips to avoid crowds, off-the-beaten-path destinations, what not to do, and how to stay safe. 
     Most visitors stop at Kīlauea Visitor Center for information, to watch the park movie, or to join a ranger-guided hike, but changes are coming to serve visitors during the holiday surge, according to a statement from the Park.
      The visitor center and the Park store, run by Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, will open an hour earlier, at 8 a.m., and close at 5 p.m., starting Friday, Dec. 20 through Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Some ranger programs will relocate to the coast and Chain of Craters Road destinations, like Mauna Ulu. The 20-minute park movie, Born of Fire, Born of the Sea, will only be shown before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m., with six shows a day through Jan. 18, 2020. A shorter orientation film will replace it.
     Said Acting Superintendent Rhonda Loh, "We plan for and experience robust visitation every winter season, but the closure of Jaggar Museum and Kīlauea Overlook due to the destructive 2018 eruption has dramatically reduced the number of parking stalls. We don't want to turn anyone away from visiting the park, so we're relying on visitors to take our advice, arrive earlier, explore less-visited areas, and drive safely."
     Top Ranger Tips for a happy holiday visit to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are: 
Packed parking areas and lots of traffic between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. are
expected at the Park during the holiday season, especially
around Christmas and the New Year. NPS photo
     Turn Left for Adventure and Less Crowded Trails. When you enter the park, get in the left lane, and turn left at the entrance station to drive down the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road towards the Park's dramatic lava-covered coast. Stop at crater pullouts along the way, hike along the Mauna Ulu fissure eruption, connect to Hawaiian culture at Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs, and enjoy scenic overlooks and the Hōlei Sea Arch. 
     Kīlauea Iki Trail. If Kīlauea Iki is on your must-hike list, set your alarm or set your sights on a different trail. This newly reopened four-mile loop trail is the most popular hike in the park and parking at the trailhead is jam-packed after 9 a.m. Park at Devastation Trail parking lot instead. Adding another 2.2 miles to your trek will subtract the stress. Plan to hit the trail by 7 a.m., and be out by 10 a.m. 
     Sunrise at the Summit. Watching sunrise over Kīlauea caldera from Steaming Bluff is a mystical experience, and all the proof you need that Kīlauea is still very much an active volcano. It's also an ideal time to ponder the summit collapse that occurred during the 2018 eruption. The Park is open 24 hours, 365 days a year, except for Kahuku Unit – see holiday schedule and more info on Kahuku activities on yesterday's blog
     Mauna Loa Road is well worth exploring during peak hours, especially in good weather. Kīpukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birding are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet.
     Visit Kahuku. Kahuku is free, never crowded, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū. 
     Leave your drone at home. Recreational drones are not allowed in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. They disturb wildlife, interfere with park operations, and bother people trying to enjoy natural sounds.  
     Take the Pono Pledge. Vow to stay safe, and to ensure your Park's incredible geologic, natural and cultural resources are here for future generations to behold by taking the Pono Pledge. Pono means "the right thing to do" in Hawaiian. Be pono!

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COASTAL FLOODING IS POSSIBLE through Friday along Kaʻū shores, warns the National Weather Service. All shores of the main Hawaiian Islands could be impacted due to unusually high water levels. The greatest potential for coastal flooding impacts will be during the peak high tides, which will occur before sunrise during the early morning hours. Visit tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov for more specific information about forecast tides and water levels.
     Impacts of the high tides, up to six inches above normal, may include flooding of beaches that are normally dry, salt water inundation of typically vulnerable low-lying roads, docks boat ramps, and other coastal infrastructure. The potential for coastal flooding will diminish late in the week as the peak daily tides diminish.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our online calendars and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

Print edition of The Kaʻū Calendar is free to 5,500 mailboxes 
throughout Kaʻū, from Miloliʻi through Volcano, and free on 
stands throughout the district. Read online at kaucalendar.com
See monthly and weekly Kaʻū and Volcano Events, Meetings, Entertainment, Exercise, and Meditation at kaucalendar.com.

UPCOMING
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 27
Pom Pom Wreath Registration, Nov. 27 - Dec. 4, program takes place Tuesday, Dec. 10, 3-4p.m. Ages 6-14. 929-9113, hawaiicounty.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/recreation

‘Ulu Maika Demonstration, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 10a.m.-noon, Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai. Play ‘ulu maika – which resembles American bowling but uses two stakes and a disc-shaped tone instead of pins and a ball – to celebrate the annual makahiki season. Free; park entrance fees apply. 985-6101, nps.gov/havo/

Kōkua Kupuna Project, Wednesday, Nov. 27 – last Wednesday, monthly – 9-11a.m., St. Jude's Episcopal Church, Ocean View. Seniors 60 years and older encouraged to attend, ask questions, and inquire about services offered through Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i – referral required, 961-8626, for free legal services. Under 60, call 1-800-499-4302. More info: 329-3910 ext. 925. tahisha.despontes@legalaidhawaii.org. legalaidhawaii.org

THURSDAY, NOV. 28
Free Thanksgiving Dinner, Thursday, Nov. 28, noon-3p.m., Ocean View Community Center. 939-7033, ovcahi.org

Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2-6p.m., Kīlauea Military Camp's Crater Rim Cafe. Traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixin's. $23.95/adult, $13.95/child (ages 6-11). Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 967-8356, kilaueamilitarycamp.com

FRIDAY, NOV. 29
Holiday Challenge, Friday, Nov. 29, through beginning of Jan. 2020. Community invited to come out and vote for their favorite decorated cottage/activity. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 967-8371, kilaueamilitarycamp.com

12th Annual Kamahalo Craft Fair, Friday, Nov. 29, 9a.m.-4p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 30, 9a.m.-3p.m., The Cooper Center, Volcano Village. Food vendors, homegrown products, and quality homemade crafts for sale. 936-9705, thecoopercenter.org

Kahuku Coffee Talk: Creatures that Have Evolved in the Dark, Friday, Nov. 29, 9:30-11a.m., Kahuku Unit Visitor Contact Station. Join local experts to learn about lava tubes and some interesting animals that call them home. Free. nps.gov/havo

Volcano Village Artists Hui 33rd Annual Studio Tour & Sale, Friday, Nov. 29, Saturday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 1, 10a.m.-4p.m., map available at volcanovillageartistshui.com. Meet artists and view wide variety of artwork on display and available for purchase.

Program Preview Exhibit, Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, 10a.m.-4p.m., Volcano Art Center. See what programs, events, and exhibits VAC has lined up for 2020. 967-8222, volcanoartcenter.org

SATURDAY, NOV. 30
AdvoCATS, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7a.m.-4:30p.m., Ocean View Community Center. Free spay/neuter for cats. 895-9283, advocatshawaii.org

Palm Trail, Sunday, Nov. 30, 9:30-12:30p.m., Kahuku Unit, HVNP. Free, moderately difficult hike - 2.6 mile loop. nps.gov/havo

Girls Nite Out Band, Saturday, Nov. 30, 7-10p.m., Kīlauea Military Camp's Lava Lounge, in HVNP. $5 cover charge. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. kilaueamilitarycamp.com

SUNDAY, DEC. 1
Pu‘u Lokuana, Sunday, Dec. 1, 9:30-11a.m., Kahuku Unit, HVNP. Free, short, moderately difficult, 0.4 mile hike. nps.gov/havo

Ham Radio Potluck Picnic, Sunday, Dec. 1 – 1st Sunday, monthly – noon-2p.m., Manukā State Park. Anyone interested in learning about ham radio is welcome to attend. View sites.google.com/site/southpointarc or sites.google.com/viewith southhawaiiares/home. Rick Ward, 938-3058

MONDAY, DEC. 2
Cultural Understanding through Art and the Environment: Dietrich Varez Block Printing with Desiree Moana Cruz, Monday, Dec. 2, 11a.m.-1p.m., Volcano Art Center. No registration required. $10 per person supply fee. 967-8222, volcanoartcenter.org

Ocean View Volunteer Fire Department Mtg., Monday, Dec. 2, 4-6p.m., Ocean View Community Center. 939-7033, ovcahi.org

Name that Holiday Tune Registration, Dec. 2-5, Kahuku Park. Program takes place Friday, Dec. 6, 3-4p.m. Ages 6-14. 929-9113, hawaiicounty.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/recreation

TUESDAY, DEC. 3
Hawai‘i County Council Mtgs., Tuesday, Dec. 3 (Committees), Wednesday, Dec. 4 (Council), Hilo. Ka‘ū residents can participate via videoconferencing at Nā‘ālehu State Office Building. Agendas at hawaiicounty.gov.

Ka‘ū Homeschool Co–op Group, Tuesday, Dec. 3 and 17, 9a.m., Ocean View Community Center. Parent-led homeschool activity and social group, building community in Ka‘ū. Call to confirm location before attending. Laura Roberts, 406-249-3351

Empower Meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 3 and 17 – every other Tuesday, monthly – 1p.m., PARENTS, Inc. office, Nā‘ālehu. Empowering girls group. Registration required. Diana, 935-4805

Ka‘ū Coffee Growers Mtg., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 6-8p.m., Pāhala Community Center.

ONGOING
Vendor Booth Space is Available for the Kamahalo Craft Fair. The 12th annual event will be held Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Nov. 299 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cooper Center. Booths are open for crafters with quality homemade and homegrown products. Food vendors must prepare all food items in a certified kitchen and must have a Department of Health permit displayed prominently at their booth. Application online at thecoopercenter.org. Direct questions to 936-9705 or kilaueatutu@gmail.com.

Tūtū & Me Home Visiting Program is a free service to Pāhala families with keiki, birth to five years old. This caregiver support program offers those taking care of young keiki "a compassionate listening ear, helpful parenting tips and strategies, fun and exciting activities, and wonderful educational resources" from Tūtū & Me Traveling Preschool. Home visits are one hour in length, two to four times per month, for 12 to 15 visits. Snacks are provided. See pidfoundation.org or call 808-938-1088.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our online calendars and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.




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