PUC Approves ‘Time of Use’ Electric Rates
HELCO Proposes $19.3M Rate Hike, Blames Trees
DLNR Helicopters to Eradicate More Sheep
Fail: 3rd GEMS Exec Director Quits in 2 years—Another Legislative Fight Looms over Wasted Money
SA: She did not provide a reason for her resignation in the letter and did not a return a phone call Monday seeking comment.
GEMS has faced recent scrutiny for lending out only a tiny fraction of its funds.
State lawmakers approved GEMS in 2013 and raised $150 million in a November 2014 bond sale. The program had a goal of lending all the money for solar and other renewable energy systems by November 2016. After a year of offering loans for rooftop solar systems, only 12 have been installed with loans totaling just $385,000.
Interest on the bonds and all expenses related to issuing and managing the bonds are paid by Hawaii electric ratepayers in an item on their monthly bills called the “Green Infrastructure Fee.” Ratepayers paid about $21.5 million as of June 30 for the GEMS program. From July to the end of 2016, ratepayers will pay an additional $6.4 million.
The 2-year-old GEMS program has had three executive directors and is now looking for its fourth. State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Luis Salaveria said the search for a new executive director will begin soon….
Rep. Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Waimanalo) said he plans to introduce legislation to unwind the funds of GEMS.
“Clearly the program has not met the expectations the Legislature set out to benefit local residents,” Lee said. “If the program is going to continue, we have an obligation to taxpayers to ensure that this money is used for the original purpose.”
Lee said he did not have the specifics of the bill he plans to introduce but would consider all technologies available.
(Translation: He will try AGAIN to redirect these low income loans to his green energy scammer campaign contributors.)
Many ratepayers have said they would prefer the GEMS program be ended and the $150 million, or what is left of it, be paid back in the form of lower electric bills.
When asked if he would consider introducing a bill that would give the money back to ratepayers, Lee said, “If the program can’t work and it is not going to benefit residents first and foremost, then the money should be returned.” ….
(Translation: “I might pretend to consider such a bill to make you peasants feel better, but I would never pass it into law because my contributors need to reap the benefit of their investment in me.”)
Related: Efforts to Expand GEMS Loan Programs Shot Down by Consumer Advocate, PUC
read … Energy loan program director quits post
Feds: Caldwell’s Incompetence May Cost Honolulu $16M from Affordable Housing Funds
CB: The City and County of Honolulu may have to pay nearly $16 million to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for allegedly wasting federal grant money from 2012 to 2015.
An audit by the HUD Office of Inspector General published Aug. 26 concluded Honolulu spent $15,918,909 on property acquisitions and contracts that were unnecessary or violated federal and city guidelines governing the use of Community Development Block Grant funding.
“The City’s decentralized grant administration process created dysfunction, inefficiency, and wasted grant funds,” the audit stated. “The dysfunction and inefficiency caused the City to be repeatedly at risk of failing the HUD timeliness test. The City made decisions based upon its need to spend grant funds, which resulted in noncompliance with requirements and wasting grant funds.”
Despite the city’s high demand for affordable housing, Honolulu has a history of failing to spend Block Grant funds in a timely manner. Earlier this year, HUD sent the city a letter urging it to follow federal guidelines or risk losing funding.
The audit found that the city approved nearly $16 million in questionable expenditures, partially in an effort to spend grant money more quickly….
It’s not the first time an outside organization has urged the city to reorganize how it manages its Block Grant funds. Two years ago, HUD enlisted the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders to analyze the city’s Block Grant program administration.
The group “concluded that roles and responsibilities were unclear, policies and procedures were undocumented, human capital was not deployed in the most efficient manner, and serious issues of communication existed and had impacted staff morale and performance,” the audit stated.
While the association recommended that the city administer the grants within a single department, that hasn’t happened. Right now they are administered by both the Department of Community Services and the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services.
SA: Feds seek justification of millions in spending
PDF: Full Text of Audit
read … Caldwell Incompetent
Nightmare Charter amendment would extend term limits for Honolulu mayor, city council
HNN: …Right now, City Council members and Honolulu's mayor are allowed to serve two consecutive four-year terms.
But if a proposal set to go before voters is passed, the term limit would be increased to three consecutive terms or a total of 12 years.
Opponents say the charter amendment, one of 20 that will be on the ballot in November, opens the door to political corruption.
"I think it's bad for democracy," said state Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican. "As the founders of our country said: elective office is supposed to be a privilege and responsibility not a career with a lot of salary, lots of perks, things like that."….
PDF: Honolulu Charter Amendments
read … Nightmare
Maui Memorial Prospects: “scarier than ever”
SA: …Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of the state’s Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s Maui region, is stepping down Oct. 31 to become CEO of Hale Makua Health Services. His departure would be a somewhat scary prospect even if it wasn’t to happen on Halloween.
The transfer of operations to Kaiser Permanente has been delayed till next year, to work through the tangles of settlement with the unions. There’s been some progress, so let’s dare to hope that the worst is over.
Of course, that might not be so, which makes things scarier than ever….
read … Lo and behold, Maui hospitals’ snafu takes toll
High Electric Bills Make Hawaii Susceptible to Green Energy Scams
DC: The tidal generator converts the ocean’s vertical and horizontal waves into up to 18 kilowatts of electricity, which is enough electricity to power about a dozen homes. It stands 12 feet above the water’s surface and extends 50 feet below. The company which developed it has plans for a version which can generate at least 500 kilowatts of electricity, or enough to power a few hundred homes.
Currently, the generator sends electricity to a nearby military base through an undersea cable and then sends it into Oahu’s power grid.
Tidal power is a new technology and has several major problems similar to regular green energy including that it is extremely location specific, expensive, unreliable and requires large scale energy storage systems which don’t exist.
“The ocean is a really hard place to work,” Patrick Cross, a specialist at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute who helps run the test site, said in a press statement. “You’ve got to design something that can stay in the water for a long time but be able to survive.”
Additionally, tidal power needs to operate in the ocean for long periods of time, which is a major technical challenge as the mechanisms need to withstand storms, the constant pounding of the seas and the corrosive effects of saltwater.
The new Hawaiian tidal power station is 9th of its kind in the world.
Hawaii is a natural site to test the technology as it has powerful waves and the highest electricity prices in the nation….
read … First Tidal Power Plant Goes Online In Hawaii
HPD Officers to be Punished for Catching Criminal
HNN: …Several Honolulu police officers are facing disciplinary action after a police chase of a "most wanted" suspect last month ended in a multiple-vehicle crash on the H-1 Freeway.
The Honolulu Police Department is investigating whether the officers followed proper procedure before and during a chase that began in Waianae, and weaved through Kaneohe, Honolulu and Kalihi before suspect Bryson Bagio got stuck in westbound traffic in the H-1 Freeway in Aiea.
Bagio, who was wanted for two, $100,000 warrants, was allegedly driving a stolen pick-up truck when officers tried to pull him over on Aug. 23.
Police say that he refused to stop, which triggered the pursuit.
Before his arrest, Bagio was accused of leading police on numerous chases, only to get away….
read … HPD officers who arrested fugitive face suspension over high-profile chase
HPD officer charged with wire fraud pleads not guilty
SA: …According to the indictment, LaBarre used his authority as a police officer to access certain computer databases to get information about a woman who had been arrested for prostitution. He then exchanged text messages and telephone calls with the woman, telling her that he is a police officer and that he would arrange to have the arresting officer not show up in court for her case in exchange for sex with him.
The indictment lists five text messages LaBarre allegedly sent to the woman. The first one, dated Jan. 31, read: “I can help you with that maybe get the cased (sic) dropped.” A March 22 message said: “You still down to hook up?” The last message, dated April 19, said: “I can come right now if you want,” according to the indictment.
Also on April 19, investigators of the state Department of the Attorney General arrested LaBarre in Waikiki in an apparent sting.
read … HPD officer charged with wire fraud pleads not guilty
Longline fishing’s new system ties auction access to fair-labor
KHON: Starting Tuesday, Hawaii’s longline fishing industry is implementing a multi-pronged system it says will help protect crew from labor abuse, mistreatment and substandard working conditions….
Hawaii’s longline fishing industry is laying out self-policing protocols.
The mostly foreign and undocumented crew at the heart of the concerns are there under federal laws allowing it — practices the congressional delegation and federal agencies are reviewing. But advocates are still calling on state agencies to get involved.
We caught up with the longliner Sea Pearl down near Pier 38 just as it was prepping to head out for weeks at sea. The captain and owner let us aboard and we talked to the crew without the bosses looking on….
They tell us it’s hard work but they light up talking about why they love to do it. “We go fishing, pull in the big fish, bigger than me sometimes!” crewmember Carlo Olarte Jr. explains. “Everybody’s happy and the captain is roaring, ‘yeah, come on, bring the fish up!’ We’re enjoying it.”
“Sometimes the weather is hard,” crewmember Ronald Ponce says, “but the conditions are good.”
“As long as you love what you’re doing, you enjoy it,” Olarte says. KHON2 asks how’s the money? “We get good money, everybody knows that,” he said.
The Sea Pearl crew can bring in $12,000 to $18,000 a year. They tell me that’s a fortune for their families back in the Philippines and many have gladly re-upped their contracts. Some were on their 6th year on the vessel….
That contract, which Cook said has been translated into the language of each of the workers signing it, is being distributed Tuesday. If vessels can’t show they’re using the contract by October 1, they’ll be blackballed from the auction until they do.
“Once a standard has been set of the paper trail, documentation, making sure no forced labor is occurring, United Fishing Agency will only accept fish and will only sell fish on behalf of vessels that have proven through this process that they don’t have these accusatory practices going on,” auction manager Michael Goto told Always Investigating the day Whole Foods suspended its purchasing.
And there’s a second step in the industry’s self-policing coming up.
“The vessel audit is simply a physical audit of the boat: Is this a habitable boat, what are the problems here?,” Cook said….
read … Longline fishing’s new system ties auction access to fair-labor
Hawaii Medicated: 1,200 New Pot Heads Sign up Every Month
HNN: …The small staff processes and verifies approximately 1,200 applications a month. Once patients get a card, they're allowed to legally obtain medical marijuana.
"Every single app that comes in has to be reviewed before it can either be issued or returned," registry program coordinator Scottina Ruis said.
A year ago, applications were being processed in about 42 days. Ruis said an online system has dropped wait time significantly.
Now, it's about 15 working days. But it can be longer if there's an error on the form….
read … Selling Weed
Paranoid, ill-informed belief system is what's truly toxic
KE: Over in the murky world of anti-GMO activist Dustin Barca, amid the conspiracy theories, chem trails, anti-Semitism and other inchoate ramblings, emerged a distinct note of discontent:
Hmm. It seems the target of his grumblings is Gary Hooser's HAPA and the Center for Food Safety.
Could it be that even the rank among the file are discovering that these groups, and their leaders, are self-serving demagogic shams?
Or is Dustin just pissed because they're getting money, and he isn't?
Actually, I try to avoid Dustin's postings, because it's so sad to think of people living their lives in deep fear and ignorance, absolutely convinced they're the victims of a vast conspiracy aimed at wiping out their insignificant selves, poisoned from the sky via chem trails and through their food via GMOs:
And through it all, never realizing their paranoid, ill-informed belief system is what's truly toxic….
CB: Food Babe Fluff Piece
read … Musings: Rumblings and Grumblings
Hawaii's IUCN, The Zero Waste Event That Wasn't
HPN: The largest conservation conference, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, recently wrapped up earlier this month. One thing that was stressed was its commitment to zero waste. But as HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, the conference wasn’t as green as advertised. …
read … Zeroes not Heroes