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Friday, June 12, 2015
June 12, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:55 PM :: 3863 Views

Kahuku Windfarm Draft EIS: 21 Years of Death for Shearwater, Nene, Hoary Bat and more

Sea Level Rise? Nonsense, Oahu is Rising From the Sea for Next 1.5M Years

The Carbon Tax Charade

Tweet Analysis Shows Hawaii #1 in Job Satisfaction

Sales Tax Collections Per Capita: Hawaii Ranks #2 in USA

NextEra Behind Bogus Windfarm Tax Credit Study

BWS: Leaking Red Hill Tanks Just 100' Above Key Aquifer

Survey: Multiracial in America

$1.6B Waikiki windmills plan means Higher Electric Rates

SA: ...AW Hawaii Wind (AHW), a subsidiary of Alpha Wind Energy, proposes to build two massive offshore wind projects, with 102 wind turbines, each one taller than the Washington Monument, spinning within sight of Waikiki and possibly the North Shore.

The turbines would be attached to a platform called WindFloat, a tri-legged floating structure anchored to the ocean floor. Undersea cables would carry the energy to onshore power plants. The Danish company promoting the project says it would supply 30 percent of Oahu’s electricity needs.

That would certainly be a significant step toward energy self-sufficiency, assuming it’s possible. However, a project of this size using Alpha Wind’s proposed technology has never been attempted. Pilot projects using WindFloat are underway in Portugal and Coos Bay, Ore., and other offshore wind projects are in development in Atlantic City, N.J., and Virginia Beach, Va. But it’s likely that if approved, Hawaii would serve as Alpha Wind’s utility-scale proving ground. An abundance of caution and a tight grip on the taxpayers’ wallet are warranted.

The public version of a proposal by Alpha Wind notes that the project’s technology will evolve, possibly altering fundamental features such as the electrical cable specifications and the layout of the giant turbines.

There are a host of other unresolved issues as well: the project’s effect on whales and other marine life, military exercises, fisheries and Native Hawaiian culture.

Will the spinning blades kill seabirds, as land-based wind turbines do? Will the sound of the blades, imperceptible from shore, disturb marine mammals?

It’s also not clear what would happen in a major hurricane: “Further studies, design improvements and tests are required prior to manufacturing and installation,” AWH says....

...developing wind power offshore is not cheap; AWH estimates the cost to build Hawaii’s project at $1.6 billion. There’s no telling how much of that cost, plus operations, could be passed on to taxpayers in the form of industry tax credits, or to ratepayers in the form of higher electricity bills....

As Explained: Rusting Windfarm Junk off Waikiki: Europe's Disaster Coming to Hawaiian Waters

read ... Strictly vet offshore windmills plan

NextEra Buying HEI Because of Renewables

IM: One shareholder asked, “I'm curious as to why NextEra picked Hawaii?”

Jeff Watanabe, Chairman of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) replied,“Maybe I can try to answer your question. The Board asked those very questions of NextEra, of Jim Robo and the Chairman. Why are you interested in us? We're a relatively small utility. They're huge compared to what we are. Why are you coming here?

I think the answer is that NextEra Energy sees renewables as their future. They do own a Florida utility, but the growth part of their business, frankly, is in the renewable area. Hawaii is at the forefront of dealing with issues that relate to renewables, whether it be rooftop solar, whether it be the ability to absorb uncontrolled energy input into the grid. A whole bunch of different things.

So I think they believe that we are a postcard from the future. That if they can learn how to deal with advance renewables in a place like Hawai`i, that they can apply that to other areas. So I think that their purchase, their attempt to merge with Hawaiian Electric has more to do with strategy than it has to do with price. I don't know if that helps answer your question?”

read ... Why us? Why did NextEra pick HECO?

Hawaii’s clean-energy goal has some escape clauses

Borreca: Supporters at a news conference held as Gov. David Ige signed the legislation proclaimed that Hawaii is becoming the clean-energy state.

The liberal news blog ThinkProgress gushed into the story by announcing, “Here’s Another Thing to Love About Hawaii.”

But, there is more than a little complexity in calculating the portfolio standards, said Henry Curtis, Life of the Land executive director.

“The renewable portfolio standards are not the same thing as saying renewable resources, so it is not the same as saying 100 percent renewable energy,” Curtis said in an interview.

In fact, Curtis said, the new law is more about what Hawaii wants to do as compared to what Hawaii is directly causing to happen.

“The law sends a message that we want to increase renewables, but there is nothing that compels us to do it. It sends a message that this is we want to do,” said Curtis....

...the Hawaii law is dotted with escape clauses.

An akamai New York Times blog written by Hawaii-born Lawrence Downes, noted that the law “outlines broad reasons the requirements may be waived.”

Downes said there is a Hawaii pidgin version of this sort of thinking: “If can, can. If no can, no can.”

read ... All Fake

HMSA rate request could lower with federal financial relief

SA: ...The request is under review, but the review period could be extended beyond the typical 60 days if "questions arise" to determine whether or not financial support can be secured from the federal government, according to Ito. But it the length of review will be limited by ACA deadlines for individual plans to be offered on the exchange.

The insurance division's approval for a 9.2 percent rate hike for 9,600 Kaiser Permanente members last November was also “significant,” and reflected a market adjustment for the Affordable Care Act, Ito said, noting that states across the nation anticipated rate increases for at least a couple of years.

“What we’re looking at right now is where the money will be available to our health insurers that would help perhaps bring down the rate increase request,” he said.

Under the three risk sharing provisions — risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridor, insurers with considerably unhealthy patient populations may qualify for federal relief. Data is being collected on Hawaii insurers now.

“The three Rs are supposed to address the pent-up demand by providing money to insurers who ended up with a sicker population,” Ito said.

The division expects to find out what kind of financial support is available this summer or fall.

read ... Federal Relief

Hawaii Health Connector: Abject Failure only 8,200 Paid First Premium

PBN: The Hawaii Health Connector plans to switch to the federal healthcare.gov platform by October and eliminate all local jobs by May 2016....

Hawaii will have what is considered a “supported state-based exchange,” with local outreach and customer service remaining on the ground while customers use the federal website functions.

The switch requires residents already enrolled on the exchange to re-enroll through healthcare.gov to keep coverage for next year.

Colorado and Hawaii were the only two states to set up a separate nonprofit entity to implement the federal Affordable Care Act.

The Connector board’s decision a week ago to move to the federal system was partly the result of the nonprofit’s inability to prove financial self-sustainability by January 2015, as required by the Affordable Care Act for all state-based exchanges across the nation.

Of the 38,000 persons enrolled under the Connector, only 8,200 had paid their bills for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of March, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The CMMS reported that, nationwide, 10.2 million of the 11 million who selected plans during 2015 enrollment ended up with coverage, which is consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s goal.

The 87 percent effectuation rate nationwide compares to the Hawaii Health Connector’s 21 percent effectuation rate for the same period.

Background: Feds: Only 8,200 Hawaii Obamacare Enrollees Pay First Premium

The three-phase transition, which begins today, calls for the Connector to end enrollment for small businesses on June 15, and for individuals on Sept. 30.

While lessons can be learned from its peers on the Mainland, it remains unclear what effect the transition will have on Hawaii’s 41-year-old Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires employers to offer workers robust health insurance plans.

A state task force is developing a waiver request that would protect Hawaii’s employer-based coverage law amidst other Affordable Care Act plans to be offered under the federal platform. The concern is that employers could opt for cheaper federal plans in lieu of the state plans already in place.

Background: FOIA Request Reveals: Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act Hangs by a Conference Call

read ... Another Total Failure

Arnold-UH spat is making both sides look like losers

SA: ...Blame poor damage control and poorly written contracts by UH. Blame fired basketball coach Gib Arnold’s willingness to take others down with him.

This makes me think of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. It was why World War III never occurred. When both sides have enough bombs to destroy the other, a hot war is less likely to be ignited. You try to get along with your enemy, because once the gloves come off each side has enough on the other to blow it to pieces.

Apparently no one thought of that as a possibility here, or no one cared.

With every salvo fired back and forth Arnold and UH make themselves look as bad or worse as they do each other.

Is Arnold now to be considered a noble whistle-blower trying to help clean up the athletic department? That’s what he’d like us to think. He comes across more like a bratty tattle-tale.

But what exactly does Arnold have on other UH programs? Sources have been telling us it’s the women’s basketball and maybe both volleyball teams that he’s going after. Illegal tryouts and academic irregularities have been cited, according to people who have seen the document outlining Arnold’s allegations....

Some of this will get cleared up next month in Indianapolis, when the NCAA’s committee on infractions meets to determine UH’s and Arnold’s fates.

And there’s the union grievance, and there’s the poorly written contract that could cost UH $1.4 million more. There’s the questionable decision to fire him without cause.

With every defiant statement by Arnold or a supporter, like former player Davis Rozitis, UH takes another public image hit … whether the allegations against the school hold any merit or not....

SA: Dispute between UH, Arnold could drag on a while, lawyers say (with glee)

read ... Further Review

Hawaii lawmakers reject Obama on trade authority

AP: The House derailed a high-profile trade bill on Friday in a humiliating defeat for President Barack Obama inflicted by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and dozens of union-backed lawmakers from his own party.

Hawaii Democratic Representatives Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard voted no on the measure.

The 302-126 vote left the legislation in perilous limbo, and came not long after Obama journeyed to the Capitol with a last-minute personal plea to fellow Democrats to give him power to negotiate global trade deals that Congress could approve or reject but not change.

read ... Reject Obama

Strangled by Regulations, Sea Link Molokai Ferry proposes changes to PUC

KITV: For the past 28 years, the Molokai ferry has taken passengers from Lahaina to Kaunakakai. But the ferry's very existence is being threatened (by competition from unregulated airlines) if the Public Utilities Commission doesn't allow Sea Link to cut service in half.

Better Idea: Deregulate ferry service in Hawaii so Sea Link doesn't have to wait around for the slow PUC to react to changes made by unregulated airlines.

read ... Overregulated

Incompetent State putting up $10M to acquire 500 acres of ag lands in Central Oahu -- Will be Fallow for Years to Come

PBN: Hawaii lawmakers have allocated $10 million for the acquisition of an additional 500 acres of agricultural land in Central Oahu that will be used for (politicians to talk endlessly about) a major project aimed at revitalizing the local agriculture industry (but never actually do anything.)

Additionally, another $500,000 was appropriated to investigate the feasibility of exchanging state land for agricultural parcels currently owned by Dole Food Co., which is looking to liquidate 15,000 acres, of which more than 5,000 acres are agriculture land, he said.

About a year ago, the state acquired a warehouse from Tamura’s Market in Wahiawa in Central Oahu for $4.3 million, which set in 'motion' the Whitmore Village Agricultural Development Plan.  (Great.  A perfectly good warehouse will now sit abandoned.)

read ... Fallow and Abandoned Future Guaranteed by State Ownership

Ads Seek to Overcome Anti-GMO Ignorance

SA: ...Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company and the target of protests against genetically modified organisms, will start running a series of television advertisements in Hawaii next week to improve its image.

“Over the past 18 months, the company learned that many residents did not have a strong awareness of who Monsanto is or what it did in the islands,” the company said in a news release Thursday. “As a result, Monsanto Hawaii has developed a series of advertisements that will begin running next week to help ensure better understanding of Monsanto Hawaii’s activities and the people who work there.”

The first of three ads features a Monsanto employee driving an old pickup truck through verdant fields, saying Monsanto adds $550 million to Hawaii’s economy, $30 million to tax coffers and 1,400 jobs.

Monsanto grows GMO seed crops in Hawaii. The advertising campaign comes after the islands of Kauai and Maui moved to limit GMO use....

Mindless: MLK’s Lessons for Hawaii: A Leader Who Can Unite Us

read ... Anti-Ignorance

Green Police Now Control a Green Court to Lord over Hawaii

PBN: ...“Hawaii’s environmental court is a historic milestone for our island and the U.S.,” said Denise Antolini, UH William S. Richardson School of Law associate dean of academic affairs. "As the second U.S. state to have such a court, we join a growing global moment where hundreds of “green courts” have been established to provide consistent and expert guidance from the judges involved.”

Those who advocated for the court’s creation say the environmental court will be a more effective way of enforcing existing environmental laws. In the past, cases might have received different outcomes depending on which court received the complaint.

The court will have exclusive jurisdiction over proceedings that involve cases in historic preservation, litter control, recycling, solid waste, safe drinking water, air pollution, environmental impact statements and more....

As Explained: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read ... State Religion

Why Are the Autopsy Results for Man Tasered by Honolulu Police Still a Secret?

CB: An attorney representing the family of Sheldon Haleck, who died in police custody, says Honolulu officials refuse to release public documents about the death....

read ... Secret

Trapped Rats: Hawaii County pCard audit may be delayed

HTH: Next month marks four years since there has been an audit report from the county’s legislative auditor.

A transition to a new auditor about a year ago contributed to the long wait. But the County Council and the public will have to wait a little longer for Auditor Bonnie Nims’ much-anticipated first report, covering county officials’ use of purchasing cards, or pCards.

Nims said Wednesday that the audit, originally planned for release this month, may not be completed until next month.

“Things always take longer than you hope,” Nims said. “I tend to be optimistic. … It’s just a long process to conduct an audit.”

Interest in Nims’ first audit increased dramatically statewide after Big Island newspapers reported in March that Mayor Billy Kenoi routinely used his card for personal expenses as well as some campaign expenses. He generally reimbursed the county for his purchases within a few months, but the practice, which is against purchasing laws, has brought the attention of the state attorney general.

In addition to being investigated by the attorney general, Kenoi also is the subject of a county ethics complaint. After the media revealed he used his card at hostess bars and to purchase a pricey surfboard and bicycle, Kenoi reimbursed the county for an additional $31,113 of the $129,581 he charged during his tenure.

Further digging into other county officials’ pCard use by Big Island newspapers revealed questionable purchases might be more widespread than first thought. Kenoi’s executive assistants charged almost $143,000 on their county-issued credit cards — including airfare for a local surfer, a helicopter ride for visiting dignitaries, and wine given as a gift during a trip to the state Capitol....

The auditor serves for six years unless removed for cause by a two-thirds vote of the council. The mayor has no say in the appointment or removal of the auditor.

The county’s financial records are audited annually by an outside firm working with the county Department of Finance.

read ... County pCard audit may be delayed

Union: Hackers Have Personnel Data on every Federal Employee

AP: Hackers stole personnel data and Social Security numbers for every federal employee, a government worker union said Thursday, asserting that the cyber theft of U.S. employee information was more damaging than the Obama administration has acknowledged....

read ... Hackers

Why are bail amounts so inconsistent?

HNN: Bail amounts seem to have no rhyme or reason:  A woman accused of multiple counts of theft and ID theft, has a 500-thousand dollar bail, while a second degree murder suspect gets half that, a 250-thousand bail. Another murder suspect, a million dollar bail.

read ... Soft on Crime

Homeless Dude Suspected of Murder Arrested and Released Again and Again

KHON: It’s been a week since a man was arrested on suspicion of murder, then set free without charges.

Since then, Gary Landis has been arrested twice, most recently following an attack Thursday morning in a busy parking lot.

On June 2, the 30-year-old was arrested for the death of Thaddeus Pirga Jr. back in November. He was released pending investigation two days later.

The very next day, police picked him up again, this time for sleeping in a park after hours.

Now, he’s accused of another violent crime: robbing a 75-year-old woman and hitting her with a baseball bat.

Honolulu police say it happened at around 10 a.m. Thursday at the parking lot just outside Marukai at Ward Gateway Center.

Witnesses say they first saw Landis walk out of Sports Authority with a baseball bat without paying for it.

Police sources tell us Landis then approached the woman while she was loading up her car in the parking lot and hit her in the back of the head with the baseball bat.

HNN: Buses could be converted into housing for homeless

read ... Soft on Crime

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