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Monday, March 26, 2012
March 26, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:54 PM :: 10353 Views

Prince Kuhio: The bridge from Kingdom to State

Obama to Russia: ‘After My Election I Have More Flexibility’ on Missile Defense

Hirono, Hanabusa Vote Against Tort Reform

US House Report: Funding for Kahuku Windfarm is ‘Junk’, Industrial Solar Failing

Did Hawaii Geothermal Developer Benefit from Illegal Bailout?

On the Money: Abercrombie's RTTT deal with HSTA

Tax credit for renewable energy faces reductions, curtailed caps

SA: Homeowners are eligible for a 35 percent state tax credit for a photovoltaic system, with a cap of $5,000 for each system. Yet because of the way solar technology has evolved and tax guidance has been interpreted, many homeowners are installing multiple systems on their properties, claiming a state credit for each system and effectively eluding a cap.

“It’s just overly generous and being abused,” state House Majority Leader Pono Chong (D, Mau­na­wili-Kane­ohe) said.

House lawmakers want to restrict the tax credit to one for each property, rather than each system, but would raise the cap to $7,000.

The state Department of Taxation estimates that the renewable energy tax credit — which covers photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters and wind projects — costs the state about $30 million a year. The cost is expected to surge through the next few years as more homeowners opt for solar power and several businesses roll out utility-scale solar projects.

Mark Duda, a principal and founder at RevoluSun, a leading solar company, said he supports a gradual reduction in the credit over several years because he expects the industry will continue to grow, reducing the need for the incentive. But he said limiting the credit to one for each property would be too abrupt.

Reality:

Read … Tax credit for renewable energy faces reductions, curtailed caps

Big solar firms said to hog potential HECO megawatts

SA: One photovoltaic (PV) installer from Hawaii island has expressed concern that the program is being dominated by a few big companies that submitted a flurry of applications early on to quickly reach the maximum power production HECOwill buy and squeeze out their competition….

Of the 113 applications filed for Tier 2 projects on Oahu, 80 percent were filed by just four companies, according to a consultant hired by the state Public Utilities Commission to oversee the FIT application process. On Hawaii Island three companies accounted for 87 percent of the 41 applications filed in Tier 2.

Tier 2 is the largest single category in the FIT program, accounting for 42 megawatts of Oahu's total 60 megawatt limit. Tier 2 comprises 9.5 megawatts of Hawaii island's total 10-megawatt allocation, and seven megawatts of Maui County's 10 megawatts.

There are also questions as to whether some of the developers can finish their projects by the completion date listed in their applications.

There are 20 Tier 2 FIT projects totaling 6.1 megawatts of generating capacity on Oahu that were scheduled to be completed by the end of February, according to a list maintained by Accion Group, the PUC consultant. However, only 1.8 megawatts were listed as installed.

The Accion Group report did not list names of companies involved.

The report said one company filed applications for 18 Tier 2 PV projects totaling 6.5 megawatts in Hawaii Kai's Kamilo­nui Valley but has yet to break ground on any of them even though it listed completion dates ranging from March 31 to May 18 of this year.

Marco Mangelsdorf of ProVision Solar in Hilo said there are several PV projects on Hawaii island that are not on track to meet their completion dates….

Fluff: Isles have plenty of room for more solar PV systems

Read … Big solar firms said to hog potential HECO megawatts

HECO Feed-In-Tariff (FIT)

Accion Group designed and currently operates Hawaiian Electric Company's Feed-In Tariff Program, managed through Accion's competitive procurement website service. With the HECO FIT program, our website was modified to function as a three-tiered, non-competitive queue. Any individual, small business, or other entity can submit a standardized FIT application directly through the website and be entered into a queue to sell renewable energy to Hawaiian Electric.

Read … Visit the HECO-IO website to see Accion's RFP procurement website service

Fuddy: Pension Spiking is Written into Union Contracts, Cannot be Outlawed

A special committee headed by Sen. Donna Mercado Kim has advanced a resolution for state Auditor Marion Higa to review the use of overtime pay, excessive use of sick leave and other kinds of compensation that may have contributed to increased payments to employees and inflated pension payments.

The resolution also calls for Higa to examine the practice of “pension spiking,” the practice of public employees booking huge amounts of overtime as they near retirement to bolster their pensions. Simply banning that practice may be difficult. Loretta J. Fuddy, the state’s director of health, testified to legislators that the rules for determining who is assigned overtime may be part of union contracts.

“This process is generally accepted as fair and equitable,” Fuddy said.

But overpayments stemming from poor record-keeping of leave time, resulting in workers getting more pay than they were due, or when an employee left the job, are quite different. State officials say they are trying to recoup more than $1.5 million from current and former employees; they already have written off hundreds of thousands of dollars in other payments as uncollectible. Some of those payments date back to 1994.

Kim, chairwoman of the special Senate Committee on Accountability, said the state officials either neglected to regard the problem as a priority or important enough to pursue.

Read … Spiking is Fair and Equitable

City called lax in collecting land tax

SA: In the year ending June 30, 2010, the city was owed $16.8 million in delinquent property taxes and collected $7.9 million, or 47 percent, the audit report said.

With regard to government lessees, the city cannot foreclose or file timely liens on properties due to incomplete or untimely information, Young said.

In addition to penalties and formal memoranda of agreements with government lessees, the audit also recommended various bookkeeping measures to improve city policies and procedures….

(There are) a total of 7,765 delinquent parcels

read … Tax Collectors

House Judiciary Ctte Votes to Give $100K to Atheist, $231K to Criminals

Another claim is a $100,000 settlement awarded to Mitch Kahle, who protested and was removed from state Senate chambers in 2010, and his friend who recorded the incident.

The bill now appropriates funds for more than $7.7 million in claims made against the state, its officers or its employees, including the recent settlements.

Among the settlements:

>> $156,814 to two Oahu Community Correctional Center inmates who were injured on a work detail when a transformer shorted.

>> $75,000 to an inmate who was held 134 extra days because of a mistake in paperwork.

>> $40,000 to the family of a girl who was hit on the wrist by roof tiles that fell from the pier in Hana­lei, Kauai.

Senate Bill 2738 will now move on to be heard by the House Finance Committee.

Read …Crime pays, so does atheism

43% of DoE Employees are not Teachers

CB: The 22,009 employees fill 153 unique positions within the department, from speech pathologists and school psychologists to engineers and legal assistants — not to mention teachers and principals. The unionized employees are represented by 10 distinct bargaining units — each with its own contract — in three unions.

The employees can be broken down into three major groups: Teachers, education officers, and all others. Teachers still account for more than half of the employees, at 57 percent. Education officers, such as principals, vice principals, athletic directors and complex area superintendents, make up another 4 percent. All others — like speech pathologists, psychologists and food service workers — make up the remaining 39 percent.

read … Desk Jockey Kingdom

Hawaii State Salaries 2012: Pay Per Pupil By Complex Area

CB: The Hawaii Department of Education spends as little as $4,965 on salaries per pupil and as much as $6,868 depending on which complex area they're in, according to an analysis by Civil Beat.

CB: Hawaii State Salaries 2012: Pay Per Pupil By School

read … Hawaii State Salaries 2012: Pay Per Pupil By Complex Area

US Supreme Court declines to hear Pacific Beach Hotel case

SA: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the power of the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel over a labor dispute at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki.

The justices today rejected an appeal from the company that runs the Pacific Beach Hotel, which claimed the NLRB wrongfully brought a complaint on behalf of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142 over unfair labor practices. The hotel claimed the board isn't allowed to pass its authority to its general counsel when it lacks a quorum.

The labor board ruled that the hotel discriminated against employees and that it bargained in bad faith with the union, which first filed a petition for recognition in 2002. Administrative Law Judge James M. Kennedy ordered the company to reinstate seven workers and bargaining committee members who said they were wrongfully terminated.

The case is HTH Corp. v Frankl, 11-622.

Read … Supreme Court declines to hear Pacific Beach Hotel case

Court lets bankrupt owner sell local TV station KIKU

SA: The California-based company that owns KIKU-TV (Channel 19) has won approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dela­ware to sell the station and its mainland sister stations as part of a Chapter 11 restructuring case filed in January.

The total purchase price for all three stations is $45 million, according to court documents. Neither officials with the station ownership, International Media Group Inc., nor its law firm could be reached for comment.

The buyer is identified as NRJ TV, a mainland company that previously has purchased foreign-language television stations in San Francisco and Boston….

Read … KIKU


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