Department of Water Supply apologizes …questions remain

Image result for water shortage

With an increased sense of urgency, Hawaii County officials are reiterating a request for customers in North Kona to reduce water usage due to ongoing repairs of four different wells.

The Department of Water Supply repeated the message that a mandatory 25% percent water restriction remains in effect, likely throughout the summer as the agency attempts to repair four downed well operations impacting the west side of Hawaii Island.

During this time, it is vital to conserve water to avoid water supply outages in the effected service areas:

  • WAI’AHA DEEPWELL – Pump has been delivered and motor is to arrive in the 3rd week of July, 2017.

Repair is on schedule and completion date is July 31, 2017.

Waiaha is home to a 2 million gallon tank. While bringing it back online would ease tension on the system overall, according to DWS it won’t end the water restriction once it’s operational again.

DWS empathizes that water restrictions won’t likely to be lifted until at least one of the remaining three deepwells at Hualalai, Keopu and Palani start pumping again, sometime in November 2017.

  • PALANI DEEPWELL – Electrical materials, pump and motor are expected to arrive in August 2017.

Repair is on schedule and completion date is October 30, 2017.


  • HUALĀLAI DEEPWELL – Pump is expected to arrive in August 2017.

Repair is on schedule and completion date is November 26, 2017.



Electrical materials and pump and motor are expected to arrive in August and September 2017.

Repair is on schedule and completion date is December 20, 2017.

Defying Trump, Hawaii Becomes First State to Pass Law Committing to Paris Climate Accord

Hawaii Solar

Hawaii, A Leader in Renewable and Clean Energy, Enacts Law Aligned With Global Paris Climate Accord

Thursday, June 08, 2017

HONOLULU — Hawaii has passed a law to document sea level rise and set strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill signed by Gov. David Ige aligns the state’s goals with the Paris climate accord.

Ige said Hawaii is the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris climate agreement. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from that accord last week.

“Hawai‘i is committed to environmental stewardship, and we look forward to working with other states to fight global climate change,” Governor Ige said in a statement. “Together, we can directly contribute to the global agenda of achieving a more resilient and sustainable island Earth.”

Governor Ige said the islands are seeing the impacts of climate change first-hand. He says tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching and coastlines are eroding.

“The measure adopted relevant sections of the Paris agreement as state law, which gives us legal basis to continue adaptation and mitigation strategies for Hawai‘i, despite the Federal government’s withdrawal from the treaty,” said Hawaii Sen. J. Kalani English.

Ige also signed a bill Tuesday to reduce carbon emissions in the agriculture sector.

At least a dozen states, including Hawaii, have signed pledges to continue reducing fossil-fuel emissions despite Trump’s decision.

Other members include New York, California, Washington state, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico.

“As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement earlier this week.

A new era of U.S. climate action has dawned. In less than a week since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, more than 1,000 U.S. states, cities, businesses, and universities have organized themselves into an unprecedented coalition dedicated to continuing strong U.S. climate leadership. In their “We Are Still In” statement issued yesterday, American governors, mayors, investors, CEOs, and college and university leaders are sending a clear signal that they remain committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement and will press forward regardless. This action opens a new chapter in the history of international collaboration on climate change.

reference West Hawaii Forum, Nov. 2016:

2017 Hawai`i State Legislature Fails on Clean Energy Advancement

Factionalized Democracy at 2017 Hawai`i State Legislature

April 29, 2017  Henry Curtis, Ililani Media


As the 29th session of the legislature draws to a close, the fifty-eighth Senate day of the sixty-day session ended with votes where no one could explain what happened. The irony of these votes reveal the underbelly of the legislature, which could explain why there are so few community people who come to testify anymore.

All conference committees had to finish their meetings by 6 p.m. In past years, the halls of the Capitol were packed as the final minutes wound down. But few people show up for the final showdown this year, and by 6 p.m., the halls were virtually deserted.

The legislature failed to fund rat lung research and prevention, voting-by-mail, and a number of energy bills. The Senate failed to confirm one of the most qualified commissioners in the history of the Public Utilities Commission. But the legislature is poised to pass a strange bill that would create guidance for the Public Utilities Commission.

Rat Lung is a parasitic infection, which can cause long-term health problems, including eosinophilic meningitis, temporary paralysis, and death. Cases on Maui and the Big Island are on the rise.

Snails and slugs can leave slime on vegetation, which when ingested, can cause serious harm to people. Representative Creagan, a physician from the Big Island, stated in conference committee that the infection attacks not only people, but also attacks dogs and horses.

Dr. Susan Jarvi, a researcher at the University of Hawai`i Hilo College of Pharmacy, has been leading efforts to understand rat lung. The Department of Health should get involved to stop the spread. Neither effort received funding because of a clash in personalities between different Senators.

Hawai`i has a low voter turnout rate. Corie Tanida of Common Cause Hawaii and Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters, have been leading an effort to increase the number of people who vote, by increasing the use of vote-by-mail. For the third year in a row, the bill died in conference committee.

SB 665 would have replaced tax credits for renewable energy systems, with a tax credit for property that has renewable energy systems. This would deal with the perceived problem of entities receiving multiple tax credits for the same property. Currently, energy storage only receives a tax credit if it is installed as part of a renewable energy package. Efforts have been made to expand the energy storage tax credit to those who already have renewable energy systems, and want to add energy storage to the mix.

Because the money committees refused to fund SB 665, the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy left other energy bills on the table.  This included SB 909 which would have addressed deficiencies in Hawaii’s fuel shortage response and energy emergency statutes in the event of an actual or potential energy supply disruption, and HB 1580 which would establish long-term goals to decrease and end the use of fossil fuel in ground transportation.

The nominee for the third seat (Thomas Gorak) on the Public Utilities Commission, was a person with four decades of energy and regulatory experience.   Most energy stakeholders believe that this is exactly what Hawai`i needs right now to implement the policies of the legislature that will help Hawai`i reach our 2045 goal.

People who have gone to the Commission office, or attended Commission hearings, have remarked on the rise in the spirit and the energy of the staff. This was reflected in the number of staff members who signed onto letters of support, and who showed up during the nomination fight.

Energy stakeholders wondered why would the legislature impede progress on their own 2045 initiative? The confirmation hearing that took place for this nominee was ugly and filled with innuendo. The floor session last night was an example of factionalism where things were decided, votes were secured, and not one single person could explain why they opposed the nominee.

Hawaiian Electric Company staff, consultants, and lawyers, show up in mass, at every single energy event, including meetings, hearings, and conferences. But they were conspicuously absent from the nomination process, before the Senate Committee hearing, and during the Senate floor vote.

Ten Senators voted to support the nominee: Stanley Chang, Will Espero, Josh Green, Breene Harimoto, Les Ihara, Donna Mercado Kim, Karl Rhoads, Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, and Laura Thielen.

Fifteen Senators voted against the nominee: Rosalyn Baker, Donovan Dela Cruz, Kalani English, Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria, Lorraine Inouye, Kaialiʻi Kahele, Gil Keith Agaran, Michelle Kidani, Clarence Nishihara, Maile Shimabukuro, Brian Taniguchi, Jill Tokuda, Glenn Wakai, and Ron Kouchi.

The Senate and House reached agreement on a bill to create guidance for the Public Utility Commission.

SB 382 stated, “The purpose of this Act is to update the structure and operation of the commission to increase efficiency and effectiveness.” But the language of the bill suggests the opposite.

SB 382 would require the Legislative Auditor to conduct an audit of the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission, that would include the “appropriateness…of current utility legislation.”  Presumably, that includes SB 382.

SB 382 states that the Commission shall “align private interest with public interest through the proactive, aggressive pursuit of factual information and technical competency to result in fair and timely decisions and orders in pursuit of the public interest.”

Align generally means “to arrange things so that they form a line, or are in proper position.” Nowhere in state law, nor in the bill itself, is “private interest” define, so many wonder how can it be aligned with the public interest. The terms “technical competency” and “aggressive pursuit” are also not defined.  Energy stakeholders wonder how “aggressive pursuit” is different from normal pursuit?

The words “aggressive” and “aggressively” appear just fifteen times in the Hawai`i Revised Statutes. The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, and the Intra-island water ferry transportation system, must aggressively seek federal funds. The Agribusiness Development Corporation shall have aggressive and dynamic leadership leading an aggressive and dynamic agribusiness development program. The other twelve uses are in criminal code sections of law.

SB 382 states that the Commission shall “ensure reliability and delivery of all essential services provided by regulated entities at all times.”

Does that mean the Commission is liable for non-delivery? And delivery of what? Nowhere in state law, nor in the bill, is “essential services” defined. Is it a subset of all utility services?

SB 382 states that the Commission shall “provide oversight of resource planning efforts to ensure adequacy and resiliency to ensure essential services are available when needed.”

Nowhere in state law or in the bill is “resiliency” defined. National discussions have led to widely different interpretations: resiliency means the ability to grow, change, and/or bounce back.

Among Hawai`i policy makers, some think resiliency means reliability; others think it does not include reliability. Still others believe that it includes environmental sustainability and cultural protection.

SB 382 states that the Commission shall “strive for affordability for consumers while allowing regulated entities an opportunity to maintain reasonable earnings.”

This is the only one of the six principles which the Commission must merely strive, or attempt, to achieve something. Is affordability the least important principle?


California Generates Enough Solar Power to Meet Half Its Energy Needs

In a state with a population more than 30 times greater than that of Hawai’i, California is writing the how-to book on converting to a clean and sustainable energy-based economy.  Are Hawai’i lawmakers, regulators, and Hawaiian Electric paying attention? 

460xCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown (D) took a shot last week at Sec. of Energy Rick Perry, a former Republican governor of Texas. Remarking on Perry’s view of Texas as an energy powerhouse, Brown said, “We’ve got more sun than you’ve got oil.”


The state’s goal to generate 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2030 – for short period on March 3, 2017 …it did just that!

Recent data shows California coming through. The state briefly generated enough solar power to meet nearly half of the state’s electricity needs, according to data from the largest grid operator in the state, California ISO.

Around midday on March 3, demand reached around 29 Gigawatts (GW), while solar was providing nearly 14 GW of generation—some 9 GW from utility-scale arrays and another 5 GW or so from rooftops and parking lot canopies around the state.

Renewables are having a big moment. Solar is getting cheaper and cheaper, spurring Californians to set up photovoltaic panels on homes, businesses and empty lots across the state.

“It’s remarkable that over a third of the solar power generated in California comes from smaller rooftop systems, meaning hundreds of thousands of homeowners are reaping the economic value generated from harnessing the sun rather than the state’s big utility companies,” said Amit Ronen, director of the GW Solar Institute.

But while these numbers are a rough approximation, they illustrate the incredible growth of renewable energy. They also highlight the central challenge of integrating solar into the power grid.

Every year, California generates more and more power from solar, exacerbating that midday dip in net power demand. This is problematic, because it’s expensive to ramp up power generation from coal- and gas-fired power plants at dusk.

Fortunately, there are ways to flatten the so-called duck curve by building out transmission lines to carry solar energy over state lines would broaden the demand; installing grid-enabled appliances that shift demand to the middle of the day; or deploying battery storage, like the Tesla Powerwall, that can store excess generation during the day and discharge it in the evening.

“We still need to make significant investments in energy storage technologies that will allow us to bank solar energy when it’s being made so that it can be used whenever we need it, even at night,” Ronen said.

As part of that effort, legislators are looking for ways to better integrate solar energy into the power grid—to drive down costs, improve performance and flatten ducks, wherever they may quack. So, in September, California passed four bills to expand the use of energy storage.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once described the states as laboratories of democracy. They are also laboratories for energy innovation. As the Trump Administration pushes the federal government backwards on renewable energy and climate, California and other progressive states, like Hawai’i, are pushing ahead, providing a model for the rest of country.

See “Past Forums” for additional topic and reference information… “What’s Ahead For HELCO and Hawaii’s Clean Energy Future”, September 15, 2016 — and “Energy Independence, Hawai’i Style”, September 17, 2015,

U.S. scientists officially declare 2016 the hottest year on record. That makes three in a row…

Forum Reference: November 17th, 2016, West Hawaii Forum on “Hawaii’s Climate Change Challenge”

In a powerful testament to the warming of the planet, two leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday (1/18/17) jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which itself had topped a record set in 2014.

Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the warmest since the agency’s records began in 1880.

The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th-century average of 57 degrees, NOAA declared. The agency also noted that the record for the global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000. The years 2005 and 2010 were also record warm years, according to the agency’s data set.

NASA concurred with NOAA, also declaring 2016 the warmest year on record in its own data set that tracks the temperatures at the surface of the planet’s land and oceans, and expressing “greater than 95 percent certainty” in that conclusion. (In contrast, NOAA gave a 62 percent confidence in the broken record.)

NASA found a bigger leap upward of temperatures in 2016, measuring the year as .22 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the prior record year of 2015. The agency also noted that since the year 2001, the planet has seen “16 of the 17 warmest years on record.”

Scientists have been far less guarded. “2016 is a wake-up call in many ways,” Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, said of the year’s temperatures. “Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is serious.”

NASA and NOAA produce slightly different records using somewhat different methodologies, but have now concurred on identifying 2014, 2015 and 2016 as, successively, the three warmest years in their records. There was a noticeable difference this year, however, in how much two agencies judged 2016 to have surpassed 2015. NASA was more bullish — a difference that Schmidt, in a press call Wednesday, attributed to different ways of measuring the Arctic.

“The warming in the Arctic has really been exceptional, and what you decide to do when you’re interpolating across the Arctic makes a difference,” Schmidt said.

Last year’s warmth was partly enhanced by a strong weather pattern known as El Niño, but the federal scientists underscore that this was not the only cause.

For example, 1998 was also, at the time, the warmest year on record, thanks in part to a strong El Niño — but the 2016 planetary temperature now far surpasses the temperature of that year, as you can see above.

The reason is that Earth has been warming since then, allowing another El Niño event, unlocking heat from the vast Pacific Ocean, to push overall temperatures to new heights.

“The pattern of record warmth in the lower atmosphere, coupled with record cold in the stratosphere, provides a clear fingerprint of the cause of the unprecedented warming — greenhouse gases trapping heat in the lower atmosphere instead of letting it escape to the stratosphere, and then to space.

“No doubt about it anymore — humans, mainly by burning fossil fuels, are cooking the planet, Overpeck said.

Hawaii County Doctor Shortage Worsens

Forum Reference: June 16th, 2017, “Hawai’i Island’s Healthy Lifestyle Belies an Underlying Problem”

More than half of the doctors in Hawaii will reach the retirement age of 65 within the next decade, according to a new report submitted Thursday to the state Legislature.

The University of Hawaii Physicians Workforce Assessment says of the 8,900 physicians licensed to practice in Hawaii, roughly 2,903 full-time physicians are actually practicing medicine. The report emphasizes that supply of new physicians is not keeping up with demand and Hawaii is at a critical juncture.

“Demand grows by 50 … per year, and we lose 50 physicians per year, so we need 100 per year to maintain the current staffing levels,” the report concludes.

Who, then, will be your doctor if about half retire or cut the amount of time they serve patients in the next decade?

“We do have this big population of physicians that will be at retirement age fairly soon,” said Dr. Christopher Flanders, executive director of the Hawaii Medical Association.

Flanders, 60, has himself taken on an administrative role with the HMA, meaning he isn’t currently treating patients in his specialty of neurological pathology — something that likely will be increasingly true in the next few years for many of the state’s physicians near retirement.

“I live on the Big Island. So I live with that shortage. It’s concerning,” he said.

According to the report, 15 percent of the state’s physicians already are between ages 66 and 75. The university estimates Hawaii needs the equivalent of an extra 707 full-time physicians in order to meet current patient demand.

In Hawaii County, it is estimated the population needs three allergists, but there is only one. Six infectious disease specialists, three neurosurgeons and three neonatologists are needed. But there are no physicians in the county with those specialties.

Primary care physicians are among those who will be in the biggest demand statewide. And, in Hawaii County, the university estimates there’s already a shortage: the need is for 180 to meet patient demand, but there are only 143.

Flanders said part of the reason is the cost doctors pay to complete medical school.

“When they walk out of medical school with a quarter-million dollars in debt, they have to be careful about what positions they take,” he said.

Flanders said the medical association thinks the Legislature should take a dual approach.

First, he said, legislators should consider the long term and start a rural-medicine education program. Even if that were to start tomorrow, he said, “it’ll still be seven years down the road” because it takes four years for medical school and then a three-year (at least) residency program to begin treating patients independently.

Secondly, Flanders said, the Legislature should look short term at where Hawaii is falling short in terms of recruitment and retention.

The Legislature and medical organizations will need to figure out how to make jobs more available for physicians’ spouses and to address student debt new physicians typically carry.

“It just doesn’t compete in recruiting. A lot of times they don’t stay very long,” Flanders said.

Here is where Trump’s cabinet nominees stand on climate change

Forum Reference: November 17th, 2016, West Hawaii Forum on “Hawaii’s Climate Change Challenge”



Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt

The Oklahoma attorney general has been a longtime adversary of the EPA and a close friend to the fossil fuels industry. He helped lead a lawsuit from 28 states against the agency’s clean power plan, an Obama administration initiative to cut carbon pollution from coal power plants.

He has also accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry over the course of four campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor and state senator. In a joint op-ed in the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled”, adding: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of scientists agree climate change is happening and caused by humans.

Department of the Interior: Ryan Zinke

Zinke is a Montana congressman, former Navy Seal commander and Iraq war veteran who has consistently voted in favor of oil and gas drilling projects on federal lands. As interior secretary he will have oversight over the use of federal lands and controversial pipeline and drilling projects.

Zinke supports the Keystone XL pipeline and supported measures to remove protections of endangered species, while opposing legislation to regulate fracking. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a lifetime voting scorecard of 3%. While previously acknowledging the science behind climate change, Zinke said in 2014 that it “is not proven”.

Department of Energy: Rick Perry

The former Texas governor will be nominated to take over the agency he famously wanted to abolish but could not name during his presidential bid in 2012. In 2011, Perry said that global warming was an unproven scientific theory.

Department of State: Rex Tillerson

The former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil was nominated to be the country’s top diplomat. Much has been made of his ties to Russia and how that may affect his role, while Tillerson’s position on climate change has been less of a focus.

On the surface, Tillerson acknowledges the science of human-caused climate change and supported a carbon tax in 2009; ExxonMobil issued a statement of support for the Paris agreement while he was at the helm. However, Exxon is currently under investigation by New York’s attorney general for misleading investors on the risks of climate change. The company has also consistently lobbied against climate change proposals. Exxon has also pushed to open the Arctic up for drilling.

 Department of Defense: James N Mattis

Mattis would be taking over a defense department that has identified climate change as a national security “threat multiplier”. He has made few public statements on climate change, but according to a 2010 report on the military’s energy policy the former Marine general asked to “unleash us from the tether of fuel” during the drive into Baghdad. His longtime colleague, retired Marine Corps Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, told Climate Change News that Mattis “gets climate change”.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson

Carson has said that he is not convinced by the science behind human-caused climate change. “I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science’, but then when you ask them to show the overwhelming science they never can show it,” Carson told the San Francisco Chronicle.

In multiple exchanges, he acknowledged that the climate was changing before asserting that the climate has always changed, but “when things stop changing, then we’re dead”. He told a crowd at a campaign event in New Hampshire last year that he believes in taking care of the environment but does not think the issue should be politicized.

CIA: Mike Pompeo

Pompeo is among the most the outspoken critics of climate change legislation. He has expressed skepticism over the science that climate change is caused by humans, saying in 2013: “Look, I think the science needs to continue to develop. There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” He derided Barack Obama last year for describing climate change as a national security threat. Pompeo referred to the Paris agreement as a “radical climate change deal”.

National security adviser: Michael Flynn

The former general does not view climate change as a priority. He slammed President Obama on Fox News for discussing climate change after a terrorist attack. Speaking on Fox News in June, he said: “Here we have the president of the United States up in Canada talking about climate change. I mean, God, we just had the largest attack, as you just said, on our own soil in Orlando. Why are we talking about that? Who is talking about that? You know, I mean, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Boston. People forget about 9/11.”

Attorney general: Jeff Sessions

Throughout his time in the US Senate, Sessions has consistently voted against climate action, with the League of Conservation Voters giving him a scorecard of 7%. He said on the Senate floor in 2003: “I believe there are legitimate disputes about the validity and extent of global warming … Carbon dioxide does not hurt you. We have to have it in the atmosphere. It is what plants breathe. In fact, the more carbon dioxide that exists, the faster plants grow.” Sessions reportedly said last year that the fight against climate change hurts poor people. In 2015, he reiterated his claim that increased carbon dioxide was not bad for you: “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”

Department of Homeland Security: John F Kelly

Kelly has made few public statements on climate change but told the Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs: “As with the campaign today to raise awareness of climate change – whether one agrees or disagrees with the cause-and-effect claims – all are at least fully aware of the issue. Even those who reject the science have reduced their energy consumption and know it is good for the environment.”

Department of Health and Human Services: Tom Price

Tom Price is a noted climate change skeptic. In a statement supporting a bill to fight EPA regulations on carbon dioxide, Price said: “This decision goes against all common sense, especially considering the many recent revelations of errors and obfuscation in the allegedly ‘settled science’ of global warming.” He has consistently voted against incentivizing renewable energy sources with tax credits and in favor of increased oil exploration. He signed a pledge created by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative thinktank funded by the Koch brothers, to oppose climate legislation.

Department of Commerce: Wilbur Ross

The commerce department encompasses the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has a key role in monitoring the effects of climate change. Ross’s views on the issue are not clear. In his career of buying distressed companies, he has invested hundreds of millions into oil and gas businesses.

Department of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin

Trump’s financier during this campaign and a former Goldman Sachs executive, Mnuchin has made little public comment on climate change. Having never held public office, his views on the issue have not been interrogated.

Department of Education: Betsy DeVos

DeVos is the chairman of the Windquest Group, an investment company she founded with her husband in 1989 that invests in clean energy technology. She may have the most measured views on climate change in the administration.

Department of Transportation: Elaine Chao

Chao was previously a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank that opposes policies to fight climate change. “Chao’s connection to institutions that manufacture climate denial, like the Heritage Foundation, requires the public demand she prioritize both public health and the impacts of climate change when managing our transportation infrastructure,” said Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Cassady Craighill. She wrote a blogpost in 2009 for the foundation in which she derided a proposed cap-and-trade system, a market-based approach to reducing pollution by providing incentives to reduce emissions.

December 18, 2016

Inside the largest Earth Science event… “The time has never been more urgent…”

Forum Reference: November 17th, 2016, West Hawaii Forum on “Hawaii’s Climate Change Challenge”


With Trump set to have a ‘chilling effect’ on environmental policy, 20,000 Earth and space scientists met in California to face up to a new responsibility

They argued about moon-plasma interactions, joked about polar bears, and waxed nostalgic for sturdy sea ice.

But few of the 20,000 Earth and climate scientists meeting in San Francisco this week had much to say about the president-elect, Donald Trump – though his incoming administration loomed over much of the conference.

For some, the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) – the largest Earth and space science gathering in the world – was a call to action. California’s governor, Jerry Brown, addressed the scientists on Wednesday morning, telling them, “the time has never been more urgent or your work ever more important. The danger is definitely rising.”

Citing financial inequality, the risks of nuclear arms and the mounting effects of climate change, Brown said, “we’re facing far more than one or two or even thousands of politicians.

“We’re facing big oil, we’re facing big financial structures that are at odds with the survivability of our world. It’s up to you as truth tellers, truth seekers, to mobilize all your efforts to fight back.”

Brown compared the struggle to the campaigns waged by the tobacco industry, noting that health science and the law eventually curtailed its power. “Some people need a heart attack to stop smoking,” he s  aid. “Maybe we just got our heart attack.”

“This is not a battle of one day or one election,” he added, calling scientists “foot soldiers” for truth. The governor promised to help lead the campaign, daring Trump to shut down climate science satellites and mocking Rick Perry, his pick for secretary of energy.

“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch it’s own damn satellites,” Brown said. “Rick, I’ve got some news for you: California’s growing a hell of a lot faster than Texas. And we’ve got more sun than you’ve got oil.”

Not far away, a team of lawyers with the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund met with scientists to discuss the threats ahead. The group helps defend scientists from harassment and suits over climate change research, most prominently a case brought by a climate change-denying organization to obtain emails and researchof scientist Michael Mann.

At the AGU table, attorneys handed out guides to “handling political harassment and legal intimidation”.

Some scientists are taking action on their own, including Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who has started one of several “guerrilla archiving” efforts to preserve public climate data on non-government servers. Holthaus and others fear that a Trump administration could take down the data, as former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper tried to silence scientists.

Sally Jewell, the outgoing secretary of the interior, tried to reassure scientists that the Trump administration could not quickly gut federal research. Science would be “foundational” to government, she told attendees: “We have a president-elect that likes to win, and we can’t win without science.”

A worst case scenario would be ‘an effort to undermine the scientific infrastructure of the country’

Jewell argued that scientists should stress the benefits of science to industry, saying they should start speaking “in the language of business, perhaps, to translate” for the Trump administration.

Many federal researchers had already begun to speak in those terms. Scott Hagen, presenting on the dangers of rising tides to Louisiana, said the state could face losses of up to $280m in agricultural lands. Jennifer Francis, a Rutgers professor, said the extreme heat in the Arctic would almost certainly contribute to extreme weather around the world next year. Marco Tedesco, presenting on the “Arctic report card 2016” – a year of record lows – noted that changes in snowfall patterns would affect hydropower and freshwater resources.

“Snow melting sooner and faster is leaving a drier soil exposed to a drier summer,” he said. “You might have more drought, might have more forest fires, ramifications for economy, population.”

Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of Nasa’s science mission directorate, stressed that scientists should “behave like scientists” and “focus on the data that we get and not amplify the noise”.

He too drew a link between science and business: “What you’re carrying around in your pocket is a lot of space data that’s doing work for you.”

Jewell urged scientists to “speak up for scientific integrity”, and tried to assure them that pro-science policies “are not going to be easy to undo”. But uncertainty and anxiety reigned, for the future of research and the planet.

“Trump’s leadership will have a chilling effect on environmental and science policy no matter what,” said one climate scientist, who asked for anonymity for fear of work being politicized. “What worries me most is that this administration might launch a fundamental attack on the scientific process.”

The best-case scenario, the scientist said, would resemble the Bush administration, in which “leadership doesn’t care much about what the climate scientists say, but they continue to support funding for research”. A worst-case scenario would be “an effort to undermine the scientific infrastructure of the country”.

Agencies could radically restructure their staff, for instance, shuffling scientists to unappealing projects while Republicans in Congress slash budgets and Trump reneges on world climate talks. Charles Kennel, a former Nasa official, said that the US’s withdrawal for several years would be “serious but not fatal”.

Other scientists stressed that the world is already changing in dramatic, unpredictable ways. Donald Perovich, a professor at Dartmouth University, said that the Arctic in 2016 looked “as though part of the United States has melted”, a region comparable to all the states east of the Mississippi plus the midwest and North Dakota.

When the researchers began doing a yearly report card in the mid-2000s, Perovich said, “you kind of had to listen closely, because the Arctic was whispering change.”

“Now it’s not whispering anymore,” he said. “It’s shouting.”

HELCO`s Proposed 6.5% Rate Hike – Tell the PUC What You Think!

Forum Reference: Energy forums of September 2015 and September 2016 for more information on Clean Energy options for Hawai’i


The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is coming to Hilo on December 13 and Kona on Wednesday, December 14.

The PUC wants to know if Big Island residents are happy with the amount they are spending on their electric bills, and whether residents are willing to pay 6.5 percent more and continue to subsidize HELCO’s expensive dirty energy path.

Those who think the utility is doing a great job, a reasonable job, or a poor job, have the opportunity to let the regulators know.

With the exception of any entity that intervenes in the proceeding, this will be the LAST opportunity for the public to influence the outcome of this rate hike proposal.

Those who submit written testimony, or who show up at the hearings, should be aware that the purpose of the hearings will also influence state regulators and the future of Hawaii’s energy future.

The Public Utilities Commission and the State Consumer Advocate will be examining every aspect of the operations of the utility.

Is HELCO efficient, or are they wasting ratepayer funds?

Should HELCO adopt a clean energy transition plan – one that promotes rather than slows the adoption of zero emissions rooftop solar, wind, storage (pump-hydro, battery, etc.), and micro-grid opportunities?  Should they work closer with Parker Ranch, Tesla, and other private sector clean energy partners to achieve Hawaii’s 2045 renewable energy goals?

Is a business-as-usual rate increase justified, or is the utility ignoring opportunities for greater efficiencies through 21stcentury clean energy options – and at what continuing expense to ratepayers?

Should HELCO receive a greater share of its revenue from performance incentives rather than guaranteed power generation revenues?  If so, what incentives are reasonable?

Is the utility open to hearing what consumers want, or are they single-minded in their approach to ram unpopular projects through the regulatory process?

Should HELCO buy Hamakua Energy Partners’ naphtha-burning power plant in Honoka`a, or invest in non-polluting clean energy alternatives?

Should ratepayers fund efforts to increase geothermal, Liquefied Natural Gas, or grid upgrades to allow greater amounts of rooftop solar and integrate storage options?

Is the HELCO medical plan reasonable?

Is HELCO working on its operating cost inefficiencies, or as Hawai’i Island’s energy monopoly are they living high off the backs of ratepayers?

Bottom line: Is HELCO heading in the right or wrong direction?

The Public Utilities Commission and the State Consumer Advocate will be examining every single cost that HELCO incurs.

The bulk of ratepayers are not engineers, accountants, or lawyers.  As ratepayers and customers of HELCO, and the Community’s opinions matter to the PUC.  Your participation in this important to the otucome of the hearing process — tell the PUC what YOU think!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

Hilo High School Cafeteria

556 Waianuenue Avenue

Hilo, Hawaii 96720


Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

West Hawaii Civic Center

County Council Chambers

74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740


The Commission will accept testimony in-person, or written testimony by snail mail, or by electronic mail. Written comments should reference Docket No. 2015-0170, and include the author’s name and the entity or organization that the author represents.


Postal (Snail) Mail

Public Utilities Commission

465 South King Street #103

Honolulu, HI 96813


Electronic Mail

Special acknowledgement and thanks to Ililani Media for their contribution to this notice.