Archive for January, 2013

Whale count: 267 on Saturday

January 28th, 2013
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Volunteers help count humpback whales from Lanikai for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. Photo by Gosia Thomas.

Volunteers help count humpback whales from Lanikai for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. Photo by Gosia Thomas.

The humpback whales are here. More than 800 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island during the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count on Saturday.

This year's design features a compilation of student artwork from the Sanctuary's Ocean Contest.

This year's design features a compilation of student artwork from the Sanctuary's Ocean Contest.

A total of 267 whales were seen between 11:30 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Volunteers collected data from 59 sites statewide. Weather conditions were ideal for viewing humpback whales, with the exception of vog.

Preliminary data of whale sightings by site location is available at www.sanctuaryoceancounot.org/resources. The highest number of whales were seen from the shores of Kakaako, Magic Island and Diamond Head.

Two more Sanctuary ocean counts take place on Saturdays, Feb. 23 and March 30.

Visit sanctuaryoceancount.org for more information on becoming a volunteer or call 1-888-55-WHALE ext. 253.

By the way, if you're interested in buying a T-shirt to support the Sanctuary, this year's design is a compilation of student artwork from the Sanctuary's Ocean Contest.

Visit the NMSF Sanctuary Store to purchase the limited edition T-shirts, which are available with short sleeves or long sleeves for adults, and in youth sizes. All proceeds benefit the Sanctuary.

Welcome Back Whales

January 25th, 2013
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Photo of a mother and baby humpback whale in Hawaiian waters. Photo by Dave Matilla, courtesy of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Photo of a mother and baby humpback whale in Hawaiian waters. Photo by Dave Matilla, courtesy NOAA.

Welcome back the humpback whales at a community celebration taking place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 26) at Turtle Bay Resort.

Besides scientists' lectures, there will be a whale observation station, education booths, children's activities, naturalist-led wildlife walks and hula by local keiki.

The "Welcome Back the Whales" celebration is sponsored by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in partnership with the North Shore Ocean Education Coalition.

The event is free and open to the public, and a chance for all who love humpback whales to learn more about these magnificent creatures.

Yoga, then Huki (invasive algae clearing)

January 18th, 2013
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Malama Maunalua has been clearing Maunalua Bay of invasive algae, along with other projects. PHoto of Maunalua Bay from malamamaunalua.org.

Malama Maunalua has been clearing Maunalua Bay of invasive algae, along with other environmental projects. Help "Huki" tomorrow morning (Saturday) at Paiko Dr. Photo of Maunalua Bay from malamamaunalua.org.

If you're looking for something to do tomorrow (Saturday) morning, then why not yoga and some invasive algae clearing on a beautiful coastline?

Malama Maunalua invites the public to bring family and friends to its Paiko Drive "Huki" from 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Jan. 19).

First, to get focused, enjoy power yoga from 8 to 9:15 a.m. with Lehua Kai at Kuliouou Beach Park, then head over to Paiko Drive at 9:30 a.m. for the Huki, which means to "pull" or "remove" invasive algae from Maunalua Bay.

Invasive algae has invaded roughly 200 acres at Maunalua Bay, suffocating native coral and killing the reef. Malama Maunalua, a non-proift, has been working on removing the algae and monitoring the bay on a regular basis for the past few years.

Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged. Participants should also bring a reusable water bottle, dress in clothes that can get wet and dirty. Call Malama Maunalua at 395-5050 if you have questions.

Hawaii island's plastic bag law now in place

January 17th, 2013
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Courtesy envearth.files.wordpress.com.

Courtesy envearth.files.wordpress.com.

Thursday, Jan. 17 marks the first day that the "plastic bag reduction ordinance" goes into effect on Hawaii island.

Single-use plastic bags will be allowed for the first year of this new law if a fee is charged for each bag, according to a statement issued by the County of Hawaii Department of Environmental Management. Businesses will set the fee and keep the revenue. Paper bags are permitted.

But many stores have already opted to stop using plastic checkout bags, encouraging customers instead to bring their own reusable bags.

The new law does not include plastic bags without handles used for meat, produce, bulk items, garments and prescription drugs. Non-profit groups are also exempt.

Businesses caught violating the ordinance will be issued a warning letter first, followed by a civil fine of $250 per day for a second violation and $500 per day for the third violation.

Visit HawaiiZeroWaste.com for a copy of the ordinance, rules and more information. Contact the department's Solid Waste and Recycling offices at 808-961-8270 if you have questions.

Blue Planet study: Solar tax incentives benefit Hawaii

January 16th, 2013
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One residential PV system in Hawaii (sized at 5.27KW) yields 3.2 new local jobs, $106,000 in local labor income and more than $20,000 in additional tax revenues, according to the Blue Planet Foundation's full analysis of solar tax credits and their impact on the local economy. Photo courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

One residential PV system in Hawaii (sized at 5.27KW) yields 3.2 new local jobs, $106,000 in local labor income and more than $20,000 in additional tax revenues, according to the Blue Planet Foundation's full analysis of solar tax credits and their impact on the local economy. Photo courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

The Blue Planet Foundation yesterday released a full report detailing the economic impacts of Hawaii's renewable energy tax credit showing that the existing incentive yields a "clear, significant net fiscal benefit to the state."

The analysis, which Blue Planet commissioned from former University of Hawaii economist Thomas Loudat, found that every commercial photovoltaic (PV) tax credit dollar invested yields $7.15 that stays in Hawaii and $55.03 in additional sales, which generates $2.67 in new tax revenue.

Every residential solar PV tax credit dollar yields $1.97 in additional tax revenues, with $5.71 that stays in Hawaii and $34.69 in additional local sales. For a typical 118-KW commercial PV installation, the state gains about 2.7 local jobs each year over the 30-year lifetimes of the system.

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"Solar energy is currently a bright spot in Hawaii's progress toward energy independence," said Blue Planet director Jeff Mikulina. "Our analysis shows that solar is also a bright spot in Hawaii's economy and our state budget."

Besides reducing our dependence on oil, Mikulina said the solar industry in Hawaii is creating thousands of local jobs and funneling hundreds of millions of tax dollars into the state budget.

Solar accounts for 15 percent of all construction expenditures in Hawaii, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). Solar installations also bring federal dollars into the local economy in the form of a 30-percent federal renewable energy tax credit, says Blue Planet, with a multiplier effect equivalent to tourist dollars coming to Hawaii.

Plus, solar is gaining good momentum. Blue Planet's analysis shows the use of solar increasing more rapidly in less wealthy neighborhoods.

Read the full study with supporting data at BluePlanetFoundation.org/SolarCredit.

Volunteer for the Aina

January 14th, 2013
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Pouhala Marsh is an important habitat for many native birds. Photo by Nathan Yuen, hawaiianforest.com.

Pouhala Marsh is an important habitat for many native birds. Here, ae‘o circle over the marsh. Help the Hawai‘i Nature Center clean up the marsh this month. Photo by Nathan Yuen, hawaiianforest.com.

Happy New Year!

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities that connect you with the aina, here are two great local opportunities:

>> Honouliuli Shoreline Service Project: The Hoakalei Foundation is hosting One‘ula, a Honouliuli Shoreline Service Project on Saturday, Jan. 26. Instead of lugging car parts, tires and construction debris, volunteers will focus on cleaning up small debris including plastic, glass, metal and litter that can easily be bagged for pickup at day's end. Volunteers will also be able to learn and explore some of the cultural heritage of the land and shoreline resources. Gloves and bags will be provided, along with water and lunch afterwards at about noon. Meet at 8 a.m. at the west side of One‘ula Beach Park. To pre-register or learn more, email kepa@hoakaleifoundationn,org or call 563-0787.

>> Pouhala Marsh wetland restoration: Help the Hawai‘i Nature Center with the cleanup and restoration of Pouhala Marsh in Waipahu. This 70-acre marsh is used for Hawai‘i Nature Center educational programs and is currently the largest remaining wetland habitat in Pearl Harbor. Service projects are scheduled from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 23, April 27, May 25 and June 22. Volunteers should bring work gloves, a hat, sunscreen and  water and expect to get muddy. HNC will provide snacks and juice. To sign up or learn more, contact the center's volunteer program manager Pauline Kawamato at 955-0100 ext. 118 or volunteer@hawaiinaturecenter.org.

Going Green: All-in-one community recycling

January 11th, 2013
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Get ready, get set, go green!

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The "Going Green" community recycling events offer you an all-in-one recycling opportunity throughout the year. The first one was organized by Hui O Ko‘olaupoko the first weekend of the month in Waimanalo, but check out the calendar to find one near you.

What's great about these events is that you can bring that old T.V. (one per household), along with electronics equipment, scrap metal, cell phones, printer cartridges, batteries, cardboard and plastic playground equipment to one place for recycling. Goodwill is also happy to collect usable clothing and household items.

Tires, paint, microwave ovens, motor oil and hazardous fluids will not be accepted.

The next "Going Green" event scheduled this month is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Castle High School's theatre parking lot, 45-386 Kaneohe Bay Dr. Drive in and drop off your recyclables.

Formerly called "Aloha Aina," the community recycling events are now called "Going Green." As usual, canned goods will also be collected for the Hawaii Foodbank.

Here's a list of a few more coming up in the next few months. Contact Rene Mansho at renemansho@hawaii.rr.com if you have questions or are interested in hosting an event.

>> FEBRUARY 23: Hawaii Lions District 50, location and time to be announced
>> MARCH 2: Waianae High School, time to be announced
>> MARCH 9: Farrington High School, time to be announced
>> MARCH 16: Aloha Stadium– Hawaii Democratic Party— lower Halawa pkg. lot, time to be announced
>> APRIL 13: Leilehua High School and Prince Kuhio Federal Building (GSA), time to be announced

Sierra Club launches solar campaign

January 9th, 2013
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The state is far from reaching its goal of 70 percent renewables by 2030. Only 2 percent of Hawaii is solar-powered. Photo courtesy of solarenergyfactsblog.com/solar-pv/

Less than 2 percent of Hawaii is solar-powered, according to the Sierra Club, which is challenging the governor to hold off on slashing tax incentives. Photo from solarenergyfactsblog.com/solar-pv/

The Sierra Club is taking on Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for cutting the amount of state tax credits available to homeowners and businesses installing solar electric systems with a media campaign it unveiled today.

Under the Hawaii Department of Taxation's new interpretation of the solar credit — which went into effect Jan. 1 — the availability of Hawaii's average renewable energy tax credit for solar PV systems will be reduced by about 50 percent.

The Sierra Club, which also filed a lawsuit challenging the new solar tax credit limits, features "Sonny the Solar Panel" standing in an unemployment line in its media campaign. Listen to an audio clip here.

Sonny stands in line at the unemployment office, lamenting the "good career" he had here in Hawaii until Gov. Abercrombie "went behind the back of the state legislature and single-handedly slashed those tax credits..."

Sonny points out that less than two percent of Hawaii's energy comes from solar and alleges that Abercrombie's "reckless action is putting a brand new industry and thousands of clean energy jobs at risk."

The Sierra Club is also asking members of the public to send a message to Gov. Abercrombie, asking him to hold off on his executive rules and find a solution instead that preserves green jobs, clean energy growth and the ability for people to move off of oil at www.savehawaiisolar.org.

A total of 24 states offer tax incentives for solar electric systems, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Hawaii is generous, but Louisiana is even more generous. This article from The Pew Center on the States points out that while solar tax credits are being blamed, Hawaii lacks a reliable analysis of the renewable energy credit's future fiscal impact.

On another note, congratulations to Keauhou Shopping Center owned by Kamehameha Schools, which installed a 376-KW system on seven buildings, which should offset about 455 tons of CO2 a year. Kamehameha Schools went with a SurePath Solar power purchase agreement from Tioga Energy. The system was installed by Honolulu-based Hoku Solar.