Is Our Culture Falling Backward?

This editorial ran in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today. In case you didn’t see it, I’ll run what we sent them here.

***

The purpose of the Big Island Community Coalition is to work towards reduced electrical energy costs on the Island of Hawaii – where we pay up to four times the national average for our power.  We are particularly sensitive to electric power rates as very high rates serve essentially as a regressive tax on our population while greatly reducing the probability of generating jobs in any sector that is dependent on electricity.

There are occasions when events are so alarming that groups such as ours feel compelled to move beyond our primary task.  This is such a time.

We have observed with increasing alarm as our community has taken steps that inexorably blunt the forward movement of our economy and even move us backwards.  These include:

  1. Anti-Geothermal activists encouraged County government to ban nighttime drilling, effectively stopping expansion of a major source of renewable and inexpensive electric power beyond already-existing permits.This action was taken despite the existing plant meeting all applicable noise standards.  It appears that government officials took this action without first going to the site to verify that the noise was disruptive.  Once they did go to the site, some years later, government found that the noise was less than other environmental sounds (i.e., coqui frogs) and essentially no more than typical background noise.
  2. Anti-GMO activists lobbied to stop any new GMO products from being grown on the island – despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific, peer-reviewed studies found such products to be as safe, and in some cases more nutritious, as their non-GMO counterparts.  Legislation even prohibited GMO flowers – not consumed by anyone – from being grown on the island.  Thus family farmers lost the most effective new tools needed to reduce pesticide and herbicide usage while increasing productivity needed to keep their farms competitive.
  3. Now we have anti-Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) activists taking steps to stop construction of the most advanced telescope in the world.  If successful in stopping TMT, despite its sponsors following every legal requirement over a seven-year period, we will lose our world leading advantage in understanding the universe.

All of these actions share similar characteristics:

  • The arguments used to justify such actions are consistently anti-scientific.
  • “Anti” groups often obscure the lack of scientific evidence to support their position by using emotional pleas intended to incite fear.
  • The only “win” for many of these groups is to completely stop, thereby making them completely unwilling to consider any facts that refute their position or to make any reasonable compromise.
  • Long-term consequences are significant both culturally and economically.

Cultures that survive and thrive embrace new technologies carefully, thoughtfully and steadily.  Cultures and economies that thrive are innovative beccause they generate ideas and solutions, solve problems and take calculated but careful risks.

Cultures that fall backwards are those that fear advancement, fear change and cling to a mythicized view of yesteryear.  The net result is loss of their brightest and most hard working youth.  Those youth that remain find fewer and fewer jobs – those jobs having greatly diminished economic value and lower wages.  The downward spiral becomes inexorable.

As we look to tomorrow, we need to ask ourselves whether we wish to give our children the exciting and invigorating job market typified by Silicon Valley or a job market that is much closer to the poorer regions of third world countries.  It is up to us to point one way or another.  Driving TMT out will be one more major step to cultural and economic poverty.

Signed,

Big Island Community Coalition

Richard Ha, President,

David DeLuz Jr., Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Wallace Ishibashi, Noe Kalipi, H.R “Monty” Richards, William Walter.

10,000 Hours and a Mountain

Editor Rory Flynn wrote a really interesting editorial in the June 2015 edition of Farmers and Friends.

He talks about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory (from his book Outliers) that 10,000 hours of practice, plus determination, helps some people develop excellence in their field. He cites concert violinists, the Beatles, Bill Gates, and Hawai‘i’s Kolten Wong.

And then Flynn adds to the equation the importance of place.

He takes us through a really interesting look at what the Hawaiian islands’ geography has meant in the past – to Polynesian explorers, 18th-century British explorers, Americans, Chinese, and others, and what opportunities and livelihoods have been generated here from all those interactions.

And he writes about what advantage geography offers Hawai‘i today, Mauna Kea being one incredible advantage.

“It beckons to a fascinating cohort of 10,000-hour people – accomplished astronomers from around the world. This is where the natural resource of a mountain summit 2-1⁄2 miles high intersects with the excellence of people at the top of their game.”

There’s a lot more. Really good article; I recommend it.

It’s easy to forget all the people and opportunities and livelihoods that were here before. Like the people who came before us, we have amazing resources and we should use them in the smartest way we can.

Read Rory Flynn’s article.

Checking in with UH Geologist on the Aquifer

There’s been so much talk about the Big Island’s aquifer lately, with the Thirty Meter Telescope about to start construction on Mauna Kea, that I thought I’d repost this March 2010 blog post.

Spoiler alert: We don’t need to worry. The aquifer is not in any danger.

This post is about research Don Thomas, a geologist and volcanologist at the University of Hawaii has been doing. He’s learned that the island has a tremendous amount of fresh water — much more than we realized in the past.

I asked Don what they’ve learned in the five years since then, and he told me this:

We did start the drilling program and we found high level water in the first test hole. Based on the results of the first hole, the regional water table appears to be standing at an elevation of ~4600′ above sea level in the central Saddle region.  That elevation of the water table is more than adequate to allow fresh water to displace seawater to 10,000′ below sea level (and a good deal deeper if there is adequate permeability in the rocks underlying the island).  That test hole also found that significant water bodies can be present as “perched” aquifers – where low permeability layers can intercept rainfall recharge and hold it at much higher elevations than we had generally assumed. 

My 2010 blog post:

FRESH WATER BELOW SEA LEVEL

Richard Ha writes:

Don Thomas is a geologist and volcanologist at the UH Manoa and UH Hilo. Talking to him is so interesting; it’s kind of like an Indiana Jones novel. He is quiet and unassuming but the stuff he talks about just blows me away.

One day, he mentioned to me that he was looking for fresh water for the military at Pohakuloa. He told me about this neat instrument that can look down and see the electroconductivity of rock.

He told me that dry rocks have a certain signature and wet rocks a different one. He said that salty wet rocks and hot rocks have signatures that are hard to distinguish from one another. So one could locate heat zones?

Hmmm, I thought—maybe we can find hot geothermal zones?

Don just drops these kinds of info. I had no idea that geology could be so fascinating.

From Don’s email to me:

We’ve always assumed that the understanding of groundwater in Hawaii was pretty well established.  The old timers, the guys I learned from when I was a student at UH, did a really fantastic job at interpreting the geology and groundwater hydrology. But, they didn’t have any data to tell them what was going on deep below sea level.

With our deep borehole, we found that some assumptions that were made about the flow of water below sea level was much different from the assumptions made by the earlier hydrologists.  The most significant finding was that freshwater was found much farther below sea level than anyone had expected.

For water to be that deep, it meant that seawater had to have been forced out by much higher pressure freshwater than was expected.  In order for those pressures to occur, it meant that freshwater was piled up much higher inside Mauna Kea than we had assumed.  To prove that, we’ll need to drill a hole from a much higher elevation – in the Saddle.

But, because drilling is pretty expensive, I teamed up with some folks from the mainland who are experts in a type of measurement that can “look” downward into the ground and determine the electrical resistance of the rocks at various depths below the surface.  Dry rocks are pretty poor electrical conductors; when they get wet with fresh water, they are better conductors; and when they are wet with sea water, they are even more conductive.

That exploration method is pretty expensive itself – but we were able to make measurements at about thirty stations across the Saddle – with the data we were able to collect, we were able to identify a couple of locations where the conductivity of the ground was similar to that of fresh water saturated rock at about 3000′ above sea level.

That doesn’t guarantee that we will find water there – it’s like in the detective stories – the conductivity of the rocks is only “circumstantial evidence” – it’s possible that other geologic conditions are responsible for the conductivity.  The only way we can prove the presence of water at that elevation will be to drill into one of those zones.  But, if there is water there, it will mean that we have a pretty large resource stored inside the island.

It’s also important to realize that another of the findings of the deep hole was that the local conditions – where ever you are on the island – will exert a strong control over where groundwater flows.  So the conditions in Kona, whatever they are, will likewise have an impact on the water.

It’s just a guess, but my guess is that there is a lot more water stored on the Kona side of Mauna Loa than we have generally expected based on the relatively thin groundwater lens found near the coast.  I’d bet that there are buried formations that are controlling groundwater flow – similar to the ones we found in Hilo – that may be forcing fresh water to discharge from that are deep below sea level.  But, again, we don’t the necessary geological data to be able to prove that.

Richard again:

This really captures my imagination. It points out the value of education and science in a very practical way. Combine that with getting HELCO to use geothermal as base power—we can get that water at a reasonable cost.

This article predicts that the wet side of the island will get wetter and the dry side drier. If this is the case, then Don’s efforts could be the basis for solving our long-term problems.

I want the people to know the role Don has played and is still playing for the Big Island people’s benefit!

How OPEC’s Decision Affects Hawaii

Richard Ha blog
The OPEC flag

Last week, OPEC decided to maintain oil production at 30 million barrels/day. Robert Rapier comments on the issues involved at his blog Energy Trends Insider:

OPEC Crashed the U.S. Rig Count

 By Robert Rapier

June 10, 2015

The OPEC Free Fall

 There is a popular narrative going around that I want to address in today’s article. Last November, after several months of plummeting crude oil prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met to discuss the oil production quotas for each country in the months ahead. Many expected OPEC to cut production in order to shore up crude prices that had been falling since summer. This was the strategy favored by OPEC’s poorer members, as many require oil prices at $100/barrel (bbl) in order to balance government budgets…. Read the rest

Here’s recent background: In the latter half of 2014, oil prices were declining steadily, influenced mostly by large supplies of U.S. shale oil. When OPEC met in November to decide on production quotas, lots of folks expected it to reduce production in order to push oil price higher, but instead the organization decided to maintain market share by maintaining production at 30 million barrels/day. The price of oil dropped from a high of over $100/barrel to mid-$40/barrel. There was lots of speculation as to whether or not shale producers could sustain themselves at $40/barrel. As it turns out, above $70/barrel or so is where shale production increases and below that price it decreases.

Of all the states, Hawai‘i is the most dependent on oil. As soon as oil prices plummeted in November, we knew it would be good for us. The University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) has forecasted that Hawai‘i County will have economic growth for the next several years.

So what will happen between now and OPEC’s next meeting? If demand increases, then when oil hits $70/barrel, U.S. shale will start to crank up and that will hold the price around $70. If demand is not sufficient, prices will decline. Either way, it’s good for Hawai‘i.

What about the next OPEC meeting in November? Robert Rapier says that OPEC will probably be dealing with the effect of Iran’s increase in supply if a nuclear deal is made. This means lower price pressure, assuming the world’s political problems remain manageable.

Now if we can find a solution to our liquid transportation problem sooner rather than later, we in Hawai‘i will be well on our way to energy security. Think hydrogen for ground transportation and the Big Island will be in the best possible position to achieve energy security.

False Alarm, But Let’s Keep Our Cool

Richard Ha blog

An article posted online by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on June 8th says that, according to a Subaru Observatory spokesperson, the hole I wrote about in the last post was caused by the door “hitting a bolt sticking out from an intake manifold next to the side entrance.”

Thank goodness it was a false alarm. It’s a huge relief.

This warning did cause us to all pay closer attention to what is going on around us. It also made us realize we are all in this together, and that we need to dial down the temperature of the discussion going on about Maunakea.

The protectors are doing their best to  maintain kapu aloha on the mauna.

As we go forward, let’s all choose our words carefully as we engage together.

Bullet on the Mountain – Where are the Leaders?

Someone seems to have shot a bullet into the door of the Subaru Observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea over the weekend.

Richard Ha06-07-15_7 Bullet hole

06-07-15_1 View of east door-2
Richard Ha
This is what I’ve been talking about when I say we need Hawaiian leaders to dial down the temperature on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) issue in the anti-TMT camp for the sake of safety.

Now it looks like someone has shot at one of the observatories. What next? Where are their leaders?

We have also seen posts like these:
post#1

 

post#2

I contacted Lanakila and he told me he advised the police about that second post. We are both concerned about safety for all on the mauna.

My concern is not the folks from the Big Island, but people who may come from off-island.

This is really getting out of hand.

Dialing Down the TMT Temperature

Here’s a sample of some recent comments I saw about something I wrote about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Facebook:

Richard Ha

Richard Ha

I’m certainly not trying to tell people they need to change, or think like I think. Everybody can have their own opinion and say what they want to say, but I’d like to see the communication be more respectful than this. We need to keep the spirit of aloha with us.

I cannot remember a time when Hawaiians were attacking other Hawaiians loudly and in public. We need to dial the temperature down. Our native Hawaiian leaders need to step forward and lower the temperature.

I do know the Royal Order of Kamehameha stepped up early on and prohibited the use of the war god Ku up on the mountain. Before they did that, Lanakila was running around with an image of Ku. We need more such positive leadership examples.

If folks want to protest or engage in civil disobedience, that is their choice. People have given their lives so they can do that. But we all know that the TMT will start construction and it’s important to remember that it’s a dangerous environment on the mountain. We all need to be careful and respectful and abide by kapu aloha.

What some of the anti-TMT people are not hearing is that my point is really about the maka‘ainana. I always, always advocate for the maka‘ainana, the “rubbah slippah folk,” who are a huge part of Hawaiian culture.

I often wonder how many of the anti-TMT folks have studied up on and understand why so many of us consider geothermal, GMOs, and the TMT important to the Big Island’s future. We hear so many of their arguments based on incorrect assumptions.

We’re also hearing a lot about sovereignty and Hawaiian Kingdom issues wrapped up in the TMT. I don’t take a position on those issues. They will be decided over time. We’re talking here about the TMT.

Too often in the discussions surrounding geothermal, GMOs and astronomy in general, the consequences to the rubbah slippah folk are not taken into consideration. Too often the end justifies the means whether it makes sense or not. I don’t agree with that.

I’m open to discussion about any of these topics. My Facebook page has always been set to public. I’m pretty active there and also respond here at my blog. But for safety’s sake, we need to see the temperature dialed down a bit.

TMT: Common Ground Meeting, with Video

by Leslie Lang

Last week, I attended the second of four TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meetings. The Hilo-Hamakua Community Development Corporation is putting on these meetings to bring together the community to hear about the culture, history, science, safety, economics and other issues regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The announced speakers were Paul Neves, speaking on culture, Peter Adler on sacred spaces, and Michael Bolte on the TMT approval process. Paul Neves called and cancelled, though, citing a possible conflict of interest re: an ongoing lawsuit he is involved in. Hawane Rios, who is active in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna protest movement, spoke in his place.

Perhaps a hundred people attended the meeting, which was held at the Kula‘imano Community Center in Pepe‘ekeo. It was a respectful crowd comprised of people on both sides of the issue, and I found it a very worthwhile and interesting evening.

PETER ADLER ON SACRED SPACES

Click here for the video of Peter Adler speaking or you can read a transcript of his talk.

Peter Adler, who authored the 2007 Keystone Center report Assessment of the risks for sitting the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, spoke about what is sacred, and I could almost see the hackles start rising on the backs of some of the Hawaiians as he began. Who was he to pontificate on what is sacred?, I imagined they might be thinking.

But his was no off-the-cuff dinner chatter. He has thought deeply about this subject for years, he said, and it was apparent. Watch the video and you’ll hear him talking about how hard it is to understand the sacred places of other people. He also spoke about the whole issue we are discussing also has to do with leadership and about building bridges between cultures. He showed a short film clip from the movie Invictus, in which Mandela was trying to build a new country and build a bridge between cultures and make a place for everyone. He added something about not necessarily comparing Ige to Mandela. At that there was murmuring.

He talked about India where there are communal riots, he explained, between bored, angry, alienated young zealots, some of them Hindus and some Muslims, often over cows, which are considered sacred there. He told a very thought-provoking story about an  accidental injury to a bull in India and how he saw the aftermath unfold. That story right there is worth watching the video for. It makes you think about how sacredness means different things to different people.

He spoke of what makes mountains like Mauna Kea and Everest and others sacred, and then about how sacredness does not lie within a thing, but how something being sacred always comes down to behavior, protocol, ritual. Watch the video to hear more about what he means by that.

I’m finding it hard to summarize Peter Adler’s talk adequately. He’s a really interesting thinker and I found it unexpectedly fascinating. I highly recommend watching his talk above. I found him to be a great speaker.

MICHAEL BOLTE ON HISTORY OF THE TMT APPROVAL PROCESS

Click here for the video of Michael Bolte speaking.

Michael Bolte, president of the TMT Board of Directors and a professor of astronomy at UC Santa Cruz, has been involved with the TMT from the beginning.

He talked about two topics. First he talked about the history and wonder of telescopes, and it was a neat overview. Until the year 1609, people did amazing things just with the naked eye. They developed calendars, and clocks, and figured out when to plant their crops. He talked about the tiny telescope Galileo created in 1609, which just had a three-inch lens, and what he was able to discover with that and how it changed humankind’s whole view of the universe. Bolte talked about how, as telescopes got larger, we learned not only that our sun was not the center of the universe, but, eventually, that our galaxy was not even the center of the universe. And they keep getting larger. Now, with the much larger Thirty Meter Telescope, he explained, we will be able to actually look back in time.

His second topic was to give an overview of the whole TMT process, since Mauna Kea was first considered as a site in 2004. He talked about how the TMT board spoke to both supporters and opponents here in Hawai‘i, and found lots of people who were “vaguely negative” about the idea of the project because of how previous telescopes had been handled. Every single person involved with the TMT wanted to do right by Mauna Kea, he emphasized, with not a single exception. He outlined all the things they needed to learn, to ask, to hear, to make right.

He finished his talk with a couple of quick stories of very interesting interactions with people that happened along the way. I’ll let you listen to those at the end of his video, above. They are worth a listen. Great stories and I was glad I heard them.

HAWANE RIOS ON CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

Click here for the video of Hawane Rios speaking.

Hawane Rios is involved in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna movement. At the eleventh hour, after learning that Paul Neves had cancelled, she volunteered to give a cultural perspective about Mauna Kea. She is well-spoken, did a great job, and you would never have known she didn’t have time to prepare ahead of time.

She opened with the chant Malana Mai Ka‘u. Then she spoke about Hawaiians having a relationship and exchange with Mauna Kea, which teaches them how to navigate the ocean, when to plant food, when to step into the ocean, when not to, and more.

She pointed out that before the construction of the observatories, the reason not many archaeological finds or artifacts were found at the top of Mauna Kea is because that place was sacred and they were not allowed to go to the top.

She said the world is calling out now to protect Mauna Kea but our government is not listening, and talked about what is sustainable for our island communities. She said the earth and land are suffering, and wondered aloud if there will be water and food that has not been demeaned, fresh food, for seven generations. She spoke about being native, about community, about who is making the decisions, and how come they gave those people that power if they are abusing it.

She said she finds this TMT process very disturbing but is thankful for it too because it is awakening her people. We are small but we are mighty, she said. “We have people standing with us and saying, ‘We are Mauna Kea.’” She said that although Governor Ige made his announcement, he made it out of fear, and she has compassion for him because he has fear. There is much more at the video of her talk (above).

COMING UP

The final TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meeting will be next Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and refreshments will be provided.

A correction to the published information below: Art Kimura and Richard will not be speaking. Cultural Expert Hank Fergerstrom will be speaking instead.

common ground.png

Another way to make sure you’re up to speed on the facts is to read The Facts About TMT on Maunakea, which the TMT put out. It is very straightforward, clear, and easy to read. Definitely worth checking out.

Why I Have a Problem With the Anti-TMT Movement

I have finally put my finger on exactly what bothers me about the anti-TMT movement.

My entire career has been about planning for the future and adapting to our changing energy needs. It’s been about finding a way to force change in order to get us from here to there, and doing it in such a way that we take care of all of us, not just a few of us. That’s the fundamental principle we go by.

We know that it’s not the biggest or smartest or strongest who are going to survive, it’s the ones who adapt to change.

But they, the ones who are protesting the TMT, have made it clear that they absolutely refuse to compromise. They refuse to adapt to change.

This is the fundamental problem.

They have no plan for adapting to our changing energy situation, and I don’t know what their end goal is. My disagreeing with them has nothing to do with race or racism, but everything to do with their refusing to adapt. I’m waiting for them to make a plan, but what bothers me the most is their unwillingness to adapt to change.

We need solutions that will take care of all of us, not just a few of us.

***

There’s quite a discussion going on over at my Facebook page. A spokesman for Ku Kia‘i, the movement blocking the TMT people from going up to the summit of Mauna Kea, has filed a complaint of war crimes – of unlawful confinement, deprivation of a fair trial, and destruction of public property – in Canada. These war crimes refer to 31 protestors being arrested last month on Mauna Kea, despite what the group considers the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States, as well as the building and erecting of thirteen observatories currently on the mountain. More about this on the Hawaiian Kingdom blog.

Clearly this controversy is about the Hawaiian Kingdom, which is not due to any fault of the TMT. I am not against the Kingdom of Hawaii, but it appears to me that that process will take a long time to come to any ruling. Nothing has been decided yet. I will abide by a ruling, whatever it may be.

In the meantime, the TMT has followed all the appropriate U.S. laws, all of which allow them to start construction. We are a nation of laws, and we are following the laws of the USA. If we didn’t, we would have anarchy. Our leaders need to lead. The safety of the people is of number one importance.

It’s fine to save the world, but shouldn’t we take care of our people first? Why should our rubbah slippah folks forego 300 construction jobs, 120 full time jobs at first light, $1 million youth education, workforce development programs and $1 million in rent of which $800,000 would go to malama Maunakea and $200,000 would go to OHA? And, $26 million additional to the Big Islands economy – all because we want to make a point?

And all this is free money. No one else will ever give us this much free money for our rubbah slippah folk.

Interesting comments follow my Facebook posts about it:

One person noted that this is why the anti-TMT advocates have “lost all credibility – because they let the pro-sovereignty people hijack the movement and turn it into a completely irrelevant issue.” (He also posted a link to the Department of State’s procedures about how one legally renounces U.S. citizenship.)

Other commenters said:

• Any Hawaiian government, king or otherwise, would need revenue, and would probably jump at any opportunity involving a billion-plus dollar project. I really don’t think many TMT opponents have thought things through to the logical end.

• TMT and self determination are two separate issues. I believe the reason the self determination movement did not catch fire with most part Hawaiians is because tens of thousands of them are employed, own homes, have families, are retired, collect social security, pensions and are covered by Medicare. In other words they already have self determination.

• Most have not considered the loss of things like Section 8 housing, SSI, AFDC, Food Stamps, students loans and tax credits, the loss of tourism that would be inevitable if Hawaii were not under the aegis of the U.S. government, the huge loss of DoD dollars once the separatists kick the military out, the instasbility that would lead many of us to draw our assets out and park them in a safe place, government grants, etc., etc., The federal government expends $17 billion more in Hawaii every year than it collects in taxes. Is that what you call war crimes? The withdrawal of that money and the loss of other revenues resultant from separation would create a death spiral of deflation that would destroy the economy.

• Those that haven’t studied history (and I get the feeling there are far too many of them here) don’t realize that one of the reasons why Hawaiians lost their lands is because it was so hard to raise capital here, and easy to get it elsewhere. When someone needed cash, they ended up selling their property cheap to someone (usually a foreigner or someone who had access to foreign funds) at tremendous discounts, because there was so little capital in Hawaiian markets. If sovereignty happens, it is very likely to repeat that pattern again. Princess Ruth sold Paauhau ahupuaa to Samuel Parker for $1300 because she needed the money and no one else had any funds to buy it.

And it goes on from there.

More on the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative

The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative formed after the NextEra/HEI merger was announced. Several community grassroots organizations got together and asked the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) folks to come to Hilo and do a briefing on how they got started.

After that meeting back in December 2014, a steering committee of Big Island community members looked into the feasibility of the Big Island forming a utility co-op. Although HELCO was not for sale, the group decided to prepare just in case an opportunity came up to purchase it.

This post talks about that KIUC briefing and how we formed the co-op steering committee.

Henry Curtis wrote about the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative today at Ililani Media:

Big Island Energy Cooperative on the Move

The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC) was founded in January 2015. HIEC proceeded to file a motion to intervene in Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Docket 2015-0022 and was granted party status by the Commission.
 
That regulatory proceeding is examining the proposed sale of Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and its subsidiaries Maui Electric Company (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) to NextEra Energy (NEE). 
 
Attorneys David J. Minkin, Brian T. Hirai and Peter J. Hamasaki from the law firm McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP, represent both HIEC and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) in the merger proceedings.
HIEC was formed not only to explore the possibility of a Big Island community-based electric utility cooperative but also to examine other energy issues such as sustainable transportation policies.
 
HIEC has staked out a clear position. It is no for or against the merger and it is not promoting an alternative to HELCO or NextEra. Rather “HIEC seeks to bring to the proceedings its specific focus on the energy needs of Hawaii Island and its unique perspective on potential cooperative ownership structures.” 
 
HIEC Spokesperson Marco Mangelsdorf asserted that “being able to have more direct control over Hawaii Island’s present and future energy profile would provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to showcase what can be done on our island on many different and innovative levels.”