Tag Archives: Noe Kalipi

‘Behind the Plug & Beyond the Barrel’

Richard Ha writes:

I spoke on behalf of the Big Island Community Coalition (BICC) at the Hawai‘i Island Renewable Energy Solutions Summit 2014 on April 30th, which was titled “Behind the Plug and Beyond the Barrel," and here's what I said: 

BICC mission

Good morning. Thanks for the introduction. I will use just this one slide, and you can read our mission statement on it, which is to lower the cost of electricity. “To make Big Island electricity rates the lowest in the state by emphasizing the use of local resources.”

I would like to spend some time talking about who makes up the BICC.

Dave DeLuz, Jr. – President of Big Island Toyota.

John Dill – Contractors Association, and Chair of the Ethics Commission

Rockne Freitas – Former Chancellor Hawai‘i Community College

Michelle Galimba – Rancher, Board of Agriculture

Richard Ha – Farmer

Wallace Ishibashi – Royal Order of Kamehameha, DHHL Commissioner

Kuulei Kealoha Cooper- Trustee, Jimmy Kealoha and Miulan Kealoha Trust.

Noe Kalipi – Former staffer for Sen Akaka, helped write the Akaka Bill, energy consultant

Kai'u Kimura- Executive Director of ‘Imiloa.

Bobby Lindsey – OHA Trustee

Monty Richards – Kahua Ranch

Marcia Sakai – Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, former Dean of UH Hilo, College of Business

Bill Walter- President of Shipman, Ltd., which is the largest landowner in Puna.

These folks are all operating in their private capacities. I'm chair of the BICC, and the only person from Hawai‘i to have attended five Peak Oil conferences. I've visited Iceland and the Philippines with Mayor Kenoi's exploratory group.

As you can imagine, the BICC has strong support all across political parties and socioeconomic strata. People get it in five minutes.

Oil and gas are finite resources, and prices will rise.  One note about natural gas: the decline rate of the average gas well is very high. Ninety percent of the production comes out in five years. This is worrisome.

Hawai‘i Island relies on oil for sixty percent of its electricity generation; the U.S. mainland only two percent.

As the price of oil rises, our food manufacturers and producers become less competitive, as we all know. Food security involves farmers farming. And if the farmers make money, the farmers will farm.

What can we do?  By driving the cost of electricity down, the Big Island can have a competitive edge to the rest of the world.

Since rising electricity rates act like a giant regressive tax, lowering electricity rates would do just the opposite. And since two-thirds of the economy is made up of consumer spending, this would be like "trickle up" economics. If the rubbah slippah folks had extra money, they would spend and everyone would benefit.

 The lowest-hanging fruit:

1. Geothermal. Allows us to dodge the finite resource bullet. It is the lowest-cost base power. The Big Island will be over the hot spot for 500,000 to a million years.

2. We throw away many lots of MW of electricity every night. Hu Honua will probably throw away 10 MW for ten hours every night. PGV, maybe 7 MW for ten hours.

3. Wind, too.

Maybe HELCO will allow us to move the excess electricity free. They don't make any money on the throwaway power now, anyway. What if we used it for something that won't compete with them? Then people could bid for the excess, throwaway power for hydrogen fueling stations, to make ammonia fertilizer, and to attract data centers. Hawaii could become the renewable energy capital of the world. People would love to come here and look at that. As airline ticket costs rise, the walk around cost in Hawai‘i would not.

The BICC call for lowering electricity costs could leave future generations a better Hawai‘i.  And that is what we all want.


Testimony to OHA Supporting Geothermal

Richard Ha writes:

OHA is contemplating investing in geothermal. I am in favor of that, for the reasons that I mention below.

I sent the following testimony to OHA:


Subject:  OHA testimony re: Huena Power Co/IDG

April 17, 2013

Office of Hawaiian Affairs
711 Kapiolani St.
Honolulu, HI  96813

Aloha Chair Machado and Board members of OHA:

The Geothermal working group report, which Wallace Ishibashi and I co-chaired, recommended that geothermal be the primary base power for the Big Island. OHA was represented on the working group by trustee Robert Lindsey.

I believe that OHA should participate in geothermal development because it is an income source for OHA to provide services to the Hawaiian people. And it can influence the course of our people’s history.

Geothermal-generated electricity is proven technology, affordable and environmentally benign. The Big Island is expected to be over the “hot spot” for 500,000 to a million years so its price is expected to be stable.

The Pahoa School Complex in Puna, at 89%, has the highest number of students in the State who participate in the free/reduced school lunch program. Participation is related to family income. The Big Island has had electricity rates 25% higher than O‘ahu’s for as long as anyone can remember. So a large portion of the school budget, that should go to education, goes instead to pay for electricity. Yet the best predictor of family income is education. A lower electricity rate, generated by geothermal, will have a direct effect on education. And if OHA, through its influence, emphasizes education in the community, there will be even more positive results.

Rising electricity rates act like a giant regressive tax. The folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder are affected disproportionately. Those who can leave the grid, leave. Those who cannot leave end up paying more for the grid. Too often those folks will be Hawaiians.

Hawaiians should be able to live in their own land. Yet there are more Hawaiians living outside of the State, because they needed to move elsewhere to find jobs to raise their families. Exporting our children is the same as losing our land. OHA is in a position to drive the agenda so Hawaiians can afford to live at home.

During the development of the Geothermal Working Group report, Rockne Freitas arranged a meeting with Carl Bonham, Executive Director of the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO), and some staff.

I asked Dr. Bonham two key questions: “Is it fair to say that if the Big Island were to rely on geothermal energy for its primary base power as oil prices rises, shouldn’t we become more competitive to the rest of the world?” He said that was fair to say.

I asked: “Then is it fair to say that our standard of living would rise?” He said: “Yes.”

I am a farmer on the Hamakua coast with family ties — Kamahele — in lower Puna. I farmed bananas at Koa‘e in the late 70s and early 80s. I have been to five Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) conferences. I went to learn and to position my business for the future. I found that the world has been using two and three times the amount of oil than it has been finding for more than 30 years and that trend continues. The price of oil has quadrupled in the last 10 years.

Until the first ASPO conference, I was just minding my own business, being a banana farmer. But what I learned became my kuleana. I did not ask for it.

Until last year, when Kamehameha Schools sent Giorgio Calderone and Jason Jeremiah and Noe Kalipi went to the conference, I was the only person from Hawai‘i to attend. The subjects were always data driven and conclusions could be duplicated.

We have the resources here to dodge the bullet. We need to drive a clear agenda for the benefit of all the people, not just a few.

One of the controversial issues in the Puna district is H2S gas. I went to Iceland and sat in the Blue Lagoon, where a geothermal plant within a quarter mile emits geothermal steam into the atmosphere. Millions of tourists visit the Blue Lagoon for health purposes.

There are small geothermal wells within the city that are used to heat the residences and businesses. If you did not know what to look for, you wouldn’t even know they were there. I walked by and touched the walls.

A long term study of the effects of H2S on people who suffer from asthma was just completed. It was done in Rotorua. They found no correlation of asthma to daily ambient H2S levels of 20,000 parts per billion over a three-year period. The study indicated that there might be a beneficial effect because it relaxes the smooth muscles. See link above.

The human nose can detect levels of H2S at incredibly low levels: 5 parts per billion. The Department of Health requires reporting when levels exceed 25 parts per billion. The Rotorua study was done for three years at average levels that were 20,000 parts per billion. OSHA allows geothermal plant workers to work in a 10,000 parts per billion environment for 8 hours per day without a mask.

Wallace Ishibashi and I went to the Philippines with the delegation that Mayor Kenoi put together. We visited a geothermal plant that sat on a volcano that last erupted 100,000 years ago. Mauna Kea last erupted 4,000 years ago. We may have more resources than we know.

The Phillipines and Hawai‘i started geothermal exploration at the same time. They now have in excess of 1,200MW, while we have 38MW. We are so far behind them, a supposedly Third World country, that it is embarrassing.

OHA is in a unique position to be able to influence the future. It is as if we are getting ready to duplicate that first voyage from the south so many years ago. It’s not whether or not we are going. It’s who should go, and what should we put in the canoes? Mai‘a maoli? Popoulu? What else?

Richard Ha
President, Mauna Kea Banana Company

I am a member of the Hawaii Clean Energy Steering Committee, Board of Agriculture and farmer for 35 years.


“How Could I Not Know This?!”

Noe Kalipi also spoke at the Council of Native Hawaiians conference last week.

I knew Noe was on Senator Akaka’s staff for many years, and I thought she was a wonderful Hilo girl, very unassuming and nice.

But then I saw her in action, in Washington D.C., when we went up to see TJ Glauthier and Jim Woolsey. She is at home in Washington, and can jab elbows with the best. Who would have imagined that she was in the Airborne Judge Advocate Corp?

This Hilo girl was an Army lawyer and also jumped out of airplanes.

This is the speech she gave:

Why I Joined Kuokoa

I was born and raised in Hilo and spent 18 years in D.C., going to school, serving in the U.S. Army, and working on Capitol Hill for Senator Akaka. I moved back to Hilo in 2006 with my husband, Gaylen, who is from Molokai, to raise our two daughters, Hauoli and Kuuipo, in Hilo. It was important to us that they grow up in Hawaii, in our culture, exposed to the way we think, the way we live, and the way we do things in Hawaii. 

I worked as the Government & Community Relations Director for First Wind. It was in THAT job where my eyes were opened to how dependent Hawaii is on fossil fuels and how DANGEROUS that is for our future, for our children’s future, for our moopuna’s future. Not blow up dangerous — dangerous because we have no control over the pricing for the one thing that we rely on for one of our most basic needs: energy.

I thought to myself, how could I not know this — I had been was working at the top levels of government in Washington DC!  

It’s because I took things for granted. My thought process was – I need lights, turn on the switch; I need gas – go to the gas station – I need food – go to the store. I never thought about what made the lights go on or how the gas and food got to the store. I never thought about WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS AND THE BARGES CAN’T COME TO HAWAII, and not just because we have a tsunami or hurricane, what about if we run out of oil?

Knowledge can be a blessing and it can be a burden. Once our eyes are opened to issues such as energy and food security then we have the kuleana to figure out how to address it. 

The good news is that we live in Hawaii. We have the resources, the tools, to fix this situation. We have land and water to grow food, we have indigenous resources wind, solar, ocean, water, geothermal to generate electricity.

But most importantly, we have us, the indigenous peoples who have lived here for 2000 years,  who have the moolelo, the history, of this place.  We can look back to our history to figure out how we can go forward, embracing technology and finding solutions that are based and shaped by the knowledge of our incredibly scientific ancestors. As someone told me yesterday, we had the first light switch BEFORE THE WHITE HOUSE. 

This means not only generating electricity but conserving and preserving our resources — turn off the lights, use energy efficient appliances, reuse, reduce, recycle.

What scares me is that this is not a new issue — people were talking about this when I was five years old — back in 1975 — how we had to get off of oil and use our resources. 

I’m 41 years old. When are we going to stop talking and start doing?

So . . .when I learned about the Kuokoa plan from Richard Ha, our Chairman, I said YAY!! FINALLY — a collaborative way to do what we — as the box & rope, grassroots, rubbah slippah folks — whatever you want to call us — know what needs to be done. We can stop closing our eyes and pretending that someone else will take care of it. We can stop thinking that this is too hard, too complicated, too overwhelming.

As Richard said, get thousand reasons why no can, we need to focus on finding the ways that CAN. I thought, well, if HE, then I can, so WE GO

And that is why Kuokoa is at this convention. We need Native Hawaiians to lead this effort — WHY? Because this is OUR homeland.

This is a way to shift the paradigm — shift the way things are done. Base the action on culture, on history, on the knowledge that our ancestors left to us.  

But Ramsay, Richard, and I cannot do it alone. Between the three of us, we know many of you in the audience and we hope that you will invite us to talk story with you so that we can explain what we are trying to do in more detail and to ask for you to join us in this effort. Kuokoa cannot succeed without you — because we need everyone working with us if we are going to make the changes that need to be done to secure Hawaii’s energy independence.

Kuokoa’s plan is simple — we build a clean tech industry in Hawaii and in that process we will:

– transform the electrical grid so that instead of running mainly on imported fossil fuel, it will use Hawaii’s indigenous resources: geothermal, wind, solar, water, ocean, biomass, etc. This stops our electricity prices from rising with oil prices.

– make electric vehicles a reality in Hawaii – this stops us from being slaves to the price of gas — it’s $5.49 a gallon on Molokai — what is going to happen when oil goes up further?

– to utilize excess electricity to create energy exports — hydrogen, for example, which can be exported as ammonia which sells globally and can be used for farming

In doing this, we make our universities and our schools the best schools in science, technology, research and development AND we make Hawaii the place to look to learn how to utilize indigenous resources in a culturally appropriate AND environmentally sensitive way.

In doing this, we create jobs and companies. We create opportunities for communities participate — and hopefully– to own the companies that are going to be created to make this plan successful. Let the Hawaiians hire the consultants to work for us instead of us always being the consultants for the mainland companies.

It’s not just science.  It’s everything — farming, housing, education, economic development, cultural preservation, hawaiian language, health care –its everything we all are involved in because energy is a basic need — it either drives what we do or it prevents us from doing something. Lights or no lights. Gas or no gas.

All of our policy priorities that we just discussed ASSUMES that we have energy, ASSUMES that we have power. We need to make sure we address this basic need so that the policy goals that we are discussing this morning can truly help us to move forward the way we intend.

We are just three Hawaiians up here — our canoe is very big, and very heavy. We know we cannot paddle by ourselves. We hope you will be willing to pick up a paddle and join us and help us figure out how to get where we know we have to go.



My Speech at the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement Conference

Noe Kalipi, Ramsay Taum and I – all board members from Ku‘oko‘a – each spoke for five minutes at the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement conference.

Speech pix2

Noe and Ramsay were just awesome. It’s clear that Ku‘oko‘a is a native Hawaiian company with native Hawaiian sensibilities. The good wishes and warm requests for information were very humbling.

Senator Akaka spoke right before us.

Speech pix1

Here is the speech I gave.

Aloha Everyone,

I am Richard Ha, chairman of the board of Ku‘oko‘a. Ku‘oko‘a is trying to align the needs of the people with the needs of the utility.

I want to start by telling you who I am and what my values are. Mom is Okinawan, Higa from Moloka‘i; Pop’s father was Korean, Ha. My pop’s mom was Leihulu Kamahele. And her mom was Meleana Kamoe Kamahele and her dad was Frank Kamahele. Our family land was down the beach at Maku‘u in Puna. We were very poor but didn’t know it.

Pop would tell stories at the dinner table. He would talk about impossible situations, impossible odds. Then he would pound the table and point in the air. “Not, no can. CAN!”

And he would say, “There are a thousand reasons why no can. I only looking for the one reason why ‘Can.’”

He told us to find three solutions for every problem, and then find one more just in case. He only finished sixth grade, but he was a wise man.

I was a kolohe kid growing up. I went to UH Manoa, where I flunked out. Too many places to go, people to see and beers to drink. I was drafted, and applied to go to Officers Candidate School, and then I volunteered to go to Vietnam. Ended up walking in the jungle with a hundred other soldiers. If we got into trouble there was no one close enough to help us. The unwritten rule was that we all come back, or no one comes back. I liked that and kept that attitude ever since.

I went back to UH and majored in accounting so I could keep score when I went into business. Pop asked if I would come back and help run the family chicken farm. I came back and saw an opportunity to grow bananas, but I had no money.

“Not, no can, CAN!” so we traded chicken manure for banana pulapula. By questioning everything, looking into the future and forcing change we have been able to survive in farming for more than 30 years.

We farm 600 fee simple acres with 60 workers.  Five years ago, we noticed supply costs had been steadily rising, and we found it was all due to oil. I was the only person from Hawai‘i to attend three Peak Oil conferences. I went to learn about oil so that we could position our business.

There I found out that the world had been using twice as much oil as it had been finding for the last 30 years. This is a very serious situation. I am stuck with this knowledge and that knowledge has become my kuleana. I know what is likely to happen and so try to find solutions that are good for all of us.

There are truly Native Hawaiian sensitivities embedded in our Ku‘oko‘a team and organization. The board and the team we have put together are the best we could find. Ramsay Taum and Noe Kalipi are members of our board and we will each say a few words. Board members went to Hilo to participate in the festivities for the seven vaka that came up from the south. We felt that it was important.

Right now there are no guidelines to choose the low-cost, proven technology solution that eases the pressure on the rubbah slippah folks. We can do this. You folks all know the consequence of rising cost of energy, water, school lunches, etc. It is the folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder who will get their lights turned off first. Too often they are Hawaiians.

Iceland has managed to make themselves energy secure and food secure. Their electricity costs are less than half of ours. Can we find the solution to our energy problems while taking care of the rubbah slippah folks too? Leaving them behind is not an option. If we search for the solution, if we ask the question, we can find the answer.

In modern Hawaiian history, the economy has taken taken taken and the culture has given, given, given. We have a unique opportunity now where the economy can give and the culture can receive. If we can stabilize energy costs at a low level, as oil prices rise we will become more competitive to the rest of the world and our people’s standard of living will rise. We can address the energy problem and take care of the rubbah slippah folks too.

As Pop used to say: “Not ‘no can;’ ‘CAN!’”


Huge Turnout at Annual Native Hawaiian Convention

I am at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement‘s 10th Annual Convention today. More than a thousand people are participating.


Ku‘oko‘a supports the goals of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

Noe Kalipi, Ramsay Taum and myself, three native Hawaiian board members of Ku‘oko‘a, will speak about our group’s vision for Hawai‘i. We believe that Ku‘oko‘a’s focus on stable, low-cost, clean energy is in line with Hawai‘i’s needs and especially the Hawaiian people’s needs.

That’s Robin Danner, Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement head, with Department of Hawaiian Home Lands chairman Alapaki Nahale‘a (middle)

To generate electricity, we will utilize geothermal to replace liquid fuel, which is projected to continue rising in cost. It is proven technology that is, for instance, used in Iceland to help make their electricity 100 percent fossil fuel-free. They deliver electricity to their people at less than 10 cents kWh – one-third of what electricity costs on O‘ahu and one-fourth what it costs on the Big Island and Maui.


Two of our other board members will be keynote speakers at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo.