Tag Archives: Noelani Kalipi

HECO Withdraws Rate Increase Request & More

Richard Ha writes:

Governor Neil Abercrombie issued a press release yesterday, announcing that Hawaiian Electric Company is withdrawing its rate increase request for the Big Island:

State Reaches Settlement with Hawaiian Electric Company

HONOLULU –As island families and businesses continue to face high energy prices, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced a settlement between the State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO) that will result in the withdrawal of a rate increase request for Hawaii Island and a significant reduction in taxpayer dollars requested to cover project costs.

Subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the formal settlement filed with the PUC on Jan. 28 outlines an agreement between the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Consumer Advocacy (DCA) and HECO, including its subsidiaries, Maui Electric Co., Ltd. (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO), which serve Maui County and Hawaii Island, respectively.

“With high oil prices driving up electricity and other costs throughout our economy, we have to take action to help Hawaii’s families and businesses who are struggling to make ends meet,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “While this settlement will help in the short-term, we remain committed to pursuing long-term solutions toward clean energy alternatives.”

 As part of the settlement, HELCO will withdraw its request for a 4.2 percent or $19.8 million rate increase in 2013.

HECO and its subsidiaries will also reduce by $40 million the amount being sought for improvements to two major projects –the 110-megawatt biofuel generating station at Campbell Industrial Park and a new customer information system. 

In addition, HECO will also delay filing a 2014 rate case that was originally scheduled to be filed this year under the current regulatory framework for reviewing its rates 

DCA Executive Director Jeffrey Ono said: “This settlement will benefit consumers and help reduce the ever-increasing cost of electricity.”

Around five months ago, the steering committee of the Big Island Community Coalition formed, in order to advocate for Big Island rate payers to have the lowest electricity rates in the state.

It submitted this Op Ed to Hawai‘i’s newspaper.

HELCO & YOUR BILL: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

By Noelani Kalipi 

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is applying to raise Big Island electricity rates by 4.2 percent — shortly after its parent company announced impressive profits that were 70 percent higher than last year.

What’s wrong with this picture?

…The proposed HELCO rate increase, coming at a time of record profits, does not sit right with us.

We understand the regulatory system, which is rate-based. Our concern is that we continue to see requests for rate increases at the same time that we read about record profits for the utility.

While we understand the fiduciary duty to maximize profits for the shareholders, we believe the utility’s responsibility to the rate payer is just as important. As part of good corporate business, it should benefit both by investing its profits into a sustainable grid.

The Big Island is one of the few places on the planet where we have robust, renewable energy resources that can be harnessed effectively to provide firm, reliable, low cost electricity for our residents.

One example is geothermal, which costs about half the price of oil. We also have solar, wind and hydroelectric. We have resources right here that can both lower our electricity costs and get us off of imported oils.

Lower rates would mean that when the grid needs repairs, or the cost of oil goes up again, it will not be such a punch-in-the-gut to our electric bills.

If HELCO is allowed to raise its rates by the requested 4.2 percent, plus raise rates again via the Aina Koa Pono project, and then the oil price goes up, that would be a triple whammy price hike on your electric bill…. 

Read the rest here

The steering committee is: Dave De Luz Jr., John E K Dill, Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Richard Ha, Wallace Ishibashi, Ku‘ulei Kealoha Cooper, D. Noelani Kalipi, Ka‘iu Kimura, Robert Lindsey, H M (Monty) Richards, Marcia Sakai, Kumu Lehua Veincent and William Walter.

Prior to that article, people expected that rising electricity rates were inevitable, and that they could do nothing about it. But the steering committee encouraged people to attend PUC hearings and write letters, and it has made a huge difference.

The Consumer Advocate noticed and told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that the PUC meetings had some of the largest turnouts that he has seen. He said that if an equivalent number of letters came from O‘ahu, it would take two days just to read them all.

When people attended PUC hearings and wrote letters protesting the rate hikes, the thinking started to change.

Someone who has been reading about our efforts commented that they made him think of these words of Gandhi’s, which are pretty profound.

When we wrote that letter, this change was just a thought. Our thoughts became our actions. And our actions became our habits. Soon, our habits will become our values and our values will become our destiny.

It’s already started.

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Hawaii Contingent at the Peak Oil Conference

Richard Ha writes:

The most important thing about this year’s Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) conference was that we had a whole Hawai‘i contingent. I believe we made the point that Hawai‘i is serious.

Neil Hannahs, Senior Assets Manager for Kamehameha Schools (KS), is a visionary. Any thought about Kamehameha Schools being a slow-moving institution mired in inertia is not true in this area. In fact, KS is making major changes across a wide front.

I was especially pleased that Giorgio Calderone, Regional Asset Manager for KS, pointed out how impressive the academic rigour of the conference presentations was. I thought so too, and it was good to hear confirmation.

Big Island Community Coalition steering committee member Noe Kalipi is a smart, action-oriented young leader who knows what is going on. I cannot be happier that she made the decision to attend on her own.  Photo

Noe Kalipi and Giorgio Calderone. Not pictured: Jason Jeremiah, Kamehameha Schools Cultural Resource Manager.

I attended the first annual ASPO conference because my farm costs were rising, due to oil. I wanted to learn about oil so we could position our farm for the future. It was a matter of survival.

But by the second ASPO conference, it was apparent that this situation was bigger than me or Hamakua Springs farm. I learned that for the past 30 years, the world had been using two to three times as much oil as it had been finding—and there were going to be consequences.

More than just being talkers, we need to be doers. What can we do?

  1. There are a thousand reasons why no can. We must find the one reason why CAN!
  2. It is about cost! We need to find the lowest-cost, proven technology, environmentally responsible solution to our problem.
  3. It is about all of us—not just a few of us.
  4. The energy our society has available to use is what’s left over after energy is used to obtain the energy in the first place. Another way to phrase this: the net energy left over from the effort to get energy, minus the energy to get our food, equals our lifestyle.
  5. The Big Island Community Coalition’s goal – of lowering the Big Island’s electricity rates so they are lowest in the state – accomplishes our mission. This is the most important thing we can do.

View descriptions of this year’s conference topics.

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Noelani Kalipi & Kaiu Kimura Named Omidyar Fellows

Richard Ha writes:

The Omidyar Fellows has announced its inaugural class of statewide Hawai‘i leaders -13 people chosen from more than 150 applicants -and two of them are members of our Big Island Community Coalition (BICC). Wow!

Screen Shot 2012-10-24 at 10.44.47 AM

Read about all the Fellows here.

Here’s how the program is described:

Hawaii’s future will be shaped by the ability of its leaders to meet the increasingly complex challenges facing our state. That’s why it’s important to cultivate a community of emerging executives and to equip them with the skills and relationships they’ll need to collectively transform Hawaii.

In the fall of 2012, a diverse group of talented local leaders will be convened as the first class of Omidyar Fellows.  Over a 15-month period, Fellows will participate in a rigorous program that’s designed to build stronger leaders, more effective organizations, and cross-sector connections that are necessary to collectively affect community change. Omidyar Fellows will cover all costs associated with the program for each participant. And while the investment is significant (estimated at over $50,000 per participant), so is the promise of a group of leaders with the skills and experience needed to help lead Hawaii into the future.

The program is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment by Omidyar Fellows to make a positive difference with the knowledge and network gained and to help subsequent generations of emerging leaders. The cumulative impact of this extraordinary learning opportunity has the promise to be a life changer for Omidyar Fellows and a game changer for the people of Hawaii.

I attended the kick-off reception, and after all the speaking, what I was left with is that the Omidyar Fellows are about the greater good. Though it wasn’t said in these exact words,what I took away was they would focus on the question “What about the rest?”

This is what we are doing in the BICC, too. It is so appropriate that Kumu Lehua, when we were in the early days of the Thirty Meter Telescope effort, asked me that exact question. I never forgot it.

I am involved because Noe asked me to be her sponsor, and that’s a big deal to me. These young leaders are really special people and to be associated with them is something else.

Noe is interesting in that she is completely comfortable and effective operating in various different worlds. She totally fits in around here, local style, and you’d never know she spent 15 years in Washington D.C., where she worked in Senator Akaka’s office. Yet when she’s in Washington, she is completely comfortable talking with people at the congressional level. And she’d never tell you that she was a lawyer in the Army Airborne corps and used to jump out of airplanes.

She’s an impressive person – organized, steady and very focused. She thinks big!

I recognize this leadership ability in both Noe and Ka‘iu. I’m really happy about this because I’m looking at the future and it’s obvious to me that they both have that kind of grounding, that “What about the rest of us?” This means the moral compass is
clear. The direction is clear. You know where they are all the time.

Congratulations, Noe and Ka’iu. You guys make us all proud.

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Pohoiki: Taking Our Community Coalition Into The Community

Richard Ha writes: 

Ramp

Pohoiki Boat Ramp
There was a Ho‘olaule‘a yesterday, sponsored by the Kealoha Trust, at Pohoiki Beach Park.

Richard Ha, Kuulei Kealoha Cooper, Faye Hanohano, Noelani Kalipi

Richard Ha; Ku’ulei Kealoha Cooper, administrator of the Kealoha Trust which sponsored the Ho‘olaule‘a; Representative Faye Hanohano; Noelani Kalipi,  her husband Gaylen, and their two

small children, as well as Kapono Pa and me, manned a booth for the Big Island Community Coalition (BICC) and signed up new members.

Noe Kalipi, Richard Ha, Kapono Pa

Noe Kalipi is involved with BICC for the sake of her children.
Screen shot 2012-09-03 at 9.29.05 AM
Signing up Leah Gouker.

The BICC’s mission is to lower electricity rates on the Big
Island
so that they are the lowest in the state.

Sign

I got involved with the BICC for the same reason I got involved in Ku‘oko‘a: We need to align the needs of the people with the needs
of the utility
. The world is changing and we must adapt.

Sign1

This is the same reason I got involved with the Thirty Meter Telescope; it helps our community transition. And it’s also why I now support the Hawaii Island Beacon Community, which is involved in making the health care system more efficient, and therefore more affordable.

Did you see the front page headline in yesterday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald?

Poor Hit Hardest by Rate Hikes

Should a proposed electricity rate increase of 4.2 percent in 2013 be approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, Big Island low-income families will be among those hardest hit by higher power bills. 

Last year, almost a third of all Hawaii families that sought federal assistance with paying their electricity bills were located on Hawaii Island. 

“For many of our families, the money covers one or two bill payments, and that’s it. Then they’re in trouble,” said [Kayla Rosenfeld, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services]….. “I get concerned every time I see that HELCO is getting a rate increase because it has a tremendous impact on these families. Their bills are already high now…. And for the elderly, some have to make a choice each month, between buying food or paying for medicine or paying their electric bill.”  Read the rest

The bottom line re: all my involvement is that agriculture
is a hard business. I am unable to raise my workers’ pay, and they are coming under increasing pressure from the economy.

Everything I do starts with the objective of helping my farm workers. And helping our workers helps everyone in the community, as well.

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‘HELCO & Your Bill: What’s Wrong With This Picture?’

Richard Ha writes:

This Op-Ed piece just ran at Civil Beat, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today.

HELCO & YOUR BILL: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

By Noelani Kalipi 

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is applying to raise Big Island electricity rates by 4.2 percent — shortly after its parent company announced impressive profits that were 70 percent higher than last year.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We — John E.K. Dill, Rockne Freitas, Richard Ha, Wallace Ishibashi, Ku‘ulei Kealoha Cooper, Noelani Kalipi, Ka‘iu Kimura, Robert Lindsey, H.M. “Monty” Richards, Marcia Sakai, Bill Walter — invite you to join our newly formed group, the Big Island Community Coalition. Our mission is “to work together as an island community for the greater good of Hawai‘i Island and its people.”

Our first priority: To make Big Island electricity rates the lowest in the state by emphasizing the use of our ample local resources.

The proposed HELCO rate increase, coming at a time of record profits, does not sit right with us.

We understand the regulatory system, which is rate-based. Our concern is that we continue to see requests for rate increases at the same time that we read about record profits for the utility.

While we understand the fiduciary duty to maximize profits for the shareholders, we believe the utility’s responsibility to the rate payer is just as important. As part of good corporate business, it should benefit both by investing its profits into a sustainable grid.

The Big Island is one of the few places on the planet where we have robust, renewable energy resources that can be harnessed effectively to provide firm, reliable, low cost electricity for our residents.

One example is geothermal, which costs about half the price of oil. We also have solar, wind and hydroelectric. We have resources right here that can both lower our electricity costs and get us off of imported oils.

Lower rates would mean that when the grid needs repairs, or the cost of oil goes up again, it will not be such a punch-in-the-gut to our electric bills.

If HELCO is allowed to raise its rates by the requested 4.2 percent, plus raise rates again via the Aina Koa Pono project, and then the oil price goes up, that would be a triple whammy price hike on your electric bill.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has sent a strong message that the county will not support new renewable energy projects — such as Aina Koa Pono, which would add surcharges to every electric customer’s bill — unless they result in cheaper energy. “Unless it has lower rates, we will not support it,” he said recently.

UH-Hilo just had a $5.5 million electric bill — almost $500,000 more than last year — and HELCO’s proposed 4.2 percent rate increase would add another $230,000 to their bill. The same thing is happening at hospitals, hotels and businesses. Farmers’ expenses are going way up, which threatens our food security. Electricity rate increases ripple through every part of our economy. They are already rippling.

People are already struggling with their monthly HELCO bill. Some are having their lights turned off.

As rates continue to increase, more people will leave the grid and fewer will remain to pay for the infrastructure, meaning that those households and businesses that remain (because they cannot afford to get off the grid) will pay even more.

You may think the electric utility is a big powerful entity that you cannot affect, but you can. Pay attention! Show up! Write a letter! Do something! If you leave your name and contact information at www.bigislandcommunitycoalition.com, we will send an occasional email to keep you informed of what’s happening, and how you can help.

‘Nuff already!!

Let’s be clear. This is not about how green the energy is. This is about how much the energy costs. This is not about saving the world. It’s about saving ourselves first, so we are in good condition to help save the world.

We had hoped that HECO would have a balanced approach to solving the problems. There are books written on how corporations can take care of people and the environment as well as their investment. The term is called “triple bottom line.”

From The Triple Bottom Line: How Today’s Best-Run Companies Are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success – and How You Can Too:

Increasingly, businesses are expected to find ways to be part of the solution to the world’s environmental and social problems. The best companies are finding ways to turn this responsibility into opportunity. We believe that when business and societal interests overlap, everyone wins.

Rising electricity costs are like a regressive tax, where the poor pay a disproportionate amount of their income. Only it’s worse. As the price of oil rises, people who are able to, leave the grid. This leaves a diminishing number of people – those who cannot afford to leave – to pay for the grid.

What’s wrong with this picture?!

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