Hawaii Senate Advances Bills Investing in Education

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced bills that support Hawaii’s keiki through a variety of education initiatives. If passed, the measures would restore funds to support school athletic programs, improve the learning environment for students and invest in Hawaii charter schools.

capital

“Hawaii’s keiki are our greatest resource and it’s important that we give them every advantage for a better future,” said Senator David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “To do that, we need to invest in every aspect of their education from academics to athletics to their learning environment.”

These measures will go to the Senate floor for third reading and if approved will move to the House for consideration.

The education measures passed today include:

SB2424 SD1: RELATING TO AIR CONDITIONING

Requires the department of education and department of accounting and general services, in consultation with the Hawaii state energy office of the department of business, economic development, and tourism and the Hawaii natural energy institute of the University of Hawaii, to develop a cooling master strategy and comprehensive study for the public schools and to report findings to the 2015 regular session of the legislature. Appropriates funds.

SB3083 SD1: RELATING TO SCHOOL ATHLETICS.

Appropriates general funds for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program of the department of education. Authorizes additional coaching and assistant coaching positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program.

SB2516 RELATING TO FACILITIES FUNDING FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS

Appropriates funds for the state public charter school commission to allocate to charter schools for facilities projects based, in part, on the need and performance of the charter schools. Requires annual reporting to the legislature.

SB2517 RELATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS

Authorizes the state public charter school commission to request the issuance of general obligation bonds from the director of finance and to allocate the proceeds for the design, planning, construction, repair, and maintenance of public charter school facilities. Creates a working group to determine criteria for and to prioritize the allocation of general obligation bond proceeds to the public charters schools. Specifies that public charter school facilities funded through the proceeds of general obligation bonds are owned by the State. Requires the state public charter school commission to report annually to the legislature. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds to the state public charter school commission. Repeals on June 30, 2024.

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Crew for Second HI-SEAS Mission Announced – Next Extended Simulation of Mars Exploration Begins March 28

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015.  “Hawai‘i provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

HI-SEAS crew members were required have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old.  Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood – A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Ross is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman – An officer in the US Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Casey now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams – Director of the Neuropsychology Department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Ron holds a PhD in Neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer – Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory.  Tiffany was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet – A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center.  Lucie designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio – A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control, and life support systems. Anne is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai, a mechanical engineer and Captain in the US Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa.  The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems:  crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

More information, photos, and full biographies for the 2014 crew members are available on the HI-SEAS website at http://hi-seas.org/.  Members of the media can download high-resolution photos from the previous HI-SEAS mission at:  http://go.hawaii.edu/GQ

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org/

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight if there isn’t a cloud cover.

International Space Station

It will be visible at 7:21 PM, for about 4 minutes:  Max Height: 42 degrees, Appears: NNW, Disappears: E

Hawaiian Telcom Introduces Enhanced Internet Speeds

Fueled by its expanding fiber network, Hawaiian Telcom has introduced Hawaii’s fastest internet, featuring speeds of up to 500 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.

Hawaii TelcomBeginning 2 March, O’ahu consumers will be able to sign up for broadband speed tiers of 100, 300 and 500 Mbps, with higher speeds available for businesses. Hawaiian Telcom internet packages come with a wireless networking gateway, comprehensive internet security software and access to local 24/7 technical support.

Hawaiian Telcom president and CEO, Eric K. Yeaman said the company has invested USD 125 million in its new fiber network and systems and plans to expand network reach in the future.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces the Creation of Agency’s First-Ever Office of Digital Engagement

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today the creation of the agency’s first-ever Office of Digital Engagement. This new office – housed within the Office of Public Affairs – serves as the frontline for digital communication with consumers, businesses, and other key Department stakeholders.

Commerce Digital Engagement

“I am proud to announce the launch of the first-ever Office of Digital Engagement within the Department of Commerce. The Office of Digital Engagement is an important component of our ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and will help us engage in a two-way, 21st Century dialogue with America’s business community,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “By using the power of digital media, the Department of Commerce and our bureaus are working together to ensure that American businesses have access to more agency information and resources that can help them grow and hire.”

To further amplify the “Open for Business Agenda” and the priorities of the Department of Commerce, Secretary Pritzker has used LinkedIn, Vine, Youtube and other platforms and hosted a number of digital events including Twitter and Facebook chats that attracted interest from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including small business owners, exporters and venture capitalists. The Office of Digital Engagement also launched Secretary Pritzker’s Instagram account last month, making her the first-ever Cabinet official to have an Instagram account.

The Office of Digital Engagement is directed by Director of Digital Strategy, Mike Kruger, and Deputy Director, Rand Ruggieri.  The office is part of the Department of Commerce Office of Public Affairs, run by former technology communications executive Jim Hock.  The team also includes Quintin Haynes in the Office of the Secretary and a Digital Engagement Council made up of representatives from the following Commerce bureaus:

•             Ryan Poole, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

•             Lisa Wolfisch, U.S. Census Bureau

•             Chris Higginbotham, International Trade Administration (ITA)

•             Tami Holzman, Economic Development Administration (EDA)

•             Lucas Hitt, Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA)

•             Alicia Sowah, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

•             Mark Esser, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

•             David Miller, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

•             Juliana Gruenwald, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

•             Paul Rosenthal, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Follow Secretary Pritzker on:

•             Twitter – www.twitter.com/PennyPritzker (@pennypritzker)

•             Instagram – www.instagram.com/PennyPritzker

Find out more about the Department of Commerce at:

•             www.commerce.gov/blog

•             www.twitter.com/CommerceGov

•             http://www.linkedin.com/company/u.s.-department-of-commerce

•             https://www.facebook.com/Commercegov

•             https://www.youtube.com/user/CommerceNews

NELHA, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Jump into Energy Storage Race

The state, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Company announced a strategic partnership to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona, managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NEHLA Aerial

“This strategic partnership highlights NELHA’s value to our state as a test-bed for new technologies and driver of innovation and economic development,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who last month released more than $13 million for capital improvements at NELHA facilities.

“With the significant cost reduction in clean energy generation over the years, some consider lower cost energy storage to be the ’missing link’ and one of the most challenging elements in the design and function of a clean energy microgrid,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour.

Energy storage is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant potential for future growth as microgrids require higher degrees of reliability and power quality, sophisticated generation-load balancing.

According to some reports, the worldwide market for energy storage systems for wind and solar will grow from less than $150 million annually in 2013 to $10.3 billion by 2023 and an installed capacity of projected to total 21.8 GW.

“The good news is that we have already developed the necessary infrastructure to allow for the ‘real-world’ grid connected standardized testing and validation of energy storage devices at HOST Park,” Barbour said. “NELHA plans to offer low-cost outdoor and indoor sites for testing, up to 30kW of power, power sensors, and real-time monitoring data of energy storage devices at no additional cost.”

“Hawaii Island offers an ideal opportunity to develop technologies that will allow more cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions to benefit our residents,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Our mission is to provide secure, clean energy for Hawaii,” said Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio. “There are great opportunities in energy storage to increase clean energy, support reliability and ultimately lower costs for customers. This partnership will help our efforts to identify economic and reliable energy storage options that support our mission.”

Added Barbour, “Efforts like these are providing a backbone that NELHA can build out further in the coming years and greatly assist in making the critical seawater system more cost efficient for businesses at HOST Park.”

Governor Abercrombie Taps Bhagowalia as Chief Advisor on Technology, Cyber-Security

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment and promotion of Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia as Chief Advisor for Technology and Cyber-Security, effective Feb. 18, 2014. The new executive leadership position was created to establish Hawaii as a premier technology and cyber-security hub in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to strengthen ties between Hawaii and Washington, D.C. in support of the state’s Business and Technology Transformation.

Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia

“Under Sonny’s exceptionally positive leadership and energy, the State of Hawaii has made great strides in developing a strong technology and security foundation, launching key programs to transform business and technology in the state, and charting a strong course for the future with a nationally recognized transformation plan,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Now more than ever, we need Sonny to help our state take the next step by representing Hawaii at a national level to ensure we establish a cohesive technology and cyber-security strategy, position Hawaii for future federal collaboration and investments, and encourage our community stakeholders to continue to support Hawaii’s technology transformation.”

The Governor also highlighted significant accomplishments by Bhagowalia and his extended CIO team over the past two and a half years in a detailed annual report, released today and available for download at the state Office of Information Management Technology (OIMT) website: http://oimt.hawaii.gov

With this change, OIMT’s two deputy CIOs will be promoted into new roles to facilitate the office’s transition from key foundational activities, such as planning and designing new systems, to implementation. Deputy CIO of Operations Keone Kali will succeed Bhagowalia as state CIO, while Deputy CIO of Business Transformation Randy Baldemor will join the Office of the Governor as Director of Strategic Initiatives, both also effective Feb. 18, 2014.

Since its creation in 2011, OIMT has made tremendous progress in three overarching strategic areas:

1. Reengineering “the way we do business” (on-line versus waiting in-line)
2. Modernizing and securing the technology infrastructure
3. Establishing transparency and accountability through governance

Accomplishments highlighted in the comprehensive CIO Annual Report include:

1. Aligning business and IT through four key programs (enterprise resource planning, tax, health IT, and business process reengineering)
2. Strengthening the state’s critical security and technology infrastructure through four key programs (consolidated infrastructure, enterprise shared services, enterprise security/privacy, and the Hawaii Broadband Initiative)
3. Implementing transparency and accountability through two key programs (open government and governance)

Departmental collaboration with OIMT, as explained in the report, further illustrates the depth and breadth of the transformation effort.

“The standard of excellence in leadership, program execution and teamwork set by Sonny provides a solid foundation for Hawaii’s future, and I commend him for his commitment and service to the people of the State of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie added. “This is the right time to transition, and I am confident that Keone will maintain the high-quality execution of the state’s IT transformation plan and management of OIMT. In addition, Randy’s newly established position within my office demonstrates our commitment to furthering this effort, and it will facilitate the strategic alignment of priorities and resources on key business transformation initiatives as well as fostering greater coordination and collaboration across departments.”

Bhagowalia said: “I thank the Governor, my fellow directors, my extended ‘ohana’ of CIOs, all our staff, and the people of Hawaii for their unwavering support of the transformation. We are proud of the major accomplishments so far and excited about the road ahead for the great State of Hawaii. While I look forward to new horizons, I ask everyone for their continuing support of Hawaii’s next CIO, Keone, and Director of Strategic Initiatives, Randy, in their efforts to advance the transformation.”

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia
Prior to being appointed as Hawaii’s first CIO in July 2011, Bhagowalia served for 11 years as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and one year in as a Senior Level (SL) employee of the U.S. Government. He served as the Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C., supporting five national White House programs for the Federal CIO. He previously held two CIO executive leadership roles at the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education within the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also served with the FBI CIO within the U.S. Department of Justice for seven years as a SES (at Assistant Director level) and one year as a SL. In addition to his public sector experience, Bhagowalia served with distinction for 14.5 years as Chief Engineer/Manager at Boeing in support of Systems Integration and Business Development for U.S. Government Civilian, Defense and Intelligence Community Clients. He is a graduate from Syracuse University and Louisiana State University with Masters and Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering and Management.  He is a distinguished graduate (twice) from the National Defense University with CIO and IRM certification. He has won numerous national awards for executive excellence.

Keone Kali
Kali was named Deputy CIO in November 2012 and brings 20 years of experience in information technology, business development, and management in both the public and private sector. He previously served as the Director of Information Technology and acting Chief Technology Officer for the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui. Kali was also the CIO for the City of Beverly Hills, where he designed, executed and managed a comprehensive five-year Information Technology Master Plan, transformed the city’s technology architecture to support highly-available and accessible public services, and formed new revenue generating programs. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Randy Baldemor
Baldemor also joined OIMT over a year ago and brings to his new position 14 years of diverse business and government experience, including as deputy director of the state Department of Taxation, where he led the IT modernization efforts and business process re-engineering activities that significantly improved tax return processing and refund issuances. He has also served as president of software development company DiscoveryBox, assistant vice-president of claims for Island Insurance Companies, and litigation partner at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel LLP. Baldemor received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Florida and earned his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.

The new chief advisor and director positions are being funded through a grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting quality of life improvements in the state.

Students Across State Testify Via Videoconferencing – Bringing the Legislature to Neighbor Islands Through Technology

Students from across the state participated in the legislative process by testifying via videoconferencing during a Senate hearing on two education bills.

Click to view the hearing

Click to view the hearing

Senate Bill 2441 establishes the R.E.A.C.H. program within the Office of Youth Services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools.

sb2441The bill establishes a revolving fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the program; appropriates funds for establishing the R.E.A.C.H. program to provide funding for after-school programs in middle and intermediate public schools; and establishes one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position to support the program and appropriates funds for that position. Students from Hana High and Elementary School, Waiakea Intermediate School, Mililani Middle School and Molokai Intermediate School testified before the committee on this measure via video conferencing.

SB2446 requires the Department of Education to name the new public high school in Kihei, Maui the “Patsy Takemoto Mink High School,” in honor of the late United States Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink. Students from Kihei Public Charter School, Maui Waena Intermediate School and Maui High School testified on this measure via video conferencing.

SB2446

“Increasing access and transparency has always been a top priority for the Senate, and utilizing technology is an effective way of achieving this goal,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “The measures before us impact our students and our schools, and the policies we draft are strengthened by their input and ideas. I look forward to seeing more individuals use this tool to provide testimony.”

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

Spot the Space Station Tonight in Hawaii

Spot the Space Station tonight at 7:20 PM Hawaii time (if you don’t have a cloud cover)

International Space Station

Location:  Visible: 4 min, Max Height: 78 degrees, Appears: SW, Disappears: NE

Big Island Now Has Only One Crime Stoppers Number – 961-8300

Hawaiʻi Island now has one Crime Stoppers telephone number to serve the entire island. The number is 961-8300.

HPDBadgeIn the past, two community organizations ran Crime Stoppers operations, one serving East Hawaiʻi and one serving West Hawaiʻi.

The community organization that previously served East Hawaiʻi now operates islandwide.

Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. When you call Crime Stoppers, you will be given a code number to track the status of your case. By calling later and giving your code number, you can find out whether you qualify for a reward.

If the Crime Stoppers board of directors selects you for a reward, you will be directed to an agreed-upon location to pick up the money. You will never be required to provide your name. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record any calls or subscribe to caller ID.

Senate Offers Videoconferencing Option for Public Testimony Statewide

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees will now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

capital

 “Ensuring access and citizen and stakeholder participation is especially important when it comes to issues dealing with public education and our schools,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Expanding our use of this type of technology to connect people with policymakers will only strengthen and enhance the quality of legislation produced.”

The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program beginning with the Senate Committee on Education’s first hearing on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. and continue with hearings from both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts throughout the 2014 Legislative Session.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have to sit through a two-hour hearing just to speak for one minute on one measure,” added Senator Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate Technology and Arts Committee. “If we can reduce the barriers to civic engagement by reducing the cost and time people spend to voice their concerns, we are on our way to creating a better Hawaii.”

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

During Monday’s Senate Education Committee, lawmakers will take up two measures that address air conditioning in schools. The bills call for the creation of a master strategic plan for the cooling of public schools.

For more information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit testimony and/or participate via videoconferencing or in person, please refer to the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU_01-27-14_.HTM

NEHLA to Receive $13 Million in Capital Improvement Funds – Abercrombie Releases More CIP Funds

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $28.3 million in capital improvement project (CIP) funds administered by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). More than $13 million of these CIP funds will go toward improvements to Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) facilities on Hawaii Island.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

“A successful test-bed for applied research, demonstration, testing and evaluation, NELHA is a driver of innovation, economic development, and job creation on the Big Island and for our entire state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Investments in these and other facilities and programs will further opportunities to advance our energy sustainability, diversify our economy, and keep us on course toward long-term economic viability.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

NELHA

$9,694,000 – Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) Frontage Road and New Intersection Connections, Hawaii Island – Construction of a 0.8-mile frontage road and new connections to the Kaiminani Drive and Makako Bay Drive intersections on Queen Kaahumanu Highway

$2,323,000 – NELHA Seawater System Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Design and construction to provide a 28-inch warm water connector to the independent North and South systems, which currently transfer only cold water; upgrades will also create a backup system to transfer warm water in case of a catastrophic failure of the current warm water system

$1,000,000 (in addition to $3,000,000 in federal grant funds) – NELHA Alternative Energy and Biotechnology Incubator, Hawaii Island – Renovation of the administrative building; this project will increase NELHA’s utilization of 10,000 square feet by converting open space into leasable office space

Other

$7,000,000 – Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund (DURF), statewide – Additional workforce and affordable housing projects; DURF is used for the acquisition of real property, primarily for the development and construction of residential properties, and interim and permanent loans to developers at below-market rates to offer incentives for workforce and affordable housing development across the state

$3,000,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) Import-Export Step-Up Incubator, Mauka Renovation, Oahu – Renovation of the FTZ incubator; renovations will increase the FTZ No. 9’s utilization of the building by converting 30,000 square feet of open space into leasable office space, common conference rooms, and training areas; the current office space is being used at 100 percent capacity (an additional $3,000,000 in federal funds have been awarded and appropriated for the construction of this project through a competitive Economic Development Administration grant)

$2,200,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone Pier 2 Facility Roof Repairs, Oahu – Repairs to roof, gutters, gutter drains, skylight panels, and perimeter eaves, as well as waterproofing the parapet wall of the facility; repairs will eliminate continued water damage in tenant offices and merchandise storage areas, improve structural integrity of the building, and increase available lease space within the warehouse

$1,855,000 – Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) Community Development Districts, Oahu – DBEDT operational costs for 19 permanent, project-funded staff positions for fiscal year 2014

$1,300,000 – Waiahole Water System Improvements, Oahu – Design improvements to the Waiahole Water System; the existing booster pump and key sections of the existing water main need to be upgraded to meet fire flow and Board of Water Supply requirements

Solar Photovoltaic Installations in Hawaii Continued to Grow in 2013

Solar photovoltaic installations in Hawai‘i continued growing at a strong pace in 2013. A total of 17,609 solar installations with more than 129 megawatts capacity were added to the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company grids in 2013. This is 39 percent more than was added in 2012.

The total of solar photovoltaic systems interconnected on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids as of Dec. 31, 2013 is 40,159 with a total capacity of 300 MW. Of those installations, 96 percent take advantage of net energy metering, a program that began in 2001 to encourage the adoption of rooftop solar. With net energy metering, customers with rooftop solar receive full retail credit for electricity they generate and send to the utility grid. They use that credit to offset the electricity they take from the grid when solar power does not meet their needs at night or on cloudy days.

More than 70 percent of rooftop systems are on Oahu.  With 29,558 PV systems and 221 MW as of Dec. 31, 2013, 10 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers now have rooftop solar, a higher percentage than any mainland utility. On Hawaii Island, 7 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. And 8 percent of Maui Electric customers have rooftop solar.

This unprecedented rapid growth in rooftop solar in Hawai‘i has resulted in some neighborhood circuits reaching extremely high levels of photovoltaic systems. An increasing number of distribution level circuits have rooftop PV capacity exceeding 100 percent of the daytime minimum load, the trigger for interconnection studies and possible implementation of safety measures or upgrades before new PV systems on that circuit can be interconnected to the grid. This condition slowed the pace of rooftop solar growth in the last quarter of last year.

“Our first priority is the safety and reliability of service to all our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “At the same time, we remain committed to a strong, sustainable solar industry in Hawaii. We continue to approve new solar systems for interconnection daily. And we are working to find ways to add more solar power, including on circuits that already have large amounts of PV installed.”

Solar installations and capacity by utility as of December 31, 2013

  Solar Installations Capacity in MW
Hawaiian Electric 29, 558 221
Maui Electric 5, 246 41
Hawaii Electric Light 5,355 38
TOTAL 40,159 300

Cumulative solar growth in Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories, 2005-2013 (Data subject to change)

Second “Exceptional Energy” Lecture Series Event Features Renewable Energy Specialist Andrea Gill

Friends of NELHA (FON) will continue its series of lectures about energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Thursday, January 30. The second speaker in the series is Andrea Gill, State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) Renewable Energy Specialist. Her topic will be “Understanding Energy/Electricity
Costs.”  The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series event will start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill has lived in Hilo since 1979.  She hails from Honolulu and attended Roosevelt High School and Stanford University. While at Stanford, Gill co-authored a four-volume report on biomass energy for Hawaii.  After graduation, she began working for the State’s energy program, managing a solar planning project and then opening the Hawaii Energy Extension Service office in Hilo.  She has authored a number of papers on ocean energy and the direct use of geothermal energy for presentation at energy industry conferences.

Andrea Gill also served as co-chair of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s Electricity Working Group, which discussed programs to expand the use of renewable energy in Hawaii through increased generation and improvements in transmission and distribution systems.  Among her recent projects was the development of Renewable EnerGIS, an online mapping tool that permits landowners, developers, and policy makers assess the renewable energy resources and pertinent attributes – like rainfall and zoning – for specific land parcels and ocean locations statewide.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development. A lecture on “Energy Resource Optimization” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Director of Keck Observatory to Assume New Position at McDonald Observatory in West Texas

The University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory in West Texas is getting a new director, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

Taft Armandroff

Taft Armandroff

The paper says Taft Armandroff will be introduced Tuesday as the new director and professor of astronomy.

The appointment will be effective June 1.

Armandroff is currently director of the W.M. Keck Observatory, a nonprofit organization with two telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

He will succeed David Lambert, 74, who directed the observatory about 450 miles west of Austin for 10 years.

The observatory is gearing up for a study of the mysterious force known as dark energy that’s causing the cosmos to expand at an accelerating rate.

The $39 million dark energy project, which is in collaboration with other institutions, is expected to begin later this year.

UH Hilo Honors Individuals with Special Awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney honored two individuals with special awards presented during UH Hilo’s Fall 2013 commencement.

Team Poliahu - Featured from left to right: Ryder Donahue, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada, Professor Edwards and Mike Purvis.

Team Poliahu – Featured from left to right: Ryder Donahue, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada, Professor Edwards and Mike Purvis.

Mike Purvis, a senior computer science major, received the inaugural Community Spirit Award, which includes a $500 cash prize. The award was established this past September by Edward Yamasaki, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, and recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in applied research, learning and innovation in their respective fields of study. Purvis is team captain of UH Hilo’s Team Poli`ahu that won the 2013 U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup Championship and participated in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Team Poliahu in front of Alexandrinsky Theatre for the awards ceremony

Team Poliahu in front of Alexandrinsky Theatre for the awards ceremony

The Chancellor’s Special Recognition Award was presented to Dr. David Hammes, professor of economics, who retired at the end of the Fall 2013 semester. Hammes received the UH Board of Regent’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2003. In addition to his teaching, he has conducted a number of economic feasibility and cost-of-living studies for UH Hilo and the UH System.

Hammes also serves on the Board of Directors for Hospice of Hilo and was Treasurer during the successful fund-raising drive that led to construction of a new care facility near the University campus.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update – Kilauea Slowly Moving/Lava Lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater Remains Active

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow slowly moving through forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

The Kahaualeʻa 2 flow continues to slowly move through the forest northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Yesterday, the active flow front was 6.3 km (3.9 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

HVO45

Puʻu ʻŌʻō is just left of the center of the photograph in the distance, partially obscured by the smoke.

A closer view of the active flows at the forest boundary, and the numerous plumes of smoke resulting from active lava igniting ʻōhiʻa trees and other vegetation.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

This thermal image, taken from the helicopter on today’s overflight, shows the area of active pāhoehoe near the flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Blue and purple areas show warm but inactive areas of the flow, while the white and yellow areas are actively flowing lava. The flow surface consists of numerous scattered pāhoehoe lobes, and the advancement of the flow as a whole results from the combined, incremental movement of these individual lobes.

The black (cold) area at the top of the image is forest.  Click to Enlarge

The black (cold) area at the top of the image is forest. Click to Enlarge

Lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains active

The summit lava lake is contained within the Overlook crater, which is about 160 m (520 ft) by 210 m (690 ft) in size, and set within the larger Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

 The lava lake this week has been about 50 m (160 ft) below the rim of the Overlook crater. Click to Enlarge

The lava lake this week has been about 50 m (160 ft) below the rim of the Overlook crater. Click to Enlarge

A closer look at the summit lava lake.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Census Bureau Introduces New Interactive Mapping Tool along with Latest American Community Survey Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau released Census Explorer, a new interactive mapping tool that gives users easier access to neighborhood level statistics. The mapping tool uses updated statistics from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey (ACS), which were also released today.

census explorer map

The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.

“The American Community Survey data are critically important to powering our nation’s 21st century economy,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said. “Making data more accessible and user-friendly for all Americans is a top priority of our ‘Open for Business Agenda’ at the Department of Commerce. The rich statistics in the 2008-2012 ACS will help more businesses, policymakers and communities make better-informed decisions that will help propel U.S. economic growth.”

Interactive map

“Census Explorer is another useful tool, like the dwellr and America’s Economy mobile apps, that the Census Bureau has developed to disseminate statistics faster and make them easier to access,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson added. “This interactive map helps users to learn more about the social, economic and housing characteristics of their communities — the same characteristics that drive decision-making from the local to the national level.”

The tool allows users to look at the following eight statistics from the American Community Survey:

  • Total population
  • Percent 65 and older
  • Foreign-born population percentage
  • Percent of the population with a high school degree or higher
  • Percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Labor force participation rate
  • Home ownership rate
  • Median household income

In addition to these characteristics, more than 40 social, economic and housing topics are now available through the American Community Survey statistics for all communities in the nation, regardless of size, down to the block group level. For example, health insurance coverage statistics are now available for the first time at the neighborhood level.

Additional Exploration Tools

A variety of other Census Bureau data tools have been updated with today’s new numbers, including the Census Bureau’s application programming interface, Easy Stats and American FactFinder. In addition to the updated exploration tools, the Census Bureau is releasing narrative profiles which allow users to explore a graphical and narrative presentation of the statistics from the American Community Survey.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results. Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation’s people.

The Census Bureau uses information collected over five years from the American Community Survey in order to have more accurate and reliable statistics for areas with populations smaller than 20,000. Statistics for larger areas are also included with this release, making comparisons across large and small geographies possible.

The Census Bureau is currently reviewing all of the questions on the American Community Survey to ensure adequate coverage of statistical information that communities rely on. The survey is the only source of local statistics for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as educational attainment, housing, employment, commuting, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs down to the smallest communities. The Census Bureau is inviting the public to give feedback on each question asked in the survey. For more information on the review process, please visit the American Community Survey content review website for more details.

 

Hawaii Airports to Go Green, Reduce Energy Costs by $518 Million

Gov. Neil Abercrombie unveiled an unprecedented energy efficiency program for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Airports Division that will cut energy use by 49 percent, saving at least $518 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Honolulu International Airport

Honolulu International Airport

The airports will be modernized with the latest in energy-efficient and green technology, providing a high-impact solution for the Abercrombie Administration’s aggressive pursuit of 70 percent clean energy use for the state of Hawaii by 2030.

“These important upgrades at our airports will help Hawaii reach its clean energy goals,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This project is a long-term investment, which will cut the energy use at our airports nearly in half, reduce our dependence on imported energy sources, provide savings on future energy costs and add jobs to our economy.”

The project will deliver results by replacing 372 transformers and 74,500 light fixtures, installing 9,100 solar photovoltaic panels; and include upgrades and replacement of chilled water and air conditioning systems, installation of smart controls, and deferred maintenance such as roof repairs to accommodate the upgrades. The $150 million contract was awarded to Johnson Controls through a state competitive procurement process for Energy Performance Contracting (EPC).

“This important project is part of a strategy and vision to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “DOT will make a large impact since the state airports system is the third largest consumer of electricity in Hawaii. This project will save the state millions of dollars and it will serve as a model for other state agencies.”

“Energy efficiency is Hawaii’s cleanest, fastest, and cheapest clean energy resource,” said Jeff Mikulina, CEO of Blue Planet Foundation, an organization working to clear the path for clean energy in Hawaii. “Every kilowatt hour avoided is fossil fuel that we don’t import–and carbon pollution that we don’t export.”

“It is both suiting and symbolic for Hawaii’s airports–the gateways for Hawaii residents and visitors–to be models of energy efficiency,” he added. “Blue Planet applauds the Governor, his Administration, and the private sector partners who are making this record-setting energy savings project a reality.”

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UH Hilo/Thai University Agreement Expands Pharmacy Research, Education

A new agreement between the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Rangsit University (RSU) in Thailand will allow students and faculty more freedom to exchange ideas and experiences.

UH Hilo Moniker

The U.S.-THAI Students and Pharmacists/Faculty Members Exchange Program will give students in the fourth year of pharmacy school a chance to go to RSU for their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences and bring Ph.D. students to Hawaiʻi to work in DKICP labs. It also will allow faculty to collaborate on pharmaceutical sciences research and to work with professional pharmacists on pharmaceutical care and medication therapy management.

RSU is part of the Bangkok metropolis, located in the Pathum Thani province, directly north of Bangkok. This is the second Thai university to enter an agreement with DKICP. The first one with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok was signed in 2011.

Rangsit University

Rangsit University

“I am very proud of our faculty for developing this relationship,” DKICP Dean John Pezzuto said. “This is a prime example of how we are extending our reach to every corner of the globe in order to give our students a first-class education while investigating approaches to discovering new drugs.”

Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, began talks about the exchange program with the administration at RSU last July when he was invited to be a visiting professor/scholar.

“Students can gain international perspectives of Thailand public health, roles and responsibilities of pharmacists in various settings and develop interprofessional relationships,” Wongwiwatthananukit said. “In addition to giving our students a wider range of exposure, this is a great opportunity for international collaboration for our Ph.D. program.”

An example of possible joint projects might be working with RSU faculty at their Herbal Medicinal Products Research and Development Center, called Sun Herb Thai Chinese Manufacturing facility. The building is a joint venture between the Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, China and Rangsit University Faculty of Pharmacy.

“This building enables the research and clinical trials of many Thai and Chinese traditional remedies,” Wongwiwatthananukit said. “I believe we can make significant contributions to this facility through our own work in natural products and Hawaiian traditional medicine.”