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Sunday, June 30, 2024
June 30, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:11 PM :: 1178 Views

Supreme Court overrules landmark 'Chevron' precedent on government authority

Freedom in Hawaii is having a moment

Intent to Veto: Budget Drama Continues

Update development standards to allow more apartment housing

Doomed Hawaiian Electric Seeks $1.1B Rate Hike In Futile Effort to Save Itself as Old Boy Power Center

SA: … Future Hawaii electric bills won’t display the cost to ratepayers for more than $1 billion in planned grid resiliency and wildfire mitigation projects, but a bit of this anticipated expense is beginning to emerge.

Hawaii’s largest electric utility, Hawaiian Electric Co., is seeking regulatory approval for a second “exceptional” investment project where it intends to recover costs from ratepayers who stand to have their bills affected by incremental, long-lasting small increases.

The company on June 19 filed an application with the state Public Utilities Commission to improve resilience, flexibility, reliability and efficiency of grid systems on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii island at a cost of $497 million.

(CLUE: None of this would be needed if HEI would simply accept its fate and go BK.  They should have accepted the NextEra deal but Ige blocked it in order to keep HEI as an old boy power center.  Is their power worth $1B of your money?)

If the federal grant is awarded, the company’s $259 million expense is estimated to increase the average monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity by 44 cents on Oahu, $1.97 on Hawaii island and $1.99 in Maui County, according to the filing.

Those estimates represent increases of 0.2%, 0.8% and 1% by region, respectively.

(TRANSLATION: Higher rates.)

If the grant gets awarded, the company anticipates work will span eight years, starting in July 2025….

(TRANSLATION: The rate hikes will be much larger than they are admitting.)

Another exceptional investment project the company is pursuing will harden the electric grid against wind, flooding, fire and other threats.

This project, approved by the PUC in January, is to cost $190 million. Because the federal government has already agreed to pay half, Hawaiian Electric’s $95 million share is estimated to raise a typical residential customer’s monthly bill by 33 cents on Oahu, 71 cents in Maui County and 86 cents on Hawaii island, or between 0.2% and 0.4%.

(TRANSLATION: Higher rates.)

The cost of all four projects totals $1.1 billion, including $545 million potentially paid for by federal grants that would help keep rate increases relatively small.

“We’re trying to get as much federal dollars into the state as we can,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.

(TRANSLATION: The rate hikes will be much larger than they are admitting.)

The $95 million grant approved to date represents, by far, the biggest federal grant Hawaiian Electric has ever received.

(REALLY OBVIOUS QUESTION: Why should federal taxpayers pay to keep HEI independent when private investors like NextEra could be paying for these system improvements?)

If federal grants don’t come through, ratepayers likely will have to shoulder more project costs, and work could take longer and force Hawaiian Electric to shift spending away from other things.

(TRANSLATION: The rate hikes will be much larger than they are admitting.)

One current drag on the company’s ability to manage affordability is its credit rating, which after Aug. 8 got slashed from investment to junk grade because of the wildfire litigation. The bad credit rating makes financing projects using debt more expensive….

(TRANSLATION: Higher rates.)

Generally, renewable energy has been cheaper than oil. But a big expense for battery storage is offsetting some of the savings as more solar farms get added to the grid. For instance, a 42-megawatt solar farm with battery storage that went into service June 7 in Ewa Beach is expected to cost the average residential customer 27 cents more per month.

(TRANSLATION: Higher rates.)

Another fuel-related negative impact for Oahu ratepayers happened in 2022 when the largest power plant on Oahu, a 180-megawatt coal-fired facility owned by AES Corp., shut down after 30 years and led to an increase of 4%, or $9 a month, for the typical residential customer.

(TRANSLATION: Higher rates.)

(Really Obvious Question: Do you see a pattern here?)

SA: Editorial: Energy demands to test isle users

Shapiro: David Shapiro: Hawaii kids seek escape from grim climate future

read … Hawaiian Electric system upgrades to buffet electric bills

VETO LIST: Green Grabs for Control of $450M

Borreca: … Hawaii mirrors many other state budgets that are “driven by one-time expenditures of prior-year surplus funds.”

Despite the economic losses from the Maui fires, the Hawaii budget shows a strong recovery effort with an accompanying shower of federal money pouring down on the state.

The state Council on Revenues in its latest report predicted that the continued budget surplus “will boost growth and mitigate some of the immediate impacts of the fires.”

This action comes with Gov. Josh Green’s decision to flag a series of bills for possible veto because of their impact on the state budget.

Green cautiously warns in his discussion of possible vetoes that “The state will need to cover a drop in its projected revenue and will also need to find ways to cover a massive income tax cut that will ramp up over the next eight years.”

Another possible Green veto is a bill giving $450 million to the Maui recovery: He isn’t against spending the money, but indicated that he would rather put it into a major disaster fund. The action makes sense for the governor because then he doesn’t have to ask permission to spend. He alone is in control of the money ….

RELATED: CNHA Inside Track: Robin Danner Snags Gig in Governor's Office

read … On Politics: State budget boosted by construction, labor markets

On Shrooms? HART, Blangiardi Dream of Extending Empty Rail Line to Manoa, Leeward

SA: … including Skyline’s revenue of $617,441 and fares generated by bus passengers who used their HOLO cards, total bus and rail revenue for the first year will add up to $46,553,701, Morton said.

Once the full line opens by the end of 2031 through downtown and into Kaka­ako’s so-called Civic Center station, ridership should jump to 80,000 to 85,000 passengers per day — boosting Skyline revenue exponentially, Morton said ….

(IQ Test: How hard are you laughing?)

“Obviously we’re not filling up the trains,” Morton said. “We have a system that’s second to none. We need to spread the word.”  So the challenge remains “to get more of our folks to try it,” he said….

(IQ Test: How hard are you laughing?)

Perhaps “in the lifetime of my grandchildren,” Blangiardi said, Skyline could even reach his alma mater, the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

It’s the city’s obligation to offer rail service to where it’s needed most, especially into Leeward Oahu, the island’s fastest growing population, he said.

“We owe that to the people,” Blangiardi said. “All eyes are on the future of rail.”…

(REALITY: In three weeks the Civic Center bids will come in waaaay high.  The feds will then cut off further funding until there is a real plan to complete the project—ie never.)

read … Skyline marks first anniversary, anticipates more stations opening in next 18 months

Sara Yara Bill to punish traffic scofflaws may face governor’s veto because Public Defender doesn’t want it

SA: … A bill motivated by charges against a man who had no driver’s license and 164 traffic citations when he was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a 16-year-old McKinley High School student is on the list of measures that may be vetoed by Gov. Josh Green.

House Bill 2526 was introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki (D, Ala Moana-­Kakaako-Downtown) following the Feb. 15, 2023, collision that took the life of Sara Yara as she was walking in a marked crosswalk on Kapiolani Boulevard on her way to school.

Mitchel Miyashiro, 46, in December was charged with negligent homicide in the first degree and driving without a license, among other offenses. Miyashiro had 164 prior traffic citations, according to state court rec­ords, and had pleaded not guilty to driving without a license just nine days before he allegedly killed Yara.…. If it becomes law, House Bill 2526 would increase the penalty for a third or subsequent offense involving unauthorized driving or operation of motor vehicles to a class C felony and authorize the court to order the forfeiture of the vehicle used in the offense.

In a statement, Green cited the rationale for vetoing HB 2526 as its potential to increase caseloads for prosecutors, law enforcement, the Judiciary, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, without providing additional funding for enforcement. Implementation costs would also pose a feasibility issue with enacting the bill.

“Gov. Green positioned the bill for possible veto based on concerns from the Office of the Public Defender about elevating these offenses to the level of a felony, and whether we need to focus on enforcement rather than just increasing penalties in hopes that it becomes a deterrent,” Green’s office told the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser….

(TRANSLATION: The criminals’ lawyers want this veto.  Their workload matters more than your life.)

read … Bill on traffic violations may face governor’s veto

Navy Closure Task-Force to remove sludge from drained fuel tanks

HNN: … The Navy Closure Task-Force Red Hill will soon begin removing sludge from two of the 14 drained fuel tanks.

Sludge is a mix of fuel, water, dirt, and metal found at the bottom of the tanks.

The military says workers will be lowered inside to scoop out the waste with shovels.

The collected sludge will go into 55-gallon drums that will be shipped off the island for disposal….

(CLUE: The Navy is renovating and upgrading Red Hill for re-use.)

read … Navy Closure Task-Force to remove sludge from drained fuel tanks

Hawaii Homelessness Industry Against Opening New Homeless Shelters

CB: … The ruling gets rid of a key constitutional protection (ACLU red herring) that homelessness advocates (industry profiteers) had been using to contest municipal laws they said were too harsh on (likely to make) homeless people (stop being homeless, thus interfering with homelessness industry profits) ….

Municipalities around the country can now enact stricter laws, which supporters of the decision said gives the City and County of Honolulu one more tool for keeping the sidewalks clear.

“We were pleased with the outcome of this decision,” deputy corporation counsel Ernest Nomura said.

Enforcement won’t change overnight as a result of the decision. But the ruling means that council members could pass stricter laws policing homelessness.  

One possibility is that council members could expand the hours of the city’s sit-lie ban, which makes it illegal to sit or lie in certain commercial areas of Honolulu between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. 

“The legal concerns that motivate, for example, City Council, to limit the scope of sit-lie are lesser,” American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Wookie Kim said….

The ACLU is currently suing the city over its sit-lie laws. In January a judge rejected the group’s demand that the city halt enforcement. Kim said that while the Eighth Amendment was previously a key legal tool for advocates against laws like this, there are still other tools, including Hawaii’s constitution. 

Partners in Care executive director Laura Thielen said that governments should tackle homelessness by giving more resources (pay hikes) to social workers and psychiatrists and by not relying too much on shelters, many of which are at or close to capacity

(TRANSLATION: They are against building shelters.)

“The shelters are not a replacement for housing,” she said.

(TRANSLATION: They are against building shelters.)

John Mizuno, the state’s homelessness coordinator, made a similar point in a statement he issued following the Supreme Court’s ruling. “Governor Green believes that sweeping houseless individuals without providing housing or safe options is disruptive and unsustainable. Low-barrier housing, like kauhale tiny home villages, can address this by offering a home and a safe place for those facing housing instability,” he said. 

(TRANSLATION: They are against building shelters.)

Council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, who introduced the council’s latest expansion of its sit-lie law into Kapalama, supported the Supreme Court’s decision and said that it gives municipalities more control over how they handle homelessness.  “I think the public understands that we need every tool available,” he said.

(CLUE: If shelters are built, the number of unsheltered homeless will reduce.  This will impede cash flow to the homelessness industry.)

May 15, 2024: How DHS Policy Change (shelter closures) Drives Homeless Count UP, UP, UP

June 21, 2024: Thielen: Homelessness is a Money-Spinner, Creates Thousands of ‘Positions’ in Hawaii

read … US Supreme Court Ruling Gives City More Leeway In Removing Homeless Encampments

Hawaii PD conduct state’s first-ever cannabis impaired driving Green Lab

KHON: … After attending multiple conferences on the mainland, Sgt. Koyanagi decided to train officers with advanced roadside impairment detection education here in Hawaii.

In May, he ran the state’s first ever ‘Green Lab,’ which is similar to how police departments run workshops to train officers on detecting drunk drivers.

He had 25 officers and medicinal cannabis volunteers; each volunteer was a licensed medical cannabis patient and legally permitted to consume their own cannabis product in verified dosages off-site. Officers transported the volunteers during the training event….

Sgt. Koyanagi said in some states like Colorado, drivers with five nanograms of THC in their blood levels could be prosecuted for DUI.

“Almost everybody [volunteers] had registered over 25 nanograms of active THC in their system, but many of them would have not gotten arrested,” he explained due to their high tolerance….

read … Hawaii PD conduct state’s first-ever cannabis impaired driving Green Lab

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