Kahului – Maui County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod announced Thursday that Hawaiian Electric Companies—which includes Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light—will be the Title Sponsor of the upcoming conference, “Electric Utilities: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be.”
The event scheduled for March 26-28 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center comes at a time when Hawaii is experiencing an unprecedented wave of growth in solar and wind generation. Leaders here and across the country will be gathering to talk about the rapidly changing energy landscape and its implications for power utilities, policy makers and consumers. Colton Ching, vice president of energy delivery at Hawaiian Electric, is looking forward to exchanging ideas with leading power and utility experts this year at the Conference.
Conference partners include the Maui Economic Development Board, Hawaiian Electric, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. Calling Hawaii “ground zero” for renewable energy development, Ching said the event will be a very valuable forum for some of the brightest minds in the country to meet and seek new ideas. Although Mainland utility operators don’t face the same problems with isolated power grids as utilities are confronted with in the islands, “there are a lot of smart people out there in the industry, and they can bring to the table very good technical ideas, very good regulatory ideas, very good customer ideas that we can benefit from,” he said. Conference attendees should come willing to listen and exchange ideas, Ching said. “We need everyone to come with an open mind,” he said. “Everyone put your biases and beliefs aside and have a very frank and open dialogue about what a utility will be like in the future.
Ching said Hawaii’s unique power grid environment and the challenges it imposes ensure that utilities in the islands will experience operational and technical challenges first with integrating renewable energy. “Because Hawaii will see these issues first, I think Hawaii is the perfect place to have these discussions about what the utility needs to do to integrate high levels of renewable energy and high levels of distributed generation.”
Conference registration costs $395. Organizers are offering limited sponsorship opportunities ranging from $500 to $25,000. To learn more, go to www.hightechmaui.com/energyconference.
Maui experienced growth in both visitor expenditures (+8% to $3.7 billion) and arrivals (+2.3% to 2.4 million) during 2013, with the average length of stay remaining steady and daily spending reaching $194 (+4.6%). Hawai’i Tourism Authority CEO Mike McCartney said, “The growth on Maui is evident of the HTA’s efforts to distribute visitors across all of the Hawaiian Islands.”
Read the entire HTA summary here.
Hawai‘i’s tourism economy reached a new record in visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2013. The $14.5 billion in annual visitor expenditures contributed $1.5 billion in state tax revenue, $30 million more (+2%) than the previous record set last year.
McCartney continued, “While we are pleased that we surpassed our 2012 record numbers, we fell short of our 2013 targets. Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, taxes and fuel surcharges have slowed bookings and hampered growth, causing a leveling off throughout the second half of 2013.”
The HTA anticipates this trend to continue into the first half of 2014, especially during the typically slower shoulder travel period in April and May. We continue to work with marketing contractors to review and adjust plans to stimulate the markets in light of current economic and global trends.
“In order to diversify our markets,” McCartney said, “we continue to pivot our focus towards Asia and other developing markets. Our efforts to support airlift, media and travel trade familiarization tours and in-market meetings and promotions have had positive results in 2013 especially from Oceania, Taiwan and China. We anticipate continued growth from these areas with additional increases in airlift this year, including added service from Shanghai and new routes from Beijing.
“We could not have achieved yet another milestone year without the hard work and support of the community, government, and our visitor industry and marketing partners. We look forward to working with everyone to balance the needs of the community while strengthening the tourism economy throughout 2014.”
The sighting of a shark around 4 p.m. today near Kamaole Beach Park II in Kihei has prompted ocean safety officials to close the beach to swimmers and surfers.
Mauiwatch spotters saw the “shark signs” go up after a six-foot shark was spotted near shore. Kamaole Beach Park II spans from The Royal Mauian Resort to Keonikai Street in Kihei. No injuries were reported and the Department of Land and Natural Resources is responding to the area.
The species of shark was not immediately noted. Since no attack occurred, the beach could reopen within a few hours.
By Jeff King
Property Development Centers (PDC) held a blessing and groundbreaking ceremony today for Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center in Kahului, with Target as the new center’s anchor tenant. “Many Maui County residents already shop at Target when they visit their other stores located on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island, and so we welcome them to our community,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa, who participated in the groundbreaking activities.” We also welcome the jobs it will bring during construction and the retail jobs once the store is opened. This is another shopping option for our residents and a great sign that our local economy is growing healthier all the time.”
Kahu Laki Ka’ahumanu directed the pule and the blessing with his own wit and reverence for the land and its people.
The new center sits on the corner of Mokulele Highway and Ho‘okele Street behind Zippy’s restaurant. The 24.45-acre Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center will include over 275,000 square feet of retail space with approximately 1,425 parking stalls. The shopping center will also feature a mix of local and national retailers, restaurants and service providers. The project is expected to generate an estimated 250 construction jobs. When fully occupied, the center is anticipated to bring up to 300 jobs to the area.
PDC is the shopping center development arm of Safeway Corp. There will, however, not be a Safeway store in the Pu’unene Center. Maui already has three major-tenant Safeway locations across the island. PDC officials also declined to identify other high-interest potential tenants. Speculation has included the possibility of Olive Garden and/or Red Lobster opening their first Maui location in the center. The PDC official with whom Maui TV News spoke winked and said, “no comment.”
“We’re excited to break ground on Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center today and begin work on this project,” said David Zylstra, Property Development Centers chief operating officer. “This new retail development will allow us to provide Maui residents with a variety of new and convenient shopping options, as we continue to strengthen our relationship with the local community.”
Goodfellow Bros., which has been doing business in Hawai‘i for more than 90 years, has been selected as the general contractor. The project is expected to be completed in March 2015.
The Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center development is part of the PDC’s ongoing investment in Hawai‘i, and the company’s second major project in the Islands to move forward this week. Yesterday PDC broke ground on the Hokulei Village Shopping Center in Līhu‘e on Kaua‘i. PDC also owns Lahaina Cannery Mall.
Maui Fire investigators have confirmed that a refrigeration unit at Times Supermarket in Kihei exploded around 8:25 Wednesday evening. About 30 employees and customers were in the store when a loud explosion occurred – sending a white vapor cloud throughout and around the store. South Kihei Road was closed for about 30 minutes after the blast. Fire crews observed the white cloud upon arrival and noted that all customers and employees had voluntarily evacuated the store.
Maui Fire Department units from Kihei and Wailea were joined by the Hazmat crew from Kahului. Their initial suspicion was confirmed that a compressor running refrigeration units had exploded. The white vapor cloud was identified as R-22 refrigerant. Two employees complained of dizziness and shortness of breath. But there were no serious injuries and all refused transport to the hospital.
The store remained closed until 11 p.m. Wednesday. At that time, the doors reopened, and – after sufficient ventilation – repairs began on the compressor unit. The store is open this morning – but some “chilled areas” have been emptied until the compressor repairs are complete.
Maui Electric Company crews have restored electrical service to a majority of customers in the parts of Kauhikoa and other laterals, as of 1:31 p.m. A press release says all customers – except one – have restored service.
MECO apologizes for any inconvenience this situation may have caused and thanks customers for their patience and understanding. Read the original posting here.
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