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Newswatch

For Sunday, July 10, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:41 a.m. HST, Jul 10, 2011



Law might help homeowners go solar

Hawaii home solar power installations could become more affordable under a law signed Friday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The legislation calls for the investigation and possible creation of a system where residents could finance expensive upfront costs of solar power installations through their electric bills.

Abercrombie recently threatened to veto the measure because of the unfunded strain it would put on state regulators, but private renewable energy groups led by the Blue Planet Foundation then offered to work with the state to cover expenses, his office said.

"If this partnership can come together as envisioned … we can determine whether and how an on-bill financing program can be designed so that more people can participate in Hawaii's clean energy future," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "Working together, we can advance our clean energy goals with the kind of urgency and determination that these times demand."

The law could help defray costs of any renewable energy system, with its most widespread use being to aid homeowners when they want to install solar-powered hot water heaters or rooftop photovoltaic panels.

Residents could slowly pay off their systems over several years through their monthly power bills.

"The biggest obstacle that residents face when it comes to adopting clean energy is the upfront cost, and on-bill financing eliminates that," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director for the Blue Planet Foundation, which supports renewable energy initiatives.

The measure calls for the Public Utilities Commission to investigate the viability of the program. If the commission finds on-bill financing workable, it could create the program without any further legislation.

Vaccinations urged ahead of travel

The state Department of Health is urging residents to get up-to-date with their vaccinations before traveling this summer. Officials are particularly urging measles vaccinations as several mainland states have been experiencing an increased number of measles cases, most of which are related to international travel.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said Friday four members of a Hawaii family contracted measles last year during a mainland vacation.

She notes measles is highly contagious and spreads easily by direct contact with an infected person who is coughing or sneezing.

'Five-0' begins with blessing

A traditional Hawaiian blessing will open the start of production on the new season of the CBS TV series "Hawaii Five-0." Kahu Curt Pa‘alua Kekuna of Kawaiaha‘o Church will conduct a blessing on a Honolulu soundstage Monday morning before cast members, crew and executive producers. Now in its second season, "Hawaii Five-0" is a reboot of a show about an elite crime-fighting team starring Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park.

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Visitor finds grenade on Kealia Beach

A tourist discovered a spent smoke grenade on the north end of Kealia Beach on Kauai Saturday morning, a county news release said.

Officers from the Kauai Police Department and an explosive specialist from the Transportation Security Administration examined the grenade and determined that it was likely spent, as indicated by its missing pin and a hole on the bottom of the canister.

The device will be used as a training aid for TSA employees.

Affordable housing going up in Koloa

Fifty Kauai families will soon be able to rent affordable housing on the South Shore.

Ground was broken Thursday for the second phase of an affordable-housing project on Kauai, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

The $13.8 million project, Pa‘anau Village Phase II, in Koloa, will provide housing for 50 families across the street from Koloa Elementary School and adjacent to Pa‘anau Village Phase I.

The first phase of the Koloa housing project was completed in 1994. Some 60 families currently live there.

Man guilty in second sexual assault

A Kauai man has been convicted of sexual assault for the second time since 1995.

Ernest Roy Moniz Jr., of Puhi, Kauai, was found guilty June 29 after pleading no contest to second-degree sexual assault. He was sentenced to the maximum 10-year term.

Moniz was arrested after sexually assaulting a visitor in a Lihue hotel during the early-morning hours of June 7.

In 1995, Moniz was convicted of sexually assaulting minors on Kauai and served 10 years in prison.






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