New & Noteworthy: Lehua Rat Project, GEMS

posted in: July 2017 | 0

Lehua Rat Project: The Department of Land and Natural Resources has been given the green light to award a contract to Island Conservation of New Zealand for preparation of a plan to eradicate rats from Lehua Island, located a few miles off Ni`ihau.

The work, for which the company will be paid $191,500, includes development of “an implementation-ready operational plan and budget” for eradicating Polynesian rats from the island. The first phase will include monitoring of plant productivity and rat reproductive rates over the summer.

As the DLNR noted in its request for an exemption from the competitive bidding process otherwise required, the new contract is for work that began in June 2016 and which has been supported with both state and private sources.

“Island Conservation will be the technical lead and will guide the implementation of the rat eradication from Lehua in partnership with the DLNR-[Division of Forestry and Wildlife]. Because IC has been an ongoing partner with DOFAW on the Lehua Island project for several years, and a $470,000 grant from [the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation] has already been awarded to DOFAW naming IC as a necessary subcontractor, it would be detrimental to the Lehua Island Restoration project to require a competitive procurement process,” the DLNR stated in its request for bid exemption.

The state procurement officer approved the request on June 13.

On-Bill Repayment for GEMS: The Hawai`i Green Infrastructure Authority, responsible for disbursing bond proceeds of $142 million to further the state’s clean-energy goals, recently issued two contracts intended to develop the means for Hawaiian Electric customers receiving Green Energy Market Securitization loans to repay them through their monthly electric bills.

The contracts are with Concord Servicing ($156,000), the company that oversees GEMS loans to individuals, and Hawaiian Electric ($91,000).

HGIA had also wanted to issue a $50,000 contract with Leidos Engineering, which runs the Hawaii Energy program for the state. But, according to Gwen Yamamoto Lau, HGIA executive director, “The contract that was intended for Leidos is on hold because the programmer left Hawai`i Energy last month and is working for a different company.”

Late April, the HGIA submitted requests to the state procurement officer for approval of these contracts as sole-source contracts. The requests were withdrawn in mid-June – because, says Yamamoto, “it was determined that these contracts qualify for procurement exemption provided by Act 211 (2013).” This is the legislation that established the GEMS program and allows contracts it makes to be exempt from statutes that otherwise would require competitive bidding.

The HGIA has long argued that on-bill repayment is vital to its stated mission of extending the benefits of energy-efficient technology to low-income households. As it noted in its most recent quarterly report to the Public Utilities Commission, it was hoping to build on work that had already been done for the PUC in its now-abandoned efforts to develop a means for on-bill repayment: “Through the work done … by Hawaii Energy and its working groups, the PUC has extensive information and data on the benefit of an on-bill repayment mechanism, the potential in Hawaii’s market for … ratepayers, and its related cost benefit.”

In 2014 and 2015, the PUC paid several hundred thousand dollars to a consultant to develop an on-bill repayment program for all customers, but when the consultant elected to do no further work, that effort was dropped and the PUC closed down the project.

Quote of the Month

““There are people that don’t like the fireworks.”

— Suzanne Case, Land Board 

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