Thursday, October 6, 2011


BURN BABY BURN: Ian Lind used to call it a "two newspaper day" when, first of all Honolulu had two newspapers and, they apparently got different information resulting in a different "lede" in each.

But even after the so-called merger of the two, today's treatment throughout the state on Kaua`i Island Utility Coop's (KIUC) announcement that they're going to try to take money they borrowed for a generation unit and instead build "the largest solar installation in the state," yielded at least two distinctly different stories nonetheless.

The local Kaua`i newspaper's Business Editor Vanessa Van Voorhis started by regurgitating the KIUC press release announcement, writing in her lede

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative on Wednesday announced its intent to pursue the development of a 10-megawatt solar farm, which would be the largest of its kind in the state.

“KIUC would have more solar PV concentration (per capita) than any utility in the U.S., if this project can be successfully developed,” KIUC CEO David Bissell said in a press release.

The co-op intends to construct the integrated PV and Battery Energy Storage System project by reallocating a $68 million previously approved loan from Rural Utility Service. RUS had approved the funding for a 10-MW “Gen X” or “CT2” combustion turbine generator.

But then well into the article she pulls the following fact from, well, apparently nowhere:

KIUC says the combustion turbine was originally hoped to be fueled by renewable bio-diesel, but that technology has not developed quickly enough to realistically use the RUS funds in the approved timeframe.

Who "KIUC" is in this case is unknown since the press release doesn't say a thing about what kind of fuel the "10-MW 'Gen X” or “CT2' combustion turbine generator" uses. Perhaps Van Voorhis was confused by an announcement a year ago that KIUC had signed an agreement to buy bio-diesel for their Ele`ele power plant. But the term "combustion generator" sounds like something quite different from burning bio-diesel. Then again what do we know.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser wasn’t much help since they apparently didn't even bother to call anyone, re-upchucking the original KIUC chuck.

But, as many have found, there's a new kid on the block.

At the on-line "newspaper" Civil Beat we apparently get the real story from reporter Sophie Cocke. She spoke to KIUC Production Manager Brad Rockwell, before writing the following headline and lede.

Kauai Scraps Biomass Plant for Solar Farm

Biomass is out, solar is in.

The Kauai utility is planning to use $68 million in funds that had originally been allocated for a biomass plant to build the largest photovoltaic array on the island – 10 megawatts.

Jeez- was that so hard? And all in 38 words.

Two different "newspapers of record" and one can't bother to make any phone calls and the other calls only the spokesperson for KIUC and seemingly gets the story wrong.

The usual excuse at the paper on Kaua`i is that, as local people often say to their often FOB reporters, "you ain’t from around here, are ya?". But Cocke isn't exactly from Makaweli either.

Guess it's just another "can't anyone here play this game?" day.


Chief Joseph said...

Hey Andy -- You say Vanessa "pulls the following fact from, well, apparently nowhere" about bio-diesel and "perhaps Van Voorhis was confused by an announcement a year ago."

That's a stretch, it's on page two of Wednesday's press release. In your overzealous attempt to knock the reporter, you screwed up.

Andy Parx said...

Well apparently you're right. Page 2 of the release apparently did not load properly when we looked at it and the "KIUC attribution was confusing. We apologize for the mistake.