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LETTERS for December 4 issue

December 4, 2014
Lahaina News

Why haven't MECO's rates dropped with oil prices?

I just received my electric bill. Now here is how I calculate the price per kilowatt hour: all the charges - from customer charge to base fuel energy to RBA Rate Adjustment, a total of about $20 - in addition to the base fuel charge and Non Fuel Energy. Kind of very mysterious and ambiguous descriptions.

Bottom line: the price per kilowatt hour went up to 38.58 cents from 38.40 cents last month.

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In January 2014, crude oil was at slightly over $107. On Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, it closed at slightly over $76, having reached levels of $74 and change in the weeks before. That is a decline of about 30 percent. Did the price for electricity go down 30 percent? No!

In January, one kilowatt hour was 38.43 cents. So while oil prices dropped by 30 percent, the price for electricity on Maui remained practically unchanged. Who collects the 30 percent?

Where is the PUC? They have granted MECO an INCREASE in price! This is absolutely outrageous and proof of the incompetence of our PUC to control a company that has an ABSOLUTE MONOPOLY. That is the problem.

On the Mainland, electric prices are an average of slightly under 20 cents per kilowatt hour. Why? I am glad you asked! Because there is competition! That's why.

Something needs to be done. And if it takes firing all the specialists sitting in the PUC, then so be it. If that does not help, then our attorney general should try to find out where the dark hole is where 30 percent just "disappears."

In the meantime, save as much energy as you can, as to not fatten the already gorged company that supplies us with the most expensive energy in the country.

Christmas is around the corner. Unfortunately, with all the Christmas lights, MECO will have another windfall. Sad, to put it very mildly.

JOHN BLAHUTA, Lahaina

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Make the train a landmark

I have said it before, and I will say it now again. The Sugar Cane Train should be a landmark at this point. I can understand Representative McKelvey's passion and heartfelt connection to get the train up and running again at full steam - after all, it is a part of his family history, and his family has done a lot for Maui and this community. That should be respected and admired.

However, history could be saved in a better way. I suggest we make it a nice, very clean and green park where the locals, families, and tourists could meet and eat lunch, and children could play. They can play on your train! Then, if there are any funds left from making a nice monumental park, you can take some of that funding and put it toward our keiki and schools. Put it toward educating them about the dangers of GMOs at a young age by teaching them how to grow their own sustainable, organic foods. I believe if you look up midwestfoodconnection.org, you could get some ideas from them. They seem to be on the right track (no pun intended).

We need you, Rep. McKelvey, to FOCUS on important issues that will better serve the community and keep our air clean. I have a well-respected and reputable sister-in-law who is a landscape architect; she wouldn't mind taking a trip out to Maui to help you get started on some of these projects.

Let's all vote on this one and go back to the polls! Start listening to your own "private citizens" and make some changes that will be long-lasting, not a money pit, yet at the same time protect a piece of your heritage and all of Maui's history. Now that's worth keeping alive!

S. KETTERING, Lahaina

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Advice for the new Sugar Cane Train

When the Sugar Cane Train shut down indefinitely on Aug. 1, 2014, it shocked all of Lahaina, because the train had been a great attraction for just about 45 years. However, there were some people who were very happy because there would be less noisy train whistles and smoke.

But just a little while ago, Craig Hill purchased the company and was able to somehow convince the previous owners (who were from Nebraska) to not dismantle everything. Anaka and Myrtle are very nice steam engines, but the coaches that they were pulling were in mediocre condition. The roofs of the coaches were rotting, and there were coaches that hadn't been used for years. However, Oahu (the backup diesel) had derailed earlier in the year, and that cost the company a lot of lost revenue. Ridership was also down by a lot, and that was one of the main reasons why the company was forced to shut down.

People who rode the train loved the sights and sounds, but other people said that if you go on Honoapiilani Highway, you can see practically everything that you could see from the train. If the new Sugar Cane Train wants to get good business, why not add in something that makes it worthwhile to come on? It could be something small or something large. The company needs to find a way to sway more people to come. The SCT is a historical attraction, but sometimes people find it extremely boring. They should find a way to make it less boring. For now, it seems as though the only real source of entertainment is a conductor who plays a ukulele and a bunch of audio recordings of earlier conductors

Also, the railroad must somehow do something about the idiots who think that they can beat the 8 MPH train through the railroad crossings. Apparently people think that their cars are much faster, which is true in a sense, but a big heavy train will take a lot longer time to slow down. It can't just stop in an instant. Most of the crossings don't have flashing lights, and people will just sit on the tracks waiting for the other cars to pass. The train has to blast its whistle, and that causes a disturbance to some people. The company needs to find a way to warn drivers, instead of just having a one-chime/three-chime steam whistle and a bell. If people have their windows rolled up with the radio blasting, then obviously they may not be paying attention. This could lead to potential disaster, which would not only hurt the train but also people as well.

I'm not trying to be mean in this letter; I am in full support of bringing the train back. I've been riding the Sugar Cane Train since I was four and never stopped riding since. However, if this train company wants to make good business and keep things on track, then they must find a way to maintain everything and a way to attract more people.

Best of luck to the new company and all of their future endeavors.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST

 
 

 

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