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Economic Currents

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A Pocket Full of PIMs

In the arcane parlance of utility regulation, PIMs are “Performance Incentive Mechanisms.”

This is where we’re headed because, slightly against my expectation, Governor Ige recently signed SB 2939, a bill unanimously passed by the legislature that requires that the Public Utilities Commission:

“…establish performance incentives and penalty mechanisms that directly tie an electric utility revenues to that utility’s achievement on performance metrics and break the direct link between allowed revenues and investment levels.”

A nice summary can be found here. In the world of utility regulation, this act might be the equivalent of what Joe Biden called a “Big F[reaking] Deal” for health care. No other state has moved to change the investor-owned utility business model so radically, particularly to “break the direct link between allowed revenues and investment levels.” Like Obamacare, it’s still a compromise with the existing system, one that maintains our investor-owned utility but aims to change its incentives and business model in a profound way.

Just to be clear, PIMs are not new. They have been a part of utility regulation for a long time. But along the lines of what a colleague said the other day, existing PIMs are a bit like children splashing water against the hull of the Titanic in a futile effort to change its course. The core of the utility’s business model, in Hawai‘i and everywhere else, is revenue connected to an excessive rate of return on its own capital expenditure. This act promises to remove that, and make performance metrics the new profit engine.

Will it work?

Well, it depends. Like most things, the devil is in the details. It’s going to be important to get the performance metrics right, and to attach the right level of reward and penalty associated with each one.

In the old textbook model of utility regulation, the main performance metric is cost, and this is easily incentivized with a price cap, one that is just high enough for the utility to earn a fair return, and perhaps gradually lowered over time if the properly incentivized utility finds lower-cost ways of producing and delivering the goods. Sometimes the incentive to keep costs low needs to be buttressed with quality metrics, like customer service and reliability. This old Palgrave chapter by David Newberry has a nice review of the standard thinking.

But this standard thinking, or even Newberry’s longer treatment, probably won’t work with electric utility of the future currently envisioned in Hawai‘i and other places embracing renewables. What’s new is the growth of distributed resources. This isn’t just rooftop solar. It’s batteries, hot water heaters, air conditioners, electric cars and all manner of electricity uses that have potential flexibility in their timing, and can therefore be employed in a way that makes management of intermittent renewables less costly. This changes standard regulatory frameworks because the utility is unlikely to own most of these flexible distributed resources, yet the way they are used and integrated into the system is key to keeping costs low. And since these resources can compete with the utility’s own investments, it creates a palpable conflict with existing assets owned by HECO, those seeking to sell renewable energy storage services, and with customers.

In other words, the integrated system’s costs no longer equal the utility’s costs.

This new law directs the Public Utilities Commission to reconcile conflicts by using performance metrics to better align interests and find the least cost path toward a renewable energy future.

All of which begs the question: What are the best metrics?

So far, the proposed metrics target plethora of narrow issues, hence the title of this post. These fall well short of an encompassing framework that could redefine the utility’s business model. But I think it’s possible to build such a metric. Economics provides some guidance, with reasonably comprehensive monetary metrics of the net social value of our electricity system, including distributed resources. We could even add costs of pollution externalities to such a metric.

Some may quibble with some of the assumptions, and that's an important conversation to have and revisit regularly. But if a reasonable consensus can be achieved about both the assumptions and the model, the PUC could tie the utility’s allowed revenue to a measure of this net social value. Or, more precisely, the difference between a reasonable, agreed-upon target for this metric and the outcome actually achieved. The target would be tied to clearly identifiable input costs, like fuel prices, the cost of renewable energy, battery storage costs, and even costs of capital, so that performance would hinge on how well the various resources are integrated and managed, if the utility can negotiate good deals for certain inputs, or avoid unnecessary expenditures through smart management. Utility ownership of assets would have nothing to do with it -- the utility would simply make more money if it facilitated more social value.

This idea bears more than a little resemblance to a standard way the PUC has always managed rate cases every three years or so to set allowed revenues and rate schedules. When they do this, the utility, PUC and consumer advocate rely on optimization models that are used to estimate costs and set allowed revenue. The idea laid out above bears some similarity to this process, except that it would encompass costs and benefits that would in one way or another extend beyond the utility’s own costs. The new big piece is incorporation of the demand side–-customers' benefits from electricity use. That’s something myself, Mathias Fripp and Imelda, a UH Mānoa PhD student, recently figured out how to do in order to show how much variable pricing and demand response can lower the cost renewable energy.

In conventional utility regulation, the model is used as a cost baseline to set allowed revenue. Here it would set the target level of social value.

Allowed Revenue = a + b ( social value - target social value)

Besides the model assumptions, which would set the target social value, the PUC would need to set levels for a and b, which set baseline revenue for the utility and the degree to which the utility would be rewarded or punished for exceeding or falling short of the target.

All of this may seem abstract, and on some level, it is. I can’t argue with the idea that this is a “black box” model (except that that is publicly available, and there is always a black box model). It will take some work to make it clearer for a broader audience. We'll work on that. It’s still early….

Stepping back, the big picture idea here is to cut all engines on the Titanic and harness the coordinated efforts of its captain together with those of a hundred tugboats to push the ship in better direction for everyone. The metaphorical iceberg here is mass grid defection, which I fear could be more likely, and sooner, than many realize.

- Michael Roberts
UHERO Research Fellow and Professor of Economics

UHERO BLOGS ARE CIRCULATED TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION AND CRITICAL COMMENT. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS.


Publication: Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates

Posted May 10, 2018 | Categories: Blog

UHERO congratulates Tim Halliday and John Lynham on their forthcoming publication of, "Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates," in the Economic Journal. The study uses data on emissions from the Kilauea volcano to estimate the impact of pollutants on health care costs.


Should regulators fear bond-rating agencies?

It seems that our political and administrative leaders worry about the bond rating agencies. Their fear is understandable. The cost of capital looms large in all manner of infrastructure projects, and the cost of that capital depends on how risky investors perceive repayment to be.

The cost of capital also looms large for our investor-owned electric utility. HECO has a lot of capital to finance, some of it through corporate bond issues. It is also the sole “off-taker” for many independent power producers, so its financial health may affect the borrowing costs of these counterparties.

This worry was one predictably raised in response to a bill, now on Governor Ige’s desk, that would force the Public Utilities Commission to:

“…establish performance incentives and penalty mechanisms that directly tie an electric utility revenues to that utility’s achievement on performance metrics and break the direct link between allowed revenues and investment levels.

What does this mean?

It helps to know a bit about the convoluted underbelly of utility regulation. Here in Hawaii, and I believe every other state with investor-owned utilities, Public Utilities Commissions (PUCs) set an allowed revenue that utility companies can collect. That revenue comes from a formula that looks something like the following:

Fuel + Purchased Power + O&M + (Capital Investment) x (Allowed Rate of Return)

The utility has to justify these costs to the PUC, which it must approve. Most costs are basically a pure pass through to customers. The utility makes its profit, enough to provide dividends to shareholders, in basically two ways:

  1. 1. It can try to cut operation and maintenance costs and pocket the savings, although it may lose that allowed revenue in the next rate case.
  2. 2. The allowed rate of return on capital.
  3.  

If the allowed rate of return exceeds what the utility must pay in dividends to shareholders and/or interest rate payments, then utilities have a perverse incentive to tilt everything it does toward maximizing its own capital investment. The only check on the prudency of its investments is the PUC, which must approve most such expenditures.

The good thing about this strange profit mechanism is that, because it basically guarantees that the utility will earn a return on its investments, it’s quite easy for utilities to sell stock and bonds to finance the investment. All of which brings us to the bill on the Governor’s desk and our leaders’ fears of bond-rating agencies.

The bill tries to eliminate this perverse incentive, which basically rewards the utility for maximizing costs, by instead setting revenue based on performance metrics – outcomes that measure value to the utility’s customers and the larger community. These can be anything from measures that show better operation of its power plants to save costs, higher customer satisfaction, and better pollution outcomes.

Performance adjustments already exist in a limited form, but to my knowledge, performance outcomes are not used as the main source of return for any utility. The bill pushes for an unprecedented break from the status quo, and I gather that the Governor is worried (after very intense lobbying by certain interests) that if he signs the bill, HECO’s stock price and its bond rating could be punished by Wall Street.

So, two questions:

  1. 1. Is this fear of bond-rating agencies well justified?
  2. 2. Regardless of bond-rating fears, is this a good bill?

 

First, I think bond-rating fears are overblown. I don’t believe the bill casts reasonable doubt on the idea that the utility will be allowed to make a reasonable return on its investments. It just says that we need to break the “direct link” with capital investments. All manner of corporations easily raise capital monies with debt and equity issues under the expectation of an indirect link between the investments they make and the value of what they produce with those investments. I think it’s clear that this is the bill’s intent.

More pointedly: the PUC must, due to Supreme Court precedent, allow the utility an opportunity to make a fair return. If I were reading this bill the wrong way – and I think it’s clear that I am not – and the bill were to unfairly keep HECO from making a fair return, it would be quickly struck down by the courts. Wall Street knows this. The bond-rating agencies know this.

Incidentally, HECO’s stock price is up relative to a standard utility index since the bill passed the legislature.

Besides, bond rating agencies have a famously poor track record of predicting anything. (Anyone recall AAA stated-income mortgaged-backed securities?) The academic literature indicates that ratings changes mostly follow the market, with a long lag. Below is a graph from an early classic paper on the link between bond rating changes and stock market returns. It shows that upgrades follow good performance and downgrades follow bad performance. But the upgrades and downgrades have no apparent effect – or possibly even a countervailing effect — on returns after the rating change.

Source: Pinches and Singlelton, Journal of Finance, 1978

The literature shows that bond yields bear a similar relationship with rating changes. Some papers seem to show a subsequent effect for small firms with persistently low-rated corporate debt. But the size of the effect is small.

I’m not the only economist who is cynical about the bond rating agencies. Paul Krugman has noted how markets shrugged after US and Japanese debt got downgraded.

So, don’t fear the bond-rating agencies. Instead, look squarely at fundamentals. Which brings us to the second question: Is this bill a good idea?

Economists have long criticized rate-of-return regulation given its perverse incentive to maximize capital investment and the difficulty of the PUC in policing every investment decision. Here in Hawai‘i, our PUC has famously difficult staffing issues due to limited funding and a revolving door between them, the utility and other interests. Unsurprisingly, the utility pays higher salaries. It’s a challenging dynamic, to put it politely.

Worse, rate-of-return regulation gives the utility no incentive to find innovative solutions. If there is any advantage to having an investor-owned utility rather than a municipality or cooperative like KIUC (Kaui‘i’s electric utility), it is that they should have strong incentives to control costs and find innovative solutions to problems. Rate-of-return regulation undercuts that advantage.

This bill comes at a time when innovative solutions are increasingly important, capital investment is about to explode, and regulation is increasingly difficult. These changes are happening due to rapidly changing technologies and our transition toward 100% renewable energy. These changes expand the scope for innovation to better integrate and manage the variability of sun and wind resources. Many if not most of these opportunities involve investment by customers and independent power producers. Under rate-of-return regulation, these third-party investments can be efficient, but may be explicitly or implicitly resisted by the utility since they displace their own capital investment and source of profit. In other words, rate-of-return regulation causes more problems today than it has in the past.

So, the spirit of this bill is right on target.

The gaping hole in this bill is what it excludes: specific performance metrics that would replace rate-of-return and provide the new source of the utility’s revenue allowance. It kicks these details to the PUC.  Getting these metrics right for the utility of the future is critical. It’s also largely unchartered territory.

The PUC, of course, knows about all of these issues and could make all of these changes unilaterally. It doesn’t need this bill to change the way it determines the utility’s allowed revenue.  And just the other day the PUC opened a docket on performance-based regulation. The timing of the docket’s opening and the Governor’s decision about whether or not to sign this bill is unlikely a coincidence.

The PUC is telling Governor Ige: Don’t sign the bill! We got this!

But do they?

We have a laudable PUC and Consumer Advocate. These agencies are underfunded and overworked, and I think it is clearly evident that despite all the pressures they face, they do work tirelessly for the public interest. They are not captured by the utility.

But I do fear that the regulatory process is largely captured by the utility industry and the armies of consultants and vested interests that travel the country to testify on their behalf. And while change can occur within this process, it is slow. Very slow. With regard to this particular feature of regulation – the excessively high rate of return on the utility’s own capital investment – there appears to be a universal intransigence. To my knowledge, no PUC in the country has accomplished more than a tiny reduction in the allowed rate of return, much less a complete removal of the direct link and full reliance on performance metrics.

So, I gather that the PUC, and the utility, worry about how this law would constrain them. It would force profound change between now and January 2020 when the bill would go into full effect. That’s not much time to completely reinvent the utility’s revenue model. The standard process does not normally invoke that much change so quickly.

While I can understand why the PUC feels this is a risky bill, I fear that the risk is greater if we do not change fast enough. HECO’s costs are rising and technological change is relentlessly advancing, giving customers more options. The utility is pushing hard for grid upgrades that are expensive, but could become obsolete if enough customers leave the grid. A grid defection death spiral could be near.

The larger risk is a mountain of stranded assets, combined with punishingly high electricity prices for the most vulnerable customers—renters who cannot defect. This risk is also the State’s risk, since it may be on the hook for a bailout if the PUC approves investments in assets that quickly become obsolete. (I am told that the State probably would not be on the hook legally, due to this precedent, but the end game here would be ugly regardless.) And political leaders who enabled the catastrophe will, of course, have to answer to voters.

We can’t kick this can anymore. We have to act. This bill isn’t ideal—it doesn’t tell us the right performance metrics that would better align the utilities incentives with the public interest. But it does force us to make these hard choices soon.

- Michael Roberts
UHERO Research Fellow and Professor of Economics

UHERO BLOGS ARE CIRCULATED TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION AND CRITICAL COMMENT. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS.


Linking land and sea to inform ahupua‘a (ridge-to-reef) management in Hawai‘i – NSF Coastal SEES

Posted March 19, 2018 | Categories: Blog, Project Environment

A community member from Haʻēna, located on the windward side of Kauaʻi (see Fig 1A), said “come” as she offered her hand inviting me in. I stepped into the forming circle of the pule (prayer), and we stood together silently listening to an oli chanted by a local kupuna (elder) (see Photo 1A). This moment blessed the opening of a public hearing which eventually led to the passage of rule package of Haʻēna Community Based Subsistence Fisheries Management Area (CBSFA) in mid-2015. The significance of this event cannot be understated. This was the first time in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi that local-level fisheries management rules based on indigenous Hawaiian practices were recognized. Among these rules, a marine refuge (Makua Pu‘uhonua) was designated in the sheltered lagoon of Makua reef to protect a key fish nursery area (see Fig 1B). That same year, the community of Kaʻūpūlehu, located on the leeward side of Hawaiʻi Island (see Fig 1A), initiated a law implementing a 10-year fishing rest period known as ‘Try Wait’ (see Photo 1B). This resulted in the protection of the entire coral reef fringing reef area (see Fig 1C).

Figure 1. Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu ahupua‘a location. (A) Location of Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu ahupua‘a on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi along the main Hawaiian Island chain, with island age and the direction of the prevailing north-east tradewinds and ocean swell indicated. Land use/cover and marine closure/fishing rest area are shown for (B) Hā‘ena and (C) Ka‘ūpūlehu.

Photo 1. (A) Pule at Haʻēna prior to the public hearing for the CBSFA package rules, (B) Gathering at Kaʻūpūlehu prior to the public hearing for the ‘Try Wait’ fishing rest area.

These two communities embody a cultural renaissance that seeks to revive customary management approaches, such as pono fishing practices, kapu (traditional closures), and the ahupua‘a (ridge-to-reef) approach in Hawai‘i to protect terrestrial, freshwater, and marine resources. Both communities initiated these marine closures to protect fish species that feed on algae (herbivorous fish). Without these herbivorous species, algae blooms can cover the reef when excess nutrients flow into the sea from the land. By eating the algae, these protected fish create space for new corals to settle and ensure the persistence or resilience of the reefs. Resilience has been defined as the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbances without shifting to an alternative state, while maintaining its functions and supporting human uses. These local communities are also interested in a better understanding of how land-based sources of pollutants from golf courses, lawns and cesspools affect their marine ecosystems. Even with healthy herbivorous fish populations, these pollutants take a toll on coral reefs, especially with increases in ocean temperature and acidity as a result of climate change. It is important to these communities, and the health of all marine ecosystems, to ensure that future planning takes these impacts into account to promote coral reef resilience to climate change.

Ridge-to-reef management has been widely advocated to foster coral reef resilience, though the degree to which managing land-based pollutants can benefit coral reefs varies among places. In an effort to promote coral reef resilience to climate change, we adopted the traditional ahupua‘a framework to study the effect of existing coastal development on coral reefs and support the restoration of community-based management in Hawai‘i and other Pacific islands. In addition to their engaged communities, we focused on these two locations because they are very different in terms of human coastal development and natural coral reef structure. Hā‘ena is mostly rural with a number of private residences along the coast (see Fig 1B). Kaʻūpūlehu is both commercially and residentially more developed than Hāʻena, with two large luxury resorts, a golf course, and several private residences along the southern end of the coast (see Fig 1C). The powerful waves in Hā‘ena have over time carved wider and shallower reef flats and produced shallow lagoons protected from the swell by well-developed reef crests. In comparison, the coral reefs of Ka‘ūpūlehu are younger and form a relatively narrow fringe on the steep slope of that island.

Effective ridge-to-reef management requires improved understanding of land-sea linkages and tools to evaluate the effects of land (e.g. nutrients carried through groundwater) and marine drivers (e.g. wave power and reef topography) on coral reefs. To accomplish this, we developed a framework to link land to sea through groundwater and identify areas on land to manage human-derived nutrients and promote coral reef resilience (see Fig 2). We applied this framework in Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu ahupua‘a, to compare outcomes from these different places and inform place-based ridge-to-reef management.

Fig 2. Linked land-sea modeling framework. Based on (A) climate, groundwater, and nutrient concentration data, (B) groundwater flow and nutrient concentrations were modeled. (C) Nutrient flux from anthropogenic drivers were added to the background nutrient flux. (D) A land-sea link was created by sub-dividing the groundwater model domain into ‘flow tubes’ ending at pour points along the shoreline. (E) The coastal discharge models used the groundwater flow and nutrient flux and GIS distance-based models to generate the land-based driver grid data. (F) The wave model and bathymetry data were coupled with (G) GIS-based models to generate the marine driver grid data. (H) The coral reef predictive models were calibrated on coral reef survey data. (I) Outputs were: (1) response curves, (2) maps of benthic and fish indicators, and (3) a linked land-sea decision-support tool.

Geologically older and exposed to the trade winds, Hā‘ena receives high rainfall, resulting in steeply eroded cliffs, with high surface and groundwater flow (see Fig 3A). Geologically younger and located in the rain shadows of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea mountains, Ka‘ūpūlehu is very dry and barely eroded, resulting in low surface flow and high groundwater flow (see Fig 3B). More rain in Hā‘ena means that nutrients are more diluted (less concentrated) than Ka‘ūpūlehu which is much drier. Our groundwater models showed that groundwater in Ka‘ūpūlehu has high levels of nitrogen from natural sources. At Hā‘ena, most nutrients come from natural processes due to abundant rainfall and groundwater flow. The key sources of human-derived nutrients were wastewater from houses on cesspools at Hā‘ena and the golf course and wastewater from the injection well at Kaʻūpūlehu.

Fig 3. Illustration of the groundwater system at Hā‘ena and Kaʻūpūlehu. (A) Hā‘ena is located on old, wet, wave exposed coast of Kauai, (B) Kaʻūpūlehu is young, dry, and wave sheltered.

To measure the resilience of the coral reefs at each location, we looked at four benthic groups and four fish groups based on their ecological roles and cultural importance to the communities. The benthic groups were crustose coralline algae (CCA), hard corals, turf, and macroalgae. CCA and corals are active reef builders which provide habitat for reef fishes. CCA also stabilize the reef in high-wave environments. Abundant benthic algae can be a sign of high nutrients or low numbers of herbivorous fish, which can harm coral health through competition for space. Algae-eating fish identified as important by the communities (e.g., surgeonfishes and parrotfishes) were modeled based on their feeding modes and ecological role: (1) browsers, (2) grazers, and (3) scrapers.

Our coral reef models showed that high wave power at Hā‘ena has shaped the living community of the reefs which are dominated by CCA and turf algae with many grazers and less scrapers (see Fig 4A). Makua lagoon area is an exception where corals are able to grow, sheltered from powerful waves by a well-developed reef crest. In contrast, low wave power in Ka‘ūpūlehu has resulted in coral dominated reefs with high turf and many grazers and scrapers (see Fig 4B). Our coral reef models also showed that land-based nutrients from groundwater can increase benthic algae, suppress coral and CCA, and decrease numbers of locally important fish at both sites.

Fig 4. Illustrations of the coral reefs. Coral reef community in (A) Hā‘ena and (B) Kaʻūpūlehu.

Coral reefs in Hā‘ena seem less susceptible to nutrient inputs from coastal development because they benefit from dilution and mixing, due to high freshwater and wave power. Hā‘ena is rural with limited development or agriculture, so most of the nutrients come from natural processes, with the exception of land areas to the east of the ahupua‘a where nutrients are largely human-derived (see Fig 1B). These areas that contribute high human nutrients lie upstream from the protected reef fish nursery at Makua. We identified this reef as vulnerable to algae blooms and coral bleaching due to the nearness of human-derived nutrient sources, limited mixing from shallow depth and low wave power, and abundant corals and turf algae (marked in red in Fig 5A). To promote coral reef resilience to climate change, Hā‘ena community can focus on upgrading cesspools in the priority areas that we identified, located upstream from Makua (located in blue zone in Fig 5A).

On the other hand, Ka‘ūpūlehu coral reefs seem more vulnerable to nutrient inputs from coastal development due to high levels of background nitrogen in the groundwater and limited dilution and mixing from low rainfall and wave power. Additionally, Ka‘ūpūlehu’s plentiful coral cover is prone to coral bleaching. Based on our findings, the community can focus on not increasing phosphorus inputs from the wastewater injection well (located in the pink zone in Fig 5B) to reduce the vulnerability of coral reefs located downstream (marked in green tea in Fig 5B). In addition, the community can help foster resilience of their coral reefs (marked in red in Fig 5B) by ensuring that environmentally sound practices are continued when fertilizing the golf course, particularly in the land areas located upstream from Uluweuweu bay and Kahuwai bay (located in blue zone in Fig 5B). This will also help to protect the water quality of a culturally important groundwater spring (Wai a Kāne) that was identified by the Ka‘ūpūlehu community in Kahuwai bay (Fig 1C).

Fig 5. Coral reef areas vulnerable to land-based nutrients and priority land areas at Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu. (A) Hā‘ena and (B) Ka‘ūpūlehu coral reef areas vulnerable to nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) combined with the priority land areas with the highest human derived nutrients and therefore, where management action should focus on managing wastewater and fertilizers practices.

This research shows that place matters! Different environmental conditions make place-based solutions essential. Second, protecting herbivorous fish is key for coral growth and recovery. Last but not least, efforts to protect coral reefs need to address nutrient inputs from golf courses and cesspools. Using this framework, we located coral reefs vulnerable to land-based nutrients and linked them to areas on land where limiting sources of human-derived nutrients could prevent increases in benthic algae and promote chances of coral recovery from bleaching. Following on this research, we used this framework to assess the three human factors most relevant to these communities and across Hawai‘i more broadly: coastal development, fishing and climate change. More to come!

Note: This work was funded by the NSF Coastal SEES and formed a chapter of my PhD dissertation at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (refer to the published article at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193230). The NSF Coastal SEES project Principal Investigators were: Tamara Ticktin (UHM Botany), Kim Burnett (UHERO), Stacy Jupiter (Wildlife Conservation Society, Melanesia), Alan Friedlander (UHM Biology and National Geographic), Tom Giambelluca (UHM Geography), Mehana Vaughan (UHM NREM), Kawika Winter (National Tropical Botanical Garden), Lisa Mandle (Natural Capital Project, Stanford), and Heather McMillen (NREM). Special thanks to the researchers who contributed to this work, in particular Robert Whittier, Kostantinos Stamoulis, Leah Bremer, Natalie Kurashima, and Cheryl Geslani. Many thanks to a collaborating artist, Sophie Eugène, for the illustrations and the Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (ian.umces.edu/symbols/) for the marine symbols. I would like to also thank Tamara Smith for editing this piece. Finally, we are grateful to our community and landowner partners in Kaʻūpūlehu and Haʻēna who inspired this research and made this project possible.

- Jade Delevaux
Geospatial scientist in the Department of Geology & Geophysics. School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

UHERO BLOGS ARE CIRCULATED TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION AND CRITICAL COMMENT. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS.


Makena Coffman appointed to Climate Change Commission

UHERO congratulates Makena Coffman on her appointment to Honolulu's Climate Change Commission. The goal of the commission is to assess potential impacts of climate change on Hawaii, and to provide policy makers with recommendations to address these impacts.

Makena Coffman is the co-director of Project Environment, UHERO Research Fellow, and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning.


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