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Business Briefs

For Tuesday, November 8, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services

LAST UPDATED: 1:55 a.m. HST, Nov 8, 2011

California firm gets Maui smart grid project

California-based Silver Spring Networks has been selected to carry out a smart grid project on Maui that will test systems designed to allow greater integration of renewable energy into Maui Electric Co.'s electrical grid.

MECO and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii are overseeing the project, which will test the effectiveness of various smart grid technologies. Information gathered during the project will help MECO cope with the variability of wind and solar energy that can adversely affect the integrity of the electrical grid.

"We are pleased to be working with MECO and HNEI in their efforts to better serve their customers and meet the growing energy demands of the island and state," said Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO of Silver Spring Networks.

Maui has the largest amount of wind energy of any Hawaiian island, with 71 megawatts of generating capacity installed and another 21 megawatts in the pipeline. The island also has about 8 megawatts of solar generating capacity.

Judge OKs settlement in BoA overdraft suit

MIAMI » A federal judge on Monday gave final approval to a $410 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit affecting more than 13 million Bank of America customers who had debit card overdrafts during the past decade.

Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King said the agreement was fair and reasonable, even though it drew criticism from some customers because they would receive only a fraction of what they paid in overdraft fees. The fees were usually $35 per occurrence.

The settlement became final a week after Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America backed off a plan to charge a $5 monthly fee for debit-card purchases. The outcry prompted other major banks to cancel trial tests of their own debit card fees.

Bank attorney Laurence Hutt said 13.2 million Bank of America customers who had debit cards between January 2001 and May 2011 would get some payment. Those who still have accounts would get an automatic credit, and the others would get a check mailed to them. No one would have to take any action or fill out any paperwork.

Barry Himmelstein, an attorney for customers who objected to the deal, said he calculated that the bank actually raked in $4.5 billion through the overdraft fees and was repaying less than 10 percent. He said the average customer in the case had $300 in overdraft fees, making them eligible for a $27 award -- less than one overdraft charge -- from the lawsuit.

Dreamliner's landing gear malfunctions

LOS ANGELES » The world's first Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner experienced a problem with its landing gear less than two weeks after the new aircraft embarked on its maiden passenger flight for carrier All Nippon Airways.

The airline's pilots had to manually deploy the Dreamliner's landing gear after the automated system did not engage, the company said.

The incident occurred on a Sunday morning flight when the plane was approaching Okayama Airport in western Japan from Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The aircraft has since resumed operations.

Nao Gunji, an All Nippon spokeswoman, said the problem was linked to a hydraulic valve.

Chicago-based Boeing said it had technicians on site to work with All Nippon to fix the problem.

The Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jetliner that Boeing says is the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made. It features a suite of new technologies, such as the largest windows on a commercial jetliner and extensive use of strong, lightweight carbon composites rather than sheets of aluminum.

The aircraft was delivered to All Nippon more than three years late because of design and supplier problems. It took off on its first passenger flight Oct. 26.


National March of Dimes has honored John Henry Felix with its Elaine Whitelaw Volunteer Service Award. He is the chairman emeritus of the March of Dimes Hawaii Chapter as well as chairman of the March of Dimes national board of trustees, the first Hawaii resident to head a major national health agency.


SKAI Ventures has named Cindy Adams vice president of marketing. She will lead the company's marketing division, which includes business development, public relations and sales-related activities for SKAI Ventures and its portfolio companies.


The Professional Women's Network has awarded scholarships to the following:

» Elizabeth "Biz" Kellam is a Realtor associate with Century 21 Paradise International and will use her award to gain certifications.

» Leslie Thomson hopes for a career as a photographer and will use her scholarship to attend the annual workshop for photography students on Maui.


The Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council of the National Association of Realtors has awarded Audrey J. Hutton the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation. She is a Realtor for McGhin & Co.

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