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AAA Hawaii to cut insurance rates

AAA Hawaii will reduce auto insurance rates by an average 10 percent, or $120 per policy per year, having received approval from state Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt.

In addition to the rate reduction that will begin July 1, other discounts on auto insurance may be available to AAA Hawaii members such as for multiple vehicles, safe driving and multiple policies.


HECO approved for biodiesel charge

The state Public Utilities Commission has given Hawaiian Electric Co. the green light to buy renewable biodiesel from a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Group of Iowa.

HECO announced in January that it had signed a two-year contract for 3 million to 7 million gallons of renewable biodiesel per year.

The fuel from used cooking oil, known as yellow grease, and waste animal fat will power Hawaiian Electric’s new 110-megawatt unit at Campbell Industrial Park.

The PUC also approved a contract for HECO to buy 1 million gallons of palm oil-derived biodiesel from Sime Darby of Malaysia. The fuel will be used by HECO subsidiary Maui Electric Co. for its biodiesel demonstration project at Maalaea Power Plant.

The approvals allow Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric to recover the cost of the fuels, transportation, storage and related costs in the energy-cost adjustment surcharge, HECO said.

The utilities make no profit on such fuel costs, it said.


Queen’s, HMSA OK pay plan for care

Queen’s Health Systems and Hawaii Medical Service Association have reached an agreement in which the state’s largest health insurer will pay Queen’s based on the quality and safety of the care provided rather than for the quantity of services performed.

"Health care costs have been increasing at unsustainable levels," said Art Ushijima, president and chief executive officer of Queen’s. "Queen’s and HMSA have come together to find concrete ways to address this urgent situation.

The new agreement focuses on quality and efficiency and will help us bend the cost curve over time with the goal of keeping health care manageable and accessible for the people of Hawaii."


GM pulls back on dealership cuts

DETROIT » General Motors will keep open about 900 dealerships across the country that it had planned to close, a shift in corporate strategy that could preserve thousands of jobs.

The automaker will wind up with about 5,000 U.S. dealers in July, up from original plans for 4,100, Mark Reuss, GM’s North America president, told the Associated Press. It had about 6,000 when it filed for bankruptcy last year.

The change represents a desire by GM’s new leadership team to avoid the expense of closing dealerships, a step they say is not critical to bring the company back to profits.

Separately, GM said it was recalling about 1.5 million vehicles worldwide because of a problem with a heated windshield wiper fluid system that could lead to a fire, its second recall over the issue in two years.

The recall covers the 2006-2009 model year Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Hummer H2; 2008-2009 Buick Enclave and Cadillac CTS; 2007-2009 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT; 2007-2009 Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe; 2007-2009 GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL; 2007-2009 Saturn Outlook; and 2009 Chevrolet Traverse.


On the move

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina has hired Geri Marino as director of event management. She was previously a director of event planning and senior event manager for Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa for nine years.

D.R. Horton-Schuler Division has hired Cameron Nekota as vice president. His experience includes development project manager for Aina Nui Corp. and Kapolei Property Development, and deputy prosecuting attorney with the City and County of Honolulu.

Graham Builders has hired Caryn Lau as sales and marketing director. She was previously a fun coordinator/relief guest relations manager at Sheraton Waikiki Hotel as well as a flight attendant for Aloha Airlines for 24 years.

Hoakalei Country Club has named Ayumi Hori as apprentice golf professional. She will be an integral part of the day-to-day golf operation, and also will perform member clinics and private lessons.

The Pacific Beach Hotel has appointed Robert Wakida as general manager of Oceanarium Restaurant. He has more than 25 years of management experience in the food and beverage area of hotels and restaurants.


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