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Acting state energy chief named

The state announced yesterday the promotion of Estrella Seese to acting energy administrator following the resignation of Ted Peck last week to take a job in the private sector.

Seese has more than 30 years of experience in the energy field, most recently as manager of energy planning policy in the state’s energy office. Before that she served as director of pricing at Hawaiian Electric Co. overseeing the development and implementation of electric rates on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

"Estrella has the depth and breadth of knowledge about the energy issues and challenges facing Hawaii," said Richard Lim, acting director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "I am confident that under her leadership she will be able to work with the outstanding staff at the energy office to help the state reach the Hawaii Clean Energy initiative goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030."

Peck quit his state job to become president of Kuokoa, a startup company that has proposed acquiring HEI Industries Inc., the parent of HECO.

Kauai utility signs hydroelectric pact

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said it has signed a preliminary agreement with a Massachusetts-based company to explore the development of hydroelectric energy projects on Kauai.

"This is the first step in a lengthy public process to explore the viability of several hydroelectric projects," said David Bissell, acting chief executive officer at KIUC. "Our members have long recognized the hydroelectric potential on Kauai, and we feel now we have the financial resources and the proven developer to move forward," Bissell said in a news release.

KIUC signed the agreement with hydropower developer Free Flow Power Corp. of Gloucester, Mass. The utility did not mention which rivers on Kauai may be considered for the projects.

As part of the process, Free Flow Power has filed four preliminary applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If granted, the permits would allow KIUC and Free Flow Power to further explore the viability of the projects, a process that will take several years and require numerous reviews by a variety of regulatory agencies.

There are currently five commercial hydroelectric power plants in the state, three on the Big Island and two on Maui, with a maximum generating capacity of about 21 megawatts.

Auto workers set for big payouts

The sweeping overhaul and surprising recovery of the U.S. auto industry is about to pay off for blue-collar workers at Ford and General Motors.

The two big Detroit carmakers will announce profit-sharing checks this month for their hourly workers, perhaps the largest in a decade, company officials and industry analysts say.

While the payouts, expected to top $5,000 at Ford, underscore the turnaround, they also foreshadow the enormous challenge awaiting the rebounding companies: how to maintain and build on their financial health while keeping their historically restive work force in line.

Fed says economy ends year strongly

WASHINGTON » The U.S. economy ended last year on an encouraging note, with all parts of the country showing improvements. Factories produced more, shoppers spent more and companies hired more — pointing to a stronger economy in 2011.

That’s the picture that emerged from the Federal Reserve’s survey of economic conditions released yesterday.

Still, risks loom. Declining home prices and millions of foreclosures are depressing housing markets around the country, the survey said.


Kiewit Building Group has named the following to its management team: Sharon Thom as director of pre-construction operations; Kamu Anderson to director of construction operations; Sheri Mau to director of administrative services; and Tom Broderick appointed to director for Kiewit’s rail maintenance facility project.

Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation has appointed Lisa Varde as their development specialist. She was previously a director of development for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and also worked at St. Francis Medical Center, Honolulu Theatre for Youth and the Hawaii Foodbank.

Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union has promoted Marivic Chico to assistant branch manager at Kaimuki and Hawaii Kai branches from branch supervisor at Hawaii Kai and Kaimuki branches. She has nine years of financial service experience, which includes being in the credit union industry for five years.

Best Lawyers in America for Labor and Employment Law has honored Richard M. Rand as the "2011 Lawyer of the Year." He is a partner at Marr Jones & Wang and has practiced labor and employment law in Hawaii for more than 27 years.


Star-Advertiser staff

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