Panel approves electric rate hike
HILO, Hawaii The state Public Utilities Commission has approved a 4.86 percent rate increase for Hawaii Electric Light Co.
Yesterday's approval of the final increment of the proposed rate hike means that a typical Big Island household using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will have seen its monthly bill increase by about $1.50, to $119.
HELCO customers already have been paying a 3.52 percent interim rate increase, so there remains only a 1.34 percent rate boost that will take effect Thursday.
The rate hike will generate $8.3 million that HELCO said would be used to help pay for power bought from independent producers, including Hilo Coast Power Co. and the new 60-megawatt plant built by Hamakua Energy Partners.
The additional money also will pay for system improvements, including transmission line upgrades from Waimea to Honokaa needed to carry power purchased from the Hamakua plant.
The utility originally requested a 9 percent increase that would have generated $15.5 million.
Man, 18, killed in Kahului crash
KAHULUI, Maui An 18-year-old man was killed Tuesday night when he lost control of his 1996 Honda Civic on a road near Kahului Airport and slammed into a fire hydrant, a light post and a tree.
His three 18-year-old male passengers, all from Wailuku, suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment.
No one in the car was wearing seat belts, according to Maui police.
Casey A. Nakamoto of Wailuku was driving on Lanui Circle near the employee parking lot at the airport when the collision occurred at 10:48 p.m. Police said he was attempting to change lanes on a curve when he lost control of the vehicle and jumped the curb. He died at the scene.
Fire destroys home in Captain Cook
CAPTAIN COOK, Hawaii Fire destroyed a two-bedroom home on St. John's Road in Captain Cook.
The wooden structure was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at 2:55 p.m. Wednesday. The fire, which also burned a vehicle parked next to the house, was reported under control about a half-hour later and extinguished at 3:49 p.m.
Big Island fire officials estimated the loss at $255,000. The owner of the unoccupied home was identified as James Okinaga.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Mayor appoints department chief
HILO, Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim has appointed Jane Testa as director of Hawaii Countys Department of Research and Development.
Her qualifications include expertise in the area of community-based economic development, Kim said.
Prior to her appointment, Testa had been working at the county Office on Aging since 1980. She earned bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Hawaii in education-related fields.
Hilo man held in attempted murder
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii A Hilo man has been charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault in an attack on another man Monday at a home in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, Ka¬.
Charles Myron "Chucky" Freitas, 61, is being held in lieu of $22,000 bail.
The victim, identified by authorities as Carl Whittaker, 46, of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, was released Tuesday from Kona Community Hospital. Police said Whittakers throat was slashed.
An investigation determined that the two had been drinking at a third persons home in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates when the incident occurred at about 8:25 p.m. The two men reportedly had a previous disagreement.
Search continues for missing woman
LIHUE, Kauai Firefighters yesterday searched a second day for a 68-year-old woman who disappeared after heading down Anini Beach Road with snorkeling gear.
One witness reported having seen someone snorkeling near the channel through the Anini reef, but the identity of that snorkeler could not be determined.
Firefighters used helicopter overflights, beach searches and boats with dive teams. They searched until darkness Wednesday and through the day yesterday.
The woman, a visitor, was at the beach with her family and headed west along the beach road with snorkel gear about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. She was described as 5-foot-2 and about 130 pounds, wearing a turquoise one-piece swimsuit and a large white hat.
Students host to Hilo conference
The University of Hawaii- Hilo and the Hawaii Community College Board of Student Publications will host a journalism conference Feb. 23 and 24 for Big Island high school students and college students statewide.
The conference fee is $25, and today is the deadline to register.
The conference will gather professional journalists, public relations specialists, educators, students and community members to share their ideas. Participants can attend several workshops, including ones on photography, management and Web publishing. Call Susan Yugawa at (808) 974-7571.
Mink bill honors ex-councilman
WASHINGTON Congresswoman Patsy Mink is pushing a bill that would name the Lanai post office after former longtime Maui County Councilman Goro Hokama.
Hokama, 72, served 41 years on the council and its predecessor, the Board of Supervisors. The retired Dole Co. worker was council chairman for 16 years.
Goro Hokama remains active in civic affairs. He is chairman of the Maui Memorial Medical Center Management Advisory Committee and vice chairman of the county Civil Service Commission, among other activities.
The new Lanai post office opened a year ago.
Mink's bill, H.B. 132, now goes to the Senate for further action.
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