Construction begins on Oahu wind farm
HONOLULU - Hawaii's largest wind farm is breaking ground on Oahu's North Shore.
Construction started Friday on the 69-megawatt Kawailoa Wind project. Regulators in December approved an agreement between First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Co. for the utility to purchase renewable energy produced by the wind turbine project.
The project is major step toward Hawaii's renewable energy goals.
The farm includes 30 wind turbine generators to be built on land above Haleiwa owned by Kamehameha Schools. The project is expected to be operating by the end of next year.
Kawailoa Wind Power is a subsidiary of Boston-based First Wind. Under the contract, it will sell renewable energy at pre-determined prices over 20 years. First Wind also operates two other Hawaii wind energy projects.
Ala Moana Sears slated to close in 2013
HONOLULU - The Sears store that has been a familiar fixture at a Honolulu shopping center since the mall opened in 1959 will be closing next year.
Ala Moana Center's Sears location has been a longtime local shopping mainstay but the struggling department store company is selling 11 stores in nine states for $270 million.
Sears will get $250 million for the Ala Moana store.
The stores will be sold to mall operator General Growth Properties, which owns the malls in which the stores are located.
Sears will continue to operate the stores into 2013. Final closing dates will be announced later this year. Sears posted a fourth-quarter loss on Thursday. Its revenue fell 4 percent as demand in categories like appliances and consumer electronics fell.
Island Air expanding fleet, hiring pilots
HONOLULU - An air carrier that services the Hawaiian Islands says it is expanding by adding aircraft to its fleet and hiring more pilots.
Island Air announced Thursday it plans to add three aircraft to its fleet by the end of the year and three more next year.
Chief Executive Officer Lesley Kaneshiro said Island Air has recently hired seven new pilots and expects that other employment opportunities will be available.
FEMA set to pay $7.48M for APEC costs
HONOLULU - Hawaii will get $7.48 million from FEMA to help cover some expenses incurred while hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced Thursday the money comes from a National Special Security Event grant administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
APEC brought high-profile dignitaries including President Barack Obama and other heads of state to Honolulu in November.
Final costs for hosting APEC in November were calculated earlier this month. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said the price tag ended up being less than $21 million.
The city applied for federal reimbursement for some of the costs.
Big Island coffee beans under quarantine
KAILUA-KONA - In an effort to combat infestation of a small beetle that has destroyed Hawaii coffee crops, Big Island unroasted beans are under a quarantine order.
The permanent rules effective Friday are similar to 2010 interim rules.
A permit from the state Department of Agriculture is required to transport unroasted coffee beans and other coffee-related materials from the Big Island to other islands. Certain treatments and inspections are also required.
The coffee berry borer beetle has destroyed coffee crops in Kona and rocked an industry that generates $30 million in annual sales. The beetle has also been detected in the neighboring Kau coffee-growing area.
The small beetle is native to Central Africa. It's about the size of a sesame seed and burrows its way into the fruit, rendering the bean useless.