Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, June 17, 1999

Puna Geothermal wins EPA permit

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved an underground injection control permit for Puna Geothermal Venture on Hawaii Island.

The Safe Drinking Water Act permit allows PGV to operate three existing geothermal injection wells and to construct up to seven new wells, the EPA said yesterday. The permit requires PGV to continuously monitor for leaks, in addition to periodically sampling nearby groundwater and injected fluids and gases, the EPA said.

PGV produces electricity using steam from groundwater that is heated by volcanic activity. The condensed steam and geothermal brine and noncondensible gases from production wells are reinjected back into the geothermal reservoir at depth below 3,900 feet.

PGV has said the seven new wells are not intended to increase the plant's capacity, but to establish reserve or replacement wells.

Mortgage rates rise to two-year high

McLEAN, Va. -- The benchmark U.S. home mortgage rate rose this week to the highest level in two years, a weekly survey by Freddie Mac showed today. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 7.65 percent in this week from last week's 7.51 percent. This week's rate is the highest since 7.85 percent in the week ended June 6, 1997, Freddie Mac said.

Freddie Mac also said the average rate on an adjustable mortgage rose to 5.94 percent, the highest level since 5.98 percent in the week of Aug. 2, 1996. Last week, the adjustable mortgage rate was 5.92 percent. The 15-year mortgage rate rose to 7.26 percent from 7.13 percent, the highest since June 13, 1997.

In other news . . .

Bullet HOUSTON -- Compaq Computer Corp., the world's biggest computer maker, expects a loss of as much as 15 cents a share for the second quarter as plummeting PC prices and high costs hammer the beleaguered company. Analysts expected the Houston-based company to earn 20 cents a share.

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