FirstEnergy plan approved
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday approved a three-year energy efficiency plan submitted by FirstEnergy Corp., which outlines how the Akron-based electric company plans to meet state-mandated savings.
Reacting to the decision, Dan Sawmiller of the environmental group Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign said the order by the PUCO included a huge win for ratepayers, who should see reduced electricity prices. Sierra Club and other consumer advocates had wanted FirstEnergy to propose a way for the energy efficiency measures to be factored into competitive pricing auctions to determine future rates. The PUCO order requires FirstEnergy to “bid” 75 percent of its efficiency savings into the next auction in May, said Sawmiller.
“We think the impact of this could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a huge win for our advocacy and for people who pay rates,” Sawmiller said.
FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said the company was still reviewing the order.
“The programs prescribed in our plan are intended to fully comply with Ohio’s current mandates,” he said.
The plan extended and expanded an existing plan, Colafella said. The new plan is for the current year through 2015.
Nestle makes forecast
Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company with Stouffer’s operations based in Solon, said the benefits it has derived from price increases will start to diminish in the first half.
“The pricing action that was taken in the last 18 months will start to dissipate,” Chief Financial Officer Wan Ling Martello said at a meeting with analysts in London available via the company’s website. The Swiss-based company made similar comments when it reported full-year results, she said.
Higher prices boosted Nestle’s sales by 2.8 percentage points in 2012 and 3.6 percentage points in 2011. The company last month reported the slowest sales growth in three years and said it expects 2013 to be as challenging as last year. Even so, the company said it was confident of meeting its target for sales growth generated from internal operations of 5 to 6 percent.
Employers are overcharged
Ohio employers are collectively owed $860 million after being overcharged for nearly a decade by the state insurance fund for injured workers, a Cleveland judge ruled Wednesday. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle’s decision involving the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation affects about 270,000 mostly small business owners, many unaware they are covered by the class action. His order rejected the state’s arguments for paying a smaller amount. The lawsuit, which began in 2007, said the bureau gave discounted premiums to companies that joined group insurance plans and charged companies not in the groups excessive rates to pay for the discounts.
McDonald’s adds new wraps
McDonald’s Corp. is adding a permanent new offering to its menu next week: chicken McWraps. The world’s biggest hamburger chain says the new sandwich wrap will come in three varieties — Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken and Chicken & Ranch. The company already offers similar wraps in other parts of the world, including Europe. The chain says the wraps range from 360 to 600 calories, depending on getting grilled or deep-fried chicken. They will include cucumbers, the first time the vegetable is making an appearance on the chain’s menu.
Walmart expands ‘Scan & Go’
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding a test of a new checkout program that allows shoppers to scan items with their smartphones and then pay at self-checkout terminals.
The world’s largest retailer launched what it calls its “Scan & Go” program late last year in about 70 stores in the Bentonville, Ark., area, where the retailer is based, as well as Atlanta. It is now testing the program in more than 200 stores.
Customers scan bar codes of the different products using the retailer’s Scan & Go app on Apple Inc.’s iPads, iPhones or iPod Touch devices. The app generates a code, which can be scanned at the self-checkout terminals.
Apple gets Adobe executive
Apple Inc. hired Adobe Systems Inc. Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, adding a software executive who helped build some of the earliest Macintosh applications and later sparred publicly with the iPhone maker. Lynch, who has worked at Adobe since 2005, will become Apple’s vice president for technology.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.