Energy plant venture scrapped
American Municipal Power and FirstEnergy Corp. are scrapping plans to build jointly a gas-fired power plant in Northeast Ohio because of increased financing costs.
The project in Eastlake, announced in November, was going to generate power during periods of peak demand, meaning it would operate only on the hottest days of the year.
AMP, which is based in Columbus, is blaming federal budget cuts, which are reducing some of the financing advantages available to the city-owned utilities that AMP serves.
“This project had a lot of positives and some challenges, but the financial uncertainty today, on top of continued regulatory uncertainty, heavily impacted AMP’s decision,” said Marc Gerken, AMP’s president and CEO, in a news release.
Under the November agreement, AMP was going to use its access to inexpensive financing to pay for the 873-megawatt plant and then receive 75 percent of the electricity output. FirstEnergy, based in Akron, was going to do the construction and then later buy a 25 percent share of the plant.
“With them not able to get the financing to get it off the ground, it’s just not moving forward,” said Mark Durbin, FirstEnergy spokesman. “It was a good project, but it’s not going to work this time.”
The financing issues arise from what is called the “sequester,” a series of federal budget cuts that took effect in March. Among the cuts was the amount of the subsidy for Build America Bonds and other bonds that cities can use to help finance power-plant construction.
In addition to the direct hit to subsidies, there is the potential for indirect effects, as budget cuts are passed down to the states, said Rachel Barkley, municipal credit analyst at research analyst Morningstar.
AMP said in its news release that some of its already-funded projects have seen increases in costs because of the budget cuts. It did not list any specific projects.
Target, Facebook team up
Target just friended Facebook, big time.
In its boldest foray into digital retailing, Target on Wednesday launched a test version of Cartwheel, an ambitious collaboration with the world’s largest social network that will allow users to earn savings via Facebook and then use their smartphones to redeem those savings in stores.
Though retailers have used social networks like Twitter and Pinterest to promote products and influence opinion, generating real sales has so far proven elusive. By using mobile devices to help drive people to its stores, Cartwheel might be the missing piece to this “multichannel” puzzle, Target officials say.
For Facebook, which has been trying to boost its mobile operations, the effort represents its most high-profile collaboration with a retailer to date as it tries to position itself as not just a place to share photos and status updates but also to conduct actual commerce.
New games for ‘Star Wars’
Electronic Arts Inc., the second-largest video-game publisher, reached a multiyear agreement with Walt Disney Co. to create games based on Star Wars characters.
The deal, terms of which weren’t disclosed, expands upon an existing agreement Electronic Arts had with Lucasfilm Ltd. to license characters for an online multiplayer title for personal computers called Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, Calif., may develop new titles for game consoles, computers and mobile devices. Disney will “retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories,” the companies said.
Disney in October agreed to buy Lucasfilm in a cash and stock deal valued at about $4.05 billion, adding to franchises it already owns including Pixar and Marvel. In April, it said it would shutter LucasArts, the San Francisco-based game-making branch of Lucasfilm with the plan of licensing other companies to make games rather than develop them internally.
Hertz moving hub to Florida
Rent-a-car company Hertz is moving its headquarters from New Jersey to Florida, putting the company in the middle of a key travel market and trimming corporate expenses after its $2.3 billion buyout of one-time rival, Dollar Thrifty.
Up to 700 jobs will shift to Florida over a two-year period. More than 2,000 Hertz and Dollar Thrifty workers will stay in New Jersey, including about 150 employees from the current headquarters in Park Ridge, N.J.
All other Park Ridge workers will be able to keep their current positions at the new headquarters in Estero, Fla., just north of Naples on the Gulf Coast.
Hertz Global Holdings Group Inc. closed on its acquisition of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in November. Dollar is based in Tulsa, Okla.
Compiled from staff and wire reports