LOCAL BUSINESS


Progressive has 337 openings


Progressive Corp., based in Mayfield Village, said its car insurance unit will fill 337 positions in sales, service and claims. Progressive said it offers performance bonuses, medical facilities and fitness centers, among other benefits. Job information is available online at www.progressive.com/jobs.


Power plant in operation


A natural gas-fired energy plant in northwest Ohio is providing power to public utilities in Ohio and six other states.


The 707-megawatt Fremont Energy Center is owned and operated by Columbus-based American Municipal Power Inc.


It provides what’s called intermediate power to 86 member communities including Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Wadsworth, Orrville, Seville, Lodi, Beach City and Cleveland.


It is providing power needed weekdays during the 16 highest demand hours. The plant can produce up to 544 megawatts during such operations.


“This facility will fill a void in our current power supply portfolio,” said AMP President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Gerken.


Before the plant began commercial operations, AMP members had to shop for 96 percent of their intermediate power and the new plant should reduce that added cost, he said.


AMP says the plant will produce $500 million in savings over the next 30 years to member communities.


The energy wholesaler bought the partially completed plant last summer from Akron-based FirstEnergy Generation Corp. for $500 million. The construction was then completed.


The Fremont plant has two natural gas turbines and one steam turbine.


FirstEnergy had acquired the plant in 2008 from the Calpine Corp. during bankruptcy proceedings.


One megawatt is enough electricity to power 600 houses.


EARNINGS


Verizon suffers quarterly loss


Verizon paid dearly to put iPhones in the hands of subscribers in the latest quarter, holding back its profits in the hope that its customers will rack up higher monthly bills and stay loyal.


The quarter saw the launch of the iPhone 4S, the second model to be sold by Verizon, and it was clear that many had been waiting for it. Verizon sold 4.3 million of them, and 7.7 million smart phones total.


But by the upside-down logic of the wireless industry, higher sales mean lower profits for the quarter. Verizon Wireless subsidizes each smart phone by hundreds of dollars, figuring that it will make the money back in service fees over a two-year contract. That means the wireless division, though still highly profitable, posted a rare drop in operating income for the fourth quarter.


In the results of Verizon Communications Inc., the phone company that owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless, this was masked by large charge for adjusting the value of its pension plans. The New York company said it lost $2.02 billion, or 71 cents per share, in the last three months of 2011. That compares with net income of $2.64 billion, or 93 cents per share, a year ago.


GAMBLING


State allowances proposed


Two Republican New Jersey congressmen proposed different bills to loosen a 20-year-old federal law that bans sports betting in 46 U.S. states. Rep. Frank LoBiondo said his legislation would let states seek permission to circumvent a 1992 federal law that allows sports bets only in Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Rep. Frank Pallone wants the exemption solely for New Jersey. A broader measure is more likely to get support in Congress than one that only exempts New Jersey, LoBiondo said in a statement. His bill would give states until 2016 to apply. In November, New Jersey voters passed a ballot measure 64 to 36 percent supporting sports betting at casinos and tracks. Gov. Chris Christie on Jan. 17 signed a bill that would permit wagering on professional and college sports if the federal ban is lifted.


WALL STREET


Dow Jones falls 33 points


Investors on Wall Street fretted Tuesday that a deal to keep Greece from triggering a financial crisis might fall apart, and a slew of corporate earnings reports at home didn’t make them feel much better. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 33 points at 12,676. It has risen or fallen less than 100 points in 14 straight trading sessions, the longest calm stretch since late March and early April last year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 ended in the red for only the third time this year, losing a point to close at 1,315. The most the S&P has lost in a day this year is seven points. It is up 4.5 percent for 2012. The Nasdaq added two points to close at 2,787. It has led major the stock indexes in January with a 7 percent gain.


Compiled from staff and wire reports