Lower utility rates in forecast

Electric utility rates for FirstEnergy Corp. customers should go down an average of 4 percent based on an auction system held Thursday.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved the results of the fourth in a series of six wholesale auctions that will determine the Akron utilityís retail generation service rates through May 2014.

The auction establishes a new generation price of $53.37 per megawatt hour (MWh) for June 2012 through May 2013, a decrease of 4 percent from the current price of $55.60.

That price is used to come up with a generation rate for customers.

Additional auctions will be held in October and in January 2013 to set the generation price between June 2013 and May 2014.

The rates are for customers who have not chosen an aggregation, or group, buying rate, unless that rate is a percentage savings off FirstEnergy's generation rate. Aggregation customers who have a fixed rate would not be affected by this decrease.

Smucker declares dividend

J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) of?Orrville declared a dividend of 48 cents a share, payable March 1 to shareholders of record Feb. 10. In other action, the board increased the companyís share repurchase authorization by 5 million common shares. The company said future share repurchases will occur at managementís discretion and there is no guarantee how many shares could be repurchased. The company has about 2 million common shares remaining for repurchase.

GetGo opens at Giant Eagle

A new Giant Eagle GetGo gas station has opened on Howe Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls.

The new GetGo, next to the Howe Avenue Giant Eagle store, has eight fuel pumps. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.


Taco Bell serves breakfast

Taco Bell, the fast-food chain that caters to late-night snacking, is making a play for the breakfast crowd. The Mexican-style restaurant chain introduced a breakfast menu at almost 800 restaurants, mostly in about a dozen Western states.

The chain hopes breakfast burritos will be displayed on store menu boards nationwide along with its regular line of tacos, chalupas and gorditas by the start of 2014, said Taco Bell Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Brian Niccol.

The chainís breakfast staples include burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; sausage and egg wraps; hash browns; hot or iced coffee; and orange juice. Taco Bell is teaming with such recognizable brands as Johnsonville, Cinnabon, Tropicana and Seattleís Best. Menu items range from 99 cents to $2.79.

Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc. of Louisville, Ky., whose chains include KFC and Pizza Hut.


Pepsi brands hit milestone

PepsiCo Inc. is announcing two weeks before it reports its quarterly results that three more of its brands have surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue.

The nationís largest food and beverage maker said Diet Mountain Dew, Brisk and Starbucks ready-to-drink beverages each hit this key measure.

PepsiCo sells Brisk and Starbucks through partnerships, respectively, with Unilever and Starbucks Corp.

The company has 22 billion-dollar brands, double the number it had in 2000. The company says this demonstrates its focus on expanding its business.

PepsiCo is expected to report its fourth-quarter and full-year results in two weeks.

The company has struggled with higher costs and slowing demand in the United States but offset that with higher prices and an increased focus on emerging markets.

Compiled from staff and wire reports