Duke Energy CEO wants pay-as-you-go construction
The newly installed chief executive officer of Duke Energy Corp. wants to change how the utility is regulated in the Carolinas and Florida so that America's largest electric company can more easily pass along the cost of big power plants a little at a time. The company's desire to get consumers to start paying for big-dollar projects with price tags that could run into the billions is high on the agenda of Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, who stepped into the company's top job Monday. North Carolina and Florida basically follow a build-now, collect-later process in which utilities must show regulators their costs and justify requested profit margins. The cost of new power plants can't be passed on to customers until construction is done and the power flows.
China takes aim at prices of milk, medicine
China took aim this week at prices of two high-profile necessities -- first baby formula, then medicines -- as communist leaders try to contain surging living costs that threaten to inflame political tensions. A probe into possible price-fixing by foreign milk suppliers prompted one company, Nestle SA, to announce a price cut. On Friday, news reports said a Cabinet agency is looking into the cost of drugs made by 60 foreign and domestic suppliers. There was no indication of wrongdoing, but the probe could be a prelude to a cut in government-set caps on prices.
Beijing car-rental firm forecasts first profit
China Auto Rental Holdings Inc., which calls itself the country's biggest car-rental provider, said it will turn profitable for the first time this year as it pursues an initial public offering of its stock. "We will certainly make profit this year," Charles Lu, 43, chairman and founder of the Beijing-based company, said. The company will seek an IPO in "the U.S. or Hong Kong," though it won't happen this year, he said. China Auto Rental, which counts Legend Holdings Ltd. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. among its major shareholders, withdrew an application for a U.S. IPO last year as investor appetite for mainland Chinese companies evaporated since 2010 amid accounting scandals and share declines.
Chrysler recalling minivans for air bag defect
Chrysler is recalling 282,000 minivans from the 2013 model year because the side air bags can deploy on the wrong side in a crash. Affected models are the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, and Ram Cargo Van. The campaign involves 224,000 vehicles in the U.S. Chrysler will notify affected customers. Dealers will reprogram the software for free.
NZ judge: compensation for 29 mining deaths
A bankrupt New Zealand coal company was ordered Friday to pay the families of 29 miners killed in a 2010 methane explosion, though they may receive just a fraction of the compensation. A judge ruled the miners' families and two survivors of the explosion should get 110,000 New Zealand dollars ($86,000) individually, an amount in doubt because Pike River Coal went into bankruptcy soon after the explosion. The company was convicted in April of nine health and safety violations. A government investigation found it had ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the South Island mine.