Healey says Eversource rates should be recalculated


Healey says Eversource rates should be recalculated

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is urging the state Department of Public Utilities to recalculate Eversource’s rates to reflect the coming reduction in the federal corporate tax rate, from 35 to 21 percent. The goal, Healey said, should be to ensure that the utility does not receive a major windfall at the expense of customers, and that the savings are instead passed on to Massachusetts electricity customers. Healey said the DPU should reduce Eversource’s annual revenue requirement by $62 million for its Eastern Massachusetts customers and by $12 million for its Western Massachusetts customers. The DPU’s approval last month of new Eversource charges, she said, was based on a higher tax rate. Healey is also formally fighting that recent rate hike, saying the company didn’t adequately justify the rate of return it is seeking for its shareholders. Healey’s office estimates that if left untouched, the new Eversource rates could increase costs to customers by $220 million over five years. — JON CHESTO


Massachusetts unemployment rate falls to 3.6 percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in November, from 3.7 percent in October, — the fourth consectutive monthy decline — the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. The state jobless rate remained one-half percentage point below the national average of 4.1 percent, according to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance. An estimated 6,700 jobs were added to payrolls statewide. In the private sector, most of the gains occurred in areas that included leisure and hospitality, education and health services, construction, and manufacturing. The state labor force dropped by 8,200 from October, and is now at more than 3.6 million. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Massachusetts has added 65,200 jobs since last November. “Year-to-date the jobs and labor force estimates indicate a strong and stable economy in the Commonwealth,” Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said in a statement. — BEN THOMPSON



Maker of Blink home security cameras bought by Amazon

The Andover company that makes the Blink line of high resolution video cameras for home security has been acquired by online retailer Amazon.com for an undisclosed sum. Immedia Semiconductor Inc. began life as a designer of microchips, but moved into consumer electronics when its engineers invented a chip that could run for up to two years on two AA batteries, and could process high-resolution video. The company raised $800,000 on the Kickstarter crowdsourcing service to fund the development of an inexpensive camera using the technology. The cameras cost around $100 and connect to the home Wi-Fi system, so users with smartphones can keep watch on their homes anywhere in the world. The company has continued to expand its product line, and recently introduced a video doorbell with weatherproofing, motion detection, and night vision. — HIAWATHA BRAY



Papa John's founder exiting as CEO weeks after NFL comments

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month, about two months after he criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by players — comments for which the company later apologized. Schnatter will be replaced as chief executive by chief operating officer Steve Ritchie on Jan. 1, the company announced Thursday. Schnatter, who appears in the chain’s commercials and on its pizza boxes, remains chairman of the board. He is also the company’s biggest shareholder. Earlier this year, Schnatter blamed slowing sales growth at Papa John’s — an NFL sponsor and advertiser — on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had kneeled during the anthem to protest what he said was police mistreatment of black men, and other players started kneeling as well. Papa John’s apologized two weeks later, after white supremacists praised Schnatter’s comments. The company distanced itself from the group, saying that it did not want them to buy their pizza. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Work on only new nuclear plant in US can move forward

Georgia regulators gave the go-ahead for Southern Co. to finish the only new nuclear power under construction in the United States after it fell years behind schedule and costs soared to more than $25 billion. The Georgia Public Service Commission approved the revised plan of Southern’s Georgia Power and its utility partners to finish two reactors at Plant Vogtle with a unanimous vote on Thursday. The commission told Georgia Power it would have to agree to lower returns on the plant, a condition the company said it would accept. The ruling provides a way forward for the Vogtle project, the first US nuclear power plant to be licensed in three decades. Southern, which owns 46 percent of the project, said its estimated costs had soared to $12.2 billion after the plant’s contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. declared bankruptcy earlier this year. The project represents the last, best hope for a nuclear renaissance that has failed to materialize in the United States following Japan’s Fukushima accident. It’s now scheduled to be completed in November 2022, more than five years later than an original estimate. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Recreational pot sales in Nevada remain ahead of projections

Three months after they became legal, sales of recreational marijuana in Nevada are continuing to outpace projections. The Nevada Department of Taxation says the $27.7 million in sales reported for September was down from the $33 million reported in August, but $5 million more than the state had anticipated. The first full month of legal sales in July totaled $27 million. The department said in a monthly report this week that September sales generated more than $4.7 million in state taxes consistent with the state projections for the month. Tax revenue for the three months has totaled $12.5 million and is on track to meet state budget projections anticipating roughly $50 million to be generated over a 12-month period. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Group behind $13b New York rail tunnel play down federal pushback

The group overseeing the building of an estimated $13 billion rail tunnel into New York City said Thursday it’s confident the project will be fully funded despite recent pushback from the federal government. The Gateway Development Corp. is overseeing the massive project, which has been in the works since 2011, a year after Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled a previous tunnel project over fears of cost overruns. Last week, Christie and Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced how their states, along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, would pay for 50 percent of the first phase of the project, about $5.5 billion. New York will finance its portion through an annual appropriation and New Jersey through a surcharge for rail riders who travel into New York. The federal government was to pay the other half under an agreement with then-President Barack Obama. But President Trump hasn’t indicated whether he'll make the same commitment. Through a spokesman, the federal Department of Transportation last week called the states’ proposal ‘‘not a serious plan.’’ A senior Trump administration official with direct knowledge of the project, but who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly, cast doubt last week on whether a 50/50 agreement still exists, and said that no previous projects had been funded on a similar 50-50 basis. Steven Cohen, a former Port Authority vice chairman who sits on the Gateway board and will take over the rotating chairmanship on Jan. 1, said the board remained confident. — ASSOCIATED PRESS