Eversource’s new charge for solar customers is getting a second look at the State House


Eversource’s new charge for solar customers is getting a second look at the State House

Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Thomas Golden, co-chairmen of the Legislature’s energy committee, are holding a hearing Tuesday afternoon to find out why the state Department of Public Utilities and Eversource put aside less expensive options to ensure solar customers pay their fair share of maintaining the grid’s poles and wires. The state agency approved the new charge earlier this month, angering many in the solar industry. An Eversource spokesman said consumers would still get significant savings from installing solar panels. He said a homeowner could end up paying nearly $120 more per year because of the new levy, coupled with a related increase in another charge. The new charge takes effect for solar customers who plug their panels into the grid after the end of this year. — JON CHESTO



Musk sells $500 flamethrowers — and finds buyers

Tesla chief executive and inventor Elon Musk has tried his hand at building underground transportation, revolutionizing space technology, and bringing electric vehicles to the masses. So why fully unleash his inner adolescent and give flamethrowers a go? The Boring Company — the same outlet Musk founded to disrupt traffic congestion with tunneling — began selling flamethrowers this weekend at $500 a pop. In a little over 48 hours, according to Musk’s Twitter account, the Boring Company has cleared at least $3.5 million worth of flamethrowers, with 7,000 sold. What does someone not dislodging enemy soldiers from spider holes in WWII’s Pacific theater do with a flamethrower in 2018? Musk claims his flamethrowers — which appear to expel a glowing, meter-long stream of sizzling terror — are good for roasting nuts. — WASHINGTON POST


Sanofi buying Belgian biotech company for $4.8 billion

French drugmaker Sanofi has made another big purchase aimed at strengthening its position in rare disease treatments, buying Belgian biotech company Ablynx for 3.9 billion euros ($4.8 billion). Sanofi announced Monday that the deal was approved by the boards of both companies. Sanofi is paying 45 euros per share. Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk had also sought to buy Ablynx, but the Belgian company said Novo Nordisk’s offers were too low. Ablynx is notably developing nanobodies, small antibodies that it hopes can be used to treat blood disorders, inflammation, and respiratory diseases. Sanofi says the purchase will boost its rare blood disorder portfolio, after announcing earlier this month that it’s buying US hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion. The pharmaceutical industry is seeing increasing interest in rare diseases. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Calls rise to fire French budget minister over rape allegation

Pressure is mounting on a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s government accused of rape. Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin (right) strongly denies wrongdoing, and other government members have rallied around him. Darmanin is the highest-ranking French official accused of sexual misconduct since the Hollywood scandals that broke last year. Nearly 3,000 people signed an online petition launched by a feminist group urging the prime minister to fire Darmanin. It argues that ministers facing corruption investigations have lost their jobs in the past, and asks whether being accused of a sexual crime ‘‘is less serious.’’ Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office said Monday that he continues to have confidence in Darmanin. A preliminary investigation is underway into a woman’s accusation that Darmanin raped her when she sought legal help in 2009. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


McDonald’s new Dollar Menu bringing in customers

McDonald’s Corp. is seeing a jump in customers, a sign its new Dollar Menu is attracting penny pinchers. McDonald’s share of US traffic among fast-food and fast-casual restaurants rose to almost 18 percent in the week ended Jan. 21, an increase of about 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier, a report by researchers Datassential and Sense360 showed. The burger chain also improved in the prior two weeks. The positive results show that McDonald’s $1, $2, and $3 menu is resonating with diners. The company recently began advertising items on the revamped Dollar Menu, which includes chicken tenders, cheeseburgers, and a new classic chicken sandwich. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Panera starts business to help other companies revamp their menus

Panera Bread, which has made an effort to strip artificial colors and sweeteners from its food, says it’ll help other companies do the same. The chain says it formed a consulting business that other brands can hire to help tweak their menus. Ron Shaich, Panera’s founder and chairman, says rivals would be willing to work with Panera because they have already asked for advice in the past. But now the company wants to turn that into a business. Removing artificial ingredients has become a popular move for food companies wanting to attract people who have become increasingly concerned about what’s in their food. Panera says the Clean Consultant business would help companies identify changes they can make in their menu and direct them to suppliers to make the changes. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Tyson investing in meat-tech startup

Tyson Foods Inc. has invested in a food-tech startup that’s developing methods to produce meat directly from animal cells. The Arkansas-based company announced Monday that its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, now has a minority stake in Memphis Meats. The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but Memphis Meats says it expects to use the funds to accelerate product development. Tyson says the investment reflects the company’s commitment to find new, innovative ways of meeting a growing global demand for protein. Memphis Meats is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is developing methods to produce meat from animal cells, which would eliminate the need to breed or slaughter animals. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



New CEO of EasyJet cuts pay

EasyJet Plc’s newly hired chief executive officer is taking a pay cut to match the salary of his predecessor, Carolyn McCall, as the discount airline joins UK-wide efforts to reduce the national gender gap in remuneration. Johan Lundgren’s salary, originally set at 740,000 pounds ($1.04 million), will be reduced 4.6 percent to the 706,000 pounds earned by McCall last year, before she left to run UK broadcaster ITV Plc, the Luton, England-based carrier said in a statement Monday. EasyJet will also seek to beat a target of ensuring that 20 percent of new pilots are women by 2020, Lundgren said. UK government data show men out-earn women at every level across industries, with the gap widest in skilled trades, according to figures released this month. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


You can reserve your place in the sun — for a price

Tour operator Thomas Cook is offering vacationers a chance to book a poolside sun lounger in advance — for a fee. Thomas Cook customers willing to pay 25 euros ($31) extra per stay can select a lounger, avoiding the morning dash to put a towel on a chair to claim it for the day. The plan should cover 30 hotels by the summer. British vacationers in southern Europe have long complained that diehard sun worshippers get up as soon as hotel pools open to claim a lounger — effectively taking a place even when they are not there. Thomas Cook says the loungers will be displayed on a map featuring a compass to help people determine whether certain areas will be in the sun or shade at different times of day. Only a proportion of loungers will be bookable. — ASSOCIATED PRESS