Granite City Electric Supply to pay more than $2.3m to settle overbilling charges


Granite City Electric Supply to pay more than $2.3m to settle overbilling charges

One of the state’s largest electrical distributors has agreed to pay more than $2.3 million to settle claims that it overbilled hundreds of state entities, including municipalities and public school districts, according to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office. Under the terms of the settlement announced Monday, Quincy-based Granite City Electric Supply will refund more than $1.18 million to 285 public entities that the company allegedly overbilled. The company will pay an additional $1.18 million to the state and will be barred from participating in public contracts for a year. Granite City, which touts itself as the largest regional independent electrical supply company, allegedly overbilled hundreds of entities, including cities and towns, public schools, state agencies, and housing authorities, for supplies it sold them under a five-year statewide contract that allows for the purchase of maintenance, repair, supplies, and equipment at discounted rates. The Attorney General’s Office, which was notified of the possible billing discrepancies by the Office of the Inspector General, alleged that Granite City didn’t abide by the discounted pricing under the contract. The company, which has 26 branches covering most of New England, also agreed to implement changes to its business practices, including trainings and compliance reviews. Refunds are scheduled to be issued within 30 days. — KATHELEEN CONTI


Autodesk acquires local construction-tech firm

Engineering software giant Autodesk has acquired local construction-tech firm Assemble Systems for an unspecified amount. Assemble provides subscription software that helps big general contractors plan their projects. Autodesk first invested in Assemble last year; now the California company is buying the whole thing. No big changes are planned for now, but employees in Assemble’s Salem office may eventually join their new coworkers at Autodesk’s Boston hub. About 55 people work for the company — in Salem, in Texas, and from home. — JON CHESTO



Starbucks to phase out plastic straws by 2020

Starbucks, which doles out more than 1 billion straws a year, says it will phase out single-use plastic straws from its stores by 2020. The coffee giant said Monday that it will replace the ubiquitous plastic straw with recyclable ‘‘strawless lids,’’ as well as straws made from biodegradable materials, as part of a no-plastic-straws movement that has gained momentum in recent years. Starbucks — which has more than 28,000 stores and generated $22.4 billion in annual revenue last year — is the largest retailer to commit to eliminating single-use plastic straws. The company said that more than half of its beverage sales come from cold drinks, which typically come with a plastic straw. — WASHINGTON POST



Price at the pump up 2 cents

The price of gasoline in Massachusetts is up 2 cents this week. AAA Northeast says Monday its weekly survey found self-serve regular selling for an average of $2.86 per gallon, an increase from $2.84. That’s the same as the national average of $2.86. The average price of gasoline in Massachusetts is 69 cents higher than it was a year ago. AAA found gas in the state selling for as low as $2.72 per gallon to as high as $2.99. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Nissan admits to falsifying product-quality data

Nissan Motor has become the latest Japanese automaker to admit to falsifying product-quality data, dealing a further blow to Japan Inc.’s reputation for dependable quality. An internal review of emissions and fuel economy tests at Nissan’s production plants in Japan showed that company inspectors used “altered measurement values” on emissions inspection reports, the company said in a statement Monday. The tests also “deviated from the prescribed testing environment,” it said. The review found that all models except the Nissan GT-R, a two-door sports car, complied with Japanese safety standards, although Nissan did not disclose further information about that model. The company said the falsification problems ultimately did not affect fuel-economy findings. — NEW YORK TIMES



Uber invests in motorized scooter company

Uber wants to become a destination for all things transportation, no matter what you ride. The ride-hailing company has made investments to prepare for the future of flying taxis. It acquired Jump, an electric bicycle company, for around $200 million earlier this year. And Monday, Uber said it cut another check to invest in Lime, a company best known for offering rides on motorized scooters. As part of a $335 million fundraising round that values Lime at $1.1 billion, the startup said it is accepting a “sizable” investment from Uber and would partner with the company. Uber said it would show Lime scooters as an option within its mobile app and Uber will put its logo on some Lime scooters. — NEW YORK TIMES


Samsung opens world’s largest mobile phone factory in India

Samsung Electronics Co. opened the world’s largest mobile phone factory in India, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship program to lure investors to manufacture in the South Asian nation. This will double Samsung’s Noida unit capacity for mobile phones to 120 million units a year from 68 million units a year, it said in a statement. The phase-wise expansion will be completed by 2020. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Vermont Nurses, administrators in talks to avert strike

Representatives of 1,800 unionized nurses from Vermont’s largest medical center are planning more face-to-face meetings with hospital administrators in hopes of averting a two-day strike planned for later this week. The nurses met last Friday with officials from the University of Vermont Medical Center, but they were unable to reach an agreement that would avert a strike planned for Thursday and Friday. The union is seeking a 24 percent wage increase to make their pay equal to those of a New York hospital, which is part of the same network. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Free parking for everyone at Springfield casino

The nearly $1 billion casino opening in Massachusetts next month will have free parking. A spokesman for MGM Springfield tells The Republican newspaper the casino’s seven-story, roughly 3,400-space parking garage will be free not just to patrons but to the general public. The spokesman says more details, including a garage opening date, are forthcoming. The $960 million resort is scheduled to open Aug. 24 as Massachusetts’ first Las Vegas-style gambling destination. The construction of the casino led to the loss of more than 500 parking spaces in the neighborhood and complicated parking for some organizations and businesses. The parking garage has already been used on a limited basis to provide parking for construction workers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Groupon stock climbs on report it is seeker a buyer

Groupon Inc. surged nearly 11 percent after a report that the discount-slinging website is actively seeking a buyer. The merchandise and voucher vendor has approached several public companies in recent weeks to try to drum up interest in a sale, Recode reported on Saturday, citing two people it said were briefed on the effort. A sale would mark the end of a saga for investors who have seen Groupon shares fall more than 80 percent from the peak after their 2011 initial offering, including a 15 percent drop so far this year.