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    Pennsylvania company to complete purchase of R.I. utility


    May 24, 2022 - The Boston Globe

     

      ENERGY

      Pennsylvania company to complete purchase of R.I. utility

      Pennsylvania-based utility PPL Corp. plans this week to complete its $3.8 billion acquisition of National Grid’s Rhode Island operations, known as Narragansett Electric, after reaching settlements with attorney generals in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The last holdup was in Rhode Island, but a judge on Monday dismissed Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s appeal in that state after the two sides reached a settlement. Among other things, PPL agreed to provide $50 million in credits to Narragansett Electric gas and electric customers, make $2.5 million available to the state’s Renewable Energy Fund, and not seek a base rate increase for at least three years after the deal closes. In March, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey reached her own settlement with National Grid that would prevent ratepayers in her state from incurring nearly $30 million in extra costs as a result of the merger. National Grid, a British company with major corporate offices in Waltham, will primarily focus on Massachusetts and New York, once the sale of PPL is complete. — JON CHESTO

      AUTOMOTIVE

      Age of US cars hits a record

      Cars on US roads are as old as they’ve ever been, potentially complicating efforts to expand the use of new safety and emissions-reduction technologies. The age of light vehicles domestically is now 12.2 years on average, up almost two months from last year’s figure, according to S&P Global Mobility. That’s a record high and marks the fifth straight year of increases. Analysts at the data provider pointed to the global microchip shortage, supply-chain snags, and inventory challenges — all of which likely kept drivers in their old cars longer. The rising cost of new vehicles — $46,526 last month, according to Kelley Blue Book — was another deterrent for prospective buyers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      MIGRATION

      N.Y. losing residents due to high cost of living

      Even before COVID-19 hit, the state of New York was facing an outflow of tax-paying residents. The state had an average annual net out-migration of 28,700 part-year residents, or 0.3 percent of taxpayers, between 2015 and 2019, according to a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. That means the state lost roughly 115,000 tax filers during the period, in a trend that’s likely to have continued after the pandemic with the rise of remote working. Families looking for more space and wealthy individuals trying to save on taxes are leaving the state, which is among the most expensive places to live. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      MINERALS

      Great interest in Chinese lithium mine

      An auction for a controlling stake in a Chinese lithium mine has garnered 3,448 bids, underscoring the scramble to secure the battery metal that’s key to the clean-energy transition. The 54.3 percent stake in Yajiang Snowway Mining Development, which owns the mine in Sichuan, a southwestern province in China, was sold for about 2 billion yuan ($299 million), according to the JD.com’s judicial auction platform. The shift to electric vehicles has spurred a global rush for lithium, which is used in virtually all EV batteries, and seen Chinese prices of lithium carbonate surge more than 400 percent over the past year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      UKRAINE

      Starbucks latest company to pull out of Russia permanently

      Starbucks announced Monday that it was officially exiting Russia, with 130 stores run by a licensee there closing. The company has also halted the shipment of any Starbucks products. The company said in a statement that nearly 2,000 employees in the country would be paid for six months and given help to “transition to new opportunities outside of Starbucks.” In early March, the coffee chain condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced that it was suspending all store operations in agreement with its licensing partner, which owns and operates all of the Starbucks outlets in the Russia. — NEW YORK TIMES

      FINANCE

      Bank of America raises minimum wage to $22 an hour

      Bank of America is increasing its minimum hourly wage to $22, taking another step toward a goal of paying $25 by 2025, as employers beef up compensation and benefits in a tight labor market. The move, announced Monday, bumps pay up from $21, a level the firm had enacted last year within its planned schedule. A $22 wage translates to a full-time annualized salary of $45,000. It continues a series of hikes lifting the firm’s base pay from $15 in 2017. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      TOURISM

      Travelers say Bonjour to Paris again

      Paris tourism is bouncing back as European and American visitors return to take in the sights of the French capital after two years of COVID-related lockdowns and restrictions. The city is the second-most sought-after destination worldwide this year, behind London, according to booking aggregator Trivago. That has steadily pushed up hotel room rates and occupancy since the beginning of the year. The average hotel price in Paris was around 173 euros ($183) the last week of April, a 17 percent increase from the same period in 2019 and up even more sharply compared with the start of the year, according to data from tourism research firm MKG Consulting. Paris is traditionally one of the most-visited cities in the world and, before COVID, tourism-related spending represented more than 7 percent of France’s economy, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      BANKING

      Chase hiring 1,300 wealth-management advisers

      JPMorgan Chase plans to hire about 1,300 advisers over the next three years as part of a strategy to boost assets in its wealth-management operation to $1 trillion. The additions would bring the total to 6,000 from about 4,700, Jennifer Piepszak, co-chief executive officer of JPMorgan’s consumer and community banking operation, said at the firm’s investor day Monday. The bank has already added 1,100 advisers since 2017, she said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

      TRAVEL

      Luxury companies want Britain to reinstate tax-free shopping for tourists

      A group of 250 luxury UK brands, including Burberry and Harrods, have called on the government to reintroduce tax-free shopping for tourists as a way to boost the economy. Scrapping tax from purchases will trigger an extra £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) in annual retail sales and attract an additional 600,000 visitors to the country, according to Walpole, a group representing the UK luxury industry. The UK is the only European nation not to offer this perk to tourists from outside the European Union. Before the pandemic, tourism contributed 4 percent of Britain’s economy and had an overall value of £85 billion. More than a third of that money was generated by sales to high-end tourists staying in luxury accommodation such as five-star hotels. Those visitors, who typically spent 14 times more than the average tourist, are now favoring boutiques in cities like Paris, Madrid, and Milan. That’s largely because of the UK’s decision to abolish tax-free shopping in 2020, the report said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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