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Published: Friday, 8/13/2010

Bay Shore among plants set for operation change

AKRON - FirstEnergy Corp. said Thursday that its generation subsidiary, FirstEnergy Generation Corp., will make operational changes at its smaller coal-fired plants, including its Bay Shore plant in Oregon, because of low demand.

Plants include Bay Shore units 2 through 4, Eastlake Plant units 1 through 4 in Eastlake, Ohio; the entire Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland, and the entire Ashtabula Plant in Ashtabula. The changes will cut costs and provide more predictability while maintaining availability for needs.

From September, 2010, through August, 2011, the units will run only with a minimum three-day notice in time of higher demand, such as extreme summer or winter weather. Beginning in September, 2011, the Bay Shore units will be available only in winter and summer, while the Lake Shore and Ashtabula plants will be idled temporarily.

WASHINGTON - Mortgage rates sank to the lowest level in decades this week, pushed down by the weak economy and the Federal Reserve's move to help lift the recovery by purchasing government debt.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for 30-year fixed loans was 4.44 percent, down from 4.49 percent last week. It's the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed loan dropped to 3.92 percent, down from 3.95 percent last week and the lowest on record.

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter is trying to make tweeting your favorite stories more convenient by introducing a "tweet" button that Web sites can place near content.

Clicking the button makes a shortened link appear in a pop-up box tied to a Twitter user's account.

NEW YORK - A businessman who had played a role in the Smurfs cartoon empire has told a New York court he threatened to destroy his son-in-law's stature in high finance as part of an $11 million plot.

Stuart R. Ross, 73, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted grand larceny. He acknowledged demanding $5.5 million to stop threatening to ruin son-in-law David Blitzer's career as a managing director of the Blackstone Group, an asset-management and financial-services firm.

He also admitted saying he'd give up any rights to see his grandchildren for another $5.5 million. He is expected to get probation at his sentencing, which is set for Oct. 5.

DES MOINES - Bank customers fighting high overdraft fees got a boost this week with a win in federal court in California against Wells Fargo & Co., but that case has limited legal impact.

Banks process debit payments according to their size rather than which transaction came first. This causes more in overdraft fees.

In the California decision, U.S. District Judge William Alsup accused Wells Fargo of "profiteering" by changing its policies to process checks, debit-card transactions, and bill payments from the highest dollar amount to the lowest.

Natural gas futures fell for the third day this week after a government report showed ample U.S. supplies to meet fuel demand from power plants during the rest of the summer.

Gas stockpiles gained 37 billion cubic feet in the week ended Aug. 6 to 2.985 trillion, the Energy Department said Thursday. "Right now, there isn't anything to really push gas higher," Martin King, an analyst at FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in Calgary, said.


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