State has $1 million for energy rebates
With winter fast approaching, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's Energy Division reminds Tennesseans that there is still more than $1 million remaining for energy efficient appliance rebates.
Customers who buy a qualifying Energy Star appliance to replace less efficient models can receive up to $40 for a room air conditioner, $150 for a gas furnace and $250 for an air source heat pump or central air conditioner.
Since the rebates were first offered in April 2010, the state has paid rebates to 17,491 Tennesseans for a total of more than $4.1 million.
"As the clock winds down on this program, ECD's Energy Division would like to encourage Tennesseans to take advantage of the rebate while it is available," said Molly Cripps, the program director. "Energy Star heating and cooling units will decrease energy usage which can result in lower bills for our residents, all while supporting the state's conservation efforts."
Visit www.e-rebates.org/teearp to begin the online rebate application process.
Tennessee senators veto payroll tax cut
Tennessee's U.S. senators last week voted against President Obama's proposal to extend the payroll tax break for another year to help spur the economy.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the temporary cut in the Social Security payroll tax undermines the type of broad-based tax reform needed to spur long-term economic growth.
"This extension is yet another example of Washington's benefit now, pay later mentality, and it moves us further away from solving our long-term spending and deficit problems," he said. "We need to simplify and flatten our tax code in a way that eliminates loopholes, broadens the base and reduces rates across the board."
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said extending the payroll tax cut "would turn a one-time tax holiday into a long-term raid on Social Security funding, threatening its solvency."
Failure by Congress to approve an extension of the payroll tax break before it expires at the end of the year would result in an average $1,000 annual tax hike on 160 million American workers.
House Speaker John A. Boehner and House leaders are compiling a package, to be unveiled next week, that would extend the payroll tax break, unemployment insurance benefits and a routine pay adjustment for doctors who handle Medicare patients.
LifeKraze rewards active UTC students
The local social media startup LifeKraze last week announced the winner of its month-long competition on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
LifeKraze awarded $1,000 to the UTC University Honors program, which beat out more than a dozen campus groups who participated in the online competition to reward each others' activities. The Honors Program donated their winnings to Bridge Refugees Services, a local non-profit organization.
LifeKraze allows individuals to share their personal accomplishments online in short posts, which can be rewarded by the other users on the site. These accomplishments can also be tagged and sorted. UTC students were encouraged to tag their achievements with their organization's designated tag.
"We were really excited to launch this competition on UTC's campus," said Ben Wagner, CEO of LifeKraze. "We're proud of our city and are excited to be able to support what students are doing."
Power rates rise as winter invades
Tennessee Valley Electricity users may not like this month's 2.8 percent rise in wholesale power rates by TVA, but electricity users in neighboring North Carolina could be hit with a far bigger increase.
North Carolina utilities regulators opened hearings last week on whether Duke Energy Corp. should be allowed to raise electricity rates by 7.2 percent in February on its 1.8 million customers in the Tar Heel state.
Although the increase is only half of Duke's original 15 percent rate hike proposal, electricity bills would still increase by about $7 a month for the average household if the rate increase is approved. Utilities regulators in August approved adding about $5 to the average monthly home power bill due to higher fuel costs.