Power rates up, but below 2019

As colder weather approaches in November, electricity prices in Chattanooga will edge up by nearly 1.2% next month, according to Chattanooga's Electric Power Board. But EPB rates will still be nearly 2.1% cheaper than a year ago under the fuel cost adjustments made by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The typical Chattanooga residential electricity customer of EPB using 1,295 kilowatt-hours of electricity will pay $138.26 in November, or $1.58 more than the current month with the same power usage. But power bills for such electricity consumption next month will still be $2.93 cheaper than a year ago,

"It's a slight increase from October, which is not unusual as we enter the winter months, which usually leads to higher usage and demand," TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. "The overall system average fuel rate for November is approximately 16% lower than the three-year average November fuel cost."

TVA is benefitting from lower coal and gas prices as well as extra hydroelectric generation from abundant rainfall this year, which gives TVA the cheapest power generation from its 29 power-generating dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries.


Georgia hires new rural job developer

Georgia is hiring a south Georgia economic developer to lead its efforts to bring more jobs and commerce to rural parts of the state.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that Tift County's Brian Marlowe will be the new deputy commissioner for rural Georgia. Marlowe has been the president and CEO of the Tift County Development Authority.

As part of his job, Marlowe will lead the Governor's Rural Strike Team, an initiative the Republican governor announced last year to improve the economy in rural parts of the state. The effort aims to market large rural industrial sites to new businesses, creating specific marketing plans for a site, targeting specific industries and training local leaders in business recruitment.

The state's own ranking of counties shows that its least developed areas, based on poverty rates, unemployment rates and income, are overwhelmingly rural and most are south of Interstate 20.

"We believe that we can land big projects in rural communities across our state," Kemp said Wednesday, saying he's confident that Marlowe "will help us continue to move the needle in rural Georgia."


Honda pays penalty over air bag defects

Honda has agreed to a $5 million settlement with Arizona over allegations that it failed to disclose defects in air bags that led to two deaths there, the state's top attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the settlement over the faulty airbag systems manufactured by Takata Corp. and used in certain Honda and Acura cars. Under the agreement, roughly $1.7 million will go toward consumer restitution in Arizona. Another $2.1 million will pay for a gift card program incentivizing owners to get their air bags replaced.

"We estimate more than 40,000 of these dangerous airbags are still on the roads in Arizona, and we are pleading with the owners to get their vehicles repaired immediately," Brnovich said in a statement.

Arizona had declined to be part of a joint $85 million settlement with multiple states awarded in August. That settlement only made payments to the states but nothing for customer restitution, Brnovich's office said.


Chrysler expands E-Shop online buys

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expanding its online shopping system in the coming months to allow dealers to list their used cars and "certified pre-owned" vehicles on FCA's E-Shop.

That expansion, which by December will also include test drive scheduling, online chats and refundable vehicle reservations in connection with a PayPal account, is part of the company's push to improve its online vehicle retailing, an area that has been growing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early next year, Mopar accessory shopping will also be added.

FCA said online shopping traffic across its dealer network is up more than 65% since the launch of its online service now known as E-Shop earlier this year.

"Six months ago, we pulled ahead of the launch of E-Shop to help our dealers who were attempting to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic," FCA U.S. Head of Sales Jeff Kommor said. "Little did we know what a powerful tool E-Shop would become."

Kommor said 45% of FCA's monthly sales originated from an Internet lead, up from 25% a year ago.

Customers can complete an entire vehicle purchase through E-Shop, including e-signing paperwork and scheduling home delivery.