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Staff photo by Angela Lewis Foster / This electric vehicle charging station is in a parking lot next to Outdoor Chattanooga in Coolidge Park.

Electric vehicle charging photos to win contest prizes

To help promote electric vehicles and alert motorists where they can recharge their EVs in Chattanooga, backers of Gig City's electric vehicle charging network are giving prizes for those who find one or more of Chattanooga's 14 EV charging stations around town and snap of photo of the stations.

EPB, CARTA and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced the scavanger hunt on Monday and said they will award prizes based upon the photos posted on Instagram with the tag @TVA using the hashtags #ChargingChattanooga and #sweepstakes.

"We want to engage the community in learning more about electric vehicles and charging stations so that more people can become familiar with how easy it is to drive an EV," said Ray Knotts, TVA senior manager of Energy Services & Programs. "Your 'snap and share' photo helps increase EV awareness and adoption in Chattanooga."

Multiple entries can be made, and weekly and monthly prizes will be awarded, such as an electric scooter, Airbnb getaway, or the chance to take the wheel in an EV driving experience. Entries will be accepted through May 30. Visit chargingchattanooga.com to learn more about the #ChargingChattanooga sweepstakes and for official rules.

TVA wants to help encourage the sale of more than 200,000 electric vehicles in its 7-state region by 2028.

 

Georgia tightens law for hand-free driving

The Georgia House voted Monday to eliminate a loophole that allows some people to avoid citations for violating the state's hands-free cellphone law.

House members voted 119-52 for House Bill 247, which says drivers should not be able to avoid penalties by telling judges they have purchased hands-free devices for their cellphones.

Republican Rep. John Carson of Marietta says that the current provisions, intended to let people out of a first-time offense, are unenforceable. State law lets first-time violators appear before a judge with proof they bought a phone holder or wireless headphone and escape a fine. Supporters said it's possible for people to get caught in multiple jurisdictions and get out of multiple fines because different courts can't keep track.

Georgia first passed its hands-free law in 2018.

Last year, Carson also sought to double fines for using hands-on cellphones while driving in a failed proposal. This year, the bill keeps fines at $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and $150 for a third offense.

 

Airline raises debt another $7.5 billion

American Airlines is looking to raise another $7.5 billion in debt through its AAdvantage Loyalty frequent flyer program and a new credit line, even as it struggles to lower its cash burn from the yearlong effects of the pandemic.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines said Monday that it would offer $5 billion in secured notes due in 2026 and 2029. The airline is also getting another $2.5 billion line of credit, adding to the pandemic war chest the company has needed to survive the disruption to the travel industry.

The search for more cash comes even as American Airlines is expected to pull in another $3.1 billion in airline payroll support through a third round of economic stimulus that will be voted on Tuesday by the U.S. House Tuesday. That government aid is expected to carry the airline through at least September without furloughs or pay cuts.

The new offerings and debt could bring American's total debt near $50 billion, a record amount for the airline as it and other carriers continue to stockpile cash to make it through until travel returns to normal.

American Airlines is still losing about $30 million a day as it fights the devasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. About $8 million of American Airlines' daily cash burn is due to debt, principal and cash severance payments, the company said at the end of January.

Traffic at U.S. airports is still down about 56% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.

 

Minute Maid operation shifts to Coke in Atlanta

Coca-Cola is moving its Texas-based Minute Maid operation to Atlanta.

The decision will end a nearly 57-year relationship Coke's flagship juice brand has had with the Houston area. The Sugar Land-based offices house 120 employees who have been working remotely for the past year during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them may stay in the Houston area, a company spokeswoman said.

The Minute Maid employees who move to Atlanta will be integrated into the company's main headquarters complex near Georgia Tech.

"The Coca-Cola Company is on a journey to transform how we operate so we can emerge stronger from the pandemic and accelerate our growth," said Kate Hartman, a company spokeswoman. "Part of this process involved a full evaluation of our real estate footprint in the U.S. and Canada and through that we made the difficult decision to close our office in Sugar Land, Texas."

The Minute Maid move comes after a brutal year as restaurants and public venues shuttered by the coronavirus have cut into Coke's revenues. The company suffered its worst annual decline in volume of drinks sold since the 1940s and announced a global reorganization plan that cut about 2,200 employee positions last year. About 500 jobs were lost in metro Atlanta.

The company in its statement Saturday made clear that the decision to close the Minute Maid offices in Sugar Land will not lead to additional job losses.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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