Bomb with the Wind
Work began this week on a new 11.5 megawatt wind farm at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the home of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The European engineering company Siemens AG is overseeing construction of the farm’s five turbines, which will generate enough electricity to power about 3,500 homes — making it the largest federally owned wind farm in the U.S., Businessweek reports. The project is expected to be completed by July 2014.
The Bottom Line: The DOE expects the Pantex farm “to generate an average of $2.8 million annually in energy savings,” which will go toward paying off the cost of the project over the next 18 years, according to Businessweek.
Help Me Health You
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide $10.8 million in grants to eight Texas organizations to recruit new personnel to guide the state’s uninsured residents through the process of securing health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. These employees, known as “navigators,” “will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday. The ACA’s mandate to purchase health insurance will take effect Jan. 1, and enrollment in the insurance exchanges begins Oct. 1, which gives the organizations only about five weeks to train the navigators.
The largest of the grants, $5.8 million, will go to the United Way of Tarrant County, which is coordinating with 17 other organizations statewide, the Texas Tribune reports. The East Texas Behavioral Healthcare Network will receive $1.3 million, and six other groups will also receive funding, with a special focus on enrolling the state’s migrant population.
The Bottom Line: The grants and the navigator program itself have already stirred up some controversy. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is among the most vocal critics: On Wednesday he joined with attorney generals from 12 other states in issuing a statement opposing the program due to privacy concerns, according to the Tribune.
Plano-based movie theater chain Cinemark reported some positive financial news this week, including an announcement Thursday that it will increase its quarterly dividend to shareholders by 19 percent, up to 25 cents per share. Several analysts are also increasing their price targets for Cinemark shares due to “continued optimism that global long-term economics for the movie studios will be increasingly book-ended by theatrical exhibition and digital streaming,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Bottom Line: The dividend increase is welcome news to investors after regulators in Mexico shot down Cinemark’s attempt to sell all of its 290 screens in that country to Grupo Cinemex, one of two companies that dominate the Mexican movie exhibition market. According to the Reporter, Cinemark is appealing the ruling and will continue “looking to sell its Mexico circuit in order to focus on growth elsewhere in Latin America.”
Winner of the Week: Tesla Motors
Electric car maker Tesla Motors will open its first charging station in Texas next Tuesday, allowing drivers of its Model S sedan to fuel up for free at the San Marcos Premium Outlets. The California-based company plans to open four more Texas stations by the end of the year, including a Waco location that will power up in two weeks, the Houston Chronicle reports. Two of the new stations will be located on I-45 between Houston and Dallas, and there will be one on I-10 for drivers traveling from Houston to Austin or San Antonio.
Tesla’s Supercharger stations can fully charge a battery in 20 minutes, providing enough electricity for a Model S to travel up to 150 miles, according to the Chronicle. That’s 20 times faster than the average charger currently available for public use.
Loser of the Week: The Corsicana Fruitcake Fraudster
A former executive of a bakery in Corsicana was arrested this week for allegedly embezzling more than $16 million from the business, which specializes in baking “deluxe fruitcakes,” Bloomberg reports. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is accusing Sandy Jenkins, who was Collin Street Bakery’s corporate controller for 15 years, of using company checks to buy houses, jewelry collections, private plane tickets and 43 luxury cars. He then attempted to cover up the fraud by manipulating the bakery’s computer records, according to the FBI’s arrest report. Jenkins has been charged with mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine per count.