Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

February 27, 2007

Maryland: Energy

BGE gets OK to test `smart' gear

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has received regulatory approval to begin a pilot program to test so-called "smart" thermostats and air conditioning switches aimed at reducing customer electricity usage during times of peak demand. The equipment will allow BGE to remotely lower customers' thermostat settings and cycle air conditioners on and off on a few hot days each year, when demand for power reaches peak levels. The utility will randomly select 1,000 customers willing to participate in the pilot program. Each will get a $50 credit on his or her bill and the potential benefit of reduced energy usage.

Paul Adams

Retailing

Sunny's hires realty broker

Sunny's Great Outdoors, Inc. has hired Keen Realty LLC to help sell 13 stores in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. The Elkridge-based outdoor store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, saying in court documents that it owed $1.1 million to its 20 largest unsecured creditors. The company said it expects to complete liquidation sales by March 31.

Andrea K. Walker

Internet

Job search site launched for area

One Economy Corp., the city Mayor's Office of Employment Development and Monster.com said yesterday that they are launching the online Beehive/Monster Career Center to help local residents searching for work. Beehive -baltimorebeehive.org - is a portal with resources in English and Spanish aimed at low-income residents. The nonprofit One Economy, which earlier teamed up with the office of employment development to offer career coaching, now will offer Monster's job-search services at http:--beehive.monster.com.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Earnings

HealthExtras profit up sharply

HealthExtras Inc., the pharmacy benefits manager with headquarters in Rockville, yesterday posted earnings of $11.3 million, or 27 cents a share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31 - nearly double the $5.8 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue was $396.2 million, more than double the $181.5 million revenue in the year-earlier quarter. For the year, HealthExtras booked earnings of $31.6 million, or 75 cents a share, on revenue of $1.3 billion. That compares with $23.0 million, or 56 cents a share, earned in 2005 on revenue of $694.5 million.

M. William Salganik

Defense

Lockheed backed on helicopter bids

The auditing arm of Congress backed a complaint by Lockheed Martin Corp. and called on the Air Force yesterday to seek new bids for a $15 billion helicopter contract awarded to Boeing Co. The Government Accountability Office, which investigates how taxpayer dollars are spent, said the criteria on which the Air Force evaluated bids were "inconsistent" with the emphasis in the department's request for proposals, which focused on search and rescue capabilities. The GAO's recommendation, which is nonbinding, calls on the Air Force to request revised proposals.

Nation: Technology

Sony plans cheaper Blu-ray player

Sony Corp. said yesterday that it was bringing out a cheaper player for Blu-ray discs early this summer, a crucial step in its battle to make the high-definition format the replacement for DVDs. The BDP-S300 will cost $599, yet will have the same capabilities as the $999 BDP-S1 Sony is currently selling.

Investigations

Citigroup notes SEC tax questions

Citigroup Inc. said the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating tax issues stemming from the bank's 2000 acquisition of Associates First Capital Corp. Citigroup said in its annual report, filed late Friday, that the SEC's investigation involves "the treatment of certain specific tax reserves and releases related to the Associates businesses acquired in the 2000 fourth quarter."

This column was compiled from dispatches by Sun reporters, the Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg News.

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