Early Briefing: Lexus Lanes For The Power Grid

*Just as special toll lanes charge drivers a fee to travel at rush hours, electricity customers may soon be paying more when the grid is congested and less when it's not. Pepco is about to experiment with a pilot program to charge certain randomly selected homeowners extra if they want to use electricity at peak hours, but far less if they wait until the off peak.

The energy firm will start sending personal e-mail messages to folks such as Jonathan and Lauren Schwabish every few hours that could determine when they do the dishes, wash the baby's clothes or turn on the air conditioner.

The couple will learn when the price of electricity for their old Capitol Hill home will spike the next day because Washington's winter chill or its steamy summer is nudging up the demand for power.

If they wait to turn on the washing machine or they turn off the air conditioner when the sun beats down, they'll be rewarded with a credit on their utility bill that could reach hundreds of dollars a year. See story.

*The chief executives of Freddie Mac of McLean and Fannie Mae of the District were in New York, discuss the pain they would have preferred to inflict on themselves rather than cut their dividends and borrow relatively costly capital. See story

*Now Fairfax Count is feeling the crunch: The worsening housing market has pushed it into a budget crisis, following the farther-out suburbs. See story

*Amazon.com said it made an investment in Bill Me Later, a Timonium, Md., service that allows consumers to make purchases online without using credit cards. The amount of the investment was not disclosed. Amazon said it will make Bill Me Later's service available on its Web site. See press release. See our recent profile of Bill Me Later.

*Sportswear-maker Under Armour said it would add 350 jobs near its Baltimore headquarters. The new employees will work in offices currently used as a warehouse and freight terminal within walking distance of Under Armour's waterfront headquarters, where the company employs 450 people. See Baltimore Sun story.

*Capital One Financial, a major credit card issuer based in McLean, said its compensation committee awarded chairman and chief executive Richard D. Fairbank about 1.7 million stock options with an estimated value of $17 million. The options entitle Fairbank to buy shares for $50.99 each, the market price when the options were granted. The options are Fairbank's primary compensation for 2008; he will receive no salary or cash bonus. Capital One shares closed at $49.93, down $2.14. See SEC filing.

*Genworth Financial, the former insurance unit of General Electric, said profit will miss analysts' estimates next year because of the housing slump. Its mortgage insurance unit will lose as much as 25 cents a share in 2008, the Richmond company said.

By Terri Rupar  |  December 12, 2007; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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