Early Briefing: Dominion Plans Wind Projects In Va.

A wind farm in Palm Springs, Calif. In California, utilities must get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010. Photo Credit: By Sandy Huffaker -- Associated Press Photo

* Dominion, a utility based in Richmond, said it would work with BP's alternative-energy unit to develop, own and operate wind farms in Virginia, part of an effort to meet a goal of getting 12 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.

"There is a lot of opportunity for wind projects in Virginia, and we would hope we'd be able to bring a lot to the table working with BP," said Mark McGettrick, president and chief executive of Dominion Generation. McGettrick said the company was looking at several sites in western Virginia and onshore near the coastline.

Dominion gets only 2.9 percent of its energy from renewable resources and would need to add 1,325 megawatts of renewable capacity to meet the state's target. That's equal to almost two new coal-fired plants.

* The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said it would consider taking action against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if their handling of a new accounting rule raises concerns, even if their conduct "technically complies with the accounting standard."

The OFHEO statement came less than a week after the regulatory agency said it found "certain issues" in Freddie Mac's implementation of accounting standards which "raise concerns" about the company's capital, the financial cushion it is required to maintain to protect against losses.

* The Carlyle Group said yesterday that it had created a $450 million fund to buy corporate debt being sold by banks at discounted prices, continuing a flurry of activity by the District private equity firm following the collapse of one of its funds in Europe last month.

Carlyle has completed fundraising for CCP Financing I Ltd., which is expected to buy senior secured bank loans -- those that are paid first if a borrower defaults. Carlyle plans to take advantage of the turmoil in the credit markets by scooping up loans at below-market prices and financing the purchases with 12-year debt.

* Gannett, owner of 85 daily newspapers including USA Today, said yesterday that its first-quarter profit dropped nearly 9 percent from the year before, as the newspaper industry continues to struggle with declining advertising revenue and circulation.

Gannett reported a profit of $192 million (84 cents per share) on $1.68 billion in revenue, compared with $211 million (88 cents) profit on $1.83 billion in revenue for the comparable period in 2007.

* D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty won a significant court ruling Monday in favor of his plan to require time-and-distance meters in all city cabs by May 1, while taxi drivers said they will continue their legal fight to keep the decades-old zone-fare system.

"This is a major victory for the mayor's point of view, no doubt about it," D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said after a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled against cabdrivers in a lawsuit they filed. They said Fenty (D) exceeded his power in ordering the change in the fare system, but Judge Brook Hedge disagreed.

* Marriott International of Bethesda will more than double the number of hotels it operates in the Middle East by 2011 as it seeks to expand in the region's fast-growing tourism market.

Marriott, the world's largest lodging chain, will "sign new development agreements" to increase its portfolio of Middle East properties to 65 from 26, J.W. Marriott Jr. Marriott's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. Marriott's local partners will invest in building most of the hotels, which the company will manage, he said.

By Dan Beyers  |  April 22, 2008; 7:06 AM ET
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