- - Monday, September 26, 2011

FLORIDA

Huge solar power farm planned for panhandle

TALLAHASSEE — What would be the Southeast’s largest solar power farm, generating enough electricity for 32,000 homes, will be built in the Florida Panhandle, a Melbourne-based company announced Monday.

National Solar Power plans to construct the $1.5 billion, 400-megawatt solar array in Gadsden County, just west of Tallahassee.

The project is expected to provide jobs for 400 construction workers over five years and up to 120 permanent employees with an average salary of $40,000.

National Solar has an agreement to provide electricity to Progress Energy Florida, which serves parts of central and north Florida.

The company also is in discussion with other potential customers.

TEXAS

Lockheed laying off 540 employees by year’s end

FORT WORTH — Lockheed Martin Corp. is laying off 540 employees in plane-making operations in Texas, Georgia and California.

The company said Monday it expected most of the affected workers to leave by year’s end.

The layoffs are part of a move announced in June to eliminate 1,500 jobs in the aeronautics business as Lockheed cut costs to respond to pressure to limit U.S. defense spending.

Spokeswoman Laura Siebert said 370 of the layoffs will be salaried executive and administrative workers in Fort Worth, where the company has 15,000 employees and a mile-long assembly line. Another 115 jobs will be eliminated in Marietta, Ga., and 55 in Palmdale, Calif.

The layoffs came a month after 450 employees took buyouts and agreed to leave by the end of the year. The company also eliminated 300 unfilled spots and cut 300 jobs at an aircraft-maintenance plant in Greenville, S.C., earlier this year.

NEW YORK

Judge tosses Madoff hedge funds lawsuits

NEW YORK — A federal judge has thrown out lawsuits in which investors blamed hedge funds for failing to detect Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud.

The ruling by Judge Deborah Batts was made public Monday. It says investors in the hedge funds run by J. Ezra Merkin were sufficiently warned about risks.

The Manhattan jurist says a few people were suspicious about Madoff’s practices before the allegations were publicly revealed. But she says it wasn’t widely known — and he even duped government regulators.

The 73-year-old Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term after admitting the fraud.

NEW YORK

Kodak borrows $160M, stock reacts with plunge

ROCHESTER — Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. lost one-quarter of their value Monday morning after the 131-year-old photography pioneer, scrambling to redefine itself in a cutthroat digital arena, drew down $160 million from its revolving credit line.

Some analysts worried the borrowing was a troubling sign that Kodak is running out of cash in its battle to return to profitability. Others dismissed the concerns, maintaining Kodak dipped into a $400 million credit line because most of its available cash is deposited overseas.

“The bulk of their money is in Europe,” said Ulysses Yannas, a broker with Buckman, Buckman & Reid in New York. “Either you repatriate some of that money, thereby paying a tax differential as high as 30 percent, or you borrow off the credit line.”

Kodak’s stock fell 60 cents, or 25 percent, to $1.78 in morning trading, approaching its 52-week low of $1.75.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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