Economy Briefs

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HIRING

Best Buy to cut seasonal staff during holidays

NEW YORK | Best Buy Co. will hire about half as many seasonal staff as last year and increase the hours its regular staffers work as part of its plans for the crucial upcoming holiday season.

The largest U.S. electronics retailer also plans to expand free tech support and other services and allow a longer window for product returns during the holidays. It also will promote under-$100 deals to coax shoppers into its stores.

Best Buy, based in Minneapolis, earlier this month reported its second-quarter net income fell 30 percent and revenue was nearly flat at $11.35 billion, falling short of analysts’ expectations, as the company continues to battle for market share with online retailers and discount stores.

TECHNOLOGY

Google to finance home solar systems

NEW YORK — Google announced Tuesday that it will provide $75 million to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the country.

The search giant will own the panels, and will be paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce.

Google is creating a fund with a San Francisco company called Clean Power Finance that local solar installers will be able to tap so they can offer financing plans to prospective buyers. The plans allow homeowners to install a $30,000 solar electricity system on their house for little or no money up front. Instead, customers pay a monthly fee that is the same or less than what they would otherwise be paying their local utility for power.

Google will earn what it calls an attractive return on its investment in two ways. It gets the monthly fee from homeowners, and, as the owner of the systems, Google will get the benefit of federal and state renewable energy subsidies.

The systems will not carry the Google brand, however. Instead, local installers will offer the financing deal under their own brands.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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