TVA board cedes authority to CEO
With only five of the nine seats on the Tennessee Valley Authority board filled, TVA directors Thursday delegated more authority to TVA CEO Jeff Lyash for land purchases, capital projects and economic development incentives.
At its quarterly meeting in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the TVA board on Thursday authorized Lyash as CEO to buy real property up to $50 million without prior board approval, to make capital purchases up to $200 million without prior board authorization and to have more authority for economic development activities and incentives. TVA officials said the flexibility is needed to respond to capital requirements needed for TVA’s energy transition away from coal and its efforts to allow distributed energy and to aid in economic development programs across its seven-state region. TVA is negotiating land purchases and natural gas equipment buys for new combustion gas turbines and is preparing to possibly build a new small modular reactor to help replace the aging coal-fired plants being shut down.
Environmental groups Thursday questioned why the current TVA board, which includes all directors appointed by former President Trump, is ceding its authority to TVA management at a time when President Biden is appointing new members to the TVA board.
“TVA’s Trump-appointed board just handed important decision-making power to an unelected CEO who’s a staunch supporter of polluting gas power plants,” Gaby Sarri-Tobar, an energy justice campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement Thursday. “President Biden’s clean electricity goals are at grave risk if he continues to ignore TVA and its fossil-fuel loving board. Biden and Congress must take swift action to get leaders on the TVA board who will accelerate the transition to a just, renewable energy future.”
Biden nominated four new members for the TVA board last April, but the U.S. Senate has yet to conduct any confirmation hearings for the nominees.
Lyash has previously said that natural gas plants are a bridge to eventually reaching a carbon-free future and are needed to supplement intermittent solar and wind generation.
Coke and Pepsi sales rise more than 10%
Coca-Cola’s revenue rose 10% to $9.5 billion in the fourth quarter as coffee shops, movie theaters and other venues continued to reopen.
For the first time since the pandemic began, the volume of Coke products being sold for use outside of the home, exceeded the levels recorded in 2019.
Coke said its coffee sales volumes grew 17% in the October-December period as its Costa coffee shops reopened in the United Kingdom. Sports drinks rose 18% thanks to strong growth for Bodyarmor. Coke, which has had a 15% share in Bodyarmor since 2018, bought full control of the brand for $5.6 billion in November.
Net income jumped 66% to $2.4 billion. Earnings, adjusted for one-time items, fell 5% to 45 cents per share.
That was better than Wall Street expected. Industry analysts had projected earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $8.98 billion, according to FactSet.
Rival PepsiCo also reported better-than- expected fourth quarter results Thursday.
Pepsi’s net revenue grew 12% to $25.2 billion, better than the $24 billion Wall Street was anticipating. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.53 was a penny ahead of forecasts.
Pepsi said its North American profit took a hit from increased commodity and transportation costs.
Mortgage rates rise to highest in two years
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped last week to their highest level in more than two years, potentially bumping some homebuyers out of the market with Americans getting squeezed by higher costs for just about everything.
The average rate on the 30-year loan jumped nearly a quarter point to 3.69% last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday. After rising nearly a half-point early in the year, the average long-term rate had been flat for three weeks. A year ago, the long-term rate was 2.73%.
Although it’s still historically low, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage hasn’t been this high since the first week of January 2020 when it was 3.72%.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular among those refinancing their homes, was 2.93%. It stood at 2.77% a year ago.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner