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Wages in jail

(AP) -- Los Angeles County's jailed assessor is still collecting his $197,000 salary.

John Noguez has been in jail since October while awaiting trial on charges he accepted at least $185,000 in bribes in exchange for lowering property tax bills for campaign contributors.

He hasn't been able to make the more than $1 million bail.

The Los Angeles Times said the Board of Supervisors discussed his fate behind closed doors on Tuesday but didn't remove him from office.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich said Noguez is still the assessor until he's convicted of a crime.

Noguez hasn't worked since placing himself on paid leave of absence in June.

He got a cost-of-living raise in July that boosted his annual salary from $192,000 to $197,000.

Coliseum takeover

(AP) -- A proposed agreement for the University of Southern California (USC) to take over the struggling Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum would give the private school control of public parking lots and an option to tear down the nearby Sports Arena.

The Los Angeles Times said a draft of the proposal was released Tuesday. Public meetings will follow.

The proposal is part of a lease package that would allow USC to take over operation of the Coliseum and Sports Arena for up to 99 years.

The university would pay the state rent and make tens of millions of dollars in improvements to the Coliseum, its home football stadium.

USC also would have an option to raze the aging Sports Arena and build a professional soccer stadium.

Renewable New Mexico

(AP) -- New Mexico regulators have approved a plan that spells out how much electric utilities can spend and what renewable energy sources they can tap to meet state standards.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday in a rule-making process aimed at establishing a methodology for utilities to calculate costs for renewable energy.

The annual cost cap that limits renewable energy expenditures will be 3 percent of customers' bills starting in 2013. That's up from the current 2.25 percent.

Ensuring utilities use a certain mix of renewable energy has made compliance with the cost cap difficult.

So the commission is allowing more flexibility by increasing the amount of wind power utilities can use to 30 percent.

Solar remains at 20 percent, and other categories such as biofuels and geothermal power have been reduced to 5 percent.

Sandy commitment

(AP) -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan assured New York elected officials Tuesday that the federal government was committed to providing the economic relief needed to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy, and he urged Congress to take swift action to approve President Barack Obama's $60 billion aid package for the region.

Donovan said figures are still being compiled on the numbers of damaged homes, but he estimated that 150,000 throughout the region suffered moderate to major damage.

Donovan, who was appointed by Obama to oversee the federal response to Sandy, is the former head of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano noted that municipalities there have asked for $6.6 billion in federal aid.

“Enormous infrastructure repairs must still be made to bridges, roadways and a critical sewage treatment facility,” he said.

Renewable Idaho

(AP) -- New rules governing small renewable energy projects in Idaho will likely make it tougher for wind and solar developers to succeed but will be helpful for new dairy digesters and small, canal-based hydroelectric projects.

Under the Idaho Public Utilities Commission's decision, solar and wind projects must generate less than 100 kilowatts, on average, to qualify for federally mandated contracts.

That limit makes it more difficult for new projects to get off the ground but is a victory for utilities like Idaho Power Co. that complained they've been overloaded with unwanted wind power.

By contrast, the three-member panel stuck with 20-year power contracts -- utilities wanted just five-year pacts -- and awarded valuable environmental credits to small developers, over utilities' insistence they were the rightful owners.

This will help developers including those seeking to produce power from dairy manure by making it easier for them to win financing.

PUC Chairman Paul Kjellander and commissioners said their ruling's rationale was two-fold: to continue Idaho's support of renewable energy, while shielding utility ratepayers from undue price hikes.

Canadian resales

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian home resale price increases rose 3.4 percent in November, according to the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index.

The prices gain matched the pace of increase in October, according to a report Wednesday by Montreal-based National Bank Financial. Annual gains have dropped from a 7.1 percent pace in November 2011.

Home resale prices rose 6.3 percent from a year before in Toronto, Canada's largest city, and fell 1.4 percent in Vancouver.

On a monthly basis, prices fell 0.4 percent, led by 0.9 percent drops in Edmonton, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Victoria, British Columbia.

Prices declined in 10 of 11 cities for the first time since February 2009.

The index tracks prices in 11 major cities and was set at 100 in June 2005.

Lima wastewater

(Bloomberg) -- Lima will treat 100 percent of the wastewater produced in the capital city by 2015 compared with 16 percent now as two plants enter operation, Peru Housing, Construction and Sanitation Minister Rene Cornejo said.

Sewage treatment will jump to 75 percent next year as the Taboada plant by Spain's Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA that started this week increases processing, Cornejo said Wednesday.

The La Chira plant, to be built by Acciona SA's Acciona Agua water unit and Peru’s Grana y Montero SA, will be ready by the end of 2015 and will process 25 percent of the city’s wastewater, the minister said.

Most of the sewage produced in Lima, home to more than 8 million people, flows into rivers and the sea without being treated.

The government will invest 1 billion soles ($390 million) next year on sanitation and drinking water supplies in the capital, Cornejo also said.

Jerusalem housing

(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will continue to build in Jerusalem, after the United States sharpened its criticism of plans for new housing on land claimed by the Palestinians.

“Every Israeli government has built in Jerusalem, and we will not change that,” Netanyahu said Wednesday.

The government plans to build an additional 1,500 homes in east Jerusalem.

Desalinating Australia

(Bloomberg) -- Suez Environnement, Europe's second-largest water company, said the Victorian desalination plant on the Bass coast near Melbourne had reached its final contractual milestone after more than three years of construction.

Degremont, Suez's water treatment subsidiary, and Thiess’s venture will now manage operations and maintenance of the Wonthaggi reverse-osmosis plant for 27 years, when it will be handed back to Victoria’s government, said Paris-based Suez, which supplies 30 percent of Australia’s drinking water.

The plant, designed to safeguard Melbourne against water shortages, provides a guaranteed source of drinking water independent of rainfall of as much as 450,000 cubic meters a day, delivering it by pipeline to Cardinia reservoir, the AquaSure venture said.

Construction delays and cost overruns from strikes and bad weather caused Suez to take 322 million euros ($428 million) of provisions on the project.

The project was composed of four interconnected parts -- the desalination plant, seawater inlet and outlet tunnels, water transfer pipeline and underground power supply -- and includes energy-recovery devices to reduce power consumption.

Doubling reserves

(Bloomberg) -- Norway proposed to move forward with rules that would more than double the money its banks need to reserve when lending to home buyers as regulators seek to cool a booming property market.

The Financial Supervisory Authority should put together a proposal to increase risk weights calculated under the so-called internal ratings based method to 35 percent, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

DNB ASA, the largest Norwegian bank, had an average risk weight of 12.8 percent at the end of last year, according to the central bank.

Below target inflation and falling interest rates abroad prompted Norway's central bank to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.5 percent since March, the lowest in more than two years, pushing housing prices to records.

Clean-air subsidies

(Bloomberg) -- Germany, Europe's biggest power market, plans to propose changes to its clean energy subsidy system in March to reduce the cost of building wind farms and solar parks as it shutters nuclear reactors.

The so-called EEG clean-energy law must be modified to ensure renewables can compete and their expansion is aligned with power line construction, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said Wednesday.

Power supply has moved to the center of Germany's political agenda since Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is seeking to prevent a voter backlash against rising energy costs before the next general election in the autumn of 2013.

Swedish mall

(Bloomberg) -- Citycon Oyj, Finland's second-largest real estate company, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agreed to buy a shopping mall outside Stockholm for 4.6 billion kronor ($704 million).

Kista Galleria, a property with leasable space of 90,000 square meters (969,000 square feet), was sold by DNB Livsforsikring, a unit of DNB ASA. The purchasers will each own half of the mall.

Citycon expects the first-year net yield to reach about 5.5 percent.

The occupancy rate at the mall is 98 percent, with tenants including Europe's second-biggest clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB and department store Aahlens. The mall had about 18.1 million visitors last year.

The mall is bigger than any of the properties in Citycon's portfolio, which includes 38 shopping centers and 40 other retail properties.

Net rental income from Sweden will account for 40 percent of the total after the acquisition, compared with 25 percent before, Citycon said.

Danish prices

(Bloomberg) -- Danish house prices fell close to a seven-year low, threatening to extend the economy's decline as the crisis in the euro area undermines confidence in Denmark.

House prices slipped 0.7 percent in the third quarter from the three months through June, and fell 3.3 percent from a year earlier, the Copenhagen-based Association of Danish Mortgage Banks said Wednesday.

The declines brought prices close to a seven-year low reached in the first quarter, according to data provided by the association.

Danish apartment prices have plunged 25 percent since their 2007 peak, while house prices are down 20 percent over the past five years.

The real estate slump left a regional banking crisis in its wake, wiping out at least 12 lenders since 2008.

Sydbank A/S, Denmark's third-largest listed lender, said Tuesday it will write down an additional 350 million kroner in bad loans, citing increased refinancing risks for retail clients with floating-rate and interest-only loans.

European construction

(Bloomberg) -- Euro-area construction output fell the most in six months in October led by declines in Germany, France and Slovenia.

Construction in the 17-nation euro area decreased 1.6 percent from September, when it dropped 1.3 percent, the European Union's statistics office in Luxembourg said Wednesday.

From a year earlier, construction output declined 4.1 percent in October.

In Germany, Europe's largest economy, October construction decreased 5.3 percent from September, according to today’s report. France saw a 1.1 percent drop, while output in Slovenia plunged 21.1 percent.

Construction increased 1.9 percent in Italy and rose 0.5 percent in Spain. Ireland and Greece are not required to provide monthly data.

In the 27-nation EU, output increased 1.6 percent from September, when it fell 1.6 percent, according to the report.

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