Resort Unveils Unusual Green Amenity

Lake Geneva, Wis., is a resort town best known to Chicagoans, but now it has another distinction, both in real estate and green-energy. On Tuesday, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa unveiled an on-site charging station for electric and some hybrid automobiles.

April 21, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user compujeramey

Lake Geneva, Wis., is a resort town best known to Chicagoans, but now it has another distinction, both in real estate and green-energy. On Tuesday, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa unveiled an on-site charging station for electric and some hybrid automobiles. The resort says, and it could well be so, that it’s the first resort property in the Midwest to install such a recharging station.

The resort bought a Coulomb Technologies ChargePoint Networked Charging Station for this purpose and will offer it as no-extra-charge amenity to guests and visitors who happen to have electric cars. “We believe it will be a popular amenity due to the region’s ever-growing interest in green technology,” noted Grand Geneva managing director Patrick Hansen in a statement.

Separately last week, but also timed more-or-less for Earth Day, grocery chain Whole Foods Market unveiled its own first charging station (also a ChargePoint) at its flagship store in Austin. It may be an amenity, but in the case of Whole Foods it isn’t no extra charge. Like the rest of the network of charging stations, it will be accessible by making a toll-free call to the number on each charging station or signing by up for a monthly access plan that includes a smart card.

Fund Knew Nothing, Nothing About Repo 105s

The full name of the hearing on Lehman Brothers before the House Committee on Financial Services on Tuesday was “Public Policy Issues Raised by the Report of the Lehman Bankruptcy Examiner.” All the heavy guns were there: Treasury Secretary Geithner, Fed Chairman Bernanke, SEC Chairman Schapiro.

Former Lehman chairman Dick Fuld was there too, presumably to defend the defunct company’s honor from certain things the bankruptcy examiner said, especially regarding so-called Repo 105 sale transactions–an accounting house-of-mirrors technique by which the company hid massive liabilities. “I believe that the examiner’s report distorted the relevant facts, and the press, in turn, distorted the examiner’s report,” he told the committee. “The result is that Lehman and its people have been unfairly vilified.”

Perhaps. But the examiner said that in its final years, Lehman was punch-drunk on the Repo 105 technique, using it to move about $50 billion off its balance sheet without telling the government, rating agencies, its investors or its board of directors. As for Fuld, he says he knew nothing about it either. In technical terms, this is known as the “Sgt. Schultz defense.”

Supreme Court to Hear Costco v. Omega

In a case that’s going to be closely watched by major retailers, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to rule on whether Costco Wholesale Corp. broke bad when it sold luxury Swiss watches that it received from gray-market sources and not the Swiss watchmaker Omega. In Costco v. Omega, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Costco violated U.S. copyright law in selling the watches; Costco appealed the ruling to the high court.

At stake is the future of the trade in goods made overseas and imported by entities that aren’t the manufacturer or its agents. Besides Costco, retailers such as Target, eBay and Amazon.com profit greatly from their ability to tap into gray markets for foreign-made items and then resell them at discounts to what the manufacturer would charge in the US. According to a study by Deloitte, the practice costs manufacturers about $63 billion a year.

Wall Street continued its advance on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 25.01 points, or 0.23 percent. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.81 percent.