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Roundup: Duke wants to cut electric bills, feds have dollars for St. Pete, Covid-19 and startups

Margie Manning



Photo credit: ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Today’s roundup includes news about Duke Energy Florida, University of South Florida, the U.S. Department of Justice, the city of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and Startup Genome.

Catherine Stempien, president, Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida has asked the state’s Public Service Commission to cut residential electric bills by nearly 21 percent during May to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company wants to give customers annual fuel savings in a single bill. Traditionally, these fuel savings would be refunded over the following year, Duke said in a news release.

“We understand that during the COVID-19 pandemic many of our residential and business customers are facing financial challenges,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida state president. “During these unprecedented times, we want to find creative solutions to provide relief and continue to work hard to deliver the best possible price for our customers.”

If approved, a typical residential customer will see a decrease of nearly 21 percent on May’s bill. Commercial and industrial customers will see significant savings ranging from approximately 20 percent to 45 percent.

The U.S. Department of Justice  is making $850 million available to help public safety agencies respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. More than $18.5 million is available to Florida agencies, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. St. Petersburg is eligible for up to $423,475 and Pinellas County is eligible for up to $175,217 in emergency funding, a list from the federal prosecutor’s office said.

University of South Florida said it will waive deposits and extend deadlines for some incoming students. USF will waive the $200 deposit requirement for accepted students who have experienced a change in their financial situation due to coronavirus. In addition, USF has extended deadlines for summer transfer students and freshmen to submit applications by two weeks to April 17.  The deadline for accepted freshmen to submit a deposit has also been pushed back by two weeks to May 15. Orientations for freshmen and transfer students in the U.S. will be conducted remotely, while the orientation format for international students is still being determined.

Look for new opportunities to emerge from the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Startup Genome.

Before that happens, there likely will be a significant drop in venture funding, the research and policy advisory organization said.

Startup Genome tracked venture capital deals in China and extrapolated that data to apply globally. A two-month contraction would mean about $28 billion in startup investment will go missing this year. A more extended drop in investments over a year could mean an $86.4 billion decline in global VC investments, Startup Genome said.

But, “crisis begets opportunity,” the report said. Although fewer dollars were invested in the past two U.S. recessions, more companies got funded. That suggests that businesses that are able to become cash efficient might become even more likely to raise money following a recession, although at lower valuations and lower total funds raised.

In addition, over half of Fortune 500 companies were created during a recession or bear market, and over 50 tech unicorns, collectively valued at $145.2 billion, were founded during the 2007-2009 recession years.

That’s good for the economy, because new and young firms create the most jobs.

See the full Startup Genome report here.

On the flip side, many startups are laying off workers, according to a report in the New York Times.

As of Thursday morning, 83 startups nationwide had laid off 7,020 employees since March 11, reported. The website said it is tracking layoffs to help companies that are still hiring to identify great talent.

Peerfit is the only local company on the list of companies with layoffs, as the St. Pete Catalyst reported earlier.

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