Turbine work successful at Dow

Boston-based Free Flow Power Corp. announced Wednesday that it has successfully operated its first full-scale hydrokinetic turbine generator in the Mississippi River at Dow Chemical Co.’s dock in Plaquemine since June 20.

The devices, which resemble the turbines in jet engines, use water currents to generate electricity. The generators can be mounted on riverbeds, on bridge piers or beneath barges.

Free Flow said its turbines have also undergone testing at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory at Turner Falls, Mass.

The Plaquemine installation marks the first time the equipment has generated electricity in the Mississippi River. This operation is the culmination of three years of research and development by Free Flow, which used a combination private funds and a $1.4 million federal Department of Energy grant.

“Performance to date has been consistent with our design predictions, which makes it very competitive with published data on similar devices being developed around the world,” Ed Lovelace, Free Flow chief technology officer, said in a news release. “The equipment is handling the Mississippi River conditions without power interruptions or degradation.”

Free Flow Power is seeking state and federal permits to install arrays of the turbines at various locations in the Mississippi River. Two years ago, Free Flow said it was looking at 55 sites along the Mississippi; 29 of the sites were in Louisiana.

The company has said the combined output capacity from its plants would amount to 1,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 1.6 million homes.

Report: SEC investigates fund with ties to La.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has begun investigating a New York firm which offered promissory notes instead of cash when three Louisiana public pension funds asked for their money back, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The pension funds told the Journal they are assembling experts to examine the books and financial statements of Fletcher Asset Management.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the executive directors of the Louisiana pension funds said the response they received to their redemption requests “gives rise to questions regarding the liquidity” of the Fletcher fund in which they invested “and the accuracy of the financial statements” issued by two independent auditing firms.

The Firefighters’ Retirement System of Louisiana, Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Louisiana, and the New Orleans Firefighters’ Pension and Relief Fund invested $100 million with Fletcher in 2008. The funds were promised a minimum return of 12 percent a year.

In March, two funds asked for $32 million of their money and received promissory notes that pledged payment within two years.

BR company sues Fla. firm

Brand Coupon Network LLC, a Baton Rouge-based online coupon company, has sued a Florida coupon firm in 19th Judicial District Court and claim the Florida firm stole Brand Coupon’s identity, customers and ideas.

Brand Coupon operates under the name BrandCouponNetwork.com.

In April 2010, Brand Coupon Chief Executive Officer Daniel Abraham, as part of his duties as a longtime board member of the Association of Coupon Professionals, discussed Brand Coupon’s business strategies and business plans with two Catalina Marketing executives, according to the lawsuit. Catalina, which had only been in the print coupon business, “suddenly entered the Internet coupon business and did so under the remarkably similar name of CouponNetwork.com.”

Although Abraham demanded that Catalina cease the use of “the nearly identical and overtly confusing name” CouponNetwork.com, Catalina refused, the lawsuit says.

As a result, Brand Coupon’s investors have lost confidence in the company’s ability to survive and distinguish itself from Catalina, the lawsuit says. The investors aren’t putting any more money into Brand Coupon, which means the company can’t promote itself and will fail unless the court forces Catalina to stop using CouponNetwork.com and stealing Brand Coupon’s identity, customer and ideas, the lawsuit says.

Catalina’s business practices and acts, which include a conspiracy to defraud Brand Coupon and theft of the company’s name, have violated the state’s unfair trade practices act, according to the lawsuit. Catalina also violated the states uniform trade secrets act, the suit says.

Brand Coupon wants the court to stop Catalina from continuing to use the CouponNetwork.com name and to award Brand Coupon damages for any lost business.

FCC approved Monroe company merger

The Federal Communications Commission has approved the pending merger between Monroe-based CenturyLink Inc. and Savvis Inc., a cloud computing and information technology firm.

In a news release, CenturyLink Chief Executive Officer Glen F. Post III said the deal enhances CenturyLink’s data services capabilities and provides the company with “a solid platform for future growth.”

The companies expect to begin combining operations later this year. This integrated hosting business, which will operate under the Savvis brand for the foreseeable future, will be based in St. Louis and led primarily by key members of the Savvis leadership team.

More rain slated for today

There will be scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms across the Baton Rouge area Wednesday, WBRZ meteorologist Dave Nussbaum says in the station’s daily weather blog.

A few storms could be strong with gusty winds and heavy rain.

The storms will likely be slow movers, so the heavy rain can fall over an area for a long period of time. It will continue to be very hot and humid with high temperatures in the lower 90s.

The storms will continue into the evening then they will dissipate overnight. There will be muggy temperatures in the upper 70s Wednesday night.