Floating wind platform to get $500,000 in funding

The Gardiner-based Maine Technology Institute has awarded two Maine firms nearly $900,000 in grants to develop innovative technologies.

WindFloat Maine, a subsidiary of Seattle, Wash.-based Principle Power Inc., received $500,000 to help fund the development of the company’s WindFloat, a floating foundation for deepwater, offshore wind turbines.

Principle Power is a member of DeepCwind, a University of Maine-led consortium of nonprofit groups and private firms working to make Maine a leader in offshore wind technology.

The company hopes the platform will one day be used off the Maine coast.

Abierto Networks LLC in Eliot received a grant of $398,826 for a “Digital Marketing Platform” targeted to convenience stores.

Abierto’s system allows convenience store owners to control — and change — digital advertisements in their stores from a remote location. They can also use the system to send electronic coupons to consumers’ mobile phones. 

FairPoint says it’s bolstering high-speed wireless services

FairPoint Communications says it’s embarking on effort to support more high-speed wireless services across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

FairPoint said Thursday it intends to extend fiber optic cable that will help meet need for bandwidth driven by new applications for smart phones, tablet computers and other wireless devices.

The company says it supports 3G service on more than 1,600 towers in its northern New England. In transforming to 4G, FairPoint will have the capacity to provide faster service to more than half of those towers with this initial network expansion.

CEO Paul Sunu says the project will significantly increase the bandwidth to the cellular towers. 

Credit card users are doing better on making payments

The nation’s top six credit card companies all say their customers’ payment habits improved in March, a positive sign for the industry in a month that has proved volatile in the past few years.

Defaults and late payments are down for Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Capital One, Discover and American Express.

Overall, delinquency and charge-offs, as they’re called in the industry, are at the lowest point since mid-2008.

The drop in late payments is a particularly good sign because in the last two years, there was an uptick in March as card users fumbled with post-holiday payments.

Bank of America Corp., the nation’s largest credit card issuer, still has the highest rates for both measures. American Express Co., which has more affluent customers, has the lowest. 

Honda slowing production as quake causes shortages

Honda Motor Co. will slow down production at its 10 U.S. and Canadian auto factories into at least early May because it’s running short of parts made at earthquake-damaged factories in Japan.

The company said Friday that it’s extending the cuts through May 6, and it expects more disruptions after that.

The slowdowns, which could reduce output at its plants by up to 50 percent, are likely to cause shortages of Honda vehicles in a matter of weeks.

Honda’s Japanese factories are running at half capacity, and the company’s president has said it could take a few months to return to full production.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged factories that make key auto parts, affecting nearly all automakers.

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