Hyundai breaks ground on $5.5B electric car plant in Georgia

ELLABELL, Ga. (AP) — A robotic dog delivered a champagne toast and Georgia’s governor and junior U.S. senator shared a brief bipartisan celebration ahead of high-stakes elections as Hyundai Motor Group broke ground Tuesday on its first U.S. plant dedicated to making electric vehicles.

Just five months after Hyundai announced the $5.5 billion manufacturing plant in Bryan County west of Savannah, vast areas of the site have already been cleared of trees. Euisun Chung, executive chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, said the plant will be the envy of the industry.

The South Korean company plans to open the factory in 2025, with at least 8,100 employees producing up to 300,000 electric vehicles per year. Georgia officials say it’s the largest economic development project the state has ever seen.

“This is transformational for the region, not just for people’s children now, but for their grandchildren,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “This is going to be a project that will resonate for generations to come.”

The timing couldn’t have been better for Kemp, a Republican, and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The groundbreaking ceremony was held two weeks before the Nov. 8 election in which both men face formidable challengers at the top of the ballot.

After a yellow-and-black robotic dog delivered champagne flutes for Kemp and top Hyundai executives to make a celebratory toast, the officials joined other dignitaries in picking up shoves to turn ceremonial scoops of dirt. Afterward, Kemp and Warnock shared a brief handshake.

“I’d like to see more of this kind of collaboration, quite frankly,” said Warnock, whose race with Republican Herschel Walker will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. “At the end of the day, we want to see more jobs in Georgia.”

Kemp, facing an Election Day rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, worked with

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California to require insurance discounts for property owners who reduce wildfire risk

Laguna Niguel, California May 11, 2022- Firefighters battle the Coastal fire at Coronado Pointe in Laguna Niguel Wednesday.  (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters battle the Coastal fire at Coronado Pointe in Laguna Niguel in May. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

California will become the first state in the nation to require insurance premium discounts for owners of homes and businesses that are made safer from wildfires.

New rules mandate that insurance companies reward consumers who take wildfire safety and mitigation actions under the state’s Safer From Wildfires framework, the Department of Insurance announced Monday. The framework includes a list of expert-recommended actions that home and business owners can take to better protect themselves from fires.

The regulation is largely a response to skyrocketing insurance costs for residents in wildfire-prone areas, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said. Currently, fewer than half of the insurance companies doing business in California provide such discounts.

“Protecting Californians from deadly wildfires means everyone doing their part, including insurance companies by rewarding consumers for being safer from wildfires,” Lara said in a statement.

The regulation arrives as residents grapple with larger, faster-moving and more frequent fires fueled by climate change. Fifteen of the state’s 20 most destructive wildfires on record have occurred since 2015, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection, and entire towns — including Paradise and Greenville — have been leveled by flames.

Yet, ratepayers in recent years have complained that companies have been unwilling to credit them for steps taken to lower the risk of loss and damage, such as clearing combustible vegetation from properties or installing fire-resistant roofs.

in a 2020 hearing on the matter, dozens of people told the Department of Insurance that their rates had become untenable, with some seeing quotes of as much as $20,000 a year. One El Dorado County resident, Chris Swarbrick, said that his premiums had increased by 430% in two years, and

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