World and Nation

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Dominion to close Wisconsin nuclear plant

WASHINGTON — The owners of a small nuclear reactor in Wisconsin said Monday that they would close the Kewaunee Power Station early next year because they were unable to sell it and it was no longer economically viable.

The decision was viewed as an early sign that the wave of retirements of old generating stations across the Midwest is now stretching from the coal industry into nuclear power, driven by slack demand for energy and the low price of natural gas.

After receiving a 20-year extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February 2011 to continue operating Kewaunee, Dominion, based in Richmond, Va., put the power station up for sale. At 556 megawatts, it is about half the size of the largest plants now operating and is the only reactor at the Carlton, Wis., site, rendering costs higher per unit of power than sites with two reactors. Dominion had hoped to buy several reactors in the Midwest that could share some overhead expenses with Kewaunee, but did not succeed.

“This was an extremely difficult decision, especially in light of how well the station is running and the dedication of the employees,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive, in a statement. “This decision was based purely on economics.”

—Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times

Error-filled instructions

A Republican-run election board in a northern Ohio county sent out voting instructions to several precincts with the wrong date for Election Day and an incorrect description of the polling place location, leading state Democrats to suggest foul play in a presidential race that could be decided in a handful of states like Ohio by tiny margins.

The Ottawa County Board of Elections sent a mailer to three precincts last week referring to Election Day as Nov. 8, instead of Nov. 6, and said their new voting place was in a building on the east side of the high school rather than on its west side.

The Ohio Democratic Party issued a statement saying, “This error is deeply troubling.” A party spokesman, Jerid Kurtz, said it was “paramount that voters not be misled” and asked the board not only to issue a correction but also to review all its correspondence with voters from the past year.

JoAnn Friar, director of the county’s elections board, said that the error was unintentional and that a corrected version was being edited and would be sent out promptly.

—Ethan Bronner, The New York Times

Audit of SUNY foundation

A former senior official at the Research Foundation for the State University of New York used his foundation credit card to pay for nearly $131,000 in hockey tickets, iPhones, Godiva chocolates, groceries and other personal expenses, according to an audit released Monday.

The review, by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, also questioned why foundation money had been used to pay for a private club membership for the chancellor of the State University system, Nancy L. Zimpher, and for alcoholic beverages at functions hosted by her office.

And it raised broader concerns about weak controls over spending and procurement at the foundation, which supports nearly $1 billion in research across the State University system each year.

“For too long, SUNY Research Foundation employees took advantage of lax oversight to cheat taxpayers, skirt state laws and violate the foundation’s own policies,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

The audit comes almost 17 months after the president of the research foundation, John J. O’Connor, resigned under scrutiny. The state ethics commission had accused him of giving a no-show job to Susan Bruno, the daughter of a former State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno; DiNapoli’s office said it had referred questions regarding Bruno’s employment to the attorney general’s office.

—Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times

Amazon cloud service goes down

Amazon’s data centers in Northern Virginia crashed Monday afternoon, taking with it a number of popular websites, from Someecards, the quirky e-card company, to mobile applications like Flipboard and Foursquare.

Amazon reported having problems with the data centers in Northern Virginia. Those problems appear to have had a ripple effect across the Internet with several sites hosted on Amazon’s popular EC2 cloud hosting service also reporting problems.

Several frustrated customers took to Twitter on Monday to complain that they could not get access to websites including Foursquare, and Flipboard.

It appears that some of the affected services then affected services that, in turn, ran on them. Because they are all hosted on Amazon’s cloud service, there is a ripple effect. They all go down when the original hosting servers go down.

Last June, an electrical storm caused problems at the same Northern Virginia data centers and took down sites including Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram for a weekend.

The companies that were affected by the latest shutdown were scrambling to respond.

“Like many other services, we’ve been taken down by the outage,” said Erin Gleason, a spokeswoman for Foursquare, the mobile check-in service. “Both the site and the app are inaccessible right now.”

Gleason said the company was still awaiting guidance and updates from Amazon about when its service might be restored.

“Hoping to get things back up and running ASAP,” she said.

Amazon has not yet responded to requests for comment.

—Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times