The Dash

June 18, 2014

A couple of months ago

I attended a funeral

During the Mass

The priest read a poem

Written by Linda Ellis

Simply Titled….

The Dash

The poem seemed to be

The topic of conversation

After the service

I never heard that before

That was very profound

It really made me stop and think

When we look at a gravestone

We only see

A name

A date of Birth

And…

The date they passed away

Between the 2 dates

You will find….

The dash

The little dash stands for

Everything that was accomplished

During their lifetime

What do we do to fill our dash

What have we passed on…

To our family….

Friends….

Co-workers….

All who we meet

What is our legacy

What did we do with the gifts

We were given

This is the measure of our dash

How do we want to be remembered

If given the chance to write

Our own epithet

What would it say

Do we live to fulfill

The words we would write

Live Your Dash!

Advertisements

10:59 PM, Oct 20, 2012

USA TODAY – Autumn gasoline prices are about to drop faster than fall foliage.

With inventories rising and demand waning, gasoline prices could plunge 50 cents a gallon from October’s $3.86 peak average over the next few weeks, providing a lift for the economy and possibly becoming a factor in next month’s presidential election.

Gasoline, now averaging $3.69 a gallon, is expected to fall to $3.35 or lower by late November. In some regions, prices have already sunk below $3.

“Most of the country is heading appreciably lower the next few weeks,” says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, who notes wholesale prices in some key markets have dropped from as high as $4.35 a gallon to $2.71. Pump prices typically lag big wholesale drops. But Kloza expects retail prices to sink five to 15 cents a gallon over each of the next three weeks.

The drop could provide a boost to consumer spending and influence next month’s presidential race, where gas prices have been a hot-button issue for much of the campaign. Several battleground states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are enjoying big price drops.

“Certainly, lower gas prices are helpful in terms of consumer spending by increasing disposable income,” says Brian Bethune, chief economist at Alpha Economic Foresights. “And if prices come down at a rapid rate in the next three weeks, that would tend to help the incumbent. It may not be logical, but if people see problems with the high cost of food or gas, it’s the president who tends to get the blame.”

Gas prices have remained stubbornly high well past their traditional Memorial Day weekend peak, due largely to supply shortages and refinery woes on the West Coast and Midwest. But with oil inventories rising and production issues ebbing, prices have been easing the past week, a trend likely to accelerate. “This is very much gravity at work,” Kloza says. “The faster prices soar, the more prone they are to panic sell-offs.”

Kloza expects prices to bottom in the $3.30 range. Gasbuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan and energy analyst Brian Milne of Telvent DTN see a $3.35 bottom. Barring rising troubles in the Middle East or refinery issues in the U.S., prices could remain in that range through early 2013.

On Friday, gasbuddy.com was tracking some central Ohio stations selling gas for $2.97 a gallon. Gas prices remain stubbornly high in California — the nation’s priciest state averaging $4.51 a gallon — although some stations are charging more than $5. Energy experts expect prices to bottom in the $4 range. “California is not completely out of the woods yet regarding supplies, and their refineries haven’t been able to keep up,” Milne says.

By ROLAND HWANG  | 8/22/12 4:30 AM EDT  As reported in Politico

With the darkest days of the recession behind us, Americans are looking to  better economic times. They also are looking forward to their politicians  working together to find solutions.

While there are many areas where different sides are far apart, there is a  very good news story expected from Washington this week. It’s an issue that  almost all Americans can get behind: higher fuel efficiency.

An agreement set to be finalized by the Obama Administration as  soon as this week promises that by 2025, new vehicles will get an average of  54.5 miles per gallon. This builds on standards already in place, which by 2016  will raise the average fuel efficiency of the new passenger vehicle fleet to  35.5 mpg.

The standards will be introduced incrementally. For consumers, this means  that in less than 15 years, everything from compact cars to pickup trucks will,  on average, burn about half as much gas as vehicles driven today. This saves  about $8,000 in costs over the life of a new vehicle.

This is Washington at its best, working to move America forward.

Republicans and Democrats, automakers and environmental groups supported the  stronger standard because it redirects hard-earned cash away from the gas pump  and back into your wallet. They also understood that the standard fortifies  national security and protects the environment.

And this agreement puts Americans back to work.

Thousands of new jobs are being created in the automotive industry, the  largest manufacturing employer in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor  Statistics, the auto industry has added more than 230,000 jobs since June 2009,  when the industry scraped bottom. Most of these jobs are in the manufacturing  sector, but U.S. auto dealerships are beefing up their payrolls as well.

Stronger standards give automakers a long-term roadmap to improve vehicle  efficiency.

By greening the Rust Belt, the U.S. can seize global leadership in  innovative, fuel-efficient technologies – a market historically dominated by  Europe and Asia.

The jobs that accompany this domestic expansion aren’t outsourced; they  remain at home.

In Saginaw, Mich., for example, a century-old auto supplier called Nexteer  Automotive recently added 650 employees to help manufacture electric power  steering components for pickup trucks. These components replace more  energy-intensive hydraulic systems. Electric power steering is a fast-growing  segment of Nexteer’s business, and automakers who want to squeeze more  efficiency from their fleet are driving the increased demand.

Outside the auto industry, job growth will expand even further – by more than  half a million jobs, many in discretionary sectors like services and retail – because money saved at the pump will be spent on things like tuition, new  clothes, or a vacation.

The benefits don’t stop there. Cutting energy use while driving also reduces  our dependence on oil. By 2030, the 54.5 mpg standard will slash oil imports by  one-third. This enhances national security and strengthens the economy by  investing money in the Midwest – not in the volatile Middle East.

Fuel efficiency standards also protect the environment by reducing carbon  pollution equal to taking 85 million cars off the road. This helps fight climate  change that leads to costly droughts and dangerous heat waves. Less pollution  also means a healthier populace and lower medical bills.

Washington responded to America’s demand for more fuel efficient cars. By  implementing a smart, tough standard, Washington showed that it is committed to  creating good jobs and continuing our economic recovery.

54.5 mpg is a standard that works for America.

Roland Hwang is the Transportation Program Director for the Natural  Resources Defense Council.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79949.html#ixzz24J7UKPjn

The Heat Goes On

August 11, 2012

Last month, I read

 

 

That the first 6 months

 

 

Of this year…

 

 

Were the hottest first 6 month period

 

 

 

Since they began keeping records

 

 

Back in the 1860s

 

 

 

 

Last week…

 

 

Ole Hurricane Schwartz

 

 

He back now

 

After double bypass surgery

 

 

 

Said that we had just experienced

 

The hottest July ever

 

 

 

I think that makes 7 months in a row!!!

 

 

 

My garden is struggling….

 

 

This year

 

 

Normally my cherry tomatoes

 

Are abundant

 

And they are……

 

 

 

Very juicy and sweet

 

 

 

Not this year….

 

 

 

All my cherry tomato plants…..

 

 

Died

 

 

 

From excessive heat

 

 

 

We probably got about

 

50 cherry tomatoes

 

 

Before they withered out on me

 

 

 

Our whole garden

 

Is weather beaten

 

 

 

Grant….

 

 

 

Did you water the garden

 

 

Yes Dad

 

 

 

How about the flowers

 

In the containers

 

 

Yes Dad

 

 

Well….

 

 

Maybe you should start

 

 

Talking to them

 

 

 

They don’t seem to be responding

 

 

 

 

Is this a phenomena?

 

 

 

Or can this be a result of…..

 

 

Global warming….

 

 

 

 

Hottest 7 months

 

 

Since they started keeping records…

 

 

 

 

Gives us something to think about

 

 

 

 

Until recently, Richard Muller,

 

 

Scientist and Director of the

 

Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Foundation

 

 

Was one of the world’s most dedicated skeptics.

 

 

 

 

However, his own research

 

Has finally caused Muller…

 

 

 

To change his position

 

Muller’s statement in a New York Times Op/Ed:

 

 

Call me a converted skeptic.

 

Three years ago

I identified problems in previous climate studies

 

that, in my mind,

 

threw doubt on the very existence of

 

global warming.

 

 

Last year,

 

following an intensive research effort

 

 involving a dozen scientists,

 

I concluded that global warming was real

 

And that the prior estimates

 

Of the rate of warming were correct.

 

 

I’m now going a step further:

 

                                                                                              

Humans are almost entirely the cause.

 

 

 

Wow!!!!

 

 

 

Pretty powerful statement

 

 

 

 

I know….

 

 

 

He’s only one person

 

 

 

Although….

 

 

He is considered to be

 

One of the world experts

 

In this field

 

 

And

 

 

He was always the one denying…..

 

 

 

The fact that Global warming existed

 

 

 

 

He changed his mind

 

 

 

Is the excessive heat

 

Over the last 7 months…..

 

 

 

A result of global warming?

 

 

 

I am not the expert in this field

 

 

But…..

 

 

I believe

 

 

This should begin to….

 

 

 

Raise the awareness on the topic.

 

 

 

Maybe we should all…

 

 

Start asking more questions?

 

 

 

What steps are being taken to

 

 

Insure the sustainability of our planet?

 

 

 

 

What is our contingency?

 

 

 

Do I hear a Plan B?

 

 

 

 

This is not a time to take sides

 

 

 

Are we going to continue

 

 

To Deny Global Warming

 

 

May be a possibility?

 

 

 

 

Are we willing to take

 

 

 

The appropriate steps

 

 

To insure

 

 

The Health and Welfare

 

 

Of future generations?

 

 

 

 

We were the generation

 

That sought to change the world

 

 

 

I don’t think

 

We had this sort of change..

 

 

In mind

 

 

 

This is our chance

 

 

To all work together

 

 

For the common good

 

 

 

Pay it forward

Bankrate.comBy Chris Persaud | Bankrate.com – Fri, Mar 23, 2012 3:01 AM EDT

 

$4 gas prices got your attention? If the cost of gasoline is already back at that lofty level where you are, or is simply headed in that direction, you’re probably asking where all the gas money you’re shelling out at the pump is going.

There are a couple of ways of answering that.
Industry shows how gas price breaks down

The American Petroleum Institute, or API, has a general breakdown for you. According to the trade group’s February estimates, most of what you pay for gasoline — 71 percent — goes to refineries, to buy oil.

API says it takes one gallon of oil to make a gallon of gasoline. The price of oil is determined in commodities markets, where companies and traders buy and sell the petroleum for purposes that can include refining it into gasoline or holding it as an investment. The markets, and the prices they set, are influenced by supply-and-demand factors, such as trouble in the Middle East that could result in less oil coming from that region of the world.

After oil prices, the rest of the price of a gallon of gas comes from taxes (14 percent) and costs associated with refining, moving and selling the gasoline (15 percent), according to API.

At the time of API’s most recent study, in late February, the national average price of regular-grade gasoline was $3.58 per gallon. By the group’s estimates and percentages, about $2.54 of that price covered crude oil costs, 50 cents went to taxes, and about 54 cents went into refining, moving and retailing.
Get geeky for more exact gas cost analysis

If you want to get geekier about where your gas money is going, you can do a more exact and up-to-date calculation on your own.

Here’s how:

  • Find the price of a gallon of gas. Go online to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. For example, as of March 22, the auto club showed that a gallon of regular gasoline sold for about $3.88.
  • Find the price of a gallon of oil. Head to Bloomberg.com’s Energy & Oil Prices page. As of March 22, it showed a barrel of oil selling for about $105.46. There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil, so divide $105.46 by 42 to get $2.51 as the price of one gallon of oil. Again, a gallon of oil can be refined into one gallon of gasoline, according to API. So, about $2.51 of the March 22 price for a gallon of gas went toward the cost of the underlying oil. That works out to about 65 percent of what you paid at the pump.
  • Find the cost of taxes. The federal tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon. On top of that, there are state taxes and, depending on where you live, local gasoline and/or sales taxes, too. If taxes are typical where you are, the API estimates you’re paying 49 cents per gallon in federal, state and local gas taxes, making up 12.5 percent of the average $3.88 gas price.
  • Determine the cost of refining, transportation and retailing. The rest of the cost of gasoline goes to turning crude oil into fuel, moving it to gas stations and retail markup. Get this number by subtracting the amounts in steps 2 and 3 from the average price in step 1. In this case, that’s $3.88 minus $2.51 and minus 49 cents, which comes out to 88 cents for refining, transportation and retailing — or about 22.5 percent.

And that’s how you do the math. Keep in mind that taxes and other factors making up gas prices can differ by region, state, metro area and city. Check out our map on gasoline taxes by state to see how much of your gas money is going to federal and state taxes.

If you want more detail about your own local taxes, contact your city, county, and/or state department of revenue, department of finances, or the equivalent.

By DARREN  SAMUELSOHN | 3/30/12 5:57 PM EDT

President Barack Obama isn’t the only candidate who has to worry about  gasoline price spikes.

Take a look at members of Congress and their challengers, who are going all  out to express concern about the plight of American motorists — often with  personal stories of their own sticker shock.

Illinois GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling took a page from that  playbook this month when he invited reporters to watch him fork over a C-note to fill up his Chevy Suburban  at a Phillips 66 U-Save Mart in Moline. So did Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who  opened a recent weekly e-newsletter by bemoaning her last $58 pit stop.

Others are content just to empathize.

Hence, Republican Jason Plummer — running to replace retiring Rep. Jerry  Costello (D-Ill.) — visited ConocoPhillips’s Wood River refinery outside St.  Louis to slam EPA policies that he blamed for driving up fuel prices. New York  GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle’s YouTube moment came when she gave explicit instructions on  what she wanted Energy Secretary Steven Chu to tell his administration  colleagues: “The American people are hurting. They need you to do something  now.”

Expect to hear a lot of the same until November.

“This train stretches from New York City to Los Angeles with how many people  have jumped on it,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at  Gasbuddy.com., a fuel price tracking website. “Either you are for low gas prices  or you are going to get voted out of office. Everyone running is forced to talk  about it because the other party is.”

There’s good reason for all the gas pump bickering. A Gallup poll in March found that 65 percent of Americans  think Congress and the president can take actions to control gas prices, and  that 85 percent want “immediate actions to try to control the rising price of  gas.”

Blame is also easy to spread around. Senate Democrats tried to put  Republicans on the spot in March with a floor vote to repeal oil subsidies,  while House Republicans see rewards from a legislative agenda heavy on domestic  drilling and embarrassing the Obama administration on the Keystone XL  pipeline.

“I’m certain that with $4 gas, the American people will remember who listened  to them and who didn’t,” House Speaker John Boehner said in May before passing  one in a series of energy bills.

During last year’s price spikes, freshmen fanned out to meet with voters and  hear their complaints about fuel costs. Wisconsin GOP Rep. Reid Ribble’s visit to  an Appleton gas station made local TV newscasts, as did Republican Rep. Robert  Hurt’s stop with Virginia farmers, where he talked up offshore development and alternative energy.

The House websites for Ribble, Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Indiana GOP Rep. Larry Bucshon all feature gas price surveys asking people to  vote on policy solutions.

Indicative of this year’s political stakes, Senate Republican candidates hoping  to help their party reclaim the majority are being much more aggressive than  their House counterparts with their attacks on Democrats.

Virginia Republicans, for example, have posted a video picking at the opening line of a response from  Democrat Tim Kaine at a town hall event when asked about gas price spikes. “I’ve  got to admit there’s some aspects about the gas price thing that makes me  scratch my head,” Kaine says in the clip — a comment his campaign says was taken  out of context.

Kaine’s likely opponent, former Republican Sen. George Allen,  is also up with a  website that allows visitors to type in the make and model of their car to  see how much more it costs to fill up their tank compared with when Obama came  into office.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s long-shot Republican opponent Elizabeth  Emken features a “#FeinsteinOnEmpty” hashtag on her website. She  also questions Feinstein’s past praise for Chu, who said in 2008 — before  joining the Obama administration — that he supported Europe-style gas prices in  the United States.

Democrats are in on the action too.

Indiana Democrats are squeezing Sen. Richard Lugar with a Web ad slamming the Republican over his support for a gas tax hike of $1 or more.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent an email to voters in February talking up legislation he has  co-sponsored that would curb oil market speculators.

He also solicited voters’ ideas on “what else you think we could do to bring  down gas prices.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s website tries to bust what she lists as six myths about gas prices (No. 5: “Nothing can be done to  bring down the price of fuel”). The Missouri Democrat also promotes her call for  Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the second time during his  term.

Democratic candidates for House seats are also going after Republican  incumbents’ campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, pairing them  with votes against repealing the industry’s subsidies.

Nearly identical press releases came out in late February from New Hampshire  Democratic candidate Annie Kuster, who is challenging Republican Rep. Charlie  Bass; Nevada state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera in his race against Rep. Joe Heck; former New  York Rep. Dan Maffei in his rematch against Buerkle; and Manan Trivedi  in his second attempt to unseat Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

“High gas prices? You can thank Washington insiders influencing Washington  insiders,” Trivedi posted on Twitter, where he linked to a statement criticizing Gerlach for supporting oil and gas  subsidies while taking more than $132,000 in campaign contributions from the  industry.

Outside groups are also weighing in on the gas price debate.

Public Campaign, a group with ties to MoveOn.org and labor unions, sponsored  two weeks of cable  TV ads against Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in his Western Colorado  district, knocking him for taking more than $100,000 in campaign contributions  from the oil and gas industry and questioning his vote against repealing the  industry’s subsidies.

The American Petroleum Institute has already spent generously this cycle,  mostly to help Republicans, including House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred  Upton (R-Mich.), Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Science  Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and  Boehner. The trade group also ran radio and print ads ahead of the Senate  subsidy debate in the Senate and presidential battleground states of Maine,  Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Karl Rove’s American Crossroads is also going after vulnerable House and  Senate Democrats, including $1.5 million spent so far challenging McCaskill. The  attacks include a  website called “The Truth About Claire” that questions her commitment to  lowering gas prices.

The group’s spokesman Nate Hodson said the group “won’t be shy” when spending  tens of millions more this cycle to raise the gas price issue in congressional  races. “It’s what voters are paying attention to right now,” he said.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 5:41 p.m. on March 30,  2012.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74690_Page2.html#ixzz1r6jsxV7S

As reported by Zach Carter for Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Two economists at the St. Louis Federal Reserve have published findings that indicate that Wall Street speculation is responsible for 15 percent of the increase in oil prices over the past decade, a finding with significant implications for the recent sharp rise in gas prices.

While politicians have little ability to alter the price swings of commodities like oil, regulators have both the authority and policy tools to do so. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is responsible for overseeing the financial market for oil. The 2010 Wall Street reform bill gave the CFTC new power to limit excessive speculation, but the rule will not go into effect until later this year.

According to St. Louis Fed economists Luciana Juvenal and Ivan Petrella, speculation in oil markets was the second-biggest factor behind the past decade’s price run-up, behind increased global demand for oil, which accounted for 40 percent of the increase.

“Speculation was the second-largest contributor to oil prices and accounted for about 15 percent of the rise,” the economists wrote. “The effect that speculation had on oil prices over this period coincides closely with the dramatic rise in commodity index trading — resulting in concerns voiced by policymakers.”

Commodity indexes allow speculators to bet on the price of several commodities at once, and have become very popular investment tools for both Wall Street investment companies and pension funds. Between 2004 and 2008, the total volume of trading activity in commodity indexes jumped from $13 billion to about $260 billion, according to research by Michael Masters, founder of Masters Capital Markets and the financial reform nonprofit Better Markets.

Masters and others have noted that speculation can exaggerate price swings otherwise dictated by fundamental supply-and-demand dynamics, and can also force prices to move contrary to supply-and-demand predictions. During 2008, when oil prices soared to their highest level on record, they did so during a period in which global demand was low and global supply was high — what should have been a recipe for lower prices.

The most recent Fed study concludes that economic fundamentals are still the primary determinant, saying only that speculation can “exacerbate” price swings.

“Global demand remained the primary driver of oil prices from 2000 to 2009,” Juvenal and Petrella wrote. “That said, one cannot completely dismiss a role for speculation in the run-up of oil prices of the past decade. Speculative demand can and did exacerbate the boom-bust cycle in commodity prices. Ultimately, however, fundamentals continue to account for the long-run trend in oil prices.”

Fuel prices are currently at the highest level on record for the month of March, a phenomenon upon which presidential candidates are seizing to attack President Barack Obama on the issue at campaign stops. The financial reform bill Obama signed into law in 2010 allowed the CFTC to write its new rule, designed to curb price movements influenced by excessive speculation. The rule limits the size of the bets that individual traders can make on any given commodity.

As reported By Christopher Martin Bloomberg News 3/21/12

NEW YORK – U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google and KKR by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., together with the biggest Internet search company, private equity companies, and insurers MetLife Inc. and John Hancock Life Insurance Co., poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That’s the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

Once so risky that only government backing could draw private capital, solar projects now are making returns of about 15 percent, according to Stanford University’s Center for Energy Policy and Finance. That has attracted a wider community of investors eager to cash in on earnings stronger than those for infrastructure projects such as toll roads and pipelines. “A solar power project with a long-term sales agreement could be viewed as a machine that generates revenue,” said Marty Klepper, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which helped arrange a solar deal for Buffett. “It’s an attractive investment for any firm, not just those in energy.”

With 30-year Treasuries yielding about 3.4 percent, investors are seeking safe places to park their money for years at a higher return. Solar energy fits the bill, with predictable cash flows guaranteed by contract for two decades or more. Those deals may be even more lucrative because many were signed before the cost of solar panels plunged 50 percent last year.

Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. agreed to buy the Topaz Solar Farm in California from First Solar Inc. on Dec. 7. The project’s development budget is estimated at $2.4 billion and it may generate a 16.3 percent return on investment by selling power to PG&E Corp. at about $150 a megawatt-hour through a 25-year contract, according to New Energy Finance calculations. It will have 550 megawatts of capacity and is expected to go into operation in 2015, making it one of the world’s biggest photovoltaic plants.

“After tax, you’re looking at returns in the 10 percent to 15 percent range” for solar projects, said Dan Reicher, executive director of the Stanford center. “The beauty of solar is, once you make the capital investment, you’ve got free fuel and very low operating costs.”

The long-term nature of solar power purchase deals makes them similar to some bonds. And because a solar farm is a tangible asset, these investments also function much like those for infrastructure projects, with cash flows comparable to toll roads, bridges and pipelines, said Stefan Heck, a director at McKinsey & Co. in New York who leads the firm’s clean-tech work. Once a project starts producing power, investors can earn a return that’s “higher than most bonds,” he said. “There are a lot of pension funds with long-term horizons that are very interested in this space.”

Governments remain the biggest backers of the solar industry; President Obama’s administration suffered criticism for investing in Solyndra, a solar manufacturer that went bankrupt last year. Worldwide, the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank was the biggest asset-finance lender for renewable energy companies in the past year, arranging 12 deals worth $11.2 billion, according to New Energy Finance. The Brazilian development bank BNDES, Bank of America, and Banco Santander followed.

In 2009, solar technology was so unfamiliar that few banks would back projects that required billions in upfront investment and wouldn’t begin producing revenue for years, Klepper said. The biggest financiers for the industry that year were Madrid- based Santander, HSH Nordbank of Hamburg and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria of Bilbao, Spain, New Energy Finance said.

That year, the Energy Department began funding a program to guarantee loans for solar farms and other renewable energy projects that supported almost $35 billion in financing before winding down in September. The government’s endorsement assuaged investors’ concerns and built up a bigger community of people who understand how to make money from solar deals, said Arno Harris, chief executive officer of Sharp Corp.’s renewable power development unit Recurrent Energy.

“Solar is now bankable,” Harris said. “When solar was perceived as more risky, it required a premium,” and now it’s “becoming part of a much broader capital market.”

Long-term power-purchase contracts are the key to making solar a reliable investment, Harris said. Utilities in sunny states such as California, Arizona, and Nevada have agreed to pay premiums for electricity generated by sunshine.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20120321_Solar_returns_beat_Treasuries__drawing_investors_from_Buffett_to_Google.html#ixzz1plWe9SD0
Watch sports videos you won’t find anywhere else

As reported in Courier Post 8/19/11

 

New Jersey’s proposed energy policy calls for 22.5 percent  of the state’s power to come from renewable sources within 10 years  a goal that was the subject of heavy debate at a legislative hearing  attended by nearly 100 people Thursday.

Environmentalists said they want a 30 percent target, but business  leaders said that would drive their costs up.

State Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, defended the goal proposed  in Gov. Chris Christie’s draft energy master plan, calling it fair  and an “aggressive standard.”

Only eight states have higher renewable portfolio standards  than 22.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy website.  The standards are state policies that require electricity providers  to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy  resources, including the sun and wind, by a certain date.

After Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club made a case for  the higher benchmark, Beck said: “I’ve been told on many occasions  that’s a stretch for us. We know solar and wind are great sources,  but they’re not particularly reliable, and that’s a challenge.  There’s also a responsibility for us to be realistic to set goals  that can be met.”

New Jersey currently obtains less than 10 percent of its electricity  supply from renewable energy sources.

But Tittel noted that New Jersey has ramped up, with more than  10,000 solar arrays installed. Only California has more.

“We’re No. 2 in solar installations. We shouldn’t go back,”  said Tittel, who added that he fears Christie’s policy could jeopardize  funding for renewable energy projects for homeowners and small  businesses and affect more than 200 solar companies in New Jersey.

Corporate executives who testified said the current relative  high costs of solar energy should not be discounted.

Michael Egenton, senior vice president of government relations  for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said the poor economy underscores  the need for an energy policy that loosens restrictions. He praised  Christie’s plan.

“I think you have to look at everything in context,” said Egenton,  who said money spent on higher energy costs by companies would lead  to less money spent on operations and investments. “You have to  look at the bigger picture.”

The joint legislative hearing took place at the Toms River town  hall and was co-chaired by Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblyman John McKeon,  both Democrats.

State energy regulators also are holding hearings this month  and will vote to adopt a final energy policy later this year.

The lawmakers on the panel received an admonishment from Janet  Tauro, an environmentalist who is co-chairwoman of Grandmothers,  Mothers and More for Energy Safety.

With the topic turned to energy conservation, Tauro made a common  sense suggestion:

“We can turn down the air conditioning and turn off lights,”  said Tauro, also of the New Jersey Environmental Federation.

Most of the panel members were in jackets or sweaters.

There was little reaction from the panel after Tauro, a Brick  resident, made her comment. Later the room became colder, and more  lights were turned on.

Solar makes sense

May 31, 2011

As reported in Philadelphia Inquire May 30, 2011
With Pennsylvania
boasting the nation’s second largest number of solar-industry jobs, state
officials would be foolish to let the sun set on such a nascent but promising
industry. But that could happen due to a temporary mismatch between solar-energy
financing and market demand.

The construction of more than 4,000 solar projects has been a roaring
success, responsible for generating several thousand jobs at 600 solar
businesses. Growing that industry from scratch, with state and federal aid, also
boosted the use of nonpolluting and renewable energy. That will be particularly
helpful in meeting summer’s peak demand.

Yet, the boom in solar projects has outpaced the amount of solar energy
utilities are required to buy under the state’s alternative-energy rules. That
has depressed the value of solar-energy credits needed to provide a return on
photovoltaic solar systems, which have a steep, up-front price tag.

The best way for state officials to spur solar to new heights would be to
boost the modest solar-energy standard – now far lower than neighboring states,
at only 0.5 percent – by 2021. But last year, that idea ran into strong
opposition from Exelon and other utilities, coal producers, and business groups
– and a certain Republican candidate for governor.

Fortunately, a fellow Republican, State Rep. Chris Ross from Chester County,
unveiled a legislative proposal Tuesday that should be more to Gov. Corbett’s
liking. Ross would accelerate the amount of solar energy utilities are required
to purchase for the next few years, but leave the overall standard at just 0.5
percent. He would also follow other states by barring out-of-state solar
producers contributing to the solar glut in Pennsylvania.

The Ross proposal amounts to a tweak, but one that could be critical to
maintaining the state’s foothold in solar energy. Corbett and Republican
legislative leaders could fall back on tea-party ideological antagonism toward
so-called government mandates – or they could prove themselves progressive
enough to embrace a modest plan that makes sense for the state’s 21st-century
economy.