FHFA Director Mark Calabria Talks Increased GSE Capital Retention

first_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago  Print This Post Previous: What Wells Fargo’s New CEO Means for the Industry Next: NFIP Extended Through November Sign up for DS News Daily Home / Daily Dose / FHFA Director Mark Calabria Talks Increased GSE Capital Retention Subscribe The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced that they had agreed to modifications to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) that will permit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to retain additional earnings in excess of the $3 billion capital reserves currently permitted by their PSPAs.These modifications are an important step toward implementing Treasury’s recommended reforms that will define a limited role for the Federal Government in the housing finance system and protect taxpayers against future bailouts,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.FHFA Director Mark Calabria released a statement recently regarding the letter agreement with the Treasury to increase Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac capital retention.“The Enterprises are leveraged nearly 1,000-to-one, ensuring they would fail during an economic downturn – exposing taxpayers once again. This letter agreement between Treasury and FHFA, which allows the Enterprises to retain capital of up to $45 billion combined, is an important milestone on the path to reform,” said FHFA Director Calabria. “FHFA commits to working with Treasury in the coming months to amend the share agreements and further advance broader housing finance reform. These reform goals include limiting the government’s role in housing finance, increasing marketplace competition, focusing on affordable housing, and sustainable homeownership. The status quo is not an option. Now is the time to act.”To compensate Treasury for the dividends that it would have received absent these modifications, Treasury’s liquidation preferences for its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock will gradually increase by the amount of the additional capital reserves until the liquidation preferences increase by $22 billion for Fannie Mae and $17 billion for Freddie Mac.Treasury and each of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also agreed to negotiate an additional amendment to the PSPAs that would further enhance taxpayer protections by adopting covenants that are broadly consistent with the recommendations for administrative reforms contained in the Plan. Tagged with: Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Treasury Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Share Save About Author: Seth Welborn Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago September 30, 2019 1,374 Views Related Articles Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Treasury 2019-09-30 Seth Welborn Seth Welborn is a Reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Harding University, he has covered numerous topics across the real estate and default servicing industries. Additionally, he has written B2B marketing copy for Dallas-based companies such as AT&T. An East Texas Native, he also works part-time as a photographer. The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago FHFA Director Mark Calabria Talks Increased GSE Capital Retentionlast_img read more

U.S. pound Serbia 96-66 for third straight gold

first_imgRIO DE JANEIRO,(Reuters)-A ruthless United States pounded Serbia 96-66 to claim a third straight Olympic men’s basketball title yesterday to give coach Mike Krzyzewski a golden send-off.After scrapping to a tense three point win over Serbia in the group round, the United States quickly removed any suspense from the rematch, surging to a 52-29 halftime lead then cruising to their 25th straight win on Olympic hardwood.Kevin Durant led the assault, pouring in 30 points including 24 in a brilliant opening half, while DeMarcus Cousins was again a beast on the boards, pulling down 15 rebounds.The rout capped a brilliant tenure as Team USA head coach for Krzyzewski, who signs off having guided the U.S. to three consecutive Olympic gold medals and a near perfect 88-1 record in international competition.The only blemish on the resume of ‘Coach K’, as Krzyzewski is known to many, is a semi-final loss to Greece at the 2006 world championships.Earlier, Spain edged Australia 89-88 to take home the bronze.last_img read more

Omar McLeod wins in Diamond League

first_imgReigning Jamaican Olympic champion Omar McLeod barely held off Spain’s Orlando Ortega to win the men’s 110 meters hurdles on a rain-drenched night at the Shanghai Diamond League in China Saturday.Running out of lane five, McLeod led from the start and cleared the final hurdle still in front, but was forced into a leaning finish, in order to prevent Ortega from sprinting through in lane eight to take the win.The result was a world-leading 13.16 seconds while Ortega was timed at 13.17 seconds, with Russian Sergey Shubenkov finishing third in 13.27.“I was kind of overcome with emotions because I’ve been through a lot this season,” said McLeod, who missed last month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia through injury. “I was hurt a month ago. I still was feeling some slight pain, but I was like, ‘I’m here. “My leg is a little bit sore but my body’s in shock because it’s just fatigue and I haven’t been able to do a 110 workout in like a month. It’s just a lot of emotions.”Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games champion and fellow Jamaican, Ronald Levy, trailed in fourth in 13.33 while fellow countryman Hansle Parchment, who took silver in Gold Coast, Australia, was fifth in 13.48.Bahamian Gardiner and Miller-Ubio also winnersBahamian Steven Gardiner won the 400m men event in a record time of 43.99 seconds run, pushing Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, 44.23 into second place. Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Ubio was also a winner, winning the 200m women event in a meet record and PB time of 22.06 sec, Second was the Netherland’s Dafne Schippers in 22.24, while Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson was third in 22.36 seconds.Other Jamaican placementsAt the same event Jamaican and Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell continued her excellent start to the season, placing second in 400m hurdles with her best-ever time of 53.78.  She was nipped at the finishing line by American Olympic Champion Dalilah Muhammad who had a time of 53.77. Jamaica’s Leah Nugent finished sixth in 56.54. Jamaican athletes also placed in other events. These included Commonwealth shot put champion Danniel Thomas-Dodd’s with a throw of 18.70m, placed second in the event, behind China’s Gong Lijiao, 19.99m; Shanieka Ricketts, 14.55m and Kimberly Williams, 14.35m, were second and third in the triple jump, behind Colombian Caterine Ibarguen, who leaped 14.80m for the win.last_img read more

PYJ Accuses President Sirleaf of Tampering With Elections

first_imgSen. JohnsonWith just 11 days to the representative and presidential elections, Senator Prince Y. Johnson has accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of playing sinister games with the elections.Sen. Johnson’s accusation was made during a press conference on Monday following President Sirleaf’s recent meeting with the chairman, 19 magistrates and some other officials of the of the National Elections Commission (NEC) at her private residence before her trip to New York to give her final address to the United Nations General Assembly as Liberia’s head of state.Addressing journalists at his party headquarters in Monrovia, the political leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR) said “under no condition President Sirleaf’s meeting with the NEC officials could be void of selfish and devilish plans.”“An intelligence from within has informed me that President Sirleaf has recommended a list of 5,000 new names to the NEC so they can be recruited to be in charge of the counting of ballot papers right after the elections,” he claimed.Although Johnson did not state the name of the source of his information, he alleged that credible information he has received says that the magistrates received parcels and huge sums of money to work at the will and pleasure of President Sirleaf.“We are all aware that some time back we, leaders of political parties, went to the Farmington River Hotel and signed a peace accord  known as the Farmington River Declaration and accepted to also respect the Ganta Declaration, an agreement which is also in line with the Farmington Declaration. The Farmington Declaration was signed by all political leaders and approved by Madam President so that all of us would ensure that there is a peaceful democratic transition of power, a transition which no one will manipulate,” he said. Furthermore all the signatories to the Declaration want to see free, fair and transparent democratic elections. “That is our dream, that is our hope and that is what we envisage for Liberia,” said Johnson.Johnson pointed out that he and his colleagues in the opposition block, as well as some members of the Unity Party, want to see a violence free election process during and after the polls.“The intent of Madam Sirleaf’s meeting with those guys is unknown but it is not to be taken lightly. She has openly announced the name of Vice President Boakai as the candidate she supports in these elections. Therefore, she is no longer neutral. Having announced her choice, I think there was no need to invite Korkoya and others to her private residence for a secret meeting,” he said.Johnson called on President Sirleaf to be neutral. “We are spending millions of US dollars to do all of our political activities, including campaign. Therefore, if we will accept the results it must mean that we are squarely defeated on the field but any manipulation from Madam President or whoever is in favor of anyone will not be welcomed by us,” Johnson warned.He called on the international community and partners of Liberia to advise both Madam Sirleaf and the NEC “to avoid any ugly electoral acts that may threaten the peace of the country.”Concerning President Sirleaf’s statement that she would like to see a younger generation take over the nation’s leadership, Senator Johnson asked, “I wonder how old she was when she ran for president? And if she decides to turn power over to a young man, then she should allow the process to be free and fair. If the young person she wishes to see ascend to power wins freely and fairly we will accept the results and continue to serve our country in the best way possible. Anything short of transparency, credibility and fairness will not be accepted and we will use all constitutional means to challenge those results.”Korkoya: “It is good to ignore triviality”When contacted via mobile phone to comment on Johnson’s allegation, the chairman of the NEC, Jerome Korkoya, said if the public or media outlets mean well for the country, they would do well to “ignore triviality,” adding, “It sounds comical to have heard that Johnson’s so called intelligence has informed him that we at the NEC have accepted names from President Sirleaf for immediate inclusion on our list of polling staff, more so to make them presiding officers or ballot enumerators.”He reiterated that the meeting with the President was not a secret meeting, neither was there any sinister motive. “We as officials of NEC, including the magistrates were accompanied by EU and Angie Brooks Center representatives. Even the deputy to the SRSG (Farid Zarif) was in attendance,” he said.“Are you saying Madam President called them too to bribe them or demand anything in her favor? I have told you that the meeting had no selfish reason embedded. And what people should have known by now is that inasmuch as we are an autonomous agency, we are not an island. There is nowhere in the world an elections commission works in isolation of the ruling establishment or other partners.”Korkoya further explained that the Commission’s funding comes from legislative appropriations with the support of the President, who is the head of government. “What I can say is that no one in this country should think that he or she wants a more free, fair and transparent elections process. Madam Sirleaf wants her gains to live beyond her tenure, and so she is highly interested in the conduct of a peaceful electoral process,”  said Korkoya.“You people sometime back overheard Mr. Benoni Urey making a remark that unless there are electoral frauds he does not see himself losing the  presidential election. Are we saying he was right, too? We have to be serious here, particularly so when we all are aware that it is only one president we will have after the elections. There must and will be losers but their defeat will not come because we have a fish to fry. We at the NEC are committed to doing the right thing for our country, not just an individual because he or she threatens us or the President.”Commenting on the excess ballot papers for the elections, Korkoya said he was taken aback by the Daily Observer editorial that expressed suspicion over the excess.“I wish the Daily Observer and all other institutions and persons could take time and research on standards of elections globally. There is nowhere in the world wherein a national elections commission procured the exact numbers of ballots as per the number of registered voters. Why the suspicion then? We have to go beyond our own perimeters sometimes and search afar for answers to some of our critical questions,” he said.He clarified that the essence of the excess ballots is to replace damaged or lost ballots. “What if a canoe carrying a consignment of ballots capsizes? What if an individual marks a ballot and realizes later before dropping it in the designated box that he or she had made a mistake? Considering all of these unforeseen circumstances and others even not named now, we don’t have to postpone or cancel elections because of any of them,” Korkoya said, adding that elections are expensive and the cost of postponing or canceling one is more than holding it in the first place.All efforts, meanwhile, to get comments from the official spokespersons of President Sirleaf did not materialize as their contact numbers were switched off.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘A’ RATED ENERGY EFFICIENT HOMES COULD SAVE HOMEOWNERS THOUSANDS ON THEIR HEATING COSTS

first_imgAn innovative new housing project Rann Mor Meadow, located on the outskirts of Letterkenny could save homeowners thousands on their energy and heating costs every year.The newly built ‘A’ rated energy efficient homes are the first of its kind in Letterkenny.Local firm GDC Ireland (Limited) raised the bar with these homes, which are specifically designed to save energy and to increase comfort levels in the process. Since the recession, its evident how the the continuing rise in heating costs in homes is having a detrimental effect ‘financially’ on many families.With policies now being implemented to promote a greener environment, and with people more aware of the risks over greenhouse pollutions, it was perhaps inevitable new ground would be broken in relation to the specification of saving energy in new homes.GDC Ireland (Limited) took the opportunity and showed tremendous fortitude and vision to realise this fantastic new development at Rann Mor Meadow.Daniel told Donegal Daily, “With our society becoming more aware of a greener environment, it became obvious to us that it would be a natural progression for newly built homes to have energy saving specifications. “At GDC we pride on ourselves on the fact that we’re always looking to break new ground.“We’re not afraid to show innovation, and we saw these new homes as a natural progression in the specification of new homes.“We’re absolutely delighted with our ‘A’ rated energy efficient homes, and the reaction they’re receiving from the general public.Daniel revealed that they’ve estimated that it costs the new homes on average less than a €1 a day to heat the house.“We’ve had energy assessment consumption carried out on the new houses, and we estimate that on average it’ll cost new homeowners less than €1 a day to heat their homes. “It’s an incredible saving, and in this economic climate, those energy saving costs are not to be scoffed at.Daniel added that the homes are specifically designed to ensure a constant temperature throughout the house at all times – that also increases the comfort level.It’s completely unlike the normal specification homes.“Unlike the normal system, where you have the house piping hot after a few hours when the heating is on, and then once it’s off for a few hours the house is cold again, these homes retain the heat. “They’re specifically designed to retain the heat, and in doing so save energy and costs and to retain a more constant temperature which is much more comfortable.“It’s not often you’ve to spend less to be more comfortable but that’s the way this works.“They’re homes of the future, it’s the way the industry is going and energy efficient homes is the only way forward.“We’re delighted that we showed innovation in creating the homes, and we’re delighted with the end product.GDC Ireland (Limited) has earned a stellar reputation over the years for its excellence in designing  and building new homes, and breaking new ground in the industry.The latest creation in the form of Rann Mor Meadow, has received plaudits not just locally but from all over Ireland.For further information contact: GDC (IRL) LTD Property Developers on 074 93 84700, email: [email protected] or visit www.gdcirl.com or http://www.gdcirl.com Sherry Fitzgerald 0n 074 9122211, email: [email protected] or visit www.sfr.ie or visit http://www.sfr.ie‘A’ RATED ENERGY EFFICIENT HOMES COULD SAVE HOMEOWNERS THOUSANDS ON THEIR HEATING COSTS was last modified: October 17th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:BusinessCostsEnergyEstateFeaturesnewsRann Mor MeadowSavinglast_img read more

VOODOO VENUE WINS IMRO BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE IN ULSTER – AGAIN!

first_imgVoodoo Venue has scooped the IMRO Best Live Music Venue in Ulster for 2014.Voodoo VenueThe Letterkenny entertainment centre took the award for the second time in two years this evening.Voodoo Venue manager Philip Ward said they collected the award on behalf of all the staff and the bands who have made the venue the place it is today. “This award is for all the local musicians,bands and customers who make the Voodoo Lounge and Greenroom Live what it is week in and week out.‘We are delighted to collect the aard and will continue to bring top class local music to Voodoo Venue,” he said. VOODOO VENUE WINS IMRO BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE IN ULSTER – AGAIN! was last modified: February 3rd, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BestdonegalIMROletterkennyPhilip WardVoodoo Venuelast_img read more

Cave Climate Conclusions Compromised

first_imgWidely used to infer past climates, isotope measurements from stalactites and stalagmites in caves can mislead researchers.They are among the most useful storytellers of earth history: speleothems, or cave formations. Scientists collect samples from stalactites and stalagmites, take them to their labs, and measure the fractions of stable oxygen and carbon isotopes found in their inclusions of crystals of calcium carbonate or calcite. From these crystal balls, the scientists look far into the past, envisioning climate change and long ages. What could be more straightforward? The data prove it.A funny thing happens on the way to the lab. The isotopic fractionations become altered. Here’s what a team of speleologists (cave scientists) conclude from expeditions into a couple of caves in Hungary.Speleothem deposits are among the most valuable continental formations in paleoclimate research, as they can be dated using absolute dating methods, and they also provide valuable climate proxies. However, alteration processes such as post-depositional mineralogical transformations can significantly influence the paleoclimatic application of their geochemical data.Climate scientists know about some of the alteration processes, but this team points out new ones that have not been appreciated. The paper in Nature‘s open-access journal Scientific Reports concentrates on one alteration process—the transformation of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) to nanocrystalline calcite—but suggests there are other factors that, if not properly accounted for, can have “serious consequences” on the interpretation given the data.Here’s the basic problem with ACC: it depletes the fraction of stable oxygen-18 ions (δ18O) before transforming into crystalline calcite. This happens within a few hours or days, potentially giving wrong readings in the lab when the speleothems are measured. The scientists, therefore, might be measuring different values in their refrigerator samples than the crystal as it was forming in the cave long ago. If they expect their measurements to represent a “proxy” (a measurement standing in for something else, like climate), they could be fooling themselves.Detection of ACC is rather difficult in cave deposits, as ACC can undergo transformation to calcite in minutes in a hydrous environment, and even stabilizing compounds like Mg or organic matter are only capable of extending its stability to some weeks. Taking into consideration the general precipitation rate (0.1 to 1 mm per year), the collection of carbonate in appropriate amounts for mineralogical or geochemical analyses requires several months. Over the course of such a long collection time, however, the original ACC can be transformed into calcite. Although ACC preparation in the laboratory is a routine procedure, its synthesis requires conditions distinctly different from those to be found in natural cave environments, e.g. mixing of CaCl2 and NaCO3 or (NH4)2CO3 solutions. Hence, the preparation conditions and characteristics of synthetic ACC render it inappropriate to function as an analogue of its natural counterpart, thus it cannot provide the information sought.The scientists observed ACC forming onsite in the cave on special collection surfaces. The ACC can exist in open or closed systems, depending on whether the inclusions become embedded within the dripwater, reaching equilibrium. The researchers in the lab will not always be able to tell whether calcite from which they obtain δ18O measurements reflect actual conditions in the cave or altered conditions when the ACC lowered the value during crystallization. The conclusions on which they base dates or paleoclimates could be in error.If this were the only worry, perhaps scientists could learn to correct for it by identifying other proxies for the presence of ACC. Unfortunately, this is not the only concern. ACC formation is a function of temperature, conductivity, pH, CO2 concentration, degassing rate, evaporation rate, drip rate and other factors. Unless these factors are known and controlled, and unless researchers gather their data in actual cave environments, they could be misled.The team also notes that scientists get different equations whether they use theoretical analyses, experimental techniques or empirical observations.Uncertainties in the estimation of ACC amount is a major weakness in the fractionation calculation, hence the verification of calcite-ACC fractionation estimation requires independent information provided either by experimental studies or by natural analogues. The experimental determination of ACC-water oxygen isotope fractionation representative for speleothem formation is challenging because (i) ACC rapidly transforms to calcite during the preparation and (ii) laboratory ACC synthesis requires physical and chemical conditions distinctly different from those found in a cave environment. Available estimations of δ18O differences between crystalline and amorphous carbonates formed in natural environments suggest that the crystalline carbonate is several ‰ more enriched in 18O than its amorphous counterpart (dolomite, aragonite, Mg-calcite).What you actually get may not be what you believe you got. Different caves and different forms of calcium carbonate may give very different results. The paper sounds a warning call to researchers:The present study provides direct evidence for relatively 18O-depleted ACC formation in caves at about 10 °C. Since the δ18O value of inclusion-hosted water may carry significant paleoclimatic/paleohydrological information, it is important to note that its use is limited by the cave environment.The authors add one more source of uncertainty: microbes. They toss out that potentially significant alteration right at the end of the paper, after summarizing reasons why you can’t trust the values in this “most valuable” method of inferring paleoclimates and dates. Oh, and don’t forget the unidentified organic compounds in the dripwater, which can vary significantly from cave to cave and also affect ACC formation.A number of experimental studies have shown that the formation and stability of ACC may be influenced by the physical parameters of the ambient environment and the chemical compositions of the parent solutions. In natural cave environments the most important factors might be the cave temperature, drip water pH, as well as concentrations of Mg, SO42− and organic compounds in the solution. A comprehensive study is suggested to cover several cave environments with different temperatures, ventilation degree, soil characteristics, drip water chemistry and carbonate growth rates in order to determine the exact factors governing ACC formation. The transition from ACC to calcite has been shown to take place in several steps with intermediate hydration states and mineral phases like vaterite. Investigations on the ACC-calcite transition and its governing factors require monitoring of mineralogical changes at high temporal resolution. Additionally to the inorganic factors, the role of microbial activity should also be investigated. Amorphous carbonates are ubiquitously secreted by living organisms in sedimentary environments, hence microbial mediated carbonate precipitation is also a potentially important process in ACC formation, whose exploration requires systematic biological/biochemical investigations.It appears that climatologists leaning on cave data know a lot less than they thought they knew. This final paragraph almost makes it seem like it’s time to toss out the equations and interpretations and start over. Isn’t that implied by “a comprehensive study is suggested” using “systematic biological/biochemical investigations” in multiple caves with varying conditions?Reference: “Formation of amorphous calcium carbonate in caves and its implications for speleothem research” by Attila Demény, Péter Németh, et al., Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 39602 (2016), doi:10.1038/srep39602, published 22 Dec 2016.Remember this paper the next time you are presented with scientific “facts” that prove a scientific “consensus” of one sort or another. The conclusions of any empirical study cannot be divorced from the assumptions that go into those conclusions. A consensus is most dangerous when the conclusion is decided in advance, and scientists within a preferred paradigm go out looking for evidence to confirm it. (Visited 56 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Zuma to discuss fees impasse

first_img22 October 2015 South African President Jacob Zuma is set to meet university management and student leaders on Friday 23 October to discuss the countrywide stalemate over fee increases.The meeting will be held with university vice-chancellors, chairpersons of councils and student leaders at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, with a view to finding a solution to the impasse.This will be Zuma’s second meeting with university management this month. His consultation with vice-chancellors and council chairs on 6 October resolved to set up a task team to explore solutions to short-term student funding challenges.Zuma said the government fully understands the pressure and difficulties confronting students from poor and working class households.“It is important that we work together to find solutions,” he said. “Nobody disagrees with the message that students from poor households are facing financial difficulties and possible exclusion.“Even in the January 8 statement of the governing party this year, we stated that the escalating cost of university education had become another source of exclusion for the poor and vulnerable South African child. All parties should allow space for this matter to be discussed in a manner that will enable us to find a solution.”In a statement released today, the South African government reiterated its commitment to funding for both basic and higher education, and to overcoming funding shortfalls.“Since 1994 government has prioritised education,” the statement reads. “This has translated into substantial funding for both basic and higher education. But given the legacy of the past there is a funding shortfall in higher education.“The current student protests over higher fees which began at Wits University and have since migrated to other campuses are of serious concern to government. The issues raised by the students are legitimate and government is sympathetic to their cause and are in line with our own priorities of ensuring quality and affordable education.“Government is committed to working with student leadership, university management and unions to find a solution to the current impasse and is working towards a long term solution to student funding in South Africa.”SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

Scary Stories for Halloween

first_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Members What’s scary for a green builder? Mold in the crawl space?Naw — mold is a routine problem. What’s really scary is the end of the world as we know it.A decade or two ago, the end of the world as we know it was a matter of concern for a few nutty survivalists in Idaho. Now it is a matter of discussion at academic conferences.Several mechanisms have been proposed for the coming economic collapse. Some are based on New Age nonsense, while others are based on hard science. If you’re a pessimist, you can pick from a long list of possible doomsday mechanisms:Most of the items on the list are perfectly capable of turning the world upside-down. As Robert Frost wrote,Some say the world will end in fire,Some say in ice.From what I’ve tasted of desireI hold with those who favor fire.But if it had to perish twice,I think I know enough of hateTo know that for destruction iceIs also greatAnd would suffice.Clearly, Frost was talking about emotional states rather than the literal end of the world. But in a pinch, his perception can be stretched from the metaphorical back to the literal. Although many of us may assume we know what’s going to cause the coming Great Disruption, Frost was right: other doomsday mechanisms are “also great and would suffice.” In today’s blog, I’m going to discuss a potential apple-cart-upsetter that is missing from most lists: a crash of the electrical grid caused by magnetic storms on the sun.I learned of this possibility in an episode of a syndicated Canadian program, Spark Radio. Sonya Buyting’s report, “The Future’s So Bright,” was broadcast on October 8, 2011.A solar… Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.center_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log inlast_img read more

Wind Energy Hits a High Note

first_imgA record amount of new wind energy capacity was under construction at the end of 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The two main reasons for the wind boom are technological advancements that have lowered costs and a federal tax credit.In an end-of-the-year summary for 2013, the industry group said in Washington on Janury 30 that wind projects with a combined capacity of more than 12,000 megawatts were under construction by the end of the year. Most of that construction, accounting for 10,900 MW, was started in the fourth quarter of the year.One key was the Production Tax Credit, which was extended by Congress in 2013 after being allowed to lapse briefly at the start of the year. The credit, which has been in effect for more than 20 years, is worth 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of the project.The tax credit expired again at the end of 2013, but the industry expects it will be renewed again in 2014, according to an article from Gannett’s Washington Bureau. Tax credit and new capacity go hand in handWithout the tax credit, the industry slows to a crawl. According to the AWEA, when the credit is allowed to expire, wind installations drop off from 75% to 95%, as they did at the start of 2013.Orders placed in the last part of 2013 will keep the industry busy for a while. But the AWEA says that if the tax credit isn’t back on the books by the start of the construction season in the spring, there could be trouble.While the capacity of projects under construction hit an all-time high at the end of 2013, the total capacity that was actually installed in 2013 was quite low — 1,084 MW compared with the record-setting 13,131 MW installed during 2012. The AWEA said that the late extension of the production tax credit and an investment tax credit was to blame.“In the absence of long-term policies, the wind industry should not be left out in the cold while Congress decides the way forward on energy,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan in a prepared statement available on the organization’s website. “The [tax credit] is a highly successful policy and Congress should act quickly to extend it to maintain a stable business environment, so that wind energy can continue to provide more affordable, clean, homegrown energy.”In all, the AWEA said in its report that there are now 61,1087 MW of installed wind capacity in the United States — enough to power 15.3 million homes.last_img read more