Testimony: FirstEnergy Takeover of West Virginia Plant Would Cost Customers $470 Million FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Gazette Mail (Charleston):A proposed deal for FirstEnergy subsidiaries to acquire a coal-fired power plant would likely cost customers $470 million over the next 15 years, according to testimony from an energy and environmental consultant filed with the state Public Service Commission Friday.David Schlissel, president of Schlissel Technical Consulting, submitted his prepared testimony on behalf of groups against the acquisition. He said Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s proposed Pleasants Power Station purchase from FirstEnergy should be rejected by the PSC because customers would be saddled with higher utility bills.According to Schlissel, revenues earned from selling electricity generated by the Pleasants County plant wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of maintaining it. The $470 million figure Schlissel reached is based on an economic analysis of energy market prices, Pleasants’ generation for the past year and generating capacity price estimates, he said in the filing.“There is a high risk that the plant will not be profitable and will not produce a net benefit to ratepayers,” Schlissel said. “In fact, if there was not such a high risk, AE Supply and FirstEnergy would not be looking to offload the Pleasants plant to begin with.”The groups Schlissel provided testimony for, WV SUN and West Virginia Citizen Action Group, have argued the $195 million deal would raise customer utility bills to benefit company shareholders and is similar to Mon Power’s Harrison power plant purchase, which an IEEFA report said cost customers more than $160 million.If the purchase is approved by both the PSC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the plant would exit a competitive market and become a part of West Virginia’s regulated market, where it is guaranteed a profit.More: WV PSC testimony: Pleasants Plant deal could cost ratepayers $470 million
Have you ever wondered what goes into stocking a Southern Appalachian trout stream? The hardworking folks at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries field hundreds of question every year about the magic behind trout stocking and, as a result, have decided to clear up any misconceptions with a series of informative videos that track the journey of a stocked trout all the way from egg to adult fish. The first episode features Bryan Beers, the manager of the Paint Bank Fish Hatchery in Paint Bank, Virginia—a class A cold-water facility raising brown, brook and rainbow trout.“We do approximately 150,000 pounds of trout a year,” Beers says. “That means that at least 800,000 fingerling fry are produced here each year.”The essential task of the the Paint Bank Fish Hatchery, Beers says, is to provide eggs, fingerlings and advanced fingerlings for transfer to other facilities such as the Coursey Springs and Motebello fish hatcheries.Follow along with the stocking process in the video above, and stayed tuned for more informative videos like this by following Virginia Department of Game and Inlands Fisheries on Facebook.
By Diálogo October 18, 2019 In the cacao-growing region of Barlovento, in Miranda state, about 62 miles west of Caracas, the Venezuelan chocolate business is a bitter one. While producers in the region face a series of obstacles — red tape, theft, and even the confiscation of cacao beans by security forces — members of a company linked to the Maduro regime rub elbows with chocolate distributors in the most important events of the sector worldwide.Although Venezuelan cacao represents only 1 percent of the cacao traded worldwide, according to the International Cocoa Organization, it is sought after as one of the best for its aroma and quality.The Flores and cacaoAccording to investigations from the Venezuelan digital platform Armando Info, Integrated Agriculture Specialists (ESAICA, in Spanish), a company created in Barlovento in 2015, counts among its members relatives of Cilia Flores, Nicolás Maduro’s wife. Among them are Mariana Staudinger, wife of Yosser Gavidia Flores (Cilia Flores’ son); and Jenifer Fuentes, the partner of Walter Gavidia Flores (Cilia Flores’ son). Also listed as a member is Erika Albornoz Gavidia, the niece of Walter Gavidia Rodríguez, a chavista leader and Cilia Flores’ ex husband.In July 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Mariana Staudinger, Yosser Gavidia Flores, and Walter Gavidia Flores for their participation in acts of corruption involving the Maduro regime’s national program of subsidized food, known as CLAP. According to Armando Info, another member is Mario Bonilla, a friend of Cilia Flores’ children and one of the suspects named in a Florida court in 2018 for participating in a $1.2 billion money laundering scheme.“They are using the same scheme with cacao that they are trying to use with gold,” a spokesperson for Acción Campesina (Farmer’s Action), a Venezuelan organization that defends farmers’ rights, told Diálogo. “There is a criminal structure around the cacao industry, including State security forces, which affects some producers, while others remain untouched. All this to benefit the government,” said the man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.Although ESAICA is located in the most violent area of the country, with the highest homicide, kidnapping, and theft rates, according to civil organizations such as the Venezuelan Violence Watch (OVV, in Spanish) and Acción Campesina, the company doesn’t experience the same problems as the other producers. On its website, the company promotes its business with photo galleries of its fair stands in France, Japan, and the Netherlands, and with serene images of its fields.Other producers, however, face increasingly difficult scenarios. Many fall prey to thieves who steal cacao in the fields and sell it on the black market and to criminal gangs who extort them, OVV says. For its part, the government halts cacao exports with red tape, imposing up to 20 bureaucratic steps with different ministries to be able to export.In December 2018, producers told international news agency Reuters that they had lost more than 80 tons of cacao beans at government checkpoints. More recently, in May 2019, the Bolivarian National Guard in Miranda said on its Twitter account that it had confiscated more than 56,200 pounds of cacao due to the lack of legal documentation.“Convoys carrying their [ESAICA’s] cacao are protected by the National Guard, while others are detained and seized by the same National Guard,” said Acción Campesina’s spokesperson.The affected producers tried to recover the product and filed complains with several government offices, Armando Info said, but the cacao was handed over to the Venezuelan Cacao Socialist Corporation (CSCV, in Spanish), a department under the Ministry of Agriculture that manages and develops State activities in cacao production, processing, and distribution.A bureaucratic mazeIn Miranda state, producers face additional difficulties since chavista Héctor Rodríguez became governor in October 2017. Under his plan “Miranda Smells Like Cacao,” Rodríguez created a bureaucratic structure that regulates cacao prices, imposes a fee on the producer, which is paid at the corresponding municipality, and then exports the product at international prices.According to the Venezuelan think tank Dissemination of Economic Knowledge for Freedom Center (CEDICE Libertad, in Spanish), a ton of Venezuelan cacao is valued at up to $8,000. The government claims to produce 35,000 tons of cacao per year.Few companies manage to beat the system, CEDICE Libertad says, and producers are forced to sell their goods to the government at a much lower price than they’re worth.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen KellerThe credit union industry (or credit union movement as it’s often referred to) is probably one of the most collaborative industries in the United States, if not the entire world. Unlike other organizations, credit unions share everything from ideas to secrets. They truly care about the welfare of the industry and its millions of members. It’s great! Collaboration benefits credit unions in several ways – however, in my opinion, one way in particular presents the biggest opportunity.The ChallengeAccording to Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX), Credit Unions spend millions of dollars independently integrating similar technologies. From what we’ve seen, this is especially true in what I define as Credit Union Big Data and Analytics. Credit Union Big Data and Analytics is comprised of data integration (data warehousing), report writing, and the creation of predictive analytic models and applications. Today, credit unions spend a significant amount of time and money building their own isolated solutions to satisfy pressing reporting needs.While this may solve the short term problem, the unique design hinders the ability to share reports and pool data with other credit unions. Different credit unions often spend resources building similar reports and dashboards. This begs the question that was recently raised by John Best of CU Wallet and Best Innovation Group. Can credit unions be considered as technology companies that deliver financial services, or are they financial service companies that use technology?The OpportunityBig Data and Analytics presents a tremendous opportunity for credit unions but it becomes a REAL opportunity with collaboration. You’re probably thinking, “How can we collaborate our big data and analytics efforts with other credit unions? Every credit union’s data sources are different…” In order for credit unions to collaborate their big data and analytics efforts, they need to have an industry standard data model – a data model that does not discriminate against core system, loan origination system, etc – a truly holistic solution.With an industry standard data model, credit unions have the opportunity to greatly reduce the resources needed to execute a Big Data and Analytics initiative. A common data model will enable credit unions to “connect” to each other, allowing them to share reports and analytics applications amongst each other. When a report, application, or predictive model is built by or for a specific credit union, that credit union will have the opportunity to exchange it with all other credit unions that are connected to the data model. As a result, all credit unions – big and small – can immediately and effortlessly benefit by using others’ reports and applications shared in a place similar to the Apple App Store.Essentially, standardizing a data model gets credit unions out of the report-writing game and into the analytics game. This means less time and money spent collecting data, and more time doing actual analysis. When you look at the amount of money big corporations spend on Big Data and Analytics, you have to think, “Is this something our credit union can do ourselves, or should we instead leverage the power of collaboration that already exists in the credit union industry?” 108SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Austin Wentzlaff Austin J. Wentzlaff joined OnApproach in 2013 as a Business Development Analyst and is now currently Director of Business Development. He is responsible for developing marketing strategies, driving prospects to … Web: www.onapproach.net Details
9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr It’s probably not a surprise to many of us that entertainment seems to be seeping into nearly every area of our current culture and environment. Many of us are no longer satisfied with simply getting a task done, but rather we want to be entertained in the process. Perhaps we are no longer desiring simple results, but we want to be engaged— we want to be amused.Real estate has evolved from having a need and fulfilling that need. Real estate is now entertainment. It’s not about mortgages; it’s about voyeurism, comparing ourselves to others, and a slew of other things.Take a look at this graph depicting the amount of unique visitors to online real estate sites versus the number of total home sales. There’s an ever-increasing gap between these two paths. It’s the gap between need and amusement. And it’s a gap that demands the attention of credit unions. As an example, let’s examine one woman’s personal story, which she recently shared with the media: “I look at houses online when I own and when I rent, when I’ve just moved and when I’m pondering moving again. I wake up, open my laptop, check my email and Facebook, then click on Realtor.com.” continue reading »
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr There’s nothing like meeting your hero. For some, that might equate to a football player or a musician or maybe a politician—a well-known celebrity type, whose mere physical presence is immediately recognized by all. For a governance geek like me, heroes are fewer and farther in between. But they do exist and, when they do, they rise like giants.Thanks to my good friends at CUES, I met my hero about a month ago on the eve of the 2019 CUES Symposium in the Bahamas: Ram Charan, the world’s leading expert in corporate governance. Along with some members of my team, I explored some of the most pressing concerns of the day with him—challenges that perplex even the most skilled and tenured credit union board members and CEOs.I imagine I’ll be mining the notes from our conversation for quite a time to come, and I look forward to bringing you the fruits of those labors in future blogs. For now, I am pleased to share with you six key responsibilities central for every board outlined by Ram as he spoke to the board chairs and CEOs assembled at the Symposium:
CUNA’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates for May 2019 shows a continuation of slowing loan and membership growth: credit union memberships increased just 0.31%, the slowest May increase since 2014. Moreover, loan portfolios were up just 0.57%, the weakest May loan growth since 2011 (shortly after the 2009 recession).“The slowdown in credit union loan growth was led by outstanding new automobile loans, which fell 0.02% in May, representing its fifth straight month of negative growth—the first time that has occurred since 2011,” said Jordan van Rijn, CUNA senior economist. “Despite the slowdown in credit union loan growth, credit cards, fixed-rate mortgages, commercial loans and second mortgages each grew by more than 1.0% in May.”Savings were up a strong 1.30% in May, despite savings growth typically slowing in late spring and summer.“In fact, this was the fastest increase in savings during the month of May since 2008, during the height of the financial crisis,” van Rijn noted. “The slowdown in loan growth and uptick in savings may be indications that consumers are concerned about future prospects for economic growth and earnings, particularly in light of increased trade tensions.” ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »
– Advertisement – The U.S. economy still needs fiscal help from Congress even with the increased probability that widespread vaccine availability is now in sight, former New York Federal Reserve President Bill Dudley said Monday.For the second time in a week, a pharmaceutical company has announced a breakthrough in the coronavirus pandemic fight. This time, it was Moderna reporting that it has a vaccine up to 95% effective in heading off the virus. Pfizer made a similar announcement last week.- Advertisement – Fed officials reject the notion that they are getting low on monetary ammunition. Among their options are extending the duration and amount of their bond purchases and amplifying forward guidance on what it would take to raise rates. Government red ink has continued to pile up during the crisis. The budget was $3.1 trillion in the hole for fiscal 2020 and started off the new year down $284 billion in October. Dudley acknowledged that the deficit spending could be a problem down the road but is needed now, particularly to help state and local governments that may have to start laying off essential personnel to balance their budgets.One problem is that he doesn’t think the economy will get much more help from his former Fed colleagues, who already have cut benchmark borrowing rates to near zero and expanded the central bank’s balance sheet past $7 trillion.“People can look through the bad news and see good news on the other side. That said, it doesn’t change the fact that the Fed really doesn’t have much firepower to protect the economy over the near term,” Dudley said. “I think the economy is going to suffer as go through fall into winter.”- Advertisement – Even with the good news, Dudley said additional bridge money of $1 trillion to $2 trillion will be needed to get impacted individuals and businesses to the other side. “So I think it makes the case for fiscal stimulus even more compelling, because you basically want to prevent scarring to the economy in terms of people’s balance sheets, in terms of small businesses being forced to close, and a little fiscal stimulus can go a long way in reducing the scarring in the economy so that you can have a stronger recovery on the other side” he told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”Opposing factions in Washington have been unable to come up with a compromise measure to buttress the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March. Most of the funding from that legislation has expired while 11 million workers remain without employment.- Advertisement –
Findings in three statesHealth officials in many states began contacting the CDC in late 2006 about apparent increases in norovirus outbreaks, the report says. The agency reviewed data for three of those statesNorth Carolina, Wisconsin, and New Yorkand found striking increases. Further, CDC tests of specimens from 126 AGE outbreaks in various settings in 2006 confirmed that 114 (90%) were due to norovirus, the agency says. Investigators found that 87 (76%) of these involved two new GII.4 norovirus variants, called Minerva and Laurens. A new strain has brought an increase in outbreaks at least once before, the report says. In four of the North Carolina episodes, outbreaks occurred after illness among food handlers, suggesting that foodborne transmission might have been involved. Aug 24, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Norovirus outbreaks in the United States appear to have increased sharply since the beginning of last year, probably fueled by two new strains of the gastrointestinal pathogen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Noroviruses can spread via food or through contact with contaminated surfaces. There is no national surveillance system for acute gastroenteritis (AGE) outbreaks in which foodborne transmission is not suspected, but several lines of evidence suggest that norovirus outbreaks have been on the rise, the CDC says. The CDC says its data probably underestimate the number of recent norovirus outbreaks, since reporting methods and thoroughness vary by state. Norovirus was confirmed in only 29% (382) of the outbreaks, but testing and reporting vary by state for nonfoodborne AGE outbreaks. Findings in states that routinely test outbreak specimens indicate that a high proportion of the episodes were caused by norovirus, the report says. North Carolina had 17 outbreaks consistent with norovirus infection in LTCFs in 2006, compared with six in 2005 and three in 2004. The outbreaks affected 573 residents and 288 staff members, and 36 patients were hospitalized. One 90-year-old resident died, and the gastrointestinal illness was listed as the primary cause of death. “Norovirus infection as a confirmed cause of death has not been recorded previously in the United States,” the CDC says. The increase is especially notable in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), the CDC says in today’s issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One recent outbreak in an LTCF led to the first recorded fatal case of norovirus, in a 90-year-old in North Carolina, the report says. CDC. Norovirus activityUnited States, 2006-2007. MMWR 2007 Aug 24;56(33):842-6 [Full text] In Wisconsin, AGE outbreaks reported to the state increased more than fourfold in 2 years, from 23 in 2005 to 106 in 2006, the report states. Eighty-seven (82%) of the 2006 outbreaks were confirmed as norovirus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Noroviruses (previously known as Norwalk-like viruses) are the most common cause of AGE outbreaks, according to the CDC. Because patients shed the viruses for a long time after recovery and it takes only a few viral particles to cause illness, LTCFs are susceptible to prolonged outbreaks with high attack rates, the agency says. The agency says it is unclear whether the surge in outbreaks is a result of increased pathogenicity or transmissibility of the two new strains, lower immunity in the population, or other factors. Boston also saw signs of a recent increase in AGE outbreaks related to norovirus, according to the CDC. Between Dec 1, 2006, and April 1, 2007, the city had 18 outbreaks in colleges, day care centers, and healthcare facilities, compared with two outbreaks in the same period a year earlier. PCR testing confirmed norovirus in eight of the outbreaks. But better national surveillance for AGE outbreaks is on the way, the agency says. Last year the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists passed a resolution stating that all AGE outbreaks should be reportable nationally, regardless of whether transmission is foodborne or person-to-person. “This will be implemented in 2008 through the National Outbreak Reporting System,” the article says. Of 58 nonfoodborne norovirus outbreaks in Wisconsin in 2006, 45 occurred in LTCFs. These outbreaks included 2,071 cases, with 44 patients hospitalized. Two patients died, but the primary causes of death were not recorded. More surveillance expectedFor the AGE outbreaks in late 2006 and 2007 nationwide, the CDC says, “A high proportion of the specimens tested were positive for norovirus, which suggests that the increase in AGE outbreaks was associated with norovirus infection. The magnitude and consistency of increases in multiple states suggests an actual increase rather than increased reporting resulting from increased awareness and testing for norovirus.” The CDC also says that CaliciNet, a CDC database used to collect and compare norovirus sequences, will soon be widely accessible to state and local health departments. New York had 333 AGE outbreaks from October 2006 through January 2007, compared with 76 for the same period in 2005-06, the CDC says. Eighty-two percent (272) of the 2006 outbreaks occurred in LTCFs and 8% (26) in hospitals. For healthcare facilities overall, 7,907 patients and 4,317 staff members became ill; 207 patients and 20 staff members were hospitalized. Sixteen patients died, but the causes of death were not reported. Outbreaks tripleFor example, in reviewing evidence from 24 states that reported at least five AGE outbreaks in 2005 and 2006, the CDC found that outbreaks overall more than tripled, from 372 in 2005 to 1,316 in 2006. Fifty-eight percent (762) of the outbreaks were in LTCFs.
Gobernador Wolf: $28 millones para ayudar a la educación superior a reanudar su funcionamiento Education, Español, Press Release El Gobernador Tom Wolf está destinando aproximadamente $28 millones de dólares a instituciones de enseñanza superior y a proveedores de educación básica para adultos para ayudarlos a implementar planes de salud pública y seguridad, y ayudarlos a reanudar su funcionamiento en otoño. Los fondos se utilizarán para ayudar a mantener seguros a los alumnos, a los profesores y al personal y ayudar a las instituciones a cumplir con los retos únicos de dictar clases durante la pandemia de COVID-19.“Los alumnos que asisten a instituciones de enseñanza superior y participan en programas de educación para adultos están ansiosos por regresar a clases, y las instituciones han estado planeando durante meses el regreso seguro a las clases presenciales”, dijo el Gobernador Wolf. “Estos fondos ayudarán a estas instituciones, ya sea que elijan continuar brindando instrucción remota, regresar a las clases en persona o emplear un enfoque intermedio para satisfacer las necesidades de aprendizaje de sus alumnos”.La Ley de Ayuda, Alivio y Seguridad Económica por el Coronavirus (CARES) autoriza a los gobernadores a determinar el uso educativo de los Fondos de Ayuda Educativa de Emergencia del Gobernador (GEER, por sus siglas en inglés).El departamento determinó la distribución de fondos basada tanto en la proporción de matrículas totales de cada sector de enseñanza superior como en el número de alumnos con desventajas socioeconómicas que integran las instituciones. Además, se reservaron $500,000 dólares de los fondos totales para brindar ayuda a los proveedores de educación básica para adultos.Los fondos GEER pueden usarse para la reapertura segura de las escuelas ante la presencia de la COVID-19. Puede incluir, entre otros, la compra de equipos de protección, desinfectante de manos/productos de limpieza; equipos o tecnologías para compartir las clases que se dictan en las aulas en Internet; instalación de barreras u otros dispositivos de protección en estructuras de edificios; o la compra de aplicaciones de salud para ayudar en el rastreo de contactos y el monitoreo de los alumnos.Los beneficiarios de las subvenciones recibirán una comunicación directa del Departamento de Educación de Pennsylvania (PDE) con las instrucciones para solicitar la eGrant.“La pandemia de COVID-19 ha tenido repercusiones tremendas en las instituciones de enseñanza superior y en los programas de educación para adultos de la comunidad”, dijo el Secretario de Educación, Pedro A. Rivera. “Las oportunidades de enseñanza superior son clave para una vida mejor y para el bienestar social y económico del estado, y debemos hacer todo lo posible para mantener este camino a disposición de los alumnos. Estos fondos llevarán alivio a nuestras instituciones educativas en un momento de gran necesidad”.Pennsylvania cuenta con casi 300 instituciones de enseñanza superior, que incluyen 14 colegios comunitarios, 14 instituciones estatales, cuatro universidades relacionadas con el estado, así como dos colegios y universidades históricamente afroestadounidenses. Además, hay un sector fuerte de colegios y universidades privadas e independientes. El Departamento de Educación de Pennsylvania (PDE, por sus siglas en inglés) administra fondos estatales y federales para apoyar a 47 proveedores de educación para adultos en todo el estado.View this information in English. August 03, 2020 SHARE Email Facebook Twitter