Thursday, August 18, 2011

First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Will be in Texas


Photo Credit: Slaunger via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The mostly highly publicized offshore wind farm in the U.S. is undoubtedly Cape Wind, which was finally approved for construction in Cape Cod after a decade-long battle and the protestations of wealthy NIMBYs and grumpy Kennedys. But it still has a ways to go before it will be going online -- and it looks like another 12 megawatt project in Texas will swoop in and grab the distinction of being the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Here's Renewable Energy World:

Texas has pulled ahead in the final stretch of getting the nation's first offshore wind farm and will win the race against long-announced project, Cape Wind. After achieving a major milestone in 2010 with more than 10,000 MW of installed onshore wind energy capacity, the state will now erect the first offshore production wind turbines in the U.S. this year off the coast of Galveston. The 12 MW project must clear one final hurdle in obtaining a Purchasing Power Agreement, but with all the designs and permits already in hand, the installation could go up as soon as late 2011.
So by the end of the year, there could be a sizable wind farm just off the coast of Galveston, setting the precedent for a sector that should have gotten a jump start long ago. One interesting side note to the story of how a small project in Texas has quietly vaulted past the major one in a liberal east coast state, according to REW, is that:

"Offshore wind has undoubtedly benefited from the state's distinctive business environment. With stable, long-term policies, and its own transmission network, Texas offers unrivaled business opportunities for the offshore wind industry."

Stable, predictable long-term policies (tax rebates, etc) are, of course, what we need on a national level to encourage similar projects elsewhere.

Original here

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Dracula Hedge Funds Are Sucking Us Dry

What notion of economics or ethics justifies the fact that it would take the average family more than 35,000 years to earn as much as the top hedge fund managers earn in one year?
The official June unemployment rate is 9.2 percent. The real rate is 18.5 percent (which includes involuntary part-time workers and the unemployed who haven’t looked for jobs in the past 4 weeks.) Nearly 30 million Americans are unemployed and we need more than 21 million jobs to get back to full-employment (defined as 5 percent).
Meanwhile, the top 10 hedge fund elites make on average nearly $1 million an HOUR. We’ll never find the resources to solve the unemployment crisis until we redistribute some of this obscene wealth.

It starts by putting to rest the notion that hedge fund elites are just like any other. They are not. They make more money than everyone else, including our top movie stars and athletes...and they pay lower taxes.

While working on my next book on financial elites, we dredged up a variety of “Top Ten Income Lists” (from sources like Forbes and Equilar) for just about every kind of high-rolling celebrity and CEO imaginable. Here are previews:

  • Oprah led the pack by hauling in an incredible $290 million in 2010.
  • U2 at $190 million was the top pop musical group.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio ($77 million) is the leading Hollywood star.
  • Tiger Woods ($75 million) remains the highest paid athlete even though he doesn’t play much golf these days.
  • Half of the highest paid non-financial CEOs are in the entertainment business, led by Phillipe Dauman of Viacom (Link$84.5 million).
  • Only six out of the 100 highest income Americans on these lists are women.

You also might find it interesting that the top Wall Street bankers are keeping a low-income profile these days. Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid stricter regulatory curbs on their financial casinos. Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase led the bank/insurance top 10 list with an income of $20 million (which, by the way, is half as much as Glenn Beck’s 2010 income). Lloyd “Doing God’s Work” Blankfein of Goldman Sachs was 10th on the banker list with an income of $14.1 million.

All in all, we’re talking about serious money --- except for the fact that hedge funds make 100 times more than bankers.

Original here

Chase Bank Is Finally Very Sorry for Having Man Thrown in Jail for No Reason

chase arrest01.jpg
Ikenna Njoku
​There are tales of corporate arrogance and idiocy. And then there's this.

As KING 5 reported this week, 28-year-old Ikenna Njoku went to a Chase Bank inside a Fred Meyer in Auburn on June 24 of last year with a $8,463.21 tax-refund check. This check was actually issued by Chase itself, as it had been deposited in Njoku's closed Chase account by the government and had fees deducted by the bank for past overdrafts. Finally the difference was mailed to him in the form of a bank-issued cashier's check.

So Njoku apparently went into the bank to cash this check, and the teller immediately became suspicious of him. She supposedly started asking things like what he did for a living and where he got the check, and "looking [him] up and down."

The teller was so suspicious, in fact, that she refused to cash the check and instead had it held. Njoku eventually got frustrated and left the bank, then he called a customer-service agent who told him to come back the following day to get his money.

But when he showed up at the bank the next day, the police were waiting, and he was quickly arrested for a felony charge of trying to cash a forged check.

The check wasn't forged, of course, but nonetheless Njoku was taken to jail.

The next day--a Friday--Chase apparently realized it had made a big mistake and had someone put a call in to the Auburn Police detective handling the case. But the detective was off that day and didn't get the message until Monday morning.

The agent never bothered to call anyone else at the police station.

So for four nights and five days total, Njoku stayed in jail. His car was towed and impounded. And he was fired from his job for not coming in.

When he finally got out, Chase still wouldn't give him his check immediately, which he needed to cover things like the impound and tow fees that his car had racked up. So when he couldn't afford to get the car from the impound lot, it was auctioned off.

Worst of all, for a solid year, Njoku apparently tried to get an answer or some compensation from Chase, and for the whole year the bank ignored him.

That is, until he finally lawyered up and talked to the press.

Now, Chase is suddenly very apologetic. The bank issued this statement on Thursday:

"This is a very unfortunate and unusual situation. We apologize to Mr. Njoku and deeply regret what happened to him. We are working quickly to understand all the details so we can reach a fair resoLinklution.

Working quickly on month 13. Waydago, guys.

Now here's Njoku's lawyer's letter to Chase.

Chase Letter

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Original here