Americans should care where solar panels are made

first_imgBut they’re less secure in a Republican administration than a Democratic one (although they did survive last year’s tax bill mostly unscathed).And I think it’s accurate to say that U.S. policy on renewables since the 1970s has been marked more by ambivalence than anything else.Which makes a certain amount of sense: Renewables are competitors to fossil fuels.The U.S. leads the global fossil fuels industry. It can be tough to dominate both an incumbent industry and the one that aims to disrupt it.That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying, though.Justin Fox, a Bloomberg View columnist, was the editorial director of Harvard Business Review. The wind industry is headquartered in Europe, and the solar industry increasingly in China.Last week, as I’m sure you have heard, the Donald Trump administration slapped a 30 percent tariff on imports of certain solar cells that the U.S. International Trade Commission found last fall to be an unfairly priced threat to U.S. manufacturers.Most media coverage of the decision has focused on the effect on the U.S. solar power industry, which is up in arms about a move that will raise its costs. Fair enough.But wouldn’t it also be a good thing for the U.S. to have a bigger solar-cell manufacturing industry?There are several reasons why it might be.The most discussed but probably least compelling one is that it would create factory jobs.Installing and maintaining solar and wind power equipment employs a lot more people than making it, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected last year that the two occupations with the fastest projected job growth in the U.S. over the next decade will be solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation The first practical solar cells were developed — as were so many other things — at Bell Labs in the 1950s, and for a long time the U.S. was the undisputed leader in solar technology.During the oil crisis of the 1970s, the U.S. also made big investments in wind power.After that, though, interest and investment in both wind and solar fluctuated with politics and the price of oil.As of 2016, according to the most recent data from the International Energy Agency, the U.S. was No. 4 in installed photovoltaic solar capacity, behind China, Japan and Germany.It was No. 1 in wind power generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but China seems certain to pass it soon if it hasn’t already.Perhaps more important, when it comes to making solar and wind equipment, the U.S. simply isn’t that big a player.There is only one U.S. company (General Electric Co.) among the global top 10 wind turbine manufacturers, and one (First Solar Inc., which does most of its manufacturing in Malaysia) among the top 10 solar-cell makers. If jobs are the metric, then keeping solar panels cheap seems more important than having them made here.A better argument that Harvard Business School’s Gary Pisano has been making for almost a decade now is that manufacturing capabilities underpin innovation and economic growth.Let them go overseas, and much more is lost than just production jobs.In 2012, Matthew Stepp and Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a bipartisan Washington think tank, argued that China’s use of subsidies, trade restrictions, currency manipulation and theft of intellectual property to give homegrown solar and wind equipment makers a leg up was hurting energy innovation not just in the U.S. but also worldwide.The best approach for the U.S. going forward, Atkinson says, is to look beyond current technologies.“The game should be, What’s the next transformative technology in solar? How could we be the world leader?”That’s easier to ask than answer, of course. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe oil industry was born in Pennsylvania in 1859, and Americans have played a leading role in it ever since.Even after the U.S. lost its status as the world’s top oil producer in the 1970s, it remained the industry’s main source of equipment and expertise.In recent years, U.S. technology and entrepreneurship have even brought a production resurgence that has made this country again the world’s biggest source of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons and may soon even catapult it back into first place in crude oil production.In renewable energy, things have played out a bit differently. The U.S. does still seem to be fertile ground for starting innovative energy companies.As in the oil and gas industry, U.S. technological know-how and business dynamism can be an advantage.But it’s worth thinking about what else has enabled the U.S. oil and gas industry to play such a durable global leadership role.One obvious asset has been the presence of huge amounts of oil and natural gas under the ground and nearby ocean floor.Another has been more than a century of mostly supportive government policy.This support has taken the form of not just legal advantages (most mineral rights in the U.S. are privately owned, not government property as in other countries) and tax breaks (which go back at least to the Revenue Act of 1916), but also huge military expenditures to protect the interests of U.S. oil companies overseas.Since 2005, the tax preferences for renewable fuels have been bigger than those for oil and gas.last_img read more

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To stop gun violence, put the people first

first_imgToday’s students realize we live a way of life that requires a new way of living. Yet they are products of an educational system designed to breed conformity rather than emphasize the critical thinking that would reveal that the antidote to gun violence is contained within the causes and conditions of violence itself.While there is no one reason for violence in our society, poverty has a direct correlation to violence in the U.S. We have the highest poverty rate of 23 industrial nations, created by our massive income inequality, promoted by crony capitalism.Our history is replete with violence directly related to capitalism, from genocide, slavery, repression of worker’s unions, the drug war, commitment to violence abroad in the endless war on terrorism to the racism of those assigned to protect and serve.When an economic system is designed to value profit over people, demanding government be given the authority to determine who can and can’t bear arms, while defining which weapons can or can’t be possessed by the public, will not end gun violence. Gun violence also won’t be ended by voting, when both major political parties support a system of crony capitalism. Gun violence will only end when the causes and conditions for violence are identified and eradicated by a political party that puts people above profit.John PagodaRensselaerMore from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineGov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census In response to our endemic of gun violence, over 1 million students and parents from coast-to-coast demonstrated for stricter gun control and threatened to hold politicians accountable at the ballot box for their inaction. Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

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Foss: Schenectady couple teaches people to manage money

first_imgIt’s work that’s philanthropic in nature and very much needed: Studies have found that many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, have little in the way of savings, owe lots of money and aren’t putting away nearly enough money for retirement. The picture is even bleaker for minorities — something of which the Tatems, who are both African-American, are keenly aware. According to the Federal Reserve, in 2016 the typical white family had $162,640 in net worth, compared to $16,216 for the typical black family and $21,295 for the typical Hispanic family. Nearly one in five black households had zero or negative net worth, compared to 9 percent of white households. “The system can make it hard for people to get ahead financially,” said Angela Tatem, who serves as director of community outreach at Union College. “We’re focused on what you can do. You can still budget. It’s your money and you can tell it where to go.” “We’re showing people how to prepare for life events,” said Elroy Tatem, an engineer at Applied Materials in Malta. Financial literacy alone won’t close the racial wealth gap. But it can certainly help.  To learn more about the Tatems approach to financial fitness, I sat in on their Money Matters “boot camp,” a series of five workshops held at the downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library. These classes were informative and practical, sprinkled with personal anecdotes and interesting observations. The tone throughout was upbeat and encouraging, and I found myself surprisingly engaged by a subject in which — personal finance — I’d never been especially interested. One of the things I appreciated most was the Tatems’ non-judgmental attitude, which is rooted in a firm belief that anyone — rich, poor, middle class — can benefit from greater financial literacy.At times, the class feels like a support group, where people can open up about their own experiences with money and share insights gained from trying to apply the Tatems’ teachings to their own lives. “It’s only up from here,” Angela Tatem told the 11 women who attended the first class. “You’re going to make a lot of progress.” The boot camp begins with budgeting, then moves on to establishing an emergency fund, paying off debts, growing your savings and investing.    Categories: News, Opinion, Schenectady CountyNot so very long ago, Angela and Elroy Tatem’s finances were a mess. They owed more than $80,000 in student loans, car loans and credit cards. They had no savings. Their net worth was negative, meaning their debts exceeded their assets. “Something needed to change,” Angela Tatem recalled. The Schenectady couple started budgeting, saving and paying down debts. It wasn’t always easy — both took on second jobs for a while — but it got them where they wanted to be: out of debt, saving money and building wealth.Most people hate talking about money, but the Tatems are happy, even eager, to do so. They teach free classes aimed at helping others improve their personal finances, in hopes of improving the overall financial health of the entire community.   The Tatems’ journey to positive net worth began with a chance encounter: A well-off older woman offered to teach them how to attain financial prosperity. Intrigued, they took the woman up on the offer and began following her advice, which included making monthly budgets, creating a “God only knows” fund for emergencies and ridding themselves of debt. They also read books about personal finance.In 2015, the couple decided to start sharing what they’d learned. They established an organization, called the Wealth Education Exchange, and began holding financial literacy courses in local churches, schools, colleges and other community institutions.   The Tatems were both raised in households where financial literacy was lacking. Angela Tatem, 38, grew up in Schenectady, in a family where “a lot of stuff was done on credit.” Elroy Tatem, 34, grew up in public housing in the Bronx, to a single mother who “would get her social security check and go to the check cashing place where they charge fees to cash checks.” Janell Price, a Mechanicville resident who took the Money Matters class in 2017 and attended several of the sessions I sat in on earlier this fall, told me that the Tatems’ teachings changed her life.  “I found myself in a better place financially,” Price, 39, said. “I was no longer getting money and spending it. I was getting money and budgeting it.” What she discovered was that “I definitely had more money.” Now Price is developing a budget for her mother and hopes to share what she’s learned with others. “I’m taking it one person at a time,” she said.Most people aren’t especially good at managing money, but education can change that. “We’re about this work because we see it helping so many people,” Angela Tatem told me. “We tell people all the time, ‘Maybe you’ll never become a millionaire, but if you do all of the things consistently, your net worth will improve.’” Reach Sara Foss at sfoss@dailygazette.net. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.  More from The Daily Gazette:Toys for Tots announces drive-thru collectionsEverything from The Daily Gazette Sunday, Oct. 18Schenectady teens accused of Scotia auto theft, chase; Ended in Clifton Park crash, Saratoga Sheriff…In their words — Capital Region voters share their views of presidential electionNational Weather Service forecasts a 42 percent chance of a ‘warmer-than-normal’ winterlast_img read more

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Bluewater campaign makes a splash

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Texaco brings bumper Docklands lot to market

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Lawyers opt for Square Mile despite Canary Wharf drive

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Victory 1: Heron Tower

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Mobile home

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The revaluation game

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Indonesia to stop gas exports to Singapore in 2023

first_imgThe Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has decided to stop gas shipments to Singapore in the next three years to cater to domestic demand.”Gas exports to Singapore will stop in 2023 and we will use the gas for the domestic market,” Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BPH Migas) head Fanshurullah Asa said as quoted from the ministry’s press release on Friday.The decision is in line with a statement made by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif during a hearing with House of Representatives lawmakers in November that he planned to stop supplying gas to the city-state. Fanshurullah expressed hope the decision would create added value for the nation’s natural gas and reduce its trade balance deficit, as the use of gas could shift to oil fuel.Indonesia’s gas exports to Singapore come from the Corridor Block managed by ConocoPhillips, which has a supply of 300 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd).The gas supply will be channeled into the Dumai Duri transmission pipeline to be distributed to industrial estates in Sumatra, namely the Sei Mangkei Special Economic Zone in North Sumatra, among other destinations.The country’s oil and gas exports totaled US$167.5 billion last year, a 6.94 percent decline year-on-year (yoy), Statistics Indonesia data show. (eyc)Topics :last_img read more

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