Saturday, October 17, 2009

Director’s Message: Energy Too Costly for Florida

While gasoline prices have recently dropped, electric costs are skyrocketing! Gasoline for all of the 90s was about $1 a gallon, oil $18 a barrel, natural gas was $2 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 8 cents a kWh. Gasoline at its peak last year was over $4, oil over $140 a barrel, and natural gas over $11 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 12 cents a kWh. In the last several months, the price of electricity to some consumers in Florida has reached 15 cents per kWh. The average Florida customer who used 1,250 kWh of electricity per month paid $120 in 2005 and $152 per month in 2008. In 2009, the average customer will be paying more than $160. So by doing nothing, the price has gone up more than $40 per month (33%) since 2005. Some customers will be paying $188 per month, a $68 per month increase (50%) since 2005!

Alternative energy is called alternative, until it is cheaper, but cheaper than what? – electricity out of the wall at 12 cents yesterday, 15 cents today, 18 cents tomorrow? Are you aware that people in the U.S. pay different amounts for electricity? The average residential retail price of electricity in the U.S. was 10.6 cents per kWh in 2007. Florida was 11.2 cents, most southern states were about 9 cents, WV 7 cents, UT 8 cents, NY and CT about 18 cents, and CA and NJ 15 cents. So, states that burn coal have the cheapest electricity rates. Places like Utah and West Virginia burn their own coal, so even though they get all the pollution and the greenhouse gasses, at least they get to keep all their money, unlike Florida which ships more than $25 billion out of state to purchase fuel. Florida has already been paying more for cleaner burning fossil fuels than the Southern states to our north. We are now paying more for natural gas than we are for coal, and that price increase is more than what is being suggested to add to our electric bills for solar energy.

New Jersey has more solar than Florida because homeowners in NJ have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and fees (collected into a Public Benefit Fund) are used to incentivize the homeowner for solar on their roof. If such a fund collected $1.50 on your electric bill in Florida, we could have the equivalent of California’s Million Solar Roofs Program. Clearly $1.50 is less than the $40 a month cost of doing nothing. While solar water heating is cost effective today, solar electricity (photovoltaics) without a subsidy is not cost effective today, but the subsidy is still less than the cost of “accelerated cost recovery” for nuclear power. What about the jobs? These jobs will not be in China and India, they will be done by your neighbor. Vote Solar estimates that more than 3,800 megawatts (MW) of solar could be added by 2020 and with it approximately 85,500 new jobs in Florida. What a great way to love your neighbor.

Jim Fenton, Director
Florida Solar Energy Center

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Press Conference on Energy Efficiency in Miami, FL

I will be participating in a press conference at 11am on Energy Efficient Legislation currently before the US Senate. There will be a representative from the City of Miami's Office of Sustainability, FIU Faculty Member, Environment Florida, and Myself.

You can help OUR cause by choosing one of the options here:

Thank You!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kevin will be a Panelist for the Repower Florida Made In America Jobs Tour

Repower Florida Made In America Jobs Tour

A Repower America Event

Join the Made In America Jobs Tour as we highlight the benefits to American workers and businesses of transitioning to a clean energy economy that will create millions of jobs.

Time: Wednesday, September 2 from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Host: Lance Orchid


University of Miami The Rosenstiel School (Key Biscayne, FL)
4600 Rickenbacker CausewayKey Biscayne, FL 33149

Monday, August 24, 2009

Attention to Citation

One of my classmates from the United States Naval Academy Class of 2002 was recently Killed In Action (KIA) while serving in Afghanistan. He was decorated posthumously for his bravery (see citation below).


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the BRONZE STAR MEDAL posthumously to CAPTAIN MATTHEW C. FREEMAN, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS for service as set forth in the following


For heroic service in connection with combat operations against the enemy as a Fire Support Team Leader and Company Advisor for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army. Captain Freeman’s keen judgment and decisive leadership were ever present in all phases of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. On 7 August 2009, Captain Freeman engaged in the combined and joint Operation BREST THUNDER in one of the most dangerous areas within the 201st Corps’ Area of Operations, the Shpee Valley of Kapisa Province. The strength of the enemy in the Shpee Valley was estimated to consist of more than eighty insurgents with reports that a large number of reinforcements had recently moved into the area. Acting to conduct a reconnaissance of force in the valley, Captain Freeman’s element received enemy fire almost immediately upon leaving the combat outpost. Pinned down as the result of this fire, Captain Freeman decided to clear a kulat in order to gain access to the top deck and achieve better observation of the enemy’s firing position. Receiving a heavy volume of enemy fire, Captain Freeman led the way in clearing the house and was the first to reach the rooftop. Once on the rooftop, he spotted an enemy Rocket-Propelled Grenade gunman and immediately killed him. He and one of this team members spotted several other insurgents and began to engage while under fire. It was at this time that Captain Freeman fell mortally wounded. He fought with bravery and determination while demonstrating unwavering courage in the face of the enemy. Captain Freeman’s performance of duty in a combat zone reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

News Coverage of his return to his hometown:





See also blog entries from Blogger at Afghanistan: My Last Tour

And here for a brief account of what happened:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

By Degrees -- White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters

By Degrees
White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters

Published: July 29, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Returning to their ranch-style house in Sacramento after a long summer workday, Jon and Kim Waldrep were routinely met by a wall of heat.

“We’d come home in the summer, and the house would be 115 degrees, stifling,” said Mr. Waldrep, a regional manager for a national company.

He or his wife would race to the thermostat and turn on the air-conditioning as their four small children, just picked up from day care, awaited relief.

All that changed last month. “Now we come home on days when it’s over 100 degrees outside, and the house is at 80 degrees,” Mr. Waldrep said.

Their solution was a new roof: a shiny plasticized white covering that experts say is not only an energy saver but also a way to help cool the planet.

Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement embracing “cool roofs” as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.

Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather. Lower energy consumption also means fewer of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

What is more, a white roof can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart, depending on the materials used, while slashing electricity bills.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, has proselytized for cool roofs at home and abroad. “Make it white,” he advised a television audience on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” last week.

The scientist Mr. Chu calls his hero, Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission who has been campaigning for cool roofs since the 1980s, argues that turning all of the world’s roofs “light” over the next 20 years could save the equivalent of 24 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.

“That is what the whole world emitted last year,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “So, in a sense, it’s like turning off the world for a year.”

This month the Waldreps’ three-bedroom house is consuming 10 percent less electricity than it did a year ago. (The savings would be greater if the family ran its central air during the workday.)

From Dubai to New Delhi to Osaka, Japan, reflective roofs have been embraced by local officials seeking to rein in energy costs. In the United States, they have been standard equipment for a decade at new Wal-Mart stores. More than 75 percent of the chain’s 4,268 outlets in the United States have them.

California, Florida and Georgia have adopted building codes that encourage white-roof installations for commercial buildings.

Drawing on federal stimulus dollars earmarked for energy-efficiency projects, state energy offices and local utilities often offer financing for cool roofs. The roofs can qualify for tax credits if the roofing materials pass muster with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

Still, the ardor of the cool-roof advocates has prompted a bit of a backlash.

Some roofing specialists and architects argue that supporters fail to account for climate differences or the complexities of roof construction. In cooler climates, they say, reflective roofs can mean higher heating bills.

Scientists acknowledge that the extra heating costs may outweigh the air-conditioning savings in cities like Detroit or Minneapolis.

But for most types of construction, they say, light roofs yield significant net benefits as far north as New York or Chicago. Although those cities have cold winters, they are heat islands in the summer, with hundreds of thousands of square feet of roof surface absorbing energy.

The physics behind cool roofs is simple. Solar energy delivers both light and heat, and the heat from sunlight is readily absorbed by dark colors. (An asphalt roof in New York can rise to 180 degrees on a hot summer day.) Lighter colors, however, reflect back a sizable fraction of the radiation, helping to keep a building — and, more broadly, the city and Earth — cooler. They also re-emit some of the heat they absorb.

Unlike high-technology solutions to reducing energy use, like light-emitting diodes in lamp fixtures, white roofs have a long and humble history. Houses in hot climates have been whitewashed for centuries.

Before the advent of central air-conditioning in the mid-20th-century, white- and cream-colored houses with reflective tin roofs were the norm in South Florida, for example. Then central air-conditioning arrived, along with dark roofs whose basic ingredients were often asphalt, tar and bitumen, or asphalt-based shingles. These materials absorb as much as 90 percent of the sun’s heat energy — often useful in New England, but less so in Texas. By contrast, a white roof can absorb as little as 10 percent or 15 percent.

“Relative newcomers to the West and South brought a lot of habits and products from the Northeast,” said Joe Reilly, the president of American Rooftile Coatings, a supplier. “What you see happening now is common sense.”

Around the country, roof makers are racing to develop products in the hope of profiting as the movement spreads from the flat roofs of the country’s malls to the sloped roofs of its suburbs.

Years of detailed work by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory have provided the roof makers with a rainbow of colors — the equivalent of a table of the elements — showing the amount of light that each hue reflects and the amount of heat it re-emits.

White is not always a buyer’s first choice of color. So suppliers like American Rooftile Coatings have used federal color charts to create “cool” but traditional colors, like cream, sienna and gray, that yield savings, though less than dazzling white roofs do.

In an experiment, the National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., had two kinds of terra-cotta-colored cement tiles from American Rooftile installed on four new homes at the Fort Irwin Army base in California. One kind was covered with a special paint and reflected 45 percent of the sun’s rays — nearly twice as much as the other kind. The two homes with roofs of highly reflective paint used 35 percent less electricity last summer than the two with less reflective paint.

Still, William Miller of the Oak Ridge laboratory, who organized the experiment, says he distrusts the margin of difference; he wants to figure out whether some of it resulted from different family habits.

Hashem Akbari, Dr. Rosenfeld’s colleague at the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, says he is unsure how long it will take cool roofs to truly catch on. But he points out that most roofs, whether tile or asphalt-shingle, have a life span of 20 to 25 years.

If the roughly 5 percent of all roofs that are replaced each year were given cool colors, he said, the country’s transformation would be complete in two decades.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

20 Ways to Waste Your Money

by Erin Burt

Whether a newbie or seasoned budgeter, nearly everyone has spending holes -- leaks in your budget that drain money with you hardly noticing.

These small drips can add up to big bucks. Once you find the holes and plug them, you'll keep more money in your pocket. That spare cash could be the ticket to finally being able to save, invest, or break your cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.

Here are 20 common ways people waste money. See if any of these sound familiar, and then look for ways to plug your own leaks.

How to waste your money

1. Buy new instead of used. Talk about a spending leak -- or, rather, a gush. Cars lose most of their value in the first few years, meaning thousands of dollars down the drain. However, recent used models -- those that are less than five years old -- can be a real value because you get a car that's still in fine working order for a fraction of the new-car price. And you'll pay less in collision insurance and taxes, too.

Cars aren't the only things worth buying used. Consider the savings on pre-owned books, toys, exercise equipment and furniture. (Of course, there are some things you're better off buying new, including mattresses, laptops, linens, shoes and safety equipment, such as car seats and bike helmets.)

2. Carry a credit-card balance. If you have a $1,000 balance on a card charging 18%, you blow $180 every year on interest. That's money you could certainly put to better use elsewhere. Get in the habit of paying off your balance in full each month.

3. Buy on impulse. When you buy before you think, you don't give yourself time to shop around for the best price. Resist the urge to make an impulse purchase by giving yourself a cool-off period. Go home and sleep on the decision. If you still want to make the purchase a day or so later, do your comparison shopping, check your budget and go for it. Oftentimes, though, I bet you'll decide you don't need the item after all.

4. Pay to use an ATM. A buck or two here and there may not seem like a big deal. But if you're frequenting ATMs outside your bank's network, the surcharges can add up quickly. Put that money back in your pocket by using ATMs in a surcharge-free network such as Allpoint or Money Pass.

5. Dine out frequently. A habit of spending $10, $20, $30 per person for dinner can be a huge drain on your wallet. Throw in a $6 sandwich for lunch and a $4 latte in the morning, and you've got quite a leak. Learn to cook, pack your lunch and brew your coffee at home and you could save a couple hundred bucks each month.

6. Let your money wallow. If you are stashing your savings in your checking account or a traditional bank account, you are wasting money. You could put it in a high-interest online savings account and get paid to save. You can even get an interest-bearing checking account through such reputable companies as Everbank, Charles Schwab, E*Trade and ING Direct.

7. Pay an upfront fee for a mutual fund. Selecting no-load funds can save you more than 5% in sales charges. Of course, no matter how well a fund has done in the past, you can't be sure how it will perform in the future. But if you pay a load, you'll begin the performance derby in the hole to the tune of the load. See the Kiplinger 25 for our favorite no-load funds.

8. Pay too much in taxes on investments. Are you investing in a tax-sheltered 401(k) or Roth IRA? If you're not maxing out those accounts before you invest in a taxable account, you're spending too much.

9. Buy brand-name instead of generic. From groceries to clothing to prescription drugs, you could save money by choosing the off-brand over the fancy label. And in many cases, you won't sacrifice much in quality. Clever advertising and fancy packaging don't make brand-name products better than lesser-known brands (see Similar Products, Different Prices).

10. Waste electricity. Of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40% is consumed when the appliances are turned off. Appliances with a clock or that operate by remote are typical culprits. The obvious way to pull the plug on your energy vampires is to do just that -- pull the plug. Or buy a device to do it for you, such as a Smart Power Strip ($31 to $44 at, which will stop drawing electricity when the gadgets are turned off and pay for itself within a few months.

11. Pay banking fees. Overdraw your checking account and you'll pay $20 to $30 a pop, so it pays to keep tabs on your balance. Plus, are you still paying for a checking account? Free deals abound -- but make sure they're really free. For instance, will the bank charge a fee if your balance drops below a certain level or if you download your info into a personal-finance software program? That's not free.

12. Buy things you don't use. This sounds like a no-brainer to avoid, but how many times have you seen something on sale and thought you couldn't pass it up? Even if something is 50% off, you're spending too much if you don't use it. href=Couponing, for instance, can be a great way to save on your grocery bills. But if you buy things you wouldn't have purchased in the first place simply for the sake of using the coupon, you're wasting your money. The same goes for buying in bulk. A bargain is no bargain if it sits unused on your shelf or gets thrown away.

13. Own an extra car. Okay, so a car is a necessity for most people. But face it -- cars are a huge drain, from their loan payments to insurance fees to gas and maintenance costs. Own more than one car and you'll double or triple those expenses. Ask yourself if that second or third car is really necessary. Are you holding on to an old car for sentimental reasons? Can you or your spouse carpool, take public transportation or bike to work?

14. Ignore your local dollar store. Shopping at the dollar store can be hit-and-miss, but it's not all kitsch or junk. If you know what to buy, you can find some real bargains. For instance, my local dollar store charges 50 cents for greeting cards versus the $3-plus at a drug store or gift shop. (I have a big extended family so I figure this saves me more than $100 per year.) You can also score a deal on cleaning supplies, small kitchen tools, shampoos and soaps, holiday decorations, gift wrap and balloon bouquets.

15. Keep unhealthy habits. Smoking is not only bad for your health, it burns up your cash. A pack-a-day habit at $6 a pack costs $180 a month and $2,190 a year. A junk-food or tanning-bed habit can be costly as well. Not to mention the money you'll waste on medical bills down the road.

16. Be complacent about insurance. Your bill arrives and you pay it without a second thought. When was the last time you shopped around to determine whether you're getting the best deal? Rates vary widely from insurer to insurer and year to year. Reshopping your auto, home or renters insurance might save you hundreds of dollars.

It also pays to evaluate your insurance needs. For instance, upping your out-of-pocket deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save you 15% or more on your car insurance. Consider using the same insurer for your home and auto insurance -- you could snag up to 15% off for a multiple-line policy. And make sure you're not paying for insurance you don't need. For instance, you need life insurance only if someone is financially dependent upon you (such as a child).

17. Give Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. If you get a tax refund each April, you let the government take too much money in taxes from your paycheck all year long. Get that money back in your pocket -- and put it to work for you -- by adjusting your tax withholding. With a little discipline, you can use that extra cash each month to get started saving or pay down debt (or make ends meet to avoid going into debt in the first place). You can file a new Form W-4 with your employer at any time.

18. Pay for something you can get for free. Dust off your library card and check out books, music and movies for free (or dirt-cheap). Don't pay to receive your credit report when you're allowed to get it at no charge by law. Take advantage of kids-eat-free promotions. And dial 1-800-FREE-411 for free directory assistance.

19. Don't use a flexible-spending account. Your employer may allow you to set aside pretax dollars to pay for medical costs not covered by insurance. You can use the money for expenses such as therapy, contact lenses, insurance co-payments and over-the-counter drugs. You may be able to do the same for child-care costs.

20. Pay for unnecessary services. How many cable channels can a person watch? Do you really need all those extra features for your cell phone? Are you getting your money's worth out of that gym membership? Are you taking full advantage of your subscriptions (such as Netflix, TiVo or magazines)? Take a look at what you're paying for and what your family is actually using. Trim accordingly.

Copyrighted, Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc.

'Cash for clunkers' starts Monday

Feds release final rules for the $1 billion gas-guzzler trade-in program, including its recipe for killing engines permanently.

By MSN Money staff

Though automakers and their dealers have been peddling cash-for-clunkers deals since the bill was signed last month, the hard sell really begins Monday.

The program offers owners of many older vehicles up to $4,500 to trade them for brand-new vehicles.

Regulators on Friday issued the final rules for the $1 billion program, unveiling a framework for registering dealers and a way to pay them once a car is proved to be scrapped. Though dealers may not file for payment until today, any sale since July 1 that otherwise meets the requirements (spelled out below) is covered.

Some noteworthy provisions in the rules:

Only new-car dealers can issue the credit, and they must have an active franchise agreement with the manufacturer. That means used-car dealers can’t issue the vouchers. Neither can a new-car dealer that has lost its franchise, as several thousand Chrysler and General Motors dealers have recently.

Dealers are required to disclose to the consumer the scrap value of their trade-in and can keep $50 of that amount to cover their administrative costs.

Though all trades must be in drivable condition, dealers are required to disable the vehicles' engines before scrapping them. Regulators’ accepted procedure: Drain the oil, then run several quarts of sodium silicate through the engine. As engine heat evaporates the solution, deposits of dehydrated sodium silicate line the engine's lubrication system, abrading all the moving parts and causing the engine to seize.

The dealer must stamp the title "Junk Automobile," before submitting it for reimbursement. And the dealer must have clear title before doing so.

Scrap facilities can sell any part of the car except the engine block or whole drivetrain, but ultimately the car must be taken off the road.

Violators of the rules face civil penalties of up to $15,000 per incident.

Beware 'cash for clunkers' sites
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning car shoppers that official-looking sites have already sprung up, offering information on the program and asking for personal data or preregistration.

In fact, if the site uses the term "cash for clunkers," it's not official at all. The program's name is the Car Allowance Rebate System.

"There's only one official site for the government, and that's NHTSA's Web site," said NHTSA spokesman Eric Bolton. "Folks should go there and not rely on 'cash for clunkers' sites on the Internet as they are not official."

An estimated 250,000 vouchers will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Dealers let you know whether your trade qualifies, credit the amount to your down payment, then apply for the voucher. Only new vehicles -- domestic or imported, purchased or leased -- qualify, and they must have sticker prices under $45,000.

Buyers do not have to register or apply for any part of the program. Dealers do.

Trade-ins must be 1984 models or newer, get no better than 18 miles per gallon, and have been registered and insured for the past year.

There's a catch
The vouchers aren't a panacea for buyers.

Car buyers must remember that their trades will be scrapped and have no value to the dealership above the amount of the voucher. A 10-year-old Lexus might qualify for the biggest ($4,500) voucher, but it's almost certainly worth more than that on the open market.

So, Rule No. 1 for buyers intent on using the program: Check and double-check the value of the vehicle you want to ditch. Almost any roadworthy vehicle is worth $1,000 and typically twice that if it's an import.

Which leads to Rule No. 2: The mileage you get in your daily driving does not matter one bit. What matters is what's on record with the government; its source of data is A muffler-dragging 25-year-old Toyota may meet the popular definition of clunker, but if the government's estimates show it got more than 18 mpg combined new, it's not a clunker. You'll see two sets of fuel-economy numbers for most cars: one calculated under an older EPA system, the other recalculated to reflect a new formula. Use the new one.

Rule No. 3: You can layer government programs: Trade an old pickup for a shiny Ford Fusion Hybrid, for example, and you can get $4,500 because the trade is going to the crusher and a $1,700 tax credit (a dollar-for-dollar cut in your taxes, way better than a deduction) for the new hybrid.

Not all hybrids qualify for deductions; Toyota and Honda have sold their quotas under the law, and Ford's expire in the fall. Check out current qualifying vehicles here. Some new "clean diesels" qualify for these credits as well; here's a list.

On top of that, the sales tax on any new car, with a price of up to $49,500, bought between Feb. 17, 2009, and the end of the year is deductible on next year's tax return.

Which leads to Rule No. 2: The mileage you get in your daily driving does not matter one bit. What matters is what's on record with the government; its source of data is A muffler-dragging 25-year-old Toyota may meet the popular definition of clunker, but if the government's estimates show it got more than 18 mpg combined new, it's not a clunker. You'll see two sets of fuel-economy numbers for most cars: one calculated under an older EPA system, the other recalculated to reflect a new formula. Use the new one.

Rule No. 3: You can layer government programs: Trade an old pickup for a shiny Ford Fusion Hybrid, for example, and you can get $4,500 because the trade is going to the crusher and a $1,700 tax credit (a dollar-for-dollar cut in your taxes, way better than a deduction) for the new hybrid.

Not all hybrids qualify for deductions; Toyota and Honda have sold their quotas under the law, and Ford's expire in the fall. Check out current qualifying vehicles here. Some new "clean diesels" qualify for these credits as well; here's a list.

On top of that, the sales tax on any new car, with a price of up to $49,500, bought between Feb. 17, 2009, and the end of the year is deductible on next year's tax return.

Financial physics still apply
Don't let the thump of up to $4,500 in "free" money hitting the table distract you. Negotiate on a new car the same way you always would. The only thing different is that all the parties involved know exactly what the trade is worth upfront.

MSN Money personal-finance columnist Liz Pulliam Weston recommends buyers limit loans to four years and put down at least 20% of the price of the car. Her car-buying rule of thumb: Keep payments to no more than 10% of your monthly gross income.

For many people, that means a fairly cheap new car. But they're out there. (Here's MSN Autos' look at new rides under $10,000.) With a $4,500 voucher as a down payment and a four-year loan at 7.5%, the payments on a $10,000 car would be about $133. You can see current loan rates here.

For someone with subprime credit -– a FICO score of 620 or below -– rates could easily top 15%, adding $50 a month to the payments on that $10,000 car.

If your credit is bad, even a car with $4,500 on the hood is a mistake.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Revised Guidelines for ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes in Florida

Revised Guidelines for ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes in Florida

Effective June 1, 2009

On March 1, 2009, Florida adopted a 2009 Supplement to the 2007 Florida Building Code, which increased the energy efficiency of the 2007 code baseline by 15%. As a result, the energy performance of code-built homes in Florida will approach that of homes earning the ENERGY STAR. To address this concern, EPA must take steps to increase the ENERGY STAR guidelines for homes built in Florida. EPA, in consultation with the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), has developed the following policy:

All homes permitted in Florida beginning on June 1 must achieve a HERS Index of 77 or better to earn the ENERGY STAR. Homes permitted prior to June 1 can continue to be qualified using the existing guidelines. EPA is also developing a commensurate regional Builder Option Package (BOP) for Florida that will take effect upon completion.

This is consistent with existing EPA policy that in states with energy codes more rigorous than the national code, homes that earn the ENERGY STAR must be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the state code. Therefore, in states with rigorous codes, EPA has increased the requirements for earning the ENERGY STAR beyond the national program requirements.

Note that EPA is currently formulating a policy for the early adoption of the 2011 guidelines in states with more rigorous code. Once adopted, these new guidelines will supersede the HERS 77 requirement for Florida homes to earn the ENERGY STAR. The new guidelines will also reflect the state’s enhanced code requirements.

If you have questions about the ENERGY STAR guidelines, please email

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Torturous Compromise

Though president’s decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for torture is surely unsatisfying, but it is the best solution for right now.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We're featured in Repower America...

Clean energy jobs in Florida
Florida is leading the nation in solar energy developments, and will be the second largest supplier of utility-generated solar power in the nation. And investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, like solar power, shows big gains for the state.

A recent report estimates that a $5.7 billion investment in deploying clean energy technologies in Florida can create over 120,000 jobs. This net increase in jobs will reduce the state’s unemployment rate to 4.4% in two years from 5.7% in June 2008.

Sources: Center for American Progress

Featured story

Kevin and Russell O. of Miami are twin brothers, veterans, and co-founders of Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC, a Miami-based provider of home energy efficiency audits and designer and installer of solar, wind, and geothermal energy systems. Their interest in renewable energy stems from their military service in Iraq, where they learned firsthand of the need to end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and their experiences during the devastating hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005, where they were convinced of the need to stop climate change. Kevin said that he likes working in the renewable energy industry because it “kills two birds with one stone by achieving energy independence and addressing climate change.” Russell, a ten year veteran of the US Military and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, added that, “Although I left active military service, I continue to serve in a different capacity: Energy Independence!”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Energy Star Thank You to VES

The Price Is Not Right

It’s obvious that the reason we’re experiencing meltdowns in both the financial system and the climate system is because we have been mispricing risk in both arenas.

read more | digg story

Mother Nature’s Dow

If Mother Nature had a Dow, you could say that it, too, has been breaking into new (scientific) lows.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Inflection Is Near?

What if the crisis of 2008 represents something more fundamental than a recession, and 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

read more | digg story

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hard times mean new opportunities for Big Oil

Plunging crude prices have begun to play out in favor of Western oil companies in one regard, giving them leverage with oil-rich countries that only months ago had no reason to compromise.

read more | digg story

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 4, 2009: CNBC Gives Financial Advice

Solar cells will be printed like money

Not a new idea, but progress is being made, fast!

read more | digg story

Energy vampires: Fact versus fiction

Good Article on Phantom Power usage.

read more | digg story

Thursday, February 26, 2009

LEED H for HOMES. Rating service for Florida

Veterans Energy Solutions and Sebastian Eilert Architecture, Inc are your one source to provide US Green Building Council, LEED H (Homes) rating services for qualified green homes, in Miami, Florida and beyond.

If you are thinking about building a green home and like to get recognition for it through the recognized LEED brand of green buildings, work with the best.

We can also advise on solar installations, energy and water savings design and other building resource management issues.

Spark Plug

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pres. Obama Address to Congress

Pres. Obama addresses the nation before a joint session of Congress. In his speech focusing on the economy and the promotion of his economic agenda.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Untouched by the recession

While New York Bleeds Washington Thrives
By Peter Coy,
Feb 20th, 2009

At the same time Wall Street is losing jobs and prestige, the nation's capital is gaining steam as it ramps up to fight the recession
Look out, New York. Washington is gaining on you.

As the nation's most populous metro area feels Wall Street's pain, the fourth-largest -- Washington -- is barely sensing the recession. In fact, Moody's estimates that metro Washington's economy will actually grow 2.5% from mid-2008 through mid-2010. New York's economy is expected to shrink 4.2%.

It wouldn't be the first time that Washington benefited from a national crisis. Back in 1930 the District of Columbia was a quiet Southern town, scoffed at by New York sophisticates. But as the federal government ramped up to fight first the Great Depression and then World War II, its population grew 65% in two decades, vs. just 14% for New York City.

This time Washington is getting a boost from government spending to fight the recession and fix the financial system, as well as the ongoing expenses of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and promoting homeland security. While President Barack Obama pointedly left Washington for Denver to sign the $787 billion stimulus package on Feb. 17, locals expect the metro area to garner a big share of the dollars.

Where Home Sales Rise
"Oversight alone will (mean) tons of new jobs," enthuses Jill Landsman, a spokeswoman for the Northern Virginia Assn. of Realtors, who says the pace of home sales has picked up over the past year even as prices have continued to fall.

Job-seeking Wall Streeters who jump on Amtrak's Acela to Washington may be dismayed to find that the maximum pay for an FDIC bank review examiner is close to $180,000. That's great for most folks, but paltry next to the bonus-swelled compensation many bankers are used to. The pay can be a lot better, though, at the Beltway Bandit consulting firms that are ramping up to assist the FDIC, Treasury Dept., and others. Consulting jobs for senior specialists in finance "can pay north of $200 an hour," says Andrew Reina, a practice director for risk consultant Ajilon Solutions.

Companies such as Computer Sciences Corp., Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, and Booz Allen Hamilton employ tens of thousands of people in the Washington area and continue to expand. Even before the current crisis, professional and business services, which include private-sector lawyers, accountants, engineers, and consultants, made up 21% of metro Washington's annual economic output, even more than the 20% made up by government itself, according to a BusinessWeek estimate based on government data. The financial crisis "creates opportunities for companies like ours" to provide expert assistance, says David Booth, Computer Sciences Corp.'s president of global sales and marketing.

The New Talent Magnet
By at least one measure, it's Washington rather than New York that's attracting the best and brightest these days: According to George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis, metro Washington leads the nation in the share of jobs that are in high-tech and the share of workers with advanced degrees.

As for New York, the mix -- and the outlook -- is bleak. Finance typically accounts for 32% of the metro region's output, mostly because finance jobs pay so well. But pay limits, combined with job cuts, will harm everything from condos to car dealerships. New York State Labor Dept. analyst James Brown says, "There will still be a need for capital-raising, but it's pretty clear the sector won't be as profitable or as large."

Adds Moody's economist Marisa Di Natale: "New York, we think, is going to have a pretty severe recession."

Staging a Comeback?
In one measure of how dire things have gotten for New York's finance sector, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Feb. 18 announced a $45 million plan to retrain investment bankers, traders, and others who have lost jobs on Wall Street. The money will also provide startup money and office space for new businesses by the former Wall Streeters. According to The New York Times, city officials expect New York to lose 65,000 jobs in finance during this recession, and not gain them back any time soon.

"We say good luck to the people in New York. We know they're going through some tough times," says Arnold Punaro, general manager of SAIC's Washington operations.

Then again, there is one resource that New York has in abundance, and that's self-confidence. Regional Plan Assn. President Robert Yaro, whose nonprofit organization coordinates planning in a 31-county area, says New York has been declared dead over and over since the 1880s, but always springs back.

"The fundamental strength," says Yaro, "is that every 24-year-old in America and the world wants to be here. Because every other place seems kind of sleepy."

How will the government stimulus plan affect you?

An examination of how the economic stimulus plan will affect Americans.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

These are the times...

These are times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. -Thomas Paine from the American Revolution for American Independence.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Win, Win, Win, Win, Win ...with a

We have got to stop “taking off the table” the gasoline tax, the tool that would add leverage to everything we want to do at home & abroad. It’s a blessing for those who've been hammered by the economy are getting a break at the pump. But for our long-term health, getting re-addicted to oil & gas guzzlers is one of the dumbest things we could do.

read more | digg story

Friday, January 2, 2009

Loyalty--A Much Confused Concept

Loyalty is NOT held for persons but for ideals, principles, etc. Update your understanding of this -- you may need to. We all need to be reminded from time to time. Learn it, Love it, Live it: Phenominal...!!!-Kevin

read more | digg story

Motorists' habits spur call for tax increases

Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren't raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.That has the federal commission that oversees financing for transportation talking about increasing the federal fuel tax.

read more | digg story