Amtrak struggles to find secure funding

first_imgINTRO: May 10 is due to see further cuts to Amtrak’s inter-city network as the operator tries to balance its books. Julian Wolinsky looks at operational changes and funding proposals announced in March’WITHOUT DECISIVE action very soon, the United States will have no inter-city rail service’, according to the Republican Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Rep Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania said on March 20 that Amtrak is heading for financial collapse unless Congress steps in to save it. Noting that ’the company is already borrowing to meet payroll costs, and even its own business plan will exhaust all available lines of credit by the middle of fiscal 1998’, Shuster announced plans to appoint a panel of experts to address the crisis.The same day, Amtrak confirmed that it would cut two routes on May 10. The Pioneer from Denver to Seattle and the Desert Wind from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles will go, after local states expressed little interest in subsidising their future operation. Texas and Massachusetts are hoping to save the San Antonio – St Louis leg of the Texas Eagle and the Boston – Albany segment of the Lake Shore Limited, but Amtrak has made it clear that they will also end on May 10 should funding not materialise. All four were originally due to finish last November (RG 11.96 p717).March 31 saw the demise of the New Orleans – Mobile Gulf Coast Limited launched last September. Initially subsidised by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, this has averaged just 25 passengers a day.Rolling stock released from the Desert Wind and Pioneer will allow Amtrak to restore daily service to the Salt Lake City – Oakland portion of the California Zephyr, the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, and the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans.Amtrak West has commissioned a study into a tourist-oriented service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, over the UP corridor now served by the Desert Wind. Three daily trains each way would be worked by the two extra Talgo Pendular sets to be assembled speculatively in Washington (below). Target journey time is less than 5h, compared to the present 6h 50min. The report due this month is expected to put the start-up costs at $15m, requiring a return fare of around $100 to make the service self-supporting. Amtrak is also seeking support from the private sector, including hotel operators in Las Vegas.Tapping the freight marketAmtrak President & CEO Thomas M Downs is also looking for other traffic to boost revenue. The board of directors has approved plans to enter the premium freight market by leasing 617 Express Cars – boxcars with high-speed bogies to move mail and parcels in passenger trains, of which Amtrak already runs 150. As well as the 367 mechanical refrigerator cars and 250 insulated boxcars, Amtrak will lease 283 RoadRailers: 250 16m trailers, 20 side-door mail vans, eight refrigerated vans, and five ’auto railers’ to test auto-train service in new markets.Mail is already a major contributor to Amtrak’s income; for example, it accounts for 42% of all revenue from the Chicago – Los Angeles Southwest Chief. UP has voiced objections to the proposals, claiming it would be unfair competition because Amtrak is subsidised: ’we don’t want them hauling freight on our line … it’s a public institution competing against a private company that has to pay all its own bills.’ Downs counters that Amtrak plans to carry only time-sensitive shipments now moving by road or air.Further east, Amtrak is reportedly close to a deal with Norfolk Southern to run fast freight trains over the Northeast Corridor from the southern USA to New York. This reverses its long-standing policy discouraging freight traffic on the route, following a 1987 collision between a passenger train and a Conrail freight which killed 16 people. To reduce the risk of accidents, NS would only be allowed to run at night.Attempts to provide a source of capital funding for Amtrak restarted on March 13. US Senator William Roth, a Republican from Delaware, introduced a bill, co-sponsored by eight other senators, to transfer one-half cent of the 4·3 cent federal motor fuel tax now assigned to deficit reduction into a capital trust fund for the railway.A day earlier, the General Accounting Office, the investigating arm of Congress, issued a report confirming that Amtrak’s capital needs have been neglected. It pointed out that in recent years the railway has been forced to take out commercial loans, resulting in a significant portion of its capital grants being used to service debts.Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Railroads on March 12, Downs urged Congress to approve a dedicated funding source. ’That half-cent would enable Amtrak to upgrade its facilities and equipment, permit cost-saving productivity improvements, and allow high-return capital investments. The result would be improved equipment reliability, better maintained cars and locos, and better working conditions.’Nextea offers alternativeAmtrak capital funding is one of the most controversial sections of President Clinton’s planned six-year extension of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, unveiled on March 12. The $175bn plan, known as the National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act (Nextea) includes proposals to divert between $4bn and $5bn of the highway trust fund to subsidise Amtrak, although the railway would prefer the half-cent fuel tax option.Nextea is heavily tilted toward road spending, emphasising traffic safety and the environment. Total spending would be about 11% higher than the $157bn authorised in Istea’s six years, which end on September 30. For public transport there is only a vague promise to ’maintain mass transit investment at high levels.’ Federal transit funding would increase by 25% to $5bn a year.There would also be a six-year, $600m grant programme to ’support flexible, innovative transportation alternatives for people trying to get to work and off welfare.’ President Clinton also wants to increase funding for the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement Program by more than 25% to $1·3bn a year.However, Congress must still appropriate the money for Nextea spending, and oppositon is growing. Republican Rep Jay Kim of California, a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, noted that ’you and I are driving cars, so why should we pay for Amtrak?’The Amtrak board has approved an order for 30 more General Electric Genesis diesel locos and 21 F59PHs from General Motors. GE will supply 8 dual-mode diesel/electric P32DMs for New York’s Empire Corridor and 33 P42s, of which eight will be assigned to Amtrak West for the Coast Starlight. The F59s will all go to Amtrak West, including five dedicated to the new Cascade service (left). The 51 locos will replace all of Amtrak’s remaining FL9s and most F40PHs. olast_img read more

Samsung Heavy Industries Bags Two More LNG Carriers

first_imgThe insatiable appetite for liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers is keeping South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) hard at work at a tough time for shipbuilders.SHI said in a regulatory filing that it has won an order for two LNG carriers from an undisclosed North American shipowner.The contract is worth KRW 412.3 billion (USD 367 million), the company said.The newbuildings are slated for delivery to their owner by the end of 2020.The order is being announced just three days after Samsung was contracted by Denmark’s Celsius Tankers to build two 180,000 cbm LNG carriers.Under the contract, Celsius Tankers has options for two more ships worth USD 187 million apiece.The LNG carriers will be equipped with Mark-Ⅲ Flex type containment system with re-liquefaction to lower BOR.World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: LNG Carriers/ Flickr-Kees Torn under CC BY-SA 2.0 licenselast_img read more

Jamaicans warned against purchasing illegal pesticides

first_imgAccording to the Registrar of the PCA, Michael Ramsay, persons should be vigilant when purchasing pesticides, as the Authority has found many of the substances being sold are not authentic. Pesticides imported illegallyHe said his officers have also identified pesticides which have entered the country illegally. The public is urged not to purchase these pesticides they may contain harmful substances. Ramsay said the biggest offender is black mosquito coils, for which the Authority has not received an application for registration. The Registrar said the problem is further compounded by the inability of some farmers to afford expensive pesticides. This has resulted in some farm stores illegally opening the manufacturer’s container, then repackage for retail in smaller containers. Fake rat bait “Our officers recently purchased a product being sold as rat bait. Upon testing the substance, we found there was nothing in it that could kill a rat. Persons buying that particular product is only feeding the rats,” Ramsay added. Problematic to consumer’s healthHe pointed out that some of the illegal pesticides contain active ingredients that are known to be problematic to consumer’s health. As such, applications for registration of those products would most likely be turned down. Ramsay also disclosed that the popular mosquito repellant wristbands are also illegal as no application for registration of the product has been received by the PCA. He explained that the PCA must approve the label on every pesticide in the country before the necessary permission is given for its retail sale.center_img “People create their own concoctions and sell them. Persons who are buying them do not know what they are getting,” he told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Ramsay also indicated it’s illegal to take a company’s branded product and sell it as something else, and that persons who do so are breaking the law. “We don’t really know how much of a health risk the coil is, but we have received reports that children and people with respiratory problems have been affected.” “This is usually done with no label, safety information or instructions for how to use it. The users have no way of knowing if what they are buying is the real thing. It could be diluted or turn out not to be that product at all,” he warned. The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) is warning Jamaicans against purchasing and using illegal pesticides.last_img read more

FIFA bribery trial kicks off in New York

first_img“They all cheated the sport,” said Edelman of the three defendants, “in order to line their own pockets with money that should have been spent to benefit the sport.”“The evidence will show that for over 20 years, the defendants co-conspired and abused the system,” he said.“They agreed to receive secret bribes, taking away money that could have been spent to promote the sport.”In their own opening statements, lawyers for the three defendants admitted there was widespread corruption at FIFA but argued that their clients were not involved.The trial is due to last five to six weeks, and prosecutors are expected to present 350,000 pages of evidence and dozens of witnesses.If convicted, they will be sentenced by Judge Pamela Chen. The most serious counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.Tens of millions of dollars were hidden in offshore accounts in Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, US officials said.Around two dozen defendants have already pleaded guilty, and two of them were last month sentenced to jail — Guatemalan ex-soccer official Hector Trujillo to eight months and British-Greek accountant Costas Takkas to 15 months.The others who await sentencing include Jeffrey Webb, of the Cayman Islands, who admitted to receiving more than $6 million in bribes and whose millionaire lifestyle while under house arrest — quaffing champagne, gambling and partying — has infuriated FIFA’s lawyers.While the US investigation did not indict ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter, he was thrown out of the sport in 2015 after FIFA’s ethics committee found him guilty of making an improper two million Swiss franc ($2.1 million) payment to then-UEFA chief Michel Platini.Blatter was banned from soccer for six years, and Platini, his former heir apparent, for four years.Share on: WhatsApp New York, United States | AFP | Three South American former soccer officials were blinded by greed and accepted millions of dollars in bribes, US prosecutors told the FIFA corruption trial Monday as defense lawyers insisted their wealthy clients were innocent.Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.It was the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer, first unveiled by US government prosecutors in May 2015 and lifting the lid on a quarter of a century of endemic corruption in the heart of FIFA, soccer’s governing body.Yet only three of them are going on trial — a trio of once-powerful soccer officials from South America, charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.Their fate will be decided by an anonymous jury, chosen after documented attempts at intimidation. The 12-member panel with six alternates was selected after four days of screening last week.“Lurking underneath the surface are lies, greed and corruption,” US assistant attorney Keith Edelman told jurors in opening remarks Monday, recounting a meeting of soccer officials from all over the world at a Miami hotel in May 2014.“Some of these officials had other reasons to celebrate, they had agreed to receive millions of dollars in bribes regarding the (Copa America) tournament,” he told the federal court in Brooklyn, New York.The most high-profile defendant is Jose Maria Marin, 85, former president of Brazil’s Football Confederation — the sport’s organizing body in one of the premier soccer-playing nations in the world.Since extradition after his 2015 arrest by Swiss police in a five-star hotel, he has been out on bail, living in luxury at Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper best known for housing the penthouse and company headquarters of the US president.Also in the dock is former FIFA vice president Juan Angel Napout, 59, and Manuel Burga, who led soccer in Peru until 2014 and once served as a FIFA development committee member.All three have pleaded not guilty.– ‘Cheated the sport’ –last_img read more

Lacey Engineer Wins State Excellence Award

first_imgFacebook120Tweet0Pin0Submitted by SCJ AllianceQuoting Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”And that habit of excellence, cultivated over his decades-long career as an engineer, has earned Scott Sawyer a prestigious award from the state’s American Public Works Association (APWA).Scott Sawyer was presented the Roy Morse Award for outstanding technical and professional accomplishments in public works by the Washington state chapter of APWA. Photo courtesy: SCJ AllianceScott, a principal at SCJ Alliance, was presented the Roy Morse Award for outstanding technical and professional accomplishments in public works by the Washington state chapter of APWA. As the APWA state winner, he will now be considered in the National Top 10 Public Works Leaders of the Year Award.A graduate of California Polytechnic State University, Scott moved to Washington 17 years ago and has been in the industry for more than 25 years. “The opportunity to serve is what drives me,” Scott shared. “In my profession, I get to serve people, communities and my colleagues, all in the context of solving problems.” His work on the Port Townsend sidewalk tunnel reconstruction and downtown streetscape is a standout example of both his engineering acumen and people skills, and he considers it the most rewarding project of his career. “I was fortunate to develop a close relationship with the downtown merchants,” he said. “Working with them during design and construction ensured we followed through on our commitment to keep them viable during and after the project. I’m proud of both the friendships made and the work we did to refurbish the downtown core, while preserving its unique charm and historical significance.” From left: Kirk Holmes, Director of Central Washington Services at Perteet, Inc. , Scott Sawyer, transportation design manager at SCJ Alliance, and Debbie Sullivan, deputy director of Public Works for the City of Olympia. Photo courtesy: SCJ Alliance.When Scott heard the news of the APWA award, he said he was blown away …but his colleagues were not. “The people who do this work every day see Scott as a mentor and a leader in the field. This award honors his contribution not just to the work, but to the people who work alongside him,” said SCJ President Perry Shea. “There’s something special about being recognized by your peers.”SCJ is a nationally-recognized, multidisciplinary consulting firm specializing in civil engineering, transportation planning and design, environmental and urban planning, landscape architecture and design, and public outreach. The company, celebrating a 10 year anniversary this year, has grown steadily from three employees in one location, to a dynamic team of more than 80 employees in five locations: Seattle, Vancouver, Lacey, and Wenatchee, Washington and Denver, Colorado. The privately-held, majority women-owned firm recently expanded into the Seattle-area market and is the recipient of two top places to work awards in the last 12 months.last_img read more

Sanju Samson called in as replacement for injured Shikhar Dhawan for West Indies T20I…

first_imgAdvertisement 6urzNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs112bjmWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E9lcrju4( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) 10q5rWould you ever consider trying this?😱ajgd6zCan your students do this? 🌚e9vjRoller skating! Powered by Firework Now that Shikhar Dhawan is out due to injuries, Sanju Samson will be replacing him in the next Test match against West Indies. Shikhar Dhawan got injured during his last game against Maharashtra at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Championship, which resulted in a deep cut on his knee. His injury has given Sanju Samson the opportunity to be on the field. The wicketkeeper, as well as batsman, was confined to the bench during the match between India and Bangladesh.Advertisement Shikhar’s performance during India vs. Bangladesh match was very poor. He scored 41, 31, and 19, which is nothing impressive. But he is to be a part of the team for the ODI series that is to kickstart from December 6.Advertisement On the other hand, Sanju had an impressive performance in the domestic matches, especially at the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he scored a double century in  50 overs. He was made a part of the India team for the T20I series against Bangladesh due to his impressive run, but unfortunately, he did not have the chance to step on the grounds. He was not chosen for the ODI series, but luck favored him, and now the player is back on the team as a replacement!Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

South Africa’s Route 62 is world’s best road trip

first_imgThe scenic Route 62, between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, has been named by CNN Travel as the world’s best road trip destination. Here are five must-see stops along the legendary Western Cape route.Voted the best road trip in the world by CNN, Route 62 in the Western Cape has it all: wildlife, good food, fine wines, beautiful views and lots to do. (Image: Route 62 website)CD AndersonA CNN Travel poll, as voted by tourists and travel journalists, puts the scenic and fun-filled road between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, Route 62, as the top road trip destination in the world, beating out a host of legendary global grand tours including Canada’s Alcan Highway and the Ticlio Pass in Peru.While Route 62 primarily connects Cape Town to Oudtshoorn, and ultimately the Garden Route further east, a host of attractions and activities along the road, and off its beaten path, incorporate smaller towns in the area, including Montagu, Humansdorp and parts of the Klein Karoo.CNN calls the road “a journey to the unexpected”, with something for everyone, highlighting the natural beauty of the region’s “fauna, rivers, valleys and plains” and the diversity of activities available that turn the seemingly mundane commute into an adventure.Everything and anything from wine tours and safari drives, heritage and art tours, hiking and mountain climbing, water sport and fishing, or just quiet contemplation while watching one of kind views with a cold drink and a good meal, Route 62 has it all.Ronnies Sex ShopThe legendary roadside bar, midway on the route, is a quirky and fun stop, popular among tourists and regular road warriors alike.Legend has it that in the late 1970s, local farmer Ronald Price opened a roadside produce stall, complete with a proudly handpainted sign. Friends of Ronnie mischievously amended the sign to its now infamous title, and convinced Ronnie to turn the stall into a coffee shop-bar for bikers and other travellers.Forty years later, and the quirkiness of the place didn’t end at the sign. Inside, the bar is completely covered with travellers’ graffiti, donated neckties, bras and other random bric-a-brac, ceiling to floor. Ronnies includes a full restaurant, overnight accommodation, communal pool with vista views of famous Karoo sunsets and good old-fashioned peace and quiet from the busy road, with just a touch of good-natured anarchy.ZA Route 62 – Oudtshoorn – Cango Caves & more https://t.co/AWzTXTPzPA pic.twitter.com/AIt9CuL3ri— Overlandtour (@overlandtourDE) March 2, 2017Route 62: Ronnies “Sex” Shop https://t.co/kGE3TBtLAa pic.twitter.com/ApX9em4r20— Sabine Ludwig (@sl4lifestyle) February 9, 2017Drive Route 62 Western Cape….and leave your name on the wall of Ronnies Sex Shop…best cheese and onion toasties ever….. pic.twitter.com/rMH6Njparg— Ross Nicholas (@rossrenee1) October 22, 2016The world’s longest wine routeIncorporating hundreds of small, up-and-coming winemakers and larger, more established wine farms, Route 62’s world class wine route centres on the industry’s defacto capital – the town of Robertson – where not only can you visit the Klipdrift brandy plant and see how this South African magic is made, but you get to taste some of the country’s award-winning wines. The town’s annual Wacky Wine Festival (between April and June) is a must-attend event, gathering the best wines of the region for wine fans with a sense of humour and a taste for the adventurous.Just beyond Robertson, the mountain town of Montagu is not only the home of South Africa’s dried fruit and nut industry, but it also has a popular natural spring spa and some of the best rock climbing in Africa.Bestee jou volgende #SaligeSondag op dié pragtige vrugteplaas net buite #Montagu! https://t.co/AzbtsEzGg3 @MontaguRoute62 #KleinKaroo pic.twitter.com/MEqL0ar2za— LekkeSlaap (@LekkeSlaap) February 19, 2017Take a trip down Route 62 to Montagu and go rock climbing – http://t.co/GKDiCfeaOq // pic.twitter.com/zfR7eFl1TQ— Nightjar Travel (@NightjarTravel) January 13, 2014Friday o’clock means a #brandy tasting at #Klipdrift #Distillery. #robertson #southafrica pic.twitter.com/9mzEKJDHcq— The Robertson Small (@Robertsonsmall1) August 14, 2015Cango CavesLocated inside the foothills of the Swartberg range and just outside Oudtshoorn, this extensive limestone system of tunnels and chambers dates back millions of years, and reaches almost 300m underground.Visitors can choose to see the caves as part of a conventional walking tour, or do something more daring in the Adventure Tour. It offers guided climbing tours through the caves’ darkest, narrowest and deepest chambers.All #AdventureTours for #Monday26December are #SoldOut. #LimitedSpace on the #HeritageTour. #BookYourTour @ 044-2727410 pic.twitter.com/TpDuwddzmR— Cango Caves (@CangoCavesOdn) December 24, 2016Call us on 044-2727410 to #BookYourTour. #OpenForBusiness #Heritage #Adventure #FamilyFun #LoveOudtshoorn #MeetSouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/xd7GwzE8XA— Cango Caves (@CangoCavesOdn) October 28, 2016All #AdventureTour tickets are sold out for tomorrow, #29December. Book @ 044-2727410. pic.twitter.com/CH71cP434g— Cango Caves (@CangoCavesOdn) December 28, 2015WildlifeLike the rest of South Africa, the Route 62 region is rich in and famous for its variety of flora and fauna, from the world famous Garden Route bloom in September to the ostrich industries of Oudtshoorn. Here, visitors can ride an ostrich, buy ostrich curios and even sample the famous ostrich steak.There are a number of wildlife reserves, both private and public, including the Touwsberg nature reserve, near the town of Ladismith, and the Sanbona reserve. The latter offers both a heritage tour of the area’s indigenous San culture and there’s a chance you’ll see the only free-roaming white lions in the world.Animals that can be spotted regularly in the area include smaller buck: klipspringer, steenbok, duiker and springbok, as well as larger game such as wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, gemsbok and the Cape mountain zebra. Predators include leopard, rooikat and jackal.Meerkat Magic, also outside Oudtshoorn, is a one-of-a-kind research reserve, dedicated exclusively to studying the habits of wild meerkats. Open to the public, visitors can join guided tours of meerkat colonies with knowledgeable guides, and even learn how these popular creatures communicate.All the very best #Meerkat Magic Mojo my friends for 2017! From Grant Mc Ilrath The #Meerkat Man: Conserving wild #Meerkats since 1993. pic.twitter.com/rCbED4ZI5V— #Meerkat Mc Ilrath (@The_Meerkat_Man) December 31, 2016Ranger Marco photographed this healthy sub-adult ‎#WhiteLion at ‎#Sanbona this week. pic.twitter.com/G5sup8AS8s— Sanbona (@SanbonaSafari) July 4, 2013Oudtshoorn is a town in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa. It’s known for its ostrich farms and rests along the Route 62 wine route. pic.twitter.com/DnqZqfyOdN— Travel2SA (@Travel2SA1) December 10, 2016The views#DailyEscape: Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo? : https://t.co/uZGrZ5iOP2 pic.twitter.com/w66plh2h2k— Travel Channel SA (@travelchannelsa) January 31, 2017#KleinKaroo #? https://t.co/HBOLywSLqr pic.twitter.com/qojZBRAvUw— Annalogy (@AnnaMartFourie) January 23, 2017Relive the nail-biting moments of the season 3 finale of @UltimateBraai on the banks of the Breede River at 4pm #WhatToWatch pic.twitter.com/yCVT0aD1DZ— Travel Channel SA (@travelchannelsa) November 15, 2016Swartberg Pass, from the appropriately named ‘Die Top’: September 2016———————————————————… https://t.co/MvXxZUfOGI pic.twitter.com/SQPJN2kE76— ESK Photography (@ESKPhotos) February 19, 2017The views from the top of the Swartberg Pass are stunning pic.twitter.com/xwigOF9OSC— Brian Lee (@LeeBJM) January 22, 2017From the dusty hum of the Klein Karoo and the lush, rolling valleys of the Breede River to the never-ending Swartberg mountain massifs in-between, while Route 62 might offer the best food, drink and roadside entertainment, there is still nothing that compares to just stopping anywhere along the route to appreciate the peaceful beauty of the region’s diverse landscape.Watch a video of the great views captured by Route 62 travellers here For more insight on Route 62 and the surrounding area, visit the Route 62 website.  Source: CNN, Official Route 62 website Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Should the DOE Increase Furnace Efficiency Standards?

first_imgDo you know when the U.S. last raised furnace efficiency standards? It was 1987. Do you know how long the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been trying to change that? At least since 2007.The past eight years have been a sad case of industry heavyweights preventing progress on this important issue. The DOE, however, just proposed a new rule, so we might finally see some action here. Do you know when it’s set to go into effect, if passed?A bit of furnace efficiency historyIn 1987, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act set a minimum of 78% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). That’s when furnaces with standing pilot lights went away.In 2007, the DOE proposed raising the minimum from 78 to 80 AFUE. What?! Yes, it’s true. They really did that, even though the rule would have had pretty much zero effect on saving energy.Why? Because even though 78 AFUE was the minimum allowed, nearly every furnace being made is 80 AFUE or higher. I think I’ve seen only one new furnace that had an AFUE lower than 80. RELATED ARTICLESA New Efficiency Standard for Gas FurnacesGovernment Orders More Efficient Furnace FansAll About Furnaces and Duct Systems When HVAC Manufacturers, Efficiency Advocates Find Common GroundWater Heaters Get an Efficiency MakeoverRefrigerators Get New Efficiency StandardsCongress Plays with the Light Bulb MandateCalifornia’s Efficiency Standards Applied to TVs President Obama Orders Energy Department to Raise Appliance Efficiency Standards So the battle began. The state of California and a coalition of environmental and energy efficiency groups sued the DOE. That led to a set of regional standards, whereby Northern states (those with more than 5,000 heating degree days) would have had to go to 90 AFUE and the warmer South and Southwest would get to stick with 80 AFUE.And that’s when the American Public Gas Association (APGA) blew up. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the APGA “argued that consumers would flock to electric resistance furnaces rather than install high-efficiency gas furnaces.” (See their article, Why DOE’s Cave on Furnace Standards Is Such a Big Deal.)There’s no way they really thought that would happen, of course. Heat pumps maybe, but electric resistance furnaces? No way. They’re not allowed for primary heating even here in Georgia, a warm state (IECC climate zones 2, 3, and 4). The truth is that the gas industry really should be afraid of heat pumps, not electric resistance heat.So the effort to enact regional standards fell apart.The latest move by the DOEOn February 10, 2015, the DOE announced a proposal to adopt a 92 AFUE standard nationwide. That’s nice. It should be higher and it should have been done a long time ago, but if enacted, it would effectively kill atmospheric combustion furnaces.There will be opposition. According to The ACHR News, Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), said, “Now, even though natural gas and oil prices are lower than they were [three years ago when the DOE issued regional standards] — in the case of oil, much lower — the DOE now feels a 92 percent nationwide standard is appropriate. How can that be? What’s changed?”And the Air Conditioning Contractors of America seems to be getting itself ready for opposition. “It’s very aggressive,” said senior vice president Charlie McCrudden in the same ACHR News article. “This would harm a lot of people, including those in lower income brackets.”So, as homes are required to reach greater levels of airtightness, the furnace efficiency circus continues.Oh, another thing: Do you know when the new requirement would go into effect, if approved? 2021. At the earliest.Pros and consChanging the minimum efficiency of equipment available isn’t a big deal for new homes. Yeah, the cost is a little higher, but it’s existing homes that will feel the biggest blow if the DOE proposal gets approved.DOE efficiency standards for equipment, however, cannot distinguish between new homes and existing homes. The DOE’s efficiency standards apply to equipment, not uses of equipment. So if the DOE approves this proposal, anyone changing out an atmospheric combustion furnace afterward will also have to change out the flue. That could add several hundred dollars to the cost. It may increase it even more, and in multifamily buildings, the difficulty level will be higher.The obvious benefit of going to a higher efficiency furnace is the energy savings. Going from 80 AFUE to 92 or, better, 95 AFUE will reduce the amount of natural gas or propane being used and save money for the homeowners. Unfortunately, the price of gas is really low in a lot of places now, so return on investment may not be favorable.The biggest reason to make the change, in my opinion, isn’t energy savings though. It’s indoor air quality. Condensing, sealed combustion furnaces that bring in their own combustion air won’t backdraft a natural draft water heater (which is still allowed in homes). It won’t depressurize a home and suck in bad air from the garage or moldy crawl space. And it won’t ever spill exhaust gases into a home when common-vented with a natural draft water heater because it cannot be common-vented.It’s past time to make this change. Let’s go, DOE. Make it happen.External Resources DOE – Rulemaking for Residential Furnaces Energy Conservation StandardsDOE page on residential furnacesACEEE – Why DOE’s Cave on Furnace Standards Is Such a Big DealAppliance Standards Awareness Project page on furnaces Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. Check out his in-depth course, Mastering Building Science at Heatspring Learning Institute, and follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.last_img read more

How I Know What I Know About Selling

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now Recently, a salesperson asked me how I know the frameworks in my three books work, but particularly the ones in Eat Their Lunch and The Lost Art of Closing.I had a slide deck professionally designed. The outcome for this deck was answering the question, “Why should I do business with you and your company instead of my current supplier.” It worked well enough, allowing my team to tell our story (something marketing people find more valuable to clients than it is in practice). It also allowed us to explain why we do what we do different from our competitors, creating separation from the market. Naturally, it had the trophy slide, which included all of the big logos we had in our client portfolio.This deck was in service for years and faithfully updated. However, as the market changed, I began to struggle to help my clients make the changes they need to make to succeed. I knew what changes they needed to make, but rather than make those changes, they would stay with their existing supplier, or hire my company without making the changes. I wasn’t doing an outstanding job making my case, and in a moment of frustration, I built a new slide deck.The New DeckI built this deck intending to teach my clients and dream clients why they had to change. That is what we do in sales; we help our client’s change their results. Otherwise, why play at all?The deck I built did not look anything like my professionally designed deck based on the best practices, as defined by marketers. It violated all of the rules. Many of the slides contained nothing but raw data. If it were a traditional deck, you would say it had too much information, but I wanted the client to see it in its raw format, with no interpretation. The slides that followed the raw data were charts I created in Microsoft Excel; it was clear that I had not had the deck professionally designed, because I wanted the client to see the trend line for themselves.I clipped newspaper articles into Evernote for years, so I went back over those articles and captured images of the headlines and some of the money quotes. I supported the themes in the sections with data and with my company’s experience and internal data.The First CallThe first time I used my new deck was in a quarterly business review with an existing client in 2002. I wanted them to make changes to their policies, and I wanted to provide them with the context that would help them understand what I understood. The engagement with the content was excellent, and I did a sufficient job guiding them through the ideas.My focus was on how the trends and their implications were preventing my client from producing the results they needed. I focused on the strategic outcomes and nothing else. The conversation was among the best I had ever had with a client’s team, and we were talking about why they needed to change. By the end of the meeting, they believed they needed to change, and not because I alone convinced them. They had participated in deciding what things meant.At the end of the meeting, one of the managers asked me if he could have a copy of the slide deck. When I asked why he wanted it, he told me he needed to brief his leadership team later that afternoon. I agreed to give him the slide, he thanked me, and then he asked me to remove my logo.As I left the meeting, I realized the impact that the deck had on my client. I also recognized that I now had a Trojan horse inside my client’s four walls. It not only changed minds, but it began the conversation around change, changes they eventually made.Saying Goodbye to the Old DeckThe outcome of the meeting using the new deck was so much better than the old deck. No one had ever asked for that deck, and it never did anything to create the type of engagement the new presentation had provided. The old slide deck was lean back content, with client’s sitting passively while I talked to them. The new one was lean forward content, causing the client to ask questions, and not only of me but of each other.Even though I had the old deck on my laptop, I never had to use it. The new deck was more interesting to clients, and it sparked the kind of conversation where they discovered something about themselves.How I Know What I KnowI am grateful that I grew up in a highly competitive, highly commoditized business, the kind of environment that causes one to learn how to sell. When you can’t lean on your company’s history, your solutions, or any other external factor, you become the value proposition. While it might have been nice to have some external factor that might have made selling easier by creating some compelling differentiation, I would have been deprived of having to work on myself.I am not a researcher, not that you would know that by the way I read and study the things that interest me, the things I want to learn, and the things that are important to my clients. I have never developed theories and then set out to study them to create a framework or a book or some strategy. Everything I know, I learned from doing the work myself, calling prospects, making sales calls, nurturing relationships, and working to displace my competitors. The books that I read provided me with the concepts that helped me think about what I was doing, showing me things that I would not have seen had I not read them. Books can’t teach you to sell; they can only help you sell better.I write from the experience of a salesperson because I am one. While I love research, I believe that research and theories are one type of knowledge, and experience is an entirely different type of expertise. I only know what I know because I have done it myself, and because I have helped others repeat it.last_img read more

Four held in U.P. for ‘objectionable’ social media posts on Pulwama

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh police have arrested at least four persons in different districts for posting allegedly objectionable remarks on social media on the Pulwama suicide attack. A youth identified as Mohammad Osama was arrested in Mau for allegedly justifying the Pulwama attack, the police said. A resident of Madanpur area, Mr. Osama, in a Facebook post, called the attack a retaliation for the atrocities committed by the Army in Kashmir. He was booked under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 of the IT Act.Superintendent of Police Surendra Bahadur said “communal harmony could have been disturbed by the objectionable post”. In Ballia, one Ravi Prakash Maurya was arrested on similar charges, while in Lucknow, a first-year student, Razab Khan, was arrested and also expelled from his college for an objectionable post on Pulwama, the police said.Pro-Pak. sloganThe police arrested one Taufeek at Bansi in Siddharthnagar district for allegedly writing a pro-Pakistan slogan on Facebook.The police crackdown comes after a student of Aligarh Muslim University was on Friday booked for allegedly posting an objectionable tweet on the CRPF personnel who died in the suicide attack. Basim Hilal, a mathematics student at the university, allegedly posted on Twitter, “How’s the Jaish? Great Sir,” playing on a dialogue from the recently released film Uri. A case has been registered against the student, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, at the Civil Lines police station in Aligarh. The university has also suspended him.last_img read more