Congressman Peter Welch and Vermont country store owner Kathy Miller urged the House Committee on Financial Services Thursday to crack down on unfair credit card swipe fees paid by small businesses. At a hearing to debate Welch’s Credit Card Interchange Fees Act (HR 2382), Welch and Miller asked the committee to consider the plight of small retailers forced to pay close to two percent of every purchase in swipe fees to credit card companies and big banks. Miller, who owns the Elmore Store in Elmore, Vermont, said the unfair and abusive practices mean she and her husband Warren often lose money on small purchases.Welch’s legislation would allow merchants to offer discounts for cash payments and set a minimum for credit card purchases, and it would prevent card companies from charging merchants more for rewards card transactions. The bill would increase transparency by requiring card companies to disclose the terms of their agreements to merchants and consumers, and it would increase oversight by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether any practices are unfair or anti-competitive.“Credit card companies and big banks are finding more and more ways to squeeze small retailers, for whom the profit on an individual sale can be completely canceled out by the cost of the burdensome interchange fee,” Welch told the committee. “What is at issue here is a question of basic fairness and reasonable regulation of credit card and large bank practices.”Miller, a fifth generation Vermonter who has owned the Elmore Store for 26 years, said, “We have streamlined our business to reduce costs as best we can. Maintenance doesn’t get done as it should, less money goes out in payroll, but we just can’t keep absorbing these fees and survive in these tough economic times. If interchange swipe fees were fair and reasonable, Warren and I would have more money to invest back into our business.”The amount of money big banks collect in interchange fees has tripled from 2001 to 2008, costing American consumers $36 billion a year. The average family pays $300 a year in fees. Only 13 percent of those fees go toward processing and transaction costs, while 44 percent goes to subsidizing rewards programs.Miller told the committee she loses money when customers pay for a pack of gum with a credit card and she makes only two cents when a customer buys a bag of chips.“I would like to ask you on your next ride home to look and see how many vacant store fronts there are in your small downtowns. Just this winter alone, six stores closed within a 50 mile radius of us,” she told the committee. “Some days I feel like I should just turn in my keys – but too many people count on us. Elmore is a town of 850 people. We are the hub of the community. When someone needs something, who do you call? ‘Mom’ or ‘Pop’ at the Elmore Store. We are just trying to keep our doors open.” # # #
The Spain-based Ingeteam has developed a new medium voltage power converter for offshore wind turbines with the capacity of up to 15MW.The converter is part of a research study that assessed the relationship between the cost of the power conversion stage and its reliability and maintainability metrics, MTBF and MTTR respectively, to determine the lowest Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE).Ingeteam found that the optimal solution for the offshore wind sector is a medium voltage power converter based on the parallelization of several conversion lines (core product).According to the company, the new product decreases the production losses of the turbine as it provides efficiencies higher than 98% at rated operating conditions.The control algorithms of its power converters are developed so they can be applied for different grid codes and adapted to operate with single and multiphase stator generators in order to optimize the whole turbine solution, while it also allows multiple solutions depending on customer requirements regarding the integration in the wind turbine.The converter comprises a fully enclosed cabinet and a liquid cooling system that ensure safe operation even in harsh environments and is easily maintained due to its front access and withdrawable main components that are expected to contribute to minimizing the OPEX related to the service of the turbine, Ingeteam said.“With current technologies, as well as the expected progress in materials and engineering integration, we think that offshore wind turbines will continue to rapidly increase their power capacity. Therefore, a robust medium voltage power converter has been developed focusing on a market that demands a low Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) without compromising quality or performance in wind turbine platforms that are continuously scaling up,” said Ana Goyen, Director of Ingeteam Wind Energy.
Jonathan Toews offered some baffling commentary on the coronavirus Monday.The Blackhawks captain and usually to-himself player said that there is uncertainty as to how and when people catch the coronavirus, something that has been scientifically and factually proven in the past. During a time of misinformation and fake news, maybe the blowback will teach Toews a small lesson in choosing words more wisely in the future. But actions do speak louder than words, and while Toews doesn’t explicitly say “wear a mask” — a directive of medical experts and scientists that could drastically reduce the spread of COVID-19 — he has been spotted at events wearing one himself in recent weeks while helping out Chicago.This is what change looks like. Just got together pro athletes from the @ChicagoBears @chicagobulls @whitesox @NHLBlackhawks @packers @Panthers and @Saints. We invited @nflcommish and @chicagosmayor. We listened to kids and learned about their dream for a better Chicago. pic.twitter.com/sQpnmnPiMj— Sam Acho (@TheSamAcho) July 7, 2020When Toews does speak, he’s usually measured and intelligent. “Captain Serious” garnered praise in June for his eloquent words on the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice across the United States.Toews and the Blackhawks are set to return to the ice in August. Jonathan Toews: “Does anybody really know how and when people catch this thing? I think the best you can do is get good rest, eat healthy, take care of your body, kind of do the little things that lower your chances.— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 13, 2020″What else can you do? Sitting around worrying about it is just going to drive you crazy. I think the NHL’s gone to great lengths to create a safe environment. It’s far from perfect at the end of the day.— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 13, 2020″Everyone has their own beliefs, seeing where they stand with all this. It’s up to you to really do the right thing to be respectful of others but also take care of yourself.”— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 13, 2020MORE: When do the NHL playoffs start?”Does anybody really know how and when people catch this thing?” Toews said. “I think the best you can do is get good rest, eat healthy, take care of your body, kind of do the little things that lower your chances. What else can you do? Sitting around worrying about it is just going to drive you crazy.”I think the NHL’s gone to great lengths to create a safe environment. It’s far from perfect at the end of the day. Everyone has their own beliefs, seeing where they stand with all this. It’s up to you to really do the right thing to be respectful of others but also take care of yourself.”Toews goes a little half-and-half with his comments, drawing the ire of some. While he misses the mark in questioning how the virus is spread, his comments in general are also a whole lot of nothing; Toews doesn’t denounce testing or wearing a mask, after all, and offers pretty basic life advice in the process. For comparison: If you want some really bad coronavirus takes from the sports world, here’s MLB umpire Joe West and Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh. You can file Toews’ words under “irresponsible” but not “malicious.”