Real Estate, Community News & More from My Desk to Yours

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Little-Known Libertarian Could Decide Florida Governor’s Race

 The nation’s most closely watched governor’s race, the battle for the Florida governor’s mansion, just got even more interesting.

It turns out that the bitter fight between Republican incumbent Rick Scott and his predecessor, Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist, may be doing more than causing voters to turn off their TV sets to avoid the omnipresent and nasty TV ads from both sides.

The negative air war has created an opening for a third-party candidate who is unknown to more than nine in 10 voters and is scoring in the polls because Mr. Scott and Mr. Crist have so turned off parts of the electorate.

It’s not that Libertarian Adrian Wyllie has a serious chance to win the governorship, but a Quinnipiac Poll of registered Florida voters out this morning shows that he could decide which of the major party candidates emerges as the winner.

In a two-way race, Mr. Crist leads Mr. Scott 45%-40%, down from a 10-point lead three months ago when Quinnipiac last polled there. But when voters are asked about a three-way race that included Mr. Wyllie, the election is a statistical dead heat with Mr. Crist at 39%, Mr. Scott at 37% and Mr. Wyllie at 9%.

History shows that candidates who throw lots of mud often get some on themselves. That appears to be what’s happening. Two pieces of evidence: Both Messrs. Scott and Crist are viewed net negatively by the electorate and Mr. Wyllie is getting twice as many people who are voting for him (9%)  than have a positive opinion of him (4%).

SOURCE:  The Wall St. Journal

Gables bat enthusiasts get a rare glimpse

Bright beams pierced the banyan trees peppered throughout Coral Gables’ Granada Golf Course last Sunday night as hundreds of visitors flashed the night sky searching for a quick glimpse of the recently discovered bonneted bats.

Calls from crickets and other insects camouflaged the their high-pitched squeaks as two of the bats swiftly swooped and fluttered above the multitude of guests.

The bat watch was organized by a Florida International University biologist, Kristen “Kisi” Bohn, who discovered the bats in late 2012 when she moved three blocks away from the course.
“We put this together pretty quickly because I wanted to take advantage of the momentum. Tonight was really an info session for the public,” Bohn said.

As the bat news began to go viral around the Coral Gables community, Bohn’s email began to flood.
For Bohn, who believes there might be around 20 to 40 bonneted bats living in the area, the most important goal for this event was twofold. Not only was it aimed as a way to foster awareness about the bats but also to help gather support from the community to further study them.
Some members of the enthusiastic crowd Sunday used their smart devices to transform the bats’ low-frequency echolocation signals into a visualization with the help of a free iOS app called SpectrumView.

With an iPad in hand, volunteer Juan Escorcia came out to survey the bats with his wife Gloria.
“We came out here to get informed on how and what we can do to help the doctors,” said Escorcia, who was amazed there were bats in Miami. “It’s crazy, but they’re in our backyards.”
According to Bohn, the bats – also known as Eumops floridanus – are one of the most critically endangered mammals in North America.

“I feel bad for them and I don’t want them to be extinct,” said Elisa Chong, 10, who came to the event with her dad Hernando and 8-year-old sister Gabriella. “Before I got here I thought that we would just be able to hear the bats, but when we got to see them that was really awesome and I couldn’t believe it.”

Among the organizers for the event, was Don Slesnick, former mayor of Coral Gables, who lives in front of the golf course and had never met Bohn.

As a community effort, Slesnick donated the front property of his house to allow the events sponsor, Bacardi, to host a free beverage booth for those in attendance.

“I hope that whatever has happened tonight and whatever happens in the future because of tonight will help protect these bats,” said Slesnick, who was overwhelmed by the amount of visitors he saw.
“I think it’s great to have a situation where there was great camaraderie and interaction. These people came out for the right reasons and the right cause.”

Currently, Bohn is looking for more volunteers who can help her conduct further studies.

For information, email Bohn at
Original story here:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This is what global warming looks like

WASHINGTON (AP) — The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in June. That's after the world broke a record in May.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month's average global temperature was 61.2 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010's old record by one-twentieth of a degree.

While one-twentieth of a degree doesn't sound like much, in temperature records it's like winning a horse race by several lengths, said NOAA climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt.

"We are living in the steroid era of the climate system," Arndt said.

Arndt said both the June and May records were driven by unusually hot oceans, especially the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Heat records in June broke on every continent but Antarctica, especially in New Zealand, northern South America, Greenland, central Africa and southern Asia.

The United States had only its 33rd hottest June.

All 12 of the world's monthly heat records have been set after 1997, more than half in the last decade. All the global cold monthly records were set before 1917.

And with a likely El Nino this year — the warming of the tropical Pacific which influences the world's weather and increases global temperatures — it is starting to look like another extra warm year, said University of Arizona climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck.

The first six months of the year are the third warmest first six months on record, coming behind 2010 and 1998, according to NOAA.

Global temperature records go back to 1880 and this is the 352nd hotter than average month in a row.

"This is what global warming looks like," Overpeck said in an email. "Not record hot everywhere all the time, but certainly a reflection that the odds of record hot are going up everywhere around the planet."

NOAA on June tempertures:

Why Doesn't The Sunshine State Use More Solar Energy?

As far as solar energy goes, the Sunshine State is third in the country for potential -- and 18th in actual installation.

In Florida, there’s no financial assistance for installing solar panels on your roof. Solar energy users can only take a federal tax credit.

Florida Power and Light powers the state using mostly natural gas. Out of all the energy FPL provides, only 0.06 percent comes from solar energy.

The only way to get solar panels installed on your roof is to call an independent contractor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Solar Leading Energy Growth Sector in USA

In case you missed it, two recent developments clearly demonstrate why America remains “bullish” on solar energy. But they’re also vivid reminders of why we need to remain vigilant. As an organization, and as an industry, too much is at stake for us to become complacent. As the old saying goes on Capitol Hill: “What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away.”

This week, a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that most new electric generation capacity in the United States through 2040 will come from natural gas and renewable energy. Of the 83 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity additions being forecast, nearly half is expected to come from photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America – and, as this report bears out, it will continue to be for years and years to come. The rapid deployment of solar nationwide will create thousands of new American jobs, pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and help to significantly reduce pollution. Just as importantly, it will also provide Americans with the freedom to decide how to power their homes, businesses, schools and government facilities in the future. This report predicts that 60 percent of all new PV installations in the years ahead will be rooftop solar, creating significant savings when it comes to future energy costs.

And there’s more good news. In a setback to the utility monopoly model, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law. Regulated utility companies had fought the arrangement, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas. Iowa’s high court disagreed.

This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa. It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the economy and reducing pollution. But just as importantly, this is a victory for freedom of choice, affirming the right of Iowans to decide how they want to power their homes and businesses in the future. We commend the court for doing the right thing.

SOURCE:  Roy Wasson's Renewable Energy Fund Weekly Update #423

BMW Invests Heavily in Electric Vehicles

BMW agreed to spend billions of euros increasing its orders of Samsung batteries as the world’s largest maker of luxury cars expands its line of electric vehicles.

BMW is planning to increase its purchases of SDI battery cells for the electric i3 city car and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car as well as for “additional hybrid models” in the coming years. 

“The battery is a key component in every electric vehicle—since it basically determines the range and performance capabilities of the car,” Klaus Draeger, BMW’s purchasing chief, said in the statement. “In Samsung SDI, we have chosen a supplier that offers us the best-available technology with future-oriented Korean battery expertise.”

The deal paves the way for BMW to secure supply of batteries—the most expensive part of an electric vehicle—as it rolls out the i8 and i3 to counter inroads by Tesla Motors into the luxury-car segment. For Samsung SDI, which supplies batteries to Apple Inc., the order builds on the company’s plans to expand its automotive business months after agreeing to acquire Cheil Industries Inc. for $3.4 billion to add its chemicals and materials expertise.

BMW plans to add more models as part of its electric “i” sub-brand, Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, said last month, as the company started deliveries of the i8.

“We spent a lot of money on this and are definitely thinking long term,” Robertson said. “There are going to be others in the BMW i lineup.”

The supply deal is worth “multi billions of euros,” Gyeonggi, South Korea-based Samsung SDI said in a separate statement, without giving details such as the exact value. A battery can account for as much as 40 percent of an electric vehicle’s manufacturing cost, Samsung SDI’s spokesman David Kim said by phone. BMW’s i3 starts at $41,350.

Sales of hybrids and electric vehicles are projected to grow steadily to reach 5.2 million units by 2020, or 7.3 percent of all passenger vehicles, according to a November 2010 report by J.D. Power & Associates. BMW said it sold 5,400 i3 cars in the first half of 2014 and demand for the i8 is “significantly higher” than initial production plans.

According to Japanese research firm B3, the global market for automotive lithium-ion batteries will increase to $21.3 billion in 2020 from $4.4 billion in 2014.

SOURCE:  Roy Wasson's Renewable Energy Fund Weekly Update #423

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Realtor Report: Foreign Homebuyers Favor Florida

For the fifth year in a row, Florida was the favored destination of international homebuyers, according to a report Tuesday from the National Association of Realtors.
The Sunshine State accounted for 23 percent of all deals from foreigners. California was second at 14 percent, while Texas was third at 12 percent.
The report is based on sales from April 2013 through March 2014. NAR has issued the report since 2010, and Florida has been the top choice each year.
Nationwide, there were $92.2 billion in sales from international buyers, up from $68.2 billion the prior year.
Nearly 60 percent of all U.S. sales from foreigners went for cash. Only a third of domestic buyers didn’t take out a mortgage.   
Full story at Sun-Sentinel . . .

Florida Real Estate Market Draws an Influx of Agents

"With housing markets across the state picking back up, the trend is being mirrored throughout Florida.
Membership in Florida Realtors, the statewide trade group, rose by nearly 12,000 members — or 10 percent — to 127,430 at the end of last year from the recent trough in 2011.
But that is still down 42,000 from a recent peak in 2006."
Read the full story at Sarasota Herald Tribune . . .