Coalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar

first_imgCoalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect:An unlikely alliance of Tea Party conservatives and progressive climate advocates has come together to fight a controversial solar energy ballot initiative in Florida. Launched in 2015, the so-called “green tea” coalition that includes the Nature Conservancy, the Christian Coalition, the Sierra Club, are standing firm against a measure that would enshrine Florida’s anti-solar policies in the state constitution. The coalition views the amendment as a power grab by the state’s largest utility companies that could cripple the state’s nascent solar industry and undermine consumers’ ability to tap into Florida’s vast solar energy potential.The Florida Right to Solar Energy Choice Initiative, which heads to voters in November, would give residents “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.” The measure, known as “Amendment 1,” also mandates that “consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize” those that do.While Amendment 1 supporters frame the initiative as a pro-solar consumer-protection measure, opponents say the language is intentionally misleading:Despite its wording, the amendment does not actually allow consumers to lease home solar systems from a solar-power installer or developer. This financing model, also known as third-party leasing, has made solar systems more affordable for residents in many other states. Similarly, Florida residents already have the right to buy and use rooftop solar panels, and protections for energy consumers are strong.Instead, opponents stress that the measure is designed to enshrine the existing leasing ban in the Florida Constitution in tandem with a specific prohibition against “subsidies” for solar customers. Depending on how that language is interpreted and enforced, these changes could make solar power prohibitively expensive for the average Florida consumer and more difficult in the future to change policy.With the rapid growth of rooftop solar in recent years, major power companies in many states want to roll back the tax incentives that have played a critical role in making small-scale solar-power installations affordable for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and small businesses. But conservative Republicans and environmental advocates have joined forces against what they view as unfair market practices by large utility companies and their industry allies that have balked at the competition from small-scale solar systems.Boasting vast and largely untapped solar energy resources, the Sunshine State’s battle over rooftop solar systems has brought conservatives and progressives together in a joint effort to promote small-scale green energy. “This is about choice and freedom,” says Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Tea Party movement who recently joined the pro-solar policy fight in Florida. “I think Ronald Reagan said it best: Being good stewards of the environment that God gave us should not be a partisan issue.”In 2014, Dooley helped establish Conservatives for Energy Freedom, a national group that serves as a counterweight to the large, investor-owned utilities that have opposed the growth of residential solar-energy systems. These companies operate, generate, transmit, and distribute energy with almost no competition in Florida and elsewhere. “That government-created monopoly model really conflicts with conservative values,” says Dooley. “It’s about stifling competition.”The solution, Dooley realized, involved empowering consumers to generate their own electricity, particularly through rooftop solar systems. The group waged and won its first political battle in 2015 when Georgia passed a law that permits third-party leasing. Under the new law, consumers can now lease home sola- energy systems from installation companies and purchase the power generated by those systems at a discounted rate. This financing model allows Georgians to avoid the high upfront costs of buying a home solar system and has increased rooftop solar installations statewide.After the Georgia battle, the group turned its attention to Florida, where utility companies had recently won a fight to gut the state’s energy efficiency and solar rebate programs. These types of changes, Dooley says, “essentially block out the sun.” The power companies’ attempts to enshrine anti-solar policies in the state constitution could cripple Florida’s solar industry, she warns.The proposed amendment would ban “subsidies” for solar customers. Those subsides could include programs like net metering, which allows solar consumers to sell their excess power back to utilities at market rates. A net metering rate cut would make a home solar-power energy systems more expensive for most Florida homeowners.Florida largest power companies and conservative business groups are bankrolling a well-funded and coordinated pro–Amendment 1 effort. The Consumers for Smart Solar campaign emphasizes the need to “protect Floridians from scams and rip-offs” and “promote solar in the Sunshine State.” Since last summer, Consumers for Smart Solar has raised and spent more than $7.6 million, $2 million more than Governor Rick Scott’s re-election PAC, Let’s Get to Work, has pulled in.According to Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund, that rhetoric is designed to confuse voters, since Florida consumers currently have the right to own and use solar panels and third-party leasing is already banned. In fact, Florida is one of just four states that outlaw third-party leasing. Moreover, the initiative does not contain any new consumer protections. “They’re trying to undermine the economics of rooftop solar,” says Smith whose group is a “green tea” ally of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “You can see them dancing around that.”But Kallinger says solar customers should share the costs of operating the power grid. “If you choose to use solar, and you use the grid, you have to pay for the maintenance of that grid,” he says, echoing language utility company officials have used in Michigan, Nevada, and a few other states. In the coming months, Consumers for Smart Solar plans to step up its anti-solar campaign with “Yes on 1 for the Sun” TV ads, direct mailings, and a social media push.Yet there may be some dark clouds on the horizon for Amendment 1. A March Mason-Dixon Polling and Research survey of 625 registered Florida voters found that 64 percent of those polled supported the measure, while 18 percent opposed it and another 18 percent were ‘not sure.’ Support for the measure has dropped nearly 10 percentage points since a Hill Research Associates February survey commissioned by the proponents, Consumers for Smart Solar.Under Florida law, constitutional amendments must obtain 60 percent of the vote to pass. In recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Times, Sun Sentinel, and a handful of other Florida newspapers have expressed deep skepticism about Amendment 1, calling its language “deceptive” and “manipulative.”The Florida solar campaign demonstrates how that conservatives and progressives can find common ground on energy policy.Full article: Tea Partiers and Progressives Unite Against ‘Deceptive’ Florida Ballot Initiativelast_img read more

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North Carolina may take up securitization idea to speed coal plant closures

first_imgNorth Carolina may take up securitization idea to speed coal plant closures FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy News Network:A controversial ratemaking bill in North Carolina contains a little-discussed section that — if amended — could offer a financing model to help Duke Energy close its coal-fired power plants sooner rather than later.Senate Bill 559 includes language authorizing the utility to recoup storm repair costs with bonds secured by ratepayers, a mechanism called securitization. The Duke-backed bill cleared the state Senate this month, but its pace has slowed in the House, primarily because of another provision that would allow upfront, annual rate hikes over multi-year periods.Clean energy advocates say lawmakers should sideline the bill’s ratemaking section and explore broadening the securitization tool to allow Duke to refinance the debt on its aging coal fleet.Duke Energy spent an estimated $571 million last year responding to hurricanes Florence and Michael, and Winter Storm Diego, according to nonpartisan legislative staff. Securitization would allow the utility to recover those expenses right away, rather than waiting for its next rate case.While clean energy advocates oppose the bill’s ratemaking section, they haven’t protested its securitization language. But, said Cassie Gavin, the lobbyist for the North Carolina Sierra Club, “we don’t see why it should be so limited.” Gavin and other advocates say Duke could use securitized bonds for other uses, including paying off the debt on its fleet of decades-old coal-fired power plants, allowing the utility to shut them down years ahead of schedule.The company has closed or converted half of its coal-fired power plant fleet since 2011 and plans to close five more units in the next five years. But its latest long-range plans show it will keep 15 units running until they have fully depreciated, in many cases past 2033. One 844-megawatt facility west of Charlotte, called Cliffside 6, is slated to operate until 2048. Advocates argue keeping these plants open until their value has fully depreciated is uneconomical, with their ongoing costs increasingly more expensive than building new renewable generation or other sources of power.More: In controversial N.C. ratemaking bill, a tool to help retire Duke coal plantslast_img read more

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4 things you need to be ready to replace

first_img 520SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pettit John Pettit is the Managing Editor for CUInsight.com. John manages the content on the site, including current news, editorial, press releases, jobs and events. He keeps the credit union … Web: www.cuinsight.com Details It seems like nothing is cheap these days. Dinner and a movie is probably close to a hundred bucks (if you’re eating a nice meal), a brake job can cost $350, heck even mailing a letter costs much more than it did 20 years ago. If you’re not prepared for the rising cost of “stuff,” you need to be. According to WiseBread, here are four things that you need to be prepared to replace…Tires: I’ve had to put a couple tires on my car on two separate occasions over the last 4-5 years. I’ll tell you one thing: it can definitely do damage to your wallet. Those four tires probably cost me between $900-$1,000. If you’re not ready when the time comes, you’re definitely going to feel the sting.Major appliances: Fortunately, most appliances have a pretty decent lifespan, but when that clock runs out, it’s a good idea to be prepared. When was the last time you price-checked refrigerators, washers, or dryers? Sometimes, you can troubleshoot an appliance and fix it yourself for $50. Other times, you’re dropping a grand on a new appliance(s) that you weren’t planning on replacing.A mattress: Most mattresses will last longer than the recommended 8 years to be replaced, but if your mattress starts causing you pain, there’s really only one way to fix it. You’ll have to open up your wallet and get a brand new one.A vehicle: While replacing a blown-out tire can be painful, replacing a blown engine is way worse. If you find yourself on the side of the highway in a car that has given up on you, you don’t have too many options. Walking isn’t realistic for the vast majority of us, so a new (or used) replacement will have to be found.No matter what you’re having to replace, it’s important that you have an emergency fund that is stocked and ready to go. You may not enjoy saving the money now, but you’ll be glad you did when your car is broken down on the side of the road.last_img read more

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Otsego county holds free testing site

first_imgTo pre-register for the clinic call (607) 547- 4279. Residents getting tested will be required to remain in their vehicles and will have to wear a mask. The Otsego County Department of Health says that this site is a drive-up testing site for people who are not sick, but who still want to be tested for the virus. The tests will be held in the Southside mall parking lot on August 20th from 9-12 P. M. OTSEGO COUNTY (WBNG) — The Department of Health in Otsego is holding a coronavirus testing site for residents.last_img

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Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, Feb. 12

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionPolitical division is due to Clinton’s lossOur political discourse has gone off the rail. In my 76 years, I have never seen such hate and division in America as exists today. Methinks it has a lot to do with the fact that the “Queen” did not win the White House.Incidentally, insofar as the popular vote is concerned, the two most liberal states in our union (New York and California) gave that to her. Discounting those two, Trump won the popular vote by 3,137,877 votes. Look it up.In addition, he won the majority of individual states. That’s why we have the Electoral College, folks. Our forefathers knew what they were doing. Words have meaning, or should have. Sadly there are dozens of similar recent PC word substitutes: Google, “Substitute PC words.” “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” — ConfuciusClyde MaughanRotterdam The Washington establishment and mainstream media have had their worlds rocked. The deplorables and WalMart shoppers did that. Partisan politics aside, it appears that Schumer, Pelosi, Gillibrand, Booker, Feinstein and their kind want our country to fail. Their mantra is divide, deny and obstruct.By the way, it astounds me that The Gazette shows little editorial balance. I have to assume the newspaper’s headline writer has worn out his thesaurus.Jim CallahanBallston Spa Cuomo policies are why people leave NYMy husband posted a letter in this paper a few weeks ago as to why people are leaving New York. It’s apparent that Gov. Andrew Cuomo only goes with his own progressive thoughts on all matters.I’m surprised he actually admitted it’s more than the weather.  It’s something most people in this state (upstate) understand. But we do not count, as we only pay ridiculous taxes.His progressive spending and over-the-top laws are driving out not only the wealthy, but many in the middle class. Every time they hurt the honest person and do nothing to the criminal class with gun control, more people move out to go to a free state. How much of our money was wasted in Puerto Rico to get Andy tons of air time? How did he pay for that new bridge with Cuomo plastered all over it?Why does everything that happens in this state get him bloviating about it, and how much he is doing to help out? He is on the air more than Sen. Chuck Schumer, and that is certainly a major accomplishment. Hey Andy, let the people that actually take care of big emergencies like snowstorms and floods. They know things a lot better than a big-mouth New York City boy does.Barbra J DeMarcoHadleyMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccine Get back to the real meaning of wordsIt’s interesting to see The Gazette discuss the problem of gambling, rather than the problem of gaming. (Mr. Precious and Ms. Foss, first page of Sections A & C, Daily Gazette, Feb 7.)Well, who in the media would refer to gaming as a problem? Still, if we were to return to the original meaning of words, we would again see the word “pornographic”  used for “adult,” “race” for “ethnicity,” and even the color blue again associated with Republican (and red for Democratic), as it was for 100 years until one recent day the PC media quietly reversed the colors. (“Red” fell out of favor, e.g., Red China, red communism.)last_img read more

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Fighting fit

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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‘They’re our brothers and sisters’: Jokowi asks for understanding for Wuhan evacuees quarantined in Natuna

first_imgPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has asked for local residents’ understanding over Jakarta’s decision to use a military base in Natuna, Riau Islands, as the location of quarantine for 243 people who were evacuated over the weekend from coronavirus-hit Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, China.Jokowi said the government had previously prepared several locations to observe the health of the evacuated people, but it came to decide on Natuna due to, among other reasons, the preparedness of the medical workers there.“Not every island can be used [as a quarantine location]. We calculated the level of preparedness of the local health team until we decided on Natuna,” Jokowi said on Monday. The government’s decision to quarantine the evacuees was previously met with opposition from Natuna residents, who staged protests over the weekend due to concerns over the coronavirus spreading in the region. In response to the backlash, Jokowi said, “I believe we need the generosity of the Indonesian people. After all, they [the evacuees] are our brothers and sisters.”The government airlifted on Sunday 243 people – comprising 237 Indonesian nationals, five Indonesian diplomats and a foreigner and spouse of an Indonesian citizen – from cities in Hubei, including Wuhan, where the pneumonia-like virus was first detected.Read also: [UPDATED] Indonesia bars entry to visitors from China amid evacuation protest Topics :center_img The evacuees boarded a Batik Air flight and landed at Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, at around 8:45 a.m. They were immediately transferred to other planes operated by the Indonesian Air Force and taken to Natuna Island.The Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Anung Sugihantono, said separately that, as of Monday, there were no plans from the government to change the location of the quarantine area.He said a number of government officials, including Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy and Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, had explained the situation to local officials on Sunday to clear up any miscommunication regarding the establishment of the quarantine area in Natuna.Anung also said the government would try to accommodate the wishes of the local residents, many of whom had asked that the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) work on additional preventive measures by providing face masks.“[…] Those who reside near the [quarantine location] had also asked to hold temporary residence away from the area,” said Anung. “BNPB head [Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo] reported yesterday that [the BNPB] will facilitate this if the public needs such things.”As of Monday, Chinese authorities confirmed that the coronavirus had killed 360 people in the country. Since it first emerged in Wuhan on December, the virus has so far infected more than 16,400 in China and spread to at least 24 nations, AFP reported.last_img read more

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicting ‘tough’ test for Manchester United against Wolves

first_img Metro Sport ReporterMonday 18 Feb 2019 10:02 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.2kShares Chelsea were swatted aside by Man United at Stamford Bridge (Picture: Getty)Afterwards, the draw for the quarter-final took place and United were paired against Wolves – an opponent Solskjaer will not be taking lightly.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENT‘An away tie again!’ joked Solskjaer in his post-match interview with the BBC. ‘You know you’ve had Arsenal and Chelsea so you hope for a home game.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘But that’s it. Wolves away. We have to do it the hard way. They’re a very tough team to play against.’Wolves have already claimed a point at Old Trafford this season, drawing 1-1, and have taken points off a host of top-six sides including Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. Comment The FA Cup quarter-final draw in full Swansea City v Manchester CityWatford v Crystal PalaceWolves v Manchester UnitedMillwall v Brighton Advertisement Advertisement Asked about United’s display against Chelsea, Solskjaer continued: ‘The performance was fantastic. Tactics worked, obviously we asked Ander, Paul, our midfielders next to Nemanja Matic, to go a bit higher, get into the box more often, so it worked.‘But the defending second half, when we had to, was fantastic. Chris Smalling has been out for two months, just played a game, brilliant.’More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors The Red Devils face a third straight away tie in the FA Cup this season (Picture: Getty)Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expecting another difficult FA Cup tie in the quarter-finals of the competition after Manchester United were handed an away trip to face Wolverhampton Wanderers.After already knocking Arsenal out of the tournament at the Emirates, Solskjaer presided over another excellent performance to send holders Chelsea crashing out.First half goals from Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba secured a comprehensive 2-0 win for the visitors as they bounced back from defeat to PSG and piled more misery on Maurizio Sarri. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicting ‘tough’ test for Manchester United against Wolveslast_img read more

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One of Brisbane’s 10 highest homes takes luxury to a new level — and it’s not where you might think

first_img6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.THINK of luxury property in Brisbane and Carina Heights probably doesn’t spring to mind.In fact, you might think a house of this calibre might be more at home on Hamilton Hill, but think again.Tucked away in an exclusive, elevated enclave high above the city, 6 Pine Mountain Court is possibly Brisbane’s best kept secret.One of the top ten highest houses in the city, according to local real estate agents, it sits some 80 metres above sea level, boasts 180 degrees of uninterrupted views and is one of only 11 homes in the street.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.James Curtain of Place Estate Agents, who is offering the home to the market, said houses of that scale in Brisbane were rare, and it was even rarer to find them in suburbs like Carina Heights.Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:08Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:08 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenClose Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Dream Home: Buderim02:08 Related videos 02:08Dream Home: Buderim00:32Mediterranean style mansion with wine cave02:10Dream Home: Manly01:31Lana’s Dream Home: favourite rooms01:19Dream Home: Buderim Qld01:36Dream Home: Brookfield“It’s incredibly high,” he said.“This small cluster of homes isn’t indicative of Carina Heights.“It’s almost its own little world up there.”And it’s been owner Nick Valente’s world for the past 26 years.The retired local builder bought the 1416sq m hilltop block in 1991 for $325,000 from Crazy Clark’s discount store founder, Robert Clark, after falling in love with the view.Eight years later, he started building his palatial residence based on a timeless design inspired by architect Harry Seidler.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.The sprawling 1000sq m home boasts an unbelievable 40 metre northeast facing frontage, allowing uninterrupted views across Brisbane’s CBD, the Glasshouse Mountains, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.You can even see the lights of Dunwich at night.It’s this view that Mr Valente will miss the most.His favourite spot in the house is the kitchen, where he can savour his surroundings while cooking up a storm.Google ‘How to pick up girls with a plate of a spaghetti’ and you’ll get a taste of Mr Valente’s passion for Italian heritage — almost as strong as his passion for this property.“My kids call me a loser, but I like seeing the planes taking off and the storms rolling in,” he said.Now his three daughters have grown up and flown the coup, Mr Valente says it’s time to downsize.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home6 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor6 hours ago“The reality is, I don’t want to be stuck in a 1000sq m house for two people,” he said.It is easy to get lost in the mass of marble tiling, glass and polished bamboo that moulds this fine home.But let’s start with the centrepiece of the house — a stainless steel staircase, which according to Mr Valente, took 300 hours of polishing to achieve its mirror-like lustre.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.It makes for quite an entrance at the middle level of the home, where the lounge, dining room and kitchen await.A separate guest wing, providing five star accommodation, also exists on this level.Friends or family can stay in style with not just a bedroom and ensuite, but also their own private balcony, lounge, sitting room and kitchen.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.Climb the staircase to the top level and behold the luxurious master suite, complete with custom walk-in dressing room and marble tiled ensuite with spa.This is no ordinary bedroom — the bed has its own stage and directly faces the windows so you can wake up with a 180 degree view.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.Another three bedrooms are on this level, all with direct access to the north facing balcony and those unbeatable views.The ground level is an entertainer’s paradise, including a lounge with adjoining bar featuring granite benchtops and Miele appliances.Sliding glass doors run the length of the living area, and when opened merge the enclosed deck with the uniquely shaped saltwater pool, which appears to hang from the hilltop.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.There’s plenty of room in the six-car garage to park your toys and room for a further three on the driveway.And for those who appreciate indoor indulgences, there’s a fully equipped home cinema with tiered seating and surround sound system.6 Pine Mountain Court, Carina Heights, is for sale.Mr Curtain said the property had attracted interest from members of the medical profession and a number of entrepreneurs.“Apart from the view, the scale of the home is attracting interest and the construction is superior,” he said.last_img read more

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PLSA conference: The great DB ‘superfunds’ debate

first_imgThe UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) is yet to be convinced that consolidation of defined benefit (DB) schemes into proposed “superfunds” would help the country’s most stressed pension funds.At the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s (PLSA) investment conference in Edinburgh last week, Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of TPR, said it was positive that concrete work was being done on options to address issues in the DB sector in the UK, but questioned the benefit of superfunds.In a report released last week the PLSA taskforce argued for consolidation as the best way to address problems in the DB sector, and put forward superfunds as the best solution.Panellists at the conference – including Titcomb and representatives of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – welcomed the PLSA’s proposal, but questions and challenges associated with the proposal were quick to come to the fore. Titcomb said it was “not yet clear” if superfunds would help the regulator deal with the most stressed DB schemes, and also said that the regulator did not think there were systemic problems in the sector – a view it shares with a recent government report.She said TPR was focused on several hundred pension schemes experiencing issues because the employer was struggling, but she emphasised the regulator did not see this “causing a pile-up on the PPF”.Titcomb added “the supervision of an entity such as a superfund is a very different proposition to the supervision of something like a mastertrust”.“I’m not saying we couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, but it’s an entirely different proposition,” she said. “So, interesting work in progress, but lots more questions to come.”Other panellists also welcomed the work of the task force, but brought up questions and challenges associated with its argument for consolidation and superfunds.David Taylor, general counsel at the PPF, said the lifeboat shared the regulator’s view that “the system isn’t fundamentally broken from the protection side of things” and that “we don’t see a case for dramatic change to the current system”.He said the outcomes for stressed schemes were not as binary as the taskforce had argued. The taskforce said in its report that the current system only allows for members to either get full benefits or PPF-level benefits (with reduced indexation and benefit cuts for non-pensioners) if schemes are transferred to the lifeboat fund. Systemic risk, modelling and moral hazardAshok Gupta, chair of the PLSA’s DB taskforce, said the taskforce’s modelling showed a “significant” number of members would have their benefits cut if action was not taken.He also disagreed with the idea that superfunds posed a “moral hazard” by discharging sponsors of their liabilities. He argued that reducing the amount of people forced to accept lower benefits it would not constitute allowing employers off the hook.“It’s giving members something they didn’t have before, and that’s the result we’re trying to achieve,” he said.Charlotte Clark, director for private pensions and stewardship at the DWP, called for clarity over what consolidation was trying to achieve as this would determine how the framework would have to be designed. Keeping schemes above PPF-level benefits and trying to help employers manage risks and costs were two very different outcomes, she said.Asked whether there was sufficient political will to back a consolidation project, Clark said there was – if the benefits were clear and the idea could be shown to work in practice.last_img read more

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