Posts Tagged ‘assuming’

Finding a true tax basis for solar photovoltaic power systems

Úterý, Srpen 28th, 2012

Governments don’t care if solar power actually saves anyone any money or energy, they primarily want to know how much to increase your taxes. Consistent appraisals of homes and businesses outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) installations are missing but a new tool developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Solar Power Electric and licensed by Sandia addresses that issue. PV ValueTM is an electronic form designed to standardize appraisals - basically an Excel spreadsheet, because this is what the US Government and the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy are doing with taxpayer money, instead of research on actual good alternative energy.

“Previous methods for appraising PV installations on new or existing construction have been challenging because they were not using standard appraisal practices,” said Geoff Klise, the Sandia researcher who co-developed the tool. “Typically, appraisers develop the value of a property improvement based on comparable properties with similar improvements as well as prevailing market conditions. If there aren’t PV systems nearby, there is no way to make an improvement comparison.

This will help understand more how awesome solar power is, because when a PV system is undervalued or not valued at all, it essentially ignores the value of the electricity being produced and the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. In other words, they think power companies don’t know how much electricity you use. By developing a standard methodology for appraisers when comparables are not available, they believe homeowners will have more incentive to install PV systems, even if they consider moving a few years after system installation.”

The tool uses an Excel spreadsheet, tied to real-time lending information and market fluctuations, to determine the worth of a PV system. An appraiser enters such variables as the ZIP code where the system is located, the system size in watts, the derate factor – which takes into account shading and other factors that affect a system’s output – tracking, tilt and azimuth, along with a few other factors, and the spreadsheet returns the value of the system as a function of a predetermined risk spread. The solar resource calculation in the spreadsheet is based on the PVWattsTM simulator developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which allows the spreadsheet to value a PV system anywhere in the U.S.

“With PV Value, appraisers can quickly calculate the present value of energy that a PV system can be estimated to produce during its remaining useful lifetime, similar to the appraisal industry’s income approach,” said Johnson. “Additionally, a property owner thinking about installing PV can now estimate the remaining present value of energy for their future PV system and what it could be worth to a purchaser of their property at any point in time in the event a sale of the property takes place before the estimated payback date is reached.”

The tool is being embraced by the Appraisal Institute, which is the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. “From my perspective as an appraiser, I see that this is a great tool to assist the appraiser in valuations, and it connects to the Appraisal Institute’s recent Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. It’s an easy, user-friendly spreadsheet that will not bog the appraiser down with a lot of extra time in calculations, and if they fill out the addenda properly, they’ll be able to make the inputs and come up with some numbers fairly quickly,” said Sandy Adomatis, SRA, a real estate appraiser and member of the Appraisal Institute.

Although the tool is licensed for solar PV installations, it could be used for other large green features in a home that generate income, such as wind turbines.

Have color, will paint

Pondělí, Červen 18th, 2012

Like most professional painters, Tim Bosveld knows a dozen or so easy- to-learn tricks that an amateur can use to make the difference between a regrettable mess and what could pass for a pro job. But, despite years spent as a professional painter, Bosveld insists the most valuable tip he has to pass on is about how to pick the right color.

“Buy a small sample of the paint (under consideration) and apply it in the room and live with it for a while, really live with it. See how it works in the room,” says Bosveld, marketing vice president with Dunn-Edwards. He says there’s no way to predict the full impact of a paint color change just looking at color swatches in the store, or even holding them up to the wall in question.

“There are so many things that influence how a color works,” says Bosveld. “Lighting, whether it’s incandescent, fluorescent, natural or, now, even LED. Then there’s all the surrounding colors, furniture, window coverings, flooring. The only way you’re going to understand how all those factors” interact is to live with them a bit before painting. This is made easier by the paint dealer trend toward selling small sample-sized containers of paint.

No. 2 on Bosveld’s list would be to take your time on a thorough prep job: first repair any holes or dents, then slightly rough up the surface with light grade sandpaper (particularly if you’re covering a slick semi-gloss or gloss paint, as in bathrooms and kitchens), clean the surface and, if necessary, prime the entire area to ensure an even finish, Bosveld says.

Simply put, Bosveld says, “The quality of the paint job is a product of how well you prepare the surface.” And although amateurs too often resist the primer coat, Bosveld says priming is nearly always part of the prep process. He allows that a coat of primer may not be necessary if the wall or ceiling is unblemished, with no patches or rough spots, and already painted a color close to that of the new paint. But, that’s not often the case.

“Paint is a system,” says Bosveld, “and it’s primer and the paint coat.” It is particularly important if there are any imperfections such as patches. “Primer will get in there and seal patches.”

Tucson painting contractor Brandon Mallis didn’t hesitate a second when asked about the biggest mistake do-it-yourselfers make. “Cutting corners on preparation - not priming or sanding,” Mallis, owner of Affordable Quality Painting, says.

“If it’s a surface - drywall, wood, metal, any kind of bare surface - it has to be primed,” he says.

After thorough prep work, Mallis’ tips for DIYers start with a strong recommendation for buying quality brushes and roller covers that can be cleaned and reused, rather than buying cheap ones and throwing them out after one use. “Spend $15. It only takes a couple minutes to clean and you can use it 15 or 20 times.” Besides, he says, cheap roller covers produce an inconsistent surface and often shed fuzz in the paint.

Before you pop the top of a paint can, cover the floor with a tarp, remove electrical-outlet covers and tape the edges between the areas you will be painting a different color or sheen: the edge where the ceiling meets the walls, doorways and window frame, fixtures that can’t be removed for the painting, and finally the floor, or baseboard. A new 3M Scotch Safe-Release Painters Masking Tape, won’t leave adhesive behind when it’s removed.

From there, the principal is, start from the top - the ceiling, if you’re repainting the ceiling - and work your way down. Paint runs downhill, and so does the eye. Safe-release tapes, by the way, usually can stay on longer without tearing off an adjoining layer of fresh paint the way traditional masking tape did if it was left in place too long. That’s handy if you are applying a primer coat or have to do a second coat.

Rush’s Neil Peart takes a ride in his Ohio time machine: Exclusive

Pondělí, Listopad 14th, 2011

In fact, on the day we filmed the “Time Machine” DVD in Cleveland, I retraced that exact route on my motorcycle, from Hinckley down to Mount Eaton, with my riding partner, Michael. Making a ceremonial stop in the park, as I always do when I’m traveling in that area, we continued along the delightful little roads of rural Ohio, through occasional rain showers. The route deliberately touched on some other little places that have “stories” for me, like Winesburg, Beach City and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, then we surrendered to the interstate into Cleveland.

The band had decided to film the show in Cleveland for a few reasons. In past years, we had released concert videos from shows in Toronto, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Frankfurt and Rotterdam, but we had never filmed a concert in the United States.

It was felt that the “Time Machine” show in particular looked better indoors, without the lingering twilight of an outdoor amphitheater, and with control over ambient light and air currents. Also, the audio side of things tends to be more controllable in a contained acoustic environment. So we wanted an arena.

Glancing over the itinerary, we considered the options, looked at Cleveland, and thought, “Yes.” The idea just made us smile. The historical connection was strong, of course — we never, never, never forget how welcoming Cleveland was to us in the early days.

But there was also the impish notion of poking a sharp stick into the eye of a certain other Cleveland institution. With regard to Groucho Marx’s famous remark — “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” — I have stated before that personally the three of us are not too bothered about that snub. We have achieved plenty of success and professional respect without those self-appointed judges, thank you very much.

But it does seem petty to make our fans feel like they’re part of something that’s “outside the pale.”

Anyway, we thought the idea of filming the show in Cleveland was good — so we made it happen.

Despite the usual pressure of performing a show that you know is being “immortalized,” the three of us felt we had played pretty well that night. And of course the audience was incandescent!

We had given the directing job to the Banger guys, Scot and Sam, because their documentary about us had obviously cast us in a new sort of “lighted stage.” We thought they would bring a fresh eye to a live concert DVD. We reviewed early edits, to approve their general approach, then just left them to it. The results justified our decisions and our trust, and just as we were very proud of the “Time Machine” tour, we are pleased with its presentation. It is different from any of our previous concert DVDs, with more focus on the audience, and it highlights something special that only people who have been there will understand: the relationship between us and the audience.

Seven months later, in November 2011, as we release that performance into the world, we are back in the studio in Toronto, working on the “Clockwork Angels” project that we started almost two years ago, before the “Time Machine” tour. In fact, the first two chapters of the story, “Caravan” and “BU2B,” were part of that show.

Baltimore Orioles Legend Mike Flanagan Passes Away

Pátek, Srpen 26th, 2011

Mike Flanagan was much more than the 1979 Cy Young Award winner who LED diving flashlight his team to a World Series appearance. He was much more than an integral component of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Championship team. He was more than the last man to ever start a game at the historic Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

Known for his friendship, humor and dedication to the Orioles, Mike Flanagan was truly an icon to the city of Baltimore, Maryland. He passed away today at the age of 59 years old.

Flanagan joined the Orioles as a seventh round draft choice in 1973. He made the Orioles in 1975 and struggled at first.

“He was something like 2-9 that year,” recalled Orioles Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. “Earl Weaver, the Orioles Hall of Fame manager, told the press that Flanagan was destined to be a winner. He really didn’t mean it. but he wanted to help Flanagan along.”

Flanagan finished up that year 15-10 after the Weaver quote. It was the beginning of a career where Flanagan would win 167 games and lose 143 at a 3.90 earned run average. Flanagan became a tough as nails starter who epitomized “The Oriole Way.”

Rick Dempsey, the Orioles catcher who was the 1983 World Series MVP, recalled Flanagan after the Orioles won it all that year.

“We were still disappointed in losing the 1979 series, so we did a lot of hard work to win it all in 1983. After we did, we wrote ‘Now We Can Go Home’ on Flanagan’s back in shaving cream.”

Palmer and Dempsey openly wept at the passing of Flanagan on the Orioles Television Network after the team beat the Oakland Athletics for a third straight time. News of Flanagan’s passing was given to them after the conclusion of the Orioles’ latest victory. Buck Showalter, now the team’s current manager, also shed tears and was only able to answer the one question from a crying reporter.

Flanagan did just about every duty imaginable for his beloved team. Not only was he once the Orioles general manager, but he twice served as a pitching coach and television analyst for the organization.

Prázdný titulek

Úterý, Srpen 16th, 2011

On the heels of the $10 billion gap that Cuomo needed to close this year, $2.4 billion may not sound like much. But this governor also has changed a key rule of the budgeting game, eliminating the DOB’s traditional assumption of a current-law “baseline” spending trend that also inflated the gap estimates.

Measured from Cuomo’s more realistic baseline, next year’s gap includes relatively modest increases totaling nearly $900 million for school aid and Medicaid, as required by the two-year appropriations that reflect Cuomo’s new spending caps. Debt-service spending and pension costs, essentially untouchable, account for another $450 million.

Assuming these areas are off-limits to cuts, that means the governor will need to fill over half the projected gap from savings in other areas of the budget. (True, he’ll be able to book more savings on employee benefits over the next several years, assuming the PEF and other unions fall into line with the CSEA pattern deal.)

Beyond that, each additional million of spending in excess of revenues next year will translate into another tough fight that tests Cuomo’s determination to stay the course of fiscal responsibility.

Even assuming the economy snaps back to the steady growth path the governor originally projected for the balance of his first term, he’s got a multiyear struggle on his hands before the budget emerges into daylight for the long haul.

Meanwhile, local officials across the state are waiting for a sign the governor intends to provide some serious relief from state mandates, including collective-bargaining reforms, as a followup to his historic property-tax cap. Without that relief, more counties and other municipalities — including New York City — will soon find themselves stuck in deep, dark tunnels of their own.