The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) have given Wintershall Norge consent to use LWI vessel Island Wellserver on the Maria field.The consent applies to light well intervention work on the Maria field for well 6406/3-H-3H, which is in production licences 475BS and 475CS in the Norwegian Sea.Maria is the first Wintershall own-operated field in Norway, which the company takes all the way from exploration, through development and to production.The subsea Maria field in the Haltenbanken area of the Norwegian Sea is connected via subsea tiebacks to the Statoil-operated Kristin, Heidrun and Åsgard B production platforms.Island Wellserver was built in 2008 at the Aker Langsten yard. The DNV GL-classed vessel is registered in Norway and given Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) by the PSA in April 2009.
Reacting to the stalled economy, the Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs are giving students more choices in domestic destinations for the service trips and helping them find creative ways to fund their trips.Though the number of participants in Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs remains the same as last year, more students than ever are asking about scholarship opportunities, payment options and fundraising, according to Melissa Gaeke, director of Alternative Spring Break.Gaeke said the Alternative Winter and Spring Break programs are doing their best to accommodate possible participants who are concerned about the cost of the trips in order to ensure a successful spring break for all who are interested.Already, Gaeke said, fundraising efforts have increased.“We are doing a lot more fundraising this year. The fundraising has been done through places like California Pizza Kitchen, 21 Choices and Yogurtland,” said Gaeke. “We’re trying any way to reduce the cost as much as possible for the students and their families.”To keep costs down, Alternative Spring Break is also boosting the number of local options offered. Gaeke hopes these local destinations will be more affordable choices for those who think the international service programs are too costly.Though international programs can cost anywhere from $915 to $2,500, domestic programs range from free trips to ones costing $800.Alice Hyun, a freshman majoring in business administration, said the new Alternative Spring Break options are a better fit for her budget.“If cost were not a problem at all, I would have applied to go to an international site, Guatemala, but I’m going to have to apply to a domestic site instead,” Hyun said. “Even though cost is an issue, I still want to do something productive with my spring break.”Some of the new, domestic programs include a civic leadership program in Atlanta and a program on Catalina Island in partnership with the Wrigley Institute.Despite the fundraising and increase in domestic destinations, some students still find Alternative Break programs too costly.“I was considering doing alternative spring break, but extra fundraising can only go so far,” said Ravi Mahesh, a sophomore majoring in economics. “I’m really sad that I can’t do one of the volunteer programs. I’ll probably end up volunteering somewhere closer to home where the costs are less expensive instead.”Though some students have chosen not to apply, Gaeke emphasized that interest is still strong because people still want to serve the community and to travel.“The reason students are applying isn’t different,” Gaeke said. “More and more students recognize these are interesting opportunities, want to travel and see parts of the world or the country other than road-tripping with their friends, and learn more about themselves through community service.”
Energy efficiency can ease hardships and benefit everyoneWhile the energy burden numbers are alarming, opportunities abound to ease the hardship on groups that have long been underserved by efficiency programs.While many utilities operate energy-efficiency programs, as the report notes, much more can be done to reduce the energy burden on low-income households, including targeting efficiency initiatives to the long-overlooked low-income multifamily sector. One earlier study by Energy Efficiency for All found that increasing energy efficiency in multifamily affordable housing could cut electricity usage by as much as 26%.Utilities can step up efforts to reach out to low-income households, such as offering financing for energy efficiency projects. Another opportunity is EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program, an element of the Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants. It rewards states for early investments in energy efficiency in low-income communities.Bringing low-income housing to the efficiency level of the average U.S. home would eliminate 35% of the energy burden experienced by this population, the study’s authors found. The potential is even higher for African-American (42%), Latino (68%), and renting households (97%).The 56-page report, coming at a critical time in the debate over climate change, is a valuable tool in guiding policy makers on where to target energy-efficiency investment. Those are real — and critical — dollars. The average family could save as much as $300 annually on utility bills.Energy efficiency has long been an NRDC priority because it is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce power-plant pollution that harms our health and contributes to climate change.Cutting energy waste benefits all of us — in cleaner air, a more reliable transmission grid, and a stronger economy. (Efficiency initiatives not only generate jobs, such as work installing insulation, but also save utility customers money they can spend for other goods.) In addition, when low-income households can’t pay their utility bills, it can lead to higher costs for all utility customers.This report should be on the reading list of utilities, energy regulators, and anyone else looking to make the electric grid cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable.It won’t be just underserved households that benefit from greater investment in energy efficiency. It will be all of us. Meanwhile, Memphis had the highest energy burden for low-income households, with residents spending, on average, 13.2% of their income for energy. The median annual income for low-income residents of Memphis is $19,157, meaning that a family would be paying a whopping $200 a month ($2,400 a year) for energy to keep the lights on and their homes comfortable.In fact, in 17 of the cities in the report, a fourth of low-income households experienced an energy burden greater than 14%.Low-income households in the Southeast and Midwest, while having among the lowest average energy prices, had the highest average metropolitan energy burdens. While this report did not establish a causative relationship, we do know that Southeastern utilities have the lowest investment in energy-efficiency programs when compared to other regions. A new study confirms that low-income households, households of color, multifamily households, and renting households spend a much larger percentage of their income on energy bills than the average family, providing new evidence of the urgent need to expand energy-efficiency programs to vulnerable communities.The report, Lifting the High Energy Burdens in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low-Income and Underserved Communities, offers new insight into the hardships faced by urban low-income households — including African-American and Latino households and renters in multifamily buildings — all of whom pay a disproportionate amount of their income for energy.The study by the Energy Efficiency for All project (a coalition which includes NRDC and the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy) highlights the energy burdens on families in 48 large U.S. cities. It casts a spotlight on the opportunities to use efficiency to reduce these burdens, while cutting power-plant pollution that drives dangerous climate change. Why this report mattersPoverty and discrimination in rental and housing markets drive low-income households and people of color into older, less efficient buildings with higher energy costs. (Property owners may not install the best energy-saving measures and appliances because the owners are not paying the utility bills.)High energy burdens and poor housing quality then contribute to health problems: poorly heated or cooled homes contribute to asthma, respiratory problems, heart disease, arthritis, and rheumatism. Families struggling to pay energy bills may sacrifice nutrition, medicine, and other necessities, which compound the effects of inequality.These issues are particularly acute for low-income multifamily households. Because they are largely underserved by existing energy-efficiency programs, the average low-income multifamily household has an energy burden more than three times higher than that of the average non-low-income multifamily household (5.0% and 1.5%, respectively) and had higher utility cost per square foot. In these homes, “energy expenditures run 37% higher per square foot than in owner-occupied multifamily units (i.e. condos or cooperatives), 41% higher than in renter-occupied single family detached units, and 76% higher than in owner-occupied single-family detached units.” Further, from 2001 to 2009, while average rents in multifamily housing increased by 7.5%, energy cost for these renters increased by nearly 23%.The picture is also shown regionally. Findings from the study show that low-income multifamily housing represented the second highest energy burden (second to low-income in aggregate) in every region of the nation except California and the Midwest.This is important because multifamily buildings represent approximately 25% of the housing units in the U.S. and comprise 20% of energy consumed by all housing, and more than half of all low-income families live in multifamily housing.Despite these facts, low-income multifamily buildings are largely underinvested by energy efficiency programs and represents a large untapped resource potential. Energy burdens are not equalThe big picture findings from the report: The overwhelming majority of single-family and multifamily low-income households (those with income at or below 80 percent of area median income), households of color, and renting households experienced higher energy burdens than the average household in the same metropolitan area.For example, low-income households — many of whom live in older housing with poor ventilation as well as aging, inefficient appliances and heating systems — spend, on average, 7.2% of their income on utility bills, which amounts to about $1,700 annually out of $25,000 in median household income. That is more than triple the 2.3% spent by higher-income households for electricity, heating, and cooling.African-American households experience a median energy burden 64% greater than white households (5.4% and 3.3%, respectively), and Latino households had a median burden 24% greater than white households (4.1% and 3.3%, respectively). Solving Energy Poverty Unlocking the High Value of Clean Energy in Low-Income CommunitiesLow-Income Housing: Problems and SolutionsA Forgotten Tool to Solve the Housing Crisis Can Low-Income Housing Be Energy-Efficient and Affordable?How to Improve Energy-Efficiency ProgramsWeatherization’s Home-Stretch RecoveryEnergy Efficiency Costs Less Than New GenerationIs Weatherization Cost-Effective? RELATED ARTICLES Khalil Shahyd is a project manager with the National Resources Defense Council whose work focuses on the Energy Efficiency for All Project. He also promotes the expansion of green communities in New Orleans. This post originally appeared on the NRDC Expert Blog.
By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative ExtensionShould a military family planning to move to their next duty station sell their home or keep it as a rental property? Like many financial planning questions, the best answer is “it depends.” There are many factors to consider when a service member is deciding whether to sell a home or turn it into rental property. Here are some key questions for Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP)staff to ask:What is the housing market like in the area?Are houses selling quickly or staying on the market for months (or years)?Is there a strong rental market?Is the service member prepared to be a long-distance landlord or able to afford to hire a local property manager to manage the property?Can enough rent be charged to cover both the mortgage and any property management fees?How much money is currently owed on the mortgage?Does the service member owe more than the house is currently valued at?Will a property insurance company insure the residence when it is vacant (some companies will not)?Most importantly, can a service member afford to carry two homes if the first home can’t be rented or there are sporadic vacancies when tenants move?Photo by james.thompsonThese are just a few factors that service members must consider when deciding whether to sell or rent. For more information, see cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57443734/if-you-cant-sell-your-house-should-you-rent-it/If service members decide to become absentee landlords, they should expect to pay a property management fee of around 10% of the cost of the monthly rent to the agency. They may also have to pay a set-up fee to open an account and keep a specific amount of money in the account with the property manager for emergency repairs costing a minimal amount, such as fixing a leaky sink. Major repairs, such as replacing a refrigerator or other appliance, should require authorization from the property owners.Absentee landlords should consider purchasing a home warranty on the house for major components that could break (e.g., air conditioning). For a rental property, the cost is tax-deductible. Another recommended step is hiring a lawyer to review all rental agreement contracts.Where can military families find a property manager who caters to rental units for military families? They can start with the Realtor who sold them the house. A good Realtor in a community with a large population of military families will have a network that includes local property managers who specialize in marketing to military families. The service member can also ask around among military friends and colleagues. Chances are someone will be able to recommend a property manager in the area who caters to military families.Service members should interview at least three property managers before they decide which one to use. Cases have been reported of service members paying management companies only to find out later that they only did one drive-by in a year and/or never even walked into the house to check on the inside. Military families may also want to check out the websites militarybyowner.com and ahrn.com (Automated Housing Referral Network). They cater to service members who want to rent or sell a house to other service members.This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 30, 2015.
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Sergio Ramos hails Real Madrid ‘hunger’ for victory at Sevillaby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveSergio Ramos hailed Real Madrid’s “hunger” for victory at Sevilla.Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game as Zinedine Zidane’s side bounced back from their 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in midweek.”We knew how difficult the game was going to be as it’s been years since we won here,” Ramos told Movistar+ at full time.”We came with a very strong mentality and with the intention of making as few mistakes as possible.”Even though Sevilla had possession, we always knew we’d have little of the ball and when we did have it we took advantage of it.”We achieved the objective and we stayed calm this week, after everything that was said.”Real Madrid are always hungry to win.”The team is always very optimistic.”The team is improving.”This is very long, we’ve drawn level with Athletic Club in the table and we have to keep trying to improve as a team and especially to take chances like we did today.”
TagsTransfersOpinionAbout the authorAndrew Maclean FollowShare the loveHave your say Casper exclusive: Man Utd must follow Man City with sporting director hireby Andrew Maclean16 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveClass of 92′ graduate Chris Casper says Manchester United should follow in the footsteps of their rivals by hiring a sporting director.The Red Devils have gone from perennial champions under Sir Alex Ferguson to floating in the Premier League abyss six years after the great Scot’s departure. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have been and gone, and current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be next with his team sitting 12th on the table.Every United fan and their dog have had an opinion on where the club’s gone wrong, with recruitment the term heard frequently amongst pub banter and social media threads.United are looking for a sporting director to rectify the problem, with a range of names thrown around from RB Leipzig mastermind Paul Mitchell to ex-United leader Rio Ferdinand.But news of an appointment has dried up and recruitment has faltered as a result, as Solskjaer’s sudden shortage of attacking options can attest.United are undoubtedly leaps and bounds behind league leaders Manchester City and Liverpool, and Salford City sporting director Casper thinks filling the new position will allow for maximum efficiency throughout the club.Asked if it would be smart move, Casper told TribalFootball.com: “Yeah I think so. Especially when you look at Txiki Begiristain with Man City and Michael Edwards at Liverpool as their sporting directors. “I think it’s just about having that link with the manager, I think it’s really important. The strategic plan and the plan the owners are looking to achieve, I think that’s got to be clear in how you want to achieve it and you need to someone who is going to help co-ordinate that. “You can lack support for all the different departments, and especially for the manager on the side of recruiting staff, recruiting players and take away a lot of the nonsense that managers in the past have had to deal with, speaking to agents and trying to deal with players and things like that. “The head coaches that Man City and Liverpool have got are unbelievable coaches and they can focus on what they do best and that’s working with players on the training and getting the best out of them. And it’s clearly working for them because they are the best two teams in the league.”Solskjaer has intimated United would be targeting young and hungry British players in their recruitment drive this past summer.Signings Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James all meet those requirements, which Casper thinks is a wise idea for the future.He added: “It’s sensible. It’s got to be a long-term strategic plan. “It can’t be short-term, over one year or 18 months. It has to be a five, ten-year plan of what they’re going to do. You look at Manchester City, obviously not with British players, but they have a certain identity of a player that they want to bring in and they’ve been doing it for the last eight to ten years. “That’s a long-term strategy and plan that’s flourishing. That’s what Man Utd has to look towards now and hopefully this is the start of young players being given an opportunity. “It’s the biggest club in the world and they’ve got to get back to hopefully where they were seven or eight years ago, regularly challenging for the Premier League and Champions League.”
ESPN’s pre-season Football Power Index (FPI), defined as “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season” has debuted. The rankings are compiled based off the results of 10,000 simulations. One of the categories you can rank teams in order of is remaining strength of schedule. Since the 2015 season hasn’t begun, the FPI strength of schedule rankings represent which teams have the toughest slates this year. Alabama tops the FPI strength of schedule rankings, and the top 20 is not surprisingly SEC-heavy. Twelve of the 20 programs are members of the SEC. ESPN SOS RankingThe full FPI rankings are available here.
James Franklin BunnyEaster Sunday is tomorrow, and Penn State head football coach James Franklin is hosting an event for children at his house. It features candy, possibly an egg hunt…and Franklin dressed up as the Easter Bunny.Yup, that’s correct. Franklin dressed up as the Easter Bunny and took down the pinata containing candy for all the party-goers. Instead of using a bat, he laid out and tackled the pinata. A 6’2″ and extremely competitive Easter bunny at @coachjfranklin‘s house? Yup, that checks out. pic.twitter.com/ISCItB4qgG— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) March 26, 2016Father, Coach, Friend, Loving Husband…Easter Bunny? @coachjfranklin #PSUnrivaled Happy Easter from Happy Valley pic.twitter.com/3iv9Y6Z02R— PJ Mullen (@psuPJ) March 26, 2016That’s an incredible sight. Not every day you see a Big Ten head coach in a furry costume tackling a pinata. [ Dr. Saturday ]
OTTAWA – A BlackBerry QNX-equipped self-driving car hit the road in suburban Ottawa Thursday in what was billed as the first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada.The grey Lincoln MKZ pulled away with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, councillor Marianne Wilkinson and John Wall, general manager of BlackBerry QNX, aboard.BlackBerry QNX opened an autonomous vehicle innovation centre in Ottawa late last year.“Today is the first public fruits of what we’ve been doing,” Wall said.The street was closed for the public demonstration, which attracted scores of people, but the car is expected to be operating on city streets in the test area amidst real traffic and pedestrians.To aid in the demonstration, the test loop around the suburban technology park has been upgraded with traffic lights equipped with transmitters that communicate with the car as well as repainted street lines and new LED street lights.BlackBerry QNX is developing the software foundation for autonomous vehicles, while Wall said others are working on what he called “the brain.”“In a lot of cases, the OEMs want to own that, so the Fords of this world, the Mercedes of this world, that’s their secret sauce, they’re going to build the brain,” he said.“We’re going to provide all the infrastructure, the security, the safety, the redundancy, the communication, how the signals come in.”Wall said fully autonomous cars without a steering wheel are still a long way off, but he added that cars are already incorporating some of the technology such as sensors that will keep your car in its lane, hit the brake if they think you are going to hit something or detect another car in your blind spot.Automotive and technology companies around the world have been racing to develop self-driving systems.A demonstration test zone has been announced for Stratford, Ont., as part of the Ontario government’s plan to create an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, with the help of $80 million over five years.Canadian auto parts firm Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG) announced earlier this week that it would join BMW and Intel Corp. to develop a self-driving system for the global vehicle marketplace by 2021.Several companies including Uber and Waymo, which was spun out of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. last year, have been testing self-driving cars on city streets in the United States.Uber briefly suspended its self-driving fleet last month after a car collided with a self-driving Uber SUV.BlackBerry QNX has been a supplier of software platforms to the auto industry for 20 years including telematics, infotainment, acoustics, and instrument cluster systems.