Roundup

first_imgThe following incidents were reported in the USC Department of Public Safety incident report summary between Tuesday, April 1, and Wednesday, April 2. Crimes against a personat 4:49 A.m. on April 1, DPS officers responded to gun shots being fired at 2375 Scarff St. and at the location found a non-USC male with three gunshot wounds. A Los Angeles Fire Department Rescue Ambulance responded and transported the victim to California Hospital for medical treatment. Los Angeles Police Department is conducting an investigation.Crimes against propertyat 9:27 A.m. on April 1, an unattended laptop was taken from Starbucks.At 2:05 P.M. on April 1, a student reported that a microphone was missing from off campus.At 3:08 P.M. on April 1, a dental tool was taken from an open room in the Eileen and Kenneth T. Norris Dental Science Center.At 5:54 P.M. on April 1, a GPS unit and a phone charger were taken from a car on 36th Place and Vermont Avenue after a suspect broke the side window to gain entry.Miscellaneous incidentsat 10:50 P.m. on April 1,  DPS officers responded to a student who was intoxicated and passed out at Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. The student was subsequently taken to California Hospital to be treated.at 1:08 A.m. on April 2, DPS officers responded to a student who was unconscious and intoxicated at Elisabeth von Kleinsmid Memorial Residence Hall.  When DPS officers arrived, the student was speaking coherently and she was released.at 1:19 A.m. on April 2, DPS officers responded to a student who was intoxicated and unconscious on a sidewalk near the Lorenzo Student Apartments.last_img read more

Live updates: Warriors vs. Pelicans, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

first_imgJoin us for live news and analysis Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. as the Warriors take a five-game winning streak into Oracle while facing Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.The Warriors (30-14) turned in perhaps their most impressive performance of the season Tuesday in their eye-opening 142-111 win over the Nuggets to wrestle the top spot in the Western Conference from Denver. The opening act for the Warriors on Tuesday was historical — their 51-point first quarter set an NBA …last_img

Solar energy and energy efficiency, economic and environmental wins for agricultural producers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Fred MichelThe EPA estimates that U.S. agriculture contributes 9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While much less than the emissions attributed to transportation, industry and electricity generation sectors of the economy, many producers are becoming concerned about the widespread changes to the climate caused by these emissions, but are unsure about what to do about it. There are now ways for agricultural producers and rural businesses to both address this concern and improve the bottom line through energy efficiency improvements and solar energy production.An Ohio State University Extension program called, “Energize Ohio” provides factsheets, videos and tools for assessing the economic benefits and incentives available for Agricultural Solar systems in Ohio. It also provides a directory of energy efficiency programs offered by Ohio Utilities. For example, AEP Ohio has a new program for agricultural producers offering incentives for LED lighting, variable speed pumps, high efficiency fans and dryers and temperature controllers. Improving energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.Agricultural solar energy systems generate electricity from sunshine and can be installed on roofs or in open areas. They provide electricity to farms and other rural businesses at a fixed cost that in most cases is much lower than the cost for electricity provided by a local utility. However, the specific costs vary considerably based on location, utility provider, energy use profile, economic incentives and how the utility treats excess generation.The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy lab (NREL) has developed a tool called the Systems Analysis Model (SAM) that can be downloaded for free and used to estimate the costs and payback for solar systems at farms, residences and businesses. It is a comprehensive model that estimates the costs, energy production, payback and many other metrics of solar energy systems based on system design, the mounting angle of the panels, shading, equipment selected, weather conditions, utility provider, the cost of money, incentives, net metering and other variables. It includes databases of every available solar panel and inverter sold in the U.S., links to utility rates and weather data, and tools for estimating financial returns.The overall costs of agricultural solar systems have dropped dramatically over the past decade. One reason for this is the declining cost of solar panels, racking systems and inverters. The installed costs of a solar systems have dropped to around $2 per watt. Another is the availability of incentives for renewable energy systems from the federal and state governments and laws that govern public utilities requiring them to allow the interconnection of solar energy and other renewable energy systems into the electricity grid, and to make payments to renewable energy generators for electricity produced also known as “net metering”.These incentives include the Federal Renewable Energy Tax credit, which pays for 30% of the cost of a renewable energy system through a tax credit. This program will begin to phase out in 2019. Another is the Federal Renewable Energy for Agricultural Producers (REAP) program available from USDA. This program has two parts, which can be used individually or together. One is a grant for up to 25% of the project cost, and the other is a loan guarantee for 75% of the costs. The program is competitive and applications with the highest scores receive grants, however loan guarantees are easier to obtain.There is also the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), which is an economic tool allowing businesses to depreciate capital assets used for solar energy systems over just a five year period on their tax forms, reducing tax liability and accelerating the rate of return on a solar investment. Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC), are another type of incentive but their value has greatly decreased in recent years due to the decision by the State legislature to reduce the requirements for renewable energy production by Ohio public utilities. Still, at a current value of around $15 per SREC, this incentive provides an additional 1.5 cents per kWh for solar electricity. The Ohio Energy Loan Fund is a state incentive that can reduce the costs of borrowing money for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.Net metering is a mechanism that credits solar energy producers for the electricity they add to the grid. If more energy is produced than used during a billing period, then a credit either in dollars or kWh for the excess production is made to the producer. Net metering is required to be offered by all publicly owned utilities in Ohio. However, rural electric co-ops, municipal utilities and alternate energy providers offered through publicly owned utilities are not required to offer net metering, and some do not. This information is not easily available and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) does not provide it on their website comparing electricity providers. Determining how your utility treats excess generation is important in determining the cost benefit for an agricultural solar system.This is because the type of net metering the utility provides has a significant impact on the payback period for an agricultural solar system. An extreme example of this is a 20 kW solar system used to provide energy for grain drying by an Ohio farmer. The solar electricity is generated over a year while electricity used for grain drying is only used for a few months. According to a SAM model of this system, with no net metering and no incentives, it would not make economic sense. However, the payback period is 20 years when net metering is offered based on a dollar credit each billing period, even when no incentives are used. But if kWh of electricity were credited each billing period, as some utilities do, and the accumulated kWh over the year were credited to the producer and used for drying, it would have a payback period of just 12 years, even without any incentives. When federal incentives are used, the payback period drops to just 9 years, equivalent to reducing energy costs by 70% for the 25-year life of the solar system. Regardless, the system would reduce CO2 emissions for electricity generation by 460 tons over 25 years compared to using Ohio grid electricity. This makes this a win for both the environment and the producer’s bottom line. Fred Michel, Professor, can be reached at 330-263-3859 or [email protected] This column is provided by The Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, OSU Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.last_img read more

Financial Assistance After a Service Member Dies: What The Military Provides

first_imgMilitary.com. (n.d.) Transitioning from Military Service. Retrieved from http://www.military.com/money/retirement/military-retirement/transitioning-out-of-military-service.html MyArmyBenefits. (2016). Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Retrieved from https://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Benefit-Library/Federal-Benefits/Survivor-Benefit-Plan-(SBP)?serv=126 Department of Defense. (2017). A survivor’s guide to benefits. Retrieved from http://download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/ResourceGuides/A-Survivors-Guide-To-Benefits.pdf By Carol ChurchThe loss of a service member to military-related causes is always a tragedy. No one ever wants to need the information in this blog.However, families who are coping with the devastation that accompany such a loss do need concrete facts. It’s reassuring to know that the military has programs in place to help spouses, children, and other family members regain their financial footing. Taken all together, the value of these benefits is very likely to exceed $500,000. This is the least that can be done for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.Ken Wolter/PhotospinFollowing is a listing of benefits available to families of service members whose deaths are a result of military service. Typically, these benefits are offered to families of those service members who die during active duty, including as a result of training. This also includes deaths that occur while a service member was traveling to the place of duty. Some benefits are also extended to the families of veterans who die as a result of service-related injury or disease, or who die of non-service-related issues after being disabled by service-related issues.Death Gratuity payment This is a $100,000 benefit paid within 72 hours of the death of an active duty service member that is a result of service. Its purpose is to assist family with immediate concerns. The service member will have filled out a form designating who will receive this payment. This sum is not taxed.Funeral and burial costs payment When a member dies on active duty, the amount paid towards preparation, burial, and interment will vary from $1000-$8700, depending on whether the military handles arrangements or the family chooses a private cemetery. Travel costs for immediate family will also be paid. Veterans whose death was service-related receive up to $2000 in funeral and burial benefits and are also eligible for free burial in a VA cemetery. More information on funeral and burial benefits is available in this post.Back pay and unpaid leave Of course, survivors will receive all back pay owed, as well as payment owed for any leave that has not been taken.Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance payment All service members are automatically insured in this program to the maximum $400,000 benefit, unless they have cancelled it or reduced its benefits in writing. Benefits will either be paid out in 36 installments or in one lump sum (this decision will have been made by the service member at time of enrollment).Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) DIC is paid out to survivors of any service member who dies on active duty or in training as a result of service-related diseases, injury, or condition, as well as to survivors of veterans whose deaths were service-related. DIC is also paid out to survivors of some veterans who were totally disabled by military service at the time of their deaths. Under DIC, the spouse and each child receive COLA-adjusted flat rate payments. Payments to children extend to age 21, or 23 if enrolled in college. Payments to spouses continue for life, or until the spouse remarries (payments continue if the spouse remarried after age 57). It is important to note that if spouses are also eligible for Survivors’ Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits, these will be reduced by the amount paid out in DIC.Survivor Benefit Plan The SBP provides a COLA-adjusted monthly income to survivors of service members killed in the line of duty, based on a percentage of their pay. As noted above, it’s important to understand that spousal SBP payments will be reduced by the amount paid out in DIC. For this reason, some spouses choose to opt out of SBP for themselves and to have the whole benefit go to children, whose benefit is not affected by DIC. This decision cannot be reversed.Medical Care For the first 3 years after the death of an active duty service member, surviving spouses and dependents are eligible for full-active duty health benefits at no cost. After three years, children remain eligible for full benefits, while spouses will transition to Tricare.Housing assistance Surviving spouses and family members retain the right to their service member’s BAH or military housing for one year after the date of death. Families also have the right to have one move paid for by the military in the 3 years following the death of the active duty member.Tax liability forgiveness Income taxes already paid may be forgiven or may not have to be paid for the person who has died in the year after the death of an active duty service member. Family members can get help with their tax situation at their closest military installation, or consult IRS guidelines.VA Home loan assistance Surviving spouses are eligible to apply for VA loans. Though this is not technically a monetary benefit, it may still be very useful to surviving spouses due to the unique benefits of this product. To learn more about VA loans, visit Part 1 and Part 2 of our series on this program.Educational benefits Surviving spouses and children are eligible for a number of important educational benefits, including transfer of GI Bill benefits and programs and scholarships that may pay up to 100% of costs. For more information, visit A Survivor’s Guide to Benefits.Commissary and exchange privileges Surviving spouse and dependents retain the right to shop at commissaries and exchanges. Spouses retain this right unless they remarry, and children retain it until age 21. Sorting out and understanding all these different benefits and programs can feel extremely overwhelming at a time of grief and sorrow. Fortunately, the military assigns each bereaved family a Casualty Assistance Officer who assists families in sorting out these matters. However, it is still important to remember that many of these benefits must be applied for.There is nothing that can ever replace the loss of a family member, but the military works hard to help families facing this grief. Knowing that these programs are there to assist with financial needs may be a comfort to families.References:Department of Defense. (n.d.) Military compensation: Death gratuity. Retrieved from http://militarypay.defense.gov/Benefits/Death-Gratuity/ We’ll be talking about Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs on Tuesday, August 15 at 11 a.m. ET. For more information about joining this 90-minute webinar, visit the event page.last_img read more