GE to establish energy firm combining several businesses

Ancien Hippie

HARTFORD, Conn. — General Electric Co. has established an energy company that combines its LED, solar, energy storage and electric vehicle businesses and a software system to help customers improve efficiency.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based conglomerate said Wednesday the company, known as Current, will begin with more than $1 billion of revenue and build on the company’s energy businesses. It will be based in the Boston area and have a presence in California’s Silicon Valley, though exact locations weren’t provided.

Through its software GE will analyze energy consumption and provide customers with data detailing patterns of use and recommendations to improve efficiency.

GE says customers include Walgreens, Hilton Worldwide and JPMorgan Chase.

Current is expected to create about 200 jobs. Maryrose Sylvester, a former president and CEO of GE Lighting, will serve as CEO.

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Integrate Your Systems Now While Transaction Volume Is Lower

Any company involved in supplying products through the retail channel already has two things — communication with their trading partners and a way to manage their finances and inventory. These are typically known by their acronyms, EDI and ERP. But what many of the companies using these systems do not ahve is an integrated connection between them.

Without direct integration between ERP and EDI companies rely on either manual data entry or batch oriented import and export of transactions between the two. If you’re working on a small (very small) scale then the manual method can work for you. And it’s surprising how many larger companies still rely on batch transaction updates. Here’s why you really should consider some kind of integration.

Manual processes
The obvious problems with manual data entry are first that manual keying of data is subject to error… simple keyboarding errors that may or may not show up immediately. If you’re dealing with 2 or 3 transactions per day this may not seem a big deal, but when the errors end up causing accounting problems or invoice disparities a month after they have been entered, the time required to track down the problem and resolve the problem with your trading partner can quickly eat into profitability.

NYC, state reach deal on mass transit capital funding

A deal has finally been struck to fund the New York City region’s mass transit capital spending program, ensuring that vitally needed infrastructure upgrades — including repairs to damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy — will be underwritten for the next five years.

The $26.1 billion agreement to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was jointly announced Saturday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had spent weeks sniping at each other about the city’s contribution as the Oct. 28 deadline to adopt the plan loomed.

In the end, the city upped its offer late this week to $2.5 billion. The state is contributing $8.3 billion and the rest is made up of pre-existing dedicated revenue streams.

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Future of New York City mass transit hinges on funding fight

The New York subway system was a gleaming symbol of American ingenuity when it opened in 1904. Now it rattles along past aging stops, controlled by cloth-insulated electrical wiring and signal devices almost as old as the tunnels themselves.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a $29 billion modernization plan that would add high-tech control systems, replace old subway cars and buses, and expand service on North America’s largest transit system. But a dispute over who should pay for the work threatens to undermine it.

Amtrak panel recommends solutions to Chicago rail gridlock

Always interested in Chicago. Wondered about alternatives to everything on rail going through Chicago. Looked at Chicago Bypasses

Have to remember Chicago is the nation’s RAIL CAPITA

Amtrak‘s blue ribbon panel formed a year ago to examine recurring rail gridlock in Chicago issued its final report yesterday, recommending railroad operational improvements and infrastructure projects to alleviate the problem.

The Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel called for bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers that are now scattered across the country, improving operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads, and funding for priority projects already identified in northern Illinois and Indiana, according to an Amtrak press release.

The panel also released a study it commissioned that showed rail congestion in Chicago poses the greatest potential economic vulnerability to the economy of all the major U.S. rail hubs. Industry observers have referred to Chicago as America’s “rail traffic speed bump.” creates an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year.

“The panel interviewed experts with the freight-rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman, who appointed the panel in October 2014.

The panel acknowledged that its proposals would be expensive, but without additional actions, the gridlock will only worsen. Panelists called for a mix of state, federal and private financing to advance priority projects.

The panel recommended:
• real-time operational coordination among Chicago’s railroads, including coordinated dispatching;
• railroads, including Amtrak, should continue efforts to improve operational performance in the Chicago terminal;
• adequate and sustained public funding for vital projects;
• prioritizing the CREATE 75th Street Corridor and Grand Crossing projects;
• additional investments for the Porter, Indiana-to-Chicago corridor;
• innovative financing through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program; and
• consistent environmental review requirements among all transportation modes, and prioritized for projects of national importance.

The report, the study it commissioned and a video overview can be found at


GE to sell tank-car leasing, rail-car repair facilities to Marmon; remaining rail-car leasing to Wells Fargo

GE announced yesterday that it has reached separate agreements to sell its tank car fleet assets and rail-car repair facilities to Marmon Holdings Inc., and its remaining rail-car leasing business, General Electric Railcar Services LLC, to Wells Fargo & Co.

Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

The tank car assets sale closed yesterday. The sale of the rail-car repair facilities is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Sale of the remaining rail-car leasing business is subject to customary regulatory and other approvals, and is expected to close by the end of first-quarter 2016, company officials said in a press release.

When completed, the rail transactions — which represent about $4 billion of ending net investment — will contribute $1.3 billion of capital to the overall target of $35 billion of dividends expected to GE under the plan, subject to regulatory approval, they said.

“These transactions are another example of the value generated by GE Capital’s strong businesses and exceptional teams as we continue to demonstrate speed and execute on our strategy to sell most of the assets of GE Capital,” said Keith Sherin, GE Capital chairman and chief executive officer. “We expect to be substantially done with our exit strategy by the end of 2016.”

GE Railcar Services leases a broad range of rail cars, as well as locomotives to shippers and railroads across North America.

“We’re pleased to sell our railcar business and, separately, our tank car fleet and railcar repair shops, to buyers that are long-term players in the industry committed to expanding the businesses,” said Sherin.

The announcement comes as GE continues to embark on a strategy that focuses on its industrial businesses, while selling most GE Capital assets, company officials said in a press release.

The company will retain the financing “verticals” that relate to its industrial businesses.

How About A Cable Car In Nice, France?

The possibility of a cable car system to link Nice to the surrounding hills has been discussed again. The project would dramatically reduce traffic in the city and allow the council to scrap a number of bus services currently carrying passengers from the hilly suburbs into the town. The idea has been raised before and is still only at the early stage of discussions. The mayor says that he’s not against the idea in principle but many more studies need to be carried out and if it goes ahead the cable car system would need a much bigger electricity supply than can currently be provided.

Shown above is the cable car system in Grenoble, France

Mayor Estrosi, here is a suggestion for you:

The Dutch Railway Could Run Solely On Wind Power By 2018

No. 7 subway extension is $500 million and one stop short

Few New Yorkers are aware that there is more to the story of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority extending service on the No. 7 subway line earlier this month to the new 34th Street 11th Ave Hudson Yards station. The original cost of the overall project was $2.1 billion and became $2.4 billion, even though an entire subway station and additional subway cars were dropped from the original scope of work.

Neither New York City nor the MTA could find $500 million to pay for the proposed intermediate subway station to be built at 10th Avenue and 41st Street that was part of the original project. One trick used by transit managers to complete any project within budget is to drop a portion of the original work. Deletion of this second station kept the project cost at $2.4 billion rather than $2.9 billion.

And let’s not forget the project’s missed deadlines. Construction started in 2007 with a planned completion date of December 2013. The anticipated first day of public service slipped several times from this date: first to June 2014, second to Feb. 2015, third to June 2015 and finally to Sept. 13, 2015.

When the project was in the planning stages, several years prior to 2007, the MTA elected not to follow the federal National Environmental Protection Act process. It also did not want to go after the U.S. Department of Transportation New Starts funding, which would have had resulted in its competing against both the LIRR East Side Access and Second Avenue subway projects. The MTA provided virtually no financial assistance and insisted New York City pay for the project.

The MTA could have leveraged the $2.4 billion in locally committed funding to apply for New Starts. Using $2.4 billion as a local share could have convinced the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide $500 million in federal funding that would have paid for the deleted station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. Offering to pay more than 80% of the total project cost would have made it easier to compete against other transit agencies around the nation that have their own proposed New Starts projects.

Work for the deleted station could have been part of an original construction bid package awarded in 2007. It could have been included as an option to the base bid. This would have afforded MTA the opportunity to add the deleted station as part of the construction contract at a later date if funding were found. Should the MTA eventually decide to build the station, the cost could be significantly higher than $500 million.

At the end of the day, riders and taxpayers have to ask if $2.4 billion for a 1.5-mile extension to one additional station built 21 months behind schedule is worth the cost.

Malala Yousafzai – A Symbol Of Courage


 Malala Yousafzai – A symbol of courage

According to Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of LOVE overcomes the love of POWER, the world will know PEACE.” – such humble words underpinning a compelling, hopeful message. Words, no matter how simple, can speak volumes. Words can inspire. Words can be the catalyst for change.

This brings me to the story of Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl, described as a peace activist, who was shot in the head by Taliban extremists, merely for fighting for what should be every child’s right – to be educated.

Since 2007, Malala’s hometown of Swat has been infiltrated by the Taliban regime, which has set about imposing their will on residents through the use of fear and intimidation1. Under Taliban rule, “men have been forced to grow beards, opponents of their beliefs are beheaded and women are prevented from going to…

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