Heat and Frost Insulators News and Events

Installation of Mechanical Insulation could qualify for a tax credit

Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT) Executive Director Pete Ielmini joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and talked about the Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Tax Deduction.

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Legislative Update: Mechanical Insulation Incentive Bill progress

With the support of Congressman Bob Dold, Republican from Illinois, as the new sponsor of the Mechanical Insulation Incentive Bill, we worked with his staff to identify a lead Democrat co-sponsor.

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Bipartisan Support for Mechanical Insulation Incentive Bill

Congressman Bob Dold, R- Ill, and House Democrat co-sponsor, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D -Ca, introduced the Mechanical Insulation Incentive Bill (H.R. 4165) to the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 3.

The Mechanical Insulation Incentive bill was originally co-sponsored by Representative Sanchez, and has since gained the support of Representative Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, in December of 2016, Representative Richard L. Hanna, R-NY in February of 2016, and most recently Representative Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill, on March 14.

Both Congressman Dold and Congresswoman Sanchez serve on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and together, they are well-positioned to promote the tax incentive for mechanical insulation.

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Electrical cooperative pulls out of Kemper power plant deal

The entity that procures power for many Mississippi electric cooperatives Wednesday pulled out of a deal to buy 15 percent of the $6.2 billion Kemper County power plant, blowing a hole in Mississippi Power's financing plan for the project.

South Mississippi Electric Power Association spokeswoman Sara Peterson said SMEPA's board voted to back out of a plan to buy a share of the plant. Peterson said the association's staff did a study which found that electricity from Kemper would cost more than previously planned because of rising construction costs.

"We entered into the purchase agreement in 2010," General Manager and CEO Jim Compton said in a statement. "Since then, there have been multiple changes in the project, and also changes in our power supply needs. The board determined that proceeding to closing was not in SMEPA's best interests, and we needed to let (Mississippi Power) know so that alternate plans could proceed."

Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard said the company was disappointed to learn of SMEPA's decision.

"We are currently evaluating next steps," Shepard said.

SMEPA is a cooperative that buys and generates power for 11 electrical cooperatives in southern and western Mississippi outside of Tennessee Valley Authority territory. Those 11 retail cooperatives serve more than 400,000 accounts combined. SMEPA had said in 2012 that it expected to pay about $500 million for its 15 percent share of the Kemper plant, officially known as Plant Ratcliffe.

SMEPA's move comes days after the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. had filed new rate plans with the state to pay for the share of the plant that would be shouldered by Mississippi Power's own 186,000 customers from Meridian to the Gulf Coast. It's common for privately owned utilities to sell shares of their power plants to cooperatives.

SMEPA has traditionally been a big customer of Mississippi Power, and Peterson said that today the association buys 28 percent of its electricity from the company. However, SMEPA has been increasing the share of power that it generates on its own, overhauling two power plants that it owns in south Mississippi and recently purchasing a natural gas fired power plant near Batesville.

SMEPA had said it was buying the share of Kemper to accommodate future growth. However, Peterson said Wednesday that the association now makes or buys enough electricity to cover its current needs.

Customers of at least some SMEPA-served cooperatives had already seen their rates rise in part to pay for Kemper construction.

Ron Barnes, a spokesman for Coast Electric Power Association, said his utilities' rates had gone up because SMEPA had passed on the higher cost of power that it is purchasing from Mississippi Power.

Barnes said that federal wholesale energy regulators had allowed Mississippi Power to pass on part of the cost of construction.

Mississippi Power's own customers are paying rates that are 18 percent higher for Kemper, although the state Supreme Court has ordered a refund claiming the Public Service Commission improperly approved the increase.

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Trans-Pacific Trickle-Down Economics

Then came the bailout of Wall Street in 2008. It was sold as the means of preserving the economy.

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The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast-Track Gets Hot

Contrary to what the governors were claiming in their letter, trade was a net negative to the tune of more than $130 billion over this five-year period. Instead of adding jobs, the growing trade deficit was drag on growth, slowing job creation and putting downward pressure on wages. The growth in the trade deficit over this period has the same impact on the economy as if people pulled $130 billion out of their paychecks each year and stuffed it under their mattress.

Secretary of State John Kerry also got into the act with a speech that talked about the importance of the world economy. He told his audience that most of the growth in the future will be outside of the United States and that we will be missing huge markets if we don’t have an open economy.

This is true, but it has about as much relevance to the TPP and fast-track as an analysis of the Washington Wizards’ playoff prospects. The United States already has almost $4 trillion in trade annually (at 23 percent of GDP). This figure has been rising rapidly. It will continue to rise rapidly whether or not Congress approves the TPP. The fact that trade is good has nothing to do with whether Congress should approve the TPP.

This is a lesson that was apparently also lost on Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. In a New York Times column last week Mankiw argued for the congressional approval on fast-track authority based on the claim that all economists agree that free trade is good.

In fact, not all economists agree that all reductions in trade barriers are good. But more importantly, the TPP is not primarily about reducing trade barriers. The TPP is essentially a pact in which the Obama administration invited industry representatives to get together a wish list and see what they could impose on the other parties to the deal.

Since formal trade barriers are already low, very little time was spent on cutting tariffs or ending quotas. Most of the deal is about imposing a business-friendly regulatory structure. The rules in the TPP can be used to challenge any consumer, labor, or environmental regulation approved at the state, local or federal level. The enforcement powers will rest with an extra-judicial dispute settlement mechanism that will impose penalties that are not subject to appeal.

On this issue President Obama’s assurance that the TPP will not challenge financial regulation or other types of regulation are worthless. He has no idea what sort of people will be appointed to these tribunals in future years. The tribunals are not bound by U.S. law or even the precedent of rulings from other tribunals. Does President Obama really want us to believe that he knows a President Bush or President Walker won’t appoint people who will use the tribunals to undermine environmental and labor regulations?

The absurdity of conflating the TPP with “free trade” is brought out by the fact that its biggest impact may well be from increasing the strength of patent protection, especially in the case of prescription drugs. Patents are government-granted monopolies. They are the opposite of free trade. The TPP will make them stronger and longer raising drug prices. This increase in protectionism is a drag on growth and will slow job creation.

The Obama administration has punted in the one area where a trade deal may have had a major positive impact. The deal will not have any rules on currency. The main reason the United States continues to run large trade deficits is that our trading partners deliberately prop up the dollar against their currencies. This makes their goods relatively cheaper and ours more expensive.

The Obama administration could have made currency rules front and center in a trade deal, but that would have only made sense if its main concern was jobs and workers. Instead we have a deal that is a piñata for the corporations who were at the table, and who the Democrats are counting on to give generously in the 2016 campaign.

This doesn’t look very pretty to the rest of us, which is why the Obama administration will have to play fast and loose with the truth to get the TPP through Congress.


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Let Congress know you support H.R. 184

H.R. 184, the Mechanical Insulation Installation Incentive Act, was recently re-introduced by Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Representative Timothy Bishop (D-NY).

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