Earth Day at Sharp

Sharp Manufacturing brought in Earth Day with the flip of a switch on the roof of its Memphis plant.

Memphis Light Gas and Water Division president Jerry Collins threw the ceremonial switch on a rooftop solar array Sharp is using to provide a small part of its power.

The solar panels are made beneath the roof in the Memphis plant and are a booming business.

With 400 employees, the Sharp plant runs 24/7 making 60,000 panels a month. That’s up from 20,000 a month last June.

Sharp already had a solar array at ground level. The rooftop array is much bigger with over 700 panels. It’s not quite the size of a football field. The roof also has a white surface that keeps temperatures in the plant cooler and makes for better conditions for the panels to turn sunlight into energy.

T.C. Jones Jr., general manager of the Memphis plant and vice president of human resources and general affairs, said the rooftop array will provide only a “very small amount” of the energy used by the plant. The array is big enough to power 15-20 houses.

Jones and other Sharp executives say the rooftop array is a way of building public awareness as Sharp and other solar energy manufacturers work on ways to make the panels more effective in harnessing power from the sun. As the technology now stands, it would be impossible to make a regular sized home completely solar powered because of the number of panels required and the small roof space, Jones said.

The Memphis plant is also expanding its work to include designing and fabricating the mounting structure for the solar panels that have been made there since 2003.

The ceremonial switch lit up several Sharp LED lights on a tote board. The solar energy converted by the panels goes directly into the plants power system.

Collins was chosen to do the honors because of the utility’s work to get the plant back on line following a storm in February 2008 in the area that spawned a tornado. The plant was one of several in the area heavily damaged by the storm.

One of the only two certainties in life

Of course Shelby County can produce a budget that includes major spending increases without hiking the tax rate.

Shelby County – and Memphis – set their tax rates too high in 2009, as The Daily News reported here.

And both governments are still benefitting from that excess.

The Rent vs. Buy Calculation

The New York Times did an interesting story on the question of whether it’s better to rent or buy a home now, given the beating that house prices have gone through in the last 18+ months.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/business/economy/21leonhardt.html

The article includes extensive analysis, it seems, including a city-by-city rating of those markets in which you’re better off buying, those you’re better off renting. Memphis is included, and is scored as what I’d call a 50/50 market — neither renting nor buying is high risk. Which would seem like a good thing to me, reflecting the fact that home prices are neither too high or too low.

There’s also a nifty rent vs. buy calculator. I love online calculators.

Doctors’ groups start Medicare petition

The Tennessee Medical Association is one several doctors’ groups across the nation asking people to sign a petition urging Congress stop delaying a fix for the Medicare and Tricare reimbursement formula.
This year, Congress has repeatedly put off what to do about a 21 percent physician payment cut by delaying it from taking effect month-by-month. Currently, the cuts are scheduled to take effect June 1.
The cuts are required by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which sets a sustainable growth-rate (SGR) formula for setting physician reimbursements. Doctors and health care experts have long complained the SGR formula is flawed.
To see the wording on the petition, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/meltdown/

FDA looks at home-based medical devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it was going to begin monitoring the use of medical devices in home settings.
The federal agency is currently developing a guidance document for devices used to treat kidney failure, wound therapy care, intravenous therapy and ventilators. This summer, it is asking manufacturers of these devices to voluntarily submit their labeling to the agency.
To learn more about the regulatory changes, visit www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm209138.htm

Dansette

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