Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rockefeller Foundation invests in Mainstream project

July 28, 2016 3:14 am


Rockefeller fund backs Africa renewables

Andrew Ward, Energy Editor

The family foundation built on the riches of John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil has backed a $177.5m wind and solar power programme in Africa, marking its biggest move into green energy since announcing plans to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is part of a consortium of investors supporting a scheme led by Mainstream Renewable Power of Ireland to build 1.3 gigawatts of carbon-free generating capacity in Africa by 2018.

The agreement is the clearest sign yet of the fund making good on its 2014 promise to withdraw from fossil fuel investments and reallocate resources to green energy because of concern about climate change.

That decision drew criticism at the time from some in the oil sector who saw it as a betrayal of an industry that formed the basis of Rockefeller wealth. But Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said this week that the switch to renewable energy was in keeping with the family spirit.

He said: “John D Rockefeller was a great visionary who saw in petroleum a product that was going to change the world. If he were alive today he would see that the future is going to be in green power.”

About 3.3 per cent of the $816m fund is still invested in fossil fuel assets — mostly oil and gas companies — but this is down from 7 per cent two years ago and Mr Heintz said these would continue to be sold.

The fund, founded by the sons of Mr Rockefeller in 1940 to promote “a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world”, has committed $10m to the African renewables scheme.

The money will help finance Lekela Power, a joint-venture between Mainstream and Actis, a private equity fund spun out of the UK government in 2004 to invest in the developing world. Lekela is planning wind and solar projects in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Senegal.

Mr Heintz said that while there would be environmental and humanitarian benefits from the investment, his fund’s main objective was to make money.

“This is a continent with a huge energy deficit,” he said. “So there is a social impulse [to invest] but it is also an extraordinary opportunity for Africa to leapfrog the old energy systems of the past to the new green energy systems of the future.”

The Rockefeller-backed consortium will contribute $117.5m to the fundraising, with a further $60m coming from Mainstream. Other investors include the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private lending arm.

If [Rockefeller] were alive today he would see that the future is going to be in green power

- Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Mainstream has been operating in Africa since 2009 and says it is playing an important role in the delivery of US President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” plan to add 30,000 megawatts of electricity capacity to the continent by 2030.

Eddie O’Connor, the co-founder and chief executive of Mainstream, said the falling cost of wind and solar power meant these were increasingly the most affordable options for expanding access to electricity in Africa.

“Wind power is about 50 per cent cheaper than new coal capacity in South Africa,” he said. “It’s not only the righteous thing to do from an environmental standpoint but it’s also sensible economically.”

According to the International Energy Agency, 635m people in Africa — more than half the population — did not have access to electricity in 2013.

Gov. Rauner calls for term limits for state legislators

By WIFR Newsroom

Posted: Tue 5:51 PM, Jul 26, 2016

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) – Governor Bruce Rauner calls for reform of what he says is a rigged system in Springfield by putting term limits on state legislators.

The governor points out some state politicians have held office for two, three, or even four decades. Only one third of candidates will face an opponent in the upcoming general election and only 12% had an opponent in the primaries. Rauner is encouraging the Illinois General Assembly to vote for a term limits constitutional amendment during the veto session this fall.

"You know when George Washington founded America he could have been president for life. he said no, 8 years and left. We need that mindset. I want a term limit myself, at the max 8 years. I think everybody should leave office after a few years, go back to the real world and let new ideas, fresh faces come into government,” says Governor Bruce Rauner (R) Illinois.

Rauner says term limits won’t fix every problem with state government, but will shift politicians’ focus from power to public service.

Above is from:

Fiat Chrysler ending car production in the US


Fiat Chrysler ending car production in the US

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Brent Snavely 3 hrs ago


The company may be called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but by early next year, it won't be making cars in the U.S.

Instead, Fiat Chrysler's U.S. plants will be focusing entirely on pickups and SUVs for the Ram and Jeep brands.

Fiat Chrysler is winding down production of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart and will primarily produce Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups in the U.S. The company's remaining car models will be made in Mexico or Canada.

Ending passenger car production in the U.S. is part of CEO Sergio Marchionne's multibillion-dollar plan to increase profit margins to match competitors. It's a bet that recognizes the growing popularity of SUVs in America, low gas prices and lower cost of producing vehicles  in Mexico.

"By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States — if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold — all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," Marchionne said Wednesday during a conference call with Wall Street analysts after the automaker reported second-quarter earnings.

The Jeep and Ram brands have been driving sales gains recently,  with the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, highly touted when they were launched, have been disappointments.

"There will be no passenger cars that will be produced in the U.S., and therefore, our expectation is that concentration will give us the possibility to get very close" to the 12.1% profit margin that General Motors reported as part of its second-quarter earnings last week.

Marchionne has been trying for years to increase its North American profit margins and match crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors. His realignment will help the automaker finally reach that goal. That plan also includes moving production of the replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot to Mexico.

"I think our biggest task now is to close the operating margin gap with our competitors. That remains a permanent fixation that we have inside the house," Marchionne said. "I think we will be de-carred in the U.S. by  (the first quarter) of 2017."

A major piece of the puzzle is shelving the Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights. The automaker said earlier this week production will end there in December.

On Tuesday, FCA announced that it plans to spend $1.49 billion to retool its Sterling Heights, Mich., Assembly Plant to make the Ram 1500, which will move from its current plant in Warren when production begins in 2018.

Another piece of the plan is to move production of the Jeep Cherokee from Toledo, Ohio, to Belvidere, Ill., so it can expand production of the Wrangler in Toledo. FCA said last month it plans to spend $1 billion to retool its plants in Toledo, Ohio, and Belvidere, Ill., and create 1,000 new jobs.

UAW President Dennis Williams — who has frequently criticized automakers for moving production to Mexico — said Tuesday that FCA's recent investments were discussed last year as part of the union's contract negotiations.

The Sterling Heights investment "is great for all of our members and all of the employees at FCA and for the local communities," he said.

In negotiations with the Detroit Three last fall, the UAW won raises for entry-level members hired after 2007, moving most to about $29 per hour from $19.28 over the next eight years.

That agreement, combined with other benefits, erodes the ability of the Detroit Three to make a profit off lower-priced small cars in the U.S.

"When you look at the economics of car manufacturing ...the margins that we were getting from our experience of both the Dart and the Chrysler 200 ...yielded returns that would not, on a competitive basis, match even anything close or remotely close to what we could derive from utilization of those assets in the Jeep or Ram world. So we have made that shift," Marchionne said.

Despite FCA's plans to stop producing the Dart and Chrysler 200, Marchionne continues to say he is looking for a partner willing to make those cars for the automaker.

“I think we have made progress. We’re not in a position to announce anything," Marchionne said.