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It’s minus eight degrees Celsius on a late winter morning in western Massachusetts. But electrician Ed Martell is on the job, helping build an 8,000-panel solar farm outside the town of Wales, 110 kilometers southwest of Boston.
Martell says solar installations have been going nonstop for the past several years.
“I thought it was going to be a flash in the pan a couple years ago,” he told VOA. “I’ve seen solar keep going and going and going.”
Although sunshine is not the first image that comes to mind in connection with Massachusetts, policy decisions have propelled the state to third place nationwide in solar jobs, behind sunny California and Florida, which is known as the Sunshine State.
Martell says the industry has been growing at a time when there has not been much other work for electricians.
“If it wasn’t for solar, there would have been a two-year period when I wouldn’t have worked at all,” he added. “So, yes, it’s very good for us.”
As the planet heats up, experts say the world needs to stop burning the fossil fuels that have powered civilization for centuries and switch to energy sources that do not release greenhouse gases that drive up the Earth’s temperature and produce weather extremes.
The transition will not be easy. There will be winners and losers, economists say.
The smokestack and the rusting remains of the 1960s-turquoise turbine are the last identifiable remains of the Mount Tom Station coal-fired power plant located 145 kilometers west of Boston in Holyoke, Mass.
Former maintenance engineer Clancy Kaye kept the plant running for more than 30 years.
But between expensive environmental upgrades, the plunging price of natural gas, and concerns from neighborhood groups about climate change and air pollution, the plant’s owners pulled the plug in 2014.
They then built one of the largest solar farms with battery storage in New England just down the street.
Eighty people worked at Mount Tom at its peak. When it finally closed in 2014, the number was down to 28. Some of them retired. The company offered a generous severance package, Kaye said. But about a dozen employees had to take other jobs with 30 percent to 50 percent pay cuts and fewer benefits.
“It’s been really a very rude awakening for many people who used to make some very good money. And some very highly skilled people,” Kaye said.
As coal-fired plants close across the country, he added, “the good jobs — and I mean good paying, good benefits, good pension — those jobs are virtually all going away for your average middle-class person.”
More than half of the 530 coal-fired power plants that were running in 2010 have shut down or plan to by 2030, according to the Sierra Club, an Oakland, California-based environmental group.
There have been losses in Massachusetts.
Winners in state policy
But experts say the state’s policies to fight climate change have created more winners.
While Congress and the White House have feuded for years about what, if anything, to do, Republican and Democratic leaders in the Bay State have taken innovative steps to reduce greenhouse gases.
In 2008, Massachusetts was among the first U.S. states to set a greenhouse gas reduction target. By mid-century, the state aims to have cut emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
Accompanying legislation requires utilities to buy increasing amounts of renewable energy and charges power companies for carbon pollution. The state created aggressive programs to promote energy efficiency.
“Some detractors did say that this is going to turn the economy upside down, this is going to cost people more,” said Mark Sylvia, former Massachusetts energy resources commissioner.
“But in fact,” he said, “it did the exact opposite.”
With a clear signal from the government, the market responded. Clean energy is now a $13 billion industry in Massachusetts. Its workforce has grown 84 percent since 2010. The sector now employs more than 110,000 workers, three percent of the state’s workforce.
In Washington, the climate debate is polarized between Democrats calling for an end to fossil fuels and Republicans saying these proposals will destroy jobs, when they acknowledge the problem at all. Only recently did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky acknowledge that human activities are responsible for climate change.
But Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Charlie Baker took over from a Democrat, Deval Patrick, and held firm on climate policy.
“In Massachusetts, climate change is not a partisan issue,” Baker told the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in February.
“While we sometimes disagree on specific policies,” he added, “we understand the science and know the impacts are real because we’re experiencing them firsthand.”
Baker noted that since he took office in 2015, the state has suffered damage from record snowfall, record storm flooding and record drought. Rising temperatures have hurt the state’s winter sports industry and fisheries.
“While many of these challenges are not new, they are more frequent and more damaging than ever,” he said.
Baker’s position on climate change has evolved since his unsuccessful 2010 run for governor. At that time, he told The Boston Globe newspaper he was “not smart enough to believe that I know” whether humans were responsible for global warming.
But in his testimony, he called for a federal target for greenhouse gas emission reductions, a proposal congressional Republicans have repeatedly rejected.
He noted that since the state set its target in 2008, “far from being an economic burden, we have seen close to a 70 percent increase over 1990 levels” in the state economy.
Baker recently rolled out an updated incentive program for solar power and is planning major offshore wind installations that are expected to create 3,600 local jobs.
And to pursue the jobs of the future, the state has provided more than $2 million in loans and grants to Greentown Labs, a business incubator for startups working on clean technologies.
The growth will not help everyone, however.
In the power generation business, “if you want to know where the jobs are, take an aerial view of the parking lot,” said Donnie Colston, head of the utility department at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
A coal plant may have 150 to 200 cars in the lot, Colston said.
But a solar farm? No parking lot.
“We have members that will clean them, they’ll maintain them, they’ll make sure that they’re running properly,” Colston said. “But that’s not a full-time job.”
Environmentalists pushing to close coal-fired power plants are sympathetic to the threat of lost jobs.
From freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to local Sierra Club chapters, activists are calling for a “just transition” for displaced workers in fossil fuel industries — job retraining and other measures to cushion the blow.
But the workers don’t want to hear it.
“They want you to have a soft landing and a just transition,” said Kaye, the former Mount Tom coal plant worker, “but they have the saw in their hand that’s cutting the branch that you’re sitting on.”
Massachusetts closed its last coal-fired power plant in 2017. While the transition has been hard on many of his colleagues, Kaye is not bitter. He started a pool installation company that’s expanding.
He said he always knew the plant wasn’t helping the environment. And change happens.
“We used to say coal is king, King Coal. But it’s just not that way anymore,” he said. “And all in all, I think that’s probably a good thing.” (VOA)
Diwali is known for gifting and jewellery tops the list, with the focus on buying gold and diamonds. ORRA jewellery, a trusted diamond jewellery brand is gearing up for the festive and bridal season. As they open their 50th store in the country, IANSlife caught up with Dipu Mehta, Managing Director, ORRA, to find out how the company plans to ramp up its now 50 company-owned and operated stores, expanding its retail presence in Tier-1 and 2 cities and target the millennial segment.
Q: The brand is expanding in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, is brick and mortar the way forward to create a presence in this segment?
A: ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. But we aren't opening stores in any new markets. We are only opening in markets where we are already present. We are increasing the number of stores within cities as the demand for jewellery buying has also increased. Currently, we are present in 25 cities with 50 stores, and by the end of the month, we would be launching another seven stores.
Also with a category like jewellery, it is important to have brick and mortar stores as the customers like to see and hold higher value jewellery before purchasing. Jewellery buying is an important decision to the customers and having a store gives them that assurance.
ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. | Wikimedia Commons
Q: Jewellery is recession-proof do you agree and why?
A: Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion-led purchase. It is also considered a great investment. The pandemic has affected all industries and the purchase pattern of consumers has slowed down. We wouldn't call it recession-proof but due to the festive season coming up, we predict a good season for all retailers.
Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion led purchase. | Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash
Q: The small Indian wedding doesn't mean that jewellery gets minimal, it just means people are investing more in jewellery. Please elaborate on how the brand's consumer behaviour has shifted in this regard.
A: Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. It doesn't matter if the wedding is on a large scale or small scale, the kind of jewellery worn has been large. The only difference we see now is due to the pandemic and the limited number of guests at weddings the families are spending more money than before on buying diamond jewellery. We have seen the customers upgrade to higher-value diamond necklaces than ever before.
Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. | Photo by Aayush(gop) Rawat on Unsplash
Q: The brand is the only one to offer 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery. Please share the idea behind this and what is the impact it has had on sales?
A: The idea came from the insight that during a wedding in the family, the father of the bride is always the most worried about all the wedding expenses. At ORRA, we understand this and decided to offer 0 per cent interest EMI.
We are the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and we have seen a great response from customers. Offering this has led a lot of customers to upgrade the jewellery and purchase larger pieces. We are seeing a growing trend of customers who prefer buying jewellery on EMI and to pay it in equal monthly installments instead of paying the whole amount in one go.
OORA is the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and they have seen a great response from customers. | Needpix
Q: The millennial and Gen Z as a segment, how important are they to you and are you doing any digital marketing for this audience?
A: The millennial and Gen z customers are extremely important to us and we launched our 'Desired Collection' specially to target this age group and style. This generation has a distinct style and makes their own decisions, they are tech savvy and are comfortable making jewellery purchases on our e-commerce website. They love a good deal along with great designs and quality products. Our customers are extremely engaged with us on our social media handles and we ensure that we respond to all their product-related queries within a day. We also have live chat and video calling facility which helps them make a decision.
OORA's customers are extremely engaged with them on our social media handles and they ensure that they respond to all their product-related queries within a day. | Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
Q: Lastly what are the trends you predict for 2021 and 2022?
A: We see an upward trend this season and in the coming few months. We see an increase in demand in diamond jewellery purchases and with the help of 0 percent interest EMI we can see more and more customers buying larger pieces of diamond jewellery. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: diamond jewellery purchase, Diwali is known for gifting and jewelry, festive and bridal season,
The Centre on Wednesday directed all Union Ministries and Departments to clear Air India's dues immediately. An office memorandum from the Finance Ministry's Department of Expenditure said: "Recently, the Government of India has decided to disinvest Air India, and the process of disinvestment of Air India and Air India Express is ongoing.""Air India has stopped extending credit facilities on account of purchase of air tickets. Therefore, all Ministries or Departments are directed to clear Air India's dues immediately." "Air tickets from Air India may be purchased in cash till further instructions."
In 2009, the Centre had mandated that Central government officers travel via Air India for all official purposes including availing of LTC. On Monday, conglomerate Tata Group entered into a share purchase agreement with the Central government for buying out the latter's stake in national carrier Air India, Air India Express, and AISATS.
Earlier, a Letter of Intent was issued to the Tata Group. After the SPA, Tata Group would need to fulfill the conditions precedent in the agreement before taking over the airline. The rest of the transaction is expected to be completed by December.
Tata Sons' subsidiary Talace emerged as the highest bidder for the national carrier under the divestment process. Talace had quoted an enterprise value of Rs 18,000 crore for 100 per cent equity shareholding of the Centre in Air India along with that of Air India Express and AISATS. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, air India, ministers, government, purchase, dues, Tata group, centre
Sports betting has been around for centuries for the audience to not only watch the sport but to get more deeply involved in the match. It is a fun and often profitable activity for the viewer to win some extra fortune or simply get some extra sweat while watching the game. At first glance, sports betting may look like it's pure luck, but when you indulge deeper into the activity you realize it is more of a calculative and research activity than just pure luck. We must note that yes, luck does play a certain role to some extend but a win is not completely dependent on luck, if you're putting your bets on a certain team you have to make sure to do some research about the players on the team, history of wins and losses of the team and compare the probability of winning and then place bets.
Even though sports betting has existed since the ancient era, it was not until recently that it became increasingly popular among the youth. This happened due to the legalization of the activity and the rise of online sports betting. The technological revolution has expanded the sports betting industry, offering the bettors new markets and ways to bet. The only major difference between online bookmarkers and traditional brick-and-mortar venues of sports betting is that now you can place bets online from your mobile devices, laptops, computers etc.
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Online sports betting allows the sports enthusiastic bettors to place their sports bet online from wherever they are on real-life happening sports events. For instance, if there is a match between Chelsea F.C. and Machester United in the English Premier League, you can place wagers on either of the team to win from your comfort space, on your device and if you correctly predict the outcome, you'll win money.
How to Bet on Sports?
Sport betting gives more thrill and involvement in the sport to the bettor.Istockphoto
Now that you understand the basic mechanism of sports betting, how and where should you place your bets? For new bettors, sports betting can be a little intimidating because you're putting real money as stakes and no one wants to lose it. Here are the steps to place your sports bets online:
Choose a betting site: The first step to placing your sports bets is to find a reliable sports betting site. BetRivers sportsbook is one of the most popular sports betting sites in the US which also has a mobile app. It has a solid design with intuitive navigation, user friendly and polished layout.
Sign up: After choosing the website, you must sign up and provide simple details like your name, email address, age etc. to verify your proof of identity and if you're legally allowed to start betting in the state or not.
Deposit money in your online sportsbook: Once you've registered an account, you can immediately deposit some money and place your bets on the sport of your choice. Most online sports betting platforms accept numerous deposit methods. BetRivers accepts various methods like online banking, Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, pay+, etc; and withdrawing money is as simple as depositing the amount.
ALSO READ: The Growth of The Sports Betting Market
Locate the market: Before placing your first bet, pinpoint the sports you want to place bets on, then select specific competitions or leagues that interests you the most. Then you need to find a team you want to bet on. Do some research on the odds and market. Once you've made up your mind you can bet your money on your prediction.
Place your first bet: Once you're certain about your bet, you're required to enter the amount you want to bet. Most sites give you a preview of how much a bettor stands to win in the bet slip. If you're satisfied with the odds, you can happily hit the button to confirm your bet and wait for the results.
Enjoy the game: The bet has been placed, the game has started, now all you need to do is sit back, relax and watch the game and let your bet come in.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links)