A debate emerges: are solar panels a commodity yet?

Gigaom

Solar factories around the world are rolling out over a billion solar panels each year and the price of solar panels is at one of the lowest points in history. So naturally the term “commodity” is being used to describe them, meaning they’re now a product that can be mass-produced and are mostly undifferentiated. But is that description correct at this point in the solar life cycle and, if not, what does that mean for services that have been built on top of solar becoming a commodity (like banks investing in low-risk solar projects)?

“(Solar) modules are not a commodity. We have seen a lot of problems — but we have a lot of modules that perform great, too,” said Brian Matthay, vice president in Well Fargo’s environmental finance group, during a panel discussion at Greentech Media’s solar conference just south of San Francisco this week. “You need to negotiate…

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Financial Planning: Couples Display Lack of Retirement Planning Teamwork

Summit Wealth Advisors, LLC

More than 80% of married couples disagree about important aspects of their retirement plans, according to a recent survey,* the latest among several that show couples either at odds over their plans or unaware of important details.

While some disagreements show up when couples are asked about their retirement assumptions, others pertain to basic financial facts. Large numbers don’t agree on whether they own an annuity (39%), an IRA (25%) or if they will need to sell real estate to fund their retirements (40%). 

Concerned retirement specialists cite such surveys as evidence that far too many couples simply don’t work together within their financial plans. Less than half of couples jointly make budgeting and bill-paying decisions, and fewer still – 38% – discuss retirement savings and investment decisions. It’s not surprising, then, that only 15% of couples in the newest study voiced confidence that either one or the other could…

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85 MPH to Begin on Texas Highway 130 this Week

THE TRANSPORTATION FIRM, LLC

A 40-mile stretch of a Central Texas toll road is going to be open for travel this Wednesday, and officials and residents will be watching to see how fast traffic goes — and whether the state’s drivers can handle the extra speed.

The new stretch of Texas Highway 130 will allow drivers to bypass Austin and avoid an often-congested Interstate 35. Its 85 mph speed limit will be the highest in the United States.

While state officials say they’re not immediately worried higher speeds will lead to more crashes, they are working to promote good driving habits, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Officials have arranged the installation of 3,400 signs that tell drivers the left lane is for passing only — a message also displayed on electronic signs.

According to Texas Transportation Commission member Bill Meadows,

We’re going to have to teach Texans how to drive these safer speeds.

The…

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Later On

That’s why Walmart so strongly opposes unions. Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, writes in NakedCapitalism.com:

For the first time ever, a strike is taking place in America aimed at the most powerful company in the economy: Walmart. Workers at Walmart stores across the country, as Josh Eidelson reports, are threatening to walk out on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. These labor actions are coming on top of earlier labor actions at Walmart’s warehouse contractors linked to “non-payment of overtime, non-payment for all hours worked, and even pay less than the minimum wage.”

The possible strike could be very significant, because the target of the strike is the most important driver of the race to the bottom economy. Walmart is massive – the company is the largest private employer in the US, with more than 2 million employees. The average American household spends…

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2012 Vice Presidential Debate

I normally don’t talk about politics, but I just have to get this off my chest.

If I was President Obama, I would be very unhappy with Joe Biden’s rude and unprofessional behavior last night. Listening to the morning news, someone had counted how many times Biden interrupted and/or had spoken over Paul Ryan and it was more than 80 times. He constantly snickered and laughed at anything Ryan had to say.

I know and understand that Biden has more foreign policy experience than the Romney/Ryan camp, but I can’t help but wonder how many foreign dignitaries Biden had infuriated over his career. If he can’t listen to what people are saying and be professional and measured in his responses, how can he be trusted with Foreign Policy?

Now let’s talk about the moderator, or lack thereof… She definitely was not neutral last night in my opinion.

Setting policy aside, the inappropriate behavior by Biden may have just cost them the election. I was an “undecided” vote before, but there is no way that I am voting for Obama/Biden now.

Lenovo in the Lead

Strategy Inc.

Today’s chart shows global third quarter unit shipments of leading PC vendors. http://www.statista.com/markets/15/topic/123/hardware/chart/650/global-shipments-of-leading-pc-vendors-in-q3-2012/

Lenovo has taken the lead in the global PC market. The Chinese vendor shipped 13.77 million units in the third quarter, overtaking Hewlett-Packard for the first time.

HP shipped 13.55 million PCs between June and September, a 16 percent decline over last year’s third quarter. In The WSJ last week is an article chronicling the woes at HP. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443635404578034473376159186.html

Overall, 87.5 million PCs were shipped in the past three months, down 8 percent from last year’s total of 95.45 million units.

Gartner associates the decline with the imminent arrival of Windows 8. According to the IT research specialist, many retailers were conservative in placing orders as they focused on clearing out inventory ahead of the Windows 8 launch. Lenovo may have benefitted from this in taking the market lead. The Chinese company puts a strong focus…

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