Happy Holidays from USAP Group

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Efficiency During The Holidays: What’s the cost of decorating?

Dominion North Carolina has put together a calculator to help figure the cost to light your home — but it may fall short for the true holiday fanatic. The app only lets you assume running 150 strings of lights for 24 hours/day — certainly not up to Clark Griswold standards:

Maxing out Dominion’s calculator would mean burning 396 Kwh/day at  cost of about $1,300 in December. But it is the holidays, after all, and you could turn the lights off during the day.

National Grid included among its holiday tips a “smart baking” section, and noted that “on average, a whole meal can be cooked in a slow cooker for 17 cents worth of electricity.” The utility suggests using the smallest appliance, pan and burner while cooking to save energy, and notes microwave ovens require less than half the energy of a conventional oven.

And does your neighborhood go all-out on the homefront decorations? A string of lights on the tree or mantle may not draw that much power, but according to National Grid more elaborate decorations come with a cost.

Yard inflatables can which range from simple blow-up cartoon characters to large globes with rotating figures, blowing snow and lights. “Large globes consume about 150 watts per hour, while rotating carousels consume around 200 watts. At 10 hours per day, the total cost of electricity could be $10 per inflatable, per month,” the utility said.

Full artcle @ UtilityDive

The 5 best business leaders of 2014

Fortune

It’s that time again. Yes folks, it’s time to rank the best business leaders of 2014—and who better to ask than Sydney Finkelstein, professor of strategy and leadership at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, who spends his year watching for epic leadership fails and victories?

Finkelstein provided Fortune an exclusive look at his top five business executives of the year. How did he select his finalists? Finkelstein starts with the numbers, screening for a variety of financial metrics, including the executives’ company stock price and market share. Then he looks at the way the sausage was made. How was a change communicated or a crisis averted?

The list is below. Did he get it right? Who did he miss? Let us know.

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8 qualities of leaders who deliver value every day

Fortune

This post is in partnership with Entrepreneur. The article below was originally published at Entrepreneur.com.

By Jeff Boss, Entrepreneur.com

Leadership is a means to create value for others through self-expression. How a leader shows up is everything as it sets the tone for others to either emulate or evade.

Making the jump from manager to director to leader is never a clear-cut process. The position itself changes but the “how to lead” skills are never made clear, so what happens is newly-appointed leaders apply yesterday’s management tactics to today’s leadership demands, and the two don’t play nicely.

Before assuming your next leadership role, run through the following checklist to ensure you’re on the right track to deliver value every day:

1. Be positive, but not illusory.

Complaints go up the chain of command, not down. Whining or complaining about strategic issues in front of direct reports only undermines the…

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US Navy Provides $3 Million In Fuding For Wave Energy Project

It’s been a while since we checked into the US Navy wave energy test site in Hawaii, but our friends over at Columbia Power Technologies steered us in that direction to check out their new StingRAY wave energy converter. The device, which is slated for utility-scale wave energy generation, will get its first full open-water demo at the facility. The US Navy has funded the project through its Naval Facilities and Engineering Command to the tune of $3 million.

Those of you familiar with wave energy (and its sister, tidal energy) know that this emerging alternative energy field is fraught with challenges, especially when you’re talking about utility-scale development. While the kinks are being worked out you’re going to see a lot of variation in design, so let’s take a look and see how Columbia Power’s StingRAY works that out.

Basically, wave energy converters rely on the natural movement of waves to drive a piston up and down, move a drive shaft, or stir up some other form of mechanical motion. The mechanical energy gets converted to electricity by a generator and there you have it.

That sounds simple enough, but aside from Scotland, which seems to have taken the ball and run with it, the global wave energy field hasn’t been keeping up with other forms of alternative energy, most notably wind and solar.

That could be about to change. The wave energy field seems to be taking some lessons learned from wind energy, as demonstrated by the StingRAY wave energy converter. The heart of the converter is a direct-drive system that eliminates excess moving parts, along with permanent magnet generators.

The StingRAY is built from corrosion-resistant composite materials, and it is designed with modularity in mind to reduce the cost of maintenance and repair. Also helping to build in efficiencies and lower costs is a single-point mooring system.

The generators convert the wave energy to electricity, which is then stabilized for grid compatibility before being sent off the device via cable. Columbia Power envisions an offshore “substation” to assemble the electricity from multiple devices before sending it to the grid

The StingRAY was designed with an eye toward avoiding some of the aesthetic concerns that can bedevil offshore wind farms, most notably in the case of the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

As you can see from the photo, and the “waterline” indication on the schematic, the StingRAY has a low above-water profile, which is practically nothing when compared to offshore wind turbines. The system was designed for deployment in depths of more than 60 meters, typically located at least a mile or more offshore.

Don’t hold your breath for the full scale demo project to hit the water — it’s slated for 2016 — but in the meantime you can check out more projects at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS — cute, right?).

Full Article @ CleanTechnica