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Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

RENTON, Wash. Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

The aerospace company and the utility, Puget Sound Energy, said the plan will move the Renton factory near Seattle toward an all-renewable energy mix.

Boeing Co. says it will offset electricity from coal and other fuels by paying a premium to buy wind power credits tied to the Bellevue-based utility’s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility near Ellensburg.

The utility’s energy mix in 2013 was about 50 percent hydro, wind and other renewable sources, according to state figures. Natural gas and coal made up the other half, and that’s the portion Boeing plans to replace with renewable energy credits.

“It will cost us a little more in the short term. We think the investment makes sense for the environment, our employees and the community,” said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of the 737 program.

Boeing officials declined to say how much more they’re paying, or how much energy the factory uses. Boeing assembles 42 planes a month at the Renton site, which includes about 4.3 million square feet of building space.

Energy produced in the region from multiple sources gets pooled to the regional grid, so it’s difficult to track the source of a particular electron that ends up being used at a home or a business. So Boeing may still technically get some coal-fired electricity to that plant.

“You can’t direct an electron to any one location. It goes to the power pool,” said Heather Mulligan with the utility. Renewable energy credits “are a way to basically put some ownership on that green electron at the point of use.”

Marc Krasnowsky, a spokesman for NW Energy Coalition that has pushed for more renewable energy use, praised the company for looking at becoming all-renewable.

“They’re basically turning their fossil power green, and that’s laudable,” he said.

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How to Get Home for the Holidays at a Fraction of the Cost

2014-12-17-Amtrakwinter2_edited.jpg
Courtesy of Amtrak

When it comes to holiday travel, scenes from Steve Martin’s miserable journey in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles undoubtedly come to mind. But travel need not be so chaotic, as there are many ways to get where you’re going without ever having to step foot inside an airport, or even your own car. Here are some alternative modes of transportation, from buses to trains to rental cars, that may surprise you with their modern conveniences and significant cost savings.

See: How to Recover From Weather Delays

By bus
Long-distance bus transportation is probably not the first choice for a majority of domestic travelers due to the sheer amount of time it can take to get to a destination. But a 2013 study from DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that city-to-city bus travel is actually growing faster than any other form of intercity transportation. What’s driving this trend? To start, bus travel is not what it used to be. Both Greyhound and Megabus, which travel to more than 120 U.S. cities, offer modern conveniences like free Wi-Fi and power outlets at every seat.

Greyhound has completely refurbished its buses, many of which are brand new. All Greyhound buses now have leather seats and offer more legroom than you’ll find in an airplane’s coach class. Meanwhile, Megabus’s fleet — all double-deckers — offers panoramic views in its upper deck seating, reclining seats and reserved seating options.

Millennials are jumping on the bus travel bandwagon, too. According to Andy Kaplinsky, Greyhound’s chief financial officer, this younger generation of travelers appreciate the reduced environmental impact, the ability to work while commuting and the cost savings: Compared to air travel, consumers save an average of $169 per one-way trip, according to Megabus.

By train
Train travel can also be an efficient way to get to your destination without the hassle of holiday traffic. “In the winter season, you’re much better off in a nice warm Amtrak train, waving at people on the highways as you go by them,” said Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak.

Like Megabus, Amtrak added several upgrades to its trains, such as free Wi-Fi on every short-distance service and at many train stations as well. On long-distance legs, coach seating is equipped with leg and arm rests, and the seats have the ability to deeply recline if you want to snooze. Magliari noted that no ground mode of transportation, besides a limo, has more legroom than Amtrak.

Since the company upgraded to electronic ticketing, the boarding process has improved too. Now, passengers can print boarding passes at home rather than stand in lines at the ticket office.

Compared to driving, you’re likely to get where you’re going a lot faster by train. In parts of the country, Amtrak can travel at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, much faster than car speed limits. Though trains do have to make regular stops, Magliari said that the train will usually beat a car, especially considering holiday traffic.

See: 5 Ways to Earn Miles Without Flying

By car rental
According to Christy Cavallini, spokeswoman for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, renting a car is an increasingly common way to travel over the holidays. “We continue to see year-over-year increase in reservations for the Christmas holiday,” Cavallini said. “We have more than a million vehicles in our fleet, many of which will be rented over the holidays.”

Renting a car offers a few key benefits. For one, it lessens the wear and tear and increased mileage on your own vehicle. If you own a small car, renting a larger vehicle allows you to more easily transport visiting family members. And if you’re looking to try a new make or model before purchasing, renting the car for your holiday travels may provide a more comprehensive impression than a brief test ride at the dealership.

Cavallini does recommend reserving your rental car as soon as possible for the holidays to get the best pricing and availability. She also suggested trying one of the company’s neighborhood rental branches, many of which offer a $9.99 weekend special, allowing customers to rent an economy or compact car Friday through Monday for $9.99 per day with 100 free miles per day.

If you’ve already booked your plane ticket home for the holidays, U.S. News has got you covered there, too, with these hassle-free holiday air travel tips.

See: Beat Holiday Travel Fatigue with These 6 Tips

About the author: Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis-based freelance travel writer who blogs at Go To Travel Gal. You can follow her on Twitter @GoToTravelGal or on Pinterest.

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How Is JetBlue Planning To Improve Its Profitability? – Part 2

In a
previous article, we discussed the revenue-side
measures

that

JetBlue

(
JBLU

) is taking to improve its profitability. In this article, we
explore the cost-side measures that JetBlue is taking to improve
its margins and return on invested capital (
ROIC

). JetBlue is adding more fuel-efficient airplanes to its fleet in
an attempt to lower its operating costs. The carrier is also set to
cut its non-aircraft capital expenditures in 2015, which will boost
its ROIC. In all, through these revenue and cost-side measures,
JetBlue is aiming to lift its profit and ROIC in line with those of
leading U.S. airlines.

We currently have a price estimate of $13 for JetBlue, around
10% below its current market price. JetBlue’s stock has risen by
about 15% over the past month, primarily driven by the sharp
decline in global crude
oil
prices

. We currently estimate JetBlue to post earnings of 70 cents per
share in 2014, compared with its consensus earnings estimate of 69
cents per share.



See our complete analysis of JetBlue here

JetBlue’s Fleet Investments Will Reduce Its Operating
Costs

JetBlue is adding more Airbus A321s to its fleet. The carrier
estimates that this new airplane is 12% more cost efficient than
the Airbus A320, which currently constitutes the bulk of its
fleet. So, the addition of more A321s will reduce JetBlue’s
overall operating cost. In addition, JetBlue is equipping its A320s
with sharklets – curved extensions at wingtips – which improve the
lift that an airplane generates from surrounding air. The
installation of sharklets is expected to improve the cost
efficiency of JetBlue’s A320s by 1-3%. Through these measures,
JetBlue estimates that growth in its non-fuel unit costs will come
down to below 2% per year, from 3.8% per year in
2013. Non-fuel unit cost is a standard metric which measures
how well an airline manages the costs that it can control. Fuel
costs, being linked to global crude oil prices, are excluded from
this metric. If JetBlue is able to limit growth in its non-fuel
unit cost to under 2% per year, then its margins should expand as
growth in the carrier’s unit revenue is expected to be higher.

Improvement in margins is also essential for JetBlue to retain
its historic cost advantage relative to network carriers. Since its
inception, JetBlue has relied on a low-cost operating model to
offer lower fares relative to network carriers such as American (
AAL

), Delta (
DAL

) and United (
UAL

). Lower fares in turn have attracted passenger traffic to JetBlue,
growing its market share. But in the past few years, network
carriers including American, United and Delta have lowered their
operating costs by restructuring under bankruptcy protection. This
has reduced JetBlue’s historic cost advantage and its ability to
offer lower fares vis-a-vis network carriers. So, these fleet
investments that will reduce JetBlue’s operating costs are also
important to protect the carrier’s business model.

In 2015, JetBlue’s non-aircraft capital expense will decline to
about $150-200 million, from $320 million in 2014. The
carrier’s non-aircraft capital expense increased sharply in 2014 as
it spent large amounts in acquiring slots (specific take-off and
landing timings) at the Washington Reagan National Airport and
building the T5i terminal at New York’s JFK Airport. Lower
non-aircraft capital expense in 2015 will also help improve
JetBlue’s ROIC.

All in all, the revenue and cost-side measures that JetBlue is
taking will likely boost its results in the coming quarters.

View Interactive Institutional
Research (Powered by Trefis):

Global Large Cap

|
U.S. Mid Small Cap

|
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More Trefis
Research

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SimplePlanes Review: For Beginners, Sort Of

SimplePlanes by Jundroo isn’t quite as simple as its name suggests. Maybe that’s how things should be, though. The human race is probably better off overall if there aren’t too many C-grade engineers building aircraft.

SimplePlanes is a building / flying game with some very impressive sandbox options. Aside from flying set missions, you can also slap some engines on a craft of your very own making to see where it goes once you crank up the throttle.

simpleplanes_02

Hint: If you don’t know something about functioning aircraft, your home-made plane isn’t going to fly on wishes and pixie dust. SimplePlanes isn’t Pilotwings or Bad Piggies. You need to make propulsion and lift work together. Pitching too far to one side will cause your craft to barrel roll, not simply execute a conveniently sharp turn. While SimplePlanes certainly doesn’t offer the complexity of a retail flight simulator, it still adheres closely to the laws of physics.

On one hand, plane / flight aficionados looking for a light snack will fall in love. On the other hand, though SimplePlanes promises it’s easy to pick up and play regardless of your plane knowledge (if any), the tutorial isn’t as thorough as it ought to be. The game encourages you to learn through crashing, and though it’s always amusing to see your plane explode into a million fragments, it’s also a bit frustrating if you just don’t know what’s going on.

At the very least, lessons should be more interactive. Instructions on building and operating your own craft are delivered via text, and flipping back and forth between the “How to Fly” manual and live gameplay makes you feel like a doomed Looney Tunes pilot.

Airplane construction is also a bit touch-and-go, so to speak. The number of customization options are mind-blowing, and as long as you make them work together, your plane will get off the ground. The game’s website has a gallery of downloadable user creations (and you can submit your own!), and there are some pretty incredible designs amongst the bunch. You’re not regulated to a couple of wheels, two wings, a cockpit and a tail. With enough know-how and imagination, you can create flying boats, jet cars, spacecraft, and metal dragons.

simpleplanes_01

While the options are awe-inspiring, actually putting together aircraft that won’t fall apart on the runaway takes a lot of trial-and-error. Despite being offered a full 360 degree of your workshop, getting parts to “click” can be difficult. Oftentimes you think you attached an engine to your wing, only to turn the plane model around and find that engine lingering in mid-air. Other times you swear your engine is attached, only to tap “Go” and have the engine drop like an unpopular kid’s pants at recess.

But in its entirety, SimplePlanes is a great flight / building simulator. It just takes a lot of getting used to, and plane enthusiasts will no doubt be happy to pore over every little thing the app offers.

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Wildly Intricate Steampunk Sculptures Reveal An Apocalyptic Side Of Art

Where the industrial revolution meets the impending apocalypse, with a little bit of Rococo flair thrown in, that’s where you’ll find the endlessly embellished sculptures of Kris Kuksi. The artist warps used trinkets and tchotchkes, transforming them into fantastical machines, at once mechanical and supernatural, futuristic and primordial, horrific and stunning.

ode

Kuksi himself helped us out with a categorization. “‘Melancholic sculptures describing the vices of man and celebrating beauty in the grotesque’ is a fairly close way to characterize my works,” he explained to The Huffington Post. “Or, Baroque infused 3D miniature surreal compositions with a splash of dark humor.”

Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Kuksi attributes much of his blossoming imagination to his rural upbringing. “Having always drawn pictures and built things as a young child I’m not sure if I recall a particular time that I was interested in art, it was just always there. Growing up in isolated rural settings with no cable television probably had a lot to do with a need to entertain yourself as a child by being creative. Of course legos and model airplanes helped with my spacial and mechanical reasoning but in college I was a very serious painter and only took sculpture as a minor.”

kuk

For his artistic materials, Kuksi uses a variety of hodgepodge items, everything from “model kits’ parts to kitschy statuary, decorative trim moldings to gaudy jewelry, wedding cake accessories to model railroading detailing parts.” He skews each and every object in some way, breathing new (immortal) life into his previously deceased findings.

Kuksi cites artists including H.R. Giger, Salvador Dali and Gian Lorenzo Bernini as inspirations — along with the general aesthetics of the Baroque and Art Nouveau movements. Yet his particular style is like no other, a macabre orgy of immeasurable, festering parts, each gushing open and spurting forth new details.

iooo

Yet the sculptures aren’t purely decorative. Kuksi’s dense creations point to the critical questions regarding humanity, darkness and survival. “On a personal level, embrace your dark impulses and get to know them so you aren’t controlled by them. On a humanitarian level, know that humanity is capable of progress and achievement without selfishness and greed. But it’s the ultimate question I like to ask: ‘Are humans going to survive? Or continue to repeat their valuable but forgotten history to make the same mistakes over and over?'”

Whether or not we survive as a species, if the downfall is anything like a Kuksi sculpture, it’s sure to be wildly beautiful to watch.

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AA: Alcoa Is Firing Up Its Margins

Alcoa Inc (AA), the world’s largest aluminum smelter and manufacturer just announced it has purchased Tital, a privately held German aerospace parts maker.

Alcoa185 AA: Alcoa Is Firing Up Its MarginsNo price was disclosed for the purchase, but it is known that Tital had revenue of $96 million last year.

Considering Alcoa has a market cap of $17 billion, this purchase isn’t significant because of its size but more for the sector AA chose to invest in at this point. Tital uses aluminum for its high-performance, precision parts, which is a much higher margin business and somewhat distanced from the pure play commodity metals business that represents a majority of Alcoa’s business model.

Beyond Aluminum Cans

This suggests that Alcoa is looking to hedge some of its revenue outside the commodities sector as global growth slows. And given its completion of a $2.8 billion purchase of British jet engine manufacturer Firth Rixon, it looks like Alcoa is looking for strategic purchases focused on higher margin businesses that rely on lightweight metals in their processes.

Alcoa remains an A-rated Porfolio Grader “buy” and is a bedrock pick for any portfolio. What’s more, there’s a good chance that AA stock is oversold here and has some upside potential even in these depressed commodities markets.

Bear in mind, increased demand from automakers — Ford’s (F) new flagship F-150 pick-up truck now sports an all-aluminum body — hasn’t been priced in yet and the projected increase in demand for passenger aircraft will be two major bullish trends the world’s leading aluminum stock. And that doesn’t include all the parts and equipment it sells to other engine and parts manufacturers.

This recent pair of strategic purchases, smart far-sighted corporate leadership and the fact that as economic recovery takes hold Alcoa will be the bellwether of global growth show that Alcoa isn’t resting on its laurels. And while it’s sub-1% dividend yield isn’t a big selling point, it certainly is a nice addition to rock solid stock.

Louis Navellier is a renowned growth investor. He is the editor of five investing newsletters: Blue Chip GrowthEmerging GrowthUltimate GrowthFamily Trust and Platinum Growth. His most popular service, Blue Chip Growth, has a track record of beating the market 3:1 over the last 14 years. He uses a combination of quantitative and fundamental analysis to identify market-beating stocks. Mr. Navellier has made his proven formula accessible to investors via his free, online stock rating tool, PortfolioGrader.com. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.

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