Category Archives: United States

Private and Profitable High Speed Rail Coming to Florida

As Americans head off for summer vacation, few plan to go by train. Travelling by train simply does not make sense for most people. But a private transportation company in Florida, Florida East Coast Industries, is investing in a high-speed rail system called All Aboard Florida that would connect Miami and Orlando along the Atlantic coast. Unlike other rail systems, such as Amtrak, this one would cover its costs and make a profit.

Cars and planes are generally better transportation options for Americans than trains for travelling long distances. According to the Census Bureau, over 90 percent of American households have access to a car, van, or pickup truck. While the interstate highway system connects the entire country, the same cannot be said for rail. Most cities in the United States are spread too far apart for rail to be an efficient transportation option.

Read the rest on Economics 21 here.

Hogan’s sensible Baltimore jail closure

Last week the Baltimore Sun reported that Governor Larry Hogan has ordered the immediate closure of the scandal-plagued Baltimore City Detention Center. A 10 year plan to close the facility had already been laid out by Governor Martin O’Malley. But Hogan’s plan will see the problematic, expensive institution closed by the end of the month.

This is a major victory for those seeking to reform the state’s notorious criminal justice system.

Professional, non-corrupt staff, and well-maintained facilities are basic features for any sound criminal justice system. But the Baltimore City Detention Center fails on both counts.

The jail’s facilities are old and ill-maintained. The complex dates to the Civil War era, although it has been renovated multiple times. Its ceilings are leaky. Its toilets and plumbing fixtures often broken.

Read the rest on Watchdog here.

Renewables Offer No Bang for Your Megawatt

Advocates of renewable energy are touting a new statistic that 70 percent of new electricity generation capacity in the first half of 2015 was renewable. While this figure is technically true, it merits an asterisk. That 70 percent refers to how much energy power plants could produce if they were running at full power all the time, a metric called installed capacity. It does not mean that 70 percent of new energy generated in the first half of 2015 came from renewables.

To find out how much energy the new power infrastructure will actually produce, we must look at the capacity factor for various types of energy. The capacity factor measures the ratio of the energy a power plant actually produces to how much it could produce if it were running at maximum power all the time. A higher factor indicates that a source of electricity is more likely to reach its full potential. Capacity factor may be thought of as how much bang you get for your installed megawatt.

Read the rest on Economics 21 here.