Sunday, September 23, 2012

200 + coal fired electric generators face shutdown by 2017.

Click here for a previous article about rising utility costs resulting from decreased coal production.  Electric distributors (including those in Pennsylvania) have already signed contracts to pay massive cost increases for electric capacity beginning in 2015.  These increases will be passed on to consumers.

For those who would like more bad news, the Daily Caller reports the following:

Within the next three to five years, more than 200 coal-fired electric generating units will be shut down across 25 states due to EPA regulations and factors including cheap natural gas, according to a new report by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).
Pennsylvania is one of the states facing shutdowns. 

Homeowners and investors must consider the potentially massive utility increases.  Investors in particular must factor these costs into potential purchases as well as decisions regarding rental rates and income qualifications for tenants.

My own prediction is that properties serving fixed income residents will face the most hardships from these increases - unless there are corresponding government subsidies for fixed income tenants to cover the costs of rising utility prices.  In that event, owners of middle class properties (and their tenants) will be the hardest hit. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Green Urban Initiative; Urban garden demolished in Harrisburg

Click here for previous posts on urban farming and here for a past story on urban farming on multiple lots in Harrisburg City. 

From Fox43 comes the story of Green Urban Initiative, an urban farming organization that leases and operates multiple lots in Harrisburg.  On Wednesday, the City demolished one of GUI's lots at 6th and Curtin streets due to allegations that the property had fallen into disrepair and was being used to hide contraband, an allegation that GUI disputes. 

Additional details have been reported on Pennlive.  GUI's website can be found here.

What is most significant about this story goes beyond the demolition of this one garden.  We are not talking about your average backyard vegetable garden with only a handful of various plants. Gardens of this type often encompass entire vacant lots - or even multiple contiguous lots.

GUI operates "multiple gardens throughout the City," according to the Fox-43 story.  GUI apparently leases vacant lots from the City for this purpose.  This practice provides further indication that gardening provides a more profitable use of certain vacant urban lots than traditional residential or commercial uses. That gardening is more profitable reflects not only increased prices in food and farm products, but also many obstacles to land development and investment, such as increased lending restrictions, real estate taxes, municipal regulations and fees, title defects due to prior tax sales and urban crime.  The demolished lot in this case was located in a high crime area. All of those obstacles, while preventing building, repair or other development, would not interfere with gardening on land leased from the City.

In some cities outside of Pennsylvania, the possibility of increased urban farming has played a key factor in municipal plans for urban consolidation and population relocation