Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavenaugh to speak at women’s business meeting

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Twinkle Andress Cavenaugh, Alabama Public Service Commission President, will be the featured speaker at the July meeting of Strong Coffee, Strong Women on Wednesday.

TWINKLE_ANDRESS_CAVANAUGH_18072451.JPGPSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh (file photo)

Strong Coffee, Strong Women is a monthly networking breakfast for female business leaders hosted by the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama. The event will take place Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Huntsville and Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Coffee and a light breakfast are provided for $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Register to attend at the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama website.

Cavenaugh has worked as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor for former Gov. Bob Riley. She previously served as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and as state director for Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Cavenaugh was in the spotlight most recently for allowing what many consider a controversial opening prayer at a Public Service Commission meeting two weeks ago.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/07/public_service_commission_pres.html

Huntsville City Council asks Alabama Legislature to further regulate ‘predatory’ payday loan industry

Bill KlingHuntsville City Councilman Bill Kling (File photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The Huntsville City Council is asking the Alabama Legislature to place tougher restrictions on the state’s many payday lending and car title loan businesses.

Last week, the council unanimously passed a resolution calling on state lawmakers to “further protect the citizens of Huntsville and all of Alabama from predatory lending practices.”

Councilman Bill Kling said payday lenders’ interest rates are so high – sometimes in excess of 200 percent – that many borrowers struggle to pay down the principal on their loan. Kling, who sponsored the resolution, said he would like to see the Legislature place a “reasonable cap” on how much interest such businesses can charge.

“This affects a lot of people in Huntsville, and I would think it would have ramifications statewide, too,” Kling said Monday. “I just think there is a very compelling need.”

The Council for Fair Lending, a Birmingham-based trade association of cash advance and title loan businesses, could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the City Council resolution, Huntsville has seen a “proliferation” of payday loan and title loan businesses licensed to operate under the Alabama Deferred Presentment Services Act and Alabama Shop Act. Their lending practices can have “devastating effects” on poor and elderly citizens while creating “broader economic consequences” for the city, it says.

Kling said he hopes a state lawmaker from Madison County will sponsor a bill placing more restrictions on “predatory lending.” The 2014 legislative session starts Jan. 14.

Councilman Will Culver acknowledged during last week’s meeting that he has borrowed money in the past from payday lenders.

“If you have kids in college, I don’t need to say anything else,” said Culver.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/07/huntsville_city_council_asks_a.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


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Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


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The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

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Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


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The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

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 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

TVA, regulators debate safety significance of emergency shutdown at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and TVA agree that an unplanned shutdown of the Unit 2 nuclear reactor at the Browns Ferry plant in December was a performance deficiency.

But during a scheduled meeting today in Atlanta, it was clear they disagree on the safety significance of that deficiency.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Unit 1 reactor at Browns Ferry was left in a “red” finding category, one level below shutdown, two weeks ago by the NRC after an intense inspection.

Today’s discussion was deeply technical at times, focused on statistical modeling of risk assessment and what data should be included and weighted.

Unit 2 was running at 100 percent power on Dec. 22, 2012 when a TVA senior reactor operator opened the wrong breaker on a reactor protection system bus. That caused the reactor to shut down and “also caused the main steam isolation valves to close. The main steam isolation valves are designed to close in the unlikely event of a rupture in the plant’s steam pipes,” according to the NRC.

TVA officials said today it had been a longstanding practice for its nuclear plant supervisors to be assigned to perform some tasks on plant equipment. The NRC and TVA agreed that the practice, which was done without immediate peer oversight, was a performance deficiency and should be changed.

TVA said it is training field workers to handle such tasks and that training to ensure that is the standard procedure is ongoing.

But TVA officials contested the NRC’s initial determination that the human error and resulting “scram,” or emergency shutdown, should be classified as a “white finding,” meaning of low to moderate safety significance. TVA contended the finding should be “green,” very low safety significance.

TVA officials said that while the performance deficiency – using supervisors for some field work – had been in place for at least 10 years, it had only resulted in one emergency shutdown. They further argued that the wrong breaker opening would have only resulted in a “half scram” by itself.

TVA said that a coincidental problem during testing of diesel generators in the plant caused the first half-scram, leading some systems to be deenergized. The supervisor was assigned to reset a reactor protection system bus that had been inadvertently shut down during the diesel testing. But, he reset the wrong bus, which resulted in the reactor scram.

NRC officials noted the result was a scram and questioned some of TVA’s assumptions in how it measured the risk profile. The regulators said they would consider TVA’s position in evaluating the safety significance of the performance deficiency and scram.

The NRC did not say when its final report on the issue would be released.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/07/post_1210.html

Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavenaugh to speak at women’s business meeting

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Twinkle Andress Cavenaugh, Alabama Public Service Commission President, will be the featured speaker at the July meeting of Strong Coffee, Strong Women on Wednesday.

TWINKLE_ANDRESS_CAVANAUGH_18072451.JPGPSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh (file photo)

Strong Coffee, Strong Women is a monthly networking breakfast for female business leaders hosted by the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama. The event will take place Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Huntsville and Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Coffee and a light breakfast are provided for $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Register to attend at the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama website.

Cavenaugh has worked as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor for former Gov. Bob Riley. She previously served as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and as state director for Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Cavenaugh was in the spotlight most recently for allowing what many consider a controversial opening prayer at a Public Service Commission meeting two weeks ago.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/07/public_service_commission_pres.html