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Archive for July, 2008

FPL Takes Advantage of “Green” Customers

July 30th, 2008 No comments

Florida Power and Light (FPL) has been running a program called the Sunshine Energy Program, that allowed customers to optionally pay extra on their monthly bill to support “Green” improvements.  The customer would pay $10 extra per month for FPL to use to invest in new green technologies, such as solar or wind energy. By the end of 2007, it had 37,184 participants and projects with 319 kilowatts of solar energy — enough to power a total 44 homes (that’s right… just 44 homes!).

It turns out, the company was spending 75% of the money collected for “marketing and administration” (ie: not spent on renewable energy) totaling over $11 million dollars.  Since there wasn’t any oversight by state regulators, this money essentially just went towards the company’s profits.  Today, the Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously to end the Sunshine Energy Program.

Well, I was one of those suckers.  I enrolled and paid an extra $10 a month on our energy bill, but as time went by, I wondered where the money was actually going.  I had originally thought I would get access to some sort of website or newsletter that would tell me where the money was going, but it never happened.

I actually remember having a conversation with the wife about it, and we decided to cancel the program after 3 months.  I guess they got my $30, but even if they have to refund it, in the end they still win.  FPL is planning on raising its rates by 20% next year to help pay for new plants and equipment.

I find it hard to believe that I wondered where this money was going, and the people who are supposed to be regulating them didn’t.  I guess this is just a reminder to actually think where your money is going, and don’t be guilted into paying more for “Green” products.

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How I Could Have Made $890,000 This Week

July 18th, 2008 5 comments

My last post mentioned how I bought a few more shares of Bank of America.  So far it looks like a very lucky time to buy, since the stock has gone up over 40% since then.

One interesting thing I was looking at was the change in price of the call options that expire this week.  Before I bought the shares, I actually contemplated buying some stock options to leverage any gains this stock could make.

One in particular, July 19th call options with a strike price of $22.50 were trading at around $.06 per option.  If I had bought $10,000 worth it would have bought 166,666 options.  Today these options are trading at a price of $5.35.  166,666 multiplied by $5.35 equals a tad over $890,000.  Man I wish I had done that…

In reality though, I don’t think I would ever risk that much money.  While the potential payout is huge, the risks are even higher.  For example, if I had tried that same move with $10,000 a month earlier, the stock would have kept going down, and this post would be about “how much I miss my $10,000″.

Anyways, it was just something fun to think about… what would I possibly could have done with all that money?  I guarentee I would have bought something red, with two seats, and 8 cylinders of pure gas wasting power.

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Blood in the Streets

July 15th, 2008 1 comment

Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the wine maker/scriptwriter/film producer/poet/Grand Prix driver/banker, supposedly said “Buy when there’s blood in the streets, sell when there’s singing”.  Well today there is definitely blood…

I’m taking this opportunity to average down the purchase price of my Bank of America shares.  If I buy more shares now that the stock has tanked, I’ll be able to earn more on the way up, instead of just making back the money I’ve lost ($500 so far).

I still don’t think the long term prospects are very bad.  Yes, the mortgage issues are killing all the banks right now.  And yes, the economy has slowed down recently.  This still doesn’t mean that the banking industry is doomed forever.

Bank of America is currently yeilding a whopping 12% dividend.  Most likely that will be cut soon.  This would probably hammer the stock down even more, and I’ll gladly buy more when that happens.

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Why I’m Disappointed in Obama

July 9th, 2008 2 comments

When you send in your Federal taxes, there is a little box that says “Donate $3 to the general election fund”.  I, of course, think to myself “Why in the hell would I give away more of my money…”.  But, apparently, many people check this little box, and it goes to the government.

This year, the two major presidential hopefuls would each get $80 million of this money if they elected to do so, and refund any other money they had received.  They would then use this money to campaign throughout the country, run advertisements smearing each other, and pay for all the little lawn signs you’ll see everywhere.

So why would the taxpayers of this country want to give money away for this purpose?  To keep it even!  The whole point would be to ensure the winner of the election made it there not by buying his/her way into the presidency, but because they deserved it the most.

In the last year, both John McCain and Barak Obama said they would accept this public financing in order to have a more ethical race.  Unfortunately Obama didn’t live up to his promise.

Some are saying he might be able to raise up to $300 million for this race, and that was just too much to let pass by.  I understand he’s doing it because he thinks it will give him a better chance at winning the election, but does that mean he’ll sell out on other issues later on, just to ensure he’ll be able to get re-elected?

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