CA Freeways Will Soon Generate Electricity

Cars, Piezoelect, SoCal, EcoWatch_com

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.

But in California, which has some of the most congested freeways in the country, that’s about to change. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a pilot program in which piezoelectric crystals will be installed on several freeways.

No, these aren’t some kind of new-agey crystals with mystical powers. Piezoelectric crystals, about the size of watch batteries, give off an electrical discharge when they’re mechanically stressed, such as when a vehicle drives over them. Multiply that by thousands of vehicles and it creates an electric current that can be harvested to feed the grid.

In fact, scientists estimate the energy generated from piezoelectric crystals on a 10-mile stretch of freeway could provide power for the entire city of Burbank (population: more than 105,000).

“I still get stopped on the street by people who ask what happened to the idea of using our roads to generate electricity,” said Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles assemblyman, in a press release announcing the program. “California is the car capital of the world and we recycle just about everything. So why not capture the energy from road vibrations and put it to good use?”

Piezoelectric-based energy‐harvesting technology is already being used in other countries. Since 2009, all the displays in the East Japan Railway Company’s Tokyo station have been powered by people walking on the piezoelectric flooring. Italy has signed a contract that will install this technology in a portion of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. Israel is already using this technology on some highways, which is how Gatto got the idea for the pilot program in California. A friend returning from a trip to Israel raved about a road that produced energy …

Piezoelectric technology has been used for years in electric guitars and sonar. The crystals are “in effect the reverse of sonar: a vibration comes in and an electric pulse comes out,” according to the press release …

“Thirty years ago, no one would have believed that black silicon panels in the desert could generate ‘solar‘ power,” Gatto stated. “Piezoelectric technology is real and I am glad the state has finally acknowledged its potential in becoming an energy source.”  read more, see video –>…


San Diego County Median Home Price Up By 6.4%

Home prices across Southern California continued to increase in May but the pace at which they went up appeared sluggish, said the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices released Tuesday.

San Diego County’s median home price, adjusted for seasonal swings, increased 6.4 percent in the last 12 months, while Los Angeles and Orange Counties increased 5.4 percent …

National home prices increased 5 percent — unchanged from last month …

The rate at which prices in San Diego are increasing has been mostly flat or decreasing since the start of the year. The median price year-over-year was up 6.9 percent in January, 6.4 percent in February, 6.2 percent in March and 6.3 percent in April.

The median home price in San Diego County hit $495,000 in June, CoreLogic reported last week.

David Blitzer, managing chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in May’s report that the housing market was strong, in part because sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since 2007.   Read more –>

San Diego County Home Prices Up 6.2%

Home Prices Rise 6.2%

San Diego County median home price was up 6.2 percent in the last 12 months

Southern California home prices continued to outpace the national average, and many major cities, said the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday.  Prices nationally, adjusted for seasonal variation, rose 5.2 percent in the 12 months ended in March, with the Pacific Northwest and West seeing the biggest gains.

San Diego County’s median home price increased 6.2 percent, lower than the 6.4 percent increase in February and 6.9 percent in January … Economists said home prices continue to rise because of improved labor markets and employment rates, low mortgage rates and limited home supply.
Mark Goldman, finance and real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said a slower rate of appreciation is a good thing. He said price increases of 3.5 percent to 5 percent are more sustainable.  “If prices go up too quickly, then there is speculation in the market and that’s dangerous,” he said.

Don’t Get Scammed by IRS Imposters!


With Tax Day less than a month away, IRS imposter scams are in full force, robbing taxpayers of millions of their hard-earned dollars. Watch our video here and read on to learn how this scam works and how you can avoid getting taken by it.

How it Works:

You get a call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee. The caller claims you owe a specific amount in taxes, and may threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay immediately. The call seems legitimate because the caller ID looks like it’s from the IRS, and the caller may even know part of your Social Security number.

What You Should Know:

The IRS will NEVER call and demand immediate payment without first sending a notice through the mail. The IRS will never ask for credit or debit cards over the phone, and will never threaten you with arrest for nonpayment.

What You Should Do:

  • Don’t press 1 to speak to the operator – this puts you at risk for receiving more calls.
  • If a call like this makes you concerned that you may owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
  • Call AARP’s helpline for advice at 877-908-3360.
Learn more about this scam and tax identity theft here. And please share this important alert with your friends and family!

read more, watch vid —>

Housing Industry Riding Coat Tails of Surging Job Market

Where the job market goes, the housing industry follows. And with the economy continuing to hum, both sectors are surging further upward in the new year, according to economists from two companies who would know:® and job search site

“The news is good. Employers are looking at 2016 as being quite strong,” said Tara Sinclair, the chief economist for, during a joint press briefing in Washington, DC, with® chief economist Jonathan Smoke.

Both laid out predictions for another year of steady home sales and job growth, particularly in the country’s largest urban centers. New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as the high-tech hubs of the San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, Seattle, and Austin, all had strong employment gains—and, not at all coincidentally, some of the country’s busiest real estate markets.

It’s a simple equation: Hot job markets attract job seekers, and job seekers need a place to live … read more —>

Fed Raises Key Interest Rate Slightly

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates from record lows set at the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, a shift that heralds modestly higher rates on some loans.

The Fed coupled its first rate hike in nine years with a signal that further increases will likely be made slowly as the economy strengthens further and inflation rises from undesirably low levels.

Wednesday’s action signaled the central bank’s belief that the economy has finally regained enough strength 6½ years after the Great Recession ended to withstand modestly higher borrowing rates.

“The Fed’s decision today reflects our confidence in the U.S. economy,” Chair Janet Yellen said at a news conference.

The Fed said in a statement after its latest meeting that it was lifting its key rate by a quarter-point to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent. Its move ends an extraordinary seven-year period of near-zero borrowing rates. But the Fed’s statement suggested that rates would remain historically low well into the future, saying it expects “only gradual increases.”… read more —>  Fed Raises Key Interest Rate

4 Reasons Why 2016 is a Good Time to Buy a Home

With 2016 fast approaching, now is the time for renters to get off the sidelines, start organizing their finances and take on the excitement of homeownership.

But given the recent history of the housing market and Americans’ increasing need to stay mobile, it is understandable that it can be nerve-wracking to invest your hard-earned money in a home.

However, unlike years past, all key economic indicators are ripe and there are two major changes to the mortgage process that help make 2016 a good year to buy a home.

1. Rental rates continue to rise

With the on-going low supply and high demand of rental units, rental rates are continuing to rise. In the last 12 months, 88% of property managers have raised their rent prices. And there is no sign of that stopping given that 68% of property managers predict their rental rates will rise again in 2016.

2. Interest rates are historically low

Freddie Mac’s latest survey of lenders shows little change in the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which averaged at 3.89% for the month of September compared to 4.16% a year ago. Low interest rates make home buying more affordable.

3. Clear mortgage terms

The recent TRID announcement has mandated clearer terms at the closing table. For first-time homebuyers, this is a huge benefit because it will ensure there are no surprises at the closing table. These clear terms will help homebuyers better understand both their financial commitment and what is expected of them.

4. Down payment protection will be available

Writing a check for a down payment on a home is often one of the largest investments someone will make. Down payment protection is a new option that can give modern homebuyers the flexibility they need to more confidently and securely buy a home. When homebuyers put less than 20% down at closing, this kind of coverage protects their down payment just like private mortgage insurance protects the bank.

Given that the average employee tenure in the U.S. is 4.6 years overall, and 3 years for millennials, it’s understandable that the modern homebuyer may be nervous to commit to living in one location for an extended period of time.

However, the current state of the market and these major mortgage changes will help to ensure that when life happens, the homebuyer won’t be completely out of luck when it comes to protecting their nest egg.

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