Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:


Nov. 25

Cleveland Daily Banner on church security:

As long as the mentally ill and the emotionally unstable enjoy unfettered access to guns — conventional, semi-automatic or otherwise — then unparalleled security should remain uppermost in the minds of responsible leaders.

Sadly, this includes the clergy who suddenly find themselves thrust into new roles as they, and their elders, must look to safeguard our houses of worship and the congregations that call them home.

It is a new world filled with unprecedented threat and unforgiving circumstance.

It is a violent society brimming with explosive volatility and unpredictable anger.

It is a growing wave of intolerance measured by a hunger to get them before they get us.

It is an inexplicable belief that what is mine is mine, what is yours can be taken and what isn’t stolen today can wait for renewed thievery tomorrow.

As awful as it seems, all the above are now being perpetrated against the most vulnerable — and the least deserving — target. We speak of our churches, once a safe house for all and a sanctuary for any.

Consider these heartbreaking facts:

. May 21, 2006: Five parishioners die in a church shooting near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

. Oct. 25, 2012: One dead in a church shooting in College Park, Georgia.

. June 18, 2015: Nine killed in a church shooting — ironically by a gunman who was invited to share in the evening service — in Charleston, South Carolina.

. Sept. 24, 2017: One dead in a church shooting in Antioch.

. Nov. 5, 2017: Twenty-six members of the same congregation killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a tiny, rural town whose unprecedented tragedy might have finally captured the moral conscience of the American people.

The nightmare is real. The heartbreak is indescribable. But here’s the ugly truth: If ignored, such crime could slither into our own Cleveland and Bradley County community.

This is why the recent pair of church-security seminars held at the Bradley County Justice Complex — coordinated by Sheriff Eric Watson and a staff dedicated to the protection of our citizens, and our houses of worship — should be repeated as often as our church families show an interest and feel the need.

Truth is, these gatherings are not new. BCSO has conducted such training for three years. For as long as it takes our churches to be safe, for their congregations to feel safe, and for their families to worship in a safe surround, the seminars should be continued — for three more years, for three years after that, for three years after that, and for any years in our collective beyond.

In the first of two seminars, this one held before a standing-room-only crowd on Nov. 16, Watson spoke volumes when his words ran parallel to those voiced in an earlier governing body session by Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls.

In the BCSO session, in which throngs had to be turned away because the North Conference Room’s capacity had already been exceeded, Watson reminded his listeners, “We should all be concerned, because sometimes people get mad and you don’t know what they may do.”

This is what led to the massacre in the modest First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. There, a gunman with a proven record of mental illness and domestic abuse, is thought to have been pursuing members of the family of his estranged wife.

Texas seems a continent away from our own Southeast Tennessee homeland. But its tragedies can move eastward. Such reality is not intended to frighten, but to come as a reminder.

“Not too long ago, a place of worship was considered a safe haven — a place to pray and receive the word of the Lord,” Watson, himself a man of faith, told his listeners. “Today, however, crime and violence have become far too prevalent and continue to breach the doors of our places of worship.”

He added, “We must be prepared.”

Our community also has a friend in the Cleveland Police Department. Chief of Police Mark Gibson has already made it plain his municipal department will partner with its BCSO counterparts in the work of protecting our community — not just the faith-based communities, but all assemblies and festivals and events where the innocent congregate in the enjoyment of life and the fellowship of their neighbors.

We have said it before. Sadly, we will say it again.

Our newspaper does not have an answer for gun violence. But as long as there are guns, and as long as there are people, then communities must remain proactive in seeing to the protection, and to the well-being, of the masses.

It saddens us to accept that houses of worship, and the parishioners who pray from within, are targets of evil.

While prayer remains an integral tool of believers — and rightfully so — it is increasingly obvious that more is needed.

The “more” of which we speak is the collective willingness to work together in guarding against the unthinkable.

It is a doable task.

But more importantly, it is a task well worth the doing.



Nov. 27

Kingsport Times-News on a weekly video produced at a sheriff’s office hoping people with outstanding warrants will surrender or be turned in:

We support any effort to bring those accused of legal misbehavior to justice. But Sheriff Wayne Anderson’s “Busted Bingo” seems a bit much.

It’s a weekly video produced at the department wherein someone the department is searching for on an outstanding warrant is given attention, with the hope that person will surrender or be turned in by those who know where they are.

As touted with a tongue-in-cheek press release from the department’s public information officer, each week’s “winner” will receive “an all-inclusive stay at the Sullivan County correctional facility.”

“It’s an innovative way to capture people’s attention,” Sheriff Wayne Anderson told us. “We only have X number of deputies here, but thousands and thousands of citizens who will watch this and might know where these people are.”

The premiere video began with department employees at work, while a voice-over explained, “The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has too many warrants, so the men in black are coming for yooouuu!” Following the intro, the show’s “host,” Anderson, stood in front of a large bingo-style display, featuring offenders’ faces in the blocks. A hopper was turned by Chief Deputy Lisa Christian, who then reached in to retrieve a bingo ball.

Anderson read the number selected, referenced the board to find the corresponding offender, and then said, “We’re going to make a star out of O-10.” The “winner” was a Bristol woman wanted for failure to appear and theft of property.

Having identified her, Anderson said to the camera, “Girl, you might as well cowgirl up, come on in, kiss your boyfriend goodbye, give your momma a big hug cause if you don’t we’re gonna come and get you and bring you to jail.”

The department didn’t have far to go. The woman was already in jail in Bristol, Virginia.

The program is corny and goofy to say the least. And who knows, maybe it will be successful and every week the person highlighted in “Busted Bingo” will be apprehended.

We get that the sheriff is trying to be innovative, and we applaud him for trying something “different.” But is this the image we truly want from our law enforcement community? If they want to have a little fun, how about giving out ice cream cones to exemplary drivers?

When hunting down those with outstanding warrants, let’s keep it professional. That’s what we want and need from those sworn to serve and protect.

Anything less tarnishes the image.



Nov. 28

The Tennessean of Nashville on politicians who release tax returns:

Voters generally do not rank what candidates pay in taxes to the federal government as the most important issue to them.

In fact, we know from USA TODAY NETWORK — Tennessee reporting across the state that jobs, education and health care are top of mind for residents.

However, when politicians who seek residents’ votes release their tax returns, they are showing voters that they are committed to transparency and accountability.

This is an important measure of trust in a democratic society where we expect the people’s business to be done, well, before the people.

A political election is much like a job interview. For the Tennessee gubernatorial election, where candidates are vying for the state’s chief executive job, understanding a candidate’s financial commitments, handling of finances and sources of income is valuable for voters to help them make an informed decision, especially among a crowded field of candidates.

That is why we commend Republicans Diane Black and Beth Harwell and Democrat Craig Fitzhugh — among the seven top-tier candidates running for governor — for releasing their federal income tax return and financial information upon request.

Black, R-Gallatin, represents the 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and chairs the House Budget Committee. She is a chief promotor of the GOP tax reform measure being considered by Congress.

Harwell, R-West Nashville, is speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, is minority leader in the Tennessee House.

Their tax return information shows a wide spectrum of income, but the amounts are irrelevant. The act of transparency shows leadership.

Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., rightfully said: “Their disclosure provides insight into income, debts, investments and the candidate’s fiscal health that can be trusted more than a public assertion.”

Governors in Tennessee had a long history of releasing their tax returns — a tradition that ended with Gov. Bill Haslam, who chose instead to provide a summary of income and taxes paid.

Middle Tennessee State University professor Kent Syler wondered whether future candidates would eschew tradition because of the decision by Haslam and President Donald Trump not to release their tax returns.

“I think there’s a perception and maybe accurately . that it’s not the biggest issue with the voters,” he said.

That may be so, but it is still a big issue.

It is about trust, and it is time to revive the tradition.


BYD Co Ltd (OTCPK:OTCPK:BYDDF) is looking to seize energy storage business opportunities around the world. Recent contract wins in both residential and commercial emphasize the company’s worldwide reach and competitive position. Many other companies, including Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), are optimistic about the business as well. BYD may have the competitive advantage, though. Its founder and chairman has very ambitious targets for future growth.

North America

Energy storage systems are benefiting everywhere from a combination of rapidly falling costs, improved capability and greater industry expertise. Many Governments are looking to subsidize the business short-term. Consumer interest is showing strong levels. The World Bank has predicted that 378.1GW of solar and wind generating capacity will come on-stream between 2017 and 2022. They see the main barrier as up-front cost. However costs are falling across the board. Thus payback times are shortening. The affluent USA did lead in such early applications, but may now fall behind the rest of the world.

Energy storage systems are still increasing in the USA. It is estimated that 260 MW was installed last year. This has been encouraged by a decline in net metering. This makes it now more viable for the consumer to store energy. Commercially the market will be hampered by the lack of clear direction and policy initiatives from the Federal Government. Individual States very much have individual policies.

BYD has had a lot of success with its commercial systems in the USA. It claims to have 25% of the commercial energy storage systems market in the country. Worldwide it has installed 350 MWh of energy storage systems. Most recently it secured a contract through Green Charge for the largest system of its kind in Massachusetts. The 3MW/6MWh system will supply energy to the Holyoke Gas & Electricity utility.

Its residential systems are just starting to be introduced into the North American market. It should be noted that BYD also has manufacturing facilities and sales organizations around South America. It recently set up an initiative for energy storage in Argentina for instance.

BYD has a successful e-bus manufacturing plant in California. However the pro-fossil fuel stance of the Trump Administration may lead to caution in the U.S. market. It was noticeable that their recent announcement of an e-truck factory in North America was for a facility in Canada rather than the USA.


The EU has a target to generate 50% of its energy needs from renewables by 2030. Some countries are already having days when all their energy needs are met from renewables, whether it be hydro, wind or solar. The EU cites energy storage as one of its “strategic initiatives.” Large battery plants are on the drawing board.

In September BYD announced their first contract for the recently developed “B-Box” modular system. This was specifically developed for use with solar roof-top systems. It uses BYD’s own patented lithium ferro phosphate batteries. This modular system allows for more capacity to be put in place if capacity requirement is needed at later date. It is scalable from 2.5kWH to 442 kWH. One such is pictured below:

The company claims that it has the big advantage of reducing conversion losses. This is because it uses serial connection of battery cells rather than having to convert from a low-volt battery as has been standard practice.

It is an intelligent product which allows for feeding to and fromthe Grid depending upon time and thus rates. “B-Box” is an extension on from the company’s existing “MiniES” residential product.

The success or otherwise of residential sales in Europe for BYD will be followed with interest. It is not a sure-fire thing. One way they are trying to increase their sales there is by co-operation deals with big European players. These include Swiss power supply and automation giant ABB (NYSE:ABB), Italian energy company ENEL, Swiss distributor Passivhaul and French flywheel manufacturer Levissys.


Australia is an interesting example of what might happen soon in many countries around the world.

BYD launched their energy storage systems in Australia in February this year. Already they claim to have supplied over 1500 “storage solutions” in the country. Australia is a great potential market for this product. The country has a combination of high usage of solar panels and high electricity tariffs. There is in addition an unusual use, for off-grid systems in remote areas of the far-flung country.

In a previous article, I gave details of this huge potential in Australia. There has been a rapid growth in both solar roofs and energy storage systems. Morgan Stanley have estimated that the Australian energy storage market will reach a value of US$24 billion in the next few years.

Ironically though, coal is the country’s second biggest export, after iron ore. The industry employs 40,000 people and provides about two-thirds of the country’s electricity. An indication of the way the wind is blowing though is shown by a major controversy. This is over the planned US$12.5 billion investment by Chinese interests in a thermal coal plant in Queensland. It could even indirectly threaten the existence of the Government.

In another link with the energy storage market, Australia will be a major source for the minerals required for lithium-ion battery manufacture. These comprise mainly lithium, cobalt and nickel. Another Chinese EV manufacturer, Great Wall Motors (OTCMKTS:OTCPK:GWLLY), in fact recently invested in a major lithium mining project in Australia. EV bears who argue that companies such as Tesla will be hit by a shortage of lithium are probably mistaken. Lithium reserves in Australia alone are huge. Cobalt is another mineral with substantial potential reserves in Australia.

Sourcing from Australia has the additional benefit of not having the ethical issues of sourcing from companies such as Katanga Mining (OTCPK:OTCPK:KATFF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. African suppliers are infamous for corruption and exploitation of child labor and it is hard for international mining companies to avoid that, even if they wanted to. There are a number of promising mining operations for the minerals under way in South America.

In a well-publicized move earlier this year Tesla leaped into a huge energy storage contract for the South Australia State Government. There were many doubters as to Tesla’s ability to meet the strict timing of the contract. However recent reports seem to confirm that Tesla has successfully supplied the world’s largest lithium-ion battery installation on time.

It does not seem as though Tesla have secured many day-to-day contracts though. On a positive note it has been reported that they will be supplying batteries to a substantial combined wind and solar plant in Queensland.

Australia already has over 1.7 million homes with solar rooftops. So it has attracted the big industry players in general. These include notably Sonnen from Germany and LG Chemicals from South Korea. BYD seems to have got the strongest start in the country. This is despite the fact that previously the Australian Authorities had considered measures not to allow lithium batteries inside residences due to perceived fire risks.

As I detailed recently, Tesla has similar advantages to BYD. It has the strength of its Gigafactory and partnership with Panasonic (OTCMKTS:OTCPK:PCRFY). Despite assertions to the contrary, as I pointed out in an article sometime ago, independent analysts cite Tesla as being amongst the top two or three most competitive battery suppliers across their range of product.

BYD is however a step ahead. It is the world’s largest EV manufacturer and the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturer. Its longevity in the business and healthy finances mean it has the people on the ground to secure the contracts.

Tesla supplied 110 MWh of energy storage systems in Q3. These were mainly of their “Powerwall” product. Outside of the USA though, Tesla is falling quite short in marketing back-up. Tesla’s plans to combine their products on a worldwide retail footprint have some way to go. They seem more geared at the moment to a few prestige products rather than building continuing contractual business.


Emerging markets in general will see the fastest growth in energy storage systems. The graph below shows the prediction from the World Bank:

This shows the emphasis being put on what might be termed BYD’s home territory of Asia.

As I detailed in a previous article, Asia is going to be the world’s largest market for renwables. With pollution problems rampant, China and India are going full-out for renewables. India has a target to generate 57% of its energy needs from renewables by 2027. The Government anticipates an installation of 100 GW of solar PV capacity by 2022. Japan is the world’s second largest renewables energy market.

The International Energy Agency sees Asia as taking the lead in the growth of renewables. China alone will represent 40% of global renewable growth. However even there renewables, on present trends, will not grow as rapidly as the increase in electricity demand. In the EU, Japan and North America it is expected that additional renewable generation will manage to outpace electricity demand growth.

BYD has an existing market in Asia already, especially in China. There may not be many solar roofs in high density housing China. However batteries are being used increasingly just to store energy from lower tariff times of day. The graph below from the World Bank shows the huge growth expected in the country:

BYD is thought to have the lowest costs of any major battery manufacturer. There will be plenty of competition of course. Chinese rival CATL is said to be ramping up battery production at a rapid rate. At least 8 large-scale battery manufacturing plants are currently being built in the country.

Goldman Sachs estimates that the lithium-ion battery market will be worth US$40 billion by 2025 and be dominated by the Chinese. This would be at the expense of mainly South Korean and Japanese suppliers. They are traditionally the major battery manufacturing countries and will no doubt ramp up production themselves.

Chinese battery manufacturers are forecast to have a production capacity of 121GWh by 2020. For comparison, the Tesla Gigafactory is slated to have a 35 GWh capacity when completed. Those Tesla bears who see the Tesla Gigafactory as a giant white elephant are being totally counter-intuitive to what is happening in the world. Chinese companies are also buying up cobalt and lithium mining assets around the world to ensure the supply of raw materials.

Recent estimates by the Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory show a fast rising trend. They estimate energy storage systems in China were up from 26 MW in 2015 to 101 MW in 2016 and will reach 325 MW this year. In marked contrast to the USA, there is a strong drive coming from the Chinese Central Government. The country is focusing not just on storage capacity through batteries but also on grid frequency regulation and renewables integration.

The government recognizes the country has curtailment issues due to the previously inefficient State planning and historic reliance on coal. They have instituted a 15 year “Energy Technology Innovation Action Plan”. They are pushing a range of energy storage solution policies. These include huge investment in pumped hydro storage, in which water is pumped into reservoirs and later passed through turbines to generate power.


BYD founder and chairman Wang Chuanfu recently declared very ambitious targets for his company. He is looking for sales of 1 trillion yuan (US$151 billion) by 2025. He said this will entail some restructuring and new priorities. It would also entail an incredible increase in revenues. This year revenues are likely to come to about US$17 billion. Stockholders may question whether the company could maintain profitability levels and at the same time have such an increase in revenues.

Only a portion of such a huge increase would be in EV’s. The company is targeting sales of 200,000 EV’s next year. That would comprise a doubling of this year’s likely volume. That is not unlikely when one sees figures for EV sales in general around the world in the first 9 months of this year. These show strong growth rates with the USA the laggard:

China + 66%.

Japan + 100%.

Europe + 39%.

USA + 31%.

Obviously EV’s can only be one factor in the plan. One should not under-estimate the company’s potential in its monorail business. Battery production though is likely to be one of the priorities as Wang talks about new “clusters of businesses”

What both BYD and Tesla enjoy over their rivals is the benefit of vertical integration. This gives them advantages in cost and in technological development. There is a complementary advantage in that people who buy EV’s are more likely to look at energy storage for their homes and solar panels on their roofs.

BYD has the economies of scale some of its competitors (including Tesla) do not have. It has the worldwide manufacturing and marketing network from its existing battery, electric vehicles and solar businesses. It has the advantage of being headquartered in China with that country’s enormous energy storage plans for the future. It has the rest of Asia on its doorstep.

It is difficult at this point to make accurate forward dollar projections for the storage business. The company’s plans for revenues by 2025 give an indication. The potential is undoubtedly very substantial. Energy storage is likely to be the main factor in the company’s targeted revenue increases. It supports a continuing bullish thesis for the company.

Disclosure: I am/we are long BYDDF.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.