HD tests permit kiosks in Las Vegas
Home Depot is piloting a program in the Las Vegas area that allows homeowners and contractors to obtain official permits through in-store kiosks, according to an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Starting this week, the Clark County Commission will sell permits for jobs, such as water heater replacement or installation of HVAC units, through 12 Home Depot stores in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev. Types of permits and fees will be decided by each municipality. Approximately 20 permits will be available electronically, with fees ranging from $56 for a water softener replacement to $119 for a commercial electric meter re-tag.
The Atlanta-based retailer will collect the fee on the permit and then forward it, along with the permit information, to Clark County. An official permit would then be generated by the building department and sent to the permit owner, according to the article. Home Depot, which is providing the service for free, has developed special software to check contractor licenses and verify other information with state and local municipalities.
Projects that require a plan review must still be submitted and approved by the county’s building department.
While Home Depot is seeking closer ties to its contractor customer base through the kiosks, the county is hoping to streamline the permitting processing and make it more accessible to homeowners, the article said. After the test period is over, the Clark County Commission will evaluate the results and decide whether to continue the arrangement with Home Depot.
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Europe joins U.S. in solar panel trade tiff
The European Union (EU) has opened an investigation into the exporting and pricing practices of Chinese solar panel makers, according to an article in the New York Times and other media outlets. The broad probe, which could result in steep tariffs against Chinese manufacturers, follows a decision by U.S. trade officials last May to impose antidumping tariffs of at least 31% on Chinese solar panels.
The key issues involves whether Chinese manufacturers are “dumping” their products at below-market prices in the United States and Europe. Competitors claim that that the Chinese-owned state banks are subsidizing the Chinese industry, a violation of international trade laws.
The outcome of the EU investigation is critical for the Chinese because Europe is China’s biggest market for solar panels, accounting for approximately 80% of its export sales.
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Mansfield Plumbing touts Made-in-USA advantage
Perrysville, Ohio-based Mansfield Plumbing Products, one of the United States’ largest manufacturers of sanitary ware products, will expand its U.S. production in 2013.
The company said it will invest more than $9 million to expand its Perrysville sanitary ware manufacturing capacity by 50%. Since the expansion is being completed within the existing footprint of the facility, it is far more affordable than a greenfield expansion, which would cost more than four times as much, the company said.
The expansion will create approximately 150 jobs over the next three years. The company currently employs approximately 455 at its Perrysville location, plus has manufacturing plants in Big Prairie, Ohio, and Henderson, Texas.
“This expansion enables Mansfield to continue to provide superior fill rates to our customers when the market recovers and is consistent with our commitment to keeping jobs in America,” said Jim Morando, president. “It also helps satisfy the increasing preference for American-made products.”