LETTERS: Prepaid debit cards helpful to many

To the editor:

Jane Ann Morrison’s column on prepaid debit cards grossly misrepresents how these cards work, the fees associated with them and the benefits they bring to consumers who may not have access to traditional banking services (“Prepaid debit cards might be more trouble than they’re worth,” Dec. 11 Review-Journal). It is important your readers understand the facts.

Prepaid cards are bank-issued products that offer convenience to everyone, and financial inclusion and empowerment for the estimated 68 million Americans who are underbanked. The cards are highly regulated — often by both state and federal laws — and the terms, fees and costs associated with prepaid cards compare favorably with those of traditional checking accounts offered by banks.

The competitive fee landscape has even been acknowledged by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the proposed rulemaking mentioned in the column when it states: “In recent years, the GPR (General Purpose Reloadable) card segment has grown increasingly competitive, which has resulted in a decrease in prices, coupled with an increase in transparency for many products.”

The consumer information collected at the time of activation for certain reloadable card products is required by law to protect consumers. With this information, a card can be immediately deactivated and a replacement card issued to the user in the event the card is lost or stolen. In addition, Zero Liability protections are provided to all cardholders, safeguarding them from any erroneous purchase transactions through the prepaid card’s network.

DOUGLAS BOWER

MONTVALE, N.J.

The author is president and executive director of the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association.

Solar power misconceptions

To the editor:

A recent article stated that three new, so-called utility-scale solar power plants are scheduled to be built just northwest of Las Vegas. These plants “are expected to generate a combined 480 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 120,000 homes.”

This type of statement is typically made when the media reports on solar or wind power plants. The problem is that the nameplate power (in this case, 480 megawatts is the rated or nameplate power) is not the power actually generated, averaged over one year. The average power that any plant generates averaged over one year, divided by its nameplate power, is called the capacity factor, a number which much more accurately describes how many homes the plant can actually power.

Typical power factors for various methods of producing electricity are: nuclear, 90.9; geothermal, 67.2; coal, 58.9; hydro, 40.5; wind, 32.3; solar, 24.4; oil, 13.1; and gas, 11.9. Oil and gas are low because these plants are typically used only as “peaking” power plants, turned on and off to provide electricity when demand is unusually high (hot days requiring lots of air conditioning) or when other plants are not working (such as wind and solar).

All these plants can be turned on or off depending on demand, except wind and solar plants. Using the capacity factor cited above, these three plants rated at 480 megawatts would actually generate only 177 megawatts over a year, or enough for 29,280 homes, and only during the day. The remainder of the 120,000 homes — and all the homes at night — require some other source of power.

It seems very deceptive to call solar plants “utility-scale” when they cannot be turned on and off as needed, as all other types of power plants can. Ignoring the capacity factor of solar and wind plants is a typical lie of omission practiced by the green-energy advocates of these plants.

WALTER F. WEGST

LAS VEGAS

‘Historic Westside’

To the editor:

I had to smile when I saw yet another picture of Las Vegas’ “Historic Westside” (“Rocky road ends as F Street link opens,” Dec. 11 Review-Journal). For years, anyone who referred to that part of town as “the westside” was chastised and provided another name — Enchanted Village, etc. — as a substitute for this so-called derogatory reference to the area.

Now, Richard N. Velotta waxes poetic in his article as he stirs the pot with references to the goings-on in other parts of the country (Ferguson, Mo., and New York), which have absolutely nothing to do with this situation. If he wants to include those issues, shouldn’t he also include that the two criminals in those cities were not only breaking the law, but resisting arrest?

Mr. Velotta also left out any reference to what caused Rep. Steven Horsford to lose in the midterm election, while lauding the congressman for his constant concern for his constituents and his former neighborhood.

DAVE DOBBINS

HENDERSON

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