BF Staff Archives

60 Seconds with Brendan Miller, Green Economy Manager, New Mexico Economic Development Department

60 Seconds with Brendan Miller, Green Economy Manager, New Mexico Economic Development Department

Brendan Miller became New Mexico’s first Green Economy Manager in 2008. We asked him to explain his role and the state’s clean-energy strategy. BF: What is New Mexico’s strategy for development of alternative energy growth? BM: Gov. Richardson’s Green Jobs Cabinet (GJC) has identified five key goals for New Mexico: 1) Be the leader in renewable energy export, 2) Be the Center of the North American Solar Industry, 3) Lead the nation in Green Grid innovation, 4) Be a center of excellence in green building and energy efficiency, 5) Have a highly skilled and ready-to-work workforce. BF: Many states are focusing on one type of renewable energy, while others are trying to build a diversified base. Should each region “play to its strength” or is diversification the key to success? BM: We have been stressing the importance of economic and energy diversification across the state. In New Mexico we are blessed with strong solar, wind and geothermal potential and we plan to develop all three. These various sources can support each other by increasing the load factor on transmission lines since they are available at different times of the day. This means less natural gas or storage will be needed to back up intermittent renewable energy sources, reducing costs. I believe it is important at the utility scale to play to regional strengths to compete. BF: What are the major economic development challenges that may arise from a cap-and-trade system? BM: With New Mexico’s strong history of oil and gas production, we have to find a way to strike a balance on cap and trade issues.  Carbon pricing can stimulate innovation but it can also produce business and job “leakage” if it is unevenly implemented between states. Our department generally considers national or regional cap and trade structures that create a level playing field between states a reasonable compromise. BF: How critical is it to create an infrastructure for clean energy technologies, including major new transmission systems? BM: Transmission is absolutely critical for a state like ours with a large renewable energy resource and a small population. We must find ways to get our power to major demand centers, which is why our Renewable Energy Transmission Authority is so important. Energy storage and other green grid / smart grid infrastructure will also be critical. We are working to make progress on all of these fronts. BF: Many governors are calling for national standards that would set a goal of 10% of U.S. electric power derived from renewable sources by 2012. […]

Where to Go When You’re Going Green

Renewable energy resources rapidly are becoming a prerequisite for location decisions. There are many factors to consider in evaluating the green credentials of candidates. Q My company is considering where we should build a new facility to manufacture a product designed to take advantage of renewable energy sources. We want the new facility to be located in a region, state, and community that encourages the development and use of environmentally-friendly technologies and practices. How should we evaluate potential locations for our facility? The Expert Says: I will start from a macro perspective. To state the obvious, your company would do best to consider a country with good environmental conditions and a good record on environmental issues. By most respects this would limit your search to the developed countries rather than developing nations. Diving down a little deeper, there are a number of factors that should be considered at a regional level. I will start first with air quality. The condition of a region’s air quality is an important measure for a lot of manufacturers who are seeking federal air permits to discharge pollutants from their facilities. If this applies to your facility, then you will want to focus your search on areas that are in attainment for all of the criteria pollutants measured by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Beyond your own discharge issues, it may also be important to your company to be located in a community that has a strong history of monitoring and protecting the quality of its air. As such, the EPA attainment status remains an important factor. In addition, for companies that are vigilant about monitoring the environmental impact that its products and facilities have, you will also want to pay close attention to the energy and utility capacity of the communities that you are considering. On the electricity side, you will want to evaluate the generating sources owned and operated by the electric utility provider. You may actually elect to only consider communities that are served by an energy company whose generating portfolio is in a majority of renewable sources. If your process involves a lot of water and/or wastewater production, the planning and administration of regional water and wastewater systems will be an important issue for evaluation. You will want to consider whether or not the regional systems are using cutting edge technology for the capture, treatment, recycling and release of the water and wastewater resources. It will also be important to consider the capacity of the systems under consideration, as you do […]

California Corporate Moves

Chevron Unveils Solar Testbed in Bakersfield Chevron Corp. has unveiled a huge solar energy test facility in California, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The oil giant has revealed that it filled an 8-acre site in Bakersfield, CA with 7,700 solar panels to test low-cost energy systems for its operations. The panels, in various sizes, represent seven cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies from seven companies that Chevron reportedly is considering as possible candidates to power its operations worldwide. Chevron, which has operations in 100 countries, told the Los Angeles Times it is seeking panels that cost less and are more reliable and efficient than what’s available today. “We’re quite a large company that uses quite a lot of energy,” Des King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, told the Times. King’s division evaluates alternative energy technologies. The test complex just outside Bakersfield is the latest in a move by large companies to tap emerging technologies as a way to cut energy costs. BP Solar, a subsidiary of British oil giant BP, designs, manufactures and markets solar products and says it invests more than $10 million annually in photovoltaic research and development. Royal Dutch Shell has invested more than $1 billion in alternative energy projects. Chevron plans to spend at least $2 billion more over the next three years on renewable power ventures and research. Chevron researchers will study how the panels perform against a benchmark system provided by Japanese firm Sharp Electronics Corp. The entire system, known as Project Brightfield, is located on the site of a former refinery tank yard that Chevron used from the early 1900s until 1986 and was later demolished. Six of the solar panel companies—Sharp, Abound Solar, Schuco, Solar Frontier Ltd., Solibro and MiaSole of Santa Clara, Calif.—provided thin-film panels. Innovalight Inc., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was the sole supplier of crystalline-silicon panels. The panels will produce about 740 kilowatts of electricity that will be used to power the pumps and the pipelines operated at Chevron’s Kern River oil field facility nearby. Extra power will be transferred to the local Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility grid under a metering system that gives Chevron credit for the excess energy. Yolo County, SunPower Team to Put federal Energy Bonds to Use A northern California community is making good use of U.S. economic recovery stimulus funds to build a one-megawatt solar power facility. Yolo County has teamed with solar power company SunPower Corp. and Bank of America to work on the design and construction of a new […]

Workforce Development Programs Transform the Empire State

Governor David Paterson’s Excelsior Jobs Program is just one of several new initiatives the state is taking on to increase job growth and attract new business. New York State offers unparalleled resources including a diverse economy, a highly skilled and talented workforce, and outstanding academic and research centers. Innovative industries and technologies make New York a great place to do business. To further enhance the state’s business status, Gov. David Paterson in January kicked off a statewide workforce development initiative by directing Empire State Development (ESD) Chairman and CEO Dennis M. Mullen and Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner M. Patricia Smith to work with businesses across New York on how they can take advantage of New York’s business development programs. “Providing New York’s businesses with the necessary tools and assistance they need to develop our state’s workforce is critical during these difficult economic times,” says Gov. Paterson. “By directing Chairman Mullen and Commissioner Smith to make sure businesses are aware of New York’s valuable services, our communities can work to develop the economy, get businesses hiring again and put people back to work.” The four-city, two-day tour kicked-off in Saratoga and made stops in Syracuse, Binghamton and Rochester. The tour promoted tax incentives, free recruitment and human resources expertise, and innovative marketing services that could save New York State businesses thousands of dollars every year. “Over the course of the past nine months, we have worked hard to create a cross-cutting strategy for New York State that reflects a thoughtful, multi-market approach to economic development,” says Mullen. “After hearing from business executives, university leadership and representatives of regional economic development organizations across the state, our senior team worked together to develop three powerful economic development initiatives. Governor Paterson announced the proposed programs in his Executive Budget. The Excelsior Jobs Program, the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, and the New Technology Seed Fund are specifically targeted towards our economic development goals; if enacted these programs will have a transformational impact on job growth in New York State. They are strategically targeted, fiscally responsible and results driven. When combined with our existing grants and loans programs, these initiatives will put us in a solid competitive position to realize meaningful, long-term growth and renewed prosperity in New York State.” According to ESD, the Excelsior Jobs Program is the centerpiece of the most innovative job creation agenda in the history of New York. The program proposes three aggressive incentives for companies in targeted growth industries, which create and maintain at least 50 new jobs […]

Florida: Creating a Bright and Innovative Future

Governor Charlie Crist focuses on Florida’s unique strengths by creating special incentives for the space industry, biotechnology and other innovation growth sectors. As part of his ongoing focus on growing Florida’s economy through job retention and creation, workforce training and economic development, Governor Charlie Crist highlighted his proposed economic budget strategies at the “Florida’s Future Summit” in February. The summit emphasized the importance of increasing South Florida’s focus on economic drivers such as workforce, innovation, infrastructure, global competitiveness, quality of life, and streamlined civic and government systems. “My focus continues to be on strengthening Florida’s economy and creating jobs for the people of our state,” says Gov. Crist. “The talent of our workforce is the formula to Florida’s economic success, and I am committed to building a workforce ready to step into the innovation, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.” During his remarks, Gov. Crist highlighted his commitment to growing the state’s innovation economy, ensuring a competitive business climate, building a world-class workforce, and establishing Florida as a pre-eminent global trade hub. He also reiterated his economic budget priorities, which include $307.5-million for targeted economic development initiatives and incentives to help increase Florida’s competitiveness in key business sectors, including digital media and information technology, aviation and aerospace, defense, biotechnology, tourism, sports, and film and entertainment through the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED). “Collaboration among Florida’s talent supply chain, which includes educators and business leaders like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is crucial for the prosperity of tomorrow’s knowledge-based economy,” says Gov. Crist. “While we focus on attracting innovative companies to our state, we must also continue to prioritize local business needs like tax relief and the development of our workforce.” Recently, Gov. Crist also proposed additional strategies for growing jobs, businesses and economic opportunities through $100 million in tax relief to families and businesses. Gov. Crist recommended a $9.7-billion investment in economic development, which includes infrastructure, workforce development and incentives for small businesses. The Florida governor also recommended continued investments to assist individuals, businesses and communities as the state’s economy recovers. “The successes we are seeing in Florida’s biotechnology business hub show us that we must continue our efforts to attract and retain companies in Florida’s innovation sectors,” Gov. Crist says. “Florida’s business friendliness, talented workforce, beautiful environment and pleasant climate make the Sunshine State an excellent location for companies seeking to grow economic opportunities.” Highlights of the governor’s planned incentives needed to build Florida’s innovation economy include the following: • Space Florida, $32.6 million—In response […]

Ports and FTZs: Gateway to Fair Trade

A variety of incentives enable U.S.-based companies to compete in a global marketplace. Current economic conditions have moved the government to increase capitalization of trade benefits created in 1934. A “Port of Entry” is where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers or employees are assigned to accept entries of merchandise, clear passengers, collect duties and enforce the various provisions of CBP and related laws. These include seaports, airports and land border locations and provide the link for getting goods to consumers and transporting U.S. made products overseas for export. The U.S is the largest trading nation in the world for both exports and imports of goods and services. January exports alone totaled $142.7 billion and imports $180 billion. Approximately 360 commercial seaports presently serve the United States, the largest being Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey. Ports are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts, as well as in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ports are gateways to domestic and international trade with more than 3,100 publicly and privately owned cargo and passenger handling facilities. Established by enactments of state government, public port agencies develop, manage and promote the flow of waterborne commerce. They act as catalysts for economic growth, and depending on the individual port facility, may accommodate anything from barges, ferries, recreational watercraft, passenger ships and ocean-going cargo. Ports also play a role in national security by supporting the mobilization, deployment and resupply of U.S. military forces. The increasing demands placed on waterborne transportation have been addressed through billions of dollars worth of port improvements. Part of the rationale to update and modernize facilities stems from the significant benefits ports contribute to local and regional economies. More than 13 million Americans were employed through commercial port activities in 2008. Additionally, U.S. businesses related to waterborne commerce contributed more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy and almost $213 billion in federal, state and local taxes—seaport activities alone accounted for $31.2 billion. U.S. ports and waterways manage more than two billion tons of domestic and import/export cargo annually, some of which include commodities and finished products such as corn, lumber, steel, phosphate, plastics, film, modular homes and liquid bulk cargo like crude petroleum and petroleum products—including oil and gasoline. About two-thirds of all U.S. wheat and wheat flour, one-third of soybean and rice production and almost two-fifths of U.S. cotton production is exported via U.S. ports. Plus, automobiles and the passenger cruise industry are dependent on deep-draft seaports, which […]

Projecting A Green Energy Future

A special report from the Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, in Austin, TX. The Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, held earlier this year in Austin, TX, brought together top players and industry experts from the exploding green-energy sector. The conference was a great place to take the pulse of this dynamic emerging industry as the transition to alternative energy accelerates, fueled by massive government stimulus efforts. Many speakers at the Austin gathering also weighed in with their predictions on where current trends will lead us. In a presentation entitled Green Stimulus: One Year Later, Ken Bruder, general manager, Americas, of Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted that the United States has targeted more than $60 billion in stimulus funds toward clean energy initiatives. However, Bruder expressed concern that most of these initiatives are on the supply side of the equation. Renewables still are not competitive with fossil fuels “on an unsubsidized basis,” he reported. Bruder indicated that more needs to be done to spur the demand for clean energy as well as the supply, including the establishment of a national renewable energy standard. Bruder’s advocacy for the standard recently was echoed by a coalition of 29 U.S. governors, who want a national goal of 10% of electricity derived from renewable sources by 2012, and 25% by 2025. Bruder said that of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds already allocated in the federal stimulus program, about $20 billion has gone to energy efficiency efforts; $987 million to carbon capture and storage; $4.5 billion to the creation of a new transmission grid; and $4.6 billion to clean energy projects. The mix will change dramatically as remaining ARRA funds are distributed: $20.8 billion will go to renewable energy; $6.2 billion will be spent on the power grid; $2.4 billion will go to carbon capture; and $5.4 billion will go to energy efficiency. Lisa Frantzis of Navigant Consulting gave a presentation entitled Job Creation Opportunities in Hydropower. Frantzis said the U.S. currently has the second largest installed hydropower capacity in the world (100 GW), accounting for about 7 percent of U.S. electricity production and supporting almost 300,000 jobs. Frantzis estimated there is at least 400 GW of untapped hydropower in the U.S., both inland and oceanic. Through a combination of efficiency improvements/new capacity; new facilities in existing dams without hydropower; Greenfield sites; inland hydrokinetic facilities; and pumped storage, more than 45,900 megawatts of hydroelectric power can be culled from inland resources by 2025, adding about 143,000 new […]

Angels of Wall Street

Angels of Wall Street

Nearly 20 months after the fiscal collapse they engineered almost destroyed the global economy, the movers-and-shakers on Wall Street have had an epiphany. At a press conference held this morning at a soup kitchen in Manhattan’s downtrodden Bowery, a dozen of the most powerful investment titans announced that billions of dollars in bonuses they have siphoned from federal bailout funds will be donated to a new charitable foundation. The $800-billion fund officially will be called Angels of Walls Street, but some insiders at the big investment banks are referring to it as “Our Ticket Out of Hell.” “We can’t live with this anymore,” a tearful Richard Fuld told a room full of astonished business and financial journalists. “You know we’re guilty, we know we’re guilty, everybody knows we’re guilty.” Fuld, the former chief of now-defunct Bear Stearns, said the idea for a bonus-financed charitable foundation came to him last week as he was crossing a busy Manhattan intersection and was almost struck by a vehicle that veered across three lanes of traffic. “This is the sixth time this has happened to me in the past month, and none of the cars were Toyotas,” he said. “It occurred to me that this might not be a mechanical malfunction associated with unintended acceleration.” The idea for converting bailout bonuses into a new charity really developed a head of steam when Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was fished out of the Gowanus Canal on Monday afternoon. Blankfein, who appeared confused as he was pulled from the notorious Brooklyn waterway, claimed he was inspecting the nation’s newest Superfund toxic waste site as “a possible investment opportunity.” However, sources close to Goldman said Blankfein has been “extremely depressed” in recent weeks. At a Goldman board meeting convened to finalize plans for new derivatives that would purchase individual life insurance policies, bundle and sell them to investors, and then place short-selling side bets on when the individual would die, witnesses said Blankfein burst into tears and shouted at the board. “This is the Devil’s work!” he reportedly screamed. Former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, who presided over Citigroup when the world’s largest bank disintegrated, said the first task of the Angels of Wall Street foundation will be to purchase 10 million foreclosed homes and give them back to their original residents. Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain told the press conference he is donating $45-million worth of Japanese origami sculptures he purchased to decorate his office bathroom shortly before the financial collapse. Standing on the side of the room during […]

Cape Wind Inks Deal With Siemens Energy

Cape Wind Inks Deal With Siemens Energy

Although it still is awaiting a federal permit to build a controversial offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, Boston-based Cape Wind has signed an agreement to buy 130 wind turbines for the project from Siemens Energy Inc. Siemens concurrently announced it will open an office in Boston for U.S. offshore wind projects. Asked why Cape Wind made the agreement now, before the federal government’s permitting decision, spokesman Mark Rodgers told “We’ve been working hard for the last year to make our selection, and now that we’ve made it, we thought, why wait?’’ Siemens Energy’s parent company, Siemens AG, based in Munich, has a U.S. headquarters in Orlando, Fla. The company’s U.S. Wind Power division has grown from one employee in December 2004 to more than 1,000 employees today. MA Gov. Deval Patrick praised the development. “The opening of a local Siemens offshore wind energy office is another significant step forward for the clean energy industry we have growing in Massachusetts,’’ Patrick said in a statement. The model of Siemens turbine that Cape Wind agreed to purchase is an industry workhorse, with 1,000 units sold and 150 units installed and successfully operating, the company said. Each is capable of generating 3.6 megawatts of power. According to the American Wind Energy Association, a megawatt of wind generates enough electricity to power 225 to 300 households for a year. Globally, Siemens commands more than 50 percent of the world’s offshore wind market. Rodgers told Cape Wind’s decision came down to Siemens or Vestas Wind Systems, based in Denmark.

Renewable Recovery

From the Desk of the Editor in Chief The people who make those giant cardboard sunglasses that shield car windshields from the baking summer sun are going to have to find a new line of work soon. The folks in Tucson, AZ have a better idea—they’re covering outdoor parking facilities with solar panels. Futuristic solar arrays are transforming the Arizona landscape and giving Tucson bragging rights as “The Solar City.” Our cover design pays homage to Tucson’s ambitions by imagining a photovoltaic canopy over the entire city, which isn’t as big a stretch as you might think. This month, we herald the arrival of the Age of Alternative Energy. On these pages, we detail the frenzied activity across the country as every state is powering up by capturing sunlight, harnessing the wind and converting wastelands into biofuel. Even before a national goal for electricity from renewable sources has been established, the race to the finish line is well underway. The economic recovery and alternative energy are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. When billions of dollars in stimulus grants were earmarked for alternative energy projects last year, some thought this was a long-term response to a short-term need. Now, it seems, everyone has healthy case of green-power fever. So don’t hesitate to say goodbye to a bitter winter of economic discontent and punch your ticket to The Solar City, where the future’s so bright it’s got its own shades.