When we think of clean energy, we usually conjure up vast vistas of lush green fields and cloudless blue skies. This idyllic landscape is dotted with majestic wind turbines and an occasional green building clad in sparkling solar panels. We don’t think of cow droppings, but some enterprising folks at Hewlett Packard do. Researchers at Hewlett Packard Co.’s HP Labs presented a paper this week to an American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference postulating on the feasibility of using cow manure from dairy farms and cattle feedlots to generate electricity. In the paper, the research team calculates that “a hypothetical farm of 10,000 dairy cows” could power a 1 MW data center housing 1,000 servers. Our friends at Computerworld report HP’s engineers believe that biogas may offer a “fresh” alternative energy approach for IT managers. Don’t reach for your DHS-issued gas masks, yet. The HP technicians say at this point this is just a theory — no demonstration project has yet been planned. “I’ve not yet submitted a purchase order for cows,” Tom Christian, an HP researcher, told Computerworld. Organic matter is already used to generate power through a process called anaerobic digestion that produces a methane-rich biogas. Computerworld reports that the EPA estimates there are 125 operating digester projects at commercial livestock facilities in the U.S. HP’s paper suggests the process could be extended to run a data center. However, some observers already have noted significant stumbling blocks to this approach. For one thing, how do you get 10,000 cows to congregate in one location? The average dairy farm in the U.S. has about 1,000 cows, and even the largest do not pen more than 5,000 of the docile milk-producing beasts. Then there is the matter of biogas energy transmission. Do site selectors looking for data center locations really want to put their new facilities next to huge manure pits? Could make the walk to the parking lot rather dicey, to say the least. Also, since cows have two stomachs and re-chew their food, we imagine there might be some power outages at local data processing centers while everyone waits for them to do their business. Do we really want the IRS data center to have a blackout while it’s auditing our tax returns? We’ve got a better idea: Let’s require every fast-food restaurant in the U.S. to establish a biogas conversion facility onsite. The average American should be able to drive in, order, eat and generate the latest biofuel feedstock in less than five minutes, especially if one opts for […]
Four companies are receiving tax credits from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to expand in Michigan, and the city of Flint is receiving support for a redevelopment project, MI Gov. Jennifer Granholm has announced. The projects are expected to create 910 direct and indirect jobs. “We are working tirelessly to bring new jobs to Michigan, going anywhere and doing anything to show companies that we have the tools and talent to help them grow,” Gov. Granholm said. “Today’s company announcements highlight the positive impact of our aggressive economic diversification plan.” The Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) board approved incentives to win the following projects for Michigan over competing states and countries: • ConAgra Foods Packaged Foods LLC —The manufacturer of packaged foods plans to invest $73 million to expand in Kentwood, Michigan. The project is expected to create up to 460 new jobs, including 205 directly by the company. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a state tax credit valued at $1.1 million over five years to help convince the company to expand in Michigan over a competing site in Minnesota. • Grandpapa’s Inc. — The snack foods company plans to invest $4.1 million to expand and renovate a 130,000-square-foot facility in Detroit. The project is expected to create up to 269 total jobs, including 125 directly by the company. The company received a state tax credit valued at $368,358 over five years to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over a competing site in Indiana. • Proto Manufacturing Inc. — This engineering and manufacturing company plans to invest $5.2 million to relocate and expand its operations to a new 18,800-square-foot facility in Taylor, Michigan, to include in-house laboratory services. The project is expected to create up to 88 jobs, including 46 directly by the company. It received a state tax credit valued at $586,814 over seven years to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over competing sites in Ohio, South Carolina, Indiana and Tennessee. • TK Holdings Inc. — Takata Corporation’s North American headquarters, TK Holdings Inc., which manufactures automotive safety equipment, plans to invest $14.6 million to expand in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company is expected to create up to 78 jobs, including 40 directly by the company. It received a state tax credit valued at $766,068 over eight years to convince the company to locate in Michigan over a competing site in Mexico. The MEGA board also approved state and local tax captures to allow the city of Flint to redevelop two vacant, blighted […]
IBM plans to open a new technology service delivery center in Columbia, MO that will create up to 800 jobs for technical professionals. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, the company will begin hiring this summer, the new facility will be operational this fall and fully staffed by the end of 2012. IBM’s technology service delivery centers provide information technology (IT) services and business process outsourcing services to IBM clients. IBM has signed a 10-year lease, with optional extension years, for a building at 2810 LeMone Industrial Blvd. that it plans to renovate for LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The company said it worked with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Partnership and Regional Economic Development Inc. on the project. The state awarded $8.6 million in Missouri BUILD and $14.7 million in Quality Jobs Program incentives. Missouri’s incentive package also includes $4.5 million in training funds and $412,500 in Employee Recruitment and Referral Savings funds. The new center will be the third IBM has opened in the U.S. in the last year and a half, joining North American service delivery facilities opened recently in Dubuque, IA and Lansing, MI. IBM has a network of service delivery centers in more than 20 countries, many hosting multiple sites. “IBM’s decision to locate its new facility, and create 800 professional IT jobs, here in Missouri is a strong sign that we’re heading in the right direction,” Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement. “For generations, IBM has been a trailblazer in the development and implementation of technology and software solutions, and it is exactly the type of company we want to attract and grow here in the Show-Me State.” Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said in a statement that the “enormous” economic benefit from IBM’s investment there “will increase the quality of life for all Columbians for decades.” Tim Shaughnessy, senior vice president of service delivery for IBM Global Technology Services, said in a statement, “We selected Columbia for our newest facility based on several criteria, including the strong public-private partnership with the state and city, a competitive business model and the talent and skills that Missouri and the Midwest have to offer.” IBM’s new service delivery center will primarily support the company’s U.S. outsourcing clients. The center will provide server systems operations, security services and end-user services, including maintenance and systems monitoring. Employees will manage the servers and storage systems. Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said it will work with Columbia-area educational institutions on recruitment and training of potential […]
As an ominous pool of crude oil slowly makes its way to the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, word comes from Washington that President Obama has appointed a special blue-ribbon commission to conduct an official investigation of the gargantuan oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The president’s action elevates the sinking of BP’s deep-water rig to the status of a once-in-a-decade mega-disaster involving a major equipment malfunction. The blue-ribbon treatment previously was bestowed on the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in 1979 and the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986. If this commission holds true to the pattern of the previous high-level panels, we can expect a basic ritual to unfold in coming months: A group of pedigreed eggheads (usually including a couple of Nobel laureates) and a few former government officials will conduct a series of public hearings that drill down to the brain-numbing technical minutiae of the disaster. After much cogitation, one of the panel members suddenly will identify a jaw-dropping instance of human error as the primary cause of the catastrophe. Such an epiphany occurred during the investigation of the Challenger disaster. After quietly sitting for weeks listening to officials from NASA claim they couldn’t have prevented the shuttle explosion, which killed seven astronauts, Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman calmly asked for a glass of ice water. As a roomful of astonished spectators watched, Dr. Feynman took a piece of the rubber O-ring gasket NASA used to seal the bottom of its booster rockets and dumped it into the ice water. Ten minutes later, he pulled the frozen gasket out of the water and snapped it in two with his thumb and forefinger. The O-rings were designed to prevent red-hot gases from escaping from the boosters and igniting the shuttle’s huge fuel tank. Unfortunately, they were not designed to function below freezing, and NASA—embarrassed by repeated launch delays—had permitted Challenger to launch on an unusually cold 31-degree day in Florida. Case closed. Based on what we have heard thus far, we suspect the blue-ribbon treatment of the big oil spill will produce similar results. An experimental rig drills more than a mile down into the Gulf of Mexico. It appears to have been equipped with a blowout prevention system that was never tested below a couple of hundred feet. Pressure simulation tests were fudged, etc. When the inevitable moment of clarity arrives, it probably will bring to mind the title a famous blue-ribbon participant affixed to his memoirs: “Surely You’re Joking, Dr. Feynman.”
Galmont Consulting is partnering with the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington to create a new software testing center. Galmont will hire 90 new, full-time employees in Lexington and plans to form a partnership with the UK’s College of Engineering to hire and train computer science graduates. “Galmont Consulting will be an excellent addition to Lexington’s corporate landscape, bringing 90 new engineering jobs and a $1.3 million investment,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “These employment opportunities will also help open the door for our recent graduates from the University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering. It’s a win-win for everyone.” The company plans to locate its new testing center within a 4,000 square-foot facility, located at 108 Esplanade, which offers room for growth. The project represents a $1.3 million investment in the Commonwealth. Average annual wages for the new employees will range from $44,000 to $46,000, exclusive of benefits. Hiring is expected to begin this summer; all 90 employees will be in place within three years. “We are currently seeing a big swing back in the direction of companies trying to bring some of their outsourced testing activities back to the U.S.,” said Jeri Smith, president of Galmont Consulting. “Lexington’s close proximity to our headquarters, as well as the volume of quality computer science graduates from the University of Kentucky and other area colleges, will help Galmont better serve our global clientele.” Headquartered in Chicago, IL Galmont Consulting provides software engineering and testing for a variety of clients, including many Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, healthcare and financial industries. “Once again, the brainpower at the University of Kentucky is attracting high-tech jobs to our city,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. “This is more evidence that our economic development strategy, partnering with UK and the private sector and focusing on the horse, health care and high-tech sectors, is moving Lexington forward. With today’s announcement and others, our partnership has now attracted over 2,400 jobs.” “Lexington is proud to welcome Galmont Consulting to our growing technology sector,” said Bob Quick, president and CEO of Commerce Lexington. “Galmont has the potential to grow very quickly and create many high-paying jobs. Galmont’s decision to invest in Lexington is a true testament to our quality of life, low cost of doing business, and strong private and public partnerships.” Conversations are ongoing between Galmont Consulting and the UK College of Engineering to form a partnership that will help identify graduating computer science students that could work for the company, testing and delivering software to its global clientele. A […]
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is announcing a $1-billion investment in Anderson County, SC by New York-based First Quality Enterprises Incs., a project that should create up to 1,200 jobs. The Great Neck, NY, company will expand operations at an existing Anderson County facility. First Quality, which makes of paper towels, toilet paper, diapers and feminine hygiene products would remodel an existing facility and add buildings, is privately held and has operations in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Georgia, according to Hoovers Inc. The First Quality manufacturing plant expansion has been dubbed “Project Big Water” by local officials in Anderson County, which has been hit hard by the recession, with unemployment rates topping out at 12.5 percent. First Quality filed a stormwater permit with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control last week. It is the only permit from First Quality filed with the agency and it is for construction purposes. Other permits would not be required until later, said Thom Berry, a spokesman with the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order this week directing state agencies to track job creation. The executive order requires the Colorado Economic Development Commission to include information about job-creation activities in its annual report to the state Legislature. Ritter’s order also instructs the commission to prepare a plan to track jobs created from grants, loans and tax credits provided by the commission. According to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, lawmakers are skeptical of claims that Ritter has created thousands of jobs with his new energy economy programs. Lawmakers introduced at least three bills this year that would require proof that new jobs are being created. The bills included the New Energy Jobs Creation Act, the Green Jobs Colorado Training Pilot Program and another key bill, Requirements for Economic Incentives, which Republicans tried to amend to require the governor’s office to conduct a study “of all so-called green jobs” created through tax incentives. Ritter said at a speech last week in Washington, D.C., that his new energy economy is producing results, including 2,500 jobs from Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems, which made Colorado its North American manufacturing hub, and 700 jobs from SMA Solar, which is opening a manufacturing plant in Colorado this summer, its first outside Germany.
The winds blowing across the Illinois plains are now powering clean, renewable energy into the Tennessee Valley Authority service region. On May 11, TVA began transmitting to its customers 300 megawatts of renewable wind power received from Iberdrola Renewables Inc.’s Streator Cayuga Ridge wind park in Livingston County, IL. This marks the first delivery under seven contracts TVA recently signed to purchase up to 1,380 megawatts of renewable wind energy from the Midwest. “Activation of this new wind-power source is an important milestone in our plans to expand TVA’s clean and renewable energy options,” said John Trawick, TVA senior vice president of Commercial Operations and Pricing. “We anticipate a long and productive working relationship with Iberdrola Renewables as we continue to grow our alternative energy portfolio.” The Iberdrola Renewables purchase agreement is the largest of TVA’s wind-power contracts, which altogether may provide enough electricity for about 325,000 average-size homes in the TVA service region. “Iberdrola Renewables will begin delivering power to TVA under our largest single power purchase agreement to date,” said Ralph Currey, CEO of Iberdrola Renewables. “TVA is an important new customer for us, and we look forward to supplying clean, renewable energy for years to come.” The next purchased wind addition to the TVA power grid will be 115 megawatts scheduled to arrive this fall from Horizon Wind Energy LLC’s Pioneer Prairie wind farm in Howard and Mitchell counties in Iowa. Because inconsistent and generally lower-speed winds in the Southeast make local wind-power projects less reliable and feasible than in other parts of the nation, TVA is contracting for electricity from wind-energy projects in regions such as the Midwest and Great Plains, where winds are generally stronger and more consistent. The contracts result from a request for proposals in December 2008 to purchase up to 2,000 megawatts of new renewable or clean energy for TVA’s generating system. TVA’s current renewable energy portfolio includes about 4,800 megawatts from hydro, wind, solar and methane sources. In addition, TVA’s nuclear plants contribute 6,900 megawatts of low-or-no-emission electricity to the power grid.
Prince George’s County in Virginia has been awarded $41.5 million in stimulus recovery bond financing for private economic development projects and is looking for private developers and bankers with projects in need of the funds. Part of the Recovery Zone Facility Bond program, the financing extends tax-exempt status to private development activities, targeting areas with declines in employment. The bonds aim to allow businesses to borrow at lower costs with fewer use restrictions. The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. will hold a pre-application information session for businesses interested in the tax-exempt bonds May 18.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez presented city officials in Dubuque, IA today with the highest national award for economic development excellence. The Iowa city was awarded the 2009 Economic Development Administration’s Excellence in Economic Development in Historic Preservation-led Strategies citation for the redevelopment of the Roshek Building as a new home for IBM’s Global Information Technology Service Delivery Center. Mayor Roy Buol accepted the award in the lobby of the historic Roshek Building. The $100-million IBM project also received an Honorable Mention in Business Facilities’ 2009 Economic Development of the Year awards. The new IT center is expected to create up to 1,300 high-tech jobs by the end of 2010. It will generate an estimated $189 million in direct economic impact and more than $70 million in direct personal income (wages). “[IBM’s choice of Dubuque] is one more sign that people around the country are discovering what we have known all along—that with our highly skilled workforce, inviting business climate and quality of life, Iowa is a great place for business,” said Iowa Gov. John Culver. Working together, the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the City of Dubuque, Dubuque Initiatives, and the Greater Dubuque Development Corp. reached an agreement with IBM on a 10-year lease to occupy the historic Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque. IBM plans to upgrade the building with energy-efficient technology to make it a green facility. “We selected Dubuque for our new delivery center based on several criteria, including strong positive public-partnership within the city, its competitive business model, and the talent and skills that Iowa has to offer,” said Mike Daniels, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services. According to Mayor Buol, Dubuque’s sustainability initiative played an important role in IBM’s selection of the Iowa site. “The adaptive reuse of a historic structure in the heart of our downtown illustrates our shared commitment to sustainable development, historic preservation and community revitalization,” Buol said. The IBM announcement followed the addition by Microsoft of a large server farm in West Des Moines and Google’s $600-million data center in Council Bluffs.