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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 Boston.com: “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 Boston.com Cape Wind’s decision came down to Siemens or Vestas Wind Systems, based in Denmark.
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.
The Haitian government this week presented to international donors at a special United Nations conference in New York a $3.9-billion plan to rebuild the country, which was devastated by a Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people. The plan calls for shifting economic development away from the Haitian capital of Port au Prince to a series of new economic development zones linked to new roads, airports and port facilities. It is the first step in a reconstruction program that Haiti hopes will funnel more than $11-billion in international aid into the country over the next 10 years. “Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake,” the 56-page Action Plan for National Recovery and Development says. “It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss.” Haiti’s redevelopment plan is divided into two phases—an immediate stabilization and recovery period that lasts 18 months and costs $3.9-billion and a longer-term 10-year plan that focuses on economic growth and poverty reduction and could cost an extra $7.2-billion. The recovery plan sets targets for re-housing 1.3 million homeless people and rebuilding 1,300 schools and 50 destroyed hospitals. It also calls for refurbishing the Port-au-Prince airport, relocating the main port, building two new regional airports, two new sea ports and over 600 kilometers of new roads to promote trade and tourism. The plans call for establishing new economic zones in Cap Haitien, Les Gonaives, St. Marc, Hinche and Les Cayes to ease pressure on Port-au-Prince, which prior to the earthquake accounted for 65% of Haiti’s economic activity and 85% of all government tax revenues. Currently, there are approximately 1.2-million people living in over 460 emergency squatter camps in Haiti.. The report says at least 250,000 people are living in 21 camps that pose serious health and safety risks and need to be relocated immediately.
Very competitive labor costs along with moderately-low office/industrial leasing and sales tax costs help make Tampa the least-costly place to do business among 22 U.S. cities/locations with populations exceeding 2 million, according to a study by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm. Atlanta was the second most cost-competitive location in the large-cities category, followed by Miami and Baltimore, ranking third and fourth, respectively. Among other locations that performed well in the study were Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Houston and Phoenix, all with business costs below the U.S. baseline. The most expensive places to do business in the large-cities category were Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, according to the study. “Our study offers a comprehensive guide for comparing business costs in the United States and contains valuable information for any company seeking a cost advantage in locating a business operation, especially in the current economic climate,” said Hartley Powell, national leader for KPMG’s Global Location and Expansion Services practice. “Selecting the best site for a business operation requires balanced consideration of many factors, including business costs, business environment, personnel costs and quality-of-life issues.” KPMG’s 2010 Competitive Alternatives study measured 26 significant cost components including labor, taxes, real estate and utilities, as they apply to 17 industries, over a 10-year planning horizon, as well as data on a variety of non-cost-competitive factors. The study enables companies to perform a “quick scan” of jurisdictions to determine which can offer a cost-competitive business environment. According to the study, Tampa had a cost index of 96.0, representing business costs 4.0 percent below the U.S. national baseline of 100.0. Tampa was followed closely by Atlanta at 96.3, Miami at 97.0 and Baltimore at 97.1. Atlanta’s ranking was driven primarily by very competitive business-operating costs in such areas as office leasing, transportation, labor, and employee benefits, along with a favorable effective corporate-tax rate. Miami benefited from low labor and transportation costs, while Baltimore was helped by low property tax and sales tax costs. Dallas-Fort Worth, with a cost index of 97.7, ranked fifth among the large U.S. cities and profited mostly from very low natural gas and office leasing costs. St. Louis ranked sixth with a cost index of 97.8, benefiting from very competitive salary and wage costs and very low industry lease costs. In fact, St. Louis tied with Chicago for the lowest industrial-lease cost among the 22 large cities in the study. Houston and Phoenix ranked seventh and eighth, with cost indexes of 97.9 and 98.1, respectively. Houston also benefited from […]