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 […]
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government-owned land in the state and turn it over to economic developers. Federal-owned land accounts for more than 60 percent of the acreage in Utah. Herbert has signed a pair of bills into law intended to level the playing filed for economic development on energy-rich parcels that currently are owned by the federal government. Utah’s move is intended to provide the basis for a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to vast government land holdings. State officials told the Associated Press they hope Utah’s initiative will prompt other Western states that are home to large federal land holdings to join the fight, but they state attorneys conceded that a favorable ruling is a long-shot. But Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says the case is still worth fighting, since the state could reap millions of dollars for state schools each year if it wins. Initially, the state would target three areas for the use of eminent domain, including the Kaiparowits plateau in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is home to large coal reserves. President Bill Clinton designated the area as a national monument in 1996, a move that stopped development on the land. Eminent domain would also be used on parcels of land where Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last year scrapped 77 oil and gas leases around national parks and wild areas, officials said. Utah lawmakers contend the federal government should have long ago sold the land it owns in the state. Because it hasn’t, they say, the federal government has violated a contract made with Utah when statehood was granted. Utah officials are hoping that the current Supreme Court’s flexibility on the issue of eminent domain will tilt the Court in favor of a bid to apply it to federal land. In a highly controversial ruling in 2005, the Court upheld the seizure of private residential property for a commercial development that was eventually abandoned in Connecticut.
New York State’s Public Service Commission has approved a $279-million funding package for small-scale renewable energy projects over the next five years. The plan approved yesterday will help thousands of homeowners and businesses to install solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines and other renewable energy devices, the Commission said. The $279 million funding package will come from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard initiative. In addition, the Commission said $150 million would be made available for large-scale solar photovoltaic, anaerobic digestion and fuel cell projects in and around the Hudson Valley and New York City, Brighter Energy.org reported. “In these difficult economic times, we are keeping our focus on the long-term need to support the investment in renewable energy. The development and expansion of our critically important renewable energy resources will allow us to take greater control of our energy future,” said Gary Brown, PSC chairman. For the smallscale funding program, equipment up to 50kW will be eligible for funding, which breaks down into $144 million for solar photovoltaic projects, $70.5 million for anaerobic digesters, $21.6 million for fuel cell projects and $18.1 million for small wind turbines. For the first time, solar heating projects will also receive support, with the technology allocated $24.7 million. New York is striving to meet a target under its RPS to source 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015. The Public Service Commission claimed that its funding program would see 466,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity generated over its five year period – enough power to supply 72,000 homes.
Lithium battery-maker EnerDel is planning a new manufacturing plant at the Mount Comfort Business Park in Hancock County, IN. The company says it expects to employ 1,100 people at the facility over the next five years. The company expects to invest $277 million in the plant. EnerDel also is seeking a $480 million federal loan from the Department of Energy to underwrite its expansion. EnerDel will receive state and local government incentives worth $53.1 million in exchange for its expansion commitment. Hancock County will provide $30 million in incentives, primarily in the form of tax abatements. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is offering another $21.3 million in performance-based incentives. The average wage for EnerDel’s new jobs is expected to be $18.50 per hour. EnerDel looked at sites across central Indiana, including Marion and Hamilton counties, and locations in Michigan, before selecting the Hancock County site. According to CB Richard Ellis , which represented EnerDel in its search, EnerDel was attracted to the Mount Comfort site because it is shovel ready. Last September, Browning Inc. completed construction on a pair of buildings there designed for light manufacturing or distribution. EnerDel chose the larger of the two, a 423,000-square-foot facility with multiple back doors and cross-docking.
Business and elected leaders in Clarksville-Montgomery County, TN were presented this week with Business Facilities’ 2009 Economic Development Deal of the Year Silver Award
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a bill mandating that the state generate 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Ritter said the bill, which also requires that at least 3 percent of electric power come from solar projects, would create “thousands” of new jobs and 100,000 new solar rooftops over the next decade. “Today we continue to chart a new course for Colorado’s New Energy Economy and America’s clean energy economy,” Gov. Ritter said, signing the bill at SolSource, Inc., a Denver-based solar installation company. “Colorado is giving every state and the entire nation a template for tomorrow. This is a game-changer. We are transforming the future of Colorado and our country.” The new 30% renewable energy goal follows on from Colorado’s 10% by 2015 target, as adopted in 2004, and takes over from a 20% by 2020 target set in 2007. The action by Colorado brings the total of states with Renewable Electricity Standards to 29, with Colorado’s 30% among the highest targets thus far. California has set the highest goal, a 33 percent target. Sponsors of the renewable energy standard legislation said Colorado has attracted more than 230 solar companies to our state. The bill states that energy will have to come from renewable or recycled energy sources to count towards the Standard. Recovered heat and energy-from-waste will count, but nuclear power will not. Utilities would have to increase the proportion of electricity sourced from renewable projects from 3% in 2007 to 5% for the period 2008-2010, then requirements increase to 12% from 2011 to 2014, up to 20% for 2015 through 2019, then 30% in the years following. Power suppliers will also have to provide a growing proportion of power from distributed generation systems—small-scale renewable projects—under the Bill. This rises from 0.5% of retail sales in 2010 up to 2% from 2011 to 2014, 3% from 2015 through 2019 and 3.5% from 2020. Companies will have the incentive to develop utility-scale renewable energy plants within Colorado, by being allowed to count an extra 250 watts of energy towards the Standard for every kilowatt generated in utility-scale plants located inside state boundaries. The bill also seeks to set up a rebate program that would provide financial incentives for renewable equipment below 100 kW in scale. The rebates would be around $2 for every watt a utility customer produces above their requirements.