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U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the world’s largest solar power plant, a $6 billion project in California, according to Bloomberg News. Solar Millenium LLC of Oakland, California, agreed to fund conservation measures protecting the desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard in return for permission to build the Blythe Solar Power Project on public land, the Interior Department said today. Blythe will use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy rather than solar panels that convert light directly into electricity. Blythe Solar will cover 7,025 acres on a site 216 miles east of Los Angeles, producing as many as 1,000 megawatts, the Interior Department said. The facility will use rows of parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto tubes that carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends steam to a turbine. “The Blythe project and others approved by Interior demonstrate the need for the agency to improve the permitting process,” Johanna Wald, NRDC’s senior attorney, said in a statement. “By making future renewable-energy projects smart from the start, we can better ensure their biggest impact is on our energy supply, not other natural resources.” On Oct. 5, Salazar approved on Oct. 5 projects in California proposed by Chevron and Tessera Solar. Before today’s announcement, four solar facilities on public lands in California and a project in Nevada with capacity to generate a total of 1,800 megawatts of electricity won approval this month. A megawatt is enough to power about 800 average U.S. homes, according to the Energy Department.  


U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the world’s largest solar power plant, a $6 billion project in California, according to Bloomberg News. Solar Millenium LLC of Oakland, California, agreed to fund conservation measures protecting the desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard in return for permission to build the Blythe Solar Power Project on public land, the Interior Department said today. Blythe will use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy rather than solar panels that convert light directly into electricity. Blythe Solar will cover 7,025 acres on a site 216 miles east of Los Angeles, producing as many as 1,000 megawatts, the Interior Department said. The facility will use rows of parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto tubes that carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends steam to a turbine. “The Blythe project and others approved by Interior demonstrate the need for the agency to improve the permitting process,” Johanna Wald, NRDC’s senior attorney, said in a statement. “By making future renewable-energy projects smart from the start, we can better ensure their biggest impact is on our energy supply, not other natural resources.” On Oct. 5, Salazar approved on Oct. 5 projects in California proposed by Chevron and Tessera Solar. Before today’s announcement, four solar facilities on public lands in California and a project in Nevada with capacity to generate a total of 1,800 megawatts of electricity won approval this month. A megawatt is enough to power about 800 average U.S. homes, according to the Energy Department.  

U.S. OKs World’s Largest Solar Plant

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U.S. OKs World’s Largest Solar Plant

U.S. OKs World’s Largest Solar Plant

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the world’s largest solar power plant, a $6 billion project in California, according to Bloomberg News. Solar Millenium LLC of Oakland, California, agreed to fund conservation measures protecting the desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard in return for permission to build the Blythe Solar Power Project on public land, the Interior Department said today. Blythe will use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy rather than solar panels that convert light directly into electricity. Blythe Solar will cover 7,025 acres on a site 216 miles east of Los Angeles, producing as many as 1,000 megawatts, the Interior Department said. The facility will use rows of parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto tubes that carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends steam to a turbine. “The Blythe project and others approved by Interior demonstrate the need for the agency to improve the permitting process,” Johanna Wald, NRDC’s senior attorney, said in a statement. “By making future renewable-energy projects smart from the start, we can better ensure their biggest impact is on our energy supply, not other natural resources.” On Oct. 5, Salazar approved on Oct. 5 projects in California proposed by Chevron and Tessera Solar. Before today’s announcement, four solar facilities on public lands in California and a project in Nevada with capacity to generate a total of 1,800 megawatts of electricity won approval this month. A megawatt is enough to power about 800 average U.S. homes, according to the Energy Department.  


Ford Invests $850 Million in MI Auto Plants

Ford Invests $850 Million in MI Auto Plants

Ford has announced it will invest a combined $850 million in Michigan between 2011 and 2013 to upgrade manufacturing of fuel-efficient vehicles. The investment will add up to 1,200 new jobs. Two automotive plants in Sterling Heights, MI will get combined $150 million in investment under a package of incentives deals approved this week by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority. Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool told Crains Detroit the automaker would invest $100 million at the Van Dyke Transmission facility and $50 million at the Sterling Axle Plant. The two plants collectively employ almost 3,200 people. “The transmission plant we understand is the center of their global, six-speed transmission initiative (for Ford). And the six-speed investment is across a variety of models, so we gather the work it generates will be pretty diversified,” Vanderpool said. “This is very good news for Sterling Heights, since the city alone has round 10,000 automotive related employees.” “Fuel economy and technology are consumers’ biggest priorities—and we have made them Ford’s as well,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, said in a statement Monday. “We are pleased to work with state and local government leaders to find new ways to work together, invest in our people as well as Ford facilities, further improve our competitiveness and secure jobs in Michigan.”


Google to Open OK Data Center in 2011

Google to Open OK Data Center in 2011

Google is resuming work on a major data center project at MidAmerica Industrial Park near Pryor, OK in Mayes County, saying it will soon need to being additional data center capacity online. The $600 million Oklahoma project was originally scheduled for completion in 2009, but was delayed due to the slowing economy. It is now expected to be operational by the end of 2011. “Over the course of the next year and a half, Google will be building out this facility, installing servers and creating jobs in Mayes County,” Google said in a statement. “We always intended to make the Mayes County data center operational at some point. In 2008, we determined that it was unnecessary to bring the Mayes County site online as we already had enough server capacity to meet current demand. Since then, Google’s traffic and products have continued to grow, and we believe it’s time to make this site operational.” Google announced the Oklahoma data center project in May, 2007, when it purchased 800 acres of land in Pryor for a massive facility that would employ 100 workers with an average salary of $48,000. The Pryor project was the third of four data center construction projects Google announced in the first half of 2007. The search company has completed the initial phases of the other projects, located in Lenoir, NC, Goose Creek, SC and Council Bluffs, IA. Google received both sales tax and property tax incentives from the state and local governments in Oklahoma, and legislators also passed a law allowing municipal power companies to not report power usage by their largest industrial customers—which in this case made it possible for the local utility in Pryor to not disclose Google’s energy usage.


ZF Steering Invests $95.8 Million in Kentucky Plant

ZF Steering Invests $95.8 Million in Kentucky Plant

Gov. Steve Beshear has announced that ZF Steering Systems LLC will undergo a major expansion in Northern Kentucky, investing $95.8 million over the next three years. The growth is a result of increased demand for the company’s new and existing products and involves constructing two new buildings and creating 374 new full-time jobs over the next three years at its facility in Florence, Ky. “Kentucky is proud to be the home of world-class companies such as ZF Steering Systems and strives to partner with its existing industries to create new economic development opportunities,” said Gov. Beshear. “ZF Steering Systems’ $95.8 million investment is a tremendous boost to the Commonwealth. We look forward to working with ZF Steering Systems as it grows and prospers in Northern Kentucky.” ZF Steering Systems is a subsidiary of Germany-based ZF Lenksysteme GmbH, and has been located in Kentucky since 1994.  The company manufactures steering components for passenger cars and SUVs, and is adding capacity to meet demand for its new electric steering gear. Construction of two new buildings totaling 175,000 additional square feet will begin in November and is expected to be complete by summer 2011. “This important investment will allow us to meet the increasing demand for our premium steering components and expand our manufacturing footprint in Northern Kentucky,” said Pierre Abboud, president & CEO, ZF Steering Systems LLC. “The area’s skilled workforce and competitive business environment were among the reasons we chose to locate here, and we look forward to continued growth in the region.” An incentive package was preliminarily approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) to encourage the near $100 million investment in Kentucky.  ZF Steering was approved for up to $7.5 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.  The performance-based incentive can be earned over a 10-year period through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments. “ZF Steering Systems is adding a significant amount of new jobs in addition to their substantial number of existing employees,” said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen. “This economic development project serves as an example of how companies can prosper and grow in Northern Kentucky.  Good things can happen by cooperatively working together.”


Albany International Grows in Rochester, NH

Albany International Grows in Rochester, NH

Albany Engineered Composites (AEC), an aerospace composites manufacturer and subsidiary of Albany International, has announced that it will build a new plant in Rochester, NH, creating 300 jobs. New investment by the company in existing operations also is expected to create an additional 200 jobs, Gov. John Lynch said. “This is an exciting time for the city of Rochester, and an exciting time for the state of New Hampshire,” Lynch said. “These are good paying jobs at a great company, and these are exactly the kinds of job creation we’ve been working toward. This is really a significant investment by Albany in New Hampshire.” Lynch also announced that Albany International will be moving its corporate headquarters and leadership team from New York to Rochester during the next few years. The state’s community college system also will be working with Albany Engineered Composites to provide job training for candidate workers at the AEC facility. “Our fastest-growing business, and the business we hope will continue to grow, is located right here in Rochester,” said Joseph Morone, AEC president and CEO.


Intel to Create Thousands of Jobs

Intel to Create Thousands of Jobs

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corporation will invest between $6 billion and $8 billion on future generations of manufacturing technology in five semiconductor fabrication plants. A new facility in Oregon and four other existing facilities, two in Oregon and two in Arizona, will develop 22-nanometer process technology. The new chips will be used in a variety of devices from computer servers to mobile devices. The project will support 6,000 to 8,000 construction jobs and create 800 to 1000 permanent high-tech positions. Intel is relying on the smaller chips to develop faster, power-efficient processing while reducing the risk of overheating. “Today’s announcement reflects the next tranche of the continued advancement of Moore’s Law and a further commitment to invest in the future of Intel and America,” Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement. While the company has not decided how the money or the jobs will be split between the operations, John Pemberton, VP of technology and manufacturing group for Intel and plant manager in Chandler, AZ, said the work will be finished by the end of 2012. In Arizona, Intel will upgrade Fab 12, originally built in 1995. The plant currently is producing older chips in a 65-nanometer process and will be making several generations of upgrades with the investment, Pemberton said. The other plant upgrade is Fab 32, where Intel recently spent $3 billion on the 32-nanometer process, at the time the highest chip production level. That production facility was built in 2005. Still, the bulk of the money and the jobs may go to Oregon, which is getting a new fab to be called D1X, slated for startup in 2013. It also will receive money to upgrade two of its current fabs (D1C and D1D). Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the decision continues a tradition of Intel bringing high-wage jobs to the state. The company has about 10,000 employees and is the largest semiconductor employer in the state.


Google Aims to Power East Coast

Every year, somebody at our office circulates an email message updating us on what it’s like to work at Google. This message always generates a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” at the water cooler. The privileged few who inhabit Google’s high command in Mountain View, CA are living the corporate good life. In between tweaking the algorithm that governs 80 percent of web searches, these working stiffs can be seen: Serenely swimming in an Olympic-sized pool; Reclining in ergonomically designed “stress” capsules; Moving from floor to floor on a sliding pond; Shooting pool in the billiard room; Getting a professional massage; Having a personal chef prepare a five-star meal for lunch. Frankly, we’re fed up with the annual “what it’s like to work at Google” message. We’d like to forward it to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Strike that last thought. Google just announced it has plans for the Atlantic Ocean. The search behemoth is going to spend $5 billion to power a huge stretch of the East Coast of the United States with wind from the Atlantic. Google intends to leapfrog to the head of the alternative energy pack. The project would set up offshore wind turbines and a new transmission grid stretching 350 miles from New Jersey to Virginia. Google, which also is dabbling in robotic cars (they drive themselves), said it would provide 37.5 percent of the initial funding for the East Coast wind bonanza. Rick Needham, director of green business operations and strategy at Google, described the project as a new “superhighway” for alternative energy, creating jobs and eventually providing enough power to serve 1.9 million households. “We’re willing to take calculated risks on large-scale projects that can move an industry. Indeed, that is what’s made our company so successful to date,” Needham told a news conference in Washington. Google and its partners hope to begin work on the project, called the Atlantic Wind Connection, in early 2013 and complete it by 2020, subject to government approval. Needham said Google was open to further investment later. We can imagine how this project got started. Google founders Sergey and Larry were taking a stress break after a five-star meal at the Mountain View HQ. While they were lying on the massage table, Sergey suddenly blurted out: “Gigabits. Gigabits. That’s all we ever talk about. I’m sick of gigabits!” To which Larry responded: “OK. How about gigawatts?” We’ve got an uneasy feeling about this initiative. Creating a power transmission grid for the most densely populated chunk of the U.S.A. is […]


SAERTEX USA Expands in Mecklenburg County

SAERTEX USA Expands in Mecklenburg County

SAERTEX USA LLC said Tuesday it will spend $6.5 million to expand its factory in Huntersville, NC creating 178 new jobs over the next three years. The move came with the help of $240,00 in incentive grants from Huntersville, Mecklenburg County and the state of North Carolina. Based in Saerback, Germany, SAERTEX makes lightweight composite materials used by manufacturers in the wind energy, aerospace, civil engineering, auto and shipbuilding industries. The company first told local officials about the possible expansion a year ago and was considering sites in Brazil and Colorado as well as Huntersville, according to Jerry Broadway, executive director of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corp. One option would have required closing the Huntersville plant and building a larger plant in Colorado. “This project points out the importance of working with our existing companies,” Mike Griffin, chairman of the Lake Norman Regional EDC, said in a press release. The SAERTEX announcement “is exactly the outcome we hoped would occur” when the LNREDC started its Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program two years ago. In exchange for its pledge to expand and add employees, Saertex will get grants of up to $240,000 from various sources, Mr. Broadway said. That includes $110,000 from the state’s One North Carolina Fund, to be distributed as the company meets goals for hiring and retaining new employees, and incentives of $45,000 over 5 years from Huntersville, and $80,000 over 3 years from Mecklenburg County – both payable as rebates on taxes the company pays.


GE Plans Center of Excellence in Bloomington

GE Plans Center of Excellence in Bloomington

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob joined executives of General Electric Co. this week to announce the company’s plans to establish a new center of excellence here, creating up to 200 new jobs by 2013. The Fortune 50 business group will invest more than $93 million to make necessary infrastructure and equipment improvements at its 1 million square-foot manufacturing campus in Bloomington. The facility, once scheduled for closure, will become GE’s center of excellence for the manufacture of side-by-side refrigerators. The company’s decision reverses the strategy pursued for over 12 years of transferring production from the facility and comes just more than two weeks after GE announced it would invest $68 million to redesign its refrigerator line at the Bloomington plant. “Were so glad that General Electric understands that Indiana is a competitive location to invest and grow its business,” said Roob, chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “This announcement is welcome news, not only for the new opportunities it will create, but also for the more than 500 workers who will be retained here.” GE currently employs approximately 550 workers at the Bloomington facility and plans to hire additional assembly and supervisory associates as new equipment and appliance models are phased in at the plant. The new side-by-side refrigerator models to be produced in Bloomington will meet anticipated high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® criteria as well as the 2014 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency requirements. “GE is proud to make this investment in Bloomington, IN. With the support of our employees and the government, GE will now be able to offer consumers new and improved, energy efficient refrigerators that are competitively made right here in the U.S.,” said Charlene Begley, president and chief executive officer of GE Home and Business Solutions. “This is a tremendous win for GE, our employees, the local community and American consumers.” Fairfield, CN-based General Electric employs more than 300,000 associates in more than 100 countries worldwide. The company’s Home and Business Solutions division, which includes the Bloomington production operation, reported revenues of more than $8.4 billion in 2009. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered General Electric up to $2.25 million in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. “General Electric has been great to work with as everyone tries to overcome the tough economic climate,” said Mayor Mark Kruzan. “We’re happy to be a part of this exciting announcement.” General Electric’s announcement of investment in the Bloomington facility comes just more than a week after military commissary supplier, Nash Finch, […]


Pinnacle Airlines Keeps HQ in Memphis, TN

Pinnacle Airlines Keeps HQ in Memphis, TN

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber have applauded Pinnacle Airlines’ decision to enter into negotiations to lease commercial space for a new corporate headquarters in downtown Memphis. The company’s board of directors approved a letter of intent to enter into negotiations for approximately 155,000 square feet of office space in the One Commerce Square Building. “To use a pilot’s vernacular, this project has been on approach for some time and I couldn’t be happier we’ve landed it,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “We’ve worked hard to create strong partnerships at the state and local levels and a business climate that helps companies understand there’s no better place to locate a business than in Tennessee. Pinnacle’s decision is a great endorsement of both Memphis and Tennessee and keeps hundreds of jobs in the community.” “I’m pleased Pinnacle’s management and board of directors have moved forward on creating a strong presence for the airline in Memphis today and into the future,” said Matt Kisber, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “This announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a strong partnership between the city of Memphis, Shelby County, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce and the state of Tennessee. It’s a big win for all of us.” Pinnacle currently employs approximately 600 people in several buildings in the Nonconnah Office Park near the Memphis International Airport. A search has been underway by the company for more than a year for space to accommodate growth in the wake of Pinnacle’s acquisition of Mesaba Airlines in July 2010. “It is our desire to keep our headquarters in Memphis, and the One Commerce Square proposal came closest to meeting our criteria,” said Philip H. Trenary, President and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines Corp. “State, county and city representatives have worked very hard to reach this point and we are appreciative of their efforts.” Trenary says upon completion of lease negotiations, Pinnacle will occupy 12 floors in the One Commerce Square building. More than 9,000 Pinnacle employees from around the country travel to Memphis annually for training. The company provides regional air service under contract to Delta, Continental and U.S. Airways. Pinnacle Airlines Corp., an airline holding company, is the parent company of Pinnacle Airlines, Inc.; Colgan Air, Inc.; and Mesaba Aviation, Inc. Pinnacle Airlines, Inc. operates a fleet of 142 regional jets under Delta brands in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Colgan Air, Inc. operates a fleet […]