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   Doing a Google search that only brings one result is a popular online parlor game. For those in Silicon Valley hoping to repopulate their 15-percent vacant office space and rejuvenate the regional economy, being Google's one right answer is a very serious victory.
Power Failure Redux?

   Several southern California utilities in late August were forced into rolling blackouts reminiscent of the state's 2001 electric power crisis. One reason? The power sources in neighboring states that California depends on are too busy feeding the demand wrought in their states by increasing business and residential activity... some of the very activity that has fled the Golden State over the past several years.
   Will that vicious circle of demand threaten Northern California too? Not if Silicon Valley can help it. Calpine Corp. in June launched operation of its 600-megawatt Metcalf Energy Center in San Jose, the first large power generating station in Silicon Valley. In a report released in the spring, the California Independent System Operator said that Metcalf would provide subsantial reliability benefits to what it calls one of the "most generation-deficient areas in the state."
   On a different, progressive and no less important scale, Silicon Valley Power, the City of Santa Clara's electric utility serving 50,000 business and residential customers, has done its part to live up to the state's commitment to a renewable energy portfolio by purchasing wind energy from Portland, Ore.-based PPM Energy. The utility boasts a renewable percentage more than double that of its surrounding communities, while simultaneously offering power that's 30- to 40-percent cheaper.

   The search engine-driven economic engine of Mountain View, with some 4,200 employees and counting, announced in September 2005 plans to develop a 1-million-sq.-ft. (92,900-sq.-m.) campus on the site, where NASA has in place plans to redevelop as much as 4.2 million sq. ft. (390,180 sq. m.) eventually, on grounds that used to be home to Moffett Field naval air base, decommissioned in 1994.
   With the help of Bay Area real estate advisory firm BAE (central to the LucasFilm redevelopment of the Presidio), NASA Ames Research Center in the Silicon Valley endeavors to be a "21st-century research park" in collaboration with partners like University of California-Santa Clara, Carnegie Mellon University and San Francisco State University.
   Google won't be moving far, as its current 915,000-sq.-ft. (85,003-sq.-m.) headquarters is only five minutes down the road. But the vision for the future is far-reaching, including not only employee housing, roads and other infrastructure, but R&D cooperation between NASA and Google in such areas as massively distributed computing, large-scale data management and the "entrepreneurial space industry." According to press reports, this development agreement involves a lease term twice as long as Bayer's, at 60 years.
   The big boost came a mere two weeks after the Silicon Valley Leadership Group released a study that found its own region ranked last among eight U.S. tech hubs in cost-of-doing-business, evaluating such factors as utility prices, taxation, traffic congestion and housing. But projects in and around the Valley belie those findings.
   Pleasanton is known for ware of the soft variety, but building products manufacturer Simpson Manufacturing is coming back to the city with a headquarters move from the town of Dublin, more than doubling its space to just over 89,000 sq. ft. (8,268 sq. m.) in two buildings at the Hacienda Business Park. The company employs more than 2,600 worldwide, with operations in eight countries. More than 100 of them work at the company headquarters. Simpson also owns or leases property in San Leandro, Stockton and Vacaville.
   Nikon Precision is just finishing up a $70-million expansion in Belmont, halfway between downtown San Francisco and San Jose in San Mateo Co. And Adobe Systems is pursuing a $117-million expansion in San Jose proper.

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