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JUNE 28, 2010
Vol. 2, Issue 03 A publication of Site Selection

  • In When the Land is Loud, a gust of oil development sweeps across North Dakota, where people know what land is really worth.

  • The American Power Act: Clean Power or Power Grab?

  • The American Power Act, introduced this spring by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), is vast in scope, addressing domestic energy development, international climate change, consumer protection, emission reductions (83 percent by 2050!) and other areas. More than a mere energy bill, this legislation will have a profound effect on the economy, national security and corporate competitiveness on the international stage.

    This report provides two views of the bill, one for and the other against. In favor of the bill is William P. Hite, General President of the United Association of Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada. Opposed to the American Power Act is Nicolas Loris with the Heritage Foundation, whose contribution here appeared recently in the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers.

    Readers can learn more about the specifics of the proposed legislation from the World Resources Institute's summary and the Environmental Protection Agency among other resources.

Don't look now, but the nation known for being the world's factory, and having the environmental ruins and human resources scars to prove it, might truly be changing its colors. In addition to the watershed wage hikes at Honda and Hon Hai/Foxconn that have been making the news on the HR side, here are some signposts on the green side of things:

  • In early June, China announced it would subsidize purchases of electric cars and gas-electric hybrids to the tune of US$8,800 and $7,330 per purchase, respectively, via a pilot program in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changchun, Shenzhen and Hefei. Such programs may stoke further manufacturing investment in China from such companies as Nissan and a BYD/Daimler joint venture.
  • McKinsey has issued its outlook on China‰s green business opportunities. Power management firm Eaton Corp., which opened a new Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai last year, this spring hosted a China Sustainability Seminar, and issued a white paper called "State of Green Products in China." (Scroll to p. 15 for the English version.) After growing by multiple means over the past two decades, today Eaton China has 27 operations with more than 10,000 employees.
  • The Chinese government will impose a 5-percent tax on oil and natural gas produced in the western province of Xinjiang.
  • A giant $740-million project called Solar Valley in the northern city of Dezhou aims to be "the biggest solar energy production base in the whole world."
  • The Center for American Progress in April went on its own mission to China to learn about clean energy facts and fiction.

Samsung on May 11 announced its intention to invest 23 trillion won (US$20.2 billion) in new businesses through 2020, with a decided emphasis on energy-related sectors. "Five major new areas of investment outlined include solar cells, rechargeable cells for hybrid electric vehicles, Light Emitting Diode (LED) technologies, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices," said the company following a Samsung Council of Presidents meeting in Seoul. The company expects the solar cell, rechargeable cell and LED sectors alone to account for 32,600 jobs by 2020, with 10,000 of those jobs in the solar cell business alone.

U.S. Sen. Christopher ,KitŠ Bond

A recent Site Selection interview with U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond included the following Q&A on how energy matters in Missouri:

SS: Do you see opportunities to match some of the so-called "green" industries with the deep engineering, metals and materials experience that resides across Missouri?

Bond: The research being done at many Missouri institutions is helping to harness Missouri‰s rich natural resources to produce fuels like biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. While I remain a strong supporter for the development of these alternative energies, we must be sure these technologies are economically feasible and able to sustain themselves. The American taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize a technology that cannot succeed on its own.

SS: On energy in general, do you see the state as well-positioned, both in terms of affordable electricity and also the potential to foster energy-related businesses?

Bond: Missouri-based businesses, like Kokam in Lee's Summit ‹ brought to our state from a partnership with Korea ‹ is producing lithium battery technology, and Smith Electric Vehicles in Kansas City, are making Missouri the leader in battery and electric vehicle technology. At the same time, our academic institutions continue to make strides in the development of alternative energy technologies.

However, Missouri, like other states in the Midwest, is still heavily dependent on coal which is why we continue to invest in clean coal technologies, like the carbon sequestration project currently underway at City Utilities in Springfield. With the support of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri S&T, and Missouri State University in Springfield, CU is working to reduce the emissions it releases into the atmosphere by sequestering carbon dioxide in the ground.

As these technologies continue to evolve, it is critical that state and federal governments create and maintain the conditions for this development to take place. Unfortunately, there are many in the federal government advocating a massive new job-killing, innovation stifling energy tax through a cap-and-trade scheme ‹ the fastest way to ensure the research and development of these new technologies is halted.

With the signing of an MOU with the State of California in May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has signed such agreements with four states for coordination of permitting and licensing of hydrokinetic energy projects, the others being Washington, Oregon and Maine.

Separately, FERC is seeking comment on appropriate rate treatment, accounting classification and reporting requirements for new electric storage technologies such as flywheels and chemical batteries.

Hydrokinetic power projects capture energy from tidal or river currents. In summer 2009, Hydro Green Energy installed the first-ever commercially operational, FERC-licensed hydrokinetic power facility in the United States at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam No. 2 on the Mississippi River, above, near Hastings, Minn.
Photo courtesy of Hydro Green Energy and NREL

Company and community leaders celebrate Viatran‰s new lease at Calamar‰s Woodlands Corporate Center East, the largest mixed-use development in Niagara County, N.Y.

Clean hydropower of the more traditional variety helped western New York celebrate in May when Dynisco company Viatran, a maker of pressure and level sensors for such industry sectors as oil and gas, steel, food, medical equipment and injection molding, announced it would sign a lease for 18,000 sq. ft. (1,672 sq. m.) at Calamar's 120-acre (48-hectare) mixed-use Woodlands Corporate Center East in Wheatfield, N.Y., in Niagara County. Among the primary incentives was the Empower Niagara program, through which the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency was able to procure low-cost hydropower allocated for projects in the county.

It's always helpful when one environmental service provider can help another with its green goals. Such is the case in downtown Seattle, where with the help of GVA Kidder Mathews' Sustainability Practice, EDAW/ENSR, a subsidiary company of AECOM, obtained Gold Certification in the LEED for Commercial Interiors program through the U.S. Green Building Council on its new 19,000-sq.-ft. (1,765 sq.m.) location at the Dexter Horton Building (pictured). In addition to such features as 75-percent natural lighting, AECOM, whose consulting services range across such sectors as architecture, building engineering, design and planning, economics, energy, environment, government, program management, transportation, and water, promotes the reduction of its employees‰ carbon footprint with its proximity to public transportation, and by supplying bike storage and shower facilities rather than subsidizing parking stalls. The Dexter Horton Building obtained LEED-Gold certification for Existing Buildings in March 2010.

It takes green building skills to make green buildings. That‰s why Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago has established a Green Construction Institute, located at its Burr Ridge headquarters (pictured, left), which is a green building itself. "We try to instruct our member contractors and our work force in every applicable aspect of green building," said Dan Bulley (inset), a LEED-AP accredited professional who serves as executive director of the Green Construction Institute and also teaches several courses.

The MCA has worked closely for more than 90 years with Pipe Fitters Local Union (LU) 597, which recently installed a geothermal system at its own headquarters in Mokena (pictured, right). "This new system will allow contractors and customers insight into the geothermal world. The special design will help our apprentices and journeymen in their training ‹ there's nothing better than having a working model on-hand," said John Leen, Training Director at LU 597. "We teach green to HVAC apprentices and also to journeymen in evening classes as part of their continuing education. In many ways, we had been observing green practices over the years without even realizing it."

A geothermal well is drilled inside the Local Union 597 Training Center in Mokena, Ill.

The DOE is doing its part for such green training, announcing on June 17 more than $76 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded to support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects and the development of training programs for commercial building equipment technicians, building operators, and energy auditors. A total of 58 projects received awards, with eight in Wisconsin alone. In addition to several universities, associations and unions, the recipient list included Dow Corning, Dow Chemical, Eaton Corp., Johnson Controls, Siemens, United Technologies, Honeywell, Emerson Electric, 3M, GE and National Semiconductor Corp.

On June 23, Campbell, Calif.-based Solar Components announced it had placed its initial manufacturing order for its Joos Orange, portable solar chargers (pictured) with Singapore-based Eastern Asia Technology Limited. The first product, priced at under $100, should ship during the third quarter of 2010. Solar Components claims the device delivers "more than 2.5 hours of cell phone talk time for every hour of charging time - up to 20 times the powering capability of existing personal solar power devices."

The American Planning Association in April 2010 published "Planning for a New Energy and Climate Future," including case studies from Marin County, Calif.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Ann Arbor, Mich. The report was developed under the auspices of APA's Green Communities Research Center, which also maintains a thorough energy and climate database.

The International Economic Development Council has released a new report on economic development and the new energy economy called "Getting Prepared."

Last week The Site Selection Energy Report, just over a year old, received a 2010 APEX Award of Publication Excellence from Virginia-based Communications Concepts, in recognition of this newsletter‰s superior content and design.

Want more? Make sure to visit the Energy Report Archive.

"Energy Matters" is compiled, written and edited by Adam Bruns.

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