Sustainable Development

US Economic Development Administration Awards $2M Green Job Training Grant to Port of Port Angeles, WA

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a $2 million grant to the Port of Port Angeles, WA for retrofitting a building that will house the Composite Recycling Technology Center’s workforce training facility.

CRTC

CRTC (photo -portofpa.com)

Commerce Sec. Penny Pritzker said in a release that this EDA investment supports recycling and environmental stewardship and will provide critical job training in Washington.

The $2 million EDA grant required a dollar-for-dollar match, and was made possible through a combination of state and local funding. So the project is getting $4 million, additionally the EDA grant, another $1 million from the Washington State Clean Energy Fund, and $1 million in local government funds.

High-strength and lightweight carbon fiber composites are increasingly being used to build everything from aircraft to automobile parts and have a wide range of applications across all major industries.

The CRTC will house a reprocessing center that will receive some of the two million pounds of carbon fiber that gets landfilled in WA State annually. CRTC will annually convert 1.4 M lbs of valuable carbon fiber material by its fifth year into useful products that will not only reduce the environmental impact of the waste, but also create new jobs and income.

A Peninsula College program will be co-located in a purpose-built facility at CRTC that will offer workforce training for staff of CRTC and composite companies. The EDA, state and local investment into this project will create an estimated 111 jobs in its first five years of operation, in addition to the industrial and workforce training the facility will provide for green jobs.

By the sixth year, an additional 89 jobs are expected to be created in the advanced composites sector as products developed at CRTC are commercialized. These activities will result in the creation of another 140 indirect jobs in the economy.

Governor Jay Inslee said in the release that this is a tremendous example of a community with a vision for how clean technology will create jobs and opportunity to secure its economic future.

The Composite Recycling Technology Center is a public-private project led by the Port of Port Angeles. Partners in the project include Peninsula College, the City of Port Angeles, Clallam County, Governor Inslee’s Office, and the Washington State Department of Commerce, in addition to many other private companies and research institutions.

Federal investment in the project was facilitated by the fact that it is located in Clallam County, which is a part of the IMCP-designated Washington Aerospace Manufacturing Community. Communities so designated under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program receive preferential consideration for federal grants from participating agencies, which includes the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

Amazon Web Services Enters Into PPA With Largest Solar Farm Project in Virginia

Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), announced that it is teaming up with Community Energy, Inc. to support the construction and operation of what will be the largest solar farm in Virginia.

AWS sustainable energy

AWS sustainable energy (photo – aws.amazon.com)

The $150 million, 80MW solar farm project in Accomack County, VA, known as Eastern Shore Solar, will now be called Amazon Solar Farm US East.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) with AWS ensures that approximately 170,000 megawatt hours of solar power generated annually by the project will be delivered into grids that supply AWS Cloud datacenters on the east coast. That’s the equivalent of the power used annually by approximately 15,000 US homes.

Jerry Hunter, vice president of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services, said in a release announcing their backing of this project that they continue to make significant progress towards their long-term commitment to power the global AWS infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy.

This project follows a similar AWS PPA with Pattern Energy Group LP earlier this year to support the construction and operation of a 150MW wind farm in Benton County, IN. That project is expected to start generating approximately 500,000 megawatt hours of wind power annually. That’s the equivalent of the power used annually by approximately 46,000 US homes.

The Accomack County solar farm has been in the works for quite some time now. Eastern Shore Solar chose the Delmarva Peninsula for the project, and has since successfully navigated the regulatory and land use zoning and permitting requirements involving a solar farm on a 1,000-acre site with multiple land owners in the vicinity of the Oak Hall substation.

Apart from the environmental benefits of clean, renewable energy generation at this scale, the project also provides a significant array of Accomack County economic development benefits and aid for community projects.

For starters, the project will create about 12 direct jobs at the site, including four technician jobs and another eight grounds keeping positions. Secondly, the new revenue for landowners will generate much higher taxes for the county than if the land were still under agricultural use.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in the release that “Amazon’s new solar project will create good jobs on the Eastern Shore and generate more clean, renewable energy to fuel the new Virginia economy.”

Furthermore, Eastern Shore Solar has included a “solar walk” component in the design, and is partnering with Eastern Shore Community College to educate residents and visitors in the area about renewable energy. The company has also offered to install $100,000 worth of solar equipment in government buildings used by the county, and provide another $100,000 to assist clean-up of derelict properties in the community.

Hawaii Becomes First State Requiring 100 Percent Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources

Governor David Ige signed into law four energy bills that are already being hailed as drivers of Hawaii economic development and the state’s clean energy economy.

Solar panels at Hawaii hydrogen station

Solar panels at Hawaii hydrogen station (photo – Official U.S. Navy Imagery/flickr)

One of the bills (HB 623) is a piece of landmark legislation that sets a deadline of Dec 31, 2045 for utilities to produce 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy sources.

This requirement creates the potential to drive huge investments into the state’s clean energy sector, while at the same time saving a big part of the $5 billion the state spends every year on purchasing oil for its energy needs.

Gov. Ige said in a release after the bill signing that making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow them to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving Hawaii’s economy, environment and energy security.

Luis Salaveria, director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), said in the release that setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawaii’s growing clean energy sector.

Salaveria added that the commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies in Hawaii.

Hawaii State Energy Office Administrator Mark Glick likewise noted that raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawaii will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation.

The new targets set through HB 623 are extremely ambitious, requiring 30 percent of net electricity sales by utilities to come from renewable sources by the end of 2020, forty percent by 2030, seventy five percent by 2040, and then 100 percent by Dec 31, 2045.

Gov. Ige added that he’d like to thank the Hawaii Senate and House energy committee chairs for championing HB 623 and ensuring that Hawaii remains a national leader in clean energy.

A second bill (SB 1050) that was signed into law by Gov. Ige creates the framework to assist urban dwellers including renters, condo owners and others who have been unable to transition to clean energy and benefit from it.

These consumers will now be able to purchase electricity from off-site renewable energy generation facilities such as solar farms. Specifically, SB 1050 provides a credit on the electricity bill for people who produce energy by purchasing or leasing and installing PV panels elsewhere.

A third bill (HB 1509) sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawaii System, while the fourth bill (HB 1296) designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator.

Delaware Approves Economic Development Incentives for Croda Expansion

Following a public hearing, the Delaware Council on Development Finance has approved economic development incentives for an expansion project in New Castle, DE by specialty chemical manufacturer Croda.

Croda

Croda (photo – croda.com)

Last month, the company held a ground-breaking for the new project at its Atlas Point operation. Croda is investing $170 million to establish what will be the first North American plant to produce 100 percent sustainable non-ionic surfactants.

These are active emulsifying agents that help keep oil and water together, and are commonly used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Croda will produce non-ionic surfactants from bio-ethanol, which further reduces its use of fossil fuels and gives customers a sustainable choice that performs as well as existing non-sustainable options.

Croda International Plc Group Chief Executive Steve Foots said in a release that this investment represents a tidal shift, especially for consumer goods manufacturers who are striving for sustainability and performance.

Foots added that at Croda, sustainability is fundamental to who they are and what they do, and they’re proud to be launching this first-of-its-kind initiative in North America.

Croda recently invested $2.3 million at this site for a solar panel array and another $8 million for a renewable energy project that converts landfill gas into electricity and steam. As a result, the Atlas Point facility reduced annual CO2 emissions by 11,600 tons, and over 60 percent of the site’s energy usage is now sourced from these projects.

This latest expansion to produce 100 percent sustainable surfactants from bio-ethanol further adds to the sustainability achievements of Croda’s Atlas Point facility.

Apart from the sustainability benefits, it is also creating 30 new jobs and helping retain 47 jobs at the Atlas Point facility, which already has 200 employees. The project will also create more than 250 construction jobs that while the production facility is being built.

Delaware is supporting the company’s investment and job creation and retention plans by offering Croda, Inc. a total of $2,487,384.46 in Delaware Strategic Fund grants. This includes a capital expenditure grant of up to $1.5 million, another $699,556 as a job creation performance grant, and $287,828.46 as a job retention grant.

Delaware Economic Development Office Director Alan Levin said in the release that Croda continues to make major investments at their Atlas Point facility in Delaware, and added that this renewable energy process will add new jobs while at the same time improving the safety of the environment.

Edison, NJ-based Croda, Inc. is the North American headquarters for Croda. The headquarters of Croda International Plc is located in East Yorkshire, U.K. Croda Atlas Point is one of their 54 operations, including 18 manufacturing sites, that are located across 34 countries. All told, the company employs more than 3,500 employees at these facilities around the world.

Duke Energy Unveils $1.1B Plan to Replace Asheville Coal Plant With Natural Gas and Solar

Duke Energy unveiled a $1.1 billion modernization plan whose core component is the retirement of Duke’s Asheville, NC coal-fired plant and construction of new natural gas-fired combined cycle plant and solar generation facilities on the same site.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (photo – Alexisrael/wikipedia)

The Western Carolinas Modernization Plan, to be implemented over the next four to five years, also includes modernization of Duke’s transmission system in western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.

To be specific, Duke plans to build a $320 million transmission substation near Campobello, SC, and connect it to the Asheville power plant through a new 40-mile transmission line.

The 376MW Asheville coal power plant has been serving the region since 1964, and its two coal units will be retired after the new gas plant starts serving customers in late 2019.

Duke Energy will invest approximately $750 million to build the 650MW natural gas-fired power. That’s double the capacity of the coal plant, and enough to power about 520,000 homes. Duke is also looking into ways to install solar generation capacity at the site after the coal ash excavation work is complete.

Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy executive vice president of market solutions and president of the Carolinas region, said in a release announcing the plan that they have developed an innovative plan that’s a ‘win-win-win’ for consumers, the environment and the economy.

The entire project will generate significant benefits for the region, including system reliability and rate reductions over the long term. The new plant will be about 35 percent less expensive to operate for Duke as compared to the coal-fired plant. It will also generate 35-40 percent more property taxes once it is modernized.

The modernization project will create 800 construction jobs at peak in the 2017-1019 timeframe, including 600 for the combined-cycle power plant, and 200 for the transmission and distribution projects. The project is expected to be complete by 2020.

Compared to the coal-fired plant’s current emissions, the new combined-cycle natural gas and solar plant will produce a 60 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour, along with a 90-95 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions and 35 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions. Mercury gets completely eliminated.

The gas plant will capture and convert exhaust heat into more electricity, making it one of the most efficient power plant designs in existence. Water consumption and waste will also be significantly lower. Water withdrawals will be reduced by 97 percent, and water discharges by 50 percent.

Charlotte, NC-based Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) is a Fortune 250 company and the largest electric power holding company in the United States, serving approximately 7.3 million electric customers across six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

Austin Recycling Economic Development Program Study – $720M Impact, 2675 Jobs

A new study shows that the recycling and reuse industries are significant contributors to the Austin economy, accounting for $720 million in economic activity and 2,675 permanent jobs.

Austin Recycling and Reuse Impact Study

Austin Recycling and Reuse Impact Study (photo – austintexas.gov)

This according to a study commissioned by the Austin Recycling Economic Development Program and prepared by TXP, Inc.

Last year, the City of Austin was awarded a $1 million grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for making infrastructure improvements to Austin’s first eco-industrial park [re]Manufacturing Hub that is being positioned to attract green companies in the recycling, reuse, and repair industries.

One of the goals for the Hub is to assist in the creation of an economy of scale in the transformation of recyclables into new products. The study undertaken by TXP, Inc. was commissioned as a part of this effort, to measure the current and future economic impact of the region’s recycling and reuse sectors.

The good news is not just about the $720 million present impact (pg 23 in the report), but also the forecast that the recycling sector is likely to become much bigger, with the potential to grow above $1 billion and 4,200 jobs.

The fast growth isn’t happening on its own either. In 2011, the City of Austin adopted a Resource Recovery Master Plan. This plan called for the creation of economic development initiatives in support of a stated zero waste goal of 90 percent landfill diversion by 2040.

As a result, the City of Austin Economic Development Department teamed up with Austin Resource Recovery to come up with programs and initiatives for zero waste business growth. This lead to the creation of the Recycling Economic Development Program, the Austin Materials Marketplace, and the Shop Zero Waste initiative.

It also led to the FM 812 landfill being converted into the Austin [re]Manufacturing Hub eco-industrial park. The TXP report shows that all this effort has significantly grown Austin’s recycling industry, with the potential to grow a lot more on the fast-track.

In a release announcing the study results, Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert said that despite Austin’s green reputation, they are lagging behind the national average in recycling-related manufacturing and need to take action to correct that.

Austin Economic Development Department Director Kevin Johns added that supporting the recycling and reuse industries will enable Austin to support the creation of hundreds of jobs for those who are struggling economically, and for those who face employment barriers or lack a post-secondary degree.

Johns added that this report offers guidance on how they can move this industry forward, and it establishes a baseline for measuring future success.

WWF-Apple Partnership in China Provides Global Corporate Leadership Model For Sustainable Development

Apple is ramping up its environmental and renewable energy projects in China, including through a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to protect up to one million acres of responsibly managed working forests that provide fiber for pulp wood, paper and products.

Green Apple

Green Apple (photo – The Pug Father/flickr)

A couple of weeks ago, Apple also launched a major solar project in China in the form of two 20MW solar farms in Sichuan Province that will together generate up to 80 million kilowatt hours of clean energy annually.

That’s power equivalent to the electricity usage of 61,000 Chinese homes. It’s also more than what Apple needs across all of its retail stores and corporate offices in China put together.

Apple’s 10 corporate offices and 22 retail stores in China directly employ 8,000 people. Apple is credited with helping create and support three million jobs in China. This includes 1.5 million app development and other iOS app economy jobs.

Currently, Apple’s renewable energy projects power 87 percent of the company’s global operations. All Apple data centers are 100 percent powered by renewable energy, and so are all of the company’s operations in the U.S. In addition to all its renewable energy projects, Apple also has an agreement with the Conservation Fund to protect more than 36,000 acres of working forest in the eastern United States.

The large-scale environmental and solar projects in China will likewise help move Apple move towards its goal of 100 percent renewable energy for all of its global operations. The biggest challenge will be its manufacturing operations. The large factories of Apple’s manufacturing partners employ tens of thousands of employees and have massive carbon footprints.

According to Apple’s latest Environmental Responsibility Report, manufacturing accounts for 24.8 million metric tons of green house gas emissions out of the company’s total footprint of 34.2 million metric tons.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release announcing the new initiatives in China that Apple has set an example by greening its data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and added that they’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing.

Cook said that this won’t happen overnight, and will in fact take years, but he also added that it’s important work that has to happen.

Apple’s goal with the forestland project in partnership with WWF is likewise ambitious – to achieve a net-zero impact on the global supply of sustainable virgin fiber.

Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson said in the release that forests, like energy, can be renewable resources. Jackson said they believe they can ensure protection and creation of as much sustainable working forest as needed for producing the virgin paper in Apple’s product packaging.

WWF China CEO Lo Sze Ping said in the release that Apple’s support for this project and its environmental leadership show that protecting forests is not just good for society but important for business.

Ping added that they hope this will catalyze a new model of corporate leadership in promoting sustainable forest management and more efficient and responsible use of paper resources around the world.

Start-Up NY Economic Development Program Supports Central New York Eco-friendly Brewery Expansion

Empire Brewing Company has broken ground on its Farmstead Brewery project, tipped to be the largest farm brewery of its kind in New York State.

Empire Brewing Company

Empire Brewing Company (photo – empirebrew.com)

It’s also the first project in Central New York to break ground for an expansion under the Start-Up NY economic development program.

Empire Brewing Co. is an environmentally sustainable brewer of handcrafted ales and lagers, with a bar and grill currently located in downtown Syracuse, NY.

The brewery uses hops, grains, and other locally sourced all-natural and fresh ingredients from more than 60 local farmers.

In 2010, they started distributing beer to off-site retailers and wholesalers. In order to fulfill growing demand, the company decided to build a brewery and packaging plant on a 22-acre farm in Cazenovia, NY. This facility, for which they have now broken ground, will help them expand annual production from 4,500 barrels to 20,000 barrels within three years.

The Farmstead Brewery construction design proposes to build an eco-friendly friendly brewery that will make use of green building materials and energy efficient technologies.

Empire Brewing Co. is working on this project as a Start-Up NY company sponsored by SUNY Morrisville. Companies undertaking new and expansion projects in designated Start-Up NY areas and working in partnership with an approved educational institution are entirely exempted from state and local taxes for a period of 10 years.

The Farmstead Brewery project is creating 50 new jobs and generating $6 million in investment in the local economy. It will support agri-tourism, and will help local growers providing the ingredients for beer production.

SUNY Morrisville is starting a new Brewing Studies Program, and they will be working with Empire Brewing Co, helping the company run the facility and providing students with working experience in an actual brewery’s production environment.

New York State economic development agency Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said in a release that Start-Up NY will enable Empire Brewing to establish an important partnership with SUNY Morrisville that will provide its students with practical business experience.

Commissioner Zemsky added that since craft beer is big business in New York State, the new facility will also create dozens of local jobs.

Empire Brewing Company President and Founder David Katleski said in the release that they are thrilled with their participation in Start-Up NY and the benefits it provides to their business. Katleski also cited the great partnership they have established with SUNY Morrisville, its curriculum and the students.

CenterState CEO President Robert Simpson, who is also co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, said in the release that the Empire Brewing Company’s Farmstead Brewery launch represents what can happen when the right partners work together to turn a vision into reality.

The craft beer industry in New York State is growing fast, and already has an estimated economic impact of $3.5 billion. The industry supports 6,552 direct jobs and another 4,814 jobs in related industries, providing a combined total of $554 million in wages.

Virginia Governor Signs Clean Energy Economy and Green Jobs Package

Marking the occasion of Earth Day, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a package of bills that is designed to significantly expand the growth of the clean energy economy and green jobs in Virginia.

Keep Virginia green

Keep Virginia green (photo – wakacheeka/flickr)

The legislative package includes the following bills:

HB 2267 and SB 1099 – This bill authorizes the creation of the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority. The new state entity will support and facilitate development of Virginia’s solar industry and solar-powered facilities.

HB 1950 and SB1395 – This bill doubles the allowed generation capacity for a solar net energy metering facility in Virginia.

HB 2237 – This bill authorizes utility cost recovery for construction or purchase of a solar facility with capacity over 1MW. It also designates 500MW solar generation projects as being in the public interest.

SB 1331 – This bill supports natural gas energy efficiency programs by clarifying how costs are evaluated by the State Corporation Commission.

HB 1446 and SB 801 – This bill expands the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which has been instrumental in helping localities establish loan programs for financing commercial building energy efficiency projects using private capital.

HB 1843 and SB 1037 – This bill extends the Green Jobs Tax Credit for another three years. This Virginia economic development incentive program provides employers creating green jobs in Virginia with a $500 tax credit per job created.

The bill signing ceremony that made this legislation law was held at Capital One’s Meadowville Technology Park in Chester, VA, as part of the company’s week-long Earth Day celebration events. Dominion Power recently completed a 500 KW solar array installation at this site.

In a release issued after the bill signing, Gov. McAuliffe said that these legislative initiatives are key components of his Virginia Energy Plan and will significantly expand solar generation, energy efficiency programs and green jobs in the Commonwealth.

Delegate Jennifer McClellan, who introduced the net metering bill, said in the release that creating laws that attract clean energy to Virginia will help to build economic and environmental sustainability for Virginia families, communities and businesses.

Delegate David Yancey, who introduced the utility-scale solar bill, said that with this legislation, Virginia is taking a much needed step in developing a solar industry in the state.

Yancey said it shows that important issues like energy can bring a variety of parties together to achieve a common goal, and added that he worked with environmental groups, small businesses and Dominion Power to craft a bill that was in line with the Governor’s energy policies.

 

Report – Rural Texas Economic Development Boom Led by Wind Energy Projects

The American Wind Energy Association last week released its annual U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, which shows that the industry added 23,000 jobs last year, bringing the sector’s total employment to 73,000.

Texas wind farm

Texas wind farm (photo – Leaflet/wikimedia)

The state-by-state breakup of data in the report shows rural Texas economic development in the midst of a boom, thanks to wind energy projects.

Large wind industry investments are putting Texans to work, diversifying local economies and shoring up tax bases, and lowering energy rates. To be specific, the industry invested $3 billion and created 9,000 jobs in Texas last year, adding up to a cumulative total investment of over $26 billion invested and 17,000 jobs created.

There are more than 7,500 MW of wind projects currently under construction in Texas, more than all other states combined. Texas was followed in wind energy job creation by Iowa and Colorado with more than 6,000 jobs each. Oklahoma with nearly 5,000 jobs and Michigan with more than 3,000 jobs rounded out the top five.

Overall, the U.S. wind industry attracted $12 billion in private investment last year, adding up to a total of more than $100 billion since 2008. The wind manufacturing sector alone has more than 500 facilities across 43 states that together employ in excess of 20,000 workers.

AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan credited the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power projects, which he said was good for business in America.

Texas-based Wind Coalition Executive Director Jeff Clark said in an AWEA release that Texas policies are succeeding, and they urge Texas lawmakers to stay the course on renewable energy and continue to invite energy investment in the state.

Apart from the federal PTC and state incentives, another factor that led to the wind-fueled economic development boom in rural Texas was the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines. That opened up Texas wind resources for development a year ago. Texas may lose this advantage soon with other states following suit and initiating major transmission upgrades.

The AWEA report also provides some interesting data about how U.S. wind energy is growing. Wind farms in the U.S. produced over 181 billion kWh of wind energy last year, enough to provide power for the needs of 16.7 million American homes.

This led to an estimated reduction of 125 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s more than 5.7 percent of the emissions of the entire U.S. power sector, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of 26 million cars. U.S wind energy usage also led to conservation of more than 68 billion gallons (roughly 517 billion bottles) of water last year.

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