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Dec 23, 2014

LEEDCo wind turbine project will lead design of U.S.-made foundation

In a move that will “catalyze domestic manufacturing growth,” the Lake Erie Development Corp. (LEEDCo) announced that it is “leading an international engineering team to design an offshore wind turbine foundation optimized for fabrication in the U.S.,” nawindpower.com reports. The company says the design will eliminate barriers to entry for U.S.-based steel fabricators who want to supply offshore wind turbine foundations. The system’s conceptual design was developed by LEEDCo last year through a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) competition, and the DOE awarded $2.8 million “to complete the detailed engineering,” according to the article. Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo, said, “This will be the first monopole foundation designed from the ground up to be built by American companies and installed in American waters.” LEEDCo’s 18 MW Project Icebreaker, “a six-turbine offshore wind demonstration project” off the shore of Lake Erie (for more on this, see our June 30, 2014 blog post), will be the first project to use the new design. For more, read the full article

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Sep 16, 2014

Proposed pipeline would send Midwest natural gas to the Southeast

Utility companies including Duke Energy and Dominion Resources are proposing a new pipeline to transport natural gas from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina. According to a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch, natural gas is being used to generate more of the electricity in the United States because “enormous new domestic supplies have drastically lowered its price and because natural gas burns cleaner than coal.” The Marcellus and Utica shales in the Midwest “are now generating more than a quarter of the nation’s natural gas,” according to the Dispatch article. It is estimated that the cost of the pipeline will range from $4.5 billion to $5 billion, and “[i]t would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day,” according to the article. For more, read the full article
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Apr 18, 2014

Renewable energy investments in the United States fall further behind China amid uncertainty in the sector

The nonprofit Pew Charitable Trust organization recently released a report detailing the west-east migration of capital investments in wind and solar energy, according to The Hannah Report. Asian investments are up 10 percent, which is the same amount that investments have dropped in the United States. Investments in the United States are a far second behind China. U.S. investments in wind energy in particular have "plummeted more than 90 percent in 2013," though it is still a distant second to China. The report, "Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race?" said investor interest in the sector has been dampened in the United States due to "the fulfillment of state-level portfolio standards, the lack of progress on national energy policy, and uncertainty about the direction of policies on global warming pollution," the article said. For more, read the full report.

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Mar 25, 2014

LEEDCo secures support from conservation groups for its Icebreaker wind farm project on Lake Erie

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) "began applying for critical permits two weeks ago" for the Icebreaker project, which would be the first wind farm on the Great Lakes, The Plain Dealer reports. Among the documents in these application packages are letters of support from major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Environment Ohio, Mom's Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light and the Earth Day Coalition. LEEDCo secured about $4 million in federal funds "to design and engineer the wind farm" and will find out in May whether it will receive a $46.7 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy. Birding enthusiasts, who recently helped stop a planned turbine project in northwest Ohio, are pushing for deeper studies into the effects of wind turbines on birds, the article said (See our Feb 3, 2014, blog post – "Commercial-scale wind turbine planned for Ottawa County canceled due to concerns it would harm migratory birds"). For more, read the full story.

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Mar 11, 2014

Solar cell constructed in Perrysburg set a world record for conversion efficiency

Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. announced recently that it set a world record for cadmium-telluride photovoltaic solar cell conversion efficiency, "achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)." The cell that set the record was constructed at the company's factory and Research & Development Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. For more, read the full news release.

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Mar 05, 2014

Collaboration on a solar project between the city and college of Oberlin is being hailed as a mutual success

A 2.27-megawatt solar array created by Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin's electrical utility is being hailed as the beginning of a move away from a reliance on central power toward local distributive generation, Midwest Energy News reports. The collaboration was born out of necessity when the college determined it needed the city's transmission lines. After recently completing its first full year of operation, the array is reported to have "met about 12 percent of the college's electricity needs; produced about 50 percent more power than projected during hours of peak demand; saved the utility nearly $100,000 in generation and distribution costs, translating into a slightly lower cost of power for customers; and nudged up, by nearly three percentage points, the proportion of the city's energy that is derived from renewable sources." Because the college opted to "pay a premium for panels with a tracking feature that allows them to follow the sun across the sky," the array has generated more peak-time energy than anticipated. For more, read the full story.

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Feb 27, 2014

Ohio Senate adopts resolution urging all state and local government agencies to ban LEED v4 standards

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 by a 22-10 vote. Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) introduced S.C.R. 25 in November to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) v4 green building system. Supporters of the resolution argue that the USGBC has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims (See our Feb 5, 2014, blog post for more information). Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) proposed an amendment to remove references to LEED v4, but it was tabled on a 22-10 vote, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report.

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Feb 14, 2014

Neighbor group opposed to the Buckeye II Wind Project is challenging the in-state renewable energy requirement's constitutionality before the Ohio Supreme Court

Attorneys for Union Neighbors United are claiming that the planned Buckeye II Wind Farm project in Champaign County should not move forward because the state's in-state renewable energy requirement, which justified the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) approval of the project, is unconstitutional, Columbus Business First reports (See our Dec 2, 2013, blog post for more information). The argument comes after Ohio Senate Republicans spent the better part of 2013 trying to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards through Sub. S.B. 58. After canceling a vote on the legislation in December, Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who sponsored the bill and chairs the Senate Public Utilities Commission, announced his intention to challenge in court the in-state mandate (See our Dec 6, 2013, blog post for more information). The same neighbor group unsuccessfully opposed phase one of the wind farm before the high court, but the group's attorneys think they will have a better outcome this time because the turbines planned for phase two will be "closer to people's homes," the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Feb 13, 2014

Bipartisan legislation would allow solar projects under construction at the end of 2016 to qualify for the Investment Tax Credit

Under legislation introduced last Thursday by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dean Heller (R-NV), solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects under construction by the end of 2016 would still be eligible for a 40 percent tax credit through the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), according to a news release from Sen. Heller. The ITC is set to expire at the end of 2016 and current language only allows projects that are placed in service by then to qualify. The ITC "has been perhaps the most important policy support for the growth of the U.S. solar market," according to Solar Magazine. The Bennet-Heller bill follows a similar change that was made to the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which significantly helped grow the U.S. wind industry and expired at the end of 2013 (See our Oct 16, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.

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Feb 05, 2014

Senate hearing addresses resolution to forbid LEED v4 standards in favor of ANSI

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee heard witnesses oppose Senate Concurrent Resolution 25, which Sens. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) introduced in November to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) v4 green building system. Supporters of the resolution argue that the USGBC has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). Opponents "vehemently denied the existence of a 'blacklist' of building materials," claiming that "thousands of member organizations ultimately voted on the final version" following "extensive public input on the drafts." S.C.R. 25 would instead "urge state agencies to follow efficient building standards" set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

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Feb 03, 2014

Vadxx Energy will construct its first commercial-scale plastic waste to energy plant in Akron

Akron-based Vadxx Energy recently announced that it has secured funding from the North Carolina-based private equity firm Liberation Capital to construct "its first commercial-scale plant to turn plastic waste into energy," Crain's Cleveland Business reports. The unit will be located in Akron and will divert almost 60 tons of plastic waste from the landfill per day when it comes online in early 2015. Vadxx said that Rockwell Automation "is the procurement and construction contractor and will manufacture and commission the plant," the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Jan 27, 2014

Battelle creates mobile biofuel refinery in an effort to solve supply chain problems

The Battelle Memorial Institute, a major research and development nonprofit, recently launched a pilot project at its Columbus headquarters that aims to solve supply chain problems by dispatching a mobile biofuel refinery "directly where feedstock can be obtained," Midwest Energy News reports. Using a reactor in which a "high-temperature process known as catalytic pyrolysis takes place," raw materials are converted into an oil that is easier to transport than the raw material itself, essentially taking "the production plant to the biomass field on the back of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer." The process meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) renewable fuel standard, "meaning refiners can use it to comply with their annual targets for advanced biofuel use." However, with significantly more oxygen than petroleum or coal, biofuel's energy content is low. Although the company could avoid the $200 million cost of building a massive production facility by deploying these smaller units, it still must determine "that [it] can get yields and process efficiency" without some economies of scale, the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Jan 22, 2014

Electric automaker Tesla Motors opens Ohio's first two Supercharger stations as part of its exclusive, free cross-country network

After announcing plans to enable their drivers to "travel long distances, for free, indefinitely," the electric car company Tesla Motors recently opened Ohio's first two supercharger stations in Macedonia, Summit County, and Maumee, Lucas County, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The stations are located off of the Ohio Turnpike near roadside amenities, leading city officials to contemplate how the local businesses can best capitalize on the drivers while they wait the half hour it takes the car to charge. The company plans to have its cross-country network completed by the end of this winter, after which time it said it plans to "go back and convert some of the stations to solar-powered facilities," the article said. These are not Ohio's first electric vehicle (EV) charging stations; however, other public EV charging stations do require payment. Tesla's free Supercharger stations can only be used by drivers of the pricey Tesla EV, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

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Jan 06, 2014

City of Urbana will no longer contest the Buckeye II Wind Project after the company canceled a proposed construction staging area

After developers announced that they were no longer proposing to move a construction staging area for the Buckeye II Wind Project to the intersection of U.S. 36 and Three-Mile Road, the City of Urbana said that it will no longer contest the project, the Springfield News-Sun reports. The city had joined Champagne County and Goshen and Union townships in filing an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court to halt the approved project from moving forward (See our Dec 2, 2013, blog post – "Opponents of the Buckeye II Wind Project filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court"). Urbana officials originally contested the planned expansion of the existing wind farm "because of fears it could interfere with a separate city agreement to extend a sanitary sewer line to Robert Rothschild Farm," the article said. "Attorneys for both Champaign County and Urbana said they still plan to attend the Jan 6 hearing, but they do not plan to provide testimony in the case." For more, read the full story.

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Dec 24, 2013

Michigan and Ohio partner to develop energy and energy efficiency technologies

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) recently announced that the energy offices in Michigan and Ohio have partnered to "help manufacturers in both states develop technology, design product prototypes, improve manufacturing processes and assess opportunities in the energy market," Columbus Business First reports. Named the the Michigan-Northeastern Ohio Regional Clean Energy Roadmap Project, the partnership is funded with $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and $302,500 from the states. In addition, the project includes a plan to analyze "the strengths and weaknesses of energy efficiency companies in Michigan and northeast Ohio," the article said. For more, read the full story and MEDC press release.

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Dec 19, 2013

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown discusses a region-focused strategy for clean energy development

This week in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) promoted a report that proposes "maximizing the national strength of U.S. manufacturing by employing a region-focused strategy for clean energy manufacturing," the Campaign for America's Future announced. The report indicates that Ohio has the fifth most green jobs of any state in the nation, and that the sector is growing more quickly in terms of job creation than any other sector in Ohio. The report, “The Green Industrial Revolution and the United States: In the Clean Energy Race, Is the United States a Leader or a Luddite?" was authored by Kate Gordon of the Center for American Progress, Robert Borosage of the Institute for America's Future and Derek Pugh at the Campaign for America's Future, in collaboration with the BlueGreen Alliance. Brown remarked that, "we can't replace a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign-made clean energy components," and noted the report's determination that "investing in the competitiveness of America's clean energy industry can create jobs, lower costs for consumers, and boost exports," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. For more, read the full report and news release.

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Dec 18, 2013

Monroe Central High School becomes the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification

The Ohio School Facilities Commission recently announced that Monroe Central High School's achievement of silver LEED makes it the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification. With "more than 300 total schools either registered or certified" through the U.S. Green Building Council's (USBG) LEED rating system, Ohio is recognized nationwide as a "leader in sustainable school design." Combined, the 100 schools "have been obtaining 35 percent of their material from regional sources" with 22 percent of materials containing recycled content. In addition, these schools have diverted "over 188,114 tons and 57,000 cubic yards of construction waste from Ohio landfills." The announcement comes at the same time that these standards for environmentally friendly construction are coming under attack from legislators and lobbyists who disagree with some of the USBG's standards regarding product toxicity (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). For more, read the full news release.

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Dec 13, 2013

U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards have over the years become the de facto leader in environmentally friendly building practices, but now a "coalition of U.S. chemical companies calling itself the American High Performance Building Coalition" is leading the charge to ban these standards at the state and federal level, Columbus Business First reports. Opponents of LEED say the group that established them, the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has a monopoly on such standards and that the organization has moved from focusing on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims.

Ohio is the latest state to see anti-LEED legislation, following North Carolina and Florida, according to The Associated Press (See our Nov 15, 2013, blog post – "Two Ohio senators introduce S.C.R. 25 to ban LEED certification in all public construction"). In addition, "efforts are underway to ask Congress to ban the use of LEED in federal construction projects, and executive orders and amendments in several states – including Maine, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama – have essentially banned LEED in state construction." Many of the anti-LEED bills and amendments don't mention the standards by name, but instead "ban ratings systems that they say discriminate against American wood products," which LEED does through its "single, stringent forest-certification system," according to the AP. For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Associated Press stories.

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Dec 11, 2013

Industry leaders fear that federally designating the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species could cause significant hardships for Ohio projects

A preliminary decision announced in October by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) on the endangered species list is causing concern for "Ohioans with interests in coal mining, electricity transmission, oil and gas drilling, and road-and-bridge improvement," The Plain Dealer reports. The bat, which is facing extinction due to a disease called white-nose syndrome, tends to "roost in loose tree bark in the summer" and also likes to hibernate in abandoned mines. In addition to claiming that there is no indication that the bat is going extinct in the Midwest specifically, those in the aforementioned industries are expressing concerns that requirements for protecting the bats could result in significant project delays and other hardships. They also take issue with the fact that the preliminary decision fails to establish critical habitat for the species, which could potentially cause "wide variances between how different [Fish and Wildlife Service] field offices are handling the issue," the article said.

Bricker & Eckler actively participates in the Ohio Power Siting Board's (OPSB) regulatory process for reviewing and approving the construction of major utility facilities (electric generating power plants greater than 50 megawatts), economically significant wind farms (those greater than 5 megawatts), electric transmission lines and certain natural gas pipelines. Our legal team counsels clients regarding post-certification conditions relating to the construction and operation of new electric generating facilities, and advises them on environmental permitting issues and construction matters. For more information, visit our OPSB services webpage.

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Nov 14, 2013

Duke Energy is researching the best way for its regulated utilities to add solar to their generation portfolio

Charlotte-based Duke Energy recently formed a group to determine how best its regulated utilities can begin producing solar generating capacity, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. Since its inception six years ago, Duke Energy Renewables, an unregulated unit of the company, has been "an increasingly important player in wind and solar energy." Despite this, Duke's regulated utilities, which cover Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina, are only "minor players" in the renewable energy sector. The newly formed group will be charged with determining whether it makes the best business sense for the company to add solar to its regulated utilities' generation portfolio "through utilities' ownership of the solar capacity, building their own projects or establishing partnerships," the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Nov 13, 2013

Event in Wooster aims to educate farmers, businesses and other organizations about cost-effective alternative energy resource options

Ohio State University's 2013 Renewable Energy Workshop will take place on November 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The event is designed to educate farmers, businesses and organizations about the alternative energy resources available to them, as well as "the opportunities that exist to implement cost-effective and sustainable energy-generation projects," Southern Farmer reports. The event will feature "presentations by university and industry experts as well as tours highlighting a variety of alternative energy sources, including biogas, wind, solar and biomass." Since the federal farm bill expired in September, the U.S. House and Senate have been debating different approaches to funding the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps farms and small businesses across rural America transition to renewable energy sources (See our Oct 14, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.

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Nov 11, 2013

FERC change set to take effect is expected to be a boon for the energy storage systems industry

In a couple of weeks, a change that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) passed in July will take effect and many say it will be a significant boon to the development of energy storage systems, Midwest Energy News reports. Advocates say that although energy storage systems are "essential to the growth of renewable energy," regulators and policymakers seldom focused on them in the past, which created a "lack of clarity" that made such proposals appear risky to utilities. Whether using battery, hydro, compressed air or any other energy storage technology, FERC Order 784 "basically permits enterprises other than large utilities to sell 'ancillary services' – power sources that can be tapped quickly when needed to meet a rapidly changing supply or demand situation."

In September, Virginia-based AES Energy Storage, LLC commenced commercial operation of its 40 megawatt grid-scale storage system in Dayton, which it described as the largest such facility in Ohio. The project serves to provide "fast-response frequency regulation services to PJM Interconnection to stabilize the grid that serves more than 60 million people" and is located at Dayton Power & Light's (DP&L) Tait generating station in Moraine. In a story announcing the new facility's opening, financial services company The Motley Fool reported that a recent IMS Research Report estimates that "the global energy storage industry will increase from approximately $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017."

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Oct 22, 2013

Advanced Distributed Generations solar panel manufacturer moves to Maumee to expand

Advanced Distributed Generations (ADS), a solar panel manufacturer, has left its space at the University of Toledo's Scott Park to return to the city of Maumee, Toledo News Now reports. The company, which started in Maumee 15 years ago, is expanding into a larger space and plans to hire additional employees. For more, read the full story.

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Sep 10, 2013

Cincinnati entrepreneur launches Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to develop the GoSun Stove

Unable to secure support through some of Cincinnati's startup incubators, entrepreneur Patrick Sherwin recently "launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $40,000 by October 27" to help develop his invention, WCPO.com reports. Sherwin invented the GoSun Stove – a $279 fuel-free cooking device that only weighs four pounds and can "bake, fry and boil food using only the sun's energy." In addition to appealing to outdoor enthusiasts, the GoSun Stove can also help reduce the number of people who "die prematurely from indoor air pollution caused by open fires and leaky stoves," the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Aug 22, 2013

Upcoming MORPC events focus on regional food systems and sustainability

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is hosting two events in Columbus in the coming months that aim to explore sustainable solutions for the region. On Friday, September 6, a free, hourlong MORPC Center for Energy & Environment Education Forum will be held at 10 a.m. in the Dispatch Kitchen at North Market to discuss the challenges and benefits of developing a regional food system. Then, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on October 8, MORPC will host its signature environmental conference – The Summit on Sustainability & the Environment – at COSI. Hundreds of community leaders will gather to discuss this year's theme, "Building Resiliency for a Climate of Change." To RSVP or for more information about either event, contact Brandi Whetstone at 614.233.4174 or bwhetstone@morpc.org.

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Aug 16, 2013

Levin Furniture to install solar system atop its Mentor store

Pennsylvania-based retailer Levin Furniture announced this week that its store in Mentor, Lake County, will "have a rooftop solar system in place by Thanksgiving," Crain's Cleveland Business reports. Third Sun Solar of Athens, Ohio, will "design and build the 65-kilowatt system," which will generate about 10 percent of the store's annual energy needs and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 61 tons. For more, read the full story.

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Aug 14, 2013

Researchers and scientific practitioners discuss sustainable development during a conference in Cincinnati this week

The Third International Congress on Sustainability Science & Engineering (ICOSSE) is meeting in Cincinnati this week to discuss a variety of scientific and engineering innovations to foster sustainable development, Cincinnati Enquirer reports. More than 200 attendees are currently gathered at the Kingsgate Marriot at the University of Cincinnati to hear researchers and practitioners present ideas about water sustainability and innovative technology, sustainable manufacturing and sustainable energy. For more, read the program schedule.

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Aug 13, 2013

Solar array atop Athens public library to begin producing electricity today

Today, 224 solar panels atop the roof of the Athens County Public Libraries system's Athens city branch will begin producing enough electricity to provide for approximately one third of the building's energy needs, Ohio University's The Post reports. Athens-based Third Sun Solar designed and installed the solar panels, which are expected to produce 75,240 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity, the article said. For more, read the full story and visit the library system's blog.

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Aug 12, 2013

$8 million solar array goes online in Auglaize County

Residents of Wapakoneta in Auglaize County gathered last week to celebrate the opening of an $8 million, 13,000 solar panel project that will provide three megawatts of electricity to the city at a fixed rate, Your Hometown Lima Stations reports. Worthington-based Solar Planet, Inc., installed the panels, and "maintains ownership of the property and the solar panels." For more, read the full story.

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Aug 05, 2013

Low-tech building materials are benefiting from a new surge in green building construction

A new report from Navigant Research found that low-tech building materials such as wood, straw and bamboo are benefiting from increased demand in green building materials, Denver Business Journal reports. The report, "Materials in Green Buildings," said the "global market for green construction materials is expected to be more than $254 billion a year in 2020, up from $116 billion in 2013." For more, read the full story and report.

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Jul 25, 2013

Companies announce completion of Ohio's largest residential solar array

Georgia-based MAGE SOLAR and Ohio-based YellowLite, Inc. announced that its recently completed, 59.5 kW solar array in Columbus is "the largest residential solar array in the state of Ohio to date." Most home solar array systems range in size from 5 to 8 kW. This solar array is expected to generate over 66,000 kW of clean energy annually, which will offset 79,200 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions while "producing the energy value of $7,330 in the first year alone." For more, read the full press release.

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Jul 13, 2013

One-year extension of the production tax credit leaves lingering uncertainty in the U.S. renewable energy market

Although the renewable energy industry hailed the one-year extension granted to the production tax credit (PTC) at the end of last year, they find that its short-term length is inspiring little confidence in the market as speculations build as to whether it will be extended again, North American Windpower reports. Despite the PTC extension, which was intended to provide business certainty for wind, solar and other renewable energy developers in 2013, "orders have come to a standstill." The extension's eleventh-hour implementation as well as a change in the program's definition are also responsible for its limited impact (See our June 12, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.

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Jul 08, 2013

GM says installing efficient lighting at its Lordstown complex is both environmentally and economically sound

General Motors Co. expects to save $800,000 by replacing 1,611 existing lighting fixtures at its assembly and stamping complex in Lordstown, Trumbull County, with 1,246 LED solid-state lighting fixtures that will not only cost less, but also consume less energy and require less maintenance, a company press release announced. Its "largest such conversion in North America," the company anticipates the project will reduce energy consumption 84 percent and eliminate 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the article said. For more, read the full press release.

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Jul 07, 2013

Report: Adopting renewable energy will increase the need for energy storage systems

A new report from Navigant Research found that because "more than 1,300 GW of wind and solar energy are expected to come online in the next 10 years," there will be an increased demand for energy storage systems (ESSs), North American Windpower reports. Grid operators will be prompted to consider energy storage solutions in an effort to adapt to "increasing levels of variable generation on their systems, stricter connection requirements and narrower compensation schemes," according to the report. Because major renewable energy markets like Germany, Japan and the United States have enacted rules to encourage the adoption of energy storage systems "for the purpose of integrating variable energy sources onto the grid," Navigant Research forecasts that "the installed capacity of energy storage systems for solar and wind integration will total 21.8 GW from 2013 to 2023." For more, read the full story and report.

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Jun 28, 2013

OSU Extension program provides advice on renewable energy production

As part of its Energize Ohio program, the Ohio State University Extension is offering training and other educational resources to Ohio farms, schools and businesses that are considering installing systems to generate renewable energy, LimaOhio.com reports. A recent workshop in Findlay co-sponsored by JobsOhio featured companies that had "recently implemented distributed energy projects at their facilities," as well as representatives from the university, the Ohio Treasurer's Office, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Toledo Port Authority, One Energy LLC and Vaughn Industries. For more, read the full story and access the complete Findlay workshop.

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Jun 26, 2013

Private investors and the Toledo Zoo are working on a power purchase agreement for a solar array planned nearby

Rudolph/Libbe, a full-service, national contractor, and other private investors are working to structure a power purchase agreement with the Toledo Zoo to supply 30 percent of the zoo's energy needs from a nearby solar array, The Blade reports. The investor group formed Anthony Wayne Solar Number 1, LLC, to sell energy to the zoo that will be generated at a planned "2-megawatt solar array on a 22-acre vacant plot northeast of the zoo" – where an abandoned industrial eyesore mars the zoo's entrance. The array will have about 25,000 solar panels on 15 acres of the 22-acre site, the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Jun 23, 2013

Timken Co. partners with Stark State College to develop a $14 million test center at the school's Canton campus

The Timken Company, a steel and bearing manufacturer and supplier in Canton, recently partnered with Stark State College to develop a new, $14 million Technology and Test Center on the college's campus, North American Windpower reports. According to Timken, which supplies the wind and industrial industries, the new facility "tests ultra-large bearing systems that can be up to 13 feet in outside diameter on equipment capable of simulating harsh operating conditions similar to those found in large multi-megawatt wind turbines." Programs for electrical and chemical engineering, as well as alternative energy, will use the center for classes and labwork, the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Jun 17, 2013

7th Circuit Court of Appeals: state renewable energy laws that discriminate against out-of-state sources violate the Constitution

Last week, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan's Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act violated the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution when it prohibited out-of-state renewables from counting toward the utilities' requirement that they provide customers "with at least 10 percent of renewable energy by 2015," E&E Greenwire reports. Utilities and state regulators accused the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of "unfairly spreading the cost of new, high-voltage power lines needed to move remote solar and wind to market" with its 2011 approval of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator's (MISO) program. Michigan argued that because the state "obtains very little power from MISO's extensive footprint in the Midwest," which it cannot use toward its renewable energy requirement, its utilities should "only have to pay for local generation and transmission lines." Most states' renewable energy laws specifically favor in-state generation, and this decision could serve as a legal marker for wind or solar developers "being barred from lucrative markets" because they are located in another state, the article said.
The court also rejected the Illinois Commerce Commission's assertion that FERC unfairly forces MISO customers to shoulder the financial burden of "multi value projects" (MVP), the standards for which the plaintiffs argued are "too loose." In order to qualify, these projects "must cost at least $20 million and either help boost reliability, meet renewable energy requirements or provide economic benefits," the article said. The judges said that because it is difficult to consider the future benefits of renewable power, it is not enough for Illinois to simply argue that "MISO's and FERC's attempt to match the benefits of the MVP program is crude."
For more, read the full story and decision.

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Jun 13, 2013

Chemical industry says proposed LEED certification revisions unfairly target safe chemicals

The chemical industry is fighting hard against proposed revisions to LEED certification that it says would stigmatize – and decrease the market for – certain chemical products used in construction that pose little health risk when employed properly, Bloomberg reports. The American Chemistry Society, whose members include DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co., argue that with regard to the updated protocols known as LEED 4, the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the non-governmental organization that created the "voluntary but widely used" Leadership and Environment Design (LEED) standards, is treading into a public health policy area with regard to chemical regulation that it insists is better suited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Proponents of the measure say the chemical industry's concerns are overblown and that adherence to the proposed materials standard would only provide a two-point advantage for those seeking a range of certifications that require between 40 and 80 points. For more, read the full story.

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Apr 30, 2013

Two U.S. senators reintroduce legislation to promote energy efficiency in the manufacturing industry

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation that pushes for energy efficient manufacturing using "a variety of low-cost tools to reduce barriers for private sector users" and encouraging "adoption of off-the-shelf efficiency technologies among the largest energy consumers," Dayton Business Journal reports. Among its provisions, the Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would incentivize the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers; direct the U.S. Department of Energy to work with the private sector to develop and commercialize energy efficient technology for industrial applications; and create a Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Financing Initiative, the article said. For more, read the full story and the full text of the introduced bill.

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Apr 25, 2013

Ohio Manufacturers' Association supports state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws

Yesterday during the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee's ongoing review of the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws, Associate Director for Research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Neal Elliott testified on the findings of an analysis of rates and expenditures that was commissioned by the state's largest manufacturing trade group, the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, The Plain Dealer reports (See the Apr 09, 2013, blog – "Two major Ohio newspapers defend state's energy efficiency laws"). The 50-page analysis, completed by the ACEEE, concludes "generally that the efficiency rules have lowered demand, which in turn has helped push wholesale power prices down," the article said. Elliott also said that as opposed to FirstEnergy Corp., who is leading the charge to change the laws, "American Electric Power, Duke Energy of Ohio and Dayton Power & Electric have embraced the programs, maybe because they have figured out how to profit from it in the long run." For more, read the full story.

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Feb 22, 2013

An analysis of Gov. Kasich’s proposed budget and how it could affect manufacturers

Earlier this week, Bricker & Eckler partner Mark A. Engel wrote an analysis of how H.B. 59 – Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget – could potentially affect manufacturers through its expansion of the sales tax to include additional “services.” For more, read the full analysis.

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Oct 11, 2012

Commerce Department finalizes tariff rates for Chinese solar panel manufacturers

Yesterday, the U.S. Commerce Department assigned Chinese solar panel firms with countervailing tariffs ranging from 14.78 percent to 15.97 percent and anti-dumping tariffs ranging from 18.32 to 250 percent, a press release from the International Trade Administration announced. The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide by November 23, 2012, if “solar cells from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry,” which will determine whether the tariffs will take effect. For more, including the tariff rates for specific companies and the products that fall under the tariffs, read the full press release.

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Oct 05, 2012

Overcapacity is hurting China’s renewable energy industry

Even with demand for wind turbines and solar panels growing rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity for these products has grown even faster, creating “a looming financial disaster” due to oversupply and a price war, The New York Times reports. Chinese solar panel manufacturers are cutting back production and the Chinese government is pushing for the country’s more than 20 wind turbine manufacturers to consolidate into five or six companies, but foreign industry rivals insist that China must “subsidize the purchase of more solar panels at home” – instead of relying so heavily on exports – if it wants to help its overcapacity problem, the article said. For more, read the full story.

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Sep 24, 2012

Ohio attorney general: prevailing wage applies to road use maintenance agreements with drillers and wind farm companies

Recently, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued an opinion regarding a question from Richland County officials about whether “the county could enter into an agreement with a private oil and gas drilling company or wind farm operator to repair roads damaged by their heavy equipment,” Gongwer reports. Officials cited concerns over the “application of public bidding laws, prevailing wage laws, and a host of other legal issues that normally surround the construction of public improvements,” the article said. DeWine opined that the circumstance was “pursuant to a contract with a county and for a county, and is a public improvement.” Since a private company – and not the county – will employ the workers, DeWine said it will be the responsibility of the employer to pay in accordance with Ohio’s prevailing-wage laws. However, Ohio’s competitive bid laws for public construction projects will not be triggered since the agreement “does not require the county to spend more than the $25,000 threshold that triggers the requirement,” the article said. For more, read the opinion here.

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Aug 15, 2012

Expo returns to highlight business-to-business opportunities in Ohio’s advanced energy industry

The Advanced Energy Business-to-Business Conference & Expo has grown out of its northeast Ohio roots and will cover the entire state during its annual event, which takes place this year at the Greater Columbus Convention Center from October 30-31, 2012, a press release from NorTech said. NorTech produced the event and Advanced Energy Economy Ohio is presenting the agenda, which includes sessions with industry experts on key advanced energy sectors like waste and biomass to energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grid, shale gas and solar, as well as a technology showcase featuring “entrepreneurs, companies, and researchers seeking collaborators, partners and funding,” the release said. More than 700 industry professionals are expected to attend and more than 120 companies and organizations are expected to exhibit, the press release said.

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Jul 30, 2012

U.S. Department of Commerce imposes tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese wind-energy towers

Following preliminary findings that China and Vietnam are selling wind-energy towers to the United States for below production costs, the U.S. Department of Commerce on Saturday announced tariff rates as high as 73 percent for Chinese products and as high as 60 percent for Vietnamese goods that will be in effect until it makes “a final determination for both nations on Dec. 16,” The Washington Post reports. For more, read the full story here and view the department’s fact sheet – complete with tariff rate information – here.

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Jun 12, 2012

Xunlight Corp. introduces portable solar panels

As part of its shift of focus from research to sales, Xunlight Corp. introduced a portable charging kit that can provide energy "for military personnel in remote locations who need power," The Toledo Blade reports. The company's flexible solar panels, which perform at about 15 megawatt efficiency and weigh significantly less than traditional glass panels, are being marketed to "campers, boaters, the military, and developing nations," the article said. For more, read the full story here.
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May 31, 2012

Networks help keep the regional wind energy industry turning

With a glut of cheap natural gas and concerns that the production tax credits will expire, Ed Weston, director of the Great Lakes Wind Network, is working to "help manufacturers diversify their sources of energy" by joining wind turbine manufacturers with partners that they would not otherwise find, Crain's Cleveland Business reports. Weston said that wind will be second only to natural gas as the next generation's lowest costing energy, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
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May 29, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy recognizes DuPont's Circleville expansion

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized the grand opening of DuPont's expanded solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant in Circleville last week and "called on Congress to extend the expiring clean energy tax credits that made this investment possible," a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy said. The Circleville plant received $50 million in federal clean energy tax credits to expand its production of a thin film material that strengthens the performance and durability of solar modules, which created 70 permanent operational jobs, the release said. For more, read the full press release here.

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May 21, 2012

Wind industry CEO makes case in guest column

Michael Rucker, CEO of Cleveland-based Juwi Wind USA, wrote in a guest column for The Plain Dealer that the work of entrenched special interests to block the extension of alternative energy production tax credits, which give the wind industry a fighting chance against heavily subsidized traditional energy sources like oil and coal, will cost Ohio jobs. Citing positive impacts that the wind industry has had for Ohio related to health, the availability of jobs and the price of energy, Rucker argued that Ohio should not weaken its renewable energy standard because it will create even greater uncertainty for the wind industry than already exists in the state. For more, read the full column here.
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May 18, 2012

U.S. imposes more than 31 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels

In an effort to curb dumping, the U.S. Commerce Department announced yesterday that tariffs of more than 31 percent will be imposed on Chinese solar panels, The New York Times reports. While solar panel manufacturers in the United States argue that the move was necessary to prevent China from intentionally overwhelming the industry, solar panel installation companies say the new tariffs will hurt their companies by driving up the price of solar panels, the article said (See the May 15, 2012, blog – "Tariffs on Chinese solar cells could cost the U.S. jobs"). For more, read the full story here.
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May 15, 2012

Tariffs on Chinese solar cells could cost the U.S. jobs

With the U.S. Commerce Department set to announce on Thursday whether Chinese-made silicon-based photovoltaic cells will be subject to a second round of tariffs amid allegations of dumping, some analysts warn that such tariffs could cost jobs in the U.S. solar installation market, The Los Angeles Times reports. More than 70 percent of jobs in the U.S. solar industry are in installation, sales and distribution, and could suffer significant losses if the cost of solar power does not drop to remain competitive with other energy sources, the article said (See the May 10, 2012, blog – "In the U.S., solar installation companies thrive while manufacturers struggle"). For more, read the full story here.
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May 15, 2012

Solar-power cell component revitalizes lagging DuPont facility

With a drop in demand for Mylar in the 1980s and an ill-timed entry into film production for videotapes and audiotapes in the mid-1990s, the DuPont facility in Circleville had been shrinking considerably in recent years, The Columbus Dispatch reports. State and federal tax incentives helped DuPont to pick the Circleville site to begin producing Tedlar – a film that "lines the backs of solar-power cells" –  this year with a $175 million investment in the facility and the hiring of about 70 additional workers, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
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May 10, 2012

In the U.S., solar installation companies thrive while manufacturers struggle

In the United States, solar installation companies are taking off with advantages like tax breaks, creative financing techniques and cheap, Chinese-made solar panels while solar manufacturers continue to lose footing against Chinese solar panel manufactures, whom they accuse of selling panels below fair value, The New York Times reports. Although the Commerce Department will announce on May 17th whether these Chinese companies did sell products below fair value and should be penalized with steeper duties, installation companies are at odds with solar manufacturers because they say the cheap panels enable them to drop prices, which is good for business, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
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Mar 26, 2012

Gov. Kasich signs multi-state agreement to encourage natural-gas vehicle production

Gov. Kasich recently signed a memorandum of understanding designed to "encourage manufacturers to start making more vehicles that burn compressed natural gas," Gongwer reports. As Ohio becomes the eleventh state to sign on, the hope is that multi-state cooperation produces "enough demand to drive down the cost of CNG vehicles to stimulate a market," the article said.

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Mar 21, 2012

New details emerge about Ohio solar company's troubles

The (Toledo) Blade reports that the State of Ohio lent millions of dollars to a Perrysburg solar-panel manufacturer despite knowing about budding financial problems at the company. And even when it had a better account of Willard & Kelsey Solar Group's money troubles, the article continues, the state approved requests to defer loan payments, extend financial report deadlines, enter into a new state loan agreement, and modify the terms of a private loan. The full article is available here.

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Mar 11, 2012

Xunlight CEO resigns

Xunming Deng has resigned as Xunlight Corp.'s president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade. The Toledo-based solar panel manufacturer was started in 2006 by Deng and his wife, Liwei Xu. The article notes that Deng will continue as an adviser to Xunlight Corp., as chairman and CEO of Xunlight 26 Solar, a Xunlight subsidiary with offices in Toledo, and chairman and legal representative of Xunlight Kunshan. Xunlight has a plant in Kunshan, China.

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Feb 29, 2012

California companies look to revitalize Ohio communities with solar power

Locally Grown Power and IdealPV, two California-based companies, are partnering with Mansfield, Ohio's North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) to test an idea that uses low-cost solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to revitalize ailing communities, CleanTechnica.com reports. The proposed public-private partnership would establish a solar PV assembly plant and installation program and would install solar PV for any willing local residents and businesses, the article said. In addition to energy savings, the project would create approximately 440 jobs. If successful, the project could be replicated across the country. For more, read the full story here.

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Feb 20, 2012

Hardin County's new rail logistics center is designed to support the wind industry

The 40-acre Hardin County Rail Logistics Center, which opened just south of Kenton on December 31, 2011, boasts a number of space-, storage-, location- and capacity-related features designed to ensure that the center will be able to accommodate the area's burgeoning wind industry, according to a press release from Cleveland-based GLWN. The HRLC, which is owned and operated by American Rail Center, connects with CSX and was designed with the needs of customers like GE, Vestas and Gamesa in mind, the release said. For more read the full press release here.

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Jan 30, 2012

Green energy executives say the industry is promising for Ohio

A group of green energy executives spoke of the positive impact that the renewable energy industry can have on Northwest Ohio's economy during a presentation at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce annual meeting last week, ToledoBlade.com reports. The executives noted that Ohio's strong manufacturing base make it an attractive location for developing and producing solar technologies, the article said. For more read the full story here.

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Oct 31, 2011

Ohio EPA to co-lead diesel emission reduction grant program

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will now co-lead the Ohio Diesel Emission Reduction Grant Program (pdf) in coordination with the Ohio Department of Transportation. About $20 million in federal highway funding for clean diesel projects will be available in 2012 and 2013 to replace, repower, retrofit and reduce idling in eligible public sector diesel fleets and certain private sector or nonprofit diesel fleets. These funds were included in the state budget signed into law earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich.

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Sep 29, 2011

Toledo-area solar firms build on success despite missteps elsewhere

Although the high-profile bankruptcy of California-based solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC is grabbing headlines, Toledo's solar industry is continuing to grow, according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade. Bricker & Eckler also recently published an overview of the Ohio solar market, available here.

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Sep 28, 2011

Federal spending compromise boosts prospects for proposed Columbus automotive battery plant

A U.S. Senate compromise on a $1 ?trillion temporary spending bill avoids a government shutdown and increases the chances that a proposed automotive-battery plant will be built in Columbus, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. The article notes that the U.S. House is likely to approve the same measure this week, which maintains funding for a U.S. Department of Energy program designed to produce clean-energy alternatives for automobiles. Coda Automotive, a California electric-car maker, asked more than a year ago for more than $500 million in loans from the program to help build a battery factory in Columbus, according to the article. 

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Sep 07, 2011

Event showcases all-electric cars

Clean Fuels Ohio recently hosted an event in Columbus to promote clean fuels and showcase all-electric vehicles including the new Coda. Built by an automaker in California, the Coda’s battery may be manufactured in Columbus if the company secures a $500 million-plus federal loan to build the plant here. Clean Fuels Ohio is a nonprofit group based at The Ohio State University. View this link to learn more. The Columbus Dispatch covered the event in an article here, and posted a YouTube video here.

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Sep 02, 2011

Report: China benefits from struggles of U.S. solar industry

In the wake of the bankruptcies of three U.S. solar companies in the past month, a report in The New York Times examines the increasing dominance of China's solar industry. According to the article:

Some American, Japanese and European solar companies still have a technological edge over Chinese rivals, but seldom a cost advantage, according to industry analysts.

Loans at very low rates from state-owned banks in Beijing, cheap or free land from local and provincial governments across China, huge economies of scale and other cost advantages have transformed China from a minor player in the solar power industry just a few years ago into the main producer of an increasingly competitive source of electricity.

The full article is available here.

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Sep 01, 2011

U.S.-backed solar company ceases operations

As reported in multiple news outlets, California-based Solyndra LLC, the recipient of more than $500 million in federal loans, announced that it is closing its doors and filing for bankruptcy. The move leaves 1,100 employees out of work and is likely to lead to additional scrutiny of the federal government's support of clean energy. Reports of Solyndra's closure are available here, here and here

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Aug 16, 2011

Federal funds released for advanced automobile technology research and development

The Department of Energy recently announced that $175 million in funding is being distributed to encourage research and development that will accelerate the development of advanced automobile technologies such as better fuel, lighter materials and longer lasting batteries. Ohio-based Cooper Tire and Rubber and Goodyear Tire and Rubber are listed among the 40 companies benefitting from the funds.

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Aug 03, 2011

Solar manufacturer reportedly heading to Mississippi

Calisolar Inc., the California-based solar products manufacturer that recently terminated plans to locate a manufacturing facility in Ontario, Ohio, is apparently taking the project to Mississippi, according to comments made last week by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. As reported in the Mansfield News Journal, Kasich made his brief remarks about Calisolar during a speech at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

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Jul 19, 2011

Ohio ranks second in nation in solar manufacturing

According to a news report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Ohio's solar panel manufacturing base rose by 50 percent during the first three months of 2011, topping big solar-producing states like California and New Jersey. Oregon is currently ranked number one. Also, the Toledo Blade reports that three solar panel makers in northwest Ohio are expecting to start or increase production over the next year. The SEIA also reports that solar panel production nationwide was up 31 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with a year ago.

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Jul 15, 2011

Local wind turbine manufacturers gather to discuss competitive tactics at Cleveland seminar

More than 250 people representing manufacturers in 33 states showed up at the Cleveland Public Hall for a two-day conference, called Making It Here, designed to address the problems facing local manufacturers of wind-turbine parts. According to this article in the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, participants said it has become increasingly difficult to compete against the growing Chinese onslaught of low-cost wind parts or even against long-established European wind-parts makers. The two-day seminar was sponsored by the GLWN (formerly Great Lakes Wind Network).

For more information on Making It Here, visit the GLWN.org Web site.

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Jul 11, 2011

Government position turns negative on fuel-cell vehicles

According to this article in the Columbus Dispatch, the U.S. government has shifted its stance on fuel-cell vehicles from an embrace to a distinctly cold shoulder. This could pose a problem for the more than 100 Ohio companies involved with fuel-cell technology or hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

In February, the Obama administration proposed a cut of $70 million, or 40 percent, to a hydrogen-technology program in the Department of Energy. The administration also proposed roughly $50 million in cuts for a fuel-cell program. Congress is working on its version of the budget and might restore some of the funding.

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Jun 25, 2011

Ohio Department of Development releases solar and wind energy supply chain videos

The Ohio Department of Development has released videos promoting Ohio as a destination for manufacturers that produce solar and wind energy components. The solar video is available here. The wind video is available here.

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Jun 17, 2011

Dept. of Energy offers $275 million loan guarantee to Mansfield-area solar plant

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it is offering a $275 million loan guarantee to California-based alternative energy manufacturer Calisolar Inc. to build a plant in Ontario, Ohio, according to this article in The Columbus Dispatch. The Mansfield area could gain more than 1,000 permanent jobs as a result of the project, which will be located on the site of a former General Motors Corp. plant. The facility will manufacture solar silicon from lower-cost metallurgical grade material that Calisolar then upgrades. Its process is said to be less expensive and more energy-efficient than traditional processes, according to the article. Previous posts on the project are available here, here and here.

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Jun 09, 2011

Report: End of Chinese wind-energy subsidy could benefit Ohio manufacturers

In a move that could be a boon to Ohio's growing clean-energy manufacturing sector, China has decided to end a subsidies program that encouraged wind-power manufacturers to use Chinese-made parts rather than purchasing imported parts, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. The United States, in a case filed with the World Trade Organization in December, argued that the program was the equivalent of an illegal subsidy. More than 650 Ohio companies are involved in some way in producing parts for wind energy, according to the Ohio Department of Development. 

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Jun 02, 2011

Calisolar incentive agreement awaits PUCO approval

Calisolar Inc. filed an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week that if approved could save the company more than $100 million in electricity costs at its proposed manufacturing facility in Ontario, Ohio, according to an article in the Mansfield News Journal. Calisolar, Ohio Edison Co. and PUCO staff have signed off on the incentive agreement and urged the five-member Commission to quickly approve it. Calisolar, a producer of low-cost silicon for solar cells, plans to take over a vacant General Motors plant.

The incentive agreement is contingent upon several things, including Calisolar hiring a certain number of employees. In exchange for locating in Ohio Edison's service area, the agreement states Calisolar will be eligible for up to $100 million in electric rate discounts if the facility's full-time employment is 1,100 or less, and up to $125 million in discounts if employment exceeds 1,100, according to the article.

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May 02, 2011

Clean Fuels Ohio ranks highly in Department of Energy fuel displacement survey

A new U.S. Department of Energy survey ranks nonprofit Clean Fuels Ohio third in the nation for petroleum fuel displacement, according to an article in Dayton Business Journal. The annual survey rates Clean Cities Program coalitions across the country based on the gallons of petroleum fuel displaced by their work. According to the survey, Clean Fuels Ohio reduced petroleum use by 84 million gallons between 2005 and 2009.

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Apr 20, 2011

Fuel cell group disappointed by direction of federal policy

A national fuel cell group says that the Obama administration is turning its back on the U.S. fuel cell industry, according to an article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. In remarks before the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, Ruth Cox, executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, noted that the U.S. Department of Energy has repeatedly cut fuel cell research and commercialization funding. The administration has instead favored the development of hybrid and battery-powered electric cars. Cox warned that the cuts could slow commercialization of fuel cells and ultimately harm the growing list of Ohio companies that are part of the fuel cell supply chain, according to the article.

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Apr 11, 2011

German solar firm to bring North American headquarters, jobs to Toledo

TecnoSun Solar Systems AG, a German company that makes mounting systems for solar panels, plans to bring 20 to 40 jobs to Toledo in the next two years when it opens an office at the University of Toledo, according to this report in The (Toledo) Blade. Peter Fischer, TecnoSun Solar System's chief executive, recently signed a one-year lease to open a 1,390-square-foot office at UT's Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex. The facility will serve as the North American headquarters for TecnoSun, which plans to hire a CEO for the Toledo office within six weeks, according to the article.

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Apr 06, 2011

Plans move forward for solar factory near Mansfield

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Calisolar Inc. is in the final stages of negotiations with state and local officials to remake a former General Motors plant in Ontario, Ohio, near Mansfield, into a facility that produces silicon for use in solar cells, as reported in the Mansfield News Journal. The $750 million project is expected to create 831 full-time jobs. Government officials and job-training providers met this week to discuss developing a training program for the Calisolar facility, according to another News Journal article.

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Apr 01, 2011

Waste-to-energy natural gas refueling station planned for Columbus

Independence, Ohio-based Quasar Energy Group is planning to build a compressed natural gas fueling station at its $10 million anaerobic digester facility at the former Columbus trash-burning power plant site, as reported in Columbus Business First. According to the article,

. . . . Quasar estimates the cost of the fueling station project will hit about $1.5 million, with engineering work set to begin next month and completion eyed for September. Construction will create 11 jobs, while one full-time position will be added in Columbus as the station is up and running.

The project received a $1 million federal stimulus grant awarded this week through the Ohio Department of Development.

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Mar 30, 2011

State awards $1 million to Meigs County for construction of advanced energy industrial building

The state awarded $1 million in loan and grant funds to Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation to build a new, 35,000-square-foot industrial building that will be marketed to advanced energy businesses spun off by Ohio University, according to an article in The (Pomeroy) Daily Sentinel. The project received $500,000 in Rural Industrial Park Loan funds and a $500,000 Rural Development Initiative grant. 

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Mar 21, 2011

Sen. Brown introduces bill to renew popular clean energy manufacturing tax credit

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently introduced legislation to renew a clean energy tax cut that delivered nearly $125 million to seven Ohio manufacturers. The Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act would renew the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program, also known as 48C, which provides investment tax credits of 30 percent for facilities that manufacture energy equipment. The stimulus program was more than three times oversubscribed, according to a news release announcing the bill.

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Feb 24, 2011

Study finds solar-plant costs in Toledo lowest in U.S.

A recent study conducted for the state of Oregon finds that Toledo, Ohio, has the overall lowest costs for solar-panel manufacturing when compared to ten other states with solar-panel production. According to this article in The (Toledo) Blade, the 2010 study also finds that when operating a parts supplier plant, Ohio—and particularly Toledo—trails only Utah, New Mexico and North Carolina in lowest costs.

"The Toledo region is definitely the most progressive within the state of Ohio and it's becoming more widely known as a place to manufacture [photovoltaic products],” said the study's co-author, Michelle Comerford, managing director of Austin Consulting in Cleveland, Ohio. “The economic developers are certainly doing their jobs there in Toledo."

The Oregon study is somewhat in contrast to a Blade investigation a year ago that found Ohio had early success in the solar industry in part because of solar research at University of Toledo, but it lost out on thousands of solar manufacturing jobs in recent years to states offering more incentives and stronger product markets.

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Feb 15, 2011

Bipartisan panel wants CODA Automotive battery plant in Columbus

A bipartisan group of elected officials have come together to urge support for a proposed CODA battery plant to be located in Columbus, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch.  CODA Automotive, located in Santa Monica, California, designs, manufactures and sells electric vehicles and lithium-ion battery systems for transportation and utility applications.

U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, and Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, a Democrat, said yesterday that they will co-chair a task force, joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, Rep. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek, and Republican Gov. John Kasich.

CODA has asked the Department of Energy for a $500 million-plus loan to help finance the battery factory. The plant would initially employ more than 1,000 workers who would produce lithium-ion batteries for use in CODA’s planned all-electric sedan.

To read more, visit the Dispatch website.

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Jan 24, 2011

U. of Toledo installs electric-car charging stations on campus

The University of Toledo has installed three charging stations for electric vehicles on its campus. The chargers integrate General Electric Co.'s smart meters with Columbus-based Juice Technologies’ Plug Smart engine, allowing for so-called "intelligent charging" during low-demand, lower-cost time periods. GE and Juice Technologies announced the intelligent plug-in electric vehicle charging devices last year, and the University is among the early adopters of the technology. 

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Jan 14, 2011

Monaco-based electric-car maker to set up shop near OSU

Venturi Automobiles, and electric-car maker headquartered in Monaco, has announced that it will set up its North American headquarters at TechColumbus offices near The Ohio State University, as recently reported by The Columbus Dispatch. Initially, the company will have just a few employees, but OSU and TechColumbus officials hope that the local presence will grow to a number close to the 70 workers the company has in Europe.

Venturi will work out of an office suite at the TechColumbus building, and plans to later rent manufacturing space at the adjacent Science and Technology Campus Corporation, or SciTech. Another maker of electric cars, Coda Automotive, hopes to open a battery factory in Columbus, but its plan is contingent on receiving a federal loan of more than $500 million.

To read more, visit The Columbus Dispatch Web site.

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Dec 20, 2010

Energy Department to provide R&D grants for advanced vehicles and biofuels

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it is accepting applications for up to $184 million over three to five years for research and development projects supporting the development and deployment of new, efficient-vehicle technologies, according to RenewableEnergyWorld.com. Eligible projects will span the full spectrum of technology approaches, including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.

According to another article at RenewbleEnergyWorld.com, DOE also announced that it will provide up to $30 million over the next three to four years for small-scale process integration projects that support the development of advanced biofuels. 

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Dec 07, 2010

Richard Branson sets tack for fuel efficiency at sea

Fast Company reports that the non-profit Carbon War Room, started by Sir Richard Branson, is launching a Web site that compares shipping fleets by size and ranks their fuel efficiency. Shipping Efficiency is set to receive continuing updates from the shipping industry on fuel efficiencies and upgrades.
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Dec 02, 2010

Ohio Senator Brown leads call for extension of manufacturing tax credit

United States Senator Sherrod Brown and 17 other Senators have asked Congress to renew and extend the "48(C)" Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit now that the current program has run out of funds.  In a letter submitted to U.S. Senate leadership, the group asked that the tax credit be extended with an additional $5 billion to pay for projects that meet the program's qualifications.  48(C) provides a 30 percent tax credit for domestic companies investing in new, expanded, or reequipped clean energy manufacturing projects - including wind, solar, hybrids, and carbon capture and sequestration.
"The 48C program is critical to helping manufacturers create jobs and transition to a clean energy economy,” Brown said. “An expanded 48C program would provide strong incentives for the private sector to create good-paying jobs and innovative clean technologies while we bolster domestic manufacturing capacity.”
48(C) was first introduced as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
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Nov 24, 2010

Industry CEOs: Advanced biofuels could be commercialized within 3 years

A new article at RenewableEnergyWorld.com reports that a variety of biofuels industry CEOs expect their companies to reach commercial scale within 12-36 months, with costs in the $0.75 to $2.50 per-gallon range. The CEOs made their comments at the Advanced Biofuels Markets conference in San Francisco, one of the last major gatherings of industry CEOs before the close of the year.

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Nov 22, 2010

Rental car companies to add Coda electric cars to their fleets

As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, the Coda Automotive all-electric sedan will be available at select Hertz Corp. rental locations in California. The automaker did not release specifics about the Hertz deal, such as the financial terms or the number of vehicles involved. Last month, Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced it will add 100 Coda cars to its rental fleet. Coda plans to build a battery plant for its vehicles in Columbus that would employ some 2,700 people. Retail sales of the vehicles are expected to start in the third quarter of 2011.  

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Nov 12, 2010

Public charging station for electric vehicles opens in Cleveland

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer is featuring an article about Northeast Ohio's first public charging station for electric vehicles. It's located in front of a building on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland that was the showroom for a brand of all-electric vehicles at the turn of the last century. The article provides a nice snapshot of the state of the all-electric vehicle market now and the role that a couple of Cleveland companies are playing. The owner of the station, Recharge Power of Gates Mills, says it plans to install as many as 30 charging stations around the Cleveland area over the next two months.

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Nov 03, 2010

BASF starts construction of advanced battery materials factory in Elyria

BASF recently broke ground on a $50 million factory in Elyria, Ohio, to produce advanced cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries that will power hybrid and all-electric vehicles. BASF is one of only two licensed suppliers of the Argonne National Laboratory’s patented Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese cathode materials, which employ a unique combination of lithium and manganese-rich mixed metal oxides. Batteries that use the new materials have higher energy density, are longer-lasting, and offer improved safety due to higher temperature stability. The new facility is being built with the help of $24.6 million in federal stimulus funds.

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Oct 28, 2010

$6 billion coal-to-liquids fuel project along Ohio River moves forward

The company behind a $6 billion coal-to-liquids fuel project in Columbiana County announced that it has financing in place to move forward with development plans, according to this article in the Youngstown Business Journal. The chief executive of Baard Energy LLC, based in Vancouver, Wash., recently said at an event in Wellsville, Ohio, that investors in the coal and energy markets have committed $2.5 billion so far that will be used to purchase property for the project and prepare it for construction.

According to the article, the plant will use coal and other alternate feedstocks, such as waste wood, to produce 52,000 barrels daily of diesel and jet fuel, as well as naphtha. Naphtha is a low-octane gasoline used as a feedstock in the chemical industry. Purchase of the land will begin next month and continue through the holiday season followed by engineering and construction work. Construction will create up to 4,000 jobs, and the plant itself will employ some 415 when it is operating, according to the article.

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Oct 28, 2010

Sen. Brown renews call to extend Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call this week to extend the Department of Energy's Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, a popular stimulus program that provides a 30 percent credit for domestic companies that invest in new, expanded, or re-equipped clean energy manufacturing projects. Brown said that the program provided seven Ohio companies with tax credits worth more than $125 million. The program was more than three times oversubscribed and has since run out of funds.

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Oct 25, 2010

Great Lakes Wind Network partners with foundation to increase domestic production of wind-energy systems

The Cleveland-based Great Lakes Wind Network (GLWN) announced that it will partner with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation to enable the foundation to play a larger role in helping to increase domestic content of North America's wind turbines, according to this story in North American Windpower. The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation was awarded a $560,000 Manufacturing Extension Partnership grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the Clean Energy Manufacturing Center - a $1.3 million program aimed at aiding U.S. manufacturers in developing a domestic supply chain for the emerging wind energy industry.

Launched in 2007, GLWN is an initiative of WIRE-Net, a nonprofit economic development organization located in Cleveland. As part of its work with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation's Clean Energy Manufacturing Center, GLWN will work with four Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers (Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, Indiana Purdue TAP, Montana MEP and West Virginia MEP), the American Wind Energy Association, the United SteelWorkers, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing to develop a series of programs and services that will help accelerate the development and increase the capacity of U.S. wind energy manufacturers.

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Oct 25, 2010

Frito-Lay rolls out electric delivery trucks in Columbus market

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division recently rolled out a fleet of all-electric delivery trucks in the Columbus market. This year, Columbus is one of three cities in the U.S., along with New York City and Ft. Worth, Texas, to receive the trucks. The trucks, designed by Smith Electric Vehicles, generate zero tailpipe emissions and operate for up to 100 miles on a single charge. The initial rollout in Columbus was facilitated through a partnership with the nonprofit Clean Fuels Ohio. The company projects it will roll out 155 additional trucks in 2011, making Frito-Lay the largest commercial fleet of all-electric trucks in North America.

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Oct 01, 2010

Beacon Power signs contract with Department of Energy to develop advanced energy storage technology

Beacon Power Corp., an advanced energy storage provider, recently signed a two-year contract with the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) to develop important components for an advanced “fly ring” flywheel energy storage technology. The goal of developing this technology is the ability to store "four times the energy at one-eighth the cost per kilowatt hour." For more information visit the Beacon Power Web site.
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Jul 27, 2010

Green manufacturers scout Southwest Ohio

Dayton Daily News reported that local robotics producer Rixan Associates Inc. wants to manufacture hubless vertical wind turbines, but hasn’t decided where to build a production facility. The $4.1 million facility would employ about 200 people initially, making a wind turbine designed at St. Louis University, according to the article. The company president said Rixan has a “firm offer” from the North Dakota state government and expressions of interest from Ohio, Missouri, Michigan and others.
Meanwhile, courtesy of this article in the Cincinnati Business Courier, an unidentified Midwest manufacturer is scouting sites in greater Cincinnati for a factory that would be new to the region, turn out an unspecified green product and employ up to 150 people. The company toured about ten sites in the area last week, but also is considering sites in Indianapolis.
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Mar 31, 2010

Mich. company breaks ground on wind tower plant

The (Toledo) Blade has a story about a start-up company breaking ground on a $22 million factory just north of Toledo that will build industrial-sized wind generator towers. According to the article, Ventower Industries LLC said it will hire 150 employees initially and could have 225 later if sales take off. A ceremonial groundbreaking occurred yesterday at the 38-acre brownfield site, located at the Port of Monroe.

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Mar 31, 2010

Governor Strickland urges expansion of advanced energy tax credit

Governor Ted Strickland and 18 other governors are urging President Barack Obama to expand the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which directly supports companies undertaking advanced energy manufacturing projects. In a letter to the President, the governors recognized the significant success of the tax credit and the economic benefits that would come with an expansion. A copy of the letter can be found here.

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Aug 14, 2009

Treasury and Department of Energy Announce Availability of ARRA Manufacturing Tax Credit for Green Manufacturing Facilities

On August 13, 2009, The United States Treasury Department and Department of Energy announced the availability of $2.3 billion in tax credits under the Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program, which was enacted by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The MTC program will provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent for facilities that manufacture solar, wind, and geothermal energy equipment; fuel cells, microturbines, and batteries; electric cars; electric grids to support the transmission of renewable energy; energy conservation technologies; and equipment that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide or reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The manufacturing tax credit is capped at $2.3 billion, and credits are available for two years or until the cap is reached. 

According to the guidance released with the announcement, the purpose of the program is to encourage taxpayers to re-equip, expand, or establish manufacturing facilities for the production of qualifying advanced energy facilities. Among the selection criteria to be considered by Treasury in deterring which qualifying advanced energy projects will be awarded credits, key considerations include assessing which project will result in the greatest domestic job creation and provide the greatest net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Aug 13, 2009

GE Ecomagination Business shows substantial growth in 2008

In GE's recently released 2008 Ecomagination Annual Report, the business posted revenue of $17 billion, a 21 percent increase from the previous year. The business has shown consistent revenue growth since its creation by GE in 2004. The report cites transportation innovations in rail and aviation advancements as a major component of the business. These projects include the following:

  1. 1033 Locomotive Emission Kits
  2. China Mainline Evolution™ Locomotive
  3. Evolution™ Hybrid Locomotive
  4. Evolution™ Series Locomotive
  5. Kazakhstan Evolution™ ES44ACi Locomotive
  6. Locotrol™ System
  7. PowerHaul™ Engine
  8. Russian-Built Locomotive Modernization Skids
  9. SmartBurn™ Technology
  10. Trip Optimizer™ System

For more information, view the annual report at http://ge.ecomagination.com/

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