Plant Pathology Abroad

first_imgWhen he started college, Abraham Fulmer didn’t know he’d study peanuts, work in international development or become fascinated with Haiti.But that’s where life led him.Fulmer, a PhD student in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, works with the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab project in Haiti, where researchers are working to find the varieties and growing conditions that lead to the best yield and discourage disease in peanuts.“Peanut is a fascinating crop,” Fulmer said. ”There’s a mystique about it being linked to the New World. The first written description of peanut was recorded on the island of Hispaniola by Bartonlomé Las Casas – probably in what is now Haiti – in the 1500s. That link is fascinating to me. Haiti itself is fascinating.”The Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL) supports the education of dozens of graduate students like Fulmer at UGA, across the U.S. and in partner countries.At the same time, professors from the U.S. and partner countries mentor the students and advise them on their research.As a PhD student, Fulmer conducts his own research in Haiti and the U.S., but through PMIL, he supervises Haitian students in their work, too.“The most rewarding thing about the work that I’ve been a part of in Haiti is the personal fulfillment of being able to work with students,” he said.Over the past few years, PMIL has partnered with Meds & Food for Kids, an NGO that makes peanut-based food supplements and supports farmers as a way to get locally sourced peanuts. Through an internship program, PMIL and MFK give Haitian agronomy students an opportunity to do practical research in the field. Over the past two years, 16 undergraduates have worked with PMIL and MFK; half of the students are men and half are women.In Haiti, an undergraduate degree in agronomy calls for five years of study and a thesis project, requirements that are similar to a master’s degree in other places.“The students compete to earn a spot in the internship program; it’s a good opportunity for them,” Fulmer said. “Each one designs and implements a trial. We are helping them all along the way, but they are responsible from the planning of the trial to the planting of the seeds to the harvest, from gathering the data, to analyzing that data to presenting the data.”While building students’ skills, the arrangement also provides data to PMIL, which is working to enhance Haiti’s peanut sector by addressing production-related problems and improving conditions along the value chain.Research supported by collaboration includes a peanut-breeding program and research into agronomic practices best suited for growing conditions in Haiti.“We’ve done seed- and row-spacing trials, variety trials and fungicide trials,” Fulmer said. “Ultimately, we are trying to find the best answers to questions that deal with quality and quantity of the crop.“Our research is creating data that just didn’t exist before. Now we have actual evidence to direct decision-making.”Creating a list of best practices for growing a healthy peanut crop would empower the country’s smallholder farmers, who produce about 24,000 metric tons of peanuts a year.“Farmers in Haiti get between 300 and 800 pounds per acre. The average is probably around 500 pounds,” said PMIL Assistant Director James Rhoads, who worked with smallholder peanut farmers in Haiti while working for MFK.“But, now we’re seeing yields in research plots and in scaled seed production in the 2000-pound range and higher. Abraham’s efforts are helping to close that yield gap.”Getting a bigger crop out of the ground means more than just finding the right variety and hoping for rain. Farmers need to know when to invest time and inputs in fighting pests and disease.“A lot of my research here in the U.S. has to do with leaf-spot pathogens,” Fulmer said. “What are the factors that drive when the disease starts and how bad the disease gets? I watch diseases very closely to pinpoint the conditions that have the most impact, so we can understand how to combat them.“I’ve been able to carry that research over to Haiti, and that’s rewarding.”When he started school, Fulmer was more interested in the aesthetic part of agriculture; he thought he might become a landscape architect.But a class with University of Georgia agronomy professor Dewey Lee caught his attention and set him on a career path.“I really became aware in that class of the importance of global agriculture and the challenges that our generation is going to face in terms of how to feed the world,” he said. “That message really grabbed ahold of me and I came to a moral realization that we have a responsibility to better the lives of our fellow men wherever they live.”Still not quite sure what he wanted to do after finishing a bachelor’s degree, Fulmer traveled to Cambodia. In visiting with local farmers, he learned that peanuts are part of the cuisine there and around the world. When he came home, UGA professor Bob Kemerait suggested that Fulmer might work with PMIL.Two years later, Fulmer spends about one-third of the year in Haiti, mentoring and helping Haitian agronomy students with their research trials.The trade-off is that Fulmer is taking an extra year or so to work on his PhD, which he hopes to finish in the next year.He’s not sure where he’ll work after that.“I want to stay involved with international agriculture, Fulmer said. “I would love to have the opportunity to remain involved in Haiti,” he said. “But when I thought I knew exactly where I was going and what I wanted to do, that’s not how it worked out.“It’s going well, so I’ll have to see what comes next.”last_img read more

Food PIC

first_imgUniversity of Georgia scientists are now better equipped to help businesses launch new food products with the opening of the Food Technology Center, locally known as the FoodPIC building, on the UGA Griffin campus. The facility houses the university’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization, or FoodPIC, Center.The $7.4 million project was funded through $3.5 million from the state of Georgia and additional funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the University of Georgia.The state-of-the-art 14,500-square-foot facility was dedicated on Jan. 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony included Board of Regents Chairman Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority Board Charles Copeland, Dean and Director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Sam Pardue, and Pike County STEM Academy student Nikki Dodson, along with UGA President Jere W. Morehead.“The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is an outstanding example of the University of Georgia using its resources to help strengthen our state’s economy,” Morehead said. “We are grateful for the support we have received for the new Food Technology Center, and we are excited to expand the reach of FoodPIC within the global food industry.”“This facility is a great addition to the Griffin campus,” said UGA Griffin campus Assistant Provost Lew Hunnicutt. “Housing FoodPIC on our campus allows us to make an impact on economic development, with regard to food and food products, in the Griffin-Spalding County community, across Georgia and potentially around the world.”While awaiting funding for and construction of the building, faculty in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences used existing laboratories on the UGA Griffin campus to help food entrepreneurs with product development, packaging, food safety, consumer acceptance and marketing.Kirk Kealey, whose career in food development includes launching products for General Mills, M&M Mars Inc. and PepsiCo Inc., became director of FoodPIC in 2015. The center focuses primarily on Georgia food companies and Georgia commodities such as peaches, peanuts and blueberries, but Kealey would like to see the UGA center become the best facility of its kind in the U.S.Past FoodPIC projects include improved drying technologies for Georgia’s rabbiteye blueberries, frozen desserts using Georgia fruits and a grain-based milk beverage now being produced in California.Kealey said FoodPIC has a current project with an ingredient company that hopes to see its reduced-sodium salt used in convenience foods such as potato chips. FoodPIC scientists in Griffin also are working with a company that plans to incorporate its probiotic into extruded foods, “something like Cheetos,” he said.FoodPIC is designed for short-term partnerships between food entrepreneurs and UGA scientists, not long-term food production and packaging.“We help companies get a pretty good idea about how big their business potential is. We don’t want to become their partner for life. We want to help them get to the next stage in their journey and then send them on their way,” Kealey said. “They then can go either to their own manufacturing site or to a co-manufacturer who will make their recipe to their specifications.”After meeting with UGA FoodPIC faculty and learning about the rules and regulations of the food industry, some potential clients decide to stay small and just create recipes in their home kitchen to share with friends and family.“FoodPIC is where food entrepreneurs go with their ideas, and we turn them into reality—into physical prototypes that they can eat.” Kealy said. “If they decide they want to continue their journey, we can help them with process development, package development, shelf stable studies, thermal process validation and the nutrition facts panel—we’re a one-stop shop.”The new Food Technology Center in Griffin, and the equipment now housed in it, gives the UGA faculty working there the ability to develop larger batches and more finished products. In the past, the scientists were constrained by the size of the existing small, pilot plant. “Ideally, what we have now is a place where we can help people scale up their products. If they’ve gone beyond the kitchen and need help to make more product in larger batches, we can now help them much more efficiently than we could last year,” Kealey said.For more information on the FoodPIC Center, go to caes.uga.edu/center/foodpic/.last_img read more

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Announces New Deputy Director

first_imgMontpelier – The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (www.vsjf.org(link is external)) announced today that Janice St. Onge has been named its new Deputy Director. Ms. St. Onge replaces Ed Delhagen who served as the organization’s Deputy Director for 7 years and who recently joined the staff of the Asia Foundation to work on a special project in Mongolia. Ms. St. Onge will begin her duties on Monday, March 19.”We are very pleased that Janice will be joining our team at the Sustainable Jobs Fund. She has strong and deep networks statewide, within the economic development community, within the investor community, and within the UVM community,” said Ellen Kahler, Executive Director of the Fund.Established in 1995 by the Vermont Legislature, the Sustainable Jobs Fund promotes natural resource based market development and job creation and provides technical assistance to growing companies. Their current funding and programmatic foci are in the biofuels, sustainable forestry, and sustainable agriculture sectors.Janice St. Onge will leave the Vermont Business Center (VBC) at the University of Vermont where she has been the Director since its launch in 2004. Over her three year tenure, she was responsible for business outreach, and the sales, development and delivery of the VBC’s management development and customer training programs for Vermonts leaders and decision makers.”I’m really looking forward to being part of the VSJF team and helping Vermont businesses grow in a globally competitive marketplace,” said St. Onge. “I understand the challenges businesses face in bringing new products to market, and have an in-depth knowledge of the resources available to businesses here in the State. The VSJF’s approach to increasing demand and supply for sustainable products that help solve complex problems such as climate change and peak oil is very appealing to me. The VSJF’s work is not only helping Vermont innovators take a leadership role in natural resource based market development, but is helping innovators grow quality jobs in Vermont that are sustainable and build on Vermont’s entrepreneurial heritage. I can’t wait to get out of the gate running!”Prior to joining the University, Janice served as Technology Business Development Director for the Vermont Department of Economic Development. She was responsible for helping to create and manage Vermont’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Outreach Program. In October 2001, Janice was a recipient of the National Tibbetts Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. This award was given in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the promotion of the SBIR program and technology business development in Vermont. In 2002, Janice received the Outstanding State Employee award from Vermont Governor James Douglas.Prior to her work at the State of Vermont, Janice was the Director of Human Resources and Senior Manager of Customer Service for Kea Technologies, an e-commerce fulfillment business in Williston, where she directed human resource strategic planning and policies, employee relations, performance management, employment law issues and company-wide recruiting efforts.In addition to other senior level roles at Kea, Ms. St. Onge has nine (9) years experience in the financial services industry, in retail management, commercial real estate lending and organizational development. As a Business Partner within the Organizational Development Department of Peoples Bank, an $8.0 billion publicly held financial institution, Janice integrated human resource and business planning for the retail and finance divisions of the Bank.Janice served as the Co-chair for the Advisory Council of the Vermont Tech Enterprise Center at Vermont Technical College in Randolph and is a Board of Trustee member for the Killington Mountain School, a fully accredited State of Vermont independent school and ski academy. She is also a board member of the Vermont Investors Forum and is on the client selection committee for the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, a technology incubator initiative affiliated with the University of Vermont.Janice graduated in 1986 from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and minor in French. She is a graduate of the 2004 Vermont Leadership Institute program, a Snelling Center for Government initiative promoting citizen enthusiasm for and participation in public service.An avid skier, Janice is an FIS Freestyle Skiing Judge and was the first woman in the United States to be licensed to judge Olympic and World Cup level Freestyle Skiing events. Janice resides in Stowe, Vermont with her husband Lee, children Mackenzie and Austin, and border collie Nikki.last_img read more

Vermont is “The Healthiest State in the Nation”

first_imgUntitled Document Vermont is The HealthiestState in the Nation Montpelier (November 5, 2007) Vermont is the healthiest state in the nation, according to the 2007 edition of Americas Health Rankings, released today by the United Health Foundation. This is the first time Vermont has captured the top spot, climbing steadily from being ranked eighth in 2001. Vermont surpassed the previous leader Minnesota, which was ranked second this year.According to the United Health Foundation, Vermont is among the top 10 states in 14 of 20 measures. The states strengths include high immunization coverage with 86 percent of children between the ages of 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations, and a low premature death rate.The quality of care provided by Vermonts physicians and other health care providers is a significant reason for the states top ranking, said Paul Harrington, executive vice president of the Vermont Medical Society. Vermont physicians work extremely hard to make sure all their patients have the best possible health care, despite the fact that reimbursement rates here tend to be lower than other parts of the country. I think it really speaks to the dedication and skills of Vermonts physician community, he said.While about 10 percent of Vermonts population is uninsured (the ninth lowest rate in the country), Vermonts physicians do provide a large amount of free care to their patients who lack coverage and cannot afford to pay, noted Glen Neale, M.D., president of the Vermont Medical Society. Vermonts physicians are very generous with their time, because they realize the importance of everyone having access to good health care, he said. That is also evidenced by the fact that about 91 percent of Vermonts physicians participate in the states Medicaid program, despite reimbursement that is about half of what commercial insurers pay.The adequacy of prenatal care has been one area where Vermont has seen major improvements, going from 62.6 percent of pregnant women having adequate care in 1990 to 86.4 percent in 2007 (second highest in the nation). Infant mortality has dropped from 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007.The number of cardiovascular deaths has declined from 409 per 100,000 of population in 1990 to 287.9 per 100,000 in 2007. The number of cancer deaths has shrunk from 209.2 per 100,000 of population in 1990 to 195.4 per 100,000 in 2007.A number of public health factors have influenced Vermonts steady rise to the top of the rankings, the United Health Foundation said. For example, since 1990 the prevalence of smoking in Vermont has decreased from 30.7 percent to 18 percent of the adult population, and the incidence of infectious disease decreased from 20.3 to 6.4 cases per 100,000 population.Vermonts physicians have been working with the Vermont Department of Health and following guidelines for improving public health, Dr. Neale said. Being ranked the healthiest state in the nation is an indicator that our efforts are paying off.Reference: http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/ahr2007/states/Vermont.html(link is external)last_img read more

VEDA Board approves $55.5 million in business project financing

first_imgVEDA BOARD APPROVES $55.5 MILLIONIN BUSINESS PROJECT FINANCINGBurlington, VT – The Board of Directors of the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA)approved $55.5 million in financing to support development projects throughout Vermont totaling $64.1million.”The Authority is please to approve investments in a variety of projects that will strengthen businesses,institutions and communities, resulting in the creation of more good-paying jobs for Vermonters,” said JoBradley, VEDA’s Chief Executive Officer.Among the approved projects are:- Green Mountain College, Poultney – The Authority gave final approval for the issuance of $14.5million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance a variety of energy conservation measures andbuilding renovations at Green Mountain College. The approved bond will finance construction ofa new wood chip (bio-mass) heating system, replacement of the college’s electrical distributionsystem, replacement of inefficient dormitory windows, and renovation of several buildings. Thebond will also refinance debt associated with prior improvements made at the campus, includingreplacement of lighting fixtures, installation of fire alarm systems, and upgrades to the library andWhitney Student Center. Established in 1834, Green Mountain College is a four-year coeducationalinstitution with a strong focus on environmental liberal arts. The college ownsapproximately 145 acres of land and 25 buildings in Poultney, serving a population ofapproximately 800 students. The college has 167 employees, and expects to add eleven morejobs within three years of the project. Key Bank will be Trustee for the VEDA bond.- Bennington College, Bennington and North Bennington – Preliminary inducement approvalwas given by the VEDA Board for the issuance of $34 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds overtwo years to assist Bennington College in their plans to undertake a multifaceted construction andrenovation project at their campus. Pending final approval by the VEDA Board, BenningtonCollege plans over a period of two years to refinance existing debt, renovate and make technicalinfrastructure improvements to a variety of buildings on the campus, and construct a substantialnew building, the Bennington Center for the Advancement of Public Action. The new Centerwould house a new curriculum initiative with classrooms, and a small conference facilityequipped with broadcasting and recording capabilities. Established in 1932, Bennington Collegeis a nationally-recognized liberal and fine arts institution with a total enrollment of 723 students.The college campus comprises 470 acres of land and 60 buildings in Bennington and NorthBennington, including a 120,000 square foot visual and performing arts center. The collegeemploys 279, a number expected to grow to 290 within three years of the planned project’scompletion.- The Family Place, Hartford – The Authority gave preliminary approval to issuing just over $1million in tax-exempt bonds to help The Family Place expand their services through the purchaseof land and a 5,327 square foot building in Olcott Industrial Park in Hartford. The Family Place,a nonprofit parent child center serving northern Windsor County, is limited by its current spaceon Route 5 South in Norwich, a location it will still maintain should the bond issuance receivefinal Authority approval. Established in 1985, the Family Place works to support the positivegrowth and development of all parents by offering services that build upon family strengths. Thecenter employs a staff of 26, a number expected to increase after the planned expansion.- Scott-Spates Property Management, LLC, Derby – $2 million in financing was approved toScott-Spates Property Management, LLC for the construction of new, expanded facilities nearExit 27 off Interstate 91 to be leased to the Government Services Agency for the U.S. BorderPatrol. Plans for the $6.9 million project are to construct a 13,350 square foot office building and14,833 square foot enclosed garage on 12.3 acres of land. The new facilities will accommodateup to 50 personnel, and will replace a nearby 6,300 square foot leased facility which has housedup to 29 U.S. Border agents over the last two decades. Passumpsic Savings Bank will alsoparticipate in the project.In addition, another $1.2 million was approved in direct loans, close to $1.5 million in farm ownershipand operating loans were approved through the Authority’s agricultural financing program, the VermontAgricultural Credit Corporation, and $698,115 was approved for several small business developmentprojects through the Authority’s Vermont Small Business Loan Program.VEDA’s mission is to promote economic prosperity in Vermont by providing financial assistance toeligible businesses, including manufacturing, agricultural, and travel and tourism enterprises.Since itsinception in 1974, VEDA has made financing commitments totaling over $1.4 billion. For moreinformation about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-5627.last_img read more

Winter Panel files for bankruptcy, will stay in business

first_imgA maker of prefabricated homes in Brattleboro, Vermont, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, but will be sold and remain in business. Winter Manufacturing Inc, doing business as Winter Panel Corp, filed for bankruptcy June 10. According to Jeffrey Lewis, executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp, the company was forced into the action by disgruntled customers. He said the company faced lawsuits by customers dissatisfied with the product. But, Lewis said, Winter Panel is being bought by another company, World Panel, which will keep the company in Brattleboro and retain all the employees.Winter Panel manufactures structural insulated panels, featuring a foam core, for the residential and commercial construction industry. In a Vermont Business Magazine survey earlier this year, Winter Panel reported that it had 20 employees. The bankruptcy filing said it had $8.25 million in assets and $1.3 million in liabilities.US Bankruptcy Court, District of Vermont, Rutland:Winter Manufacturing, Inc.74 Glen Orne Dr., Brattleboro 05302-9116Filed 6-10-09, Chapter 7Assets: $8,250,000.00Liabilities: $1,291,348.13last_img read more

Bennington’s Plasan delivers 750 armor kits for US troops in Afghanistan

first_imgBennington, Vermont’s Plasan, a global leader in the field of combat-proven survivability and armor solutions for vehicles, airborne platforms and personal protection, today announced the delivery of 750 armor kits for the US Army’s MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) as a subcontractor to Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense. Today’s delivery meets the latest production milestone in the contract awarded by U.S. Department of Defense to produce 4,296 M-ATVs for deployment in Afghanistan.Dan Ziv, President and CEO of Plasan, says: “We are proud of our continued success in meeting this ambitious production schedule. Plasan’s employees in Bennington have a personal stake in protecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan. As the Vermont National Guard begins to mobilize for its largest deployment since World War II, Plasan’s employees are doing their part to protect their friends and neighbors while they are serving abroad. At Plasan, the war fighter is our first priority.”In July, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a $1.05 billion contract awarded to a team led by Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corporation and Plasan North America to produce 2,244 M-ATVs for deployment in Afghanistan. In August, Plasan won an additional contract for the delivery of 1,700 armor kits as an Oshkosh subcontractor. In September, Plasan and Oshkosh were awarded an additional order for 352 more M-ATV armor kits.Plasan credits this rapid delivery capacity to the application of its modular Kitted Hull concept. Under this concept, developed by Plasan, all armor parts and components are sent to the vehicle’s manufacturer where they are applied to the vehicle at the assembly line, thereby allowing for future upgrades and more efficient manufacture. Kitted Hull technology enables manufacturers to better use subcontractors for the rapid and cost-effective assembly of armored vehicles, responding quickly to increases in production volume as the needs of the end-users change.About PlasanPlasan provides customized survivability solutions for tactical wheeled vehicles, aircraft, naval platforms, civilian armored vehicles and personal protection. A recognized global leader and industry veteran, Plasan’s survivability solutions offer the optimal combination of protection, payload, and cost by combining in-house R&D, design, prototyping and manufacturing capabilities.Plasan combines innovative survivability engineering and design with advanced armor materials development. Its unique development process is based on continuous interaction between the R&D and the Design & Prototyping departments. During this process, Plasan combines computer-generated analysis and simulations with real-time calibration and ballistic test data. The effective combination of test and simulation data enables improved simulation accuracy and performance, resulting in the optimal survivability solution.Plasan’s engineers are unique in terms of their military backgrounds and hands-on experience. As veterans of the Israel Defense Forces they are familiar with soldiers’ behavior during combat and share a common language with the end user. This often contributes to the development of life saving solutions.Plasan’s success is a combination of innovation, a high level of commitment and a full range of in-house capabilities. As a preferred supplier to the Israel Defense Forces and an approved supplier to ministries of defense around the world, Plasan’s solutions have been tried and tested by dozens of armed forces in the most demanding battlefields such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.As a global company with locations in Israel, North America and Europe, Plasan is a worldwide market leader. Plasan’s production capabilities are complemented by a comprehensive supply chain that encompasses suppliers of materials, equipment and solutions in strategic locations worldwide. This extensive network enables the production capacity flexibility necessary to expand or reduce production volumes according to demand. SOURCE: Plasan. 10.5.2009last_img read more

Vermont to get $600,000 from settlement with Merck over Vioxx marketing

first_imgAttorney General William H Sorrell announced today that Vermont will receive approximately $600,000 in damages and penalties to the Vermont Medicaid program as part of a national settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp regarding its illegal marketing of the drug Vioxx.Merck marketed Vioxx for uses not approved by the FDA, misrepresented the cardiovascular safety of the drug, and made other false and misleading statements. The settlement resolves complaints filed by the federal government and a number of States after Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market in September 2004, citing an increase in the incidence of adverse cardiovascular events in patients taking Vioxx.In May 2008, Vermont obtained a $1.7 million dollar settlement with Merck on its consumer protection claims related to the illegal marketing; the settlement announced today addresses separate damages to the Vermont Medicaid program. As part of the settlement, Merck will plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for misbranding Vioxx, pay a $300 million criminal fine, pay $615 million in damages and penalties, and enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the federal government to closely monitor the company’s future marketing practices.Vermont AG. 11.23.2011last_img read more

In New Mexico, Diversification Through Solar

first_imgIn New Mexico, Diversification Through Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Hannah Grover of the Farmington Daily Times:Solar energy is slowly gaining a foothold in San Juan County as local cities engage in renewable energy projects. From Bloomfield’s electric performance contract to Aztec’s solar field and Farmington’s community solar project, local governments are embracing renewable energy.The electric performance contract involved upgrading lighting on city of Bloomfield buildings such as the senior center and the municipal operations center. Solar panels also were installed on the Bloomfield parks department building, the municipal operations building, a fire station and the senior center.Teresa Brevik, the projects manager, said electricity is one of the larger recurring expenses for the city, and the lighting upgrades and solar panels are expected to save Bloomfield approximately $40,000 a year.Rodney Romero, the Farmington Electric Utility System director, said an increased portfolio of renewable energy is something customers have been demanding.In addition to local cities, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority also has been investing in solar. On Saturday, members of the Navajo Nation Council attended a groundbreaking for the Kayenta solar facility, located on about 300 acres of land west of Kayenta, Ariz.The solar facility is the first large-scale solar farm in the Navajo Nation, according to a press release from Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker. It is expected to provide the utility with about 27.5 megawatts of energy after construction is completed by the end of the year.Solar projects add to energy diversitylast_img read more

Spanish government looks to reform energy sector

first_imgSpanish government looks to reform energy sector FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The Spanish government is exploring ways to persuade investors to finance a 100 billion-euro ($116 billion) transformation of its energy system as it tries to move beyond past policy mistakes that led to widespread losses and lawsuits.The Socialist administration is drawing up plans to expand renewable power generation, modernize its transport system and refit buildings to make them more energy efficient through 2030. But the effort to mobilize private investment is hampered by ongoing legal disputes from the party’s last green energy push a decade ago, which saw over-generous solar power subsidies cut retroactively.“We have to craft carefully a proposal that is adequate, credible and sound in terms of new investments, both for national and foreign investors, and also providing some recognition about what happened,” Teresa Ribera, minister for the ecological transition, said in an interview at her office in Madrid. “It can be through regulatory means or it can be via fiscal means.”Ribera has limited room for maneuver because the government is still fighting legal claims from investors over cuts in subsidies for photovoltaic power plants. Spain became the world’s biggest installer of PV panels in 2008 after the government misjudged the amount of subsidy required to stimulate investment. The payments were gradually reduced over successive years — leaving some plants struggling to cover their financing costs — as they began to jeopardize the public finances.A second problem for the minority administration is its lack of support in parliament, where the governing party has just 84 of 350 lawmakers. Ribera said she is aiming to win cross-party support for her plans but can also use administrative levers to push through some measures if she is blocked by opposition parties.Among her first moves, Ribera aims to remove a levy on Spaniards who installed solar panels on their homes by the end of November. She said both the left-wingers of Podemos and the liberals of Ciudadanos have in the past signaled they would support the decision, but the government can also push through the change by decree if necessary.More: Spain Aims to Win Investors for $116 Billion Energy Refitlast_img read more