Science & Technology
Secretary Vilsack Announces USDA Has Reached Its Goal to Fund $250 Million in Smart Grid Improvements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 13:13
Funds for System Improvements are Provided in North Carolina, Nine other States

RALEIGH, N.C., September 7, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has reached its $250 million goal to finance smart grid technologies, a key component of President Obama's effort to help modernize our nation's electric system. Vilsack also announced nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 10 states including North Carolina will receive loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.

"Grid modernization and deployment of 'smart grid' technology will increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power generation," said Vilsack. "Providing reliable, affordable electrical service contributes to stronger rural economies and is the backbone for a prosperous rural America. These loans will help ensure that rural areas can retain existing businesses, support new ones and have reliable, up-to-date infrastructure."

As part of President Obama's Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, the Administration has outlined aframework for a modernized electric system that will benefit all Americans. This framework lays out a number of public and private initiatives, including a goal of $250 million in loans for smart-grid technology deployment as part of the USDA's Rural Utility Service, which is focused on upgrading the electric grid in rural America.

With today's announcement of more than $27 million in smart grid investments, USDA has met President Obama's goal and has further enabled rural utilities to make efficiency improvements to the electric grid that will help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.

Vilsack said this $250 million investment in loan funds for smart grid technologies means infrastructure investment at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. These technologies will facilitate the integration of renewable sources of electricity into the grid, help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur, and reduce the need for new power plants. Smart grid technologies also provide a foundation for innovation by entrepreneurs and others who can develop tools to empower consumers and help them make informed decisions. A first generation of innovative consumer products and services—such as thermostats that can be controlled from a smart phone, or websites that show how much energy a house is using—can continue to help Americans save money on their electricity bills.

Vilsack made the announcement during a tour of North Carolina's Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation, which received a $30,000,000 guaranteed loan from USDA to extend its system by 52 miles and help provide service to about 1,000 new member consumers. The cooperative will also increase capacity for 100 current consumers and improve the reliability of about 40 miles of line. The cooperative installed a new automated meter system (AMI) with funds from a previous loan and will invest approximately $150,000 of the funds from this new loan on new AMI meters for the 1,000 new member consumers.

Vilsack also announced that two other cooperatives in North Carolina will receive loan guarantees. Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation will receive a $21,500,000 loan to build and improve 220 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation, which serves a rural area in the northeastern part of North Carolina, will receive a $6.4 million loan. Due to its location, the borrower is susceptible to extreme storm conditions, including hurricanes and Northeasters. The firm will use about $1 million of the loan to install automatic meters (AMIs).

The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Colorado/ Nebraska/ New Mexico/ Wyoming

  • Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. – $140,483,000 loan. Funds will be used to build 50 miles of transmission line and make upgrades to the existing generation and transmission facilities. The loan amount includes $21,756,000 in smart grid projects and $808,780 in environmental improvements.


  • The Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. – $6,130,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 355 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,014,500 in smart grid projects.


  • Stearns Cooperative Electric Association – $23,654,000 loan. The cooperative will improve 147 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $974,085 in smart grid projects.
  • Agralite Electric Cooperative – $5,159,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 61 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $180,968 in smart grid projects.


  • Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative – $30,093,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 24 miles of transmission line, build three new substations and make other improvements. The loan amount includes $500,000 in smart grid projects.

North Carolina

  • Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation – $6,410,000 loan. The cooperative will build and improve 310 miles of distribution line and 2 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,084,728 in smart grid projects.
  • Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation – $30,000,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 108 miles of distribution line and 5 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements.
  • Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation – $21,500,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 220 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.


  • Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative – $6,000,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 88 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $255,833 in smart grid projects.

The $269 million in loan guarantees announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

For additional information on RD projects, please visit Rural Development's new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011. The data can be found at:

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


YouTube My Twitter and I'll Flickr Your Google PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 12:49

By: Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital

You hear it and see it every day: Follow me. Like us. Google it. And you know exactly what it means, don't you?

That's the power of brand recognition. You know the Gecko, the e-Trade baby, and probably all the words to the Free Credit Score.Com songs, too. What? You thought these characters and catch phrases just happened overnight? Not! They were planned and strategically planted, and they have become the "faces" of their respective brands.

Recognition is not the only thing – it's everything. I'm going to use an author as our test dummy for this piece because I've developed enough author websites to know there is a lot of confusion about how they should brand themselves.

I recently had a conversation with a prospective new client; let's call him Gunther Zigby. Now, Gunther wrote a book and hired an out-of-work hairdresser to “build a website tonight" that finally appeared online four months later. After getting only 30 visitors to his site and not selling a single book in more than five months, Gunther talked to a friend of a friend, who gave him my number.

I asked Gunther for his web address and he gave me the title of his book. I asked him if he had misunderstood – I was asking for his web address, the URL for his site.

"That’s it,” he said. “My book title is my website address, too. Pretty cool, huh?"

Well, Gunther, no. Not really!

I only mention Gunther Zigby because it leads me into a really important-sounding message: The Proper Packaging In Relation to the Development of Your Brand.

1. As an author/writer - understand that YOU are the brand – not your book.Have you ever heard of John Grisham? I rest my case.

2. A good many authors are also public speakers. When was the last time you heard of a book being hired for a speaking engagement? See, when it's all said and done, they really do want YOU!

3. If your website URL is your book title, what happens if, and when, you write another book? Now you're catching on; you just figured out that you’d have to build a whole new website for the second book, didn't you?

As an author, odds are you have written one or two books, but are still virtually unknown outside of your circle. It's not easy, but without the right tools, it’s pretty much impossible to break out of that circle. You have to create a package that will upgrade you from "virtually unknown" to "hot commodity." That requires a plan and execution.

You may be branding yourself as an expert on your topic – because you are! That’s a smart way to go but only part of the package. What kind of expert are you? Are you a roll-up-your-sleeves hands-on sort? Or do you have a flash and polish that make people say, “She’s successful. I need to listen to her.” Or, are you a funny, approachable everyone’s-favorite-uncle type?

What is your message? Your promise? What can you consistently deliver, whether it’s on your blog or as a speaker?

Even when you have everything 110 percent right, it's not easy achieving the stature that makes your name as well-known as, say, John Grisham’s. But by laying the right foundation, you’re at least giving yourself a good running start.

About Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (, a web development company. He’s an award-winning web designer/developer with more than 18 years of experience in print and web design and development. Thomas' work became a major influence in graphic and web design in the "Y2K" era of the Internet's dot-com explosion.

Loebsack to Speak at Acciona Windpower to Celebrate Assembly of First AW3000 Turbine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 15:15

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that he will speak at Acciona Windpower to celebrate the assembly of the first AW3000 turbine produced in the United States.  The celebration will take place TOMORROW, August 29th at 11:00am in West Branch.  Earlier this year, Loebsack was presented the American Wind Energy Association’s USA Wind Champion Award during a visit to Acciona’s facilities.  He was given this award in recognition of his ongoing support of wind energy in Iowa and working to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Acciona Windpower Celebration

601 Fawcett Drive

West Branch



Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs) Reduce Carbon Footprint, Increase Fun PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Betty Sosnin   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:21

Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs): Cool, Affordable, Earth-friendly Rides
Learn What Makes These Street-legal Vehicles the Way to Go

Augusta, Ga. (Aug. 21, 2012) –  October 15 is National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day and a good time to answer a question many people ask when they catch their first glimpse of a low-speed vehicle (LSV): What the heck is that?

These small, bright, Euro-style cars — also known as neighborhood electric vehicles — look more like something you’d see in Barcelona than Boston. Yet they’re turning heads from Manhattan’s Upper East Side to South Beach to San Diego.

“LSVs are the automotive equivalent of the slow-food movement,” says Mary A. Sicard, consumer marketing manager at Club Car, the manufacturer of the Villager LSV. “They’re timely, intelligent and cool. What’s more, they encourage the slower-paced lifestyle so many people want.”

Clean, Green Driving Machines

These electric, emissions-free cars are especially popular among people who care about the environment. Many of them know that every gallon of gas burned by a conventional car creates about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide for an annual average of six tons of carbon dioxide per car.

One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to drive an electric car. The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Initiative’s Alternative Transportation Program reports that electric vehicles have saved nearly three billion gallons of petroleum since 1993.

Enjoy the Ride of Your Life
Then there’s the fun factor.

Stuffy gas guzzlers tend to isolate people from one another and the environment. LSVs, on the other hand, are open to sights, scents and sounds. These small, nimble vehicles make it easy for drivers to stop at shops, restaurants and to chat with friends. They foster social interaction and integrate shopping and dining into the fabric of your life. And they’re silent. No revving engines or backfiring.

“Residents of gated, retirement and urban communities are using their Villager LSVs for neighborhood transportation, shopping, running errands, dropping kids off at school, going out to dinner, zipping to the gym or just cruising,” Sicard says. “These vehicles make driving a pleasure, not just a means to an end.”

Although people sometimes mistake them for golf cars, LSVs are often a more practical choice for neighborhood transportation.

LSVs vs. PTVs vs. Golf Cars  
The term “golf car” is commonly used to refer to many different types of vehicles.  Specifically, golf cars are vehicles for use on golf courses for the game of golf.  When golf cars are used off the golf course, they are classified as Personal Transport Vehicles (PTVs).

A PTV is a vehicle with a maximum speed of less than 20 mph that is for personal use. They may be powered by gasoline or electricity and driven on public roads as defined by state and local laws for purposes unrelated to golf. PTVs are not classified as motor vehicles under federal law and are not regulated by the NHTSA but by state and local governments.

The LSV is classified as a motor vehicle and regulated by the NHTSA. These vehicles travel at speeds between 20 -25 mph. They are allowed on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less in most states. But they must have vehicle identification numbers, be registered and insured, and be equipped with windshields,  turn signals, head and tail lights, seat belts and other safety equipment.

Here’s the rub. Original manufacturers of golf cars keep the maximum speed below 15 mph. Yet owners sometimes have their vehicles modified to increase the speed. According to Fred Somers, secretary, treasurer and legal counsel for the International Light Transportation Vehicle Association (ILTVA), an organization that regulates and promotes the safety of golf cars and other small four-wheel vehicles, this can have ramifications that many owners are unaware of.

“If a golf car is modified to go 20–25 mph, it becomes by definition an LSV and is subject to the NHTSA requirements. In effect, many people are driving LSVs when they think they are driving golf cars,” he says.

Here are the major differences between PTVs and LSVs:

  • Where they are allowed. State and local governments may decide the type of roadways on which Personal Transportation Vehicles and Low-Speed Vehicles are allowed, what safety equipment is required, who can drive and many other factors. Generally, LSVs can hit streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less in almost all states. PTVs are usually limited to golf car lanes or designated low-speed roads within one mile of a golf course, but this varies by locale.
  • Number of passengers. LSVs come in two- and four-passenger models. Most PTVs carry two.
  • Speed. LSVs can travel at a maximum of 25 mph; PTVs, 19.
  • Weight. LSVs can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. (The Villager LSV weighs about half that, thanks to its rustproof aluminum chassis.) PTVs can tip the scales at 1,300 pounds.
  • DMV regulations. LSVs are subject to state Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) rules. They must be titled, licensed and insured, and can be driven only by licensed drivers. PTVs may not have to meet DMV requirements. “It’s very important to understand your state and local regulations,” says Sicard. “The laws vary by jurisdiction.”
  • Safety standards. LSVs meet federal safety guidelines. PTVs do not. “The Villager LSV comes equipped with auto glass, four-wheel brakes, three-point safety belts, turn signals, brake lights, a horn, halogen head lamps, adjustable mirrors, windshield wipers and other features golf cars and PTVs are not required to have,” Sicard says.

Slash Your Transportation Costs
LSVs also let you avoid sticker shock at the pump and on insurance and maintenance.

In the United States, LSVs cost about half as much to operate as gas-powered vehicles.

“Villager LSVs can be charged through a standard 110-volt outlet, so you won’t have to pay $300 - $1,500 to install a 220-volt outlet as you would to juice an electric car. And you’ll get up to 30 miles from a six-hour charge,” Sicard says.

Take the Path Less Traveled
Obviously, you can’t drive an LSV down I-95 or on a cross-country road trip, but you can use it for hundreds of short trips each year. And, with more than 75 percent of all American vehicle trips coming in at 10 miles or less, these jaunts adds up quickly.

Since LSVs are so compact, nimble and easy to park, they’re great for retirement and gated communities, motor home owners, second homes, beach front living, college campuses, military bases, industrial plants, small towns, urban environments with congested driving and parking conditions and many other areas.

Distinctively Yours
You can also customize your LSV to your lifestyle, climate and application.

The Villager LSV, for example, accommodates a range of options designed specifically for the vehicle. These include a whisper-quiet cooling system, stereos and MP3 players, sporty upholstery, a 12-volt accessory outlet, luxury dashes, a single point battery watering system for easy maintenance, and a cargo bed for hauling groceries, golf clubs and gym gear.

If you’re ready to transcend the ordinary, stop by your local Authorized Club Car dealer and test drive a Villager LSV today. To find a dealer near you, visit and select “dealer locator.”


Club Car Villager 2 LSV on the beach:

Club Car Villager 2 LSV on fishing pier:

Club Car Villager 2+2 LSV:

Studio shot of Club Car Villager 2+2 LSV:

About Club Car

Club Car, one of the most respected names in the golf industry, is the world’s largest manufacturer of small-wheel, zero-emissions electric vehicles. The company’s Precedent® golf cars and Carryall® Turf utility vehicles are integral to successful operations at thousands of courses around the world. The company also offers a complete line of new and used golf cars, XRT utility vehicles and street-legal, low-speed vehicles (LSVs) for personal use, all backed by Club Car’s 50+ year legacy of superior design, manufacture and service.

Club Car is part of the Industrial Technology Sector of Ingersoll Rand, and is based in Augusta, Ga. Visit

About Ingersoll-Rand

Ingersoll Rand (NYSE:IR) advances the quality of life by creating and sustaining safe, comfortable and efficient environments. Our people and our family of brands—including Club Car®, Ingersoll Rand®, Schlage®, Thermo King® and Trane® —work together to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings; transport and protect food and perishables; secure homes and commercial properties; and increase industrial productivity and efficiency. Ingersoll Rand is a $14 billion global business committed to a world of sustainable progress and enduring results. For more information, visit


Electronic Demanufacturing Facility first public agency in world to be R2 certified PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Erin Vorac   
Monday, 20 August 2012 15:24


DAVENPORT, Iowa—Waste Commission of Scott County’s Electronic Demanufacturing Facility has achieved Responsible Recycling (R2) certification. It is the first public agency in the world and the only agency in the state of Iowa to achieve this certification. There are approximately 239 facilities globally that hold R2 certification.

The R2 Standard sets forth requirements relating to environmental, health, safety, and security aspects of electronics recycling. R2 also requires recyclers to assure that more toxic material streams are managed safely and responsibly by downstream vendors-all the way to final disposition. It sets requirements for recyclers and their downstream vendors regarding the safe export of toxic materials to certain countries. All of these practices are verified by an independent auditor.

"We are proud to be the first R2-certified facility in the state of Iowa," said Keith Krambeck, special waste manager for Waste Commission of Scott County (Commission). "Becoming R2-certified was one of the goals of the Commission's Environmental, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. While we already had an EHSMS in place, the R2 Standard was much more rigorous and our staff worked extremely hard to meet those requirements. Because of this, we feel we have an outstanding EHSMS that will better protect our employees and better serve the needs of our customers," he said.

The Electronic Demanufacturing Facility provides residents and businesses throughout Iowa and western Illinois an environmentally sound and economically feasible disposal option for electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste is defined as anything with a circuit board and or cathode ray tube (CRT) and includes items such as computer monitors, CPUs, TVs, printers, scanners, radios and VCRs.

The facility is located at 1048 East 59th Street in Davenport and is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no disposal charge for residents of Scott County, Iowa and Rock Island County, Illinois. For businesses and residents outside those counties, the cost for disposal is 20 cents per pound for TVs, monitors and laptops. Console and projection televisions are a flat fee of $15. All other electronic waste is accepted at no charge. Large or unusual items are assessed on a per item basis. Bettendorf and Davenport residents that receive curbside collection can set e-waste out as bulky waste on their recycling day; no call-ins or appointments are required.

For more information about the Electronic Demanufacturing Facility call (563) 823-0119 or visit For more information about R2 certification, visit

Waste Commission of Scott County is an inter-governmental agency established in 1972 to provide environmentally sound and economically feasible solid waste management services for Scott County. It operates the Scott Area Landfill, Scott Area Recycling Center, Electronic Demanufacturing Facility, two Household Hazardous Material Facilities, a public education program and a Keep America Beautiful affiliate called iLivehere Quad Cities.


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