Science & Technology
Governor Quinn Announces $195,000 for Quad Cities Rest Area Wind Turbine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 10:01

I-80 Rest Area Will Become State’s First to Generate its Own Power

HAMPTON – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a capital investment of $195,000 to construct a wind turbine to power a rest area along Interstate 80 in the Quad Cities. It will become the state’s first rest area to generate its own power through wind energy. The project is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to moving the state toward energy independence using green technology.

“The best energy source is free, renewable and has little environmental impact – that perfectly describes wind energy,” Governor Quinn said. “Producing our own energy at this well-used rest area will reduce operational costs and serve as a model for other rest areas in the state.”

A wind turbine and associated equipment will be built at the Mississippi Rapids Rest Area along Interstate 80 northeast of Hampton, and should be operational in spring 2014. Located on a bluff just a short distance from the Mississippi River, the rest area is in an ideal location to take advantage of prevailing winds. The project, awarded to Laverdiere Construction, Inc. of Macomb for $195,682, will also include an informational kiosk so visitors can see the amount of power being generated to supply the 2,700-square-foot, two-story building’s energy needs. The 40,000 KWH/yr produced by the wind turbine should supply enough electricity to completely power the rest area on most days. The project will be managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board, and the rest area is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“As the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, I am proud that we are able to manufacture wind turbines and also put them to use on a local project where they will provide self-sustaining power to a Rock Island County rest area near Hampton,” State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) said. “Bringing clean energy projects to the district will not only provide skilled labor jobs in the area, but also allow the state to reduce its costs while providing a necessary service along Interstate 80.”

“This investment creates construction jobs, adds to our local energy infrastructure and helps lower utility costs for taxpayers,” State Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) said.

This project is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.

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Grassley, Fellow Senators Press for Action to Keep Robust Rural Broadband Infrastructure Improvements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 12:01
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is among two dozen senators urging the newly confirmed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, to take steps to allow for the continuation of broadband infrastructure investment in rural America.

“It’s vital that all Iowans have access to good and reliable communications services,” Grassley said.  “In today’s economy, opportunities for Iowans and our communities in business, economic development, education, health care and other areas are created by access to robust broadband.  The FCC and Congress should ensure that the service is available to all Iowans, including those in rural areas.”

Grassley, along with Senators Jon Tester, John Barrasso, Mark Pryor, Kelly Ayotte, Mark Begich, Deb Fischer, Max Baucus, Tim Johnson, James Inhofe, Robert Casey, Pat Roberts, Mark Udall, Michael Enzi, Jeanne Shaheen, Mike Crapo, Jeff Merkely , Lisa Murkowski, Michael Bennet, Saxby Chambliss, Heidi Heitkamp, Johnny Isakson, James Risch, Jerry Moran, John Hoeven and John Boozman, requested action from the FCC to immediately take steps to re-establish predictability, sufficiency and transparency in the Universal Service Fund program so that the small businesses that serve rural America can resume critical investments in rural broadband.

This letter is following up on other letters Grassley has sent to the FCC regarding this matter, several of which can be found here.

Following is a copy of the text of the letter.  Click here for a signed copy of the letter.

 

November 1, 2013

 

The Honorable Tom Wheeler

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We commend the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for recently making changes to its 2011 Universal Service Fund (USF) reform order to begin the immediate deployment of broadband to rural areas served by price cap companies.  Additionally, we appreciate the FCC’s decision to temporarily relieve the impacts of Quantile Regression Analysis (QRA) on small rate-of-return carriers.  However, we remain concerned the reform order is limiting the ability of small rate-of-return carriers to provide rural consumers with the broadband service they need to compete in today’s global economy.

The 2011 USF reform order’s lack of predictability is resulting in declining private sector investment in hard-to-reach rural areas, which threatens the long-standing requirements that consumers in rural and high cost areas should have access to telecommunications and information services that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas.  We urge the Commission to take immediate steps to re-establish predictability, sufficiency and transparency in the USF program so that these small businesses can resume critical investments in rural broadband.  At the same time, we believe this process should neither upset nor slow implementation of Phase II of the Connect America Fund for consumers in areas served by larger carriers.

The Universal Service Fund provides small rate-of-return regulated telecom carriers with support to keep consumer rates affordable in high cost areas.  These small companies use a limited number of public and private loan programs to make long-term capital investments to expand the reach and effectiveness of broadband in hard-to-serve rural areas.  Both potential borrowers and lenders have indicated hesitation in moving forward with loans for broadband infrastructure improvements due to the uncertainties created by the reform order.

One of the main causes of uncertainty is the reform order’s Quantile Regression Analysis (QRA) approach to providing high-cost support for rural companies.  A recent analysis by former FCC Chief Economist Simon Wilkie underscores this uncertainty, noting that the QRA caps and redistributes USF support in arbitrary and unpredictable ways, fails to provide incentives for broadband deployment, and generates regulatory uncertainty that is discouraging investment.  While we appreciate the FCC’s recent steps to temporarily relieve the impacts of the QRA approach, more must be done to resolve the lingering uncertainty it creates.

The benefits to health, education and economic development from robust broadband infrastructure will be delayed or denied for many rural Americans unless the Commission finds a way to re-establish predictability and transparency in the USF program through re-examination of the QRA approach and other common-sense steps that enable rural carriers to respond to consumer demand for broadband.  We appreciate your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.

 
Governor Quinn Addresses Solar Power International Conference in Chicago PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 08:24

Illinois Has 185 Solar Supply Companies and is Among Top 10 Solar-Friendly States

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today addressed the 2013 Solar Power International conference in Chicago, highlighting the major advances Illinois has made in promoting and developing sustainable energy sources in the state. Today’s address is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“It is my pleasure to welcome the Solar Power International conference and its attendees from around the world,” Governor Quinn said. “In order to protect this great natural resource, we must educate ourselves and the world around us. In Illinois we understand the critical importance of solar energy and strengthening the industry to ensure a promising future for this innovative technology.”

Illinois is among the top 10 solar-friendly states based on solar power incentives, utility interconnection and metering policies. Governor Quinn has implemented standards that will require 25 percent of the state’s energy needs to be met by renewable energy by 2025, six percent of which must come from solar power.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Clean Energy Program builds upon Illinois’ significant potential for renewable power by offering services and incentives for residents and businesses. More than 1,700 clean energy rebates and grants have been awarded for solar, wind, biomass and biogas installations in Illinois. These $24 million in incentives have supported $100 million in solar project installations. There are 185 companies in the solar supply chain in Illinois that employ 1,700 workers. In Chicago, 45 companies focus on solar energy research and development, investment, installation and related professional services.

More than $27 million was invested in solar electric installations in Illinois in 2012, a 259 percent increase over the previous year. Average prices for residential and commercial solar systems in Illinois have fallen by 26 percent from 2011 to 2012 and the state’s solar capacity is currently enough to power 6,200 households.

Illinois’ focus on developing clean energy creates jobs, improves the environment, saves natural resources and increases the nation’s energy independence.

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"Fueling our Future": New biofuels program will expand E-30 and biodiesel availability, usage throughout Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Monday, 14 October 2013 13:06

(DES MOINES) - Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, agriculture Sec. Bill Northey and DOT Director Paul Trombino today announced a new biofuels pilot program called “Fueling Our Future,” a public-private partnership that aims to assist in expanding the market for mid-level biofuels blends, building on Iowa’s history as a leader in ethanol and biodiesel development and production.

Through the use of current funding, this initiative will redirect federal funds to further leverage state dollars in the existing renewable fuel infrastructure program, establishing more blender pumps containing E-30 and biodiesel at gas retailers around the state.

“This pilot program will provide Iowans with additional access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, which will help our farmers, communities and economy in producing, processing and profiting locally,” said Branstad.

Iowa State University will work closely on this initiative to evaluate consumer perceptions and the impact of increased assess to mid-level biofuels blending options, including impacts on improved air quality.

“Iowa’s success in biofuels is due to our abundant natural resources, the hard work that goes into its production, and the choice that consumers make in supporting locally-produced and renewable biofuels,” said Reynolds. “I look forward to the installation of these new mid-level blender pumps at locations around Iowa next spring and am hopeful that neighboring states will take a similar approach.”

The Fueling Our Future program will be supported by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Transportation, Iowa State University and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board.

“This initiative is a great example of coordination and collaboration between the DOT and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship,” said Trombino. “Better leveraging resources from a variety of stakeholders in this public-private partnership will help increase market access to biofuels for Iowa consumers and further diversify our energy portfolio.”

Northey highlighted the value-added component.

“Iowa has a robust biofuels industry that is an important value-add to our state’s agricultural sector,” said Northey. “Bolstering biofuels infrastructure will help Iowa consumers and farmers through increased access to these renewable fuels that are produced right here in Iowa.”

More information on the program can be found at: www.iowaagriculture.gov/agMarketing/IRFIP.asp

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The Energy Professionals Association Conference to Address Energy Market Challenges, Opportunities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Aaron Cook   
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 12:54

DALLAS – Oct 2, 2013 – The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA), a non-profit organization 501 (c)(6) committed to upholding the integrity of the deregulated retail energy market, has announced that it will host its annual conference on November 13-14, 2013, at the Hotel ZaZa - Dallas.  More than 300 of the nation’s top brokers, providers, executives, thought-leaders and policymakers will attend the conference to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the energy procurement industry.

“Our annual conference plays an important role in the health of the retail energy market,” said Michael Harris, president of TEPA. “Energy procurement is continually evolving based on a host of market variables.  Our TEPA conference creates a critical common ground for energy providers and brokers to meet and identify the challenges and opportunities that will make working with REPs easier for consumers.   Part of the conference will include the presentation of important research related to the availability, reliability, sustainability and profitability of the market.”

The 2013 conference will feature presentations by recognized experts from the Texas legislature, private energy sector, leading brokers and representatives from the retail energy sector.  This year’s conference will also introduce a new breakout session, “Energy 101” for new brokers.  This breakout session will help new brokers understand how the energy market functions, as well as the importance of following ethical standards when representing buyers and providers during an energy procurement deal.

“This year TEPA has taken its first steps to become a national organization,” said Harris.  “In August, we met with brokers and providers in the Northeast to introduce them to TEPA.  As a result, we’ve created our first national chapter outside of Texas.  The new Northeast TEPA Board will be announced during our annual conference.”

The 2012 conference will feature exciting social events in addition to hosting some of the industry’s most dynamic speakers. Registration is $300-$350 per person; group rates may apply. Those interested in attending can register online by clicking the link. More information about the 2013 annual TEPA Conference can be found at www.tepaUSA.org.

The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA) is a 501 (c)(6) organization that establishes a standardized code of conduct, serves as an educational resource and advocates legislative initiatives for the Texas deregulated energy market. TEPA members include Aggregators, Brokers, and Consultants (ABCs), Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) and affiliate members. TEPA members exhibit expertise, ethical practices and a high level of professionalism to help consumers buy electricity in the restructured Texas marketplace. For more information contact Aaron Cook at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

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