Science & Technology
Loebsack continues fight to renew job-creating wind energy credit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 04 April 2014 14:01

Two weeks ago, Congressman Loebsack joined with Rep. Steve King to lead 118 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives in calling for the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. Earlier this week, he joined Sens. Grassley and Udall and Rep. King in authoring an op-ed entitled “Don't Pull the Plug: Wind Energy Empowers America” to continue to call attention to the need to extend the PTC, which will provide the needed stability for the wind energy industry.

Loebsack has been a longtime proponent of the wind energy industry, including being named a USA Wind Champion by the American Wind Energy Association for his ongoing support of wind energy in Iowa and his work to extend the PTC. He has visited wind energy plants across Iowa to see firsthand the need for stability that an extension of the PTC would provide and has repeatedly urged the House and Senate leadership to protect these good Iowa jobs. 

A copy of the op-ed follows.

Don't Pull the Plug: Wind Energy Empowers America  

By Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Steve King & Rep. Dave Loebsack  

April 1, 2014

Momentum is building to extend expired tax provisions that lapsed Dec. 31. Of the 55 expired tax breaks on the table, wind energy incentives are among those left hanging. The industry faces instability and uncertainty caused by the expiration of the investment and production tax credits.  

We're working to build bipartisan, bicameral and regional alliances to secure a victory for America's 21st century clean energy policy. So far, 144 lawmakers have stood with us and hard-working families in our effort to support onshore and offshore wind energy developments in the tax extenders package.  

Specifically, we are pressing leaders in the House and Senate to prioritize extensions of the job-creating investment and production tax credits for wind energy. This federal tax policy has helped to launch a carbon-free energy source and diversify America's portfolio of homegrown, alternative sources of energy. The tax credits have helped to support 85,000 U.S. jobs; trigger $105 billion in private sector investment; reduce the carbon footprint by displacing carbon-emitting energy with clean generation wind energy (U.S. wind power capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts avoids 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road); and, harness an inexhaustible source of affordable, domestic electricity for consumers. 

   

Opponents of wind energy tax incentives argue the industry doesn't need any government support, yet there are plenty of tax policies for various industries that have been on the books for decades longer than those for wind. If one measure is on the table for potential removal, all of them should be on the table. Everything deserves consideration on its merits, and wind energy stands up to scrutiny.  

   

Technology, tax incentives and private investment work to strengthen the renewable energy sector's position in the free marketplace and power America's carbon-free energy policies forward. Consider that 72 percent of a wind turbine's value today is made in the United States, compared to 25 percent in 2005. Over the past few decades, wind energy in the United States has changed the economic and energy landscape with nearly 900 utility-scale wind projects on the nation's electricity grid and more than 550 wind-related manufacturing facilities.  

 

Wind farms and/or factories have cropped up in all 50 states, putting people to work in good-paying jobs, diversifying farm and ranch income with an organic, drought- and weed-resistant cash crop, revitalizing rural communities and creating pollution-free electricity for millions of homes and businesses across the country.

Under one estimate, if the United States reaches 20 percent of wind-generated electricity, carbon emissions by the electricity sector would fall by up to 25 percent. That's the equivalent of taking 140 million vehicles off the road. In fact, at 27.4 percent, Iowa leads the nation, powering the equivalent of 1.3 million homes - Colorado is not far behind, powering roughly a million homes.

Critics looking for additional proof that wind energy tax incentives make good policy and good politics need to consider that wind energy is good for consumers, constituents and taxpayers. Wind energy projects operate in 70 percent of congressional districts. They require no oil spill liability fund to clean up environmental disasters. The U.S. taxpayer doesn't have to pay for catastrophic insurance as with nuclear power.

But despite its successes in the last two decades, the still-emerging wind industry is working to rebound after setbacks from the uncertainty of expiring tax policy. It suffered 4,500 job losses in 2012 within its manufacturing sector as orders and investment dwindled. Investment dropped from $25 billion to $2 billion.

And this debate is not taking place within a vacuum. A failure to renew wind energy tax credits not only jeopardizes U.S. manufacturing and our pursuit of energy security, but it also threatens U.S. leadership in the global energy race. If Congress pulls the rug out from under wind energy firms, other places like China are more than willing to step into the breach.

The United States can't afford to pull the plug on wind energy tax incentives that foster responsible environmental stewardship, encourage entrepreneurs to innovate clean-energy technologies and investors to finance the job-creating infrastructure that delivers clean electricity to America's homes and businesses.

Grassley is a Republican from Iowa. Udall is a Democrat from Colorado. King is a Republican from Iowa. Loebsack is a Democrat from Iowa.

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Loebsack, King Lead 118 Bipartisan Members in Calling for Extension of Wind Energy Credit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Monday, 24 March 2014 07:26

Production Tax Credit for wind energy expired at the end of 2013

Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Steve King (IA-04) today led a bipartisan group of 118 Representatives in calling on the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, to bring up legislation to extend the current Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy, as well as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Loebsack and King have both been strong supporters of the wind energy industry and have fought to renew the PTC. Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Mark Udall (CO) led a similar bipartisan letter signed by 26 Senators to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“We are writing on behalf of the 80,000 Americans employed by the U.S. wind industry – representing jobs in all fifty states – to ask that you promptly extend the current law Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC),” the Members wrote. “Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long term project decisions and investments can be made. Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created.  We urge Congress to pass an extension of the PTC and ITC under current law as soon as possible to avoid further layoffs and divestment.”

A copy of the full letter can be found here.

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Cloud Voice Makes Small Companies Look Like Big Business Midland Communications Shares the Power of the Cloud with Customers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Aj Odish   
Friday, 21 March 2014 15:32
DAVENPORT, IA - February 28th, 2014 - Small businesses have been drawn to VoIP technology because of the substantial cost savings they gain when making the switch. However, as VoIP has continued to evolve over the years and moved into the "cloud", small businesses have begun to leverage VoIP in new ways to gain competitive advantages in their respective industries. The growth of virtual companies and remote workforces has brought everyone to the same playing field and customers across every industry are looking to work with credible, prestigious, large companies. Here are some ways in which cloud voice can make your business look bigger than it is today.

Your Office Just Got a Receptionist You Don't Have to Pay For  - Cloud based phone systems today include features that completely eliminate the need for a receptionist. Systems can be configured in order to route calls directly to the intended employee via a unified auto-attendant. Also, if your office doesn't have a receptionist, systems can distribute incoming calls among specific groups. This goes beyond simply sending sales calls to salespeople and admin calls to support employees. For example, you can use Caller ID to send specific accounts directly to the CEO's cell phone. Or if none of the salespeople answer an incoming call, it goes to the Sales Manager's cell phone.

Unlimited Locations, 1 Office Number - With the rampant growth of startups and virtual companies, many businesses need to have a communications system that supports both in-house and remote workers while maintaining a professional image across the board. With cloud voice, calls to the main office can be sent out anywhere simply by asking the customer to dial an extension, just like how large corporations are doing.

Seamless Conference Calls and Lightning-Fast Voicemails - Conference calls or online meetings are often a source of frustration for most companies. This is due largely to the tendency to bolt-on collaboration tools in the hopes that things will work smoothly during the meeting. However, they rarely ever do. Cloud voice solutions enable businesses to host conferences during meetings so you can be "face-to-face" even when you can't be in the same location. Furthermore, all technology is hosted through a single solution so when it's time to host a meeting, businesses can rest assured that the technology will perform as promised. Another way in which cloud voice accelerates collaboration is through its ability to convert voicemails into MP3 files, which can be sent as email attachments. Additionally, voice calls can be converted to text and vice versa for easier retrieval and communication.

Collaborate on the Fly. - Today's employees need to be constantly connected. Collaboration can't always be planned out in advance and when a good idea strikes, everyone needs to be in the loop. Cloud technology has made it easy for employees to see from their desktop what their co-workers are doing and how to best access them (e.g. instant message, voice, or email) so communication can happen immediately.

There are many advantages to moving a company's using cloud voice. For small business, the rewards are plentiful because they can utilize the same technology as large enterprises for a fraction of the cost and make them look just as big.

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS

Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.

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Governor Quinn Announces Illinois is First in the Nation in Renewable Energy Use PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:41

New Report says 91 Illinois Communities Have Achieved 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that a new report has found Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity. The report shows 91 Illinois communities have achieved 100 percent renewable electricity, far more than any other state. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“Renewable energy benefits everyone, from energy customers to Illinois farmers to anyone who breathes our air,” Governor Quinn said. “This new study confirms that people around the world can look to Illinois as an example of what can be done with renewable energy.”

The report was released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association and George Washington University Solar Institute.

"This report shows the strong public demand for renewable energy across Illinois, and the potential for solar energy and wind power to drive sustainable development in communities from Carbondale to Evanston," Howard A. Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center said.

The 91 communities that have transitioned to 100 percent renewable electricity represent more than 1.7 million individuals. According to the report, demand for renewable energy from the state is more than six terawatt hours, a reduction in greenhouse gas comparable to taking more than one million cars off the road.

A 2009 Illinois law allows communities to buy their own electricity and more than 600 have done so, including the 91 who buy renewable energy directly or buy credits to help fund renewable energy development. Renewable energy includes such sources as solar, wind and biofuels.

The 91 Illinois communities that use 100 percent renewable electricity are Alton, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Bartonville, Beecher, Bethalto, Bolingbrook, Braidwood, Brimfield, Buffalo Grove, Carbondale, Cary, Champaign County, Channahon, Charleston, Coal City, Columbia, Crete, Creve Coeur, Decatur, Deer Creek, Dunlap, East Peoria, Easton, Edwardsville, Elwood, Evanston, Forest City, Frankfort, Glen Carbon, Glendale Heights, Godfrey, Granite City, Hanna City, Hartford, Havana, Henry, Homer Glen, Hopewell, Jacksonville, Kenilworth, Kilbourne, Lake Forest, Lemont, Lisle, Mackinaw, Manito, Marion, Marquette Heights, Marshall County, Mason County, McLean, Monticello, Morton, Normal, Norridge, North Pekin, Oak Park, Paris, Park Forest, Pekin, Peoria, Peoria County, Peoria Heights, Peotone, Plainfield, Riverside, Roanoke, Rockdale, Rolling Meadows, Romeoville, Roxana, San Jose, Shorewood, South Barrington, South Pekin, South Roxana, Sparland, Stanford, Stark County, Tazewell County, Toluca, Topeka, Urbana, Warrenville, Washburn, Washington, West Frankfort, West Peoria, Westmont and Woodridge.

To view the full report, visit gocleangolocal.org/illinoisreport/.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Illinois is fifth in the nation for the generation of electricity from wind power with more than seven million megawatt-hours in 2012. According to a study by the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, the state’s 23 largest wind farms created approximately 19,047 full-time equivalent jobs and supported approximately 814 permanent jobs in rural Illinois.

The Quinn administration has taken the lead in the use of renewable fuels, converting much of the state’s vehicle fleet to Flex Fuel Vehicles and providing incentives for retailers to dispense biofuels. The state also offers an Alternative Fuel Vehicle rebate program, providing rebates for nearly 12,500 vehicle purchases since the program began in 1999.

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Which Social Media Platforms are Right for You? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 17:02
By: Marsha Friedman

If you want to be visible in today’s marketplace, you absolutely must have a presence on social media.

But there are so many from which to choose nowadays! In addition to the biggies like Facebook and Twitter, we have lots of newcomers, including Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Additionally, some of the older platforms have undergone major changes in recent months, which affect how effective they are for different functions.

How to know which platforms will best meet your needs?

I asked Alex Hinojosa, our vice president for media operations at EMSI Public Relations, to share some tips for helping you decide.

First, he says, if you plan to handle your social media marketing yourself, try different platforms and use ones with features you enjoy. That will help ensure you stick with it, and may lead you to create inspired content that’s more likely to be shared.

Be on at least two platforms, he says. (If one’s mostly personal stuff for family and friends, it doesn’t count!)

Here’s Alex’s rundown on the advantages and disadvantages of the four most popular platforms:

• Facebook: This works best if you’re an individual interacting on a personal level, as opposed to a business. Artists, authors, public speakers and certain other professionals may benefit from having potential customers get to know them on a more personal basis.

A downside to Facebook is that, in an effort to make money for shareholders, it has begun requiring users to pay for the potentially unlimited visibility that used to be free.

• Twitter: Posts are limited to 140 characters – about the length of a headline – and can include a photo or link to a website. This is a great network for getting to know people without sharing a lot of personal information. Plus, you can follow whomever you want, and anyone can follow you.

“It allows you to easily connect with prospects and potential associates, so it’s great for businesses,” Alex says. “People use it primarily as a source of news, which makes it easy to interact with people you don’t know – you have something to talk about.”

Twitter is now aggressively cleaning house of “robot” followers – dummy accounts sold for cheap that make it look like the buyer has a huge following. Even if you don’t buy robots, you may end up with some as followers.

“Don’t buy followers and delete any of your followers that don’t appear real. Twitter limits how many followers you can have, so you don’t want to waste them on ‘bots,” Alex says.

• LinkedIn: The social network for professionals is a good place to find and meet people within and outside your industry. People can easily see your credentials and endorse your skills. The background information on your profile page – where you went to school, other companies you’ve been associated with – provides great fodder for finding common ground with strangers and building relationships.

• Google+: The Google search engine favors anything posted on Google+, which is great for SEO. It also combines the best features of Facebook and Twitter, including photo sharing and categorizing content using hashtags (#).

“Right now, Google+ can be anything you want it to be,” Alex says. “It’s still new, just more than 2 years old, so it’s still defining itself. I think it will be the next social networking giant.”

As Alex suggests, if you plan to handle your social media marketing yourself, take into consideration the modes of networking that you enjoy along with the best platforms to meet your needs.

If you have limited experience in social media, jump into the platforms that seem to best align with your goals. You’ll have a learning curve, but a little practice goes a long way. And you’ll soon wonder why you didn’t get more involved a long time ago!

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 24-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to businesses, professional firms, entertainers and authors. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, The PR Insider. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman.

 
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