Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Role of Forest Carbon in Emerging Ecomarkets Will be Significant, Says Environmental Economist Ricardo Bayon

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Forest carbon will play a significant role in emerging environmental markets designed to address climate change, despite the reluctance of some countries to accept forest carbon offsets, predicted environmental economics expert Ricardo Bayon at a seminar for forestry professionals representing all facets of the industry.

“Forest carbon has been ostracized by the world’s largest carbon markets – those in the European Union,” said Bayon, co-founder and partner of merchant bank EKO Asset Management Partners, which invests in new and emerging markets for such environmental commodities as carbon, water and biodiversity. “But that will change.”

U.S. carbon markets, which have been slower to emerge than those in the EU, have, however, embraced forestry, he said, noting that several states already have developed emissions cap-and-trade systems that rely on land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) projects to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“California is a bellwether,” said Bayon, speaking at ImageTree Corporation’s headquarters and live via the Web at the third and last event of this year’s ImageTree Idea Leadership Series. “Not only is forestry not the ugly duckling in California; but, in fact, it also is currently the preferred carbon-offset mechanism, largely because other offsetting methodologies are still being approved, and I expect other states to follow California’s lead in developing forestry carbon projects,” he said.

“Carbon markets have gained popularity around the globe as natural resources have become less plentiful and, therefore, more valuable,” continued Bayon. “Because we don’t pay for natural resources, we use too much and there’s no money to invest in maintenance; but this will change and world markets will decide the value of ecosystem services.”

Bayon added that the markets are also likely to compensate countries for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), as the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in industrialized countries, draws to a close in three years. “REDD is firming up as part of the international compliance carbon market agenda,” he said.

The major sticking points with REDD, Bayon said, are additionality (where planned carbon reductions would not have occurred without the additional incentive provided by emission reduction credits) and leakage (where there’s an increase in emissions in one area as another area introduces a strict emissions policy).

Countries can address the latter “by measuring forests at the national level, thereby minimizing intracountry leakage, and/or by using technology, such as remote sensing,” he said. “The future of REDD is tricky and politically risky, but it’s hopeful.”

In addition to such regional markets as those in California, and the U.S. Northeast, Bayon said he believes that the United States will approve a national cap-and-trade system. Early Senate legislation has been vetoed, he explained, but the House is considering the Dingell-Boucher climate change bill, designed to cap greenhouse gases and reduce emissions by some 80 percent by 2050.

A founder and former managing director of Ecosystem Marketplace, Bayon said that inherent in any cap-and-trade system that includes forestry is the need for independent mechanisms to measure and monitor carbon.

Bayon has co-authored a number of publications on environmental economics, including “The State of Voluntary Carbon Markets 2007: Picking up Steam,” “Voluntary Carbon Markets: An International Business Guide to What They Are and How They Work,” and, most recently, “Conservation and Biodiversity Banking: A Guide to Setting Up and Running Biodiversity Credit Trading Systems.” He also is a member of ImageTree’s advisory board.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Grassroots to Hold Obama to Clean Energy Promises: 67 Groups in 28 States Urge President-Elect to Act Now

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Barack Obama campaigned on the need to create a clean-energy economy in the United States. Today, 67 grassroots organizations in 28 states sent a letter to the President-Elect to let him know that they intend to support the goal of clean energy, underscoring that this does not include taxpayer investment of so-called "clean coal" technology or unsafe nuclear power.

The joint letter organized by theCLEAN.org (http://www.theclean.org/) and the Civil Society Institute outlined 10 needed steps for short-term economic stimulus/job creation and additional movement to a clean-energy economy. The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute think tank is an action-oriented research and community organizing center based in Massachusetts. CSI is a convener of a collaboration of grassroots organizations around the U.S. that are organized as TheClean.org.

The joint letter states: "We write to support your stated goals to invest in clean energy and to lead the country toward a new energy economy that will address global warming, stimulate near- and long-term economic prosperity and help ensure our national security. As you made clear in your Presidential campaign, and in statements since, a strong economy for the United States is dependent on energy efficiency, investment in clean, renewable energy technologies, investment in new energy infrastructure, and training of our workforce to transit from old energy technologies to new technologies. The benefits to the United States are clear. For every $1 million spent on clean energy 18 jobs will be created as opposed to the 7.5 jobs created per million dollars on old energy technologies ..."

The 10 steps outlined by the 67 grassroots organizations are as follows:

-- Direct the Department of Energy to build a robust EHV transmission system to provide capacity to transfer power (including wind) from one region in the United States to another;

-- Support $45 billion in immediate direct government spending for public building retrofits, expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart grid systems;

-- Encourage homeowner use of renewable energy technologies by enacting a tax credit of $7500 for the installation and/or use of energy efficiency saving devices such as solar heating, windmills and PV to generate electricity;

-- Support $500 billion in investment in renewable energy over a 10-year period, including transiting to a new digital electricity grid;

-- Support the enactment of a renewable electricity standard of 30% by 2020, 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050;

-- Support the extension of the production tax credit for wind projects for 10 years;

-- Support an economy-wide cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and auction carbon allowances to finance a transition to a clean energy economy, making the funds available for investment and infrastructure costs;

-- Support the enactment of domestic incentives that reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers when they plant trees, restore grasslands or undertake farming practices that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere;

-- Support tax credits for cars using hybrid and clean diesel technologies graded on miles per gallon efficiencies. $1500 and $3000 tax credits respectively established for cars obtaining 30 and 40 miles per gallon; and

-- Enact a moratorium on building nuclear power plants and coal fired plants in order to transit to a clean, energy efficient economy while at the same time phase in renewable and energy efficiency technologies that eliminate fossil fuel usage and nuclear power by 2050.

Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: "We see the agenda outlined in our letter as relevant to both short-term policies that should be part of an economic stimulus that can also build toward a new, clean energy economy. CLEAN is determined to advance the public education and involvement on these issues from the grassroots up! It is our firm conviction that it will take a concerted and coordinated grassroots mobilization to realize the serious changes being proposed by the President. While there are numerous national groups weighing in on the policy direction of the Obama Administration, very few look at what is possible from outside the Beltway. In this letter, we offer our support for the needed bold steps and the assurance of the kind of grassroots pressure that will make it possible for these steps to become the policy of the nation."

Solo noted that The Civil Society Institute has sponsored pioneering work on how near-term transitional steps for moving the U.S. toward a new energy economy. These 11 related reports can be found at http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/csiresearch.cfm. In May 2008, CSI sponsored a report by ACEEE on the economic/job-creation benefits of energy efficiency titled "The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture" (#E083).

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'The 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy': 2008-09 Rankings Published by Biofuels Digest

/PRNewswire/ -- Cellulosic ethanol pioneer Coskata took the #1 spot in the "50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy" rankings for 2008-09, published today in Biofuels Digest, the online daily bioenergy news service. The list recognizes innovation and achievement in bioenergy development.

Sapphire Energy, Virent Energy Systems, POET, Range Fuels, Solazyme, Amyris Technologies, Mascoma, DuPont Danisco and UOP also were ranked in the top ten.

Among the top 50, 17 are active in cellulosic ethanol development, nine are developing algae-to-energy systems, and nine are producing other advanced biofuels or waste-to-energy technologies. The companies range from start-ups, funded by venture capital and corporate investors, to new divisions of established companies such as DuPont, Genencor, and Honeywell.

Rankings were established by a Biofuels Digest panel, and reflected the importance of research or production achievements recorded by each company in 2008. Votes were weighted by industry and region to ensure a fair and broad representation of companies and technologies.

"Innovation in renewable energy is gaining speed," said Jim Lane, editor and publisher of Biofuels Digest. "A slew of advanced bioenergy systems are coming to market from some of the brightest biologists, chemists, agronomists and engineers in the world. These companies are the hottest of the hot."

Biofuels Digest is the world's most widely read biofuels daily. The Miami, FL-based free online magazine and email newsletter published more than 3,000 news stories on bioenergy in 2008, and serves more than 15,000 daily readers in 195 countries with bioenergy production, research, policy and financial news.

The Hottest 50 Companies in Bioenergy

1. Coskata
2. Sapphire Energy
3. Virent Energy Systems
5. Range Fuels
6. Solazyme
7. Amyris Biotechnologies
8. Mascoma
9. DuPont Danisco
10. UOP
11. ZeaChem
12. Aquaflow Bionomic
13. Bluefire Ethanol
14. Novozymes
15. Qteros
16. Petrobras
17. Cobalt Biofuels
18. Iogen
19. Synthetic Genomics
20. Abengoa Energy
21. KL Energy
23. GreenFuel
24. Vital Renewable Energy
25. LS9
26. Raven Biofuels
27. Gevo
28. St.1 Biofuels Oy
29. Primafuel
30. Taurus Energy
31. Ceres
32. Syngenta
33. Aurora Biofuels
34. Bionavitas
35. Algenol
36. Verenium
37. Simply Green
38. Carbon Green
40. Osage Bioenergy
41. Dynamotive
42. Sustainable Power
43. ETH Bioenergia
44. Choren
45. Origin Oil
46. Propel Fuels
47. GEM Biofuels
48. Lake Erie Biofuels
49. Cavitation Technologies
50. Lotus/Jaguar - Omnivore

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Isakson Signs Pledge to Break Addiction to Foreign Oil

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today signed T. Boone Pickens’ energy independence pledge, joining the oil and gas developer in his campaign to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“America is spending billions of dollars every month on foreign oil, money that we need to be putting into our own economy right now,” Isakson said. “It is imperative that the new Congress move quickly to enact an energy plan and I am committed to making sure that happens. This is an economic issue and it’s also a national security issue.”

“Right now America is importing 70 percent of its oil -- Senator Isakson understands the threat this has on our economy and national security,” said Pickens, who has been in the oil industry for 50 years. “America can no longer afford to move forward without a plan that addresses our dependence on foreign oil. I am proud to have Senator Isakson’s support and leadership as we push Congress to enact an energy plan within the first 100 days of the new administration.”

Today’s announcement is another step in Isakson’s commitment to energy independence. Isakson previously joined a coalition that called for a comprehensive approach that includes increased domestic production of oil through offshore drilling, a commitment to nuclear energy, conservation, and a focused effort to transition the nation’s motor vehicle fleets to fuels other than gasoline and diesel.

Isakson has also co-sponsored the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008, which would allow states the option to explore oil and gas resources in the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf, repeal the moratorium on Western state oil shale exploration, increase research and development for plug-in electric cars and trucks and strengthen U.S. futures markets through increased transparency.

Isakson is a co-sponsor of the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008 that aims to lower the cost of energy and enhance U.S. energy security by increasing domestic supply. He has also voted numerous times to explore oil reserved in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“We have a diverse country with many assets that regionally are very different. If we’re going to have standards that call on us to find renewable energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must promote all those sources and not narrow those sources,” said Isakson.

The Pickens Pledge reads:
We will no longer stand by and watch as America’s national security and economy
become more dependent on the unstable foreign nations that we rely on for nearly
70% of the oil we use each day.

We spend nearly $700 billion every
year buying foreign oil, which represents the greatest transfer of wealth in the
history of mankind.

The new President and the 111th Congress need
to enact an energy plan that reduces our foreign oil dependence by at least 30%
within ten years.

This plan must include proven American technology
and resources; the development of new energy sources; and the expansion and
modernization of the national electrical grid to transport renewable energy to
homes and businesses.

Delaying any further means tacit support for
continuing America’s addiction to foreign oil.

I join with T. Boone
Pickens and his army of supporters in calling for an Energy Independence Plan to
be enacted within the first 100 days of the new administration.

Unveiled on July 8, 2008 by T. Boone Pickens, the Pickens Plan is a detailed solution for ending the United States’ growing dependence on foreign oil. Earlier this year, when oil prices reached $140/barrel, America was spending about $700 billion for foreign oil, equaling the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. That figure has decreased some while oil prices have retreated, but the U.S. is still dependent on foreign nations for nearly 70 percent of its oil, representing a continuing national economic and national security threat. The plan calls for investing in power generation from domestic renewable resources such as wind and using our abundant supplies of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing more than one-third of our imported oil.

For more information on the Pickens Plan, please visit www.pickensplan.com.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Energy, Environmental Groups Urge Quick Action by Congress to Use Energy Efficiency Programs to Stimulate Economy, Create Green Jobs

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a new administration transitions into the White House and Congress gears up to move an economic recovery package early next year, energy and environmental groups today issued a set of recommendations to boost the nation's energy efficiency, create green jobs, and save energy and money. The groups urged Congress to incorporate many of the proposals into legislation to be considered in early 2009.

The Alliance to Save Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Energy Future Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council released proposals ranging from low-income home weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits for homes and commercial and government buildings, to strengthened national model building energy codes, enhanced product efficiency standards and energy efficiency investments by utilities. In addition to federal funds for job-creating efficiency programs, the groups asked Congress to fund the authorized Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program to help states further reduce their total energy use, reduce emissions related to fossil fuel use, and improve energy efficiency across all sectors.

Significantly, the groups urged Congress to make the program's funding contingent upon state adoption of more stringent building code requirements and major changes to utility regulation that create long-term incentives to encourage major investments in energy efficiency. Without making such long-term changes, the benefits of federal funding under the block grant program likely would not be as sustainable, the organizations said.

"Today, the United States is the largest energy user and is the most energy inefficient economy of all developed countries," noted Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan, who continued: "An economic recovery bill that includes significant investments in energy efficiency will not only create jobs immediately, but also and more importantly will bring American ingenuity and its 'can-do' spirit to a new, clean and sustainable energy future -- one in which the U.S. becomes one of the most energy efficient economies in the world."

"With electricity demand projected to grow 30 percent over the next two decades and with utilities facing rising costs across the board, enhanced energy efficiency programs are critical to helping consumers manage their electricity costs," said EEI President Tom Kuhn. "For this to happen, state regulators must go beyond simply removing disincentives to greater efficiency gains by utilities. Instead, they must create regulations that allow utilities to earn a rate of return on new efficiency investments, comparable to what they would earn on a new power plant, for example."

Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, commented, "Most utilities make more money by selling more energy than they do by saving it. Flipping that incentive structure is the key to unlocking greater national investment in energy efficiency. Right now, the nation's building trades have been knocked flat on their backs by the economic downturn. Retrofitting America's buildings for energy efficiency can put them back to work immediately and deliver needed energy savings to consumers."

"Any serious approach to moving America toward clean energy and tackling our climate crisis must include energy efficiency as one of the key elements," said Peter Lehner, executive director of NRDC. "Energy efficiency is the fastest and most cost-effective way to decrease global warming pollution. Significant investments to increase energy efficiency in people's homes and businesses will help repower America with clean energy, save consumers millions of dollars, and create new jobs to restart our economy."

President-elect Obama and congressional advocates have indicated a clear desire to take up legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The groups emphasized that energy efficiency should be a key element of any federal response to climate concerns. "Energy efficiency programs offer both immediate and long-term benefits by creating green jobs, helping to mitigate rising energy costs and reducing emissions related to global warming," they said. "We hope Congress will move quickly on these critical issues."

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Pelosi Statement on First Anniversary of Enactment of Historic Energy Bill

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the first anniversary of the enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act, the historic 2007 energy bill:

"The Energy Independence and Security Act's enactment marked a critical turning point in our nation's energy and environmental policy. By committing America to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, increasing the energy efficiency of everything from our cars and trucks to our appliances and buildings, and making an historic new commitment to homegrown biofuels, this legislation is making our nation more secure, encouraging the creation of new, energy-saving jobs, and helping to combat global warming.

"By breaking free of the failed energy policies of the past, the New Direction Congress embraced a clean, renewable and energy independent future for America with the Energy Independence and Security Act. We look forward to building on these achievements next year with an economic recovery package that will invest in green infrastructure, and the science behind it, to create the clean energy jobs that will provide a stronger economy for the future."

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Green Power EMC's Renewable Energy Agreement Generates Jobs and Electricity

/PRNewswire/ -- Green Power EMC (GPEMC), a partnership of 38 electric membership corporations (EMCs) in Georgia, today announced plans to purchase 17 MW of biomass energy from Multitrade Rabun Gap (MRG), LLC.

The Rabun Gap project will use woody waste as the primary fuel in a conventional boiler for the generation of steam to power a steam turbine electric generator.

The power purchase agreement is part of Green Power EMC's mission to research and deliver renewable energy options from Georgia resources such as biomass, solar, wind and low-impact hydro.

This project is unusual in that it involves several "renewable" resources. The biomass facility will be sited in an already existing power plant in an idled Fruit of the Loom manufacturing facility located in Rabun Gap, Ga. The textile company closed in 2006 resulting in the loss of 900 jobs and a dramatic effect on the economy of the small mountain town, located near the North Carolina border. Putting the power plant back into service creates approximately 20 jobs for people to operate the plant and an additional 75 jobs for people needed to gather and transport biomass to the facility.

"The Rabun Gap project is an example of what we can accomplish when we take a fresh look at our renewable resources and ask 'what are the possibilities?'" says Michael Whiteside, president/CEO of GPEMC. "We will be generating 17 MW of cleaner, greener energy, which on its own has tremendous merit. But when you add the refurbishing of an abandoned plant into a useful facility and the revitalization of a small town economy, the value of this project becomes untold."

MRG, an affiliate of Multitrade Biomass Holdings in Ridgeway, Va., is a special purpose entity formed to construct and operate the 17 MW capacity wood-fueled biomass facility. Multitrade has been active since 1982 in developing alternate energy projects including one of the largest wood-fueled facilities in the world located near Hurt, Va.

The Rabun Gap facility has a significant amount of existing equipment on site, including the boiler, which was previously used to supply steam and electricity to the Fruit of the Loom manufacturing operation. MRG will use native renewable fuel from the local forest industry. When complete, the $21.5 million facility will generate enough energy to meet the needs of approximately 10,000 homes. The plant is expected to become operational by August 2009.

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OPEC Attempts Shock Therapy for Declining Demand: Abraham Energy Report

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Abraham Energy Report today issued a special analysis to subscribers of OPEC's decision Wednesday to cut production by 4.2 million barrels per day.

A special Web-only bulletin from the Abraham Energy Report (AbrahamEnergyReport.com) advises subscribers that "the cut is the largest the organization has attempted at one time in its history to date" and that the "agreement was swift with little apparent dissention."

The recent collapse in oil prices by almost $100 per barrel is a symptom of the slowing economy. "Global oil demand is now certain to shrink in 2008 for the first time in 25 years, and a consensus is developing around the notion that demand will fall next year as well," the Report said.

The Report also noted OPEC had to take action. "After some months of relative inaction, OPEC now appears to be racing ahead once again in an attempt to catch up with a declining market. But bringing supply and demand into better balance next year will still prove to be tricky, especially in the first half of 2009 when demand could be its weakest. In addition to the uncertain global economic outlook, the big wild cards in this deck now appear to be the size of the growing inventory overhang, the degree of OPEC compliance with the agreed cuts, and the uncertain outlook for non-OPEC supplies."

The Report also discussed the question of compliance by OPEC members. "If the latest round of cuts succeeds in shocking the market and nudging prices upward, revenues will improve and possibly make compliance an easier pill to swallow. On the other hand, higher prices could prove to be a strong temptation to produce more, and lead to quota busting. This will be especially true for Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria and Ecuador, as well as Russia, who are all facing difficult political choices at home.

"As a result, it's possible that we could see a considerable amount of seesawing in prices and OPEC output over the course of next year. OPEC also has to be wary of the world's fragile economic condition. Some in OPEC view the drop in oil prices as their contribution to economic recovery, and some may be better prepared and able to live with relatively low prices for a year or two.

"OPEC may have some limited success in preventing prices from falling much further, but it seems doubtful that they will succeed in raising prices to $75 per barrel anytime soon. Sustained higher prices may only be possible when the global economy shows definite signs of recovery and renewed growth," the Report concludes.

The Abraham Energy Report's analysis by Contributing Editor John Brodman is available on its Web site at AbrahamEnergyReport.com.

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Marilyn Brown Briefs Policymakers on Solar Energy

Public Policy Professor Marilyn Brown spoke Monday to a luncheon briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., about solar power. Brown, a professor in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, was one of three guests invited to give their views on the current state of solar technology, the probable future of these devices and potential barriers to implementing them.

The luncheon was hosted by the American Chemical Society’s Science and the Congress Project and was co-hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX). Julia Hamm of the Solar Electric Power Association and Nate Lewis of the California Institute of Technology also spoke to the gathering.

Brown is one of Georgia Tech’s most sought after experts on energy policy. In addition to informing national leaders about energy policy, she is also the author of Georgia Tech’s quarterly energy sustainability index, the EnergyBuzz (www.gatech.edu/energybuzz).

She joined Georgia Tech in 2006 after a distinguished career at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. There she held various leadership positions and led several major energy technology and policy scenario studies. Recognizing her stature as a national leader in the analysis and interpretation of energy futures in the United States, Brown remains affiliated with ORNL as a Visiting Distinguished Scientist.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ExxonMobil to Invest over $1 Billion to Increase Cleaner Diesel Supply

(BUSINESS WIRE)--ExxonMobil Refining & Supply today announced it will invest more than $1 billion in three refineries to increase the supply of cleaner burning diesel by about six million gallons per day. The company will construct new units and modify existing facilities at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Baytown, Texas; and Antwerp, Belgium, refineries.

“This underscores the company's ongoing commitment to meeting the growing needs of the marketplace, while, at the same time, providing cleaner burning fuels to consumers. Our increase in diesel production at these three sites will be equal to the diesel produced from about four average-size refineries,” said Sherman Glass, President, Refining & Supply. “In combination with cleaner-burning engines and the latest vehicle emissions control technologies, this low sulfur diesel reduces emissions in both on-road transportation, and off-road industrial sectors.”

This investment is the latest phase in ExxonMobil's efforts to increase supplies and reduce the sulfur content of both motor gasoline and diesel. In 2000, the company began an integrated approach to convert and modify refineries, terminals and pipelines to provide ultra low sulfur fuel products.

By 2010, the refineries’ modifications and expansions are expected to be completed, increasing production of diesel with sulfur levels of 15 parts per million (ppm) or less.

About ExxonMobil Refining & Supply

ExxonMobil Refining & Supply operates a global network of reliable and efficient manufacturing plants, transportation systems, and distribution centers that provide a range of fuels, lubricants, and other high-value products and feedstocks to our customers around the world.

About ExxonMobil Baytown, Baton Rouge and Antwerp Refineries

* The Baytown Refinery is the largest oil refinery in the United States, with a crude capacity of approximately 567,000 barrels per day.
* The Baton Rouge Refinery is the second-largest oil refinery in the United States, with a crude capacity of approximately 503,000 barrels per day.
* The Antwerp Refinery is the second largest ExxonMobil refinery in Europe, with a crude capacity of approximately 305,000 barrels per day.

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT: Business plans discussed in this release are forward-looking statements. Actual future results, including capital expenditures and the impact of refinery upgrades, could differ materially due to changes in applicable law or regulation; changes in supply and demand for diesel fuels; the outcome of commercial negotiations; technical or operating factors; and other factors discussed under the heading "Factors Affecting Future Results" on the "Investors" section of our website at www.exxonmobil.com.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Fuel From Fat

When the cost of diesel skyrocketed to more than $4 a gallon, Travis Sweat fought back. Using knowledge from the Internet and recycled oil from fast-food restaurants, he made his own fuel for $1 a gallon.

“I’d heard of other people (making their own fuel), and I knew there were several different ways to do it,” said Sweat, who has run his 1997 Ford F250 on a blend of waste vegetable oil for seven months.

Free oil is the base

Sweat, a game warden from Griffin, Ga., gets free used liquid fryer oil from a friend who owns a restaurant. He uses vegetable, peanut and soybean oils. Hydrogenated oil can’t be used.

Sweat filters the oil twice and puts it through a water separator. It takes 30 minutes to process a 55-gallon batch of fuel. “Basically, I just pour a few things in a drum, filter it and I’m ready to go,” he said.

Sweat’s recipe is 80 percent oil, 15 percent to 20 percent diesel and 5 percent gasoline.
His fuel isn’t biodiesel, which is “harder to make and requires more chemicals,” he said. WVO fuel blend can only run in certain types of engines and injection systems, Sweat said. It won’t work at all in newer trucks.

A smooth ride

When Sweat switches his truck from diesel to his WVO blend, he likes the difference. “The engine gets really quiet and smooth, and it runs a lot better,” he said. “There used to be a rough idle at stop signs, and now there isn’t.”

Sweat’s wife, Stephanie, has faith in her husband’s homemade fuel. She must. She drives the truck to work and to run errands around town.

Sweat admits, though, his greatest concern is engine failure.

“It was a little scary at first,” he said. “If you blow a diesel engine, you’re looking at $5,000 to $10,000 to replace it.”

A matter of time

Sweat should be careful, said Dan Geller, a researcher with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. From an engineering standpoint, the fuels he’s burning won’t work for long.

“The engineer in me says this is a bad idea because of the potential for disaster,” Geller said. “But the practical, environmental side of me says it’s great. It’s just not for the faint of heart.”
With WVO, not all the oil combusts, he said, and over time carbon builds up in the engine and will damage it.

The problem is chemical not physical. “The molecules in the oil are big molecules, relatively speaking, compared to diesel molecules,” Geller said. “You can thin it all you want, but you aren’t changing the molecule structure.”

Do you feel lucky?

Geller has met hundreds of people who have used WVO in their vehicles for up to five years with no problems. He also knows some who have had unsuccessful ventures with WVO and other homemade fuel recipes.

“If you’re mindful of what you’re doing and are very mechanically inclined, go ahead and try it,” he said. “I wouldn’t personally do it.”

Geller has conducted numerous experiments with biodiesel, he said, and would use it in his own vehicle. “With biodiesel, you go to the pump, you put it in and you don’t have to think about it.”

WVO blended fuel is better for the environment, runs much cleaner than petroleum, is a renewable resource and relieves some of our dependence on foreign oil, he said. “But you can get all the same advantages from biodiesel, and you don’t have to make it yourself.”

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deloitte Survey: Seventy-Three Percent of Voters Say America on the Wrong Track

/PRNewswire/ -- Voters feel the country is headed in the wrong overall direction by a five-to-one margin, according to a national survey from Deloitte's Oil & Gas industry group.

The Deloitte survey also identified the four most urgent issues facing the new presidential administration: the nation's economy, 84 percent; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 39 percent; health care, 26 percent; and energy, 19 percent (multiple responses were permitted; numbers do not add up to 100 percent).

The survey placed a special focus on the national energy situation, which voters believe is on the wrong track by a three-to-one margin -- 79 percent claiming that the nation's energy situation is in worse shape now than five years ago.

The survey shows that Americans have a particular passion for renewable energy, but may not realize the need for more hydrocarbons like oil and gas, which are projected to account for the majority of the world's transportation fuels through 2030. Given this fact, the new presidential administration could face a challenge meeting the public's short-term aspirations for renewable energy.

"It's clear from our survey that most voters believe renewable energy is the way of the future," said Gary Adams, vice chairman, oil and gas, Deloitte LLP. "While this is very important, many voters may not understand the current costs and complexities of developing renewable energy."

In the survey, renewables like solar power and wind power have an 86 percent favorability rating, consistent across all age and education groups. Moreover, a plurality of voters (41 percent) believe renewable energy is the cheapest type of energy today, with an additional 10 percentage points (51 percent overall) claiming renewable energy will be the cheapest energy source 25 years from now.

In contrast, the percentage of voters surveyed who believe oil and gas is currently the cheapest energy source trails renewables by 25 points (16 percent feel oil and gas is currently a cheap energy source). What is more, the percentage trails renewables by a full 45 points when voters look into the future (6 percent believe oil and gas will be a cheap energy source 25 years from now).

Adams points out that there is confusion among voters about the real costs of renewable energy sources. "Right now, renewables simply are not as cheap as fossil fuels, which adds to the challenge of satisfying the public's desire to move away from conventional oil and gas in a short time period."

When it comes to sustainability, oil and gas decline even further in voters' minds: 25 percent surveyed say oil and gas are a sustainable energy source today, but only 8 percent say the same will be true 25 years from now -- a 17 point drop.

Adams points out that America urgently needs a comprehensive energy policy that will promote investment in the development of economical alternative fuels, such as renewables and, at the same time, encourage local exploration and production of oil and gas to bridge to the gap to the future.

"The world will be primarily reliant on fossil fuels for at least two generations -- the bridge to tomorrow's new energy future depends on this. The key is to have a sensible plan to transition to a new, cleaner energy era. It is also clear that the oil and gas industry needs to do more to educate the public on the challenges ahead."

Deloitte's survey offers a few clues as to how voters would like go about this transition. First and foremost, voters widely agree on requiring more stringent and mandatory fuel economy standards for all cars sold in America. Most voters, especially younger ones, are also in favor of funding major clean energy projects despite high costs.

Surprisingly, the survey showed that oil and gas are viewed with less outright disdain than one might assume: Conventional oil and gas generally enjoy two-to-one support as an energy source among all voters surveyed, although the level of support is highest among those over the age of 55. At least one in three voters prefers using fossil fuels more efficiently rather than moving away from them. Older voters are also in favor of building new refineries to produce more gasoline.

Still, voters are increasingly skeptical about the longevity of oil and gas as an energy solution. While they are evenly split over whether oil and gas are a short-term or medium-term solution for fulfilling America's energy needs, a mere 10 percent think oil and gas are a long-term solution.

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New Green Energy Plans Would Create 120 Green Tons of Wood Demand

PRNewswire/ -- RISI today through its Wood Biomass Market Report, indicated that woodfiber will play a major role in any new green energy spending plans in the U.S. The Report stated that as of Dec. 12, estimates from the ever-expanding federal stimulus package suggest the green component (wood, wind, solar, etc.) will be a whopping $50 billion over two years. If 20% falls to wood energy, that near term spending of $10 billion would spur formidable growth, providing tens of thousands of new jobs -- and wood demand of perhaps 120 million green tons, long-term.

Compared to an estimated 215 green tons of consumption currently by the nation's pulp & paper industry, this new demand will be significant, and could create a $3 billion per year wood energy market at current prices. The Report also projects that a good bit of this expansion is already underway, with current projects topping 32 million tons. Wood-derived fuels already account for a full third of the nation's renewable energy, 50% if hydroelectricity were excluded. RISI projects that this increased demand will occur most in the U.S. South, followed by the U.S. West, and then the U.S. North.

Chris Lyddan, Contributing Editor of the Wood Biomass Market Report, comments, "How soon we might see this increase in demand take place ultimately rests heavily in the hands of President-elect Barack Obama and the next Congress." He continued, "Regardless of the actual timing, an ongoing RISI assessment of the plan reveals wholesale changes to forestry and traditional wood users are on the way. More than $13 billion in public and private investment capital was pumped into US clean energy industries in 2007, according to the Department of Energy. Interestingly, the newly proposed government incentives exclude the many billions of dollars of private sector funding required in new projects. As such, wood energy investments could dwarf failing paper and lumber operations in just the next several years, almost an imponderable outcome."

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Shaw Chairman Urges National Commitment to Build Nuclear Power Plants

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Shaw Group Inc. (NYSE:SGR) Chairman J.M. Bernhard Jr. called for a national commitment to build up to 50 nuclear power plants by 2030, telling a gathering of power industry leaders that the jobs, clean electricity and energy independence created by a “nuclear renaissance” offer a unique platform to achieve the “hope and change” pledged by President-elect Barack Obama.

“If this nation and the Obama administration are truly serious about controlling global warming, nuclear power must maintain its 20 percent share of U.S. power generation,” said Mr. Bernhard, Shaw’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, during a keynote address at last week’s Power-Gen International 2008 trade show in Orlando, Fla. “That will require the construction of 45 to 50 new nuclear plants by 2030, while also maintaining operation of the current fleet.”

Such a commitment, he said, would have the support of most Americans. “Almost 70 percent of Americans favor the construction of new nuclear plants,” Mr. Bernhard said. “That level of public opinion has never been higher.”

One reason a nuclear renaissance is vital, he explained, is that alternative forms of generation are years away from providing reliable, plentiful and affordable carbon-free electricity. While wind and solar are receiving a lot of attention as sources of clean energy, Shaw’s chairman cautioned that “we need to be honest” about their ability to meet U.S. electricity needs.

“Wind and solar will play a part, but they will not replace baseload sources of electric generation,” he said.

Given that reality, Mr. Bernhard said that nuclear must continue to play a significant role in meeting U.S. electricity demand that is projected to grow 1.1 percent annually through 2030.

Moreover, because of the limitations facing alternatives, Mr. Bernhard said that any serious effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions must include a significant amount of carbon-free nuclear power.

Beyond its environmental benefits, Mr. Bernhard told the Power-Gen audience that a nuclear renaissance also would help drive the economic revitalization promised by President-elect Obama during the election campaign.

Mr. Bernhard said a nuclear renaissance “would create an industry-driven jobs program unrivaled since the great infrastructure projects of FDR’s Works Progress Administration. But unlike those Depression-era programs, the nuclear renaissance won’t be fueled with deficit financing by the federal government. Rather, it will be paid for with private capital and built by private citizens.”

Shaw's chairman cited a number of economic benefits that would be generated by a national commitment to build a new generation of nuclear power plants:

* Each nuclear construction project would directly employ approximately 4,000 craft workers.
* Once completed, a nuclear plant’s operation and maintenance would generate 400-700 permanent jobs paying an average of 36 percent more than local wages.
* The typical nuclear plant annually generates $430 million in sales of goods and services in the local community and $40 million in total labor income.

“The fact is that few initiatives can achieve the ‘hope and change’ promised by our incoming president like the nuclear renaissance: jobs for the middle class, economic growth, energy independence and a cleaner environment,” Mr. Bernhard said.

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a “safe harbor” for certain forward-looking statements. The statements contained herein that are not historical facts (including without limitation statements to the effect that the Company or its management “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “plans” or other similar expressions) and statements related to revenues, earnings, backlog, or other financial information or results are forward-looking statements based on the Company’s current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects on the Company. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting the Company will be those anticipated by the Company. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control) and assumptions and are subject to change based upon various factors. Should one or more of such risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any of our assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in the forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. A description of some of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements can be found in the Company’s reports and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Form 10-K and Form 10-Q reports, and on the Company's Web site under the heading "Forward-Looking Statements.” These documents are also available from the Securities and Exchange Commission or from the Investor Relations department of Shaw. For more information on the Company and announcements it makes from time to time on a regional basis, visit our Web site at www.shawgrp.com.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ventyx(R), EnerNex(R) and the Midwest ISO to Conduct Eastern Interconnection Wind Integration Study for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

/PRNewswire/ -- Ventyx(R), EnerNex Corporation and the Midwest ISO announced December 8, 2008, that they have been selected to conduct a landmark study for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) to help inform major policy decisions regarding transmission and generation planning, state and federal renewable energy targets and other facets of energy supply in the Eastern United States. This first-of-its-kind comprehensive regional assessment will evaluate the operational impacts on the power system associated with increasing wind capacity to 20 percent and 30 percent of retail electric energy sales in 2024 for the region.

The scope of the project is beyond that of anything previously attempted anywhere in the world. The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study involves multiple interconnected areas ranging from the Dakotas to Oklahoma and eastward to Maine, and includes the Midwest Independent System Transmission System Operator (Midwest ISO), Southwest Power Pool, Tennessee Valley Authority, PJM Interconnection, New York Independent System Operator, ISO-New England and Mid-Continent Area Power Pool transmission market areas. These areas constitute the study region of the Joint Coordinating System Plan.

According to Dave Corbus, Senior Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "This study will allow us to evaluate what 20 percent and 30 percent wind penetration in the Eastern electrical grid really looks like in terms of wind resource potential, future transmission requirements and the impacts on the electrical grid due to the variable nature of wind power."

"EnerNex and Ventyx are relying on the Midwest ISO to build upon prior integration studies, work performed by the Joint Coordinated System Planning Study currently in progress and related technical work to produce a complete analysis," said John Lawhorn, director, Regulatory & Economic Studies for the Midwest ISO, "in addition to the development of multiple transmission plans for the Eastern United States."

According to EnerNex Cofounder and Principal Consultant Bob Zavadil, "The team will leverage experience and methodologies established during the 2006 Minnesota statewide wind integration study and extend them to address the additional complexities and scope related to such a significant amount of wind generation in a large competitive market."

Leveraging the technical expertise of Ventyx consultants and the wind resource modeling of AWS Scientific, Midwest ISO will apply simulation models from Ventyx PowerBase(TM) & PROMOD IV(R) software in order to develop regional outputs for wind generation totaling more than 300 gigawatts of capacity. According to Ventyx VP of Energy Advisors Gary Moland, "By simulating the applicable region under a variety of operating and market conditions, MISO can quantify operating risks and impacts, such as highly volatile wind operation and the significant difficulties in day-ahead wind forecasting. We will also support MISO in analyzing and investigating model results and in developing a detailed forecast of market prices and system operation under the various study scenarios."

The study is scheduled for completion in July 2009.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Obama Struggles to Explain Drop of Windfall Profits Tax for Oil and Gas Industry

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from the American Small Business League:

Barack Obama may already be losing credibility over his explanation as to why he dropped the windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry from his administration's agenda. During his campaign, President-elect Obama promised to enact a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry, which would help finance a $1,000 emergency energy rebate for American families.

During the campaign, Obama repeated his commitment to enacting a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry hundreds of times. The Obama camp ran national television advertisements touting the windfall profits tax, and used the issue in campaign speeches right up to the election. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPo5IGTd0A)

Now, any mention of the windfall profits tax has been quietly removed from the Obama-Biden transition website, www.change.gov, and an anonymous "transition team aide" acknowledged that the windfall profits tax had been dropped.

The Obama camp's explanation as to why the windfall profits tax has been dropped is inconsistent with the facts and the actual series of events.

The main excuse the Obama camp offered was that the price of oil had dropped below $80 per barrel, and as a result there was no need for a windfall profits tax. (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/dec2008/db2008124_176271. htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index+-+temp_news+%2B+analysis) There are several problems with their excuse.

According to OPEC, the price of oil dropped below $80 per barrel in early October, yet Obama continued to campaign on the promise of a windfall profits tax.

The windfall profits tax was the number one issue under "economy" on Obama's transition site, www.change.gov, when it was launched on November 6th and the price of oil was $54.89. It was removed without explanation on November 8th. The price of oil remained relatively stable during that three-day time frame and any miniscule change would not justify the sudden and unexplained elimination of one of Obama's cornerstone campaign promises.

The oil and gas industry has been making excessive profits for several years, even when the price of a barrel of oil was dramatically less than it is now. At the present moment gas prices have decreased, but with no windfall profits tax in place the oil companies are free to arbitrarily increase the price of gas at any point in time.

In 2003, when the average price of a barrel of oil was $30.06, big oil companies reaped record profits. (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/crude2.html) According to an Associated Press (AP) article dated January 29, 2004, Exxon-Mobil earned $21.51 billion in profits during fiscal year (FY) 2003. At the time, the mark nearly doubled the company's profit during FY 2002. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60862-2004Jan29_2.html)

"It is difficult to believe President-elect Obama's explanation for dropping one of his most significant campaign promises when you look at the facts," American Small Business League President Lloyd Chapman said.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

UGA Researchers Looking to Turn Fruit into Fuel

Half of all the fruit grown in Georgia is never eaten by people or animals. It rots in the fields. A University of Georgia researcher says that spoiled fruit could fuel cars.

That wasted fruit can be converted into bioethanol through a fermentation process, said Elliot Altman, program coordinator for the UGA Center for Molecular Bioengineering.

“All fruits are 10 percent sugar, or potentially 5 percent ethanol,” said Altman, an engineer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s a real opportunity.”

The fermentation process could create a high-protein byproduct, which can be used in animal feed, called dried distillers grain. The largest opportunity in Georgia lies in watermelons and peaches. Last year, the state harvested one billion pounds of watermelon and more than 61 million pounds of peaches. The same amount rotted in the fields.

The fruit is left behind because it doesn’t make the grade for commercial sale. Consumers don’t want fruit that doesn’t look perfect, even though it is fine to eat in most cases. Some of the discarded fruit is used in preserves and juice, but 50 percent never leaves the field.

Ethanol conversion is not possible on a small scale like biodiesel operations. Getting enough commodity groups excited about converting the waste to fuel is one battle Altman hopes legislation may help with.

“One farmer isn’t big enough to set up operation,” he said. “If packers knew in advance the fruit would be used for something, they could gather it in a separate place for transport to the ethanol plant.”

Government regulations mandate the blending of 5 percent ethanol into gasoline by 2009 and 10 percent by 2011. The Renewable Fuel Standard program will increase the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into gasoline from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

But, ethanol plants aren’t cheap.

“You can’t build a small plant,” he said. “To be cost effective, most experts agree that a plant would need to produce at least 10 million gallons of ethanol a year.”

Altman and his colleague Mark Eiteman, a biological and agricultural engineering professor, are working on techniques to simplify the commercial ethanol plant, making it cheaper to produce ethanol and DDG.

For example, their group has researched adding expired table sugars to increase the ethanol yields that can be obtained. Access to waste fruit is not a year-round venture, he said.

“Even with a couple of fruits, a fruit-ethanol plant would only be operational for half a year, and the infrastructure for an ethanol plant is a significant investment,” Altman said.

Altman is currently researching several other products – like grain sorghum – that could be used when the fruit is not available.

“It has silo storage capability and is able to grow in areas of Georgia not suitable for anything else,” he said. “It does not take away from other crops and would not hurt the food market.”

Georgia also has potential to produce ethanol from bakery waste. “We have a unique niche in the Atlanta area with our bakeries.”

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Plant Washington to Offer Reliable and Affordable Electricity to Citizens of Georgia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Power4Georgians, a consortium of 10 Georgia EMCs that have partnered to develop a comprehensive strategy to meet demand for affordable and reliable energy in Georgia, today emphasized its position that coal is an essential cornerstone to fulfilling that strategy.

“While we are proponents of viable alternative energy projects such as wind, solar, biomass, etc., none of those options can come close to fulfilling large scale needs in the near future,” said Dean Alford, spokesman for Power4Georgians.

Some opponents of coal have spread misinformation indicating that to build and operate Plant Washington in a safe and environmentally responsible manner is not economically viable. There are many flaws in their argument; specifically they claim that the prices for materials used in construction are escalating rapidly, which is not true. Steel for instance has declined from its July price of $1,000 per ton to about $500 per ton today. Perhaps most significant are opponent claims that the cost of coal continues to rise when the reality is, coal has declined approximately 40% since July.

“It is ludicrous to believe that we would move forward with Plant Washington if we weren’t certain that it was economically viable,” said Dean Alford, spokesman for Power4Georgians. “I can assure you, nobody is more cognizant of cost than the co-ops involved in this project.”

To be built and operated near Sandersville in Washington County, Georgia, the plant will provide an enormous economic boost for the region and indeed the entire state. Capital investment is expected to be approximately $2.1 billion. For comparison sake, the much publicized Kia manufacturing plant in west-central Georgia represents an investment of $1.2 billion.

Plant Washington will create more than 1,400 jobs during the construction phase of the project and approximately 130 full time jobs when the plant is placed into operation. In addition, 300 support jobs in ancillary businesses will be created in the region when the plant opens.

“This is a perfect example of a project that will provide great benefit to the people of Georgia at a time when it is needed most,” Alford said.

With Georgia’s rapidly growing population - and even with Plant Washington contributing 850 Megawatts to the state’s power grid - consumption of electricity will outstrip supply within the next decade unless new generation facilities are built and placed into operation.

“Power4Georgians believes in an ‘all in’ strategy which means we fully support solar, wind, biomass, nuclear and coal generation facilities. Georgia needs every bit of electricity that can be generated if we are to assure that when the switch is flipped, the lights come on now and for years to come,” Alford concluded.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Ad Campaign Distorts the Reality of Clean Coal Technology

/PRNewswire/ -- (Statement by ACCCE Vice President for Communications Joe Lucas regarding a new advertising campaign sponsored by the RealityCoalition.org - a group comprised of the Alliance for Climate Protection, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club)

"I'm surprised that a coalition of environmental special interest groups has placed ads doubting the existence of clean coal technologies.

"For over 40 years, private industry, academia, and the federal government have been working in partnership to bring new technologies to the marketplace that reduces the environmental footprint of using coal to generate electricity. Those who doubt the existence of clean coal technology need only to look at the 70% improvement in the environmental efficiency of America's coal-based electricity fleet measured by emissions of criteria and hazardous air pollutants regulated by federal and state clean air act laws per unit of energy produced. But this is only part of the story.

"In our America's Power campaign (americaspower.org) we have consistently talked about the need to invest in advanced clean coal technologies to ensure that we can capture and safely store CO2 emissions at coal-based power plants both here at home and around the world. While this remains a complex and challenging task, anyone who is skeptical about the progress that is being made on this front would only need to visit the U.S. Department of Energy's website (Clean Power Initiative) at http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/cleancoal/ to get a better appreciation and understanding of the industry's commitment to this cause.

"We join President-elect Barack Obama in calling for additional funding for advanced clean coal technologies to ensure that we meet the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time enjoying the benefits of relying upon coal, our most abundant domestic energy resource, to meet future energy needs.

"I would have hoped that the environmental special interest groups that are sponsoring this new ad would support such an effort, but they have obviously chosen a different path."

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Here Comes the Sun! FPL’s Next Generation Solar Energy Center to Be World’s First Hybrid Solar Plant, First Utility-Scale Solar Facility in Florida

GEG Note: It appears our neighbors to the south are on the verge of something great. We thought our readers would find this story of interest as we all learn more about alternative energy sources.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and local community leaders joined officials of Florida Power & Light Company here today to break ground on FPL’s Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will be the world’s first hybrid solar energy plant and the first utility-scale solar facility in Florida.

With Florida and the nation facing the twin challenges of climate change and energy security, FPL’s new 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center marks an important early step in Florida’s quest to use more sun to power the Sunshine State.

“Florida’s future growth and economic strength depends on how we address climate change, and we know we can reduce greenhouse gases by using fewer fossil fuels and more natural energy sources like solar,” said Gov. Charlie Crist. “This solar facility is a significant step in that direction.”

As the first hybrid solar facility in the world to combine a solar-thermal field with a combined-cycle natural gas power plant, the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use less fossil fuel when heat from the sun is available to help produce the steam needed to generate electricity. This innovative technology will help protect customers from volatile fossil fuel costs as it reduces Florida’s carbon footprint. The solar facility will consist of approximately 180,000 mirrors over roughly 500 acres of land at the existing FPL Martin Plant location.

“The next generation of Floridians is counting on us to address the most pressing energy challenges of our time. With the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, we will capture the power of the sun to fight climate change and provide the state with clean, affordable energy,” said FPL Group Chairman and CEO Lew Hay.

“At this innovative facility, each sunrise will be the equivalent of easing our foot off the gas pedal as solar power is being produced. With the continued support of Gov. Crist, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission, FPL will do more – much more – in the coming years to build Florida’s renewable energy industry,” said Hay.

Gov. Crist has made clean energy and protecting Florida’s environment a priority since taking office.

"The Governor and I want to commend FPL for being a leader in the use of solar energy as the world’s No. 1 producer of solar thermal energy and one of the largest generators of wind power,” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “We believe there is no better place than here, in the Sunshine State, to lead the way in expanding solar technology to homes and businesses."

The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will provide enough power to serve about 11,000 homes. Over 30 years, the solar facility will prevent the emissions of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the life of the project, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The implementation of solar thermal technology will also decrease fossil-fuel usage by approximately 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 600,000 barrels of oil.

The facility will be the nation’s second-largest solar energy facility when it is fully operational in 2010. The Martin facility is the largest of three solar projects FPL is building in Florida. With a combined total of 110 megawatts of emissions-free energy, the facilities will make Florida the No. 2 producer of solar energy nationwide and will avoid nearly 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lives of the plants.

In addition to the Martin facility, FPL will also build two other solar projects in Florida – one at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the other in Desoto County. These facilities will add 35 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity to the state. Combined, these projects help strengthen FPL Group’s position as the nation’s clean energy leader.

Among the company’s clean energy credentials:

* FPL Group is the nation’s No. 1 producer of renewable energy from wind. The company has 58 projects in 16 states with a capacity of more than 5,800 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power more than 1 million homes and businesses with zero carbon emissions.
* FPL Group is the nation’s No. 1 producer of renewable energy from solar. The company operates the largest solar-thermal plant in the world in California’s Mojave Desert, the 310-megawatt Solar Electric Generating System.
* Florida Power & Light Company is the nation’s No. 1 utility for energy conservation, according to U.S. Department of Energy data. FPL’s conservation programs have helped the company avoid the need to build 12 medium-sized power plants since 1980, more than any other utility.

More information about FPL’s next-generation solar energy centers is available at www.fpl.com/solar. For downloadable, high-resolution photos of solar thermal technology, please visit www.flickr.com/fplsolar.

Florida Power & Light Company is a subsidiary of FPL Group, Inc. (NYSE:FPL), nationally known as a high quality, efficient and customer-driven organization focused on energy-related products and services. With annual revenues of over $15 billion and a growing presence in 27 states, FPL Group is widely recognized as one of the country's premier power companies. Florida Power & Light Company serves 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida. FPL Energy, LLC, FPL Group's competitive energy subsidiary, is a leader in producing electricity from clean and renewable fuels. Additional information is available on the Internet at www.FPL.com, www.FPLGroup.com and www.FPLEnergy.com.

Cautionary Statements and Risk Factors That May Affect Future Results

In connection with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (Reform Act), FPL Group and Florida Power & Light Company (Florida Power & Light) are hereby providing cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause FPL Group's or Florida Power & Light's actual results to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Reform Act) made by or on behalf of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light in this press release, on their respective websites, in response to questions or otherwise. Any statements that express, or involve discussions as to, expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, assumptions, future events or performance, climate change strategy or growth strategies (often, but not always, through the use of words or phrases such as will likely result, are expected to, will continue, is anticipated, aim, believe, could, estimated, may, plan, potential, projection, target, outlook, predict, intend) are not statements of historical facts and may be forward-looking. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions and uncertainties. Accordingly, any such statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to, and are accompanied by, the following important factors (in addition to any assumptions and other factors referred to specifically in connection with such forward-looking statements) that could cause FPL Group's or Florida Power & Light's actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light.

Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which such statement is made, and FPL Group and Florida Power & Light undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances, including unanticipated events, after the date on which such statement is made. New factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.

The following are some important factors that could have a significant impact on FPL Group's and Florida Power & Light's operations and financial results, and could cause FPL Group's and Florida Power & Light's actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements:

• FPL Group and Florida Power & Light are subject to complex laws and regulations and to changes in laws and regulations as well as changing governmental policies and regulatory actions, including, but not limited to, initiatives regarding deregulation and restructuring of the energy industry and environmental matters, including, but not limited to, matters related to the effects of climate change. Florida Power & Light holds franchise agreements with local municipalities and counties, and must renegotiate expiring agreements. These factors may have a negative impact on the business and results of operations of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light.

• The operation and maintenance of transmission, distribution and power generation facilities, including nuclear facilities, involve significant risks that could adversely affect the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light.

• The construction of, and capital improvements to, power generation facilities, including nuclear facilities, involve substantial risks. Should construction or capital improvement efforts be unsuccessful, the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light could be adversely affected.

• Adverse capital and credit market conditions may adversely affect FPL Group's and FPL's ability to meet liquidity needs, access capital and operate and grow their businesses, and the cost of capital. Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the financial markets can also adversely impact the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL, as well as exert downward pressure on stock prices.

• FPL Group's and FPL's inability to maintain their current credit ratings may adversely affect FPL Group's and FPL's liquidity, limit the ability of FPL Group and FPL to grow their businesses, and would likely increase interest costs.

• FPL Group and FPL are subject to credit and performance risk from third parties under supply and service contracts.

• Customer growth and customer usage in Florida Power & Light’s service area affect FPL Group's and Florida Power & Light's results of operations.

• Weather affects FPL Group's and Florida Power & Light's results of operations, as can the impact of severe weather. Weather conditions directly influence the demand for electricity and natural gas, affect the price of energy commodities, and can affect the production of electricity at power generating facilities.

• FPL Group and Florida Power & Light are subject to costs and other potentially adverse effects of legal and regulatory proceedings as well as regulatory compliance and changes in or additions to applicable tax laws, rates or policies, rates of inflation, accounting standards, securities laws and corporate governance requirements.

• Threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, cyber attacks, or individuals and/or groups attempting to disrupt FPL Group's and Florida Power & Light's business may impact the operations of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light in unpredictable ways.

• The ability of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light to obtain insurance and the terms of any available insurance coverage could be adversely affected by national, state or local events and company-specific events.

• FPL Group and Florida Power & Light are subject to employee workforce factors that could adversely affect the businesses and financial condition of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light.

The risks described herein are not the only risks facing FPL Group and Florida Power & Light. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to FPL Group or Florida Power & Light, or that are currently deemed to be immaterial, also may materially adversely affect FPL Group’s or Florida Power & Light’s business, financial condition and/or future operating results.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

National Policy Forum on Renewable Energy in America to be Webcast Live on Dec. 4

Energy experts will converge on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 4) for the daylong Phase II Policy Forum on Renewable Energy in America to make policy recommendations for the incoming administration. The American Council on Renewable Energy and Verizon Communications will provide a free webcast of the event live throughout the day. Panel sessions will cover a wide range of energy policy initiatives including: policy for transportation fuels; policy for electric power; financing the renewable energy scale-up; and policy advice for the next president and Congress.

Thursday, Dec. 4, at 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern

The webcast will be available at no charge via
www.acorephaseii.com. Pre-event registration is
recommended by going to ACORE's Web site (upcoming events)
at www.acore.org .

Former Sen. Tom Daschle; best-selling author and New York
Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman; Iowa
Gov. Chet Culver; and James Woolsey, former Director of
Central Intelligence.

Phase II of the Renewable Energy in America National Policy
Forum was first held in 2002. The goal of the conference is
to convey the contribution of renewable energy to the
nation's energy needs by bringing together high-level
speakers to discuss the energy policy issues concerning the
national scale-up of renewable energy to a substantial
share of U.S. energy supply, energy efficiency, sustainable
development, the environment and related fields. More
information is available at www.acore.org.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Energy Efficiency Helps Consumers 'Weather' Heating Bills at Time of Economic Strain for Many, Says Alliance to Save Energy

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Even though winter energy price projections have come down, consumers already facing a tough economic climate are likely to be paying more to heat their homes this winter than they spent a year or two ago, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. High home heating costs make energy efficiency as timely as ever, says the Alliance, which also highlights new federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements in 2009.

-- Those who heat with natural gas will spend almost $900 this winter, an
increase of about 4 percent over last winter and 9 percent over winter
-- Consumers using home heating oil will spend almost $1,700 this winter
- a decrease of 13 percent compared to last winter but an increase of
17 percent from 2006-7.
-- Propane users will spend about $1,550 this winter, a decrease of 8
percent from last winter but 15 percent more than two years ago.
-- Consumers with electric heat will spend almost $950 this winter,
almost 10 percent more than last winter and 14 percent more than two
years ago.

"The average U.S. household will spend $2,300 on home energy this year - 7 percent more than last year and 12 percent more than in 2006 - with winter heating bills taking a large 'bite' out of household budgets going into next year," noted Alliance President Kateri Callahan. "At a time of financial stress and strain for many, simple yet effective energy-saving steps are the way to go - not only to save money, but also to make homes more comfortable and help protect the environment.

"New federal income tax credits for energy efficiency home upgrades made in 2009 can partially offset the up-front cost of new equipment such as highly efficient furnaces and heat pumps or ENERGY STAR windows," she continued. "All the details are on the Alliance consumer website at www.ase.org/taxcredits.

"Another consideration is that powering the average U.S. home produces more than twice the greenhouse gas pollution as the average car - 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually compared with 12,000 pounds for a typical car," Callahan added. "So when you use energy efficiency to lower your home energy bills, you also are helping the planet."

The Alliance suggests the following winter home energy tips:

-- Smart Fix - Plug up leaks to the outside - Seal air leaks with
sealant, caulking, and weather stripping; and install appropriate
insulation for your climate to increase your comfort, make your home
quieter and cleaner, and reduce your heating (and summer cooling)
costs up to 20 percent. In 2009, these energy efficiency improvements
can also generate a federal income tax credit of up to $500 for 10
percent of the cost of the materials (but not installation).

-- Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car
can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and
cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Consider a
semi-annual or yearly professional "tune-up" of the system to ensure
it is working efficiently. The federal government's ENERGY STAR
website can help you find a qualified individual

-- Keep furnace filters clean. Check your filter every month, especially
during heavy use months (winter and summer), and change it if it looks
dirty. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter
will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you
warm or cool - wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust
and dirt from building up in the system - leading to expensive
maintenance and/or early system failure.

-- Let a programmable thermostat "remember for you" to lower the heat
while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by
up to 10 percent - and allow you to come home to and wake up to a
toasty, comfortable house.

-- Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling
equipment. If you have to replace your HVAC equipment, consider a
unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Installed correctly, these
high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling
costs. Certain highly efficient models qualify for a federal income
tax credit in 2009.

-- Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house, about 20
percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to
leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating
ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills, and can often
pay for itself in energy savings. Also, a well-designed and sealed
duct system may make it possible to downsize to a smaller, less costly
heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.
Insulate ducts in unheated areas such as attics, crawlspaces, and
garages with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher.

-- Insulate your hot water storage tank according to manufacturer's
directions (being careful not to cover the thermostat or the burner
compartment in an oil- or natural gas-powered tank) and the first six
feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater,

-- Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and
south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally
heat your home, and close them at night.

-- Go "window shopping" at www.efficientwindows.org to discover how
high-performance ENERGY STAR-labeled windows can cut heating and
cooling costs by as much as 30 percent while increasing indoor comfort
and lessening fading of home furnishings. ENERGY STAR windows, too,
are eligible for a federal tax credit in 2009 - 10 percent of the cost
(but not installation) up to $200.

-- Also look for the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol of energy efficiency,
when replacing or buying appliances, electronics, lighting and many
other product categories. See www.energystar.gov for details on all 50
types of products.

Many more winter tips are available on the Alliance to Save Energy's consumer website at www.ase.org/consumers and http://www.ase.org/content/article/detail/924.

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy, and national security.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Strong and Lightweight Material Provides New Use for Coal Ash

Each year, coal-burning power plants, steel factories and similar facilities in the United States produce more than 125 million tons of waste, much of it fly ash and bottom ash left over from combustion. Mulalo Doyoyo has plans for that material.

An assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Doyoyo has developed a new structural material based on these leftovers from coal burning. Known as Cenocell, the material offers attributes that include high strength and light weight – without the use of cement, an essential ingredient of conventional concrete.

With broad potential applications and advantages such as good insulating properties and fire resistance, the “green” material could replace concrete, wood and other materials in a broad range of applications in construction, transportation and even aerospace.

“Dealing with the ash left over from burning coal is a problem all over the world,” said Doyoyo. “By using it for real applications, our process can make the ash a useful commodity instead of a waste product. It could also create new industry and new jobs in parts of the world that need them badly.”

Fly ash is composed of small particles removed from combustion gases by pollution control systems. Most of it must now be disposed of as a waste product, though certain types of fly ash can be used to replace a portion of the cement used in conventional concrete.

Cenocell, produced from either fly ash or bottom ash in a reaction with organic chemicals, requires none of the cement or aggregate – sand and rock – used in concrete. And unlike concrete, it emerges from curing ovens in final form and does not require a lengthy period to reach full strength.

“This is a new material very different from concrete,” Doyoyo said.

Because it uses what is now considered a waste material to replace cement – which generates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas – the new material is considered an asset to the environment. The material can have a wide range of properties that make it competitive with concrete, especially the new classes of autoclaved lightweight concrete.

For instance, specific densities range from 0.3 to 1.6, and the material can be manufactured to withstand pressures of up to 7,000 pounds per cubic inch. The properties can be controlled by choosing the proper ash particles size, chemical composition, and the curing time, which can range from three to 24 hours.

“We have a wide range in terms of texture, properties, performance and applications,” said Doyoyo. “The possibilities for this material are very broad.”

Among the potential applications for the material are:

Building and construction industry – infrastructure materials that provide sound, crash and fire barriers; permeable pavements; drainage fillers; ultra-light truss stiffeners, foam, wood and concrete replacements in residential and commercial buildings; and acoustical tiles. Cenocell is lighter than most “lightweight” concrete, and lightweight versions can be machined and cut with standard band saws.

Transportation industry – cores for shock and crash absorbers; fillers for trailer floors or b-pillars in vehicle frames.

Aerospace industry – ultra-light heat shielding.

Protective installations – fireproof blast walls or structural fillers for hazardous fluids.

Though for competitive reasons he won’t disclose the precise chemical composition of Cenocell, Doyoyo says the processing involves mixing the ash with organic chemicals. The chemical reaction produces foaming, and results in a gray slurry that resembles bread dough. The material is then placed in forms and cured in ovens at approximately 100 degrees Celsius until the desired strength is attained.

“We form a final compound through a combination of chemical and mechanical processes,” Doyoyo explained. “Once it comes out of our process, it is ready to go and does not continue to change over time.”

Unlike concrete, which remains a mixture of materials held together by chemical bonds, Cenocell is a homogenous material. The cell sizes and final strength depend on both the curing time and size of the ash particles used. Estimates suggest the material could be manufactured for an average cost of $50 per cubic yard.

Doyoyo and his research team – which also includes Paul Biju-Duvall, Julien Claus, Dereck Major, Rolan Duvvury and Josh Gresham – have so far made only small samples for testing. They are working with a Georgia-based maker of autoclaved concrete to produce larger samples for additional testing. Large-scale manufacturing could be done with the same equipment now used to make autoclaved concrete, he says.

Doyoyo will present information about the material at the inception workshop of the Resource-Driven Technology Concept Center in South Africa (RETECZA) December 1-3, 2008, and at the World of Coal Ash meeting May 4-7, 2009.

“We are focusing a lot on the construction industry,” Doyoyo said. “When this material is used to build a structure, it will save a lot of energy for heating and air conditioning because of its good insulating properties.”

A native of South Africa who was educated at the University of Cape Town, Brown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Doyoyo sees value beyond the re-use of a waste material. He believes Cenocell could provide low-cost housing in developing countries and economic development impact from a new industry.

“This material could help develop communities by allowing people living near coal-burning facilities to create a new industry and new jobs,” he said. “This could be an engine of development for people who have been struggling. It really is a material with a social conscience.”

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia College Football Game Goes Green

When rival football teams from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech take the field Nov. 29 in Sanford Stadium for one of the biggest games of the year, the grass in the stadium won't be the only thing that's green.

The University of Georgia has partnered with Georgia Power who will provide Green Energy for the game. It will be the first time that electricity for a University of Georgia football game has been generated completely by renewable sources.

"The University of Georgia is an emerging leader in research on development of renewable energy sources, and we are significantly lowering energy usage on campus through conservation and use of alternative sources," said UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans. "Using electricity from the Green Energy program fits well with our commitment to energy conservation and we are pleased to join with Georgia Power in this innovative program."

By using environmentally friendly Green Energy, UGA will help protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help promote the use of renewable energy in Georgia and support domestic energy self-reliance.

"Georgia Power looks forward to providing Green Energy for one of the great annual match-ups in college football," said Chris Womack, Georgia Power's Executive Vice President of External Affairs. "This partnership demonstrates the University of Georgia's commitment to the development of renewable energy in the state."

The electricity for the game will displace traditional forms of energy such as coal and natural gas from the power grid. The majority of the electricity in Georgia Power's Green Energy program currently comes from the Seminole Landfill methane gas facility in DeKalb County.

Since Georgia Power began the Green Energy program in October 2006, almost 4,000 customers have committed to purchase in excess of 18 million kilowatt-hours of Green Energy annually. Residential customers can purchase 100-kilowatt-hour blocks of Green Energy for $3.50 per block, which is added to their monthly electricity bill.

Founded in 1785, the University of Georgia is America's first chartered state university and Georgia's largest and most comprehensive educational institution.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Online Database Resource Provides Detailed Information for Over 2,600 Renewable Energy Power Plants, Operating, Under Construction and in Development

/PRNewswire/ -- The C Three Group, LLC (C Three) has developed the continuously updated, web-enabled, U.S. Renewable Energy Power Plant Database, providing information on more than 2,600 U.S. renewable power plant projects. Plants included in this database range from those under development to those that have been in operation for years.

Each project profile provides detailed information on:

-- Ownership (including ownership transaction details)
-- Capacity
-- Initial Month/Year of operations
-- Transmission and interconnection information
-- Current plant status
-- NERC, RTO/ISO location
-- State, county location
-- FERC status
-- Status (development, permitted, under construction, operating, etc.)
-- Turbine vendor
-- Generation queue
-- Profiles cover wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, bio-fuels and other
renewable energy sources

New renewable energy power plants, particularly wind energy, are announced daily. Finding these projects before being "publicly announced" requires digging through state and federal regulatory filings, local media searches and other information sources such as the SEC and the Bureau of Land Management. C Three's highly experienced analysts continuously do the tedious and time-consuming process of keeping this information up-to-date. You can access the database from anywhere at anytime through a password protected website.

Users are able to create custom reports by filtering data from the 23 data fields. These reports are confidential and easily downloadable into spreadsheet format for analytical purposes. Sample reports are available through C Three by request.

An annual subscription includes web-enabled, password protected access for up to three users. For more information, visit www.cthree.net or call (404) 233-8555.

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