Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama Fuel Economy Standard Higher Than California Rule

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, regarding the Model Year 2011 fuel economy standard:

"By setting a fuel economy standard higher than what California regulators have proposed, the Obama administration today removed the last argument for state-by-state regulation of fuel economy. The structure of California's program -- with its exemptions for major automakers, its 'patchwork' design and its loopholes -- is unworkable as a national policy.

"Only a single, national fuel economy standard gives the auto industry the regulatory certainty necessary to produce and market the fuel efficient cars of tomorrow. In contrast, California's patchwork fuel economy program would exacerbate the auto sector's severe economic turmoil.

"Now that the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law, passed by Congress in Dec. 2007, is at last being implemented, America's auto dealers call on all stakeholders, including the Obama administration and California regulators, to embrace a single, national fuel economy standard."

CAFE is actually higher than CARB's standard.

The CAFE standard set by the Obama administration for model year 2011 is 27.3 mpg for the light duty fleet, which includes passenger cars and light trucks. Source: Associated Press, March 27, 2009

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) standard for model year 2011 is 26.7 mpg for the light duty fleet, which includes passenger cars and light trucks. Source: CARB, "Comparison of Greenhouse Gas Reductions for the United States and Canada Under U.S. CAFE Standards and California, An Enhanced Technical Assessment," Feb. 25, 2008, page 10.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Americas Waste to Energy, Corp. Announces Project Site in Toombs County, Georgia & Partnership with Freedom Renewable Energy Corp.

Americas Waste to Energy, Corp. Announces Project Site in Toombs County, Georgia & Partnership with Freedom Renewable Energy Corp. for Sites Throughout United States

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Americas Waste to Energy, Corp. (AW2E) announced yesterday that it will be deploying the first Biosphere Gasification System in Georgia at a project site in Toombs County. The agreement, made with the Toombs County Board of Commissioners, calls for a two phase construction plan that will include up to three Biosphere Gasification Systems. An Energy Purchase Agreement with Georgia Power Company was also executed in conjunction with this project which states that Georgia Power Company will purchase the 24 megawatts of renewable energy produced onsite. The Toombs County Project represents the creation of 30 new green collar jobs and approximately $34 million in new capital investment to the State of Georgia.

“This agreement marks the first step in a revolutionary approach for ‘waste to power’ production in Georgia and the world,” says Paul Hester, CEO of AW2E. “We are a privately funded corporation that is presenting a zero waste – zero cost solution to communities in Georgia and beyond.”

AW2E is a subsidiary of Freedom Renewable Energy Corp (FREC) with full marketing and deployment rights to the Biosphere Gasification System throughout the United States. FREC enjoys agreements with system manufacturer Global Environmental Energy Corporation (GEECF) for the sales and distribution of the Biosphere Gasification System and just finalized a partnership agreement with AW2E and their sister organization, Global Waste to Energy, Corp. (GW2E).

“An order and a deposit have been made on the first Biosphere Gasification System for the Toombs Project and we currently have private funding for 50 systems in Georgia alone,” states Ms. Noreen Griffin, CEO of FREC. “AW2E has identified at least 19 sites in Georgia that would represent the deployment of 73 Biospheres, create at least 730 new green collar jobs and generate approximately $803 million in new capital and 584 megawatts of renewable energy. In any type of economy, that is a tremendous investment! We are currently finalizing our nationwide and global marketing and deployment strategy.”

Via agreements with GEECF, FREC intends to market and deploy Biosphere Gasification Systems in communities around the world through its subsidiaries AW2E and GW2E.


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Friday, March 20, 2009

Electric cooperatives to announce carbon offset option

A group of electric cooperatives will be soon be offering their customers the option to offset their “carbon footprint” by protecting Georgia forests, using a surcharge on their monthly power bills.
The program, which will use scientific methods to measure the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by specific Georgia pine forests, will be managed by a Macon-based company......http://www.macon.com/198/story/656226.html

By S. Heather Duncan
March 20, 2009

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Atlanta Announces Municipal Carbon Footprint to Measure Emission Reductions

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yesterday Mayor Shirley Franklin released Atlanta city government’s first report on greenhouse gas emissions as the first step towards the goal of reducing emissions in the city seven percent by 2012. Also known as the “carbon footprint,” the figure was calculated with the help of a student-faculty team from the Georgia Institute of Technology and establishes a baseline to measure progress in Atlanta’s sustainability efforts.

“The City of Atlanta’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 came to 540 thousand metric tonnes, which is equivalent to the household energy use of 150,000 Atlanta residents or 98,000 passenger vehicles,” said Valerie Thomas, Anderson Interface Associate Professor at the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems at Georgia Tech and primary author of the report. “Having conducted an inventory and committed to reducing emissions makes the City of Atlanta a leader in the state and region and well ahead of federal action on climate change.”

“We know that the opportunities to reduce our emissions are great, particularly now with the federal administration’s focus on green job creation and green energy,” said Mayor Franklin. “With funding from the recently-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Atlanta’s sustainability efforts will focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives which will create jobs, save money and protect our environment,” she said.

Determining Atlanta city government’s carbon footprint coincides with the release of the inaugural sustainability report for Atlanta. Produced by Sustainable Atlanta (a non-governmental partner to the city’s Office of Sustainability), the report compiles readily available data to create benchmarks for measuring Atlanta’s sustainability efforts, including the city’s carbon footprint. The report – available at www.sustainableatlanta.org – also provides best practices, context, proposed strategies and action in the areas of water; energy and climate change; parks and greenspace; and recycling and materials management.

“The Sustainability Report for Atlanta is both a map and milepost,” said Lynnette Young, executive director of Sustainable Atlanta. “It is a snapshot of Atlanta’s current status as it relates to sustainability and a context for future measurement and opportunity, determining what we can do together to help the city advance sustainable lifestyles for everyone.”

Launched in 2008 with support from the Kendeda Foundation, the Atlanta Office of Sustainability is working across city departments to “green” operations and at the same time, maximize efficiencies. Sustainable practices implemented at City Hall are already generating a 20 percent drop in electricity use, with a forecast of nearly $135,000 in annual operations cost savings.

With the municipal carbon footprint established, the next step will be to develop the Atlanta Climate Action Plan. "The Climate Action Plan will be our blueprint to guide all city departments so that current initiatives and near-term objectives are aligned with achieving the 2012 emissions reduction goal," said Mandy Schmitt, Atlanta’s Director of Sustainability. "This strategic effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions supports the ultimate goal of making Atlanta a community that lives within the self-perpetuating limits of its environment, while maintaining high standards for economic growth, environmental integrity, and social justice."

According to Schmitt, near-term goals for Atlanta city government to achieve by the end of 2009 include:

1. 10 percent drop in energy use in general fund* facilities through low/no-cost conservation measures yielding $300,000 to $500,000 in annual savings

2. Five percent drop in water use in general fund facilities

3. At least two renewable energy demonstration projects

4. Three percent drop in fossil fuels used by municipal fleet yielding $267,000 in annual savings

5. 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in general fund facilities

Atlanta’s greenhouse gas inventory was guided by a protocol developed by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Atlanta is one of more than 1,057 cities, towns and counties worldwide that are members of ICLEI and that have made a commitment to sustainable development. Atlanta also hosts ICLEI’s Southeast Regional Office, and city staff shares office space with ICLEI representatives to maximize the organization’s resources in developing performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs.

*General fund facilities do not include facilities in Enterprise Fund Departments, such as Watershed and Airport.

About Atlanta’s Sustainability Initiative

The ambitious goal of reducing Atlanta city government’s greenhouse gas emissions seven percent by 2012 was set by Mayor Franklin in 2005 in Washington, D.C. when she and 140 other mayors identified environmental sustainability as a critical factor for American cities. They signed the U.S. Mayor’s Conference Climate Protection Agreement charging themselves with creating and implementing sustainability plans based on best global practices. With the help of the Kendeda Foundation, the Franklin administration then launched a parallel effort both inside and outside city government: The Office of Sustainability is reforming city government operations, while Sustainable Atlanta, a private-sector team of consultants led by former Atlanta COO Lynnette Young, is developing public policy recommendations for sustainability improvements throughout the city. For additional information regarding the City’s sustainability initiatives, visit www.atlantaga.gov/mayor/sustainability.aspx, and to learn more about Sustainable Atlanta, go to www.sustainableatlanta.org.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

For New Energy Options to Work, Better Storage Methods Needed

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to save money and energy, many people are purchasing hybrid electric cars or installing solar panels on the roofs of their homes. But both have a problem -- the technology to store the electrical power and energy is inadequate.

Battery systems that fit in cars don't hold enough energy for driving distances, yet take hours to recharge and don't give much power for acceleration. Renewable sources like solar and wind deliver significant power only part time, but devices to store their energy are expensive and too inefficient to deliver enough power for surge demand.

Researchers at the Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland, College Park, have developed new systems for storing electrical energy derived from alternative sources that are, in some cases, 10 times more efficient than what is commercially available. The results of their research are available in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

"Renewable energy sources like solar and wind provide time-varying, somewhat unpredictable energy supply, which must be captured and stored as electrical energy until demanded," said Gary Rubloff, director of the University of Maryland's NanoCenter. "Conventional devices to store and deliver electrical energy - batteries and capacitors - cannot achieve the needed combination of high energy density, high power, and fast recharge that are essential for our energy future."

Researchers working with Professor Rubloff and his collaborator, Professor Sang Bok Lee, have developed a method to significantly enhance the performance of electrical energy storage devices.

Using new processes central to nanotechnology, they create millions of identical nanostructures with shapes tailored to transport energy as electrons rapidly to and from very large surface areas where they are stored. Materials behave according to physical laws of nature. The Maryland researchers exploit unusual combinations of these behaviors (called self-assembly, self-limiting reaction, and self-alignment) to construct millions -and ultimately billions - of tiny, virtually identical nanostructures to receive, store, and deliver electrical energy.

"These devices exploit unique combinations of materials, processes, and structures to optimize both energy and power density--combinations that, taken together, have real promise for building a viable next-generation technology, and around it, a vital new sector of the tech economy," Rubloff said.

"The goal for electrical energy storage systems is to simultaneously achieve high power and high energy density to enable the devices to hold large amounts of energy, to deliver that energy at high power, and to recharge rapidly (the complement to high power)," he continued.

Electrical energy storage devices fall into three categories. Batteries, particularly lithium ion, store large amounts of energy but cannot provide high power or fast recharge. Electrochemical capacitors (ECCs), also relying on electrochemical phenomena, offer higher power at the price of relatively lower energy density. In contrast, electrostatic capacitors (ESCs) operate by purely physical means, storing charge on the surfaces of two conductors. This makes them capable of high power and fast recharge, but at the price of lower energy density.

The Maryland research team's new devices are electrostatic nanocapacitors which dramatically increase energy storage density of such devices - by a factor of 10 over that of commercially available devices - without sacrificing the high power they traditionally characteristically offer. This advance brings electrostatic devices to a performance level competitive with electrochemical capacitors and introduces a new player into the field of candidates for next-generation electrical energy storage.

Where will these new nanodevices appear? Lee and Rubloff emphasize that they are developing the technology for mass production as layers of devices that could look like thin panels, similar to solar panels or the flat panel displays we see everywhere, manufactured at low cost. Multiple energy storage panels would be stacked together inside a car battery system or solar panel. In the longer run, they foresee the same nanotechnologies providing new energy capture technology (solar, thermoelectric) that could be fully integrated with storage devices in manufacturing.

This advance follows soon after another accomplishment--the dramatic improvement in performance (energy and power) of electrochemical capacitors (ECC's), thus 'supercapacitors,' by Lee's research group, published recently in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. (Figure 1). Efforts are under way to achieve comparable advances in energy density of lithium (Li) ion batteries but with much higher power density.

"U-Md.'s successes are built upon the convergence and collaboration of experts from a wide range of nanoscale science and technology areas with researchers already in the center of energy research," Rubloff said.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Energy Costs Take 20% Bite From Average Wallet

/PRNewswire/ -- American families faced the biggest increase in energy expenses on record last year, in large part because of costs for transportation fuels driving global demand.

According to a study released today by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), for the half of the U.S. families earning $50,000 or less, energy costs consumed 20 percent of after-tax income in 2008. The study also reveals energy costs consumed a quarter of after-tax income when families made $30,000 or less.

"This is our annual household energy cost report card, and this year we would grade 2008 as a D for dangerous," said Joe Lucas, Senior Vice President of Communications for ACCCE. "As our economy is faltering and more and more Americans are finding it hard to make ends meet, adopting policies that help keep energy costs affordable should be a national priority."

Families saw their total energy burden increase by 75 percent between 2001 and 2008. Electricity costs increased less than 38 percent during that same timeframe showing that electricity remains an energy bargain in most parts of the country.

"Primarily because we used lower-cost domestic coal for half our nation's electric generation, electricity costs have increased at less than the inflation rate during the past two decades," Lucas said.

The study notes that gasoline prices retreated from historic highs in July, but they are once again starting to climb, ensuring the total energy cost burden will continue to seriously constrain most people's budgets. Lucas said that this shows the economic peril associated with high reliance on imported energy resources.

"In our focus groups, many Americans say that they feel helpless to reduce energy costs when America is dependent on other countries to meet our energy needs. We can change that. We have domestic fuels like coal available here at home, and we can use those fuels wisely to not only promote energy independence but to also keep energy costs low," said Lucas.

Lucas said that ACCCE supports the expanded use of electricity to fuel transportation energy needs, recognizing that a variety of fuels will be needed to meet the increase in electricity demand as a means of displacing foreign oil.

Lucas also noted that keeping energy costs affordable needed to be a key factor in shaping government policies - especially in designing a federal program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We support a mandatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Lucas. "We just believe that we have to be smart in designing the program to ensure that consumers are not paying a higher than necessary cost of energy."

According to Lucas, the 100 percent auction for emissions allowances being promoted for inclusion in a federal cap-and-trade bill will drive up the cost to consumers.

"Under an auction for emissions credits, you get the very same environmental benefit as you would with an allocation of credits - it is just that the cost to the consumer is higher," said Lucas.

"These auctions really work as a de facto energy tax where the government raises revenue ultimately paid by consumers with the hope of getting that money back at some future date in the form of an increased government service. We say, don't raise the cost of energy on American consumers, if you can keep from it, based upon the promise of repaying that investment somewhere in the future," said Lucas.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Shell Rolls Out All-New Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines With Free Fill-Ups

/PRNewswire/ -- This morning at Shell stations across the U.S., consumers received a free fill-up with Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines, a new fuel containing a unique, patented cleaning system designed to seek and destroy engine "gunk" (carbon deposits) in all three grades of gasoline. To celebrate the debut of the new fuel, Shell held seven simultaneous events - Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline Spring Clean-up Giveaways - where free fuel was available from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. to drivers.

Consumers lined up in their vehicles for an opportunity to try the new fuel (at no cost) in top commuter markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington (District of Columbia), Seattle, Houston, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati. Throughout the week of March 2, local radio stations hinted to participating Shell gasoline stations in their respective regions. This morning, on-air personalities finally directed listeners to a selected Shell gasoline station in their area, and throngs of consumers followed.

"With Spring approaching, people sometimes forget that their vehicle engines need a 'spring clean-up' too," said Karen Wildman, Shell U.S. brand and communications manager. "These gasoline giveaways are a great way to introduce the new Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines to drivers and to showcase how the gasolines clean and protect critical engine parts."

NITROGEN ENRICHED FUEL SPARKS SPRING CLEAN-UP

With spring on its way, there's no better time to get a head start on cleaning vehicle engines with Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines. Nitrogen is a key ingredient of the gasoline's active cleaning molecule, which is significantly more stable at higher temperatures common in modern engines, such as direct fuel-injection engines. The increased stability ensures that the molecule can work under much tougher engine conditions by resisting thermal breakdown better than conventional cleaning additives.

Shell developed the new fuel with the consumer in mind, knowing that in today's challenging economy consumers are looking to preserve one of their largest investments - their vehicles. They also are looking to get the most out of every drop of gasoline. Shell worked very closely with automotive manufacturers to gain insight into current and future engine technologies. These insights along with fuels technology leadership and a strong research and development program help Shell continually improve its products.

Additionally, the new formula is proven to prevent build-up of gunk more effectively than gasolines containing only the minimum amount of cleaning agents as required by the EPA. The new formula is certified to meet and exceed TOP TIER Gasoline Detergent standards - voluntary standards designated by some of the world's top automakers (Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen) to try to raise the bar on fuel quality beyond minimum government criteria.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Southern Company Reaches Milestone in Smart Meter Program with 1 Million Installations

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southern Company announced today that it has installed 1 million Smart Meters, achieving a milestone in an advanced electricity metering program that will eventually see 4.4 million meters in place for its customers across the Southeast.

The program - which integrates advanced metering, communications and other innovative technologies to provide superior customer service at reduced operating costs - is producing direct benefits for the customer, the environment and the company while positioning the company to employ additional features of the technology in the future.

The initiative began in January 2008 and will deploy Smart Meters for customers of Southern Company's electric utility subsidiaries Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power. The company is installing about 4,500 meters each day.

In addition to reducing operating costs that can help keep rates lower for customers, the company expects the program to lessen environmental impact. Southern Company, for example, expects to reduce the vehicle fleet used for meter reading by at least 500, saving 12.5 million miles of driving annually and producing direct benefits in lower vehicle emissions.

Once fully deployed, the Smart Meter program may also allow customers to manage energy consumption, helping them to be more efficient by providing detailed energy usage information and innovative rate options.

"Southern Company continues to be an industry leader in adopting technology that benefits customers while reducing environmental impact," said Southern Company CEO David Ratcliffe. "The company's progress in the Smart Meter program underscores our commitment to customer service and environmental responsibility."

Installing Smart Meters throughout Southern Company's territory lays the groundwork for many potential technology opportunities and benefits in the future as well. Those include:

-- Innovative billing and rate options
-- Remote programmability of meters
-- Power quality monitoring
-- Prepaid power options

Southern Company's program is based on the Sensus FlexNet(R) Advanced Metering Infrastructure network, which uses advanced technology that allows for a range of features, including meter reading for monthly billing, two-way communication between customers and the company, outage detection, and remote reconnects and disconnects.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Southern Company COO Tom Fanning Details Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiatives

Southern Company (NYSE:SO) Chief Operating Officer Tom Fanning yesterday offered a glimpse of the broad range of initiatives currently under way across Southern Company and its subsidiaries to develop and deploy the technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to provide reliable, affordable electricity to the company's 4.4 million customers across the Southeast.

In remarks delivered to the Southern States Energy Board's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership's 4th Annual Stakeholders' Briefing held here yesterday, Fanning noted that technology solutions to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will vary depending on geographic region.

"Southern Company believes that a diverse portfolio of solutions will be necessary to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation." Fanning continued, "As there is no single answer, we are pursuing a number of CO2 reduction strategies including increasing energy efficiency and conservation, bringing more renewables online, and deploying new nuclear and clean coal technologies."

Southern Company subsidiaries Georgia Power and Alabama Power are currently conducting pilot-scale, solar photovoltaic (PV) system demonstration projects to help determine the most promising PV technology for the hot, humid southeastern United States.

Fanning also noted that Georgia Power recently submitted an application to the Georgia Public Service Commission to convert the company's Plant Mitchell, near Albany, Ga., from coal to 100 percent biomass. A decision is expected March 17. If approved, the retooled plant would have 96 megawatts of capacity and be the largest biomass facility in the United States.

In addition, Fanning detailed Mississippi Power's request currently before that state's public service commission to build a state-of-the-art integrated gasification combined cycle power plant that would use technology developed by Southern Company in a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Energy. By providing carbon capture and sequestration, the facility will lead the way to lower-carbon electricity production.

Fanning noted that clean coal, including carbon capture and storage (CCS), increasingly appears to show promise for the future. "The Southeast has large capacity and very secure geologic sequestration potential," he said. "That's one of the reasons Southern Company employs such a robust research and development program related to CCS, including a CO2 pilot injection program at Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel."

Fanning emphasized, however, that existing barriers to commercial-scale operation of CCS such as uncertainty about the cost of carbon capture technology and outstanding regulatory and long-term storage liability issues have yet to be resolved fully. "If we are to continue to take the steps to widely deploy CCS, it is imperative that regulatory frameworks be consistent and fair to all industries."

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Georgia PSC Approves Investment Program for Atlanta Gas Light to Promote Job Growth and Cleaner Air

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) today unanimously approved a new economic development and environmental program developed by Atlanta Gas Light, a subsidiary of AGL Resources (NYSE:AGL) , to encourage smart new investment in Georgia. The new program, called "Georgia Sustainable Environmental Economic Development program," or Georgia SEED, is designed to attract and retain jobs, support projects to reduce carbon emissions and encourage new investment in Georgia.

"Georgia's economy is suffering like our national economy," said Suzanne Sitherwood, president, Atlanta Gas Light. "The best way to get our economy moving is to make investments that attract jobs or keep jobs here. Georgia SEED is a new tool in the state's economic development toolbox that allows Atlanta Gas Light to invest in Georgia's future at no risk to our customers."

Under the new program, Atlanta Gas Light will contract with existing business customers or new customers that may be considering expanding into Georgia. AGL shall have the option to invest its capital to help customers finance line extensions, new natural gas equipment and equipment installations.

"Smart investing can generate new business and improve the state's air quality at the same time," said Hank Linginfelter, executive vice president, AGL Resources. "Installing new equipment that improves a business's efficiency or allows it to comply with new carbon emission laws may allow the business to better control its energy costs. Georgia SEED could make the difference in whether a struggling business remains open."

AGL and the Georgia PSC will work together to determine how Georgia SEED, which is a five-year, experimental program, should be designed to best meet the needs of Georgia business. Although AGL has long participated in state and local economic development projects, Georgia SEED is a new approach that allows the utility to expand its ability to meet customer needs while collaborating with the Georgia PSC to promote jobs and smart environmental investments.

Georgia SEED offers three potential avenues for contracts: providing customers with the benefit of a new utility service extension to plant sites; offering financing for the purchase and installation of new higher-efficiency gas equipment, such as engines, boilers, fleet vehicles, refueling stations and gas-fired air conditioning equipment; and discounted utility rates to help lower overall energy costs.

Georgia SEED benefits are available to customers who can establish significant economic and environmental benefits for the state. Customers will have little or no up-front costs and can pay back the investment over the life of the project.

"We are committed to improving the business climate of the state while improving the state's environment," said Sitherwood. "Responsible growth can achieve both goals simultaneously."

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