Tag Archives: APS

GoGreen Conference '11

GoGreen Conference ’11 Emphasizes Sustainability Education, Patience

Whether it’s educating attendees of green and sustainability in the workplace or the speakers’ efforts to educate public and private entities of sustainability in their community, “education” was the buzzword and couldn’t have been stressed enough at the GoGreen Conference ’11 this past Tuesday, November 15. Well, that and a lot of patience.

“It’s not just about being and going green,” said Ed Fox, chief sustainability officer for APS.” It’s about educating and sustaining it.”

Dr. George Brooks, owner of Southwest Green and NxT Horizon Group, agreed: “There’s more to sustainability than solar panels,” he said. “If you want to make sustainability and its process sustainable, you need to make it useful.”

More than 50 speakers from all over the state were in attendance for the first GoGreen Conference ’11 held at the Phoenix Convention Center. Furniture IKEA donated to the panel discussions will be donated to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

This all-day conference held back-to-back panel sessions with leaders of sustainable business, who educated attendees on the latest sustainable practices for their respective businesses.

City of Phoenix Major Phil Gordon announced that this was possibly his last opportunity to speak as an elected official about his and the city’s green efforts. He said that although mayor elect Greg Stanton was unable to attend the GoGreen Conference, Stanton is committed to “help build Phoenix as the greenest city.”

Gordon also shared Phoenix-area, sustainability-related statistics and accomplishments over the years, including:

  • Phoenix is home to the only solar light rail stop (near the U.S. Airways Center) in the nation, “maybe in the world.”
  • The city has raised more than $1M in incentives to businesses and homeowners for their sustainability efforts.
  • Through Solar Phoenix, the Valley has more than 425 solar-installed homes. These homeowners have saved 10 percent on utility bills, on average.
  • By 2025, 15 percent of the city will be powered by fossil fuels. And also by 2025, 25 percent of the city will be shaded throughout with canopies and palm trees.

Maria Baier, commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department, provided opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of supporting universities and higher education seeking research dollars for its sustainability efforts. She continues to speak about how to not only go green, but also stay green.

“In order to go green and stay green, we need to keep our product legitimate,” Baier said. “We need to continue to defend it and improve reliability and dependability.”

Rounding out the first session of the conference was Al Halvorsen, senior director of environmental sustainability of Frito-Lay North America.

Halvorsen spoke about Frito-Lay and PepsiCo’s environmental sustain/ability journey — how they were able to confront their challenges (reducing its environmental impact), become an “embracer” of sustainability instead of a “cautious adapter,” and view sustainability as a competitive advantage — incorporating it into PepsiCo’s business with the following strategies:

  • Move Early: Over time, your business will evolve.
  • Balance Short/Long Term: Achieve near-term wins with long-term vision. Your business needs a foundation to help push longer-term envelopes.
  • Focus Top Down and Bottom Up: Track and monitor usage every day.
  • Measure Everything: By 2020, Frito-Lay predicts it will cut its diesel fuel usage in half.
  • Value Intangible Benefits
  • Be Authentic and Transparent: Share your business’s wins, losses and challenges.

“Sustainability for us is a journey and by no means are we there,” Halvorsen said. Jonce Walker, sustainability manager for Maricopa County agreed: “We are nowhere near done,” he said. “We still have so much left to do.”

Check back for part II of the GoGreen Conference ’11 coverage on AZNow.Biz.

For more information about the GoGreen Conference, visit www.gogreenconference.net.

 

APS Shade Tree Program

APS Shade Tree Program For Customers

Planting shade trees around your home can save you up to $50 per year on your energy bill, and with the APS Shade Tree program, “shaded walls can be 9° to 36° cooler at peak times,” according to its website.

“In addition to energy savings, shade trees also add value to your property, produce oxygen to help clean the air, capture rainwater, provide a wildlife habitat and reduce storm water runoff.”

The APS Shade Tree Program will supply free shade trees to APS customers who meet the requirements and attend a free shade tree workshop that will cover the planting and care of your shade trees.

The requirements for the APS Shade Tree program:

  • Must be a current APS residential customer living in Maricopa County
  • Must be able to plant the trees approximately 15 feet away from the western, eastern or southern side of your home
  • Must have the legal right to plant the trees on the property
  • Must have the ability to care for the tree as needed
  • Must attend an APS Shade Tree workshop

Each APS Shade Tree Program workshop is approximately an hour long and curriculum materials will be provided on how to plant and care for your shade tree. Once approved for your trees at the workshop, APS customers must wait to pick up their trees once they have matured.

Two trees will be provided to each APS customer who qualifies for the workshop. Unless the APS customer’s home was built prior to 1980, then the customer qualifies for three trees.

To register for an APS Shade Tree Program Workshop, visit aps.com/trees.

The workshops are running until the end of October. But if you miss out this year, more workshops are planned for 2012.  You can send an e-mail to trees@aps.com to receive notification when the next APS Shade Tree program will be held.

 

National Bank of Arizona, APS Energy Efficiency Partnership

APS Home Performance Program Provides Loans For Homeowners Energy Efficient Improvements

National Bank of Arizona has partnered with APS to provide an affordable financial incentive for APS customers to renovate their homes with energy efficient improvements. It’s called the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

The program was started more than a year ago and at the time was only available to schools and small businesses. But now, the partnership has  opened up so all APS residential customers have the ability to benefit not only the environment, but their wallet as well.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with a company like APS that views environmental sustainability as a top priority for our community,” says Craig Robb, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona. “Our business energy financing program has been incredibly successful and, we’ve recognized the need to offer the same initiatives in the residential sector, as well.”

Photo: photos.com

The APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program allows homeowners to receive loan amounts ranging with a standard rate of financing, from $1,000-$15,000 for qualifying energy efficiency improvements. Loans that include improvements for solar water heaters are available up to $20,000. The energy efficient improvements included in the partnership program range from duct sealing and shade screens to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacements, solar water heaters and more.

To get started, customers need to schedule their $99 (regularly $400) APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Checkup with a participating contractor. Customers can locate a contractor by calling (877) 850-8358 or visiting www.aps.com.

Learn more about the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program and financing details by visiting any one of National Bank of Arizona’s 76 branches statewide or calling (866) 277-5605 for more information. Customers can also log on to www.nbarizona.com or www.aps.com/financing.

Solar Energy Arizona Western College,

Solar Energy Builds on Arizona Western College Campus

The current economic situation has spurred a lot of talk, advertisements and encouragement to buy local and use local to sustain our economy. The Guinness Book of World Records named Yuma, AZ the sunniest city on earth, so where better to utilize innovative solar energy technology on Yuma’s Arizona Western College campus?

The Project

The Arizona Western College in Yuma is in the process of installing solar panels to cover close to 100 percent of its daytime electricity needs and cut its costs, all of which are planned to happen by October 2011. However, this project is doing more than just generating solar energy; it is utilizing five new types of photovoltaic technology from six different companies.

Arizona Western College plans to use the solar panels to teach classes on solar technology, installation and environmental engineering. This three-year solar project, from vision to completion, was partially funded by APS and will be managed by Main Street Power for 30 years and after the contract expires, the equipment will become part of the college and continue producing energy, says Lori Stofft, the director of public relations and marketing at Arizona Western College.

It is unique to apply five different technologies to a single institution, but that is one of the projects innovative angles.

The five photovoltaic technologies and the companies behind them include:

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

1. CPV (concentrator photovoltaic) from SolFocus, including their dual-axis trackers and GreenVolts fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverter
2. Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar
3. Monocrystalline panels from Solar World
4. Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech
5. Single-axis trackers from O Solar

Another unique aspect of this project is that the building process is streamed live over the internet to allow the community and the solar technology companies to check in on the progress.

“A lot of our partners are in Northern California, Germany, Spain… we wanted those people to feel like they were connected to our campus and that they could check in seven days a week and find out what was going on,” Stofft says. “It’s a way to include our partners in the building process.

The ground breaking was in May 2011 and the “Flip the Switch” completion ceremony is slated for October 2011. Only six months were allotted to cover 23 acres of land with solar arrays. The tight deadline was set in order to meet APS’s guidelines for the funding.

The Educational Advantage

It would make more sense to use one solar technology instead of five if it was just about energy generation, but it’s not, Stofft says. It’s about allowing the companies to measure their technologies against one another in one of the harshest climates on earth. Another educational aspect of the project will be the incubation area and the demonstration garden.

“The demonstration garden will have nine different technologies that students and the public will have access to,” Stofft  says. “They can see how [the technologies] measure against each other and what measures against the five major arrays.”

The incubation area is based on rental, and for a fee, technology companies can rent a private and secure area for a small array where they can test their equipment against the solar arrays already in place. The estimated savings for Arizona Western College with the solar array in place will be $3.5 million in the first 10 years, $15.4 million in 20 years and a projected $40 million over 30 years, including incubation rental fees.

“It’s more than just saving our tax payers money; it can be a road map for other colleges around the country who want to educate their own students,” Stofft  says. “There are all sorts of certificate and training programs and we could be educating people who work in solar industry at all levels.”

Arizona Western College graduated their first solar installer class of 19 in spring 2011 and are in the process of embedding solar technology into new and existing programs, developing 2-year degrees that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

It seems as though everyone wins.

Arizona Western College saves money; the solar companies get to test and monitor their technology in a large scale setting; the students reap the benefits, and the community creates jobs. The only thing left is getting a White House representative, or the president himself to the “Flip the Switch” ceremony.

A Presidential Approval

“The goal is to attract national attention to the array,” Stofft  says. “I really feel this is about energy independence for our country.”

Arizona Western College sent a formal invitation to the White house, but there has been no response yet. They are keeping their fingers crossed, and if the White House plans to respond, it still has time.

“The students, faculty and community are so proud that this solar array is being installed,” Stofft  says. “And if we can get the White House to visit, that will just be the cherry on top.”

For more information about Arizona Western College’s solar panels and its progress, visit www.azwestern.edu.

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Videos

Watch: AWC Solar Array Presidential Invite

Watch: AWC Solar Array Groundbreaking May 2011

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Solar Panels - AZRE Magazine July/August 2011

Solar Panels And Installations Make Good Financial Sense

Figuring out the bottom line return on investment figures for installing solar panels on commercial buildings is a bit like hitting a moving target. Incentives from utilities are apt to change and sow uncertainty in the market, thus access to capital can be iffy in these challenging economic times.

But some business owners who have installed systems in the past year agree: The right incentive package from Arizona Public Service or Salt River Project, combined with federal and state tax incentives, makes solar a good financial — as well as environmental — bet.

Here is a snapshot of two businesses that managed to put the right ingredients together.

Cowley Companies and APS

Cowley Companies, a Phoenix real estate investment firm, placed one of the largest commercial rooftop solar arrays in the country on one of its warehouses near 25th Avenue and Buckeye Road.

The project cost $11.5M and includes 7,872 panels, which generate about 2.4 megawatts of power. According to CEO Mike Cowley, the solar array is producing half of the electricity needed in the 850,000 SF building, which includes tenants with industrial refrigeration requirements. His annual bill had been running about $1M.

Cowley says he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with APS and cannot reveal what the utility company is paying him per kilowatt hour, but the agreement obligates APS to pay incentives until 60% of the project costs — the amount he borrowed to finance the project — is paid off. The incentive payments cover the loan payments. Cowley estimates that will take about 12 years.

He’ll recoup 30% of the cost through a federal tax credit. Additionally, tenants now reimburse him for power used. With that mix of incentives and payments, he calculated his self-financed portion of the project, about 10%, will be paid off in about six years.

With a 25-year warranty on the panels, the decision to erect the array made good financial sense, Cowley says.

In 2009, APS established a reverse-auction system that requires commercial entities to bid for an incentive package. Spokesman Steven Gotfried says APS scores each application and awards the bid to those who produce the most electricity for the lowest incentives.

APS’ calculator takes into account the system size, the amount of energy it is expected to produce, the incentive requested and years of payment. The lower the score, the smaller the incentive per kilowatt hour requested. Incentives are then awarded starting with the lowest score. This continues until all the funds are allotted. It’s a competitive, market-driven process designed to lower incentives.

Lower incentives, Cowley says, would have made his deal less feasible.

“People are not going to get excited about a 20-year payback,” he says. Businesses may even “be waiting for SRP and APS to bring the rate back up to where solar makes sense again.”

Gotfried says APS is trying to find the right balance between offering too few and too many incentives, with a finite pool or resources.

“The goal at the end of the day is to drive down the cost of solar,” he says. “The incentives weren’t meant to go on forever, they were meant to get things started.”

The price of solar panels has dropped 50% in the past three years, says Lee Feliciano, president of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association and a solar developer with CarbonFree Technology.

There may come a time, he says, when the industry no longer offers incentives for the panels, but that day is not yet on the horizon.

“The incentives are there to position the industry,” Feliciano says. “A lot of the biggest industries in the country would not be here without incentives.”

Even with incentive amounts dropping, installing solar panels on a commercial building can still be a good deal, says Gary Held, sales and marketing manager with Harmon Solar, which worked on the Av-Air project.

With incentive rates running around 10 cents to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, someone with access to capital can have a system paid off in about eight years. With a 20-year production-based incentive, that still makes financial sense, he says.

An owner who leases a system can see the end of lease payments in about 12 years and have eight years of incentives.

“We shout from the rooftops: If you are a commercial business owner with cash or access to capital with good credit, putting solar on your rooftop is a sound investment,” Held says.

Av-Air and SRP

“I am extremely satisfied with the way it is turning out for us,” says Bob Ellis, president of Reason’s Aviation, the parent company of Av-Air, a Chandler-based company that offers aftermarket parts and services to the airline industry.

Harmon Solar of Phoenix installed a 151,800-watt photovoltaic system made up of 550 solar panels on Av-Air’s rooftop, which is equivalent to about 20 residential-sized systems.

Ellis says the total cost of the project was $808,000. About 30% of the cost was covered by a federal grant and $25,000 will come back to him as a state tax credit, which is available to companies whose solar systems are operational this year.

The solar array covers 100% of his energy needs and SRP, he says, is paying him an incentive of 21.4 cents per kilowatt hour for 10 years, which comes out to $6,000 a month. Add that to the approximate $4,000 a month his tenants pay him for solar generated electricity and the fact that he’s no longer paying an electric bill, and the decision to go solar was “a no-brainer.” Ellis says it will take him about four years to pay back his $560,000 in up-front, out-of-pocket expenses.

The only downside to the process occurred when none of the four or five banks he does business with would lend him money for the out-of-pocket expenses, saying they were too unfamiliar with the incentive process.

Ellis also concedes it may be difficult for companies today to replicate Av-Air’s circumstances because SRP’s incentives are much less generous than they were in 2009.

“It was a really good deal and I got in on it just at the right time,” he says.

Both SRP and APS have production based incentive (PBI) programs for medium- and large-sized commercial customers. PBIs pay a customer over time based on the amount of energy produced, as opposed to the up-front incentives given to homeowners or small-business owners.

SRP now offers a PBI of 12 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years for the first two megawatts of power applied for, but lowers the funding to 11 cents and then 10 cents respectively for each successive two megawatts. Its annual pool is for six megawatts.

Lori Singleton, SRP manager for sustainable initiatives and technology, says the utility simply has a finite set of resources and is trying not to over-subsidize an emerging industry.

“As the cost of solar decreases and demand increases, we have restructured our solar incentives to reflect that,” Singleton says. “It has been our intent from the beginning to reduce the rates as prices come down, so one day the industry can stand on its own without incentives.”

Reducing incentives also allows SRP to provide them to more customers, she says.

For more information about solar panels and incentive programs, visit srpnet.com or aps.com.

AZRE Magazine July/August 2011

All-Star Game 2010 Festivities, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

82nd Annual MLB All-Star Game Arrives In Arizona Just In Time

82nd Annual MLB All-Star Game 

Arizona catches a much-needed break this summer when the 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game rolls into Chase Field in Downtown Phoenix in July.

“It’s a big year for the Diamondbacks,” says Derrick Hall, president of the Arizona Diamondbacks. “We have the opening of the new spring training complex, the All-Star Game, which we wanted for so many years, and the 10th anniversary of that World Series from 2001.”

FanFest 2010, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011The Diamondbacks winning the 2001 World Series is significant for several reasons: it was an incredible moment in Arizona sports history, it benefited the local economy as media exposure put Metro Phoenix in the national spotlight and those who came pumped millions into the state’s coffers.

But since that memorable fall — the series went to a deciding seventh game at Bank One Ballpark, now called Chase Field — Arizona has been hit hard by the recession, with the summer months bearing most of the brunt.

The All-Star Game couldn’t have come at a better time. The festivities surrounding it — the Home Run Derby, Futures Game, Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center — will open the event to thousands of fans and inject nearly $67 million into Arizona’s economy.

This approximation includes money spent by All-Star Week visitors, including sponsors from MLB, on lodging, transportation, food and any other accumulated costs from visitors’ stays in the Valley and Downtown Phoenix.

Hall says with FanFest taking place downtown, All-Star Week will also create some jobs.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 visitors from all across the country will attend, with past All-Star Games filling
between 14,000 and 16,500 hotel rooms in host cities, which should boost hotel business in Downtown Phoenix.

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011In addition to the throng of fans, sports-related programming and national outlets such as the MLB Network and ESPN’s Baseball Tonight will be broadcasting live from Phoenix, spotlighting the Valley with tremendous media exposure.

The 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis was covered by more than 2,000 broadcasters, writers and photographers and reached a television audience of more than 14.6 million viewers in 230 countries, according to Major League Baseball.

“To put this exposure in perspective, consider that corporate sponsors attached their names to various All-Star events in 2009 realized more than $38 million in media values,” says Scott Dunn, communications consultant for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Now consider that Greater Phoenix’s brand will be implicitly connected to every All-Star event.”

Hall says he hopes this will prompt more tourism to the area in the future, as well.

“We’re going to have a lot of visitors coming for the first time, coming in from all over the country, just as they did for the World Series,” Hall says. “I want them to be blown away at the friendliness and knowledge of our staff, the beauty, comfort and safety of our building … we’re going to showcase some initiatives we have that no other teams do.”

Futures Game 2010, MLB, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011The media exposure and the out-of-state visitors’ low expectations, especially regarding the temperatures, should have been two factors that made Hall sweat, but he and his staff are well prepared.

“According to feedback from MLB, we’ve been more organized and more proactive than any other team MLB has dealt with,” Hall says proudly. “We’re taking the initiative in each and every area.

“It’s their show, but they’ve accepted most of our recommendations; they’re really pleased with our efforts. Our results should be good if not better than any other All-Star Game.”

While Hall and his staff have their bases covered, it wasn’t an easy task bringing the All-Star Game to the Valley, especially during the summer months.

Improvements and additions to the stadium were made in order to eliminate any major concerns. In addition to renovations, including the upgrading of the video board, stadium lights and party suites specifically for the All-Star Game, a shade structure with solar paneling has been built at the entrance of the stadium in partnership with APS.

Also benefiting will be Valley charities. A number of groups recommended by Hall will receive proceeds associated with some of the events to the tune of $1.5 million to $2 million.

“I’m hoping the community supports this just as a point of pride,” Hall says. “This is something every team wants, but not every team gets. Let’s really take advantage of having the game here; let’s be proud.”

 

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If You Go to the MLB All-Star Game

Chase Field
401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix
July 12, 2011
Tickets: (602) 514-8400
www.allstargame.com


All-Star Week Schedule:

July 8-12: All-Star FanFest at
Phoenix Convention Center

July 10: All-Star Futures Game
& All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game

July 11: All-Star Workout Day
at Chase Field featuring the
Home Run Derby

July 12: 82nd MLB All-Star
Game at Chase Field

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Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Chase Field - AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Chase Field: Keeping It Cool

Gearing up for another typical Phoenix summer and the All-Star Game at Chase Field in July, the Arizona Diamondbacks have partnered with APS on a solar structure that could be considered a doubleheader.

Just In Time For The All-Star Game, Chase Field’s Solar Structure Will Be A Benefit To Many

Erected in a matter of months above the plaza adjacent to Chase Field’s western entrances and ticket booths, this addition provides fans with welcome shade before they enter the air-conditioned stadium and at the same time generates 75 kilowatts of solar power. That’s enough energy to provide electricity for up to nine homes, APS says.
While no one can say how much cooler — or less steamy — it will be under the 250-foot by 65-foot structure, Arizonans know the difference between being in the sun and being in the shade.

In addition, APS intends to use the solar facility as a technical demonstration project that includes electric vehicle charging stations and a battery storage system. What’s more, the structure features educational exhibits that showcase elements of sustainable living, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and recycling.

APS calls a section under the structure “a green energy classroom,” enabling fans to obtain information about living green and saving energy and money. Some displays provide interactive learning opportunities.

Keeping Fans At Chase Field Cool

Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the Diamondbacks, says he wanted to create shade outside the Chase Field ballpark for fans attending the All-Star Game on July 12 and related events inside.

“Because of the heightened security, it does take a bit longer to get into the ballpark,” Hall says. “I approached APS about the idea and they loved it, embraced it, with the solar panels on top.”

An additional element — fans for the fans — includes four ceiling fans, 16-feet in diameter, that will produce a gentle breeze of about 7 mph.

“We want to make sure that the fans are a little more comfortable than they would be without that shade,” Hall says.

APS plans to use the solar facility, which will have a 20-year life span, as a technical demonstration project.

“Behind the scenes, this will be a working laboratory,” says Don Robinson, APS president. “We will study what’s possible with urban solar arrays and how we can power electric vehicles directly from the sun.”

Keeping It Green For Arizona

Dan Wool, APS corporate communications specialist, says the utility paid for the project, which cost slightly less than $1M.

“This project is unique to the Diamondbacks and that space,” Wool says. “Basically, it’s like a small solar power plant.”

Energy generated goes directly into the APS power grid. It gives APS the opportunity to study how such a facility works in a downtown area. The test battery storage system is an effort to meet one of the solar energy challenges in Arizona — peak energy-use period around 4-5 p.m.

Andy Kunasek, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which also serves as the Maricopa County Stadium District’s governing board, says, “This new structure represents Maricopa County’s ongoing commitment to green practices and sustainability through a unique public-private partnership dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of the county and Chase Field (Maricopa County owns Chase Field).”

Chris Jenkins, a designer for project architect HKS Inc., says the Chase Field structure spans 17,000 SF and is supported by a series of steel trusses. Solar panels provide shade for 6,000 SF, and fabric in the team colors of Sedona red and desert tan shields the rest of the structure.

“We want to make sure the fans at the All-Star Game don’t walk away and say, ‘It’s too hot here,’ ” Jenkins says.

He concedes that it’s difficult to avoid the heat in Phoenix during the summer, but adds, “We’re going to do what we can.”

Renewable Energy Contractors, a division of Ironco, was the general contractor for construction of the structure. Malcolm Persen, executive vice president, says his company has been installing solar units throughout Arizona for four years, and describes the Chase Field D-Backs’ project as “far and away a showcase.”

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Empire Power Systems

Largest Commercial Solar Rooftop System in Arizona Unveiled

Empire Power Systems this week completed the installation of an $11.5 million, 2.4 megawatt SunPower solar rooftop system on the Cowley Industrial Park building in South Phoenix. The project is the largest commercial solar rooftop system in Arizona and the second largest in U.S.

Cowley Companies, a Phoenix-based real estate investment firm, decided to install the solar system on this 850,000-square-foot warehouse because it houses food-service tenants that require large refrigerator and freezer units, which translate into high electricity bills. This was the company’s second solar undertaking; last year, Cowley added a 40kW, 188-module fixed mount system to the parking structure at its headquarters on Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix.

“We wanted to provide our tenants with a source of renewable energy that would reduce the property’s electric bills by approximately 40 percent annually,” said Mike Cowley, president of Cowley Companies. “When you consider that last year’s total electric bills for this property exceeded $1 million, you begin to understand how over time this solar system will realize significant cost savings that we can eventually pass on to our tenants.”

Since the system was commissioned Aug. 18, it has produced more than 600,000-kilowatt hours of electric power. It is expected to produce more than 4 million kilowatt hours per year, enough to completely power 340 homes. Additionally, it will offset 3,900 tons of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of taking nearly 700 cars off the road.

“This solar system will provide Cowley Companies with a competitive edge in today’s challenging commercial real estate market,” said Brett Burns, Empire Power Systems general manager. “Now the company has a performing asset on its rooftop that is making a positive impact on our environment. The company has a real opportunity to attract new tenants to the space who may not have previously considered it.”

The solar rooftop system features 7,872 ballasted SunPower T-5 panels, the industry’s first non-penetrating rooftop product, which are connected to an above-grade electrical conduit that runs into the inverter room, where four 500kW SatCon inverters convert the direct current energy into usable commercial electricity. Tilted at a five-degree angle, the T5 solar roof tile system approximately doubles the energy generated per square meter compared to systems that are mounted flat to commercial rooftops.

Empire Power Systems, a division of Mesa-based Empire Southwest LLC, served as the solar integrator for this project. Subcontractors (all of which are Arizona-based) include Buehler Brothers Electric, Cannon-Wendt Electrical, Progressive Roofing, Phasor Energy and Fifer Design. The installation was facilitated, in part, by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program.

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Pinnacle West Named To Three Sustainability Lists

There’s some good green news for Arizona. For the sixth year in a row, Pinnacle West (the parent company of Arizona Public Service Co.) has been separately named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DSJI) North America and as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the World.

The index recognizes sustainable business practices for publicly held companies and the Global 100 is a list of the most sustainable companies in the world, as compiled by global investing magazine Corporate Knights.

In addition, the company was named to the JustMeans’ Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders, ranking 294th out of 1,000 companies worldwide.

These recognitions signify Pinnacle West’s impressive focus on the environment.

“APS and Pinnacle West long ago adopted – and adhere to – a corporate strategy that balances financial strength with an equal focus on the environmental and community impacts of our business decisions,” said Ed Fox, APS Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We are honored that independent and respected organizations, such as these three, continue to recognize our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable business practices, both of which are key drivers in our long-term strategy and our day-to-day decisions.”

www.pinnaclewest.com
www.aps.com

Green Trash Can

Effective Ways To Go Green, High-Tech Trash Bins And More

Here’s some green bits from around the web. This week we’ve gathered stories about tattletale trashcans costing their owners big bucks, effective ways to go green that may surprise you, a possible “feed-in tariff” to encourage solar power growth in Arizona, test driving electric cars and others.

Feed-in Tariff to Aid Solar Weighed
Arizona officials are considering a “feed-in tariff” to encourage more solar power usage and to guarantee profits for solar developers. The tariff would require power companies to buy electricity from solar developers at prearranged prices, since they are required to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015. Similar tariffs are in place in Germany, the world’s leader in solar power, and in many states and cities across the United States.

Most Americans Unsure of Most Effective Ways to Save Energy
Researchers have discovered through surprising survey results that most Americans have vast misconceptions regarding the best ways to save energy. In general, the public thinks that curtailing energy use, by turning off the lights, for example, is the most effective way to save energy. In reality, using more energy-efficient equipment, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, can be just as, if not more, effective. There are a lot of surprising facts like that in this article and in the survey, found the results of which can be found here.

High-Tech Trash Bins Rat Out Residents Who Refuse to Recycle
Don’t recycle? Better start before your trashcan starts tattling and slaps you with a fee. In Cleveland, trash bins are being embedded with microchips that will prompt the collector to go through the bin if the recycling can isn’t brought to the curb regularly. If the bin is more than 10 percent recyclables, you get stuck with a $100 fee – all because your trashcan ratted you out. How embarrassing.

Study Finds 40% of U.S. Consumers Likely to Test Drive EVs
Despite the fact that most consumers have concerns preventing them from buying electric cars, a new study finds that at least 42 percent would be willing to consider and test drive an EV (electric vehicle). Concerns consumers face include the possibility of running out of battery power on the road and limited mileage, but the benefits, such as the positive environmental impact and potential cost savings, may soon outweigh the negatives.

Employees Losing Confidence in Companies’ Green Commitments
Americans’ confidence in their employers’ commitment to environmental responsibility has reached an all-time low, likely as a result of high unemployment and increased workflows. Meanwhile, local governments have inspired their highest level of confidence yet. These are based on the Green Confidence Index, a monthly online survey.

hr_team

2009 HR Team Of The Year Finalists

American Express LogoCompany: American Express Service Center – Phoenix
Web: www.americanexpress.com

Company established: 1850 | No. of employees in AZ: 7,400
No. of employees in HR dept.: 17

The 17 professionals in the human resources department at American Express’ service center in Phoenix have had a busy year and met many challenges amidst difficult circumstances.

The team fulfills its responsibilities by following two philosophies. First, it approaches its work as a partner with the center’s 2,900 employees. Team members participate in business meetings, listen to customer calls with employees and keep in touch with everyone who works there. Second, it believes all team members are “in it together.” They share information, focus on the most important priorities and support each other as a cohesive group.

The year began with work force reductions at the center, but the human resources team was expected to ramp up in areas needing additional attention. As part of that effort, the team successfully convinced existing front-line employees to take a chance and move into different jobs, even as the recession ravaged the financial-services sector.

Significant attention also was devoted to leadership development within the center’s management ranks. The team developed a new team-new leader assimilation program that reduced the learning curve for new managers. Four team members who specialize in leadership development conducted focus groups to help managers understand the needs and expectations of the employees they lead.

In addition, American Express selected its Phoenix service center to pilot a global wellness strategy this year. More than 1,300 employees participated in a kick-off event and 90 percent of employees who took on a healthy-living challenge completed it. The HR team also hired a full-time wellness coach and nutritionist.


Arizona Public Service Co.Company: Arizona Public Service Co.
Web: www.aps.com

Company established: 1886 | No. of employees in AZ: 7,147
No. of employees in HR dept.: 85

To say that the human resources department at Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) is busy is a vast understatement. This team of 85 professionals has its hands full.

APS faces a staffing challenge at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix. As operator of North America’s largest nuclear power plant, APS must deal with the fact that the majority of the employees there will near retirement age at the end of this decade. Human resources has launched an intense 18-month program to train college engineering recruits on the operation of highly technical aspects of the plant. Also, existing Palo Verde engineers are being groomed as mentors for the college graduates.

Human resources overhauled APS’ leadership development programs, as well. Few succession plans were in place for key leaders, and many emerging leaders were not receiving the breadth and depth of assignments they needed to progress to the next level. All existing leaders are given values-based training and new leaders receive basic training in supervisory skills. And, for the first time, APS’ middle managers have a program that enhances their skill sets and gives them feedback from peers. In addition, human resources is developing an emerging-leaders program.

Another duty for human resources was modernizing the company’s compensation model. It also has revamped compensation philosophy, moving APS away from cost-of-living pay increases to a performance-based merit system. Starting in 2010, APS will have an incentive program impacting 95 percent of its work force that will be tied directly to performance of the company and its employees.


St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical CenterCompany: St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center
Web: www.stjosephs-phx.org


Company established: 1895 | No. of employees in AZ: 5,000+
No. of employees in HR dept.: 26

The human resources team at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center played a significant role in helping the Phoenix hospital reach two milestones this year.

St. Joseph’s became the only hospital in Arizona to be recognized by BestCompaniesAZ as a best place to work for seven consecutive years. And for the first time, St. Joseph’s was named by Modern Healthcare as one of the industry’s top 100 best places to work nationally. BestCompaniesAZ administers best-places-to-work recognition programs in Arizona. Modern Healthcare is a national health care business news magazine.

Employee satisfaction may have something to do with St. Joseph’s open-door and two-way communication policies. Staff members have ample opportunities to ask questions and provide input. Each department holds daily employee meetings, with the hospital’s president hosting monthly employee forums. In addition, senior management conducts employee town halls throughout the year. To promote a work-life balance, the hospital offers telecommuting, flex hours, compressed work weeks, summer hours and job sharing.

The 25-member human resources team encourages diversity at St. Joseph’s. It partners with the Center for Transitional Rehab to integrate brain-injured patients into the hospital’s staff. The team partners with local and national job boards to reach out to ethnic groups and has developed programs to support a large Hispanic and Filipino work force. Disabled workers are encouraged to apply for employment or volunteer at the hospital.

Reaching out to the community, the human resources staff hosted five workshops this year to help the unemployed use alternative job-search tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn. gement, and employee relations. Its clients include startup companies and Fortune 50 firms.

Steven Lockhard TPI Composites

Steven Lockard – President And CEO, TPI Composites

When the goal is to carve out a spot on the cutting edge of green-energy technology, it helps to be in the business of making blades.

That’s the case with TPI Composites Inc., a privately held company now headquartered in Scottsdale that devotes a significant portion of its business to manufacturing massive wind-turbine blades used by such clients as Mitsubishi Power Systems and GE Energy. TPI Composites, which is also involved in the transportation and military vehicle markets, employs about 2,800 worldwide and operates facilities that house about 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing floor space in the United States, Mexico and China.

“Wind energy is our largest business,” says Steven Lockard, president and CEO. “It’s the business that is expanding at the most rapid pace.”

That expansion, which represents around 80 percent of the company’s annual sales, is indicative of an industry that has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years.

Lockard sees wind energy as a clean, reliable source of electricity and job creation, two areas addressed frequently in recent election campaigns.

“Three or four years ago when we had meetings in Washington, oftentimes we were trying to convince people that wind could become big enough to matter one day,” he says. “And that’s no longer the case.”

It matters now. In 2007, the domestic wind-energy industry expanded its power-generating capacity by 45 percent, installing 5,244 megawatts of wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That accounted for about 30 percent of the nation’s new power-producing capacity and represented $9 billion injected into the economy. Through three quarters of 2008, wind power was on pace to add 7,500 megawatts by year’s end.

And when it comes to job creation, TPI Composites plays a vital role. A newly opened 316,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa, is expected to employ about 500 workers when it reaches full capacity. That is a welcomed development in a town hit hard by job losses when its Maytag Corp. plant closed down in 2007.

Although Lockard is optimistic about the long-term prospects for wind energy, he is also realistic about the short term, suggesting the industry may continue to be impacted by the capital crisis through, at least, the first part of 2009. His observations are exclusive to wind energy, an industryenjoying record gains of late, but there may be a warning here for other high-tech businesses dealing with current financial conditions.

“We would expect to see perhaps more modest growth (in 2009) … not the same degree of growth that we’ve been experiencing the last few years,” Lockard says.

www.tpicomposites.com

Baby Boomer Bust

Baby Boomers Bust

Companies get ready as boomers start leaving the work force

The catchy term many are using to describe the impending exodus of baby boomers from the work force sounds like the title of a science-fiction film: “The Brain Drain.

But there’s nothing fictional about it. The oldest baby boomers, a group that includes more than 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, began qualifying for early Social Security benefits this year. Some may choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age and others could stay on for financial reasons, but the eventual departure of baby boomers will have a serious impact on corporate America.
This might be a particular concern in upper-management ranks, where positions are most likely manned by older, more experienced personnel and a talent pool of capable replacements is thin.

“The issue is simply that our population is getting older and the birth rates aren’t equal to the aging of the population,” says Angelo Kinicki, an Arizona State University management professor, author and consultant. “You’re going to have more people exiting than you will have entering (the work force).”

Despite this demographic shift, recent surveys from Ernst & Young and Monster Worldwide agree that few corporations are properly prepared for the challenges ahead.

“What’s going to happen here is as baby boomers retire, you’re going to have a lot of people who have knowledge that are leaving the work force,” Kinicki adds.

Kinicki says it’s vital to create systems for transferring knowledge from seasoned employees and senior executives down to lower levels through the organization.
“I’d say the more progressive companies are engaging in what we call knowledge-management programs,” Kinicki says.

But, according to a 2007 Monster study titled “Building and Securing an Organizational Brain Trust in an Age of Brain Drain,” few companies have taken such steps.

While trying to determine the level of awareness companies have of the coming brain drain and what they’re doing to prepare for it, Monster found that only 20 percent of firms had a formal strategy in place to manage and preserve organizational knowledge.

Monster concludes that “the absence of such planning leaves a valuable asset exposed to a competitive market. Firms must not only recognize the value of knowledge but actively manage and protect it.”

Kinicki says several companies in Arizona, such as Intel, APS and Honeywell, have taken a proactive approach.

One corporation that has been especially innovative is Avnet Inc., a Phoenix-based Fortune 500 company that is one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components, computer products and technology services.

Lynn Monkelien, vice president of learning and development, says Avnet is very cognizant of the imminent retirement of baby boomers.

“(We) have started looking at all kinds of ways that we can start to manage this transition period,” she says.

Among those is a multiple-tiered program that uses top-level management to teach classes for those viewed as future leaders.

Consider the Global Organizational Leadership Development, or GOLD, program. It does more than just cover particular subjects. Managers are able to expose students to their own experiences, while studentsget a chance to build relationships with senior leaders, paving the way for future coaching and mentoring.

“I think the real benefit is going to come as we start to replace some of the oldguard with the new guard,” Monkelien says.

The company also places great importance on succession planning, according to Linda Biddle, Avnet’s vice president for talent development. Avnet’s goal is to create a steady flow of people at all levels of the organization ready to take on new roles.

“Avnet is always thinking ahead, trying to predict what things are going to impact our business from a technology standpoint, from a process standpoint and, also, from a people standpoint,” Biddle says. “What we’re trying to do is not be reactionary — we’re trying to be proactive.”

Arizona Business Magazine February 2008

Chamber Board Leadership

Chamber Board Leadership Second To None

3’s Company

Chamber board leadership second to none

By Vanessa White

With the addition of President and Chief Executive Officer Katie Pushor in January, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approved Pushor’s innovative three-year strategic plan in June. Some key points included growing and retaining membership, reaching out to mid-market businesses, and helping small businesses grow and maintaining a strong and diverse board.

Chamber Board - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Steve Rizley, chamber chair-elect and vice president and Arizona region manager of Cox Communications, said one of the things he likes about the plan is it allows the chamber, as a dynamic organization, to evolve and suit the needs of businesses in metropolitan Phoenix today.

“Our business community has changed as the overall market has changed,” Rizley notes. “I don’t know of another metropolitan area in the United States that has changed more than Phoenix has in the last 25 years. There’s more businesses, there’s more opportunities to make a good first impression because people move here constantly, and what I think Katie and her crew have done is develop a plan that is going to allow the chamber to meet the needs of this dynamic business community.”

Current Chairman of the Board Jack Davis, president and chief executive officer of APS, adds the three-year plan is focused on three aspects. “One aspect is bring more membership, then look at increasing the renewal of membership in the chamber,” Davis says. “Also, increasing the technology on our Web site to make it easier for the members to use and access the benefits we offer.”

 

Jack Davis - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Jack Davis, chairman of the Chamber board and President and CEO of APS Former Chamber Chair

 

Mark Bonsall - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

 

Mark Bonsall, chief financial executive and associate general manager of SRP

 

Steve Rizley - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

 

Steve Rizley, chamber chair-elect and vice president and Arizona region manager of Cox Communications

Davis notes in order to bring in more membership and increase renewals, the board is looking at programs that would be beneficial to the chamber’s mid-market members. Those with more than 100 employees, but less than 1,000. “There are not that many big businesses here. The broad base of business and the success of Phoenix is built on businesses that are 100-300 employees, so doing the best possible job for them is very important,” Rizley said.

Former Chair Mark Bonsall, chief financial executive and associate general manager of SRP, agrees. “The emphasis that came out of the three-year plan was growth and focus on the mid-market sector, which is absolutely in need of services of the chamber,” Bonsall says. “I think the chamber has done an excellent job of servicing the entire spectrum of this community in the past, and if there’s a spot we need to focus on more, it is the mid-market business.”

However, Rizley says the mid-market focus is not meant to take away from growing small businesses and providing them with needed resources. He said one of the benefits of the chamber for small- and medium-sized businesses is the ability to have a voice in a large organization with so many members.

“The vision of the chamber has to do with being able to serve and further the interests of all types of businesses in metropolitan Phoenix, which means we’re providing a more fertile ground and giving businesses the tools they need to have benefits they might not otherwise achieve,” Rizley adds.

In expanding membership, Rizley says it is important for the chamber to develop a well-respected lobbying arm to market to all businesses. “We have to be able to demonstrate there’s a value proposition that resonates with businesses,” Rizley says. “If you look at what the chamber has achieved in terms of the credibility it has built, the way it is treated when working amongst our elected officials, and how much respect it has from large corporations, I believe that is happening.”

It is universal among members that the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ biggest strength is diversity and the plan aims to expand this even further. “We are a very large board with large businesses, small businesses, utilities, technology and all the other kinds of businesses we have in the Valley,” Davis adds. “That brings a tremendous amount of thinking to the chamber.”

Rizley concurs about board diversity. “Our board represents many different types of companies and represents many different types of interests and backgrounds. I think it represents every type of political affiliation,” he explains. “Because the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has a bigger representation from other Valley chambers, there’s also lots of geographic interests at the table.”

Rizley uses the example of the Southeast Valley compared to north Scottsdale. He said the two are mercurially different in terms of lifestyle and a lot of aspects as to why people choose to live and work in each.

“It is important to have a board that represents those interests and I think we’ve done a good job of meeting them,” Rizley says. Bonsall says the diversity is also a strength because it keeps the board active. “Everybody is encouraged to be on the committees and go to the different meetings,” Bonsall adds. “It’s a gathering place for consensus building.”

Davis says the three-year plan comes complete with instruments to measure the plan’s success and he is confident in the chamber’s future. “This is not a business plan that is pie in the sky,” Davis notes. “This is a plan where we can and will measure our success.”

Cover - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Bonsall is equally optimistic about the plan and the chamber’s future under Pushor’s leadership. “With this three-year business plan and new leadership of Katie, the future of the chamber is the brightest it’s ever been. The sky is the limit with our chamber,” Bonsall says.

Rizley says of all of his affiliations, his chamber board position is most important. “This is the most important thing I am involved in. We believe that if business goes well, the quality of life and the opportunity to educate our kids and have everything, from sports teams to freeway systems, hangs together. People are employable in a great environment and this chamber is running right alongside these businesses, helping to create that environment, so I have a lot of optimism,” Rizley says. “The board shares that optimism.”

www.phoenixchamber.com
www.phoenix.cox.net
www.srpnet.com
www.aps.com

Inside the Chamber
2005-2006 Board of Directors
Executive Committee

  • Chairman: Mark Bonsall, SRP
  • Immediate Past Chairman: Rich Boals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
  • Chairman-Elect: Jack Davis, APS
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Michael Holt, Holt & Frank, PLLC
  • Legal Counsel: Jay Ruffner, Fennemore Craig, P.C.
  • Vice Chairman of Healthcare: Reginald M. Ballantyne III, Vanguard Health Systems, Inc.
  • Vice Chairman of Economic Development: Bettye Jackson, Jackson Airport Enterprises
  • Vice Chairman of Transportation: Kevin Olson, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
  • Vice President of Audit: William Hinz, II, Western National Bank
  • Vice Chairman of Human Resources: Manny Molina, Molina Media Group

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006