Tag Archives: efficiency

SRP-CFLbulbs

SRP Board Approves Price Decrease

The Salt River Project Board today approved a price decrease that will result in lowering customer bills by an overall average of 1.1% beginning in May.

The pricing plan reduces two components of SRP’s electric prices and will be in effect for the six summer billing months in 2013, saving a typical residential customer about $1.72 per month.

One of the price components covers program costs related to meeting renewable-energy and energy-efficiency standards, and complying with environmental mandates. The second component recovers fuel costs incurred to generate electricity as well as power purchases to serve customer needs.

The costs of these two components to SRP are directly passed to the customer and are not marked up. They are included in the energy charge amount on the monthly bill.
The lower-than-expected costs, totaling $20.5 million, resulted from:

· higher-than-expected, year-to-date electricity sales to customers,
· cost savings from a short-term sale of energy from a geothermal plant,
· lower-than-anticipated program costs, and
· lower-than-planned natural gas costs.

The temporary price reduction also reflects SRP’s effort to achieve its Sustainable Portfolio goals at a lower-than-anticipated cost to customers. The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.

Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule – providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, which include renewable energy, hydro power, conservation, efficiency and pricing measures.

SRP budgets for environmental and fuel/purchased power costs based on current and projected market conditions. Under a mechanism approved by the Board, SRP staff regularly reviews actual costs and may adjust the associated price components if funds are significantly over-collected or under-collected for the expenses.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the country, serving about 970,000 electric customers.

selfservicemakingyourbusinessbetter

Are Self-Service Technologies Making Your Business Better?

Self-service technologies, which automate routine interactions between companies and customers, are a source of convenience and efficiency to both parties — until something goes wrong and the customer cannot make the system work. Many companies should be focusing more closely on the overall customer experience, says Michael Goul, a professor of information systems and a researcher at the Center for Advancing Business Through Information Technology. Curiously, here’s a case where businesses could learn something from government! (12:32)

Green News Roundup, Recycling Cigarettes, Solar and More

Green News Roundup – High-Efficiency Solar Projects & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about recycling cigarette butts, high-efficiency solar projects and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

A Call to Recycle Cigarette Butts
Every get annoyed by the countless cigarette butts that line every crevice of the sidewalks, roads, etc? Well fear not, a solution for this nuisance may be in the works! When New York State Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker received a suggestion for a cigarette butt recycling program from a constituent he admittedly “had a little chuckle” at first. Luckily, he didn’t dismiss the idea until he did a little research on it. Turns out scientists in China had discovered that “soaking cigarette butts in water creates a solution that can protect steel pipes used by the oil industry from corroding.” And that’s not all! A designer in Brazil cleans cigarette butts and spins them with sheep wool into clothes while an inventor in Ohio has a patent pending to turn cigarette butts into sealants and adhesives. Pretty impressive for something that most of us would assume is hardly fit to be recycled. Who knows what else may be on the horizon?

Victorville Campus to Unveil High-Efficiency Solar Project
A new high-efficiency solar project has been revealed at Victor Valley College in Victorville, Calif. The school’s new 1-megawatt plant will utilize concentrator photovoltaics, or CPV. The technology is claimed to generate more energy at lower costs while using less open space. The plant will sit on a six-acre dirt plot in Victorville and will provide 30 percent of the campus’ power. This $4.5-million facility will be the largest of its kind in North America.

Oil Spill in the Mangroves is a Disgusting, Sticky Mess
Guest blogger Philippe Cousteau, chief correspondent for Planet Green shared his up close and personal accounts of the BP oil spill while reporting from Grand Isle, Louisiana. His reports show a sobering reality of the effects as they hit close to home. After visiting with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fish Department he learns that oil has made its way into the mangroves. This means that some of the most fragile wetland habitats in the world are at serious risk.

Cohesive Workplace

Cohesive Sustainable Workplace Environment

The summer of fun in Arizona has arrived. What are some of the exciting topics around the water cooler this season? Consider these: A splendid May that has seen unseasonably cool temperatures; our Phoenix Suns vying for a championship; environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; this little thing called Senate Bill 1070.

Did you just feel the air go out of the break room? Regardless of personal and political ideology, the recent piece of state legislation (with national implications) brings to light a workplace issue that should be at the forefront of managers minds: How do we build a cohesive and sustainable workplace?

Cohesion in the workplace drives company loyalty, reduces employee churn, increases efficiency and productivity, and creates an environment where people desire to work. What does this mean from a business sustainability standpoint? Better people, better work, and better potential profit. A workplace environment in which employees dread coming to work, do not feel engaged, and are not valued does not equate to a prudent business model. An organization that embodies employee respect and engagement has a framework for success and sustainability.

In the midst of our state’s economic and social uncertainty, here are some ideas to help foster a more cohesive environment in your workplace:

Stakeholder Engagement:
You will be amazed at the innovative ideas and solutions that your employees possess. Provide your employees, at all levels, with the opportunity to “co-create” their future and the future of the organization in concert with you, the manager.  Buy-in, especially by those most closely tied to the organization, is always in style.

Employees as Assets:
Don’t marginalize or alienate the greatest asset in your workplace; employees. Make a concerted effort to develop and advance your employees professional and personal life. You will be amazed how a little development will produce a lifelong raving fan that works harder and better for the organization.

Create a nurturing environment:
Workplace stress can have deleterious effects on employee behavior, health, and family life. Combat this by making the workplace one in which people have fun, interact, and look forward to coming to each day.

Arizona is a beautiful state that is home to a diverse and pluralistic community of individuals that provide us with a rich culture. Naturally, this permeates into our collective workforce. While businesses should always act in a manner that complies with the current legal framework, they should also make a concerted effort to establish a more cohesive environment for its diverse workforce and act in a more sustainable manner.

What are your success stories in creating cohesive and sustainable business environments?

hr_director_lg_biz

2009 Large Business HR Director Of The Year Finalists

Christine NicholsName: Christine Nichols
Title: Human Resource Manager
Company: Human Capital Strategies

Years with company: 1
Years in current position: 1
Company established: 2007
No. of employees in AZ: 980
No. of employees in HR dept.: 2
www.hcscando.com

Christine Nichols has a take-charge attitude that she applies to all her duties as human resource manager at Human Capital Strategies.

Nichols is thorough in establishing and implementing human resources programs such as employee orientation, and in providing proper training for employees so they can build value in the Mesa-based employment and human-services company. She also monitors staff efficiency by coaching employees on their assigned projects.

Known for her open-door policy, Nichols has established forthright communication that cultivates a sense of trust within the company and allows employees to participate in the firm’s growth. Each employee’s opinion is given respectful attention, and issues, concerns and ideas are appropriately addressed under Nichols’ leadership. In addition to encouraging employees to further their education and professional development through classes, Nichols also makes sure their responsibilities overlap into other departments, so they can carry out the duties of other staff members and are better candidates for promotion.

To encourage quality performance, employee accomplishments are recognized at biweekly staff meetings and quarterly team-building events.

Nichols’ department offers telecommuting and flex time for employees, especially when an illness strikes or the unexpected occurs in employees’ personal lives. These arrangements are particularly convenient for staff with children or elderly parents who need extra attention. Human Capital Strategies has found telecommuting and flex time highly beneficial; missed days are minimal and productivity is high. These arrangements also improve employee retention.

Diversity at Human Capital Strategies is based on the belief that quality people are not exclusive to a specific background.


Patti SorourName: Patti Sorour
Title: Director of Human Resources
Company: Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Years with company: 1+
Years in current position: 1+
Company established: 2002
No. of employees in AZ: 1,000
No. of employees in HR dept.: 5
www.westin.com

Patti Sorour is putting her 25 years of human resources experience to good use at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Using a variety of programs, including those for employee development, incentives and recognition, Sorour works to keep employee morale and retention at a high level.

As director of human resources, Sorour looks for ways to help the Scottsdale resort’s employees follow the Westin philosophy of living and working well. Her department has disseminated tips on how to stay healthy during the flu season. The resort’s “Live Well. Be Well.” electronic newsletter also provides suggestions for healthy eating and fitness.

Sorour helps maintain a strong level of internal communication for both management and staff through daily and monthly newsletters. Employees are recognized for their hard work and dedication on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Management also receives similar recognition quarterly.

Through Westin Kierland University, employees participate in classes that not only help them on the job, but also in their everyday lives. Classes have been offered for CPR, retirement planning and behavioral interviewing. The Phoenix Police Department’s “Don’t Be A Victim” program also has been incorporated into the classes.

Under Sorour’s guidance, the resort offers a six-month employee development program in which staff members are schooled on operational and leadership skills through hands-on experience and shadowing department heads. The aim of the program is to help participants prepare for leadership positions.

To help promote diversity at Kierland, Sorour recruits seasonal employees from other countries who work in a variety of departments, including culinary, dining and recreation.

Sustainable America

How Does America Feel About Sustainability?

In a previous blog post I wrote about the amount of money being set aside for sustainability in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — $467 million to be exact.

With so much money being spent, are you wondering what the American people really think about sustainability-related matters? Me too. As luck would have it, a research team from the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,164 Americans to get some insight. Titled “Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ climate change beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and actions” the survey included various matters relating to “issue priorities for the new administration and Congress, support and opposition regarding climate change and energy policies, levels of political and consumer activism, and beliefs about the reality and risks of global warming.” The survey was conducted in September and October of 2008.

Obviously, the biggest issue on the minds of most Americans right now is the economy. Hence, some of the survey results were to be expected (76 percent of Americans rated the economy as a “very high” priority). Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that global warming was a “high” or “very high” national priority for a majority of Americans. Also, 72 percent said the issue of global warming is important to them personally.

When asked who should act to address global warming, 76 percent of respondents said corporations and businesses should do more, or much more. Another 67 percent said Congress should do more to address global warming. Yet, 72 percent believe that citizens themselves are responsible.

Who’s right?

I don’t think there’s a right answer to this one; collaboration is the only path to a truly more sustainable way of life. Still, these findings are definitely a positive sign in my opinion.

Some other notable positives the study found:

• 92 percent of Americans surveyed supported more funding for research on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
• 85 percent supported tax rebates for people buying energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
• 79 percent supported a 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Here’s the kicker: 79 percent of respondents supported this 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard EVEN if this meant a new car could cost up to $1,000 more. Now that’s dedication!

Unfortunately, though going green can sometimes be a bit more expensive upfront, hopefully with time these costs will be lowered and these kind of vehicles (and other green initiatives) will become the norm.

Overall, what I gathered from this study is that Americans do indeed care about the environment. Although our country is in a precarious time, sustainability hasn’t been entirely forgotten.

Mobility is part of a larger trend in technology called "unified communications."

Make Sure Your Mobile Work Force’s Technology Is Secure

Business mobility seems to be the wave of the future and that future is now. Besides just being “cool,” business-managed mobility systems may be the answer to quite a few of your business challenges.

Mobility is part of a larger trend in technology called “unified communications,” which is bringing voice, video and data communications together in new ways to improve productivity, efficiency, and customer interaction, driving satisfaction. The new trend of mobility allows employees to connect to the office from just about anywhere in the world. More than just e-mail, employees can now securely access company files, open documents, complete forms and submit new items for record.

But to allow all of those things to happen, business grade mobility systems today must be secure and reliable. Advances in security encryption technologies and device durability are allowing mobility enabled devices to sky-rocket employee productivity and customer satisfaction, positively impacting the bottom line.

The key to implementing mobility is understanding who will be using it and how they will be using it. Executive and managerial-level staff have been using e-mail enabled PDAs for a while now, but the new age of mobility is much more than e-mail on a cell phone. The new age of mobility brings in a whole new group of users whose daily job relies more on process than communication. These users are diverse with very specific application requirements driven by their job duties; they may be able to use hand-held devices or may require full-size computing devices. It is important to note that mobility is not exclusive to users working outside of the office, but includes any non-desk bound user that requires continuous connectivity while working free of wired connections.

Software applications such as Microsoft Dynamics, which includes Microsoft CRM and Sharepoint, offer companies the flexibility to develop systems that match the individual employee’s requirements, even as they vary between types of mobile workers. Mobile sales staff can enter opportunity information on site through Web-enabled customer relationship management (CRM) applications, while mobile technicians can complete service tickets online with custom forms accessible through company intranet portals. In either case, duplication of data entry is eliminated, reducing the chance of error, increasing the speed of information transmission and providing a faster solution to the customer. Of course, CRM and service tickets are only two examples of productivity enhancers available with mobility applications.

Security should be a primary consideration by a business before deploying a mobility solution. When transmitted data is no longer limited to the cables connecting one device to another, additional measures should be employed. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow any device connected to the Internet to create a secure connection with the business network. VPN technology requires multiple, continuous authentications between the device and the base network. However, the authentication process is mostly behind the scenes and unknown to the user.

There are two primary kinds of VPN connections — IP Sec and SSL. IP Security (IP Sec) VPN connections require pre-installed client software on the accessing device. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN connections use the accessing device’s native SSL encryption and do not require pre-installed software. This allows any Web-enabled device in the world access to controlled parts of your company’s network after providing qualified credentials. Of course, the quality of the remote connection will be reliant upon both the wireless connection and the company’s base network. Both offer specific access controls and should be discussed with an IT professional before making a selection.

Despite the effort required to determine a proper mobility solution for your organization, the rewards are numerous. With continuous connectivity, employees have access to your company databases of information so they can find answers to difficult questions without leaving the customer. Online forms reduce the amount of time required to complete a single task because information is only entered once. Also, being connected to your company’s network in real time can keep the field worker instantly apprised of up-sell opportunities and promotions. Employees have greater flexibility to get the job done, whether in the office or not, possibly answering the question of what to do with rising gas prices. And customers receive the service they expect in the time they want, leading to continued business and revenues, even in a tightening economy.

Business mobility options are diverse and vast, but can take your business to new heights in customer satisfaction, employee productivity and overall efficiency. Before deploying a mobility solution, talk with a mobility solutions expert who can provide guidance on the best solution for your business needs today and into the future.

Sommer Decker is a marketing specialist for Network Infrastructure Corporation, www.nicweb.com