News briefs – April 2011

OldStoryImageSolar Program to Benefit Local Schools, Airport

The Alachua County School District and Gainesville Regional Airport will be among those benefitting from GRU’s latest solar feed-in-tariff allotment.

The utility awarded contracts for 57 solar electric projects, which will generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity, if all the projects are completed.

GRU will pay 29 cents per kilowatt to buy the solar electricity, earning the district and airport a substantial profit. (Currently the utility charges customers about 14 cents a killowatt.)

Solar Impact, a Gainesville firm, is handling the school district project and it will install the panels on eight schools with private investors paying for panels and installation. The investors will then split the profits with the schools.

Facilities Director Ed Gable said the school district will receive $72,500 annually for 20 years as its portion of the proceeds. After 20 years, the district will have the option to keep the panels.

Gable said the district plans to use part of the profits to fund a renewable energy curriculum.

Don Ryan, the director of sales and marketing for Solar Impact, said Gable deserves a good deal of the credit for the district winning the allotment. “He is the one who really shepherded this through,” Ryan said, adding, “We’re excited and we think it’s going to be great for the schools.”

The airport will install phase one of what it hopes will be a nearly 300-kilowatt system on the roof of the main terminal. This first 34.3 kilowatt phase is being funding through a $176,000 Florida Department of Transportation grant. If the airport wins a second grant this summer, it will complete the project. If the entire project is built, the airport would earn between $100,000 and $125,000 per year during the 20-year payback.

“The airport authority has been discussing this green technology for some time,” says Allan Penksa, airport CEO. “We’re excited to see the work now begin.”

Cox Launches New Business Phone System

In an effort to expand sales among business customers, Cox Business Systems has unveiled VoiceManagerSM, a platform that integrates desktop phones, computers and wireless devices to provide customers with enhanced control over their communications.

Kristine Faulkner, Cox vice president of product development and management, says the system offers benefits that traditional voicemail systems can’t. Among the benefits are:

Find me/follow me features that can route incoming calls to whichever phone is nearest you, whether it’s your cell, your home phone or an extension in a satellite office.

Unified messaging, which places all your voicemail and e-mails in a single window you can access online, so you can more easily sort and respond to messages.

Remote office, which streamlines your office phone, cell phone and home phone into a single number.

An easy-to-access web portal where you can access any feature on your phone, ensuring that business continues from home, on the road or an alternative number.

VoiceManager is compatible with most existing phone systems.


Biomass Plant Signs Another Fuel Supplier

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) has signed a fuel supply contract with Rayonier, a leading international forest products company, to supply logging residue, pre-commercial thinnings and other clean, renewable wood fuel for the proposed 100-megawatt biomass plant in Gainesville.

This is the second major fuel supplier GREC has signed.

American Renewables plans to build and operate the GREC facility, which will be built at GRU’s Deerhaven Generation Station off Route 441. American Renewables will sell all electricity to Gainesville Regional Utilities under a 30-year power purchase agreement.

The facility is scheduled to open by December 2013.

SBA Offers Help Preparing for Disasters

With hurricane season just around the corner, the U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a website that helps businesses prepare for disasters before they happen.

The site offers advice on how to prepare for a major disaster, as well as downloadable pdfs you can fill out to record such items as your critical business functions and who will handle them in an emergency.

You’ll also find tips on preparing a disaster emergency kit and what you should include in one (Ex. software disks and software license keys, copies of all your contracts, emergency supplies, etc.). Also, there’s a section on resources you can contact for emergency loans and other assistance

Go to to view all the resources.

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