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Vol. 1, Issue 10-JULY 26, 2011
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Mark Your Calendars...

August 19: MESLA Industry Roundtable: Sustainability Within the Supply Chain – Perspectives and Best Practices , Wieboldt Hall, Northwestern University (Chicago, IL)

Michael Baroni – VP Economic Policy at Archer Daniels Midland
Diane Wolf - VP Global Safety, Environmental and Sustainability at Kraft Foods
Todd Watermolen – VP Engineering in the Solid Waste Division at Veolia Environmental Services N.A.
Vince Kwasniewski – VP Business Development and Commercial Director at GTL Resources USA

RSVP HERE - registration required. Seating is limited. If you would like for an industry partner or a colleague to attend, please email

August 1-5: 5th International Conference on Polymer Batteries and Fuel Cells ($) , Argonne National Lab (Argonne, IL)

August 1: Panel: Boosting Urban Energy - Superconductivity and Offshore Wind, (part of the 13th International Workshop on Vortex Matter in Superconductors), Knickerbocker Hotel (Chicago, IL)

August 2: (Deloitte Webinar) Water Stewardship , online/remote location

August 13-14: 10th Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair , Ogle County Fairgrounds (Oregon, IL)

August 25-26: 3rd Annual Conference on New Development in Renewable Energy in the Midwest: New Policy, Business and Legal Developments ($) , Millennium Hotel Minneapolis (Minneapolis, MN)

Items You May Have Missed...

Local Announcements

Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu and IL Senator Dick Durban visited Argonne National Lab in early June for the groundbreaking ceremony of a new $95M Energy Sciences Building, scheduled for completion in 2013. Argonne is also in the midst of evaluating the feasibility of small scale wind installations on campus.

Amidst hot weather, cleantech economic activity for Chicagoland-based companies has heated up over the last month. Clean Urban Energy, winner of the 2011 Clean Energy Challenge raised $7M in Series A funding from Battery Ventures and Rho Ventures, while 2011 runner-up NextGen Solar will be among five Illinois companies competing at the North-Central Region Semi-Finals of the $250,000 Cleantech Open. Lisle-based metallurgical coal producer SunCoke Energy filed plans for a $175M-$200M IPO and Bolingbrook-based Elevance Renewables Sciences Inc, a 2007 Cargill biochemicals spinoff, announced that it will build its first US biorefinery in Mississippi. The big news however hit closer to home; Nicor shareholders agreed in June to the company's acquisition by AGL Resources in a $2.4B blockbuster merger. The ICC still needs to approve the transaction.

A few notable pilots have been introduced recently under Mayor Emmanuel's first days in office, including the city's first protected bike lane, and a move to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of privatizing recycling services.

If anything though, the excitement has been at the state-level. Under pressure from local organizations, as well as the EPA, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago voted 8-1 in early June to disinfect the Chicago River, reversing its long-standing opposition. Costs are expected to total somewhere between $74M (EPA estimate) and $240M (MWRD estimate). Illinois also passed a lofty update to the state's e-recycling legislation, which now awaits Gov. Quinn's signature. Speaking of whom...Gov. Pat Quinn came about-face on a controversial coal gasification bill, signing revised legislation that took the $3B south-side project one step closer to reality (it now needs state environmental and pollution control authority approval).

Finally, the Midwest saw blistering heat the week of July 18. Under strained conditions, transmission system operators MISO and PJM, and supplier ComEd each set all-time energy demand records. Grid reliability was good, without significant need for demand response.


** Click here to email an announcement, news story or research report for inclusion into future newsletters, or for the MESLA website **


Policy News

Word Choice Matters for Energy Policy (Kate Galbraith, New York Times, July 10, 2011)

Clean energy; alternative energy; renewable; sustainable; green...All of these words may sound interchangeable, but experts say that they are not, quite. "Clean," for example, can cover a broader array of energy sources than "renewable." Mr. Obama, in a major speech on energy security this spring, called for 80 percent of the United States' electricity in 2035 to come from "a wide range of clean energy sources," in which he included natural gas, nuclear power and "clean coal" ...

EPA finalizes cross-state air polluion rules to curb emissions from coal plants (Timothy Gardner and Tom Doggett, Reuters, July 7, 2011)

U.S. environmental regulators finalized a rule on Thursday to slash air pollution from coal-fired power plants in 27 states east of the Rocky Mountains that result in unhealthy levels of smog and soot. The EPA measure, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, will add costs for some power generators, but should cut health care bills for Americans...

Deregulation Doesn’t Mean Healthy Competition in Electricity Markets (Katherine Tweed, Greentech Media, June 23, 2011)

A few months ago, Greentech Media looked at the offerings in the most active state, Texas, and found that the options are just barely starting to see some real differences on the residential side besides generation and contract options, despite the fact that nearly 60 percent of consumers exercise their right to choose. For the other states, well, it’s an even bleaker picture according to recent data from the EIA...

(related - Alternative retail suppliers now provide more than 50% of Illinois electricity, but primarily to commercial/industrial)

Critics Find Gaps in State Laws to Disclose Hydrofracking Chemicals (Nicholas Kusnetz, Pro Publica, June 20, 2011)

Over the past year, five states have begun requiring energy companies to disclose some of the chemicals they pump into the ground to extract oil and gas using the process of hydraulic fracturing. While state regulators and the drilling industry say the rules should help resolve concerns about the safety of drilling, critics and some toxicologists say the requirements fall short of what’s needed to fully understand the risks to public health and the environment...

(related - Meanwhile, Texas has become the first state to require disclosure of fracking ingredients)

Economics News

Banks are inflating solar "fair market value" for tax credit (John Farrell, Grist, July 20, 2011)

Solar leasing has offered thousands of homeowners a "no money down" route to go solar, broadening participation in the distributed generation revolution. Unfortunately, this revolution has been co-opted by high finance. Big banks have been able to write off millions in taxes by overreporting the cost of financed solar PV projects in what may be the country's next banking scandal...

What are the Energy Implications of a Federal Debt Default? (Geoffrey Styles, The Energy Collective, July 19, 2011)

Much of the attention concerning a possible failure to increase the US debt ceiling by month-end has focused on the government's ability to borrow, and on how individuals might be affected, whether as recipients of social security, pay or pensions from various branches of the federal government, or as consumers seeking car loans or mortgages. I haven't seen a lot of discussion about the potential impact on energy, other than some speculation about higher oil prices...

(Brookings Report): A New Report Counts up Green Jobs -- and They're Not What You Think (Bryan Walsh, Time, July 13, 2011)

Good news - the numbers are in. The Brookings Institution - a progressive think tank in Washington - and the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice have collaborated on the first comprehensive accounting of the nation's clean economy and green jobs on a city by city basis. They found that 2.7 million Americans are employed in the clean economy - more than the number who work in the fossil fuel industry and twice as many who work in biotech. And the clean energy sector in particular is growing very quickly: it grew by 8.3% between 2003 and 2010, nearly twice as fast as the overall economy during those years...

(related - ELPC study finds over 300 companies produce 18k jobs in the Illinois solar, wind and geothermal industries)

Insurance-like Product Protects Power Developers from Windless Days (John Farrell, solveclimatenews(dot)com, June 12, 2011)

By offering developers, power purchasers and financiers an insurance-like product that would cover a percentage of losses incurred by spotty wind production, Galileo believed it could soften the risk of wind variability and speed up clean energy development worldwide...

(related - Chicago-based Ryan Specialty Group, LLC launches new insurance unit focused on renewable energy)

(related - Meanwhile, bigger picture, is climate change a looming disaster for the insurance industry?)

Climate News

EPA's Jackson: Bush Ozone Standards Are 'Not Legally Defensible' (Gabriel Nelson, New York Times, July 14, 2011)

The standards chosen by the George W. Bush administration to protect people from smog probably wouldn't hold up in court, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says in a new letter to a key congressional ally, giving the best indication yet that the agency is planning to set stricter pollution limits this summer. Jackson is close to deciding whether to change the national ambient air quality standard for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog...

Supreme Court Emissions 'Nuisance' Decision Puts Spotlight on EPA (David Doniger, Climate Progress, June 20, 2011)

The Supreme Court today reaffirmed that it is the EPA’s job to curb dangerous carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act, deciding in Connecticut v. American Electric Power that states cannot bring suit directly against five of the nation’s largest power companies to curb their emissions as a public nuisance...

Bonn climate talks end with no agreement in key areas (John Vidal, The Guardian, June 17, 2011)

Two weeks of tense global climate talks wrapped up on Friday, with countries insisting they had made progress on technical issues but accepting they were still nowhere near agreement in the three key areas of finance, greenhouse gas emission cuts and the future of the Kyoto protocol...

IEA: Nuclear retreat to add 30 percent to CO2 growth (Reuters, June 15, 2011)

A halving of a global nuclear power expansion after Japan's Fukushima disaster would increase global growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent through 2035, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday. The IEA warned last month that a political goal to limit climate change to safer levels was barely achievable after global emissions rose by near 6 percent in 2010...

Opinion News

The Missing Strategy for Storage (James Greenberger, The Energy Collective, July 17, 2011)

The past several months have seen an explosion of interest in grid-connected energy storage. Driven in part by the realization that the advanced automotive battery market will be slower to develop than many hoped, and by recent white papers on the economics of grid-connected energy storage by EPRI, Southern California Edison and Sandia National Laboratory, investment bankers, stock analysts and large industrial companies crowded into the Energy Storage Association’s recent meeting in San Jose to try to figure out what is going on...

U.S., Europe worlds apart on climate science coverage (Tom Vandyck, Midwest Energy News, July 5, 2011)

According to Vandermeersch and Verschelden, who are both alumni of Columbia University’s vaunted Journalism School in New York, American news media still make the mistake of giving climate skeptics a disproportionate voice, and perpetuating a debate that has long been settled among scientists...

Analysis: Ethanol has grown up, will withstand subsidy loss (Carey Gillam, Reuters, June 20, 2011)

Moves in Washington to start weaning producers off government support are not expected to stunt a sector that had often been perceived as too fragile to withstand the travails of market forces...Above all, analysts said, the Renewable Fuel Standard, requiring fuel companies to blend a minimum of 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline each year, remains in place as a key support and will grow to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022...

Miscellaneous News

MIT Team Creates Solar Cell Array on Sheet of Paper (Glenn Meyers, Clean Technica, July 12, 2011)

Traditional cell technology requires exposing the substrates to potentially damaging conditions, either in the form of liquids or high temperatures. The new printing process uses vapors, not liquids, and temperatures less than 120 degrees Celsius, say the developers, adding: "These 'gentle' conditions make it possible to use ordinary untreated paper, cloth or plastic as the substrate on which the solar cells can be printed" ...

Will You Buy Your Power From a Store? (Katherine Tweed, GreenTech Media, July 5, 2011)

Utilities might start selling a whole lot more than power, and regular stores might offer power. In fact, it’s already happening...

WINNING: 50 Breakthroughs Made in USA by America's National Labs (US DOE Office of Science, June 16, 2011)

As this list of 50 Breakthroughs attests, National Laboratory discoveries have spawned industries, saved lives, generated new products, fired the imagination, and helped to reveal the secrets of the universe. Rooted in the need to be the best and bring the best, America’s National Laboratories have put an American stamp on the past century of science. With equal ingenuity and tenacity, they are now engaged in winning the future...

Alkaline Batteries – Just Throw them in the Garbage? (Craig Robertson, chicagoregen(dot)com, June 8, 2011)

It seems that most household items can and should be recycled, but it turns out that one common item doesn’t need to be: alkaline batteries. Some battery manufacturers, like Duracell and Energizer, have eliminated all of the added mercury from its alkaline batteries, so they can now be safely discarded along with normal household waste. The other components of the batteries — steel, zinc and manganese — don’t pose health or environmental risks in the solid waste stream, according to Duracell, and those metals are difficult to recover from batteries...

** Click here to email an announcement, news story or research report for inclusion into future newsletters, or for the MESLA website **



MESLA welcomes submission of employment opportunities by its membership. Click to submit.

New Openings:

Production Engineer – recruitment, via search firm Viridium Associates (Chicago, IL).

Sales Director – recruitment, via search firm Viridium Associates (Chicago, IL).

The Production Engineer will be responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining methods and documentation for non-conforming parts and determining how these should be used, re-worked or repaired. Client is a global leader and manufacturer within the wind sector...

The Sales Director will be responsible for new sales strategy, lead generation, customer relationship development, proposal development, contract preparation and negotiation in the East Coast. Client is one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of PV inverters and monitoring systems...


Data Analyst – Conservation Services Group (Lombard, IL). 

The Data Analyst will coordinate database support functions for the Nicor Gas and ComEd program; and assist in database systems development, including specification of data base needs, data analysis using Oracle SQL, and writing PL/SQL scripts...


The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) has an excellent job board with up-to-date openings related to Energy Efficiency positions. There are a number of July-posted jobs. Anyone can access postings, without registration.



For a complete listing of MESLA Affiliated Organizations, please contact us.

MESLA's purpose is to strengthen its members and other interested parties in the areas of sustainability, via communication and collaboration, and to establish the Midwest as a center for green business practices, innovation, and investment, with the goal of revitalizing the Midwest Region and the organizations located here. Collaboartion Image
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