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|Tuesday, March 22, 2011|
By Corey Paul
Just $10 million. That's all the CEO of ClearEdge Power told Senator Jeff Merkley that he needs to transform the Hillsboro fuel cell manufacturer into a billion dollar company. The CEO, Russ Ford, guided Merkley through the ClearEdge plant on Tuesday, showing him a wall ready to be torn down and an assembly line ready to be extended. The renovations could boost capacity from 1,500 units a year to more than 10,000.
Before Merkley, all of the Congressional representatives in the state had paid a visit and praised ClearEdge's economic and environmental promise. During his turn, Merkley said the company represented a niche market and a technology that's ahead of the world curve, though he was unfamiliar with their financial structure.
Ford says the devices nearly halve monthly utility bills and through those savings, pay themselves off in four or five years, faster than solar or wind energy. The company expects to earn $60 million in sales in 2011.
But upfront, fuel cells cost a lot: up to $56,000. Which is why ClearEdge wants the government to offer tax credits to encourage people to buy enough fuel cells to lower their price through an economy of scale.
Korea has bought the most ClearEdge units, signing a $40 million, three-year deal last June to distribute 800 fuel cells to multi-tenant housing. That deal stemmed from a Korean mandate that 10 percent of the energy needs for new buildings must come from renewable sources as it tries to become less dependent on nuclear power. Domestically, California is the biggest consumer, with higher energy rates and a $12,500 state tax incentive — on top of the federal one. Oregon has no such incentive, but ClearEdge does benefit from the business energy tax credit (BETC).
Just a few weeks ago, the Oregonian published a series that questioned whether the state's green energy incentives — like the BETC — translate into jobs for the state and attract companies that wouldn't otherwise come. An IPO from ClearEdge would likely be seen as some validation for the state's expensive effort to brand itself as a green-energy state, an effort Merkley supports.
The senator adds that green energy is valuable for three reasons:
- It protects national security by lessening dependence on foreign oil
- It creates jobs
- It helps our environment with lower carbon emissions.
"So incentives have to be evaluated with those three important things in mind," Merkley said. "And now we're to the point where we can evaluate those incentives."
Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.
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BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
The founder of Pacific Foods talks about why his company has flown under the radar in Oregon, how saving a family-run chicken hatchery has helped his bottom line and why he thinks organic food is anything but elitist.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
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An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
As retailers consolidate and newspapers fold, the business of modeling shifts to ad agencies, apparel companies and new media.
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BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.
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