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A list of the DoE $3.4 billion grant awards is available. The awards are matched so that the total value of the projects is $8.1 billion according to DoE. Apparently only about a quarter of the 400 applicants under this program won funds. The DOE said the process was very competitive.
Productivity has become a critical issue in the utility and telecom industries as a result of the aging and shrinking workforce. Organizations are losing experienced designers to retirement faster than they can replace them with younger inexperienced workers. This means that they are not only facing reduced headcount, but also fewer experienced workers.
I blogged previously about the challenge of an aging workforce in Europe. Europe’s work force will begin shrinking in the coming years and is expected to become 15% smaller within five decades, according to the OECD.
This has long been recognized as a problem in North America as well. In the US a Conference Board study Managing the Mature Workforce predicted that by 2010, the number of workers aged 35 to 44 will decline by 19%. A study from the American Public Power Association (APPA) called Work Force Planning for the Public Power Utilities: Ensuring Resources to Meet Projected Needs reports that the loss of critical knowledge and the inability to find replacements with utility-specific skills are the two biggest challenges facing the industry. In the utility industry as many as 60 percent of experienced utility workers will have retired by 2010. A Booz Allen Hamilton study predicted a 20% decline in productivity in the US power industry.
I collected some statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to compare productivity in the electric power industry to non farm industrial productivity. The results, which are shown in the attached graph, show that productivity in the electric power industry increased more rapidly than non farm industrial productivity through 1998, but that since 1998 productivity in the electric power industry has stagnated. This confirms that the electric power utility industry is facing a serious productivity problem, which could not be happening at a worse time. Green energy and smart grid initiatives mean that utilities have more on their plate than at any other time in recent memory. Retiring workers are leaving faster than younger replacements can be hired and trained. Workers who are retiring have many years experience and are being replaced with younger, inexperienced workers. And utilities are having a difficult time retaining younger workers.
"We believe that the existing Internet access landscape in the U.S. provides inadequate choices to discipline the market through facilities-based competition alone. Your network neutrality proposals will help protect U.S. Internet users' choices for and freedom to access all available Internet services, worldwide, while still providing for responsible network operation and management practices, including appropriate privacy-preserving protections against denial of service and other attacks.
"One persistent myth is that "network neutrality" somehow requires that all packets be treated identically, that no prioritization or quality of service is permitted under such a framework, and that network neutrality would forbid charging users higher fees for faster speed circuits. To the contrary, we believe such features are permitted within a "network neutral" framework, so long they are not applied in an anti-competitive fashion.
"We believe that the vast numbers of innovative Internet applications over the last decade are a direct consequence of an open and freely accessible Internet. Many now-successful companies have deployed their services on the Internet without the need to negotiate special arrangements with Internet Service Providers, and it's crucial that future innovators have the same opportunity. We are advocates for "permissionless innovation" that does not impede entrepreneurial enterprise.
"We commend your initiative to protect and maintain the Internet's unique openness, and support the FCC process for considering the adoption of your proposed nondiscrimination and transparency principles."
Autodesk has announced the release of the Autodesk Subscription Advantage Pack for AutoCAD® Map 3D 2010, which adds support for using and visualizing point clouds, captured with laser scanners and LiDAR. Point cloud functionality includes import and 3D visualization of large sets of point cloud data sets with millions of points in LAS and ASCII file formats, filtering point data by spatial extent and LAS classification, elevation, or intensity, point extraction to create surface models, snapping to points in the point cloud using standard AutoCAD software tools, and export of digital elevation models.
The subscription advantage pack also includes Autodesk ImageModeler 2009, which is pretty cool because it allows you to create 3D models from images captured with your digital camera.
One of the features of the ARES 1 is that the first stage is designd to be recovered. After first stage burnout and separation from the 2nd stage, the first stage deploys parachutes for a soft sea landing.
Yesterday President Obama announced $3.4 billion in government grants to improve the efficiency of the nation’s electrical transmission network. The grants range from $400,000 to $200 million and will be used to develop and install “smart-grid” technology to make electricity transmission more reliable and aid the delivery of energy generated from sources like wind and solar power. The money comes from the ARRA program. Obama made the smart grid announcement at Florida Power & Light Co.’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. President Obama mentioned smart meters and called climate-change legislation critical to a clean-energy economy.
I personally heard yesterday of a $200 million grant to a power utility company. First Energy has announced a $54.7 million grant for smart grid technology. So I think ARRA smart grid money is starting to flow. The 100 government grants in 49 states are being matched by $4.7 billion in private investments.
The launch window extends to 12:00 Noon EDT (1600 GMT) but weather conditions are marginal to support a launch attempt this morning. The official launch weather forecast has been downgraded to only a 40 percent probability of acceptable conditions for launch the primary concern is a stationary layer of high clouds around 25,000 feet that are currently violating the 'triboelectricification' rule, atmospheric conditions that could create static electricity as the rocket flies through. The ARES 1-X is 327 feet high, second only to the Saturn V which was 363 feet and which you can see at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.