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Central Phoenix Superfund site to be cleaned up by APS and Honeywell

OU3 Study Area (click on image for full size map)

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Honeywell and Arizona Public Service Co. have agreed to pay an estimated $1.5 million to prepare the way for the cleanup of a portion of a the Motorola 52nd Street Superfund Site, the Environmental Protection Agency announced.  The portion of the site, called Operable Unit 3, generally extends from 20th Street on the east to Seventh Avenue on the west, and is between McDowell Road on the north and Buckeye Road on the south.  OU3 is part of a larger underground plume of contaminated groundwater.

The work, which will take an estimated 2 1/2 years, involves installing groundwater and soil vapor monitoring wells to fill data gaps, and analyzing potential options for groundwater cleanup.  The companies also will develop a groundwater risk assessment that evaluates the potential threat to human health and the environment.  “These companies have agreed to carry out important work that will move the cleanup of this site forward,” said Keith Takata, Superfund Division Director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.  “This agreement will help protect the groundwater resources in Maricopa County.”

The Phoenix plume isn’t causing health problems because the contamination is more than 80 feet below the surface, and there are no drinking-water wells in the area. But environmental officials say it’s still important to get it cleaned up in case of future demand.

The Superfund Site, which involves primarily chlorinated solvents used in manufacturing, extends from 52nd Street to Seventh Avenue and from McDowell to Buckeye roads.  It was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal Superfund list in 1989 and dozens of companies have been asked to investigate whether their operations also contributed to the chemical groundwater pollution and should help pay for the cleanup.  [Note: For more information on the issue, visit the U.S. EPA website or Arizona DEQ website.  Read the full article at Central Phoenix Superfund site to be cleaned up by APS and Honeywell.]

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Phoenix residents urged to stay energy-wise during the holidays

[Source: Energy Department, Arizona Department of Commerce] — Phoenix residents are encouraged to stay energy-wise during the holidays as they gear up to decorate homes, offices, yards, and other areas with cheerful lights and electric displays of joy.  While Arizonans have become more mindful of their power usage and follow advice to save energy by disconnecting appliances or devices when not in use, it is not always as easy to remember to do so with holiday displays and lights, which can pull in significant amounts of electricity.

Ten strings of 100 mini-lights that are on for ten hours per day can add anywhere from $11 to nearly $16 a month to an electric bill, depending on which utility provides service.  Larger bulbs can add up to ten times as much or even more; however, using LED lights can cost anywhere from $1.20 to $3 a month, saving a considerable amount of electricity and money.

Utility companies statewide are making LED vs. standard holiday light calculators available online, and providing incentives to consumers to make the switch to LED lights and decorations:

LEDs are available at most department, hardware, grocery, and do-it-yourself stores.  They cost more, but last up to ten years and will pay for themselves in the long run when properly maintained from season to season.  In the meantime, residents who are not ready to transition to low-energy décor can place lights on timers to ensure they automatically turn off after a few hours; consider placing outdoor lights and displays on photo-sensor devices or outdoor-approved timers so they remain on only in the dark; for small areas, look into using rechargeable battery-operated devices.

APS Electric Light Parade returns to uptown Phoenix, Dec. 6

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The APS Electric Light Parade returns to the streets of uptown Phoenix for its 22nd straight year.  The 2008 parade, themed “Preserving a Family Holiday Tradition,” kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6 on Central Avenue just south of Bethany Home Rd.  Comprehensive parade information is available online in the APS Electric Light Parade link here.  General information is available by phone at 602-534-FEST.

This annual spectacle has attracted up to 200,000 spectators to the parade route.  All entries in the parade –- even individuals in performance groups who walk the route –- are decorated in holiday lights.  In years past, some entries have sported more than 50,000 lights.  In addition to the floats, performance groups and bands also will take part.  From just south of Bethany Home Road, the parade proceeds south on Central Avenue to Camelback Road, then heads east to 7th Street where it turns south to the end point north of Indian School Road.

Below are some tips for those planning on attending the parade:

  • The parade is a rain or shine event.  Keep an eye on weather forecasts and dress accordingly.
  • Spectators are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs.
  • Coolers are permitted, though alcohol and glass containers are not allowed.
  • Viewing spots along the parade route are first-come-first-served.  Spectators often start arriving three hours before parade time to reserve spots.
  • Parking is on street and also is on a first-come-first-served basis.  Private lots near the parade area often offer parking for a fee.

New Arizona Corporation Commission to face tough issues

[Source: Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic] — If you make monthly payments to Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power Co., a small Arizona water provider or other regulated utility, you have three new public servants watching over those companies for you.  Unofficial results from the Nov. 4 election show Democrats Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy and Republican Bob Stump will join two Republicans remaining on the Arizona Corporation Commission.  The regulators will tackle consumer issues such as a pending rate hike from APS in 2009 and for the first time in a decade have Democrats at the table.  In addition to regulating utility rates, the Corporation Commission oversees telecommunications issues and securities fraud and has jurisdiction over railroad crossings.

Kennedy’s first steps will include working with state lawmakers in an attempt to save energy and money by moving the commission to a four-day workweek, she said.  “I’d also like to see the Corporation Commission seriously look at how utility companies can help seniors,” she said Thursday.  “We’re at a time when their income is not what it used to be.  Are they showing the aged and low-income consumers how to effectively utilize energy efficiency?”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix residents urged to attend Sept. 23 forums on November ballot initiatives

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Two community forums will be held on Tuesday, September 23 to help Phoenix residents become acquainted with the eight propositions on the November 4 ballot.

  • Valley Citizens League will hold a presentation at noon Tuesday in the Arizona Public Service building, 400 N. 5th St.  Reservations for lunch are required and can be made online or by calling 602-250-3747.
  • The Arizona Secretary of State, Maricopa Community Colleges, and Cox Communications are sponsoring a Town Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Phoenix College Bulpitt Auditorium, 1202 W. Thomas Rd.

Click here for a summary of Arizona’s 2008 ballot initiatives.

Phoenix Suns to use solar panels for part of its power at arena

[Source: Associated Press] — The NBA’s Phoenix Suns plan to use solar panels for part of its power at its home arena.  The new photovoltaic system will consist of more than 1,100 panels and be installed on the fifth level of the US Airways Center’s parking garage in downtown Phoenix.  At 194 kilowatts, it will produce enough energy to reduce the team’s power usage by the equivalent of 26 home games each season.  The system is expected to be operational next year and cost about $1.5 million.

The team estimates it will receive a yearly rebate of $60,000 to $85,000 from Arizona Public Service Company via the utility’s renewable-energy incentive program.  Suns general manager Steve Kerr says the project will not cost the Suns any up-front cash and will not lead to a ticket-price increase.

Idea of the Day: Commuting Alternatives

From time to time, we’ll throw out an “Idea of the Day” culled from sources here in Arizona and elsewhere.  The following idea, well actually several ideas, revolve around alternatives to driving in this new era of $4-plus gasoline.  The Arizona Republic article, “Employers work to ease commuting costs to offset gas prices,” by Betty Beard tells what it’s all about:

“High gas prices have done more than suck away consumers’ cash.  They also have led many bosses to approve four-day workweeks, telecommuting options, flexible schedules, and mass-transit subsidies.

Call it sticker shock.  This year’s pump prices stunned employers and employees alike into realizing that commuting alone to work could become prohibitively expensive for many workers.  Over time, consistently high gas prices could forever change how we work, experts believe.  Avondale has followed the State of Utah’s lead and switched to a four-day work week, and the State of Arizona is considering doing the same.  Other major employers, including Intel Corp., Salt River Project, APS, and the City of Phoenix, already offer public-transportation subsidies, flexible schedules, or telecommuting.

U-Haul also has about 500 employees working at home in sprawling metro Phoenix.  After this year’s run-up in gasoline prices to $4 or more a gallon, more companies are expected to institute similar programs.  If that happens, experts say, workplaces could change in ways unimaginable, with huge growth in home offices and telecommuting, fewer big-building headquarters, and less need for office parking garages, unless public transportation increases dramatically or vehicles become a lot more fuel-efficient.

Even though gasoline prices have come down somewhat, flexibility to help workers deal with gas prices, especially raising mileage reimbursement, has become the workplace perk of the year.  “It definitely has become a huge concern… as it centers around general satisfaction and ability to recruit and retain workers,” said Steve Williams, director of research for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, VA.  “They (employers) realize that long-distance driving to work is past becoming a hassle.  It has now become an economic issue, and the companies are addressing it by giving employees options,” he said.

Alternatives, summarized below, are detailed in the full article here:

  • ‘Green Fridays’
  • Monthly stipends
  • Company perks
  • Transit options
  • Telecommuting”

Miffed about your utility bills? Vote carefully for Arizona Corporation Commissioners

[Source: Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic] — Winners of the three open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission will have a strong voice on issues ranging from the size of utility bills to global warming, power plants, and transmission lines.  The winners will help form a new majority on the board, which has more control than any other state entity over energy policies at Arizona’s utilities.

Three of the five current commissioners are leaving office after finishing their terms: Chairman Mike Gleason, Jeff Hatch-Miller, and William Mundell.  The race is getting much more attention than usual, perhaps because of the rising power costs and state’s growing energy demand.  A dozen candidates, eight Republicans and four Democrats, are vying for the seats.

Commissioners Kris Mayes and Gary Pierce ultimately will have three newcomers to help them sort out the commission’s busy and often contentious agenda, which includes:

  • Debate and a legal challenge to the ACC requirement that utilities get 15% of electricity from renewable sources like solar power.
  • The type of power plants utilities build — coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar — and where.
  • A pending rate-hike request from the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co.
  • Power lines, including a debated high-voltage connection between California and Arizona.

The commissioners also make decisions regarding railroad crossings, a hot-button issue recently as Union Pacific expands its tracks in the state and residents fight to get the company to build underpasses or overpasses at busy intersections.  If that weren’t enough, the commission also investigates securities fraud.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]