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REGIONALREPORT Triad

Companies are high on the hog

Beginning this year, state law mandates that public utilities generate a portion of their power with swine and poultry waste, which can be converted to methane that fuels turbines. At the same time, companies are looking for ways to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, which lead to global warming. Cavanaugh & Associates PA, a Winston-Salem engineering firm, believes it has developed an answer to both problems.

In 2006 — as the General Assembly was mulling over a bill, which it passed a year later, that would require utilities to use renewable energy — Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment asked Cavanaugh to design a swine-waste system that would generate electricity while protecting the environment. Construction began in 2010 at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-hog operation on about 150 acres near Yadkinville, and was completed last May. The system collects about 80,000 gallons of waste a day in an oxygen-free digester. Bacteria convert organic material into methane, which is trapped under a plastic cover. A compressor pushes the biogas into a generator, which powers the system and half the farm. So far, energy generation is exceeding expectations.

Loyd Ray Farms benefits by getting free electricity, but the construction costs are too expensive — about $800,000 — for most farmers. What makes it feasible on a larger scale is the advantages it affords big business. Although Duke University and U.S. Department of Agriculture grants paid for most of it, Duke Energy Corp. kicked in $117,500, plus $30,000 a year for operations and maintenance. In return, the Charlotte-based utility earns credit toward its renewable- and swine-energy requirements.

Another attribute of the Loyd Ray Farms system is that the combustion of methane to create electricity reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by a factor of 21. This attracted Google Inc. and Duke University, who want to be carbon-neutral. In exchange for their investments in the project, they get carbon offsets, which symbolically reduce their overall emissions. 

The annual reduction in greenhouse gases by Loyd Ray Farms’ waste-treatment system is equivalent to carbon-dioxide emissions from:

18,677 passenger vehicles
221,522 barrels of oil consumed
519 railcars worth of coal burned

Source: Cavanaugh & Associates

 

$1.9 billion

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s direct economic impact on Forsyth County in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, according to a study the Winston-Salem-based hospital system commissioned. With more than 11,000 employees in the county, it was
Forsyth’s largest employer.

500

Jobs Greensboro-based Solstas Lab Partners LLC will add over five years to its High Point office, where it employs 860, the largest job expansion in the city in 13 years. The city and Guilford County have approved up to $500,000 each in incentives, while the state will add $450,000. The average annual wage will be $45,000, higher than Guilford’s $39,520.

 

Briefs

HIGH POINTHigh Point University will hire 116 employees by the start of the fall semester, adding 50 faculty to undergraduate and doctoral programs and 66 to administration, food service, security and athletics. The additions will increase employment to about 1,126, with plans calling for 400 more within five years.

WINSTON-SALEM — Law firm Womble Carlyle merged with Columbia, S.C.-based Hall & Bowers, which became Womble Carlyle’s 14th office and third in South Carolina. The firm has more than 550 lawyers.

WINSTON-SALEM Wake Forest University named New York University administrator Rogan Kersh provost. Kersh, a Wake Forest alumnus, will assume the position this summer.

WINSTON-SALEM Piedmont Propulsion Systems, which repairs and overhauls airplane blades and other parts for propeller manufacturers, will create 25 jobs here within three years, increasing its local workforce to 60. The company will renovate and move into a building at Smith Reynolds Airport. The average annual wage will be $34,304, lower than Forsyth County’s average of $41,912.

GREENSBORO — Jeff Gauger will take over as executive editor of the News & Record, effective this month. Gauger had been executive editor of The Repository, a daily newspaper in Canton, Ohio, since July 2007.

WINSTON-SALEM — The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will move its basketball tournament from here to Norfolk, Va., beginning in 2013. This year’s tournament still will be played in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum March 5-10. N.C. A&T State and N.C. Central universities are the only North Carolina schools in the conference.

WINSTON-SALEM BB&T will acquire Roseland, N.J.-based wholesale life-insurance distributor Crump Group for $570 million, adding about 1,800 employees to its roughly 30,00