Utah County approves deal to lure mystery data center to Eagle Mountain

PROVO — Utah County Commissioners on Tuesday gave their thumbs up to a deal to lure a data center to Eagle Mountain shrouded in secrecy — but not without first grappling with some concerns.

That included implementing a 40-year cap in the interlocal agreement that would start out with an estimated $150 million in tax breaks for the data center’s first two-building phase, with taxes to be waived for up to 20 years per phase.

But the deal could include tax breaks of hundreds of millions of dollars more, depending on how many buildings the company completes over the next 40 years — with no cap on tax revenue waived or number of buildings built, the Deseret News learned Tuesday.

Theresa Foxley, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, said in an interview it was too early to say how many more phases or buildings the company might build, but she did say the tax break for each phase would likely be “similar in terms of scope and scale” as the initial phase.

The “constraint,” Foxley said, would be “space” — or whatever can fit on the roughly 480-acre parcel just south of the city’s center.

That means if the company builds, for example, two more phases (or four more buildings) on the parcel, that could equate to $300 million more in tax breaks for 20 years each phase, on top of the initial $150 million, 20-year tax break, as long as the phases are completed in the 40-year time frame.

The deal for the mystery company — which may be one of the Fortune 100 companies Google, Apple or Facebook — still needs approval from two other tax districts, slated to vote this week: Alpine School District and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. Eagle Mountain and Unified Fire Authority have already signed off.

Utah …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Rocky Mountain Power funds middle school renewable energy project

SALT LAKE CITY — A central Utah school district is the recipient of a gift that will keep on giving for as long as the sun keeps shining.

Rocky Mountain Power Tuesday presented North Sanpete Middle School with a check for $576,224 to launch the largest Blue Sky renewable energy project in over a decade. The project includes a 206-kilowatt solar array that will generate approximately 80 percent of the school’s energy, a news release stated.

The project also includes an electric vehicle charging station and a battery energy storage system that will be charged using excess solar power during the day as it helps meet the school’s energy needs even on cloudy days, explained O’Dee Hansen, principal at North Sanpete Middle School in Moroni.

“It’s going to be providing (daily) power to the school, and be used as an emergency backup for freezers and (refrigerators) in the immediate area,” he said. Additionally, the project will provide “immeasurable” educational lessons about renewable energy technology and potential careers for students that attend the school in the years ahead, he added.

“This development is not only an energy cost-savings measure, but it incorporates technology as part of the STEM and career and technical education opportunities for our students,” North Sanpete Superintendent Sam Ray said. “This project moves our students to the cutting edge of technology and renewable energy.”

He said the district is working with Salt Lake Community College to develop a program to train students about careers in green energy, including solar installation.

“So they can go out into the industry right out of high school and get a good job in the (renewable energy) field,” Ray said. “We’re trying to have this project leverage into jobs for our kids.”

The project can become a multi-faceted advantage for students in the district who can learn about the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

U. engineer receives $2M grant to create smarter, faster tech in case of power outages

SALT LAKE CITY — Masood Parvania, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Utah, has been awarded a three-year, $2 million grant to build a lab, and research and test technology for microgrids — smaller, more localized versions of a city’s power grid that could provide backup electricity in a catastrophic situation.

When a natural disaster hits, much of a city’s power grid that receives electricity from sources such as thermal and hydroelectric plants, can go dark.

According to Parvania, microgrids are power systems in smaller areas of a city that operate autonomously from the main grid and get electricity from sources like solar panels or energy storage devices.

They can provide emergency power to neighborhoods and essential services such as hospitals until the main system is restored. Microgrids can be as small as a building or military base that uses backup generators, or a large neighborhood that uses wind turbines or geothermal generation. Microgrids, for example, are now being created all over Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria, in the event of future massive power outages.

Parvania and his team at the Utah Smart Energy Lab will develop controllers that act as the computerized brains of a microgrid and determine how to best distribute electrical power in an area. The aim is to make the controllers faster, smarter and more secure from cyberattacks.

Parvania’s lab will consist of software and specialized computers called “real-time digital simulators” that will simulate a power system.

Another component of the research grant involves commercializing any technology that Parvania’s team develops. The U. is partnering with the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, the Idaho National Lab, and the U.’s Office of Technology and Venture Commercialization.

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Source:: Deseret News – Business News

US and China work on ZTE rescue; Mnuchin denies quid pro quo

WASHINGTON — The United States and China are working toward an agreement that would ease U.S. sanctions that were imposed on ZTE Corp. and let the Chinese telecommunications giant stay in business.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the deal might require ZTE to revamp its board and to pay a fine of $1 billion or more.

The ZTE talks occur after the U.S. and China over the weekend suspended plans to impose tariffs on as much as $200 billion in each other’s goods, pulling back from the brink of a trade war. China on Tuesday made a conciliatory gesture by cutting the tariff on imported vehicles to 15 percent from 25 percent, effective July 1.

In the face of congressional criticism, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday denied that the U.S. is offering relief for ZTE in exchange for trade concessions.

“This is not a quid pro quo or anything else,” Mnuchin told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

The Commerce Department last month blocked China’s ZTE from importing American components for seven years, accusing it of misleading U.S. regulators after it last year settled charges of violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban was a virtual death sentence for ZTE, which relies on U.S. parts.

“The objective was not to put ZTE out of business,” Mnuchin said. “The objective was to make sure they abide by our sanctions program.”

On Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats alike criticized the administration for seeming to go easy on a company that had violated U.S. sanctions.

Citing media accounts about ZTE talks, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted: “If this is true, then administration has surrendered to #China and #ZTE. Making changes to their board & a fine won’t stop them from spying and stealing from us.”

“Putting our national security at risk for minor trade concessions is the definition …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News