Thursday, February 5, 2009

The alternative energy industry is DOA...or is it?

How many stories have you read in the last two weeks declaring that the worldwide economic slowdown and credit crunch are combining to strangle the alternative energy industry in its cradle? A prime example is the NY Times piece Dark Days for Green Energy

Well...check out this Atlantic City Press story that
EnviroPolitics readers saw in yesterday's issue...

Vineland, Conectiv plan solar power site
Conectiv Energy plans to build in Vineland a four-megawatt solar power plant that would be twice the size of New Jersey's largest current solar production site.

Conectiv will partner with the city of Vineland to raise solar panels on 28 acres of land owned by the Landis Sewerage Authority, city and company officials announced Tuesday. The city will lease the land along Route 55 to Conectiv, which will spend more than $20 million to raise the array and then sell electricity back to city customers at a discount of 3 to 5 percent.

"We intend for Vineland to be a leader in the solar area," said Joe Isabella, director of the Vineland Municipal Electric Utility. Conectiv Chief Financial Officer Art Agra said he expected the first two megawatts worth of solar panels to be online by year's end and for the second two megawatts to be online by June 1, 2010. All told, the energy produced is expected to be enough to power 400 to 500 homes. Full story here

We've also been bombarded by stories declaring that new car sales have all but skidded to a halt. While vehicle manufacturing surely is taking a pummeling, there was this story in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer......

Subaru does it again as sales rise 8 percent for January
OK, Subaru of America Inc. is really starting to make a habit of this. While the rest of the auto industry shows off its January sales wounds, the small Cherry Hill-based automaker once again reported monthly sales that were higher than a year ago.

Subaru today said it sold 12,194 units last month, up 8 percent from the 11,289 units in January 2008.

That sales success follows a 2008 when Subaru was the only automaker to sell more vehicles than it did the year before.

Now the company is small, with only five models: the Legacy, Outback, Impreza, Forester and Tribeca. And its market share is less than 2 percent of the U.S. new vehicle market.

But still, the 41-year-old company deserves some credit. Volkswagen of America Inc., which has a slightly bigger market share, reported its January sales were down 11.6 percent over January 2008. The German automaker sold 12,744 units in the U.S.

(Hyundai, which sells twice the number of vehicles Subaru does in the U.S., also had a good January with sales up 14 percent to 24,512 units.) Full story here

And, finally, while recent earnings and job-loss headlines might have us concluding that all business is failing and everyone's heading for the unemployment lines, consider these rays of light....

Merck, Schering-Plough top forecasts on cost cuts
Stocks jump following rebound in home sales
Sunoco posts $204M 4Q profit

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