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EPA Recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga for 'Green Power'

Volkswagen Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

EPA presented Volkswagen Chattanooga with the award at an event held in conjunction with the 2013 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Austin, Texas on September 23, 2013.

Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award for the on-site generation of green power. The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually from an on-site solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12 percent of the organization’s electricity use. 

“We are honored that the EPA has recognized us with a Green Power Leadership award for the renewable energy generated by the Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park at our LEED Platinum certified factory in Tennessee,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga.

“Volkswagen’s worldwide conservation program is called Think Blue and it’s a global call to sustainable ecological action on our blue planet,” Fischer said. “Generating green power onsite is an important part of Volkswagen’s efforts to be responsible for our footprint in everything from powering our factory to powering our cars.”

Volkswagen Chattanooga currently ranks No. 15 on EPA’s Top 20 On-site Generation list, which highlights EPA Green Power Partners that have achieved the highest annual on-site green power generation through July 3, 2013. EPA updates its Top Partner Lists quarterly at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/.

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power accelerates the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

“EPA is pleased to recognize Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for its distinguished commitment to using on-site renewable energy resources,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. 

“By investing in on-site green power, Volkswagen Chattanooga is generating cleaner electricity and reducing harmful carbon pollution, and providing a clear example of an organization thriving on innovation and sustainability.”

According to the EPA, Volkswagen Chattanooga’s current green power generation of more than 13 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles per year, or is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power nearly more than 1,000 average American homes annually.

The solar installation at Volkswagen Chattanooga is an element of the highly-coveted LEED Platinum certification awarded to VW by the U.S Green Building Council in late 2011. At that time, the Building Council called the Chattanooga manufacturing facility “the world’s greenest auto plant” and noted it was the first automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive the top LEED certification. Today, the Chattanooga plant remains the only auto plant worldwide to earn the LEED Platinum certification.

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to Volkswagen’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year -- equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area.

The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5% of the energy needs of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100% during non-production periods. The plant covers 1.9 million square feet and employs around 2,500 people who manufacture the highly-acclaimed Volkswagen Passat sedan. For Volkswagen, the solar park in Chattanooga will rank as the automaker’s largest photovoltaic installation worldwide.
EPA Recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga for 'Green Power'

Monday, September 23 2013, 03:03 PM EDT

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AMERICAN AIRLINES-MINORS

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines says it will extend its fee for unaccompanied minors to charge $150 extra each way for children between 5 and 14.

The change starts Sept. 3. Currently, American charges a fee on top of the regular fare for unaccompanied minors between 5 and 11.

The airline announced the change Thursday in an employee publication.

American says extending the fee to more youths will ensure the safest possible travel for them and match the policy at US Airways. The two merged in December to form American Airlines Group Inc.

United Airlines charges $150 each way for minors 5 to 11; Delta charges $100 each way for those 5 to 14; at Southwest it's $50 each way for kids 5 to 11.

WEALTH INEQUALITY-CENSUS

NEW YORK (AP) -- A report from the Census Bureau is the latest evidence that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer.

The study released Thursday divided the U.S. into five groups, from wealthiest to poorest. The median net worth of the richest households rose 11 percent between 2000 and 2011, to $630,754. The next-wealthiest group's net worth also rose.

But because wealth dropped for the majority of Americans, the median household net worth for the country overall declined about 7 percent to $68,828.

The report was compiled using surveys done by the Census. It includes stocks, money in the bank, home values, retirement accounts and other assets in its measurement of net worth.

AIRLINES-LABOR DAY TRAVEL

Airline group forecasts uptick in Labor Day travel

A trade group for the nation's big airlines predicts that air travel over the Labor Day weekend will rise 2 percent from the same holiday last year.

If correct, the forecast would be more good news for the airlines. Nine big U.S. carriers earned $3.8 billion in the first half of this year, allowing them to pay down debt, reward shareholders and order new planes.

Airlines for America predicted Thursday that 14 million people would fly within the U.S. in the seven days ending Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day.

Separately, the auto club AAA forecasts that 34.7 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home by car or plane over a 5-day period ending on Labor Day. That would be a 1.3 percent increase over 2013.

HOME DEPOT-CEO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Home Depot says Craig Menear, the president of its U.S. retail operations, will become president and CEO of the company Nov. 1.

Frank Blake has been Home Depot's chairman and CEO since 2007, and he will remain chairman of the company.

Menear became president of the company's U.S. retail unit in February. He has worked for Home Depot since 1997.

Home Depot Inc. is based in Atlanta and is the largest U.S. home improvement retailer. On Tuesday, the company reported strong second-quarter results and raised its forecast for the full year. It said purchases of major items like appliances and water heaters improved compared to last year, and its results have been helped by the improving U.S. housing market.

FORD RECALLS

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford is recalling more than 160,000 vehicles in North America for two safety issues.

The largest recall involves 159,395 Focus ST and Escape vehicles from the 2013 and 2014 model years. Ford says their engines could hesitate or stall because of a wiring problem.

Ford also is recalling 616 Focus and C-Max cars made earlier this month because their steering gears don't have the proper number of ball bearings. That can potentially degrade the remaining ball bearings and lead to a loss of steering control.

Ford says there have been no accidents or injuries related to either recall. The 616 cars are still at dealerships and haven't been sold.

Ford Motor Co. will notify customers and repair the vehicles for free.

ARGENTINA-DEFAULT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A U.S. judge says Argentina's announced plans to evade his orders by failing to make required payments to U.S. bondholders is illegal and cannot be carried out.

Judge Thomas Griesa called the republic's actions toward U.S. bondholders "lawless" at a court hearing in New York City on Thursday.

But he stopped short of finding Argentina in contempt.

Argentine officials have called the U.S. hedge funds that refused to swap their bonds for lesser valued ones "vultures."

The funds are owed about $1.5 billion. Argentina says paying it would force it to owe other bondholders over $20 billion.

A lawyer for Argentina urged the judge to reject as premature a request by U.S. bondholders that Argentina be found in contempt.

MEXICO-DIALING DEPORTEES

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- Thousands of Mexican citizens deported by U.S. authorities are finding refuge at call centers in Tijuana and other border cities.

In perfect English -- some hardly speak Spanish -- they converse with American consumers who buy gadgets, have questions about warrantees or complain about overdue deliveries.

Many of the workers spent nearly all their lives in the U.S., which is a major selling point for Mexico over English-language industry leaders like India and the Philippines. They can chat comfortably about the U.S. housing market and Super Bowl contenders. They know slang.

One consulting firm estimates that by end of the year, Mexico's outsourced call centers will have more than 85,000 workstations -- which may be staffed two or three shifts a day. It expects Mexico to hit 110,000 in 2020.

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