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Andrew T. Gillies is Director of Communications at the Center for Audit Quality, an affiliate of the American Institute of CPAs, in Washington, DC. Based in Washington since 2002, he has also worked in editorial and communications roles at the Investment Company Institute, the World Bank, Forbes, and Vault.com. His policy-themed writing has focused on aerospace and defense, energy and environment, transportation, and financial services.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Power

In early 2000 the San Diego County Water Authority flipped the switch on the Rancho Penasquitos Pressure Control & Hydroelectric Facility. For the $22 million project, engineering firm Black & Veatch designed an intricate series of computer-controlled connections that jacked up the pressure on water moving through a 22-mile pipeline. Result: swifter water flow for the authority and enough excess hydraulic pressure to run a 4.5-megawatt turbine. That provides sufficient juice both to power the Rancho Penasquitos system and to net the authority $1 million a year in emissions-free electricity sales back to its energy utility.

Such energy-water twofers represent an emerging sweet spot for Black & Veatch, ranked 126 on our Private Companies list. This 93-year-old engineering firm has made a large part of its living from big, carbon-spewing power plants. Now it is being reborn as a green company. It will help its clients cut emissions.

Power-related projects accounted for half of the Kansas City outfit's $3.2 billion revenue last year. Water made up 38%. "This nexus of energy and water is a big deal," says Chief Executive Len C. Rodman, 59, who likes to see fuel, power and sustainability as one large-scale piece. "It's going to be a bigger deal."

Full story at Forbes.com