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