• Centennial the Site of White House Jobs Council Summit

    Business leaders convened on Centennial Campus to discuss the obstacles and opportunities surrounding the energy and smart grid industries as part of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. 

    The breakout session was one of five in the Triangle as part of President Obama's visit to meet with Council members. 

    Also in attendance were North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt chaired the session. Other Council members included:

    Jeffrey Immelt, chair and CEO, GE 

    Lewis Hay, chair and CEO, NextEra Energy Inc.

    Gary Kelly, chair, president and CEO, Southwest Airlines

    Brian Roberts chair and CEO, Comcast Corporation

    John Doerr, partner Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfied & Byers 

    NC State University chancellor Randy Woodson hosted the event. 

    Immelt said the group was focusing on how to get people back to work with a practical and focused effort. Several executives said spending on infrastructure ion the energy sector was the key. 

    “One way to put people back to work is in the modernization of coal plants,” said Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy. 

    Other executives suggested patching the state-to-state regulatory environment would help spur development, while others suggested alternative financing opportunities, especially those not currently available to small businesses.  An executive with Red Hat urged the industry move to a more open source environment. 

    The event was held on Centennial Campus in part because of the FREEDM Systems Center, a research center and university consortium dedicated to smart grid technology and distributed energy. Council members toured the facility, which includes work on a new type of smart solid state transformer, recently named to MIT Technology Review’s 2011 list of the world’s 10 most important emerging technologies. FREEDM, which stands for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management, was formed in 2008 by a five-year, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center grant from the National Science Foundation. 

    The center benefits from its location in the Triangle, one of the nation’s top smart grid hubs. A recent Duke University study counted nearly 60 smart grid companies in the region. They include the power systems giant ABB, which is developing a Smart Grid Center of Excellence just down the road from FREEDM on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

    Several participants of the roundtable discussion are also corporate partners of Centennial, including ABB, Advanced Energy Corporation, Green Energy Corp., McKim & Creed, Pentair Pool & Spa, and Red Hat. 


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