Saturday, October 9, 2010

Merck's Upper Gywnedd Facility Collects; Spends $1.8 Million In Stimulus Money

I am all for greening the nation's energy supply. Even so, I am not sure how I feel about a $40 billion company (the second largest pharma concern on the planet) soaking up $1.9 million of federal and state stimulus money, to yield only a 14 percent decrease in one facility's electric bill (after laying off over 16,000 people this year, to make ever-more mammoth profits). Were there no other (presumably smaller, more needy) Pennsylvania businesses that applied for help in dropping their energy bills? It would seem unlikely.

In any event, here is a bit of the local North Pennsylvaina paper's version of the story; do go read it all:

. . . .Merck is going a bit more green — and more people will be put to work — thanks in part to $875,000 in stimulus funds. . . . through the American Recovery and Restoration Act (ARRA) of 2009.

The installation of 6,400 solar panels on the top of a Merck parking deck in Upper Gwynedd, funded in part with the federal stimulus money, will create 80 project positions from the local labor force.

That's according to Robert Colucci, the company's senior director of energy and sustainability. . . . Completion of the $11 million project is scheduled for August 2011, according to Colucci.

He said the project, which will provide 14 percent of the electricity for the marketing headquarters for the Upper Gwynedd plant, will help the company meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2015.

Merck expects to spend $9.1 million on the project.

A $937,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development will be used, as well as the award from the ARRA.

"But for those grants, we probably would not have been able to justify this project," Colucci said. . . .

I applaud the notion that local tradespeople will be put to work during the installation, but I am ambivalent about giving "corporate welfare" to an almost-unfathomably profitable behemoth. . . to make it more profitable, by cutting its energy costs, when it is already very profitable, and laying people off by the tens of thousands. That seems odd to me.

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