The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Business

Hewlett-Packard center will bring more than 1,300 jobs to Rio Rancho

Governor Bill Richardson announced in June that Hewlett-Packard (HP) has chosen to open a new state-of-the-art customer service and technical support center in Rio Rancho. The technology giant plans to open the center in 2009 and bring more than 1,300 jobs to the area over the next four years.

“I’m proud that HP realized New Mexico is a great place to do business and has chosen our state to make this tremendous investment,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “This is another major step in our momentum to continue building a diverse, dynamic, high-wage, and strong economy.”

HP officials say they based their decision on New Mexico’s quality workforce, business environment, standard of living, and government cooperation. The new center is expected to open in 2009 with a few hundred employees and grow to more than 1,300 by 2012.

“We are extremely excited to have HP select New Mexico for this facility,” Economic Development Secretary Fred Mondragon said. “This celebration is a direct result of wonderful collaboration between our office, the NM partnership, Albuquerque Economic Development, the City of Rio Rancho, and the office of the Governor. We welcome HP to New Mexico.”

HP is working with Rio Rancho officials and developers on a location and the design and construction of the new facility, which will be optimized for service and support center operations, with features that include advanced IT and telecommunications systems to track and transfer calls, and spaces for collaboration and training.

In addition to Rio Rancho, HP announced that it is also opening a new customer service and technical support center in Conway, Arkansas.

“HP is delighted to be creating these new centers in cooperation with the communities in Rio Rancho and Conway,” said Jon Flaxman, HP executive vice president and chief administration officer. “With these new facilities, we expect to improve processes and achieve efficiencies that will help us continue to improve the total experience for our growing number of customers.”


Plan for promoting geothermal energy development on federal lands open for comment

In the next step toward efficient development of geothermal energy resources on federal lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the USDA Forest Service have initiated a public comment period on a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for leasing geothermal resources in the western states and Alaska.

Publication of a Notice of Availability for the Draft PEIS in today’s Federal Register begins a ninety-day public comment period on the alternatives and impact analysis presented in the draft document. The preferred alternative considers approximately 117 million acres of public lands and seventy-five million acres of National Forest lands for potential geothermal leasing. The BLM administers geothermal leasing on the public lands it manages and on lands in the National Forest System, where the Forest Service is the surface management agency.

“Federal lands in the West and Alaska contain the largest potential geothermal resources in this country,” said BLM Director Jim Caswell. “With the strong interest and support of state and local governments and clear direction from Congress, we are taking the next step in an aggressive program to make these resources available for responsible development to help meet the nation’s energy needs.”

For lease applications pending as of January 1, 2005, the Record of Decision (ROD) on the Final PEIS will identify whether geothermal leasing is appropriate on lands identified in the applications and complete processing of these applications, as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The ROD will also amend BLM resource management plans to allocate lands with geothermal potential as being closed or open to leasing with minor or major constraints, and will provide information to the Forest Service to facilitate the agency’s consent decisions for geothermal leasing on National Forest System lands. Additionally, to protect special resource values, the BLM and Forest Service are proposing a comprehensive list of stipulations, conditions of approval (COAs), and best management practices (BMPs) to be incorporated into future leases.

The preferred alternative in the Draft PEIS considers all public lands and National Forest System lands with potential for geothermal development available for leasing except those that are withdrawn or administratively closed to geothermal leasing. The Draft PEIS also evaluates another alternative based on public input gained during scoping that would limit geothermal leasing for electrical generation to areas near transmission lines.

Written comments on the Draft PEIS may be submitted by any of three methods:

Email: geothermal_EIS@blm.gov
Fax: 1-866-625-0707
U.S. mail: Geothermal Programmatic EIS, c/o EMPSi, 182 Howard Street, Suite 110, San Francisco, CA 94105.

In addition, comments may be submitted at a public meeting scheduled for July 22 in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico Conference Center, Room C, 1634 University NE. The meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Geothermal energy production uses heat located naturally beneath the surface of the earth to generate electricity with little or no need to burn fuel. Geothermal energy currently accounts for 8.5 percent of renewable energy generation in the U.S. Though geothermal energy generates a small portion of the nation’s electricity, the U.S. continues to be the world leader in generating electricity using geothermal energy. In 2005, geothermal energy generated over 14,800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity, which is enough power to supply the annual needs of 1.3 million homes.

Almost half of the nation’s geothermal energy production and about ninety percent of U.S. geothermal resources occur on federal lands. Currently, twenty-nine geothermal power plants are operating under BLM authorization on federal lands in California, Nevada, and Utah. They have a total capacity of 1,250 MW and supply the needs of 1.2 million homes.


IRS is seeking 35,820 residents

The Internal Revenue Service has announced a new summer campaign to reach those retirees and disabled veterans who qualify for the economic stimulus payment but have not filed to claim it. New statistics indicate about 74 percent in this group are accounted for in the stimulus payments currently being sent, leaving about 5.2 million potential recipients remaining. The agency expects to issue 124 million payments to Americans by year’s end. Eligible individuals are receiving up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples filing joint returns) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17.

A special stimulus category includes recipients of certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs who do not normally have a requirement to file a tax return. However, these individuals must file a tax return before Oct. 15 this year to receive their economic stimulus payments.

Most people only need to file a tax return as they normally do. The IRS will calculate eligibility and the payment amount. However, many retirees and veterans do not normally file a tax return because their benefits are not taxable. This year, they must file in order to receive an economic stimulus payment.

Receiving the stimulus payment should have no impact on other federal benefits currently being received. The stimulus payment is not taxable. Absent any other filing requirements, filing a tax return to receive a stimulus payment does not mean that retirees will have to start filing tax returns again.

The IRS has identified 5.2 million retirees and veterans' beneficiaries who potentially are eligible for the stimulus payments. Later this summer, the agency will send them a special letter that explains stimulus payment eligibility and how to claim it. The letter will include a sample tax form and an actual tax form that people can complete and mail to the IRS.

The IRS also is working with members of Congress, state and local officials and national partners such as AARP, the National Council on Aging, United Way of America, National Disability Institute and others to continue its extensive outreach efforts to the retiree and veterans’ communities through the summer. The IRS will take the lead in coordinating face-to-face free tax preparation sessions with the help of local community partners at locations where these individuals live, work and socialize such as senior housing, Veterans Affairs hospitals and assisted living facilities.

The agency also reminded people that it has more than 400 local Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating normal business hours Monday through Friday. These centers can provide assistance to retirees and veterans trying to receive their payments. A list for addresses and office hours can be found at “Contact My Local IRS Office” at www.irs.gov.

For people who have no tax liability or no tax filing requirement, there is a minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples), plus the $300 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the minimum payment, individuals must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income.

The types of Social Security benefits that are considered qualifying income include retirement, disability and survivor payments. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not qualifying income. The types of Veterans Affairs benefits that are considered qualifying income include disability compensation, disability pension and survivor payments. Qualifying Railroad Retirement payments include the social security equivalent portion of Tier 1 benefits.

 

 

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