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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) issued its ninth permit for drilling in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico -- this time to Murphy Exploration & Production Co. to drill well No. A008 in Green Canyon Block 338 in 3,325 feet of water, 170 miles southwest of New Orleans. Murphy's well No. A008 is a sidetrack well, which will be drilled to a new geologic target or a new location within the original target from the existing wellbore, according to BOEM. The operator had a rig on location when drilling activities in the Gulf were suspended following the blowout of BP plc's Macondo well. Murphy has contracted with Helix Well Containment Group to stop the flow of oil in the event of a blowout.

General Electric said it will invest more than $600 million in what it said is the world's most efficient thin film solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and a 400 MW manufacturing facility to produce thin film products. GE said its solar PV strategy will be bolstered by its recently announced acquisition of French power conversion company Converteam and a separate deal to acquire PrimeStar Solar Inc., a thin film PV technology company in which GE has held a majority stake since 2008. GE said it has achieved the highest publicly reported efficiency (13%) for thin film solar, and it will build the largest existing manufacturing plant to produce thin film products, for which it has more than 100 MW of new orders. GE said the record-setting PV panel was produced at PrimeStar's 30 MW manufacturing plant in Arvada, CO.

Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy Inc. is opening the first privately funded electric vehicle (EV) fueling center in the United States. NRG CEO David Crane said the center will use the eVgo (ee-vee-go) charging ecosystem, providing 480-volt DC fast charging and a 240-volt Level 2 charger on a 24/7 basis. In addition, Convenience Stations will offer 240-volt Level 2 service. Once operable, the eVgo Freedom Station's DC fast charger would be "one of the first fast charge devices installed for public use," with the capability of adding 30 miles of extra EV range in 10 minutes. NRG plans to install 35 Freedom Stations in Dallas/Fort Worth and 25 in Houston by mid-September, and then to double those numbers by the end of 2012.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported 15% growth in 2010 as wind provided 26% of all new electric generating capacity in the United States. While manufacturers in the sector complain about depressed power demand and very low natural gas prices, AWEA's latest annual accounting said there is 40,181 MW of wind capacity in the United States. Separately, San Francisco-based Pattern Energy said it had completed Manitoba, Canada's largest wind project, the 138 MW St. Joseph project, and San Diego-based Sempra Energy Generation announced a 20-year contract to sell 21 MW of wind-generated power to Maui Electric Co. from the Auwhai project in Maui. AWEA said 5,116 MW of wind power was added last year, and since 2007 the industry has provided 35% of all new generating capacity.

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