FPL Crews Help Restore Service to Mid-Atlantic Region

More than 300 Florida Power & Light Company workers are helping provide emergency restoration assistance to states severely impacted by violent storms that recently hit the Midwest and mid-Atlantic region.

Juno Beach, FL (July 4, 2012) -- More than 300 Florida Power & Light Company workers are helping provide emergency restoration assistance to states severely impacted by violent storms that recently hit the Midwest and mid-Atlantic region. One team traveled from West Palm Beach to Maryland to help Pepco, a Washington D.C. utility, with its restoration efforts.

Our travel team moved quickly and arrived on site without incident,” said FPL deputy incident commander T.L. Winder. “Once we got settled at the expansive staging site, our crews were given a safety briefing by Pepco and set out to evaluate the damage and start helping with the restoration.”

FPL’s response is part of the mutual assistance network in which utilities around the country provide assistance following major natural disasters. FPL crews and equipment were dispatched to Ohio, Maryland and Virginia, to aid in their restoration efforts after a powerful line of thunderstorms, with gusts between 60 and 90 mph, caused significant destruction that left millions of people without power. Before deploying crews, FPL works to ensure that its customers are taken care of and resources are available should any outages affect our service territory.

For FPL Incident Commander Jim Bush, he'd seen this devastation before when called to help with restoration efforts following Hurricane Rita in Texas. “This is very similar to hurricane-type damage. There’s extensive destruction with lots of trees down among the poles and lines,” he explained. “We're working on the feeder backbone first, and then focus on getting the power back on in the neighborhoods.”

The FPL crews are working 16-hour days, through the July Fourth holiday, focused on getting the job done. Bush, an Army veteran, says he can't think of a better way to celebrate the Fourth than helping others in their time of need.

The customers we talk to are excited to see us out working on restoring the power and are glad there’s literally a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Bush.

The hilly terrain of Maryland is presenting some challenges for the Florida-based crew. “We had one team working on a 50-foot pole on the side of a steep hill that was engulfed in vegetation,” said Winder. “They're not accustomed to the elevation changes they have here, but the crew succeeded in getting the job done right and doing it safely.”

When called into action, we're eager to assist, after all, the situation could have easily been reversed with FPL needing the help after a major storm,” said Bush. “It's a great team effort and we're glad we could lend a hand.”

For photos of the restoration effort visit: http://www.fpl.com/newsroom

Media Contact:
FPL Media Line
Florida Power & Light Company
700 Universe Blvd.
Juno Beach, FL 33408

FRA Welcomes Figures on English Forestry Sustainability

England is fairing extremely well when it comes to sustainable forestry, according to a new report, which is being welcomed by Forestry Research Associates (FRA).

Seattle, United States, July 4, 2012 -- England is fairing extremely well when it comes to sustainable forestry, according to a new report, which is being welcomed by Forestry Research Associates (FRA).

The new figures published by the Forestry Commission England show that only 0.04 per cent of trees that are chopped down are felled illegally. “The sustainable approach to forestry and the gradually expanding wooded areas in the country have all contributed to the increase in local timber being used instead of imported timber,” explained FRA’s analysis partner, Peter Collins.

FRA is a research and analysis consultancy that specialises in advocating timberland investment as a strong alternative asset class. It has welcomed the news that England is investing in its conservation habits, such as increasing the amount of land given over to woodland and restoring heathland.

Simon Hodgson from the Forestry Commission explained, “For the first time we have been able to publish a suite of new statistics to show what is happening to woods and forests in England and how Forestry Commission England is performing.

The overall picture is great news for us. Protection of our woods and forests is strong with minuscule amounts of illegal felling.”

Although timber imports are falling in England, other nations, such as China, import much more timber than they used to, with much coming from the US, South America and Canada. China and other emerging economies are using more and more timber in the development of their infrastructure and housing in response to their recent economic growth.

FRA says that the increasing demand for sustainable timber in developing nations is great news for those investing in plantation projects in countries like Canada and Brazil. Firms like Greenwood Management are providing investors with the chance to directly invest in sustainably managed plantations of non-native species that help to reduce the pressure on natural forests in Brazil.

About Forestry Research Associates

Forestry Research Associates is a research and advisory consultancy that focuses on forestry management, sustainability issues and forestry investment around the globe.

Media Contact:
Peter Collins
Forestry Research Associates
620 Vineyard Lane
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
(206) 316 8394

Battle-Hardened Investors give their View on the Russian Market

- Innovative technologies are the most attractive industry sector in Russia for foreign investors.
- Russian manufacturing and industry interest investors much more than investments in land and property.
- Foreign investors in Russia tend to invest relatively small capital (less than 1 million euros) in several projects and get returns within one to two years.
- The most popular form of investment project in Russia is a joint venture with a Russian co-investor or the “receiver of the investment”.
- Despite difficulties, Moscow remains the most attractive region for investment.
- Within the hierarchy of investment risks in Russia, investors continue to worry most about tax and administrative risks.

Moscow, Russia (July 4, 2012) -- These were the main conclusions reached by Russian consulting group Gradient Alfa, which were based on surveys among businessmen and investors who participated at meetings held by the company in the first half of 2012. The meetings took place in France (February 23, Paris), USA (12-14 March, New York), UK (12 April, London), Germany (15 May, Munich) and Russia (22 May, Moscow).

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gradient Alpha, Pavel Gagarin, said that foreign investors view the Russian market as attractive and promising, although they place it in the "higher risk zone". It is the potential to minimize these risks that determines the attractiveness of investment projects.

"The last thing foreign investors want to invest in is land and property, even in Moscow and the Moscow region; it is incomprehensible and scary for them. By comparison, manufacturing and industry appear a lot more attractive. Despite Russia’s entry into the WTO, the “import replacement” policy of the Russian authorities is actively continuing. To bypass these restrictions, investors need to start their production inside Russia, opening branches and representative offices here. Moreover, it is easier to start a new business from scratch in the Special Economic Zones, than to revive an old company, which is burdened with debts and other obligations," said Pavel Gagarin.

Surveys conducted by Gradient Alpha show that innovative technology is currently by far the most attractive investment sphere in Russia. This is mainly due to the insignificant level of investment required and the quick returns. Besides, the choice is driven by the high demand from Russian consumers for these products. The good prospects for this market are highlighted by the rapid growth and penetration of traditional and mobile Internet; there has also been a sharp increase in the number of mobile applications.

The next most promising areas for investors are retail and certain sectors of the FMCG market. Network retail is viewed as particularly attractive. Consumption in Russia is very high. Leading national retailers increase revenue by more than 30% annually. According to the Association of Retail Companies, retail networks comprise 38% of the Russian retail sector, with the five largest companies having 10% market share.

Another trend for foreign investors is to invest relatively small sums of capital (less than 1 million euros) in several projects and to get returns within one to two years. The most popular form of investment project is a joint venture with a co-investor or the receiver of the investment. For investors, who would be perfectly capable of financing the whole project, this is a way to diversify risks. It is safer to invest 30% of the available resources in three different projects than to fund 100% of one project.

Despite the fact that Moscow is a difficult city in which to do business, it is still the most attractive investment region. "Investors are afraid to invest in projects located more than 50 kilometres from the capital for the following reason: it can be easier to work in the regions, but that depends entirely on the specific attitude of the authorities’ representatives there. There is no such dependence on the "human factor" in the federal centre, rather a dependence on the system, which is easier to adapt to," said Pavel Gagarin.

Another Russian region selected by investors as an attractive area for investment is Tatarstan. In addition to a favourable investment climate, this choice is determined by a simplified procedure for businesses and property registration, the vast territories of the republic and the availability of cheap labour.

Today, foreign investors have a certain perception of investment risks in Russia and their relative importance. In the first place are tax risks, meaning rather a possibility of unfair taxation than a high level of taxes. The second and third places are bureaucratic and administrative risks that might affect the time taken to receive the required permits, constantly changing terms for them and regular changes to the "rules of the game." Fourth place is taken by legal risks. Foreign investors see the legal environment for doing business in Russia as "legal chaos". By this they are referring to discrepancies between federal and local laws, lack of uniformity in law enforcement and the absence of federal laws "On Public-Private Partnership", "On Holding Companies" and "On project financing."

For more information, please visit the company web site http://www.gradient-alpha.biz or use the following contact information:

PR department
Gradient Alpha Investments Group
Tel: +7 (495) 740 1264

PR representative in Europe
Eva Smit
Tel: +44 (0) 7538 978986

Gradient Alpha Investments Group has more than 15 years of experience in facilitating investment deals in Russia. Acting as a strategic growth consultant for many Russian companies, the group has conducted hundreds of investment projects, both private and public, in various sectors of the economy. The total amount of investment capital procured through Gradient Alpha has averaged around three billion US dollars per year during the last five years.