Friday, October 6, 2017

I.F. company MarCom LLC buys lab in Butte, Mont.

MarCom LLC, an Idaho Falls company, has finalized an agreement with E Capital Partners LLC to acquire the laboratory assets from MSE Inc. in Butte, Mont. It will reopen there as MarCom Laboratory Services on Nov. 1.

MarCom is an SBA-certified Native American-owned, 8(a), and woman-owned business that provides management, administrative, engineering, nuclear operations, information technology services, SCADA, and health and safety services to U.S. Department of Energy sites as well as commercial customers across the country, a news release from the company said.

The Butte, Mont., laboratory will provide analytical services for water and soil samples for public and private entities. “MarCom Laboratory Services is the newest addition to our growing portfolio of services, allowing us to become more diversified while continuing to grow,” said Marcella Medor, MarCom’s president, in the release.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

SpringHill Suites by Marriott holds grand opening

An artist's rendering of the new SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel in Idaho Falls, by the Snake River.
The new SpringHill Suites by Marriott, just south of the Marriott Residence Inn, held its grand opening Monday, featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber Ambassadors.

The hotel, at 665 Riverwalk Drive, was built by Woodbury Corp., a full-service real estate development and management company based in Salt Lake City, in partnership with McNeil Development, the company owned by brothers Rollie and Lorin Walker, developers of the Taylor Crossing on the River project.

The new 124-room hotel was designed for both business and leisure travelers, a Woodbury Corp. news release said. Amenities include business services, complimentary Wi-Fi, same-day dry cleaning, guest laundry facilities, an indoor swimming pool with whirlpool, an outdoor patio area with a fire pit and a fitness center.

The hotel also has two meeting rooms with more than 1,170 square feet to accommodate gatherings of up to 40 people, with catering available if needed, the release said.

Bjoern Jaeger is the hotel’s general manager.

The new hotel brings 40 full-time jobs and increased tourism opportunities to Idaho Falls, according to the news release. The project also included the installation of a new quarter-mile road along the Snake River through Taylor Crossing on the River, increasing accessibility to the city.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Permit applications filed for Broadway project

Artist's rendering of The Broadway in Idaho Falls
If you’ve been downtown lately you’ve probably noticed dirt being moved at the corner of Broadway and Memorial Drive, where Saving Center used to be. That’s the site of The Broadway, which we’ve reported on before.

Two permit applications for the project were filed Sept. 21 with the Idaho Falls Building Department. The applicant on both was Rory Heggie Architecture of Boise. The was for the retail building, job value estimated at $1.44 million. The second was for a 32,670-square-foot mixed use building, job value estimate at $4,085,000.

Overall, the development will consist of a 9,600-square-foot single story retail building and a three-story mixed-used building incorporating retail, restaurant and office space, with residential condominiums on the third story. Spaces are divisible up to 1,200 square feet. Between the two buildings there will be a plaza for food, music and entertainment.

The property was bought in 2015 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which had conducted a study analyzing demand for downtown housing. The report that followed estimated a demand for housing units between 455 to 502 units. The board also approved the purchase of an option on the Bonneville Hotel at Constitution Way and Park Avenue.

In February 2016, the Oppenheimer Development Corp. responded to the IFRA’s request for proposals on the .95-acre property.

Bank of Idaho, Parsons, Beahle & Latimer, Smokin Fins (a Colorado-based seafood restaurant chain), and Lucy’s Pizzeria have been listed as prospective tenants. Leasing arrangements are being handled by Thornton Oliver Keller. For more information, follow this link: The Broadway.

Friday, September 22, 2017

INL plans to host power grid integration demo next week

Researchers in INL's Real Time Power & Energy Systems Innovation Laboratory in Idaho Falls 
A team of researchers in the U.S. and Europe is poised to globally integrate electrical grids in a way that resonates with the creation of the internet more than 50 years ago.

The group convenes at Idaho National Laboratory Tuesday, Sept. 26, for a live demonstration of the Real-Time Super Lab (RT Super Lab) concept, which will study how electricity can be rerouted across vast distances to address disruptions. The team envisions that large-scale blackouts can be prevented by moving electricity intercontinentally, the same way utilities currently do regionally but at a much larger scale. Such global interaction can prepare America for next-generation power system challenges, reduce the cost of outages and make electrical power grids of the future more resilient.

The effort builds on work done between the U.S. Department of Energy’s INL and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and five universities, two of them in Europe, have joined INL to explore the idea that electrons can be sent around the world the same way as digital packets of zeros and ones over the internet.

“This is more than computers talking to each other,” said Rob Hovsapian, INL’s Power and Energy Systems department manager. “We are developing capabilities for geographically distributed real-time grid simulation with shared assets at INL, other national labs, universities and utilities.”

In 2015, INL and NREL successfully demonstrated the capability to connect grid simulations at their two labs for real-time interaction over the internet. Both INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory and NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility have the capability to merge computer-based simulations of the power grid with actual hardware such as wind turbines, solar inverters, batteries and electric vehicles — a capability called "power hardware in the loop."

The two national laboratories were able to connect their Digital Real-Time Simulators and achieve grid simulation such that the hardware or software at one lab could directly interact with hardware or software at the other lab.

Leveraging assets and expertise at other national labs and academic institutions, the RT Super Lab concept brings more assets into the mix, with the following participants contributing specific capabilities:

  • Sandia National Laboratories’ Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory
  • Colorado State University’s high-performance computer-based energy management system
  • Washington State University’s Smart Grid and Microgrid Laboratory
  • University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing’s Integrated Grids Laboratory
  • RWTH Aachen University’s co-simulation framework
  • Polytechnic University of Turin’s high-performance computer-based Energy Management System
NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility
INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory

"Joint collaboration via a Ph.D. researcher exchange between RWTH and INL was a key factor in creating scientific tools and techniques featured in this demonstration," said Manish Mohanpurkar, INL’s Power and Energy Systems group lead. “INL and NREL research also made the project possible by addressing data latency issues and improving available bandwidth.”

The Wide Area Network demonstrations that took place between INL and NREL showed that most data packets took less than 17 milliseconds to travel from point to point. To mitigate data latency issues (like those that create cellphone echoes and delays), researchers used advanced methods from the fields of signal processing, filtering theory and data compression.

Along with rapid strides in interconnecting grid laboratories globally, another active research approach will enable additional significant measurements to be exchanged between two connected real-time simulators. The preliminary results are promising and the method will be utilized for geographically distributed real-time simulations connecting laboratories all across the world.

Power systems around the world are undergoing fundamental transitions to achieve long-term sustainability, reliability and affordability. The RT-Super Lab allows simulation of large-scale systems, simultaneous development across different domains and a flexible collaboration that preserves the confidential details of individual groups.

The ability to move electricity around the globe rather than only within isolated networks holds the possibility of vast savings on infrastructure and energy consumption.

“It’s always easier and cheaper to transfer electrons than fuels,” Hovsapian said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apple Athletic owner files for Planet Fitness on Woodruff Avenue

The interior of a Planet Fitness gym somewhere in America. (Photo: Planet Fitness)
It looks like Apple Athletic Club owner Steve Vucovic could be expanding his fitness empire in Idaho Falls this fall. Vucovic and a partner, Keith Larsen, applied Aug. 30 to the city of Idaho Falls Building Department for a building permit for a 240,000-square-foot remodeling job at 200 South Woodruff Avenue, for a Planet Fitness Health Club. Vucovic said last week they were still negotiating a lease, but the building permit was issued Tuesday.

North of Smith’s, the space has been empty since Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Scientech relocated its offices to Snake River Landing in 2014.

With more than 1,400 clubs in the United States, Planet Fitness is one of the largest fitness club franchises. Based in Hampton, N.H., the company dates back to 1992. It opened its first franchised location in Florida in 2013, and in February 2016, the franchise was added to the Franchise Times "Fast and Serious" list of top franchises (No. 1). That same year, Forbes magazine ranked Planet Fitness No. 4, and the company ranked in the top 50 of the Entrepreneur magazine Franchise 500 in 2017.

The club's two membership levels are $10 and $19.99 per month: the $10 per month level includes access to cardio and strength equipment, unlimited group fitness instruction and pizza and bagels once a month; the $19.99 per month (“Black Card”) level allows members to bring one guest per day at no charge, access to all Planet Fitness locations, and access to extra amenities, such as tanning booths and massage chairs.

The company advertises "no judgment,” with "judgment free zone," signs plastered across its gyms and signs on the equipment reminding members that they "belong." Planet Fitness famously serves free pizza on the first Monday of the month and bagels on the second Tuesday of the month.

The target demographic is people who are just getting used to working out or people who really, really hate exercising. There are no classes, just two circuits, a 30-minute full-body circuit and a 12-minute ab circuit.

"We're going after the first-time exercises or casual user," CEO Chris Rondeau told Business Insider in 2015. "Gym intimidation is real."