URS Corp (NYSE:URS) (website), headquartered in San Francisco, is a Pentagon contracting giant. Although the company's website does not appear to disclose specific plans by the company to enter the field of industrial-scale solar power, URS has apparently contracted the services of the Environmental Sciences Research Institute (ERSI) to study the siting the solar power plants in the California desert. 1 An entry for URS Corporation on the website for the October 2008 Solar Power 08 conference in San Diego has an page describing URS as follows:
URS provides large scale PV and solar thermal solutions to the commercial, industrial and government markets. With 300 offices, our design approach is to not use a predefined product but to select the technology that best suits a specific project. 2
URS Corporation is now one of the top defense contractors in the United States. URS bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002. As part of the transaction, Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS. At that time the largest stake in URS was owned by Blum Capital, an investment company of Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband Ricahrd Blum,
URS and Blum have since banked on the Iraq war, scoring a $600 million contract through EG&G. As a result, URS has seen its stock price more than triple since the war began in March 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this venture alone and another $100 million for his investment firm.
"As part of EG&G's sale price," reports the San Francisco Chronicle, "Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS – second only to the 23.7 percent of shares controlled by Blum Capital." 5
The Carlyle Group has long been accused of exploiting its political connections to turn a profit.
Owen Blicksilver, Blum's spokesman, claims his boss and Sen. Feinstein have never talked shop at home in their gated mansion: "Mr. Blum and Sen. Feinstein have never had any discussions about outsourcing, government contracts, or URS." 6
2. Solar Power International 08: URS, SolarPowerConference.com, [cached]
3. Large Solar Energy Projects, energy.ca.gov, [cached]
4. SES Solar Two Project, energy.ca.gov, [cached]
5. PROFILE: Richard Blum, The man behind URS, next to Sen. Feinstein, SFGate.com, [cached]
6. Feinstein Family War Profits, CounterCurrents.org, 3/01/2006 [cached]