Honored energy company in need of jump-start

There was a lot of fanfare regarding Umpqua Energy a few months ago when it won a Department of Energy award. A story in the Mail Tribune said they planned to begin making the fuel-savings devices by June.

I've kept looking and asked around, but I haven't heard anything since then.

— Jim K., Medford

Umpqua Energy, which listed Medford as its base of operations during its pursuit of the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" competition announced by President Obama during last January's State of the Union address, is in a state of flux.

The February day Umpqua (which pronounces it OOmpqua) was declared one of three winners, a company spokesman from Spokane, Wash., said the firm hoped to begin manufacturing its emission-control system for gasoline and diesel engines within six months.

Summer came and went, and there was no startup or even announcements typically associated with such operations.

Turns out there is a pending change of ownership, or at least a change of control. A spokesman at the company's Winnebago, Minn., office, outside Minneapolis — even farther from the Umpqua Valley — said stockholders are analyzing demand to determine where to locate.

"Medford is still one of the areas for prospective manufacturing," said the spokesman, who declined to give his name because of nondisclosure agreements.

A critical element, he said, is aligning environmental impact, raw materials and infrastructure components.

"We're developing technology to reduce the carbon footprint," he said. "It would be a crying shame to increase our carbon footprint due to logistics choices."

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