By: Corina Solis, graduate of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
The Alamo Colleges began participating in local utility company, CPS Energy’s Demand Response Program in the summer of 2013. This Demand Response Program is one of CPS Energy’s strategies to achieve its 2020 goal of saving 771 megawatts of energy. The Alamo Colleges participated in the program in order to take advantage of a significant rebate opportunity, which was a maximum of $120,600 in 2013 and is $130,650 in 2014. Rebates are based on the level of participation, and in 2013, the Alamo Colleges earned rebates totaling $103,000. Through a self-funding strategy, all of this money went back to the Alamo Colleges to pay for faculty and staff salaries.
As an extra benefit, while saving all of this money, the Alamo Colleges trim their carbon footprint each time they participate in demand response. Last year, the Alamo Colleges prevented 2,250 lbs. of CO2 from going into the atmosphere from its demand response participation. This year, the Alamo Colleges are contracted to prevent up to five and a half tons of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere, which would otherwise take 140 tree seedlings ten years to naturally take out of the atmosphere. Read More
Earlier this week the Center for American Progress held an event to raise awareness about the impacts of methane. “Opportunities for Curbing Methane Pollution” brought together representatives from a wide spectrum of backgrounds: state and federal policy experts, environmental advocates, and labor. While each had their own reasons, be them safety, jobs, health, climate, all agreed that reducing methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector was both critical and possible. That sentiment was captured nicely by Judi Greenwald from the Department of Energy:
“For most people it’s primarily about methane and… these greenhouse gas reductions, but I think there are a lot of other [policy] drivers. In some instances it’s really the safety benefit that’s most important…. [And] there are a lot of other reasons to do this. So you get agreement on actions, but you might actually not get agreement on each [policy] driver.”
Reducing methane emissions is good for the climate
Carol Browner, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, offered opening remarks during which she said methane is a “very serious climate problem” because of its potency as a greenhouse gas. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame and short-term climate forcers like methane will drive a significant portion of the climate change we experience in our lifetime. Read More
By: Tracy Phillips, ICP Technical Lead
There is a simple question that haunts building owners, energy services companies, and even utilities who invest in energy efficiency: “How do I know if I will really see the savings?”
To answer this question, EDF’s energy efficiency initiative, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP), is implementing a system that creates confidence in energy savings and cash flows.
Today, ICP is pleased to launch a new component of this initiative: the Project Development Specification. This product launch, along with the recently unveiled Software Provider Credential, is part of a larger effort by ICP to accelerate the development of a global energy efficiency market by standardizing how Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ (IREE) projects are developed and verified leading to increased investor confidence in savings. Read More
Clean energy finance is thriving in New York State. This week, Governor Cuomo announced the New York Green Bank’s first set of deals, totaling an impressive $800 million in clean energy investments across the state. The projects funded by this investment will yield an impressive annual reduction of 575,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equivalent to removing 120,000 cars from the road or planting 15 million trees per year. This move helps cement New York’s role as a leading state in the clean energy economy.
By offering attractive interest rates and other incentives to stimulate interest from the private sector, green banks encourage investment in clean energy projects that may otherwise have difficulty obtaining private financing. Ideally, these initial deals then set the stage for an active and self-sustaining market in renewable energy and energy efficiency finance.
And the NY Green Bank is starting off swinging: its initial investment of $200 million catalyzed $600 million more in investment from prominent financial institutions, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. Read More
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Gina McCarthy, head of Environmental Protection Agency, knows that. So she asked her agency to craft a plan that leaves it up to states to shape their energy future – as long as they cut carbon emissions from power plants.
Often lost in the heated debate over EPA’s Clean Power Plan, however, is the fact this built-in flexibility will also give a boost to clean technology ventures, and speed up energy innovations already under way in many states. It could bring down costs for consumers, and maybe even give a much-needed boost to our economy.
Here’s how. Read More
By: Inês Azevedo, Kenneth Gillingham, David Rapson, and Gernot Wagner.
Lighting is critical to our livelihoods. Humans have used lighting technology since long before industrialization. For many centuries, this lighting was extremely inefficient, with over 95% of the energy consumed wasted as heat. Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for their remarkable contributions towards highly efficient light emitting diode (LED) technology. A day later, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus reignited a long standing debate with an Op-Ed inThe New York Times claiming that these developments are not likely to save energy and instead may backfire. (TheTimes has since corrected a crucial point of the article, and it has published three letters to the editor, including one by a subset of co-authors here.)
As evidence for these claims, Shellenberger and Nordhaus cite research that observes the vast improvements in the efficiency of lighting over the past two centuries having resulted in “more and more of the planet [being] dotted with clusters of lights.” They take this as evidence of how newer and ever more efficient lighting technologies have led to demand increases and, thus, have “led to more overall energy consumption.” Further, they refer to “recent estimates and case studies” that suggest “energy-saving technologies may backfire, meaning that increased energy consumption associated with lower energy costs because of higher efficiency may in fact result in higher energy consumption than there would have been without those technologies.” Read More
On the heels of a recent Forbes blog post where I call out Texas' Comptroller for playing favorites in her biased scrutiny of Texas' wind industry, comes another Forbes piece by James Taylor from the Heartland Institute. Confusing correlation with causation, Taylor claims wind energy causes higher energy prices. However, an increase in electricity prices cannot automatically be accounted for by pointing the finger at wind energy. That’s simply playing fast and loose with the facts.
This is the same tired slant we have heard from Heartland Institute time and time again. Not surprising – when pundits want to cherry pick data to make their argument strong, it doesn’t always work.
First there are many, many factors that determine energy rates, not just one type of resource. In an analysis of utility rates, economists Ernst Berndt, Roy Epstein, and Michael Doane identified 13 reasons why an electric utility’s rates may be higher or lower than the average. They include things like the average use per customer, age of the electricity distribution system, generation resource mix, local taxes, and rate of increases prior to any implemented renewable portfolio standard (RPS). So faulting renewables for high energy prices is a bogus claim. Furthermore, there is no data showing a nationwide pattern of renewable energy standards leading to rate increases for consumers. The report states: “American consumers in the top wind energy-producing states have seen their electricity prices actually decrease by 0.37 percent over the last 5 years, while all other states have seen their electricity prices increase by 7.79 percent over that time period." Further, 15 studies from various grid operators, state governments, and academic experts have examined the impact of wind energy on wholesale electricity prices and confirmed that wind energy reduces electricity prices. Read More
For 10 weeks this summer, EDF Climate Corps fellow Karan Gupta worked for JLL, a commercial real estate firm, to optimize energy use at one of the company’s largest buildings: 77 West Wacker Dr., a 1-million-square-foot commercial office building in downtown Chicago.
At the core of Karan’s work was demand response – an energy savings tool that pays people to shift their electricity use to times of day when there is less demand on the power grid, or when more renewable energy is abundant.
I spoke with Myrna Coronado-Brookover, JLL’s senior vice president and general manager, to find out why her company placed a bet on this technology. Read More
On September 17th, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined en banc review of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 745, dealing a blow to FERC’s regulation on demand response. This sounds complex, but behind these technical terms, hidden in plain sight, is a monumentally important and unfortunate legal outcome: we’re likely about to see an unnecessary rise in electricity prices and increase in new polluting power plants. This is bad news for the consumer, bad news for efficiency, and bad news for the environment.
First, a bit of background…
FERC Order 745, issued in 2011 by the federal agency that regulates electricity throughout the United States, has successfully allowed demand response to fairly compete in the electricity marketplace with more traditional energy resources like coal and natural gas.
Demand response is an important clean energy resource used by utilities and electric grid operators to balance stress on the electric grid by reducing demand for electricity, rather than relying on dirty “peaker” power plants or new infrastructure. It pays people to conserve energy during periods of peak or high demand in exchange for their offset energy use. This makes our grid more efficient, reduces harmful air emissions from fossil fuel plants, and keeps electricity prices lower. Read More
Just over a week ago the BlueGreen Alliance—a coalition of 15 of America’s largest labor unions and national environmental groups representing more than 15 million members and supporters—sent a letter to President Obama supporting national standards to reduce methane emissions. EDF’s Natural Gas Director of Communications, Lauren Whittenberg, recently talked with Rob McCulloch, Director of Infrastructure Programs at BlueGreen Alliance to learn more about their interest in this issue.
Lauren: Hi Rob. Can you tell us a little about BlueGreen Alliance, and the work you’re doing?
Rob: BlueGreen alliance is a national partnership working to find common ground among labor unions and environmental groups and advance policies that help build a cleaner, fairer, and more competitive American economy.
Our partners agree: Our nation’s response to today’s environmental challenges will determine our future economy. It is important that our response includes the creation of good, family-sustaining jobs for future generations. Read More