Author Archives: EDF Blogs

EDF’s SolaROI Study: Understanding What PG&E’s Electricity Rate Changes Mean for Solar PV

By: Kristina Mohlin, Visiting Economist; Beia Spiller, Economist; and James Fine, Senior Economist

Source: Duncan Rawlinson

Source: Duncan Rawlinson

At EDF, our eyes are fixed firmly on improving local air quality and reducing global warming caused by fossil-fuel based electricity. We have high hopes for the role that clean, renewable, and distributed energy solutions like rooftop solar can play in “decarbonizing” our energy system. To get there, the price must be right for residential solar to flourish. With recent price drops (e.g., the cost of solar panels has declined by around 75 percent since 2008) and innovative new financing tools, residential solar is booming. However, this exacerbates the need to find a balance between rewards for investors (a.k.a. home and building owners) and service cost recovery for electric utilities.

California and other states are considering substantial changes to how distributed energy resources are compensated, revisiting both the underlying tariff structures along with how PV customers are paid for generation. Thus, it is both timely and crucial to analyze how these impending changes may affect investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) energy and its long-term viability.

EDF’s new SolaROI study explores how Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) proposal for new electricity rates impacts the residential customer’s return on investment (ROI) from installing rooftop solar. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Renewable Energy| Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Changing Light Bulbs Can Mean a Wealth of Energy Savings

By: Karunakaren MH, student at the Thunderbird School of Global Management

edfcc - led light bulbsA few months ago, I traveled halfway across the world from the bright, hot tropical beaches of south-east Asia into a gloomy, chilly Chicago summer to begin my journey as an EDF Climate Corps fellow. A week before I started at Associated Materials, a thunderstorm flooded the entire ground floor of the corporate office, and the place needed to be completely restored. What a cliché! Because of how quickly they recovered, I arrived at the office knowing that its resilience to adversity and commitment to energy efficiency goals would mean I had a great summer ahead of me.

Associated Materials (AMI) is a vertically integrated company in the exterior building products industry with 11 manufacturing locations and over 120 distribution centers catering to the North American market. It spends about $15 million annually on energy utilities and, this summer, hired two EDF Climate Corp fellows to look for opportunities to reduce energy costs. I worked on the manufacturing locations and my colleague, Vinnakota Krishna, looked at the supply centers. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy| Tagged | Comments closed

Clean Energy Conferences Roundup: September 2014

Source: National Retail Federation Flickr

Source: National Retail Federation Flickr

Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in September:

Sept 4-5: Energy Policy Research Conference, San Francisco, CA
Speaker: Jamie Fine, Senior Economist

  • Energy Policy Institute's (EPI) 4th Annual Energy Policy Research Conference (EPRC) is the premier energy policy research conference held in the Western United States. EPI is thrilled to welcome Dr. Steven Chu as the Keynote Speaker for the event! This conference is for you if you are seeking to present or discuss energy policy research with participants and panelists from academia, think-tanks and research institutes, NGOs, national laboratories, industry, and government. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General| Comments closed

The Solution to Accurate Energy Data May Be Closer Than We Think

By: Karan Gupta, student at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment

karan guptaAs Lord Kelvin famously said, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it." Here at 77 West Wacker, despite extensive metering relative to comparable buildings, we have found a lack of visibility into energy consumption data is one of the greatest barriers to implementing energy conservation measures (ECMs).

The need for detailed energy consumption data

Ideally, building equipment and tenants should be sub-metered. It might be overkill to meter every individual piece of equipment, but if all supply fans, or all water pumps, or all chillers were grouped on a single meter, understanding building behavior would be greatly simplified. Tenants, on the other hand, are sub-metered. The issue is that building management and operations do not always have access to that data because tenant consent is required to view tenant usage data. Unfortunately, a consent form does not exist in our service area to allow that. The way tenants are currently billed assumes equal energy use on a square footage basis, and therefore, does nothing to promote energy efficiency. Knowing exactly how many kilowatt-hours are used by each tenant each month would allow building management to accurately bill those tenants, thereby incentivizing conservation on their part to reduce operating costs. As building managers around the country are charged with making their buildings more efficient, they will need the tools to do so. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency| Comments closed

Blown Away by Wind Power in Denmark, a Model for Clean Energy

The view when you fly into Copenhagen, Denmark.

The view when you fly into Copenhagen, Denmark.

By: Sam Parry, director of online membership and activism

I look out the window of the crowded Scandinavian Airlines plane – bleary-eyed after a sleepless, 8-hour flight – as it makes its final approach to the Copenhagen airport one recent morning.

The first thing I see are the wind turbines that hug the coast, spinning steadily like white jewels against the blue water. For a moment I wonder if I’m hallucinating.

What are wind turbines doing so close to civilization and adjacent to Denmark’s main airport?

Back in the United States, I have to travel far beyond my Washington suburb to spot any signs of wind energy. In Denmark, it’s ever-present.

You can’t drive more than a few kilometers on the country’s flat roads without seeing a turbine. They are fully integrated into society and part of the landscape everywhere.

And that’s not by accident. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy| Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Can I Do This Again Next Year Please? My Fellowship at Fort Bragg

fortbragg

By: Farris Galyon, Climate Corps Fellow

I do not want to brag, but the U.S. Army engagement at Fort Bragg is the best in EDF Climate Corps. I apologize for the bombastic tone of this statement; however, when I consider the opportunities afforded to me during my time here, it is hard for me to imagine a comparable experience anywhere else. I base my assertion on three particular characteristics of this engagement: 1) the unlimited learning opportunity, 2) the opportunity to add value in multiple areas and 3) the opportunity to meet high profile and multi-talented individuals.

Unlimited Learning Opportunity

Upon my arrival to the energy office at Fort Bragg, I met a team of nine individuals comprised of several engineers with 25-40 years of experience, a former employee of a private utilities company and a dual master’s degree holder currently pursuing her M.S. in global energy management. Suffice it to say, I was the least experienced person in the room. It did not take long for me to realize that my ability to identify efficiency/conservation opportunities they had not already considered was limited. My first response to this reality was to be disconcerted; how would I fulfill my obligation to EDF and the Army without possessing any experiential or academic advantage over this exceptional team? Fortunately for me, this fact would prove beneficial to me rather than detrimental. While the overview offered during EDF Climate Corps training was informative, my full immersion into this work environment proved to be downright educational. Thanks to the energy team’s expertise, I was presented with superb demonstrations on evaluating energy project viability. It was this team’s willingness and ability to teach that presented me with my chance to add value. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency| Comments closed

Why Support the Clean Power Plan? Testimony from the EPA hearings

Image of the DC rally outside the EPA hearings. Photo by Heather Shelby.

Image of the DC rally outside the EPA hearings. Photo by Heather Shelby.

By: Dan Upham, writer and editor

Across the country this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public hearings to solicit comments about its Clean Power Plan, which will put the first-ever national limits on the amount of climate pollution that can be emitted by power plants. EDF’s president, a senior attorney, and a clean energy specialist were among the hundreds of Americans who testified in support of the Plan. As these selections from EDF staff testimonies illustrate, the Plan offers moderate, flexible, and necessary measures to address climate change at the federal and state levels.

It’s necessary: The climate is changing across the U.S.

“The stakes are high in Colorado as hotter temperatures, reduced winter snowpacks, and more frequent droughts are expected to decrease Colorado River streamflows.

Our treasured Rocky Mountain ecosystems are especially susceptible to climate change impacts, and high elevations have already experienced temperature increases at rates three times the global average.

Increased warming, drought, and insect outbreaks have increased wildfires and impacts to people and ecosystems throughout the West.” – Graham McCahan, a senior attorney with EDF’s U.S. Climate and Air legal team.

“The Southeast is the region expected to be the most affected by increasing temperatures. Extremely hot days – 95°F or above – could cause a decrease in labor productivity by 3.2% in the construction, mining, utilities, transportation, and agricultural sectors. Extreme heat also is projected to cause 11,000 to 36,000 more deaths each year.” – Greg Andeck, EDF’s North Carolina senior manager, Clean Energy.

“The bottom line is that we cannot continue down the path of unlimited pollution.” – Fred Krupp, EDF’s president. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate| Tagged | 3 Responses, comments now closed

Clean Energy Conferences Roundup: August 2014

Source: National Retail Federation Flickr

Source: National Retail Federation Flickr

Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in August:

Aug 17-22: 2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Pacific Grove, CA
Speaker: Jamie Fine, Senior Economist

  • The 2014 Summer Study is the 18th biennial American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy conference on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. A diverse group of professionals from around the world will gather at this pre-eminent meeting to discuss the technological basis for, and practical implementation of, actions to reduce energy use and the climate impacts associated with buildings. The Summer Study enables sharing ideas and engaging in dialog with leading thinkers, visionaries, and luminaries in the field, while in the midst of the magnificent natural setting of Asilomar Conference Grounds. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Conference Roundup| Comments closed

Four Lessons in Corporate Water Efficiency

Susannah Harris pictured here on site at Verizon headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJBy: Susannah Harris, 2014 Climate Corps Fellow

I received quizzical looks from family and friends when I told them I was working on water efficiency projects at Verizon this summer. They paused, racking their brains about where water is used within the telecommunications industry. “Like in the bathrooms?” they’d ask.

The reality is that domestic telecom companies rely on billions of gallons of water per year to cool, clean, and maintain the buildings and equipment that support their expansive networks. And because customers require networks to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, much of that equipment is running around the clock. From cooling tower adjustments to grey water recycling, there are a number of water-saving opportunities available for the telecommunications industry. Implementing these practices – thereby reducing municipal water, sewer and energy bills – can also make a noticeable impact on the company's bottom line. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy-Water Nexus| Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Mapping the California Companies Fueling a Cleaner Future

green-roads-mapBy: Emily Reyna, Senior Manager, Partnerships and Alliances

Clean energy and clean tech sound exciting, but most people don’t see these businesses as a major part of our economy, especially when traditional fossil fuels rule at the pump.

But thanks to policies like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and cap and trade, more and more businesses are giving us options when we need to get from point A to point B, and they form an increasingly important source of economic growth in the state. From cars running on used vegetable oil (biodiesel) to cars you can plug into your house, new and exciting innovations are fast coming to market.

The new interactive Green Roads Map that EDF created in partnership with CALSTART, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and the Natural Resources Defense Council, shows that we have many emerging options for our cars and transportation fleets, and that clean transportation is a flourishing industry in California.

The Green Roads Map is more than just a collection of dots – the map presents an important picture of the investors, researchers, producers, and salespeople who are transforming our economy and transportation system today. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Electric Vehicles, General| Comments closed