Selected category: Data Access

How a digital dashboard could make cities’ power, water smarter

By: Jori Mendel, AT&T Smart Cities, and Chandana Vangapalli, former Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow

Technology revolutionizes the way people interact with the world. From video chats to securing homes from thousands of miles away, digital connections bring us closer to what matters most.

This same connectivity can play a critical role in helping cities around the world in the fight against climate change – a fight that will only accelerate in the coming years, with cities and municipalities on the front lines.

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. These urban areas already account for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions, and their impacts will worsen with expansion. Because of their population density, cities are also the most likely to be heavily impacted by water shortages, natural disasters, and heatwaves as climate change progresses.

Smart cities

Understanding how to mitigate these environmental impacts is vital, and the technology that enables cities to be “smart” is a big part of that. Technology can help communities around the world become cleaner, safer, and stronger through connectivity solutions that unlock environmental, social, and economic benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Energy-Water Nexus| Comments are closed

How Electricity Data Can Clean Up the Economy

The U.S. electric grid is old and frayed, yet innovative technologies – modern sensors, smart meters, and advanced telecommunications – offer hope to update it to become more modern, efficient, and clean. What all these smart-grid tools have in common is data. How we utilize the enormous quantities of information about how we move and use electricity will have major impacts on markets, customers, the environment, and our future electricity system.

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) recognized this when, in mid-February, they approved an energy data-sharing program for Illinois’ largest electric utility, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). The program, developed and advanced by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Citizens Utility Board (CUB), allows companies and researchers access to anonymous energy-use data from ComEd’s nearly 4 million smart meters.

This will encourage the development of energy-saving products and services designed to help Illinoisans save money. The data also will allow rooftop solar companies, energy efficiency providers, non-profits, researchers, cities, and other clean energy innovators to see which neighborhoods and blocks have the greatest potential for money-saving clean energy projects ─ ensuring no community is left behind. Moreover, this information will spur new offerings from smart home and appliance manufacturers, energy management specialists, HVAC and lighting companies, as well as market researchers. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Illinois| Read 1 Response

How Maryland Tackles Grid Modernization Could Have Big Impact

15671323838_0aac227627_bThe need to plan for and design a more efficient, cleaner, and resilient electricity grid has never been greater. Our aging grid is ill-prepared to keep pace with rapid technological advances and an increasingly distributed, dynamic energy system. A greater number of customers are producing electricity themselves, demanding expanded energy choice and a more interactive relationship with their utilities. In the meantime, an increased number of severe storms in recent years keep pressing the need for resilience. In order to meet these challenges, we need to look beyond traditional planning solutions for how we make, use, and distribute electricity.

This year has seen a flurry of activity on grid modernization in states across the U.S. As 2016 comes to a close, the spotlight is on Maryland as it joins the ranks of states investigating how to transform our electric system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models, Voltage Optimization| Comments are closed

Managing Methane: New Jersey’s Largest Utility Using Better Data for Better Decisions

pgemapping

Data helps prioritize gas line replacement

By Simi Rose George and Virginia Palacios 

A new method of prioritizing gas infrastructure improvements is resulting in faster reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey. Just over a year ago, we wrote about an order from the state’s Board of Public Utilities approving a settlement agreement for a $905 million, three-year pipe replacement program by PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest gas utility. This order, and the underlying settlement agreement were pioneering in one major aspect – PSE&G agreed to use environmental data to inform its infrastructure improvement efforts.

The order provided that the company would use data on leak flow rate (the speed at which methane is leaking from gas pipes) to help prioritize its local distribution pipe (“gas line”) replacement program. PSE&G is the first utility in the country to do so. The idea was that this data would be gathered by EDF as part of a collaborative project with Google Earth Outreach and Colorado State University through a survey of sections of PSE&G’s service territory targeted for gas line replacement. Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Methane, Natural Gas, New Jersey| Tagged | Comments are closed

Fraying Wires: How Policymakers Can Fix America’s Electricity Infrastructure

electric-pylonsOn any given day, half a million Americans lose power for two or more hours. Those blackouts cost our economy billions of dollars. 70 percent of the U.S. grid that delivers electricity to our homes and businesses is at least 25 years old, and comparatively we endure more outages than other developed nations. We suffer some 360 minutes of outages each year, compared with just 16 minutes for Korea, 15 for Germany, and 11 for Japan.

A new book – The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future – offers these and other insights about the challenges of modernizing America’s electric grid – the set of wires and transformers that transmit and deliver power. According to the author, McGill University professor and cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke, our current system is “worn down, it’s patched up, and every hoped-for improvement is expensive and bureaucratically bemired.”

But change could be on the horizon. With a new president and Congress taking office in January, legislation to address America’s deteriorating infrastructure, like bridges and lead-laden water pipes, will likely be debated. High on their list of priorities should be new policies encouraging private-sector investment and innovation in the electricity sector.

Here are four ideas from Bakke that the new Congress and administration should keep in mind as they consider legislation that will lay the groundwork for America’s energy future. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models| Read 4 Responses

Why clean energy is center stage on International Day of Peace

poster-largeEach year since 1981, the United Nations (UN) recognizes an International Day of Peace on September 21. The day is intended to strengthen peace both within and among nations.

As an environmental advocate, I can’t help but think about the effects of climate change on the current state of global peace. And while there are a few climate deniers out there, those who have looked at the science are saying climate change poses a serious threat to global security and peace.

Fortunately, the UN agrees – which is why they chose to focus this year’s International Peace Day on Sustainable Development Goals. Unanimously adopted by all 193 UN member states, the Sustainable Development Goals are broken down into 17 focus areas and are part of a broader agenda to fight inequality, injustice, and climate change by 2030.

Goal 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” – is a hugely important part of fostering global peace. The world needs affordable, reliable electricity to heat, cool, and power our homes, and to encourage economic growth. But we also need this electricity to be clean, modern, and efficient, so it doesn’t pollute our communities and exacerbate climate change.

Here are four ways the U.S. is doing our part to achieve an affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy system for all:

Read More »

Also posted in California, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Energy-Water Nexus, Grid Modernization, Illinois, New York, Solar Energy, Texas| Comments are closed
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