The GridWise Alliance, a leading business forum for the development of a smart, clean, modern electric grid, just released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index – a ranking of states’ progress towards a more sustainable energy system. The Index goes beyond tracking investments that modernize the electric system; it explores the policies these investments can support, such as increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. The report also delves into the valuable services customers can expect from smart technology investments in the grid.
Grid modernization isn’t simply about replacing aging infrastructure – it’s about managing energy in new ways, namely through sensors and digital communication. Greater visibility and control as a result of these investments can create a dynamic electric system that is more efficient, better manages costs, improves customer service, and protects our limited resources.
In addition to possibly giving your home state something to brag about, the results of this Index offer plenty of useful information on how states have modernized the grid and charted their own course toward making smarter energy choices. Read More
Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued an important decision in support of a vital clean energy resource: demand response. The case, FERC v. EPSA, revolves around demand response, a resource that helps keep prices low and the lights on, all while being environmentally friendly.
It’s a significant victory for anyone in favor of a cleaner, cheaper, accessible, and more reliable grid. That describes a diverse group — consumer advocates, environmentalists, economists, states, grid operators, and leading legal scholars all filed in support of a critically important and well-designed policy creating access for demand response in wholesale energy markets. Read More
Buildings use nearly 40 percent of all energy in the U.S. and account for a third of our greenhouse gases. Today, a growing number of commercial real estate leaders are looking for opportunities to upgrade what they’ve already got – rather than starting from scratch – to save money and lessen their environmental impact. These commercial real estate leaders know there is a great deal of potential in starting small, and in focusing on what best serves their bottom line.
Organizations that need a more tailored approach to making their real estate energy-efficient have a myriad of opportunities that are now being pioneered by property owners across the country. Leading companies are applying outside-the-box energy management solutions to buildings constructed before the green-building boom.
Here are two examples of companies that enlisted Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program to accelerate clean energy projects in their facilities and meet their corporate energy goals: Read More
When you think about something that is 85 years old, you might think of history and tradition but not necessarily innovation. However, when the 85-year-old in question is a Chicago landmark committed to finding new ways to tackle energy management, cutting-edge solutions are par for the course.
The Merchandise Mart is a massive commercial space, spanning two city blocks along the Chicago River and offering some 4.2 million square feet of floor space. As expected, its energy consumption is also enormous, but the building has long been a leader in efficiency. And recently, the Mart took an even bigger step forward by unveiling an innovative battery storage unit that will help balance the electric grid – and earn money while doing it.
How the Mart came to be a clean energy leader
Built in 1930 for Marshall Field & Co., the Kennedy family owned the art deco structure for more than half a century, before selling it in 1998 to Vornado Realty Trust. Efficiency efforts began in the 1980s with the installation of an ice-storage cooling system that freezes tons of water overnight when cooling needs are minimal, allowing the building to shift power consumption to off-peak periods, save money, and reduce pollution. Read More
At the heart of every major transformation are the people carving the new path forward. The same goes for the transition currently occurring in our electricity system, which is moving away from traditional monopoly utilities relying on coal, to a world with distributed energy generation (like rooftop solar), new technology, and disruptive market entrants.
But just who are these trailblazers and how do we identify them? Earlier this year, energy-centric outlet Midwest Energy News set out to do just that for seven states. It launched a call for nominations to recognize “emerging leaders throughout the region and their work to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy” for its 40 Under 40 awards.
Recently, Midwest Energy News announced the winners, who come from a variety of sectors including industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy. Environmental Defense Fund is proud to say the group includes Andrew Barbeau, our senior clean energy consultant leading efforts like our demand response collaboration in Illinois. Read More
Also posted in Clean Energy
By: Andrew Barbeau, President of The Accelerate Group, LLC, and senior clean energy consultant to EDF
Early January 2014, during the heart of the Polar Vortex, grid operator PJM had its finger on the switch ready to start rolling blackouts across 13 states and Washington, D.C. As temperatures plunged to 20- and 30-below zero, coal piles froze and conveyors broke down at coal plants, gas plants without firm delivery contracts sat idle without fuel, and PJM officials were sending out pleas for help for large electricity consumers to cut their use. Twenty-two percent of power generators failed to show up as expected that day, and PJM officials vowed not to let that happen again.
Likely not able to prevent future extreme weather events, PJM is looking at a major restructuring of its own market design to change how and when it pays for power to ensure the lights (and heat) stay on. But some believe those market changes come with some significant risks – particularly to the role of demand response, or emergency events during which buildings, homes, and industrial facilities are rewarded for reducing their electricity use.
Over the past several months, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Accelerate Group have been working closely with PJM, Illinois consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board, and a number of building owners in Chicago to develop the Combined Capacity Asset Performance Project (C-CAP), an innovative pilot program to demonstrate how demand response can continue to play a strong and vital role in PJM’s electricity market. Read More