Selected category: Energy Efficiency

Why Strategic Choices – and Water – Could Make People More Energy-Efficient

At my household, a new year means a new energy and water-use baseline. By that I mean, every month, I look at how much electricity and water I used in comparison to the same month the previous year – so I can try to be as efficient as possible. But I work in the energy field, and I know that’s not a typical New Year’s tradition. Most people don’t examine the trends of their energy-use or spend much time thinking about how to reduce it.

So, what motivates the “average” person to take action and be more energy-efficient? It depends.

A recent study by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) looked at the psychology behind individuals’ energy efficiency behavior, and how that information could be used to design more effective programs.

The study came away with some fascinating findings that show electric utilities need to be strategic in the way they create, as well as communicate about, their efficiency programs. Moreover, it led me to believe showing how energy efficiency relates to water – the quality and availability of which many people care about – could help encourage people to be more mindful about their energy use. Read More »

Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus| Read 4 Responses

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, Data Access, Methane, Natural Gas, New Jersey| Tagged | Comments are closed

Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Bill Shows States are Taking the Lead to Build the Clean Energy Economy

By Andrew Barbeau, senior clean energy consultant

For a breakdown of the bill's renewable energy details, see here.

Two years, three competing major energy reform bills, more than 300 diverse organizations and companies, and countless hours of negotiations have now come down to one important moment: Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Bill is signed into law today.

A clean energy economic development package of monumental size, the Future Energy Jobs Bill will create thousands of homegrown jobs, save billions of dollars in wasted energy, and secure Illinois’ place at the forefront of the nation’s clean energy economy.

In fact, Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) analysis estimates Illinois will see an additional $12 billion to $15 billion in new private investment as a result of the new clean energy priorities in this bill. That’s the greatest economic development package in Illinois in years, and likely will be the largest for the foreseeable future.

It’s also the most significant climate bill in Illinois history. We estimate it will reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions by more than 33 million metric tons annually in 2030. Combined with the ongoing impact of market changes on the fossil fuel industry, this means Illinois will reduce its carbon emissions from the power sector by more than 50 percent from 2012 levels by 2030.

Oh, and did I mention customers’ bills will go down? Based on extensive analysis from the Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois’ consumer watchdog Citizens Utility Board, the Future Energy Jobs Bill’s energy efficiency initiatives will lower customers’ electric bills.

At a time when President-elect Trump is threatening to roll back federal environmental protections, state victories like the Future Energy Jobs Bill are more critical than ever.

That’s the ultimate win, win, win.

At a time when President-elect Trump is threatening to roll back federal environmental protections, state victories like the Future Energy Jobs Bill are more critical than ever. And, with strong bipartisan support in the Illinois General Assembly and being signed into law by a Republican governor, the deal is a clear signal that Illinois is ready to reap clean energy’s economic rewards – even if federal leaders refuse to join us in this endeavor. Read More »

Also posted in Illinois, Jobs, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Comments are closed

What Trump and Pence Don't Get about Clean Energy Jobs

President-elect Trump's victory tour began in Indiana last week, where he and running mate Mike Pence announced they had cobbled together enough taxpayer cash to convince Carrier – a gas furnace manufacturer that planned to move 2,000 jobs to Mexico – to keep some of its jobs in the state.

But just two years ago, Governor Pence allowed Indiana to become the first state to abandon its energy efficiency standards – a move that Carrier and other companies warned would threaten nearly 1,500 jobs and $500 million a year in local economic investment. Evidently, losing 1,500 jobs wasn't enough to worry about. Yet two years and a presidential election later, saving 1,000 on the backs of taxpayers is held up as proof that Trump is making good on his promise to reinvigorate the American economy.

Politics is theatre, but what worries me about the Carrier announcement is that it underscores how our new president and vice president don't understand the true economic potential of clean, modern energy.

The clean energy industry – everything from wind turbines and solar panels, to home energy storage and energy efficiency – is exploding around the country. In 2014, the U.S. clean energy market grew by 14 percent – at nearly five times the rate of the overall economy – to nearly $200 billion. That's bigger than the U.S. airline industry, and roughly equal to the pharmaceutical business. And this growth is creating millions of quality, homegrown jobs. If Trump wants to be the jobs president he promised he would be, someone needs to brief him on the facts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Jobs, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Comments are closed

The $330 million question: Why new oil and gas waste rules are something we all should support

Pump jacks and storage tanks at oil field

Today the Bureau of Land Management finalized new rules that limit the amount of methane oil and gas companies can leak, vent, or flare on the 245 million acres of taxpayer-owned and tribal lands. This is a huge, $330 million dollar problem according to a recent study from ICF international. While an analysis from the Western Values Project estimates taxpayers could lose out on almost $800 million over the next decade – unless the BLM acts to reduce wasteful venting and flaring practices.

Reeling in waste of resources that belong to the nation’s tribes and taxpayers is an effort that folks from across the   political spectrum can get behind. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed

Affordable Housing Can Save Money, Water, and Energy with this Innovative Finance Tool

By Laura Sanchez, EDF Climate Corps 2016 Fellow

Like many booming cities, Texas’ capital is experiencing overwhelming demand for affordable housing. Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler highlighted the affordable housing crisis shortly after taking office in January 2015, and urged the use of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to help encourage affordability. PACE enables commercial, industrial, and multifamily property owners to improve the water or energy efficiency of their buildings – without having to worry about steep upfront costs. Investing in these types of upgrades can reduce a property’s operating costs, as well as tenants’ utility bills.

That’s why I spent this past summer with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), as an EDF Climate Corps Fellow with Texas PACE Authority, the PACE program administrator in the state. In June 2016, Mayor Adler created a committee of housing experts to determine how to leverage PACE for affordable housing. Alongside the committee, I worked to size up the opportunity, benefits, and challenges of using PACE to help pay for upgrades to affordable multifamily-housing properties.

After conversations with officials and program administrators from over 30 public for-profit and non-profit entities, we found there are significant opportunities – in Texas and nationwide – for the affordable multifamily-housing sector to leverage PACE. We are proud to present a new whitepaper that can serve as a guide to unlocking water, energy, and cost savings. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Financing, Solar Energy| Comments are closed
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