By Scott Henderson, Advisor to Metrus Energy
While many in the clean energy industry are familiar with the use of power purchase agreements (PPA) to finance solar energy systems at commercial and industrial facilities, many may be surprised to know that there is a similar contract for funding energy efficiency retrofit projects. Called an efficiency services agreement (ESA), this contract was designed to address the challenges, or “pain points,” that building owners commonly face when contemplating such projects.
Like a PPA, an efficiency services agreement enables third-party ownership of a project, in which a developer designs, finances, implements, and owns a package of energy and water efficiency measures at a customer facility. In return for implementing the project, the ESA provider charges the customer for any realized savings, at a rate that is less than their current cost of electricity, gas, or water. This continues until the end of the contract period, typically 10 years, upon which time the customer can renew the contract or purchase the equipment at fair market value. Read More
Every year, SXSW Eco – one of the most high-profile environmental conferences – selects its programming based on votes from the public. This means anyone, regardless of whether you submitted a panel, can cast a vote.
This year, seven experts from Environmental Defense Fund are featured on dynamic panels that cover everything from solar equity and new utility business models to innovative building efficiency programs and the threat of methane pollution. To make sure EDF and energy-related programming is represented at the conference in Austin, TX this October, we are asking our readers to please vote for your favorite EDF panels and presentations. Read More
Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, EDF Climate Corps, Energy-Water Nexus, General, Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas, Utility Business Models
Diverse groups are creating a healthy dialogue on climate change and clean energy. In addition to ethnicity, diversity includes geographical representation, political affiliation, socio-economic backgrounds – and religious beliefs.
One notable group, Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), is mobilizing millions of people of faith to be better stewards of energy and the environment. Founded in 1998, IPL now has chapters in more than 40 states and represents 15,000 congregations. IPL works with congregations to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change.
In addition to clean energy advocacy, IPL recognizes that public policies – local, state and federal – play a pivotal role in reducing reliance on fossil fuels and expanding energy choices. IPL rightly focuses attention on communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, advocating for strong adaptation and mitigation actions to protect all communities – from the coast to the heartland. These communities, which are least responsible for activities and decisions that adversely impact the climate, suffer the most. Read More
FirstEnergy, the giant Ohio-based company that owns power plants and transmission lines in several midwestern and northeastern states, is ready to raise electricity prices for its customers. This is in part because three of its oldest coal-fired power plants are set to close, but also because of a few bad business bets.
Though finally shuttered this week, the three plant closures were announced in January 2012 so FirstEnergy could take advantage of a power auction planned by PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator in the Mid-Atlantic region. That auction determines the most efficient power plants to serve this region for the next three years.
By taking these old and dirty units out of the auction, FirstEnergy was able to push up prices for its other power plants.
At the time, environmentalists argued FirstEnergy should account for the efficiency gains that would result from state-mandated programs. Lower demand for electricity caused by efficiency improvements would have reduced the auction price for power. Although such energy efficiency is typically “bid” into PJM auctions in the same way coal or nuclear energy is, FirstEnergy refused. Read More
If reducing climate pollution from power plants were a football game, the U.S. team would be halfway to the goal line while fans were still singing the national anthem.
That is, we have already gotten about halfway to the expected goals of the Clean Power Plan – before the rule is even final.
The Clean Power Plan is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic effort to place the first-ever limits on climate pollution from our country’s existing fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants. When it’s finalized this summer, it’s expected to call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels — but U.S. power plant emissions have already fallen 15 percent compared to 2005 levels.
That’s because renewable energy, energy efficiency resources, and natural gas generation have been steadily deployed and growing for years. Even conservative estimates forecast continued growth of these resources — which makes last week’s report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) seem really strange.
NERC’s report about the Clean Power Plan’s impacts on electric grid reliability makes predictions that starkly contrast from the progress we’re already seeing.
How did this departure from reality happen? Read More
In Dublin, Ohio, the Community Recreation Center decided to reduce its energy waste. Rather than rely on an electric utility to burn more coal or natural gas to provide electricity, as well as its own boilers to burn more fuel to provide heat, the facility decided to install a combined heat and power (CHP) unit.
The CHP or “cogeneration” project produces both electricity – allowing the Center to keep its lights on during power outages – and heat – keeping offices and swimming pools warm. The CHP unit is financed with private capital and will allow the Center to save roughly 10 percent on its energy bills.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Patrick Smith, a co-developer of the Dublin project. “It’s a generator, and we happen to capture the heat.”
Technology of the past…
Cogeneration is not a new concept or technology. In fact, Thomas Edison’s first power plants sold both heat and electricity to nearby buildings and factories. Yet to electrify America quickly in the early 20th century, policymakers and power companies created monopoly electric utilities that were protected from competition and guaranteed profits based on how much money they spent. As a result, for many decades, utilities favored larger and larger power plants that were placed far away from the buildings and factories that could have used their wasted heat. Read More