Selected category: Energy Efficiency

One Million and Beyond: Rebates to Accelerate Smart Thermostat Adoption in Illinois

smart statOne million is a big number, but that’s the goal for getting smart thermostats into Northern Illinois homes. In partnership with environmental and consumer groups, Chicago-based electric and gas companies this week agreed to offer rebates that will cut an intelligent monitor’s cost in half, helping empower people to reduce both their energy bills and pollution.

This smart-thermostat initiative is the nation’s largest and makes devices eligible for up to $120 in rebates (on average, a smart thermostat will run you about $250). The partnership between the utilities and advocacy groups expects the financing will lead to the installation of one million smart thermostats across Northern Illinois over the next five years.

A diverse group announced the program this week: Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Illinois consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board, Illinois Commerce Commission, and smart thermostat manufacturers, ecobee and Nest. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, General, Grid Modernization, Illinois| Comments are closed

A Stealth Tool to Modernize the Electric Grid

Electricity regulators, clean energy innovators, and rappers have all lamented poor communication. And some have pushed for cleaner, cheaper, more reliable solutions for meeting our energy needs. This is particularly so with the much anticipated emergence of a new kind of non-event based, price-responsive demand response (DR), or flexible DR.

Whereas traditional DR signals customers to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their energy use at times when the electric grid is stressed, this type of DR does that and more. The big difference? It signals customers, their appliances, and their electric vehicles to increase their energy use when electricity is clean, plentiful, and cheap.

For example, electric vehicles can be programmed to charge at mid-day when the sun is bright and solar energy is at its peak, and use that stored energy when the sun sets. Better yet, many of our cars, homes, and appliances can be programmed to monitor grid conditions in real time, via the Internet, and respond accordingly by charging or defecting. Also known as a “set-it-and-forget-it” feature, this function enables the seamless integration of flexible DR while also supporting the full potential of energy efficiency measures and distributed energy resources (DERs), like rooftop solar and energy storage.

The seamless and stealth nature of this type of DR, which can be largely automated by tools and service providers, is something neither the customer nor the utility have to think about. It’s like a secret agent, operating behind walls and wires to find the greatest energy (and cost) saving-potential. Regulators need to unleash this “secret agent DR” by rewarding it fairly and efficiently in the energy marketplace, giving it a “license to thrill” in households and businesses across California. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Time of Use| Read 1 Response

Mayor de Blasio Builds on NYC Clean Heat Success, Launches Ambitious Building Efficiency Program

de blasioBuilding on the momentum of Climate Week NYC and the Pope’s visit to New York last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the launch of an ambitious new program called the NYC Retrofit Accelerator.

Tasked with upgrading 20,000 (or 15 percent) of New York City’s private buildings – 40 percent of which will be low-income housing – the Retrofit Accelerator will provide resources for buildings owners and managers to improve their energy and water efficiency. Addressing energy use in buildings is key to meeting the city’s ambitious carbon reduction goals, as buildings account for roughly 75 percent of the city’s carbon emissions. It is estimated that the Retrofit Accelerator will result in cutting approximately 940,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2025. The city has said this is the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.

If this program sounds familiar, that’s because de Blasio revealed Retrofit Accelerator at Climate Week NYC last year as part of the broader One City Built to Last plan. Today’s announcement marks the formal launch of this program, an exciting expansion of the successful NYC Clean Heat model, which resulted in New York’s cleanest air since the early 1960s. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Financing, General| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

California’s Latest Legislation is a Paradigm Shift for Energy Efficiency

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant

800px-US_Navy_111007-N-KV696-016_An_advanced_metering_infrastructure_smart_meter_monitors_energy_consumption_near_the_Catering_and_Conference_CenterAs California races towards a clean energy future, not only do we need new aggressive goals for all sectors, but we also need to rethink how we manage distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and customer side energy storage. This is particularly true for one such resource, energy efficiency.

Two weeks ago, the California legislature passed a number of clean energy related bills including SB 350 (De León), a bill that sets the state on a path to achieve Governor Brown's ambitious clean energy goals. The governor’s “50/50/50” plan aims to increase electricity from renewable sources to 50 percent, reduce petroleum use by 50 percent, and double building efficiency by 2030.

Most media reports have focused on the bill’s ambition to increase the renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency goals, and some observers have expressed justified concern about items left on the cutting room floor (the petroleum use reduction target). But there has been little discussion of the bill’s most important provisions – those that address how energy efficiency will be measured and delivered going forward. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, General| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Turning up the Heat on Energy Efficiency

By: Amy Chiang, student at the University of Michigan, the 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellow at General Motors

 

Amy Chiang, the Environmental Defense Fund 2015 fellow at General Motors in Warren, MI.

I was already level with the roof on a ladder when my General Motors supervisor pointed out the irony of my situation. As an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow, I was destroying the homes of the young maple tree seedlings trying to grow in the rain gutter of a Detroit home. I’m all for trees, but not when they take up residence in a rain gutter.

But how did I find myself on a roof in Detroit? Partly because my answer to the “are you scared of heights” question was “no,” but also because I was embedded for a summer in GM’s foundry division as part of my EDF Climate Corps fellowship.

With a background working in clean, renewable energy resources, I did not expect my next project would be on sustainability at an aluminum foundry – where raw metal inputs are melted down and cast into the desired part. However, it turns out that foundries actually consume the most energy in the vehicle manufacturing process – second only to paint – with 50 percent of the energy consumed in the furnaces used to melt and hold the metal. To assist in future energy reduction, this summer I developed a matrix to help GM compare their furnaces and aluminum foundries to realize energy savings. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, General| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

California Makes Clean Energy History with Passage of SB 350

By: Lauren Navarro and Tim O’Connorsolar

Every day thousands of Americans suffer from dirty air – costing the young and old their health, livelihood, and in many cases, their lives. As California is home to the top five most polluted cities in the country, we need action.

Thankfully, after many long hours of debate and negotiations at the state capitol, the California Legislature passed SB 350 (De León) last Friday. The California State Assembly passed the bill, with a 52-26 vote with bipartisan support before passing it on to the senate where it was approved in a concurrence vote. This bill increases California’s renewable energy mix to 50 percent and doubles the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Both of these provisions will serve to combat dirty air and fight climate change, while ushering in a new era for the state’s electricity system – one defined by a cleaner, more resilient, and dynamic electric grid. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, General, Renewable Energy| Tagged , , | Read 2 Responses
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