No one ignores an opportunity to save billions of dollars. Numbers of that size are enough to make an audience take notice, even in a business like commercial real estate, where deals in the hundreds of millions and billions are commonplace.
Each year the U.S. spends over $400 billion on energy for our buildings, many of which were constructed before modern energy codes existed and, as a result, use more energy than they should. This efficiency gap has led to the creation of a $20 billion retrofit industry, designed to help building owners and managers overcome barriers that deter them from tackling energy costs, like lack of information, misaligned financial incentives, or insufficient capital. In my hometown of Chicago alone, buildings could save up to $184 million in energy costs if they pursued more aggressive energy management – and those are just the ones reporting data. Read More
Localized power grids that have the ability to disconnect from the main, centralized grid – known as microgrids – have become one of the electricity industry’s latest darlings. Particularly after Hurricane Sandy knocked out electric generators and wires along the Northeast coast in 2012, urban and utility planners have been devising localized grids that can operate autonomously, strengthen the overall power system’s reliability and resilience, and protect critical infrastructure like hospitals, water treatment facilities, and police stations in the event of a grid-wide outage.
There are environmental benefits to microgrids as well. Clean energy advocates tend to rave about the ability to integrate growing amounts of distributed energy resources, including solar, wind, energy storage, and demand response, which rewards customers for conserving energy. And by avoiding the long-distance transmission of electricity, microgrids and their distributed generators can also reduce energy losses and increase efficiencies. These outcomes all have the potential to curb pollution, while cutting costs for utilities and their customers.
More importantly, as microgrids expand, they prompt us to imagine broader opportunities – and recent developments in Illinois are exploring new frontiers. Read More
By: David Kolata, Executive Director of Citizens Utility Board, and Andrew Barbeau, President of The Accelerate Group, LLC, and senior clean energy consultant to EDF
Knowledge is power – especially when it comes to electricity. And as Illinois’ biggest electric utility installs four million new digital, advanced meters across the state, people are on the brink of obtaining the intelligence they need to maximize the benefits of this smart grid technology.
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have brokered an agreement with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) that could catapult Illinois to the national forefront in providing households with real-time data on their electricity use. The deal is part of the “Open Data Access Framework” for protecting, collecting, and sharing energy-use data, which has recently gained ground but is still awaiting final approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).
About two years after CUB and EDF asked the ICC to institute the framework, we’re pleased ComEd has embraced using the national “Green Button Connect” standard for third-party data access. We hope this watershed agreement leads to a surge in innovations that help people reap the full savings potential of the smart grid. Read More
Also posted in Clean Energy Tagged Data
I’ve always been proud to be from Illinois. As a Midwestern girl who went out East for college, I spoke often about the wonders of my hometown of Chicago: from our miles of gorgeous public lakefront, to our proud history as the home of the first skyscraper. We have a scrappy side, too. As a city that rebuilt itself from scratch after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, we’ve always worn the title, ‘Second City’ as a badge of honor (and a chip on our shoulder, when it’s used as anything but a compliment).
That’s why when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual Top 10 States for LEED, it came as no surprise to me that Illinois topped the list for the third year in a row. The ranking evaluates states based on sustainable building design, construction, and transformation, demonstrating Illinois’ progressive leadership when it comes to energy management in buildings.
Illinois has taken the lead, but property managers who haven’t jumped on the energy efficiency bandwagon yet should join now – there’s plenty of room. It’s never too late to pursue efficiency opportunities that benefit your organization’s bottom line. Read More
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
By Lisa Albrecht, renewable energy specialist with Solar Service Inc., and member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition
This week, Illinois Governor Rauner gave his annual State of the State address – but, there was one big thing missing. Despite broad bipartisan support across the state for action on clean energy, Gov. Rauner failed to address this issue at all.
In summing up Illinois’ current priorities, Gov. Rauner should have looked to the remarks he himself delivered in his first State of the State address last year:
“Our top priority must be making Illinois competitive again, to grow more jobs here… Competitiveness must become our watchword.”
“We must avoid slipping further behind other states in…the capacity of our economy to grow.”
“It’s now or never for Illinois. It’s time to act.”
Those are sound principles. And, if the Governor is still committed to them, there is a clear and obvious path to achieving them: by embracing Illinois’ clean energy future through the Clean Power Plan and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill. Read More
Also posted in Clean Energy