All industries use acronyms, but anyone who reads this blog can attest the electricity sector seems to have more than its fair share. One of these acronyms – TRC – stands for Total Resource Cost and represents the key means by which utilities measure the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency. Another – DR – is demand response, or a voluntary energy conservation tool that rewards people who use less electricity during times of peak, or high, energy demand.
Getting each of these acronyms – and their associated clean energy resources – right is critical if we are to run our electric grid as efficiently as possible. Fortunately for Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy, the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) last week took a commendable step toward more fairly valuing both energy efficiency and demand response. Read More
Source: Green Button
Data may be the most promising and powerful tool to advance energy efficiency, but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of its potential. Fortunately, more and more customers across the country are obtaining access to information on their electricity usage and pricing data, and Pennsylvania may be one step closer to harnessing this resource.
EDF and Mission:data – a national coalition of technology companies that advance the use of energy data – recently encouraged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to empower customers with data in an electronic form. Specifically, we are proposing the PUC adopt the Open Access Data Framework, which clarifies the type of electricity usage data all Pennsylvania customers and authorized third-parties have access to and how the data should be provided. Based on widely-adopted national standards, the Framework can help Pennsylvania effectively utilize and get the most out of its energy data.
Data, technology, and potential savings
Data access is central to customers realizing value from a utility’s investments in advanced energy measurement, and technology can further unlock the potential. But most people do not have the time to become an expert energy analyst simply to identify cost-effective efficiency opportunities. Therefore, most of us will rely on technologies, such as smart thermostats, and third parties to digest and synthesize meter data into actionable steps that increase efficiency, save money, and cut pollution. Read More
Update: The Public Utilities Commission recently extended Pennsylvania's energy efficiency and conservation programs for an additional five years – the longest phase yet, and among the longest in the country. Pennsylvania can expect to save 6.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 5.1 million metric tons.
Utilities across the country offer energy efficiency programs, many of which obtain good results simply by replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In Pennsylvania, however, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other environmental groups are going further by seeking more comprehensive and longer-term efficiency measures.
Compared with neighboring states, Pennsylvania’s efficiency programs tilt heavily – 65 percent – toward the residential sector. Since residents account for only 37 percent of the state’s total electricity, environmental groups see substantial efficiency opportunities exist in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors. Read More
Nearly every month, for the past six months, a new scientific study has been released that provides new insights in to where methane, a highly potent, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas, could be reduced across the entire natural gas system – the next six months will be no different. But this week, a new joint Purdue-Cornell study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed high emissions from drilling.
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) put out the Open For Business sign today – a key milestone in this innovative effort to up the game on environmental protection in shale gas development. The question now is, will energy companies step up?
We hope so.
CSSD is an unprecedented collaboration – bringing together environmental groups, philanthropic organizations and energy companies to develop performance standards for reducing environmental impacts from shale gas production, and setting up a system so gas producers can have their operations audited and certified against those standards.
CSSD isn’t a substitute for effective regulation. Strong rules and robust oversight is a nonnegotiable bottom line. But we like the idea of upping the ante. Why not have a program that recognizes companies for going beyond the regulatory minimums and doing more to protect communities and the environment? These companies are tough competitors – so let’s make environmental performance part of what they compete on. Read More
Yesterday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stood up for the traditional powers of local governments to decide where — and, to a significant extent, how — oil and gas development happens in their communities. In a 4-2 vote, the Court overturned Act 13, a 2012 state law that had stripped localities of some of their power to decide where the industry can operate. For example, Act 13 required that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed.
That provision and others were challenged in a lawsuit filed by seven Pennsylvania localities. The suit was supported by an amicus brief written by lawyers at Earthjustice and signed by EDF and other environmental groups. We congratulate the local governments on this important victory and thank Earthjustice for its leadership.
This is a big win for local governments because it preserves their right to make sensible land use decisions that can impact quality of life. Home to the gas-rich Marcellus shale basin, Pennsylvania has emerged as the nation’s fastest-growing producer of natural gas and now ranks third in the nation, behind only Texas and Louisiana. Pennsylvania accounts for more than 10 percent of the nation’s total natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Alongside this spike in production, however, serious concerns about air and water quality in the region have also emerged. Read More