Selected category: Energy Efficiency

Promoting Freight Supply Chain Sustainability: Environmental Defense Fund Selected as a 2016 SmartWay Affiliate Honoree

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EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership has been a powerful tool for encouraging operators to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

We all know that the Environmental Protection Agency works to make the freight industry more sustainable, but they can’t do it all on their own- partnerships and outreach to industry are key in achieving these goals. So who else is involved in the push for freight transportation efficiency?

Initiated in 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership has been one of the agency’s most powerful tools for encouraging freight transportation operators to improve their fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Since 2004, SmartWay Partners have saved a reported $24.9 billion in fuel costs and eliminated 72.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, 1.5 million tons of NOx emissions, and 59,000 tons of PM emissions.  Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, SmartWay| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Forget Taco Wars – the Real Competition is Over Who is Using Water More Wisely

Guadalupe_river_Hunt_TXSan Antonio and Austin just called a cease-fire on a taco war over which city invented the breakfast taco. Both make excellent tacos: from the traditional chorizo and egg taco in San Antonio to a free-range egg and organic spinach taco in Austin. But this debate was about more than just tacos – it was about the history and culture of these two neighboring cities.

Only 80 miles apart, San Antonio and Austin have some significant differences. San Antonio is known as “Military City USA” largely due to its huge military bases, but it’s also known for other industries like biotech, military medical centers, and a dynamic business relationship with Mexico. The capital city’s economy, on the other hand, is based on high-tech, entertainment, state government, and the behemoth University of Texas at Austin. San Antonio is one of the largest Hispanic-majority cities in the country (at 63 percent in 2010), while Austin’s diversity comes in large part from people flocking to the Capitol from all over the state and country. As someone with roots in both San Antonio and Austin, I appreciate both – I’m an equal opportunity taco lover.

But both cities share an important commonality: exploding population growth. The population of the 13 counties that make up the Austin-San Antonio corridor is estimated to increase by 77 percent by 2050, to 6.8 million people. Extreme growth brings intense pressure on resources and services, particularly water in this drought-prone region. Both cities are standing up to that challenge through careful water conservation measures and by advancing clean energy. Read More »

Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus, Renewable Energy, San Antonio, Utilities| Comments are closed

Researchers Highlight Air Quality Ideas for Ports

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Shore power is a promising alternative allows ships to plug into the local electricity grid and reduce harmful emissions.

For ports that commit to reduce emissions and improve air quality, figuring out the best way forward can be challenging – the sheer volume of information on the subject may be overwhelming if you don’t know where to get started.

Fortunately, research facilitated by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) can help ports and terminals get up to speed on the latest breakthroughs in emissions technologies and clean air strategies.

Two weeks ago, TRB held its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC and welcomed more than 13,000 of the world’s top transportation researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders. The conference highlighted some of the top trends in transportation, and shared leading research on topics including air quality modeling, emissions control technologies, and environmental policy reviews. Texas ports can learn much from the air quality ideas presented at TRB – whether from the peer-reviewed research or insights from experienced panelists.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Ports, Uncategorized| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Largest Texas City Embraces Private Clean Energy Finance Program in Record Year

By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas

htown skyline-720075_640 pixabayAs a bustling metropolis and the biggest city in Texas, Houston has a lot of buildings – and that equals a lot of opportunity to make these facilities more energy- and water-efficient.

Houston grabbed headlines last month when it became the first in Texas to adopt a citywide Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE will help Houston building owners undertake much-needed water and energy efficiency improvements through private financing – all without having to worry about steep upfront costs. This move means substantial economic development potential, in addition to environmental benefits, for the nation's fourth largest city.

It’s also a sign this innovative clean energy finance tool is catching fire in Texas: Houston joins Austin’s Travis County, which embraced PACE in March, and a Dallas city ordinance is just on the horizon. Additionally, Cameron and Willacy Counties expect to bring PACE to the Rio Grande Valley in January. And to cap the year off, Texas’s first-ever PACE project – $1.25 million in retrofits for a major Austin mall – was just announced.

2015 marks a record year for the PACE finance approach across Texas, and interest is growing in several other counties. Even better, all are following the stakeholder-designed PACE in a Box model toolkit – meaning PACE is uniform, user-friendly, and market-based throughout the state. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency| Tagged | Read 1 Response

5 Signs of Texas’ Clean Energy Momentum in 2015

sparklers-586002_640 pixabayFrom Apple to General Electric, it is common practice in the corporate world for established juggernauts to invest significant sums for research and development. Why? Maintaining one’s reign atop a sector requires dynamic, cutting edge innovation.

The same logic applies to state economies. And when it comes to energy, Texas – where oil and gas reign king – has arguably been America’s most dominant state for the past century. Over recent years, however, technologies and developments reshaping the sector have advanced at an unprecedented rate. As a result, it’s become clear that the energy sector of the future will rely far more on clean energy and smart technologies than on fossil fuels.

The good news: Texas has by far the most potential for solar and wind generation in the United States, which means the Lone Star state might be even more energy-rich in the 21st century than it has been in the past. In addition, the state’s energy sector is trending cleaner due to market forces.

And, in case you needed more proof, 2015 has been a dynamite year for clean energy momentum in Texas. Here are five reasons why: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, ERCOT, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind| Read 3 Responses

ERCOT Report Confirms Texas Well-Positioned to Comply with Clean Power Plan, but Press Release Misleads

power-plant-pixabayIn Texas, we are graced with world class clean energy at rock bottom prices.  This means we are well positioned – more than any other state in our nation — to drive clean energy up while driving pollution and costs down. That’s excellent news when it comes to the Clean Power Plan, the carbon pollution standards finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August.

Texas’ primary grid operator today released an updated Analysis of the Impacts of the Clean Power Plan and there are some bright spots. To start, the report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) includes a scenario for Clean Power Plan compliance that is virtually identical to the one we included in our report, Well Within Reach: How Texas Can Comply With and Benefit from The Clean Power Plan. Hopefully, this means ERCOT recognizes the expanded role energy efficiency can play in meeting our state’s electricity needs, and sees there is a realistic pathway to meeting the Clean Power Plan’s goals. ERCOT’s analysis also confirms that compliance with the plan will keep Texans’ 2030 electric bills below 2002 prices, when Texas first opened the electric market to competition.

Plus, the report shows that renewable energy is projected to grow significantly in Texas – to 21 percent of installed capacity by 2030, regardless of the carbon standards. Only a two percent increase of renewables – coupled with an additional eight percent of generation fired by Texas-produced natural gas – is needed to meet the requirements of the Clean Power Plan.

However, there are some big Texas-sized energy solutions that the ERCOT press release altogether failed to address, even though they are in ERCOT’s full report. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan| Read 2 Responses
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