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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yesterday's Radio Show

Is now available 24/7 here:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/renewable-now/2013/01/30/green-building

Here's a brief description:   "On this episode of Renewable Now , we will be learning about the greener side of the construction and building business as Peter Arpin and Jim Murphy will be visited by  John Sinnott  from Gilbane construction.We will also be speaking with Mark Hanchar of Gilbane as well.

Renewable Now can be heard live Wednesdays at 12noon on both 1320warl,com and blogtalkradio.com.

Renewable Now is educating you on the business side of Green."

Continued good news from The Green Building Council

Who we've been affiliated with for many years, and have been very impressed by their leadership and work. This is the first of two articles we'll run this week showcasing their push to dramatically change our building codes and reduce our greenhouse impact through the construction industry:


Government leadership is the catalyst for creating a better built environment. By embracing LEED-based policies, or establishing energy efficiency goals for public buildings, governments provide pathways for the private sector to follow.
2012 saw a number of public green building laws enacted across America. A few examples include ordinances passed in places ranging from San Louis Obispo County, Calif., to Arvada, Colo., and all the way to Chatham County, Ga. Currently, government leadership has produced green building legislation in 442 localities, including 384 cities, 58 counties and across 45 states.
As the calendar turns to 2013, states are already taking the lead. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently issued an executive order requiring that all state buildings increase energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020. To help make this a reality, the order also launched the Build Smart NY initiative, which creates a framework to use available building data to prioritize projects, improve the most inefficient buildings first, and pursue operating and maintenance programs to meet energy usage goals. This effort sets a clear leadership standard by New York’s policymakers to make the needed investments to protect future taxpayer money, create jobs and conserve natural resources.
While executives and policymakers in many cities and states are demonstrating the courage to lead on this issue, USGBC and its network of chapters are continuing to work to support their efforts throughUSGBC’s Leadership with LEED Campaign. This campaign serves as a vehicle for dedicated and passionate USGBC volunteers to provide the resources and expertise to empower lawmakers to advance green building legislation in their cities and states. This campaign allows our volunteers to make a difference in their communities through direct engagement with elected leaders and be able to clearly articulate why governments should lead on building green.
In 2013, the USGBC community looks forward to working with all leaders within local, state and federal governments as they pursue policies that demonstrate leadership by example in building green.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interesting look at climate change/Part 2

Continued from yesterday.  Our thanks to Michigan Public Radio for this report:


Six take-home messages
The Midwest chapter outlines these six key messages:
  1. In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be increasingly offset by the occurrence of extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods. In the long term, combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity, especially without significant advances in genetic and agronomic technology.
  2. The composition of the region’s forests is expected to change as rising temperatures drive habitats for many tree species northward. The region’s role as a net absorber of carbon is at risk from disruptions to forest ecosystems, in part due to climate change.
  3. Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality will increase public health risks.
  4. The Midwest has a highly energy-intensive economy with per capita emissions of greenhouse gases more than 20% higher than the national average. The region also has a large, and increasingly utilized, potential to reduce emissions that cause climate change.
  5. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased during the last century, and these trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.
  6. Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes region, including changes in the range and distribution of important commercial and recreational fish species, increased invasive species, declining beach health, and harmful blooms of algae. Declines in ice cover will continue to lengthen the commercial navigation season.
Learning to adapt
This is the third National Climate Assessment. Don Scavia notes that for the first time, it includes a chapter on ways we might be able to adapt to a warming climate.
“Much of the focus is rightly placed on mitigation – on what the countries need to do around the globe to reduce emissions, so we can stop this progression of moving towards a warmer climate, but we have to start helping people adapt, because no matter what we do at this point, the climate is already changing and it’s going to continue to change,” he says.
He says that means, for example, looking at the infrastructure in our cities and making sure we can deal with heavier storms, and protecting people who are at risk from increased heat waves.
The report is open for public comment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Interesting look at climate change in Michigan

We just finished a great series of 3 shows looking at the local--New England--impact of climate change.

One of the things we discussed was New England versus the rest of the nation and world, and whether we had unique challenges or if our climate struggles were much the same as others.  Those shows will start to air next month.

In meantime this piece--looking at Michigan--reinforces much of our conclusions on the shows:  That the degradation we see in our air, water systems, the harmful impact on fish, local agriculture, and the amazing changes to weather patterns are very wide spread, common and strong indicators of a distorted environment.

We'll break this article into 2:



New report assesses current and future climate change


You probably remember that extreme weather was not kind to Michigan crops last year.
Frank Szollosi is with the National Wildlife Federation.
“We lost more than 80 percent of our apples and peaches, we lost grapes and cherries. Our cherry farmers saw 90 percent of its crop destroyed because of the unusually warm winter last year followed by hard freezes,” he says.
The federal government has put out a new draft report on how our climate is changing. More than 240 scientists wrote the report.  It’s called the National Climate Assessment.
Agriculture is one of the key messages of their chapter on the Midwest.
Don Scavia is a lead author of the Midwest chapter. He’s the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. The report says in the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops.
“That could initially be good for agriculture. But then you have to think about what’s happening with precipitation. We’re getting more and more extreme rainfall events and floods in the spring, coupled with a longer, drier summer. So that increase in the frequency of storms and heat waves could actually end up being bad for agriculture,” Scavia says.
He says the agricultural community will also need to find ways to deal with the potential for warmer springs with sudden cold snaps.
Melting ice
The report also notes that ice cover on the Great Lakes has been going down since the 1970's, especially for lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Ontario.  
Don Scavia says less ice could mean a longer shipping season. But it could also mean more lake effect snow.
“Because there will be more evaporation off of the Lakes, so initially that increased water vapor will end up as larger snow events and lake effect snow events, but as temperatures warm, they’ll probably turn into rain events,” he explains..."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good expansion for New England Clean Energy


Dear Rhode Island Colleagues,

I wanted to make you aware of the newly established New England Clean Energy Council Institute. The NECEC Institute, formerly known as the New England Clean Energy Foundation, is celebrating a year of profound expansion and growth in its focus areas of Innovation, Workforce Development and Segment Development with the launch of CleanzoNE, a web-based innovation portal designed to connect and grow early-stage, cleantech innovations across the region.  CleanzoNE, located at http://cleantechinnovations.org/cleanzone, will help to form and strengthen relationships across state borders, ensuring that the regional clean energy innovation economy continues to grow.

The NECEC Institute, a 501(c)(3) sister organization of the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC, a 501(c)(6) trade member organization), is a leading economic development Institute running programs to accelerate the clean energy industry.  Both organizations share a common goal of establishing and growing New England’s world-class clean energy cluster.

To learn more about the NECEC Institute’s programs and initiatives, please see the attached press release and visit www.nececinstitute.org.  We are looking forward to further collaboration with you as NECEC and the NECEC Institute continue to accelerate the growth of New England’s clean energy economy.

Best,
Charity

-----------------------
Charity Pennock




Segment Development Program Manager
RI State Coordinator
New England Clean Energy Council
125 Summer Street, Suite 1020, Boston, MA 02110



O: 617.600.7206
C: 919-923-6705
cpennock@cleanenergycouncil.org

Friday, January 25, 2013

More on RI International Group and their trade services


I am happy to be part of this new company and look forward, with Renewable Now, to promote commerce across two continents:

RIIG Services
1) Membership: online organization profile in Chinese on our website’s Member
Directory (member provides the profile copy, we’ll translate), which we will actively
promote in China. Correspondence on incoming inquiries, per Member guidance.
Marketing collateral kept at our Beijing office to raise awareness and advance key
conversations. Use of our office in Beijing for working/small meetings. Access to a
professional translator (for use in teleconference meetings, in‐person meetings,
and/or document translation). Membership is available for a base monthly fee of
$225. The fee would be discounted 20% for all non‐profits, educational institutions,
and public sector organizations. In addition, Members will have access to a range of
informative online and offline events that RIIG will produce. These could include
online webinars related to doing business in China, as well as interviews and Q&A
with Chinese business services professionals and regulators. Similarly, we anticipate
holding offline events in RI with trade and investment delegations from China.

2) Digital marketing and promotion: translate, localize and promote Member web
content to generate brand awareness and new leads, customers and partnerships
through in‐country Search Engine Marketing, Affiliate Website Marketing, and Social
Media Marketing. These services would be provided on a campaign specific basis with
budgeting that includes cost of media.

RIIG, LLC 127 Dorrance Street, 5th Floor Providence, RI 02903 Tel: 202-413-7280 2
3) Market Entry: Research business formation and develop entry strategy. JV
partner research and selection. Identify projects and introduce Members to key
stakeholders and agencies. Draft RFQs, RFPs and contracts that meet government
requirements for commercial documents. These services would be provided on a
task‐specific consulting fee basis.

4) Investment Sourcing: Refer Members to pre‐qualified international investors
interested in proposed investments. This service would be provided on a flat finder’s
fee basis.

5) Trade Mission Support: Mobilize interest and support from key business and
government stakeholders in China. Refer Members to pre‐qualified international
investors and customers. Provide on the ground support as may be needed,
including venue and services sourcing. Promote Trade Mission through RIIG website
and Chinese social media. Mobilize Chinese media coverage of Trade Mission events
and activities as needed. Distribute press releases and other announcements
through Chinese PR channels. These services would be provided on a task‐specific
consulting fee basis.

We would welcome your feedback on our Membership and Premium services, and
how we can work together to advance our common interests

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Introducing RI International Group

As a follow up to yesterday's radio show, we'll post information, taken from a proposal to a potential client, on new sister trade offices in Beijing and Providence to spur students, tourist, buyers and investors to New England, with RI as the port of entry, and to help SE New England companies expand--B to B and B to C--in China.

Here's some of the highlights.  Get in touch if you need help building commerce on either side:


Membership With Rhode Island International Group
January 20, 2013
Smart Collaboration for the Next Economy


Rhode Island International Group, LLC (“RIIG”) is focused on bridging Rhode Island
companies with international trade and investment opportunities. We want to help
retain and grow jobs in RI. In our first year of operations our priority will be to
create and strengthen win/win ties between RI and China. Our offices are located in
Providence, RI and Beijing, China.

RIIG proposes to help identify Chinese funding sources for growth and development
projects in RI. RIIG can also help RI companies to achieve their goals for the Chinese
market in key areas such as exports and market entry. RIIG is well positioned to
help establish Sister City relationships between RI and Chinese regions and towns,
and to promote RI as a tourism destination to the Chinese outbound travel market.
RIIG is already working to assist RI schools with establishing mutually beneficial
Chinese partnerships.

The starting place for these and other activities aimed at facilitating economic
growth and development in RI is a RIIG Membership. We hope Dryvit Systems, Inc.
will join us as a Member, and will take advantage of our Basic Membership and
Premium services as described in detail below:..

More later today

Yesterday's radio show

Is not available 24/7 on Blog Talk Radio, Renewable Now channel.  Also, our other, weekly radio shows are there as well.

Yesterday, we talked to Mike Pereira, our newest operating partner in Beijing, China.  Mike helped us open sister trade offices in Providence/Beijing set up to bridge economic growth between both cities.  Of course, our focus is green, sustainable growth.  In fact, our first client is a clean energy company here in RI.

Listen and let us know what you think:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/renewable-now/2013/01/23/global-warming

Also, we will post information on RI International Group in case we can help you grow as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Microgrids: Providing safe harbor in a storm/Part 2


But it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine a scenario in which the grid goes down but customers with solar PV keep their lights on. It’s entirely possible with the use of a smart switch, much like that used by the Brevoort Tower, in order to achieve intentional islanding. When the grid goes down, the solar PV system switches from grid-tied to an independent mode, allowing it to continue generating electricity without feeding the local grid and endangering utility workers.
Such flexible solar PV systems would typically work in conjunction with a bank of batteries to power critical loads in your home, such as the refrigerator and oven.
However, two hurdles stand in the way of greater adoption of this more flexible system, which offers a kind of safe harbor in a storm when the normally reliable grid goes down: 1) heightened cost, and 2) rigorous permitting which serves as a disincentive.
Grid-tied systems with the flexibility to become grid-independent are more complex, typically involving the addition of batteries for energy storage plus rewiring the home to establish a subpanel that carries the circuits for the house’s critical loads. This more complex system comes with a cost.
Consider, for example, the systems offered by the company Wholesale Solar. WS offers a traditional grid-tied solar PV system (2,000W capable of up to 271 kWh per month) for a little over $4,000. Meanwhile, they offer a grid-tied solar PV system, which switches to backup battery power in the event of a grid outage and uses the solar PV to charge the batteries in an "off-grid mode" (1,500W capable of up to 204 kWh per month) for close to $6,000, plus the cost of batteries, which adds at least another $2,000, depending on the size of the battery bank, double the hardware cost. Finally, if you’re a customer who already has traditional grid-tied solar PV installed on your home, WS offers a “conversion” kit that starts at around $7,000.
But in the wake of Sandy, Hurricane Irene, the derecho summer storm of 2012, and other threats to the grid, customers are increasingly reaching the conclusion that such added costs and complexity may be worth it. Plus, compared to diesel, propane, or natural gas stand-by generators—which can be similarly expensive, have associated fuel costs, and are both loud and dirty—the safe harbor offered by clean, quiet solar is looking more and more attractive.
For certain, the flexibility to take harbor in a hybrid system—one that includes solar PV, energy storage or generation, and smart switch technology that enables intentional islanding—is an exciting opportunity. But it’s not a case in favor of abandoning the grid entirely. This technology can and should provide value and resilience to utilities and their customers alike.
While utilities may fear that their customers will find intentional islands a paradise from which they never return, the reality is that most homeowners and businesses don’t want an intentional island, but rather a harbor where they can receive power from their utility when it is available and affordable, and the flexibility to temporarily leave the grid and generate power of their own when practical. With more hybrid systems installed in homes, businesses, neighborhoods, and campuses, microgrids can become our safe harbor for the next storm.

Recommended Reading

Monday, January 21, 2013

Microgrids: Providing safe harbor in a storm/Part 1

We are back from being on the road and lead off this week with very interesting story, two parts, on microgrids:


Consultant
January 10, 2013

"As Hurricane-cum-Superstorm Sandy approached the Eastern Seaboard, millions of Americans living in New York and New Jersey spent the days before the storm stocking up on bread, water, batteries, and other critical supplies; many others sought safety by fleeing the area, seeking refuge with friends and relatives beyond the storm’s path.
The impacts of Sandy are now familiar to many: the electricity grid went down, leaving upwards of 8.5 million people without power. Yet, there were a handful of literal bright spots in the darkness. One man in New Jerseypowered his home with his Toyota Prius hybrid and inverter-based power balancing controls, which ensured that the power from his car was at the right voltage and frequency for his house. At the Brevoort Tower in New York City, the story was much the same: the building kept its lights on—and its heat and hot water—with a natural gas combined heat and power generation system, inverter controls, and most importantly, an automatic transfer switch (aka smart switch) that allowed the building to seamlessly disconnect from and reconnect to the grid. In other words, both the New Jersey homeowner and the Brevoort became microgrids.
But in New Jersey, which ranks second only to California in total installed solar capacity, scores of residential and business customers with rooftop solar PV sat in the dark, even after Sandy’s clouds parted and the sunshine returned. Why? Based on its lower cost and simpler setup, most customers had installed grid-tied solar, and in accordance with current regulatory codes nationwide, such systems are required to have a control feature that automatically disables the inverter—the device that converts power generated by the PV panels into usable electricity for home appliances—in the event that the grid goes down.
The control device is intended to prevent unintentional islanding, a scenario where a device—such as rooftop solar PV panels—continues to feed electricity into the local grid, even when that grid should be without power. Preventing unintentional islanding is important for a number of reasons, foremost among them the safety of utility electricians working to repair faults in the grid and restore power to customers..."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thanks to Jack Gregg

Our radio co-host and roving reporter from MA for sending this update on positive changes in the tax code and worthy events you can attend if you are in New England:


Here is more information on things I spoke of on today's program:   Boston, MA 
 
Fed Tax Credits -
 
Tax credits are back!  The House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill that includes incentives for alternative fuels and infrastructure. Included in the bill are tax incentives for biodiesel, propane, CNG, LNG, and electric vehicles.  The 30% natural gas in­frastructure credit has also been reinstated -  making for a very happy new year for alternative fuels!  Source: www.fleetsandfuels.com/fuels/cng/2013/01/tax-relief-and-then-some/.
 

MA Governor Patrick Administration unveiled a bold proposal for the future of transportation in the Commonwealth. "The Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan" calls for $1.02 billion in new revenue per year, and is expected to kick off a serious conversation about our transportation system over the next few months.
 
 
Environment & Energy Breakfast Series: Electric Vehicles "Stuck in Neutral or Speeding Ahead?"
 
Date  Thursday, January 24, 2013, 08:00am - 10:00am, British Consulate, One Broadway, Cambridge, MA
 
 
This event is complimentary to all.  This is the 3rd event in the 3rd British American Business Council of New England  Environment & Energy breakfast series. The series aims to be a forum for thoughtful and engaging discussions on the state of the renewable in the US and the UK.
 
Electric Vehicles "Stuck in Neutral or Speeding Ahead....?"  Arun Mani, PA Consulting Group energy expert and member of PA's Management Group will be leading the discussions. Mani is an expert on understanding utility impacts and opportunities with respect to EV (electric vehicles) and specializes in advising utilities on various business models that they should be considering when evaluating EV options.
 
Sponsor of the series: MIT Sloan School of Management
 
Join MAPC  at their Annual Open House on Jan. 29, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST, 60 Temple Place
 
 
Or call Emily Torres-Cullinane
 
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council  - Stustainable growth and Transportation
 
 etorres@mapc.org, 617-451-2770 x2030
 
Meet our staff; learn about projects and initiatives; and help us kick off a year-long celebration of our 50th anniversary as the regional planning agency for Greater Boston with anniversary-themed displays, games, and prizes.
 
Refreshments will be served and guests can enter to win free raffle prizes. 
 
Programs- Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc.
 
 375 Harvard St., Suite 2, Brookline, MA 02446
 
 
EBC Evening Program: MEPA Director - Maeve Vallely Bartlett 
 
 
For this EBC program, MEPA Director Maeve Vallely Bartlett will address issues that include new policy and regulation announcements, continued implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Policy and Protocol, updates on practice under the public benefit review regulations, updates on significant MEPA decisions and projects in litigation, and more. 
 
EBC Social Media & Marketing Planning Meeting 
 
 Plan to attend this EBC Social Media & Marketing program planning meeting and assist the EBC in the development of program topics for programs that will take place in 2013.
  
Seventh Annual EBC Construction and Demolition Materials Regional Summit 
 
Jan 31 - Mark your calendars for January 31 to attend the EBC's Seventh Annual Construction and Demolition Materials Regional Summit. The keynote speaker this year is Kenneth Kimmell, Commissioner of the MassDEP, who will cover the state's proposal to partially lift the moratorium on new innovative waste to energy facilities such as pyrolysis and gasification. 
 
NEXT Clean Cities Stakeholder meeting:
 
When: February 14, 2013
 
Where: Tri-State Trucking Shrewsbury, MA.
 
Time: 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM ( lunch to be provided)
 
Topics  - ENOW Solar panels for trucks that save a  ton of fuel ( well , actually not a ton but there is a significant fuel savings)
 
 Worcester Regional Transit will present    the latest in fuel saving transit technology 
 
AltWheels 2013  Save the Date Oct. 7 2013, Norwood Sheradon, MA

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thanks to Terra Pass

For a great reminder on how we can all cut down on our emissions.

We'll be posting today's live radio show here, soon to be archived 24/7, here next.


Weekend driving can still emit tons of carbon (pun intended)
By: Lauren Rosenberg
TerraPass offsets all emissions generated from all employee travel and commutes to our headquarters in downtown San Francisco each year. Most of us are carbon footprinting geeks, always eager to calculate our personal carbon footprints, from activities like weekend driving, flying, and home energy use, to make sure that our footprints are covered across the board. When we saw the findings of our most environmentally-committed  colleague, Nick, we were a little surprised to see how much driving contributed to his total footprint.
Nick is committed to taking public transportation, eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet, and riding his bike around town on the weekends. He lives with his fiance, Jamie, just across the Bay Bridge  in Oakland. She works from home, so their weekday driving is low if not zero. Even with their earth-conscious lifestyles, the second largest source of emissions for them was from driving: a whopping 39%. How does that work out?
They share her 2000 Honda Accord, which gets average milage for a midsize non-hybrid car; around 25 miles per gallon (MPG). Their annual driving, primarily from weekend driving and road trips around California,  is only 7,000 miles per year, or about 3,500 miles per person per year.  The average American drives 12,000 miles per year, and the average MPG  of vehicles in the US hovers around 21, pushing the average driving footprint up to 5.1 metric tons (about 11,000lbs). This puts Nick and Jamie at about ⅓ of the US average, yet they still produce about 7,000 pounds of carbon each year.
As expected for frequent domestic travellers, flying was the biggest contributor to the couple’s carbon footprint. Five round-trip cross country flights for each of them make flying produces nearly 8,000 pounds of CO2, or 42% of their total emissions. Natural gas use for heating came to 10%, electricity 9%..."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Continued from yesterday

"...3. Learn from 2012’s debilitating storms and make grid resilience a priority.
From devastating droughts in the Sahel and America to extreme flooding in Australia, from Western wildfires to Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy, 2012 was the year of debilitating storms and other weather and climate events that knocked out power for millions and millions of people. Such massive, widespread outages had very real and damaging impacts, from loss of life to billions of dollars lost. It is time to learn from those experiences and begin a genuine conversation about what it will take to fundamentally transform the grid’s architecture to make it inherently more resilient. The conversation must move beyond simply “hardening the grid” by trimming trees or installing expensive underground lines, which are more or less Band-Aids. A more decentralized electricity system—one built upon greater levels of rooftop solar, efficiency, electric vehicles, smart controls for customers, and more—has the potential to support greater resilience, but represents more fundamental and transformative change that must be thought through carefully.
4. Don’t think or act incrementally when it comes to long-term infrastructure.
The U.S. has been under-investing in its electricity system infrastructure for a long time. Even without the devastation caused by storms such as Sandy and the rebuilding that goes along with it, that system will require significant investment in 2013 and beyond. The Brattle Group estimates that the U.S. will need to invest up to $2 trillion in its electricity infrastructure by 2030, for example. But once such infrastructure investments are made, they’re there for decades. Let’s not make incremental investment decisions based on what we’ve always done; the status quo must go. Instead, we must be thoughtful, think systematically, and consider the best overall solution—not the best incremental Band-Aid—before acting. For example, is a new transmission line the best option, or could efficiency and distributed resources closer to the point of use meet the need? These are but four commitments of many the U.S. could make to improve its electricity system. And while the change will happen over the long term, the time to resolve to make that change—and take the first steps toward it—is today. "

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thanks to Seth Handy/Part 1

For sending us an update from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), who we've interviewed on the show and covered in the blog before.

RMI set some New Year's resolutions we thought were worth reading and sharing.  Just as we individually set goals for improvements, so too should governments and nations.  If they do, these would be some good changes to implement.

Later this month we are filming five TV shows with a single purpose of looking at how we can get better using, storing conserving energy.  We hope you'll join us for some of those shows.

This is a fairly long article so we'll cover over two days:



4 New Year’s Resolutions for Transforming the U.S. Electricity System


"It’s that time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions, commitments to do things differently in the coming year that are going to have a positive impact on their lives. But what would New Year’s resolutions look like if the United States as a nation resolved to decrease its fossil fuel consumption and increase the adoption of efficiency and renewables?
I sat down with program director James Newcomb and principal Lena Hansen to find out. They offered up four New Year’s resolutions that can help make the United States’ electricity system more efficient, more resilient, and more planet-friendly sooner than later.
1. Invest further in end-use efficiency.
Energy efficiency is often considered one of the cheapest and most readily available energy sources. Investments in efficiency programs have been increasing around the country, but significant opportunity remains on the table and many utilities are still incentivized to sell more electricity, rather than to sell more efficiency. Taking end-use efficiency to the next level will require utilities and consumers to work more closely together than ever before. Utilities especially can take several steps to make that happen: a) improve efficiency program marketing to truly engage customers and increase participation, b) streamline program transaction costs, such as by implementing faster and simpler energy audits, c) adopt regulatory mechanisms that remove utilities’ disincentives and create incentives to sell efficiency, and d) embrace collaboration with other stakeholders, including regulators, NGOs, auditors, customers, and architectural and engineering firms.
2. Anticipate and head off friction over solar.
As the cost of solar has come down in recent years (19 percent overall between 2011 and 2012 alone, ranging from 15 percent for residential solar up to 30 percent for utility solar) and new business models have emerged, solar is becoming cost competitive with grid-sourced electricity in an increasing number of locales. Meanwhile, the amount of installed solar continues to grow. (According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. now has more than 6,400MW of installed solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 1 million average American homes.) These trends are set to continue, and as they do, there’s likely to be increased conflict between utilities, solar companies, and customers. Utilities, regulators, and solar companies need to come together now to dialogue and develop regulatory, business, and pricing models that will enable sustained growth for the solar market while still compensating utilities for the real and valuable grid services they provide..."



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Great news and article from GreenTechMedia

If you are wondering if there truly is a push towards a better tomorrow, this story will brighten your day and full you with optimism.  We can tell you, too, that we are seeing similar (smaller, certainly) investments in clean tech and energy being made around the world.  We will share more of the good news with you as we all need to stay positive on the collective effort being made towards sustainable assets and commerce:


Gov. Cuomo Announces $1B Green Bank, New Energy Czar

Clean energy czar, increased money for solar are all on the table in New York. LIPA officially gets privatized.

KATHERINE TWEED: JANUARY 9, 2013

There were many topics that New Yorkers were expecting Governor Andrew Cuomo to hit during his State of the State address on Wednesday, including gun regulation, education reform and economic development.
One topic that was not front and center was cleantech. But early in the speech, Cuomo called cleantech a “footrace” in which he wanted New York to win. To get there, the Governor announced a $1 billion Green Bank to leverage public dollars with private-sector matching funds to spur the cleantech economy in the state. The Bank will be funded by a portion of money from the energy efficiency portfolio standards, renewable portfolio standards or system benefit charge to attract the private investment.
He also announced the state would expand the NY-Sun solar jobs program by $150 million annually through 2023 to increase solar panel installations for homes and businesses.
Along with solar, the Governor also gave a nod to electric vehicles by initiating a program that will be called Charge NY.                        
To help win the cleantech race, Cuomo named Richard Kauffman as the state’s first cabinet-level energy czar. Kauffman was most recently a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s secretary, Steven Chu.
Of course, annual State of the State or Union speeches are big on rhetoric but aren't always followed up by big action. Cuomo did not specify where funds from a Green Bank would go or just how much muscle would go into a state electric-vehicle charging network. 
However, naming a cleantech czar is a solid step in the right direction. Cuomo also spoke forcefully about climate change and said that the state needed more distributed sources of electricity, laying out his intention to transform the public service commission from a “toothless tiger” into a body with more enforcement powers. His detailed State of the State plan calls for utilities in New York to accelerate their investment in smart grid, increased incentives for distributed generation, new rate structures and increased microgrid deployment.
The Long Island Power Authority, which received a great deal of criticism during and after Sandy, will be privatized and regulated under the newly emboldened PSC. The privatization plan comes with a three- to five-year rate freeze. “We need to redesign our power systems,” said Cuomo, who repeated his contention that 100-year storms seem to come every few years these days and that infrastructure at all levels needs to be improved. “The time to act is now.”