Archive for June, 2011

Is This Our Future? New York Times on Electric Cars

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Excerpted from The New York Times, by Joe Nocera, published June 25,2011

THE moment I realized that driving the new Chevrolet Volt was fundamentally a new experience was not when I first turned it on and went around the block. Yes, it was whisper-quiet, powered by its 16 kilowatt-hour, 400-pound battery, but it still felt like a “normal” automobile. And it wasn’t when I drove the 100 or so miles from Manhattan to Southampton, N.Y., either. Although the battery’s range is only about 40 miles, the car kept going even after the battery was drained; it just switched to its gasoline engine, in a transition so seamless I barely noticed it. It wasn’t even when I arrived in Southampton that evening and plugged a special cord into an electrical outlet in the garage, to recharge the battery overnight.

No, what made the experience truly different — and what got me thinking about the Volt’s potential to change the way we think about gas consumption — was what happened after that.

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Annual U.S. Set-Top Box Energy Use Occurs When Viewers are Not Watching or Recording Content

Friday, June 17th, 2011

From The New York Times Green Blog (6/15/11)
Imagine pulling into your parking space and just hopping out, leaving the car idling all day while you’re at the office. As ludicrous as this may sound, most Americans are guilty of a similar if less costly squandering of energy when it comes to their cable or satellite TV boxes. A new study released on Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that set-top boxes in the United States consume nearly as much energy when not in use as when they are on, costing a cumulative $2 billion a year.

Read the whole story.

Senate Bipartisan Support on Energy Efficiency Bill S. 1000

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Senate bipartisan support on energy-efficiency bill
Update provided by Lori Pickford, Morgan Meguire

On June 9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee heard testimony on legislation to promote energy efficiency: the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitive Act (S. 1000) by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D–N.H.) and Rob Portman (R–Ohio). The bill may be considered as early as this month by the SENR Committee.

S. 1000 includes updates to building codes, appliance standards, and industrial energy efficiency, as well as some financing options for energy-efficiency buildings retrofits. Highlights include:

  • Directs DOE to set national energy savings targets for residential and commercial codes and to ensure model codes are available that meet the targets; however, it does not federalize building code standards.
  • Includes a consensus agreement reached with industry to impose efficiency standards on certain appliances and equipment.
  • Includes a revolving loan program to help commercial and industrial manufacturers implement clean energy technologies.
  • Establishes “Supply Star” through DOE to help companies make their supply chains more efficient.
  • Authorizes the Rural Utility Service to make zero-interest loans to rural electric cooperatives. In turn, the co-ops would provide 10-year loans to their customers for energy-efficiency upgrades of homes or business, which would be paid back via their electric bills.
  • Expands the existing DOE Loan Guarantee Program to include efficiency upgrades to existing commercial, industrial, and MUSH (municipal, university, schools, and hospitals) building efficiency upgrades.

Witnesses included Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy; Tony Crasi, President, The Crasi Company, IncPhilip Damiano, Chief Operating Officer, Velcro USA; and Jay Scripter, VP Sustainability, Owens Illinois.

Generally, witnesses and Committee members expressed broad support for the legislation. Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) requested that the DOE report back once it has finalized its review of S. 1000, asking the agency to focus on any potential duplication between existing authority and new programs authorized under the bill. She indicated that the Committee is sensitive to duplication of existing authority and potential fiscal impact on tax payers.

San Juan County Fairgrounds Lighting Upgrade Complete

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The San Juan County Fairgrounds completed a commercial lighting upgrade in collaboration with OPALCO’s Commercial Lighting Program at the end of May. Not only did the upgrade improve lighting in the main building and exterior areas, the improvements will show an energy and dollar savings immediately: 13,477 kWh and about $1,000 each year. This upgrade is also a significant part of the co-op wide effort to manage our load growth and forestall future market rates. Almost half the project costs were met with an OPALCO/BPA rebate of $9,910. To learn more about commercial rebates available, click here.