Category Archives: Federal News

U.S. Mayors Place High Priority on Energy Efficiency, New Technology Use

U.S. Mayors Place High Priority on Energy Efficiency, New Technology Use

January 22, 2014

Despite budget constraints, U.S. mayors expect to significantly expand their investment in energy technologies over the next five years, according to a new survey of nearly 300 cities highlighting how cities are deploying new energy technologies to make their city operations and communities more energy efficient.

The survey, titled Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities, was unveiled during The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) 82nd Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. at a session with mayors and U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz at the Capital Hilton. The survey can be found at usmayors.org/2014energysurvey.

“This survey shows again how mayors are leaders in energy innovation, deploying new technologies, pursuing new efficiency systems, reducing their communities’ energy use and lowering costs for their taxpayers. Their best practices as well as the findings of this survey confirm that investing dollars in city energy efforts is a very good investment for the private sector and the nation,” said USCM President, Mayor of Mesa, Ariz., Scott Smith.

Done in conjunction with Philips, the survey also indicates that mayors plan to make energy-efficient lighting technology (LEDs as the primary example) a top priority over the next two years. LED/energy efficient lighting was also overwhelmingly rated as the “most promising” technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions, with more than four in five cities of those surveyed (82 percent) reporting.

“The impact of lighting on an urban environment cannot be underestimated. It is simply one of the most important steps that mayors can take to make their cities feel safer and meet the sustainability goals of the 21st century city,” said Bruno Biasiotta, president and CEO of Philips Lighting Americas. “When we partner with forward-thinking communities, making their city buildings more energy efficient, their streets brighter and safer, and turn darkened structures into iconic symbols of their cities, we not only aid in cost savings, urban recovery and civic pride, we provide truly meaningful innovations. Our survey results show that mayors recognize this and we can help them take action.”

In addition to lighting, retrofitting public buildings also ranked as a top priority in improving the energy efficiency of city infrastructure. Significantly, mayors expect to use their own local resources, followed by partnerships with the private sector, as the sources of financing these technologies. And in terms of the actual deployment of new technologies, survey findings reveal that more than seven in 10 mayors believe their local utilities are now their city’s most important partner in doing so.

“Mayors remain optimistic about the energy technology marketplace, with two in three cities anticipating increased investment, whether it is for state-of-the-art lighting or solar energy systems. It is not only cities who have a stake in this success, but the U.S. economy when new industries prosper because of these homegrown efforts,” said USCM Energy Committee Chair Gresham (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis.

Of note, survey results also indicate that with recent weather events and associated power outages, three in four cities have developed plans to keep vital city services operating during sustained outages, and within three years, nearly 90 percent of all cities surveyed expect to have such plans in place.

Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director said, “This survey provides timely and useful information on how mayors are leading in ways that save taxpayers money, reduce dependency on foreign energy, curb harmful air emissions, and grow jobs, businesses and the economy. With this survey data, we are establishing a record of local success that continues to build over time. Our partnership with Philips – the Mayors’ Lighting Partnership and this survey effort – is an example of how public-private collaborations can further mayoral leadership in this area.”

Survey Results:

 

  •  54% of cities responding are targeting outdoor lighting for improved energy efficiency or reduced energy consumption, second only to public buildings (83%). This shows a continued strong interest in street lighting and other outdoor lighting, as well as an opportunity to educate on the role LED lighting can play in improving energy efficiency in city-owned and operated buildings.
  • 67% of cities plan to increase their deployment of new energy technologies over the next five years (as compared to current commitments). Twenty-three percent expect their deployment to remain the same, and only 4% plan to decrease their deployment.
  • The most significant challenges facing cities when it comes to increasing energy efficiency and conservation are budget/funding constraints (84%), followed by high up-front costs (71%). Twenty-nine percent said that it is hard to justify upgrades because their current infrastructure is still working.
  • 82% of cities responding named LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting as the “most promising technologies” for reducing energy use and carbon emissions in their city.
  • When asked which of the following technologies their city government “previously” deployed, 82% said LED and energy efficient lighting, followed by 62% who listed low-energy buildings or energy-efficient appliances.
  • When it comes to improving energy efficiency in buildings, 86% said retrofitting city-owned buildings is now a priority.
  • Only 36% of the city’s responding have developed a comprehensive energy plan. Of the 64% who have not, 13% plan to develop one in the next year and 29% plan to develop one within two years.

Three State Capitals to Receive Green Design Assistance from EPA

Three State Capitals to Receive Green Design Assistance from EPA

January 9, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced design assistance to help the capital cities of Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington develop designs for greener, healthier, more vibrant neighborhoods. The designs will provide models for the growing number of communities interested in sustainable designs that improve the environment, strengthen local economies and protect people’s health. The cities, which were selected through a national competition, are:

– Lansing, Mich. will receive assistance to develop options for transforming a 14-acre parking lot between the state capitol and Hall of Justice into a public park that showcases green infrastructure and renewable energy technologies. The design assistance aims to help reduce combined sewer overflows, prevent flooding, reduce the heat island effect, beautify public spaces near major civic buildings, and connect pedestrian walkways and transit to community and state institutions.

– Madison, Wis. will receive assistance to explore ways to make pedestrian and bicycle improvements and add green infrastructure, such as trees and rain gardens, to streets in the Triangle Neighborhood. The project aims to make it easier for residents to access nearby transit, open spaces, and the Monona Bay, and also improve water quality in the bay.

– Olympia, Wash. will receive assistance to incorporate green infrastructure along Capitol Way to reduce stormwater runoff, improve access to businesses and the waterfront, and adapt to climate change. The project aims to strengthen connections between the capitol campus and downtown, encouraging people to walk and bike to shops and restaurants.

This is the fourth year of the Greening America’s Capitals program. To date, 15 capital cities have received assistance, including Boston; Charleston, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; Jackson, Miss.; Lincoln, Neb.; Montgomery, Ala.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Washington, D.C.,; Baton Rouge, La.; Des Moines, Iowa; Frankfort, Ky.; Helena, Mont.; and Indianapolis, Ind.

EPA recently posted reports for Baton Rouge, Des Moines, Frankfort, Helena, and Indianapolis. EPA assistance will help the cities pursue green infrastructure, more walkable streets and other amenities. View design options for each city at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/sets/72157633206541248/

NREL Model Licensed to Improve Accuracy of Battery Simulations

NREL Model Licensed to Improve Accuracy of Battery Simulations

GOLDEN, Colo., Jan 15 – Targeted News Service

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory issued the following news release:The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has licensed its Equivalent Circuit Battery Model to software developer ThermoAnalytics for use in its recently updated RadTherm software package.

The model is a part of the Battery Module within RadTherm, which is used by engineers to simulate the performance of battery cells and optimize multi-cell pack designs.

Before the addition of the NREL Equivalent Circuit Battery Model, the software only allowed for static analyses of heat generation during constant current charge or discharge cycles. The updated version of the software can perform these analyses for transient current loads derived from drive cycles, delivering greater accuracy in evaluation results.

“Increasing the precision of cell and pack-level battery simulations has a direct impact on accelerating the development of next generation electric-drive vehicle batteries,” NREL Energy Storage Group Manager Ahmad Pesaran said. “By adding this model to their software package, ThermoAnalytics will get enhanced simulation capability out to the engineers who are leading this effort.”

The NREL model, developed with funding from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy , simulates transient charging and discharging of battery packs and is used to capture the dynamic response of a battery to a change in charge or discharge current. It can also be used to model the effect of an internal, temperature-dependent series resistance in the battery, which can be used to limit fault currents in the event of a short circuit.

“The addition of the NREL model enhances our product and provides the industry with the tools that it needs to engineer improved battery technologies for the future,” ThermoAnalytics CEO Keith Johnson said.

NREL is a recognized leader in vehicle energy storage R&D. In addition to groundbreaking thermal evaluation and analysis, NREL’s energy storage modeling, simulation, and testing activities include battery safety assessment, next-generation battery technologies, material synthesis and research, subsystem analysis, battery second use studies, and battery computer-aided engineering.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC .

Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1

Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1

                    Dec 29 – Dayton Daily News (OH)

The final phaseout of traditional incandescent light bulbs starts Wednesday, forcing consumers to abandon old-fashioned glass bulbs in favor of more expensive and efficient models that will save them money in the long run, experts said.On Jan. 1 it will become illegal to manufacture or import 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs because of federally mandated efficiency standards signed into law in 2007 by then-President George W. Bush.

Traditional 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs were phased out at the beginning of 2013, but the coming ban on 60- and 40-watt bulbs will have a greater impact on consumers because of their popularity for residential lighting, experts said.

Home Depot stores in the Dayton-Cincinnati region have “heavy inventories” of 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs that should last through the first six months of 2014, said Rob Kalp, the company’s district manager for stores in Beavercreek, Centerville, Hamilton, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Piqua, Springfield, Trotwood and West Chester.

Kalp said some customers are used to incandescent bulbs and reluctant to make the transition to more energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs. “We want to make sure that we have a full selection to take care of those customers until they are comfortable with that change,” he said.

LED and CFL bulbs will reduce the environmental impact of commercial and residential lighting, and save consumers money, said Kevin Hallinan, a University of Dayton engineering professor and co-founder of the school’s master’s degree program in renewable and clean energy.

“The reason why the federal government legislated the change is because these incandescent bulbs use four times or more energy than other technologies,” Hallinan said. “That’s more pollution coming out of the power plants, that’s more carbon emissions, so this is really a good thing for the U.S.,” he said.

Experts said 90 percent of the electricity used by traditional incandescent light bulbs is radiated in the form of heat, rather than light.

“That’s why Easy-Bake Ovens have incandescent lights in them. They are actually better at cooking food than they are at lighting,” Hallinan said.

Kalp said consumers will pay more upfront for LED and CFL bulbs, but the new technologies will save homeowners about 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively, on their energy bills. In addition, LED bulbs can last up to 23 years, and CFL bulbs last about nine years, he said.

“They pay for themselves relatively quickly and then continue to save the customer money on their energy costs as the years go by,” Kalp said.

The average annual operating cost of a 60-watt incandescent bulb is $8.74, said Kara McMillen, Dayton Power & Light’s residential program manager. In comparison, the operating cost of a 13-watt CFL — the equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent — is $1.89. That’s about a $30 energy cost savings over the life of the CFL bulb, she said.

“Switching to efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to reduce your energy usage at home, and lighting typically accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of a home’s energy bill,” McMillen said.

DP&L offers an average $1.40 discount on each CFL bulb purchase at area retail stores that include Home Depot, Lowe’s, Meijer, Menards and Wal-Mart. The discount is given at the cash register.

Hallinan said some consumers prefer the yellow-colored light from incandescent bulbs, but improvements have been made to both CFL and LED lighting in recent years to provide a softer, warmer look.

“I actually like the white lights better. They add more clarity to your view of things. You can see things better with the same intensity,” he said.

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Out with the old and in with the new–light bulbs that is!

From: Robin Blackstone, ENN Published December 23, 2013 09:25 AM

Out with the old and in with the new–light bulbs that is!

As of January 1, 2014, 60 and 40 watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States.  Retailers will sell out what is on their shelves and not restock incandescents. George W. Bush signed the phase-out, which was called for by The Energy Independence and National Security Act, in 2007. The bill also includes improvements in energy efficiency for lighting and appliances many of which have been in stores for several years.

Consumers will benefit financially. The transition is better environmentally, as well; making it a win, win for all. Incandescent light bulbs presently make up for over half of all bulbs purchased but are inefficient, turning about 90 percent of the energy they consume into heat, not light. 75 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs have been phased out over the last two years.

According to Noah Horowitz, Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Energy Efficiency for the Natural Resource Defense Council, the phase out will save Americans $13 billion on their annual energy bills.

Alternatives to the incandescent bulbs include the following:

Philips SlimStyle LED — Currently under consideration for ENERGY STAR certification, the SlimStyle LED bulb reduces energy consumption by 85 percent and lasts 25 times longer than a traditional 60-watt incandescent. It is dimmable, brighter and delivers a softer white light than CFLs. It is safer and lighter weight. The SlimStyle is available exclusively at HomeDepot.com starting January 2, 2014, just in time for the final phase out.

CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps)CFLs were the first alternative to incandescent light bulbs. Now it has been learned that LEDs are better and will last longer, yet the high initial investment puts them out of reach for most people. CFLs are widely available in grocery and convenience stores. They come in a spiral shape and A-line. If broken they can be hazardous to your health and disposal is difficult.

Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs by GE — If you’re completely devastated by the idea of switching to those newfangled CFLs or LEDs, GE’s Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs will ease your transition. They look and light exactly like the bulbs you grew up with, only they use 28 percent less energy.

USGBC Certifies 20,000th LEED Commercial Project

USGBC Certifies 20,000th LEED Commercial Project

December 23, 2013

The movement for healthier, high-performing buildings has reached a new milestone, as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) issued the 20,000th LEED certification for a commercial project.

USGBC’s Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) certified the offices and staff services space in the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR) plant in Knoxville, Tenn., under LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI).

“The 20,000th LEED certification belongs to an organization that shares our social and environmental values, and we applaud GMCR on its accomplishment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “This is an important milestone in our mission to drive market transformation in the built environment to practices that make healthy, high-performing buildings a fact of life.

“We’ve shown that LEED works, and the companies and organizations that use LEED set a high bar for leadership,” he continued. “But there is much work to be done, and even as we mark this milestone, we’re completing the launch of the next version of the rating system that will drive building performance to the next level.”

The Knoxville plant is the seventh LEED-certified facility for GMCR, based in Waterbury, Vt. Focusing on maintaining a resilient supply chain, offering sustainable products and contributing positively to the communities in which it operates, GMCR has made corporate social responsibility a central tenet of its business model. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, it was the world’s largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified coffee, and it allocates a portion of its pre-tax profits to socially and environmentally responsible initiatives. In June 2013 Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships named GMCR a Northeast Business Leader for Energy Efficiency.

Sustainable features of the Knoxville project include a high-efficiency HVAC system and water-efficient plumbing fixtures that result in a 32 percent reduction in water use. Recycled content totals more than 24 percent of all building materials, work stations and seating, while a quarter of all building materials were harvested or manufactured within 500 miles of the project. The project also features high-efficiency lighting fixtures, daylighting and lighting controls, and renewable power sources generate more than 50 percent of the required power.

“One of our company goals is to transform the way the world understands business,” said Jason King, senior director of facilities and engineering at GMCR. “The passion we bring to creating great coffee is the same passion we put toward energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. We are proud to play a part in the green building movement because it closely aligns with our corporate values.”
As the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system, LEED guides the design, construction and operation of 10.5 billion square feet of commercial and institutional space globally. By using less energy, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
In November 2013, USGBC launched LEED v4, the newest version of the rating system that is poised to raise the bar for the entire green building industry, which McGraw-Hill Construction projects could be worth up to $248 billion in the U.S. by 2016. LEED v4 features increased technical rigor; a more intuitive online technology platform and simplified LEED credit submittal requirements; as well as new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects.

EPA Regulations to Lessen Carbon Emissions Has Many Energy Impacts

EPA Regulations to Lessen Carbon Emissions Has Many Energy Impacts

Posted on December 18, 2013
Posted By: Mike Krygowski

The Obama administration has made strides in trying to curb the output of carbon emissions in the US. While some of the EPA regulations have moved forward, some have stalled out for the time being. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) was set to replace the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), but was vacated by the courts in late 2011 due to aggressive legal challenges. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) is expected to impact the retirement of a significant amount of coal generation in 2015 with estimates ranging from 10 to 60 GW of potential retirements. MATS is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court and a decision will likely be made in the middle of 2014. According to a recent article, some believe that these regulations are part of a “war on coal.”

In summary, the article begs the question: How much coal-fired generation will there be in 50 years? The answer may not be as simple as it may seem. Yes, gas prices are cheap now. Yes, something needs to be done to help lessen the emissions of these coal plants. But how can this be done in a way that won’t put tens of thousands of people out of work and not send gas prices through the roof in the next 10 to 20 years?

It appears that the abundance of natural gas in the US is the first step in the scramble to reduce carbon emissions, while maintaining a secure electric grid. Natural gas is now replacing coal and it appears that trend will continue for the foreseeable future as a result of the volume of gas available and the continued low prices. Building a new power plant is expensive, but building a gas-fired plant is relatively inexpensive and fast compared to other options such as nuclear generation facilities and generally faces the least resistance in the approval and implementation phases.

Beyond the economic impact on coal country, another concern is the impact on grid reliability as new plants may not sufficiently replace older plants in regards to being available to run at the right place and right time as needed. Particularly in PJM, fear of costs from Reliability Must Run (RMR) contracts is a growing risk that is very difficult to quantify at this point. RMR costs are expenditures by the system operator to keep plants open that are economically viable, and are needed for system integrity.

There is also the risk of higher natural gas prices due to these changes. As gas replaces coal for generation supply, there will be an increase in gas demand which is bullish for prices, especially since   the gas market is near long-term lows and with additional price support from eventual LNG exports and growing industrial demand. But so far, these factors have been shrugged off in the market place except for a modest year-over-year premium in the forward curve due to the abundance of shale gas reserves.

And while these reserves remain a boon, energy buyers should also consider the various upside risks in the market and consider locking in prices that are very attractive.

Federal grants awarded for training programs

Federal grants awarded for training programs

Posted on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 15:36

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Federal grants totaling $474.5 million were awarded to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multiyear, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade, according to the Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The 57 grants will support 190 projects in at least 183 schools in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The grants will expand programs in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care.

All course materials developed using these public funds will be available through the Open Educational Resources initiative so that others can access and build on successful training models. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also encouraging employers to collaborate with local colleges eligible for funding through this program.

“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America’s students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles. These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships.”

The grants include 20 awards to community college and university consortia totaling $377,452,319 and 23 awards to individual institutions totaling $61,943,218. Fourteen states and territories, which were not funded through the competitive award process, will develop a qualifying project and receive an approximately $2.5 million grant.

Grantees will use these funds to transform the way they schedule, sequence and deliver education and training programs that can be completed in two years or less. A variety of activities will be made possible, including the hiring or training instructors to expand capacity to offer in-demand courses or certifications, leveraging online learning to accelerate skills attainment, developing new curricula and training models to add additional classes and certifications, purchasing new equipment to ensure students train on what employers actually use, designing new programs based on the input and needs of local employers, and expanding career pathways in which stackable credentials are linked to industry skills and lead participants to higher-skill jobs.

For information, visit www.doleta.gov/taaccct.