Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy

Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy | 22/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Until now, U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C. have had 50% of their electrical power needs met with wind-turbine powered electricity supplied by Washington Gas Energy Services CleanSteps® WindPower. That percentage increased recently to 100% as part of the government’s renewable energy target and building efficiency improvement plan.

http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/wind.html
The United States has tremendous wind resources both offshore and on land. In 2012, the total installed wind capacity in the United States reached 50,000 MW. That’s enough to power more than 12 million homes annually, and it represents an 18-fold increase in capacity since 2000. — photo courtesy of U.S. DoE

Using 100 percent wind power for electricity equates to the Washington, D.C. government avoiding the consumption of 32,825,000 gallons of gasoline or taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year. The world’s fastest-growing energy resource, wind power displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and helps eliminate air pollution.

“Going green helps foster economic growth and creates modern and vibrant communities across the District of Columbia,” said Brian J. Hanlon, Director, Department of General Services.

“Our goals are to become more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions, and our strategic partnership with WGES is playing a role in helping us achieve these objectives.” – WGES press release

Even prior to this announcement, Washington, D.C. held the record among U.S. cities for the highest total renewable energy use at over one billion kilowatt hours per year – or, 11.4% of it’s total electricity consumption.

To read a complete breakdown of U.S. cities and their renewable energy use in 2012, visit this EPA Green Power Community Challenge Rankings page.

“We have stated our mission for Washington, D.C. to be the cleanest, greenest city in the nation, which includes the use of renewable energy for our power sources.

We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Washington, D.C. as the leading Green Power Community for our commitment to purchase green power.” — Keith Anderson, Director, District Department of the Environment

In his National Geographic NewsWatch piece, Sam Brooks, Associate Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of General Services and head of its Energy Division said, “conservative estimates indicate a long-term purchase of regional wind power could save more than $100 million over 20 years.”

What could be better than breathing clean air while saving 100 million dollars?

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NOTES:

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy funds R&D to develop wind energy. Learn about the DOE Wind Program, how to use wind energy and get financial incentives, and access wind energy information.
  2. In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, businesses, organizations, government entities, institutions and individual residents can purchase their electricity and natural gas supply from retail energy providers. Customers in Virginia may purchase natural gas and customers in Delaware may purchase electricity from retail energy providers.
  3. To learn more about WGES and its CleanSteps® products, visit www.wges.com or call 1-888-884-WGES (9437).

Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom?

Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom? | 18/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the cleanest fossil fuel of all?

You guessed it! Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel – and by significant margins as data from the Environmental Protection Agency illustrates in the chart below.

Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998
Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998

Natural gas, as the cleanest of the fossil fuels, can be used in many ways to help reduce the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere.

Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emissions of many of the most harmful pollutants. — naturalgas.org

After investigating the externalities associated with conventional sources of energy and cognizant of their commitments towards clean air, many nations have begun to embrace natural gas as a stepping stone towards a cleaner energy future.

In the U.S.A., as far back as 2003 when coal supplied more than 50% of America’s electrical power, coal-fired plants have been retired more quickly than new ones have come online. By 2012, coal supplied only 38% of U.S. electricity.

Nine gigawatts of U.S. coal-fired power generation was shut-down in 2012 alone, and replaced by an almost equal amount of natural gas power generation. Emission levels from those comparably-sized replacement natural gas power plants are less than half of those retired coal-fired plants!

Many more U.S. coal-fired power plants are scheduled for complete shutdown, or conversion to natural gas over the next few years totalling 35 GigaWatts (GW) according to the experts.

Chart courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration — shows carbon emissions dropping as a result of switching from coal to natural gas,  2005-2012.

U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Carbon emissions of all end-use Sectors have decreased since 2005 in the United States.

The largest reductions appear to be due to the Electric Power and Transportation sector’s emissions, followed by the Industrial, Residential and Commercial sectors.

[Of all sectors] “the largest reduction to carbon emissions is due to coal-to-natural gas ‘fuels switching’ and construction of higher efficiency power plants. 

Expansion of renewable power, overwhelmingly due to expanded wind power, has been the second largest factor to reduced Power Sector carbon emissions.” – theenergycollective.com

Many expert studies show CO2 emissions dropping as a result of the combined effects of many countries switching from coal to natural gas and/or renewables, 1990-2100.

Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell 'New Lens Scenarios'
Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the energy choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell ‘New Lens Scenarios’

The change-up to renewable energy will vary by country as OECD nations continue to take the lead in renewable energy between now and 2100. Even so, total worldwide emissions will drop dramatically and the switch from coal to natural gas is one big step towards a cleaner environment.

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DC SEU Wins EPA Sustained Excellence Award

EPA RECOGNIZES DC SEU AND NORTHEAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY INITIATIVE WITH 2013 ENERGY STAR® SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE AWARD

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) in partnership with Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships earns award for protecting the environment through energy efficiency.

Press Release March 5, 2013 (Washington, DC) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the DC Sustainable Energy Utility a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as part of the Northeast Retail Products Initiative in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment through energy efficiency. The initiative, facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and made up of utilities and energy efficiency program administrators in New England, New York, and Washington D.C., will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2013.

In 2012, the DC SEU sold more than 43,000 compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). This year, the DC SEU has already sold more than 80,000 CFLs and now offers rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diodes (LEDs), clothes washers, and refrigerators.

“Working with local retailers, the DC SEU is committed to ensuring energy-efficient products are available to all District residents throughout the city.” — Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DC SEU.

An ENERGY STAR Partner since 2000, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. During the last thirteen years, the Initiative has won 14 awards including six Excellence Awards.

“Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships is committed to speeding the adoption of high efficiency products in the region through our partnership with the DC SEU in the Retail Products Initiative.

By leveraging our resources, our initiative, which collectively serves over fifteen million households, [DC SEU] is able to yield more energy and cost savings for families and businesses than through individual program efforts.

We are very proud of the DC SEU for their tremendous efforts in helping to make the Northeast a sustained leader in energy efficiency.

Our success for the region is a direct result of the commitment they dedicate to accelerating energy efficiency for our environment, our economy, and our communities.” — Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP.

For over 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2013 Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency. Award winners are selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

___

ABOUT the DC SEU

Created by the City Council as part of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA), the DC SEU is managed by the Sustainable Energy Partnership under contract to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

For more information on the DC SEU, visit: www.dcseu.com 

ABOUT NEEP

NEEP is a regional non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. NEEP’s Market Strategies team supports the collaboration of energy efficiency program administrators and other key stakeholders in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to achieve long-term cost-effective energy savings by broadening the market availability and consumer demand for high quality, energy efficient products and services.

Visit www.neep.org for more details.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

To follow John Brian Shannon on social media – place a check-mark beside your choice of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: FullyFollowMe/johnbrianshannon

How to Buy a Car and get Free Fuel

by John Brian Shannon

What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.

Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4.00 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21.00 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106. per week in mixed driving, totalling about $425. per month.

The question is; What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5100. per year?

If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (MPD) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Suzy: HerHybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 MPG city driving and 45 MPG highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.

Scenario A) If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.

Scenario B) If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the U.S.A. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 EV chargers in the U.S.A. as of Jan 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.

Now, what to do with that extra $5100. each and every year?

These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30 minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!

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Energy & Climate: The regulatory climate is changing too!

by John Brian Shannon

For several decades, U.S. environmental regulators have been the tall, silent type.

These highly-educated people worked for the government, but alongside industry, to craft energy regulations reflecting the ecological notions of their particular era. For most of the 20th century politicians favoured regulations which worked to promote the rapid growth of the economy and to advance the use of energy – particularly fossil-fuel energy.

But now, a new generation of regulators are actively contributing to the debate and they are doing so in significant ways. So much has changed and with little media coverage considering the scope of the changes which are now becoming apparent.

Such are the recent regulatory changes in the U.S.A. that people are now openly wondering if another coal-fired powerplant will ever be built in the United States!

Coal, which produced a majority of America’s electrical energy in 1997,  has since dropped to 36% of total electrical energy production.

The average share of electricity generated from coal in the US has dropped from 52.8% in 1997 to 45.0% in 2009.[1] In the first quarter of 2012, the use of coal for electricity generation has declined substantially more, declining 21% from 2011 levels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 27 gigawatts of capacity from coal-fired generators [are] to be retired from 175 coal-fired power plants between 2012 and 2016.[8] Coal’s share of electricity generation dropped to just over 36%. – Wikipedia

The explanation for this sea-change is both simple and complicated. EPA regulators attempted to enforce the new for 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule regulations (read other important CSAPR information here) due to go into effect on 7/7/11, but that act was struck down in appeals court on 21/8/12 for contravening another set of regulations called The Clean Air Act. Happily, another act (but with lower standards) called the Clean Air Interstate Rule automatically resumed as the prevailing regulatory framework until the CSAPR could be re-written so as not to contravene The Clean Air Act.

In the meantime, EPA bureaucrats set to work on changing the regulations for natural gas extraction, including fracking, which helped to make electricity produced by natural gas much cheaper than electricity produced by coal — and as a result, coal-fired plants are closing down far faster than if the CSAPR had been enacted and not struck down. (Moral: Never argue with the bureaucrats).

Yet more changes lay ahead due to upcoming proposed regulatory changes. A good example of this is Tina Casey’s post “Texas Wind Power Up, Nukes Down” which describes how the nuclear powerplant operator Exelon is shifting away from nuclear to wind energy.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last week, the CEO of energy giant Exelon, Christopher Crane predicted that the influx of low cost wind power would lead the company to start shuttering its nuclear plants.

Though wind and other renewables only account for about three percent of the company’s capacity now, that could change pretty fast.

Exelon’s first commercial wind farm only started operating in January 2012, and the company already has 44 wind projects operating in 10 different states. Tina Casey (Cleantechnica.com)

Coal is now being undercut by lower priced natural gas-fired electricity — and nuclear power is being undercut by lower priced wind-powered electricity, causing a historic shift in America’s energy makeup. We are just at the beginning of that road.

What happens if regulators decide to drop the huge subsidies the government pays to both the coal industry and the nuclear industry?

Even if regulators decided to bring subsidy levels for sustainable energy up to the same levels that coal and nuclear now enjoy – the changes we have seen thus far will seem microscopic.

fossil-fuel-subsidies

In the U.S.A., Oil and Gas receives 13 times more in historical subsidies than clean energy.

Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas got 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much.

“Nuclear spent an average of about $3.3 billion a year, oil and gas about $1.8 billion, and renewable energy just under half a billion,” DBL Investors Managing Partner Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey recently wrote in “What would Jefferson do?” – Cleantechnica

energy-subsidies-percentages

The energy regulatory climate is changing in the U.S.A., and we have only seen the beginning of these changes. By 2020, America’s energy regulations will have changed significantly to reflect what a large percentage of voters want. Clean energy, delivered on a (subsidy) level playing field.

us_fuel_subsidies

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JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

To follow John Brian Shannon on social media – place a check-mark beside your choice of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: FullyFollowMe/johnbrianshannon