December 5th, 2013
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with rural electric cooperatives to save consumers money on their energy bills.
USDA plans to provide co-ops up to $250 million to lend to business and residential customers for energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.
Noting that energy-efficiency retrofitting can shrink home energy use by as much as 40 percent, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained that reducing energy use is good for rural communities. “This program is designed to meet the unique needs of consumers and businesses to encourage energy-efficiency retrofitting projects across rural America,” he stated.
By promoting energy savings in rural areas, the USDA Energy Efficiency and Loan Conservation Program also supports President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Although energy-efficiency measures can reduce home energy use considerably, a lack of capital or financing prevents many consumers and businesses from making the investment. Making financing more available reduces barriers to investing in energy efficiency, consistent with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
Rural electric cooperatives and utilities–most of which already have energy-efficiency programs in place−will re-lend the funding from the USDA to help homeowners or businesses make energy-efficiency improvements. The loans may be used for energy audits; upgrades to heating, lighting and insulation; and conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources.
The rule is published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Federal Register. Watch Energy Services Bulletin for more information. Read the full announcement. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12/5/13
December 4th, 2013
More than 20 million U.S. families live in apartment or condo buildings, a market that is often underserved by energy efficiency programs. Apartment Hunters: Programs Searching for Energy Savings in Multifamily Buildings , a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), offers advice to utilities on how to deliver energy efficiency to their multifamily customers.
Multifamily building residents and owners often miss out on energy-efficiency programs because this market sector can be more challenging to reach than large commercial buildings and single-family homes. An earlier ACEEE report showed that in many metropolitan areas, multifamily housing’s share of energy-efficiency program dollars is much smaller than their share of the housing market. Yet, these buildings offer tremendous opportunities to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, save owners money and provide assistance to lower-income consumers. The new report describes energy-saving strategies that utilities can follow to start new multifamily programs or strengthen existing ones.
Report author Kate Johnson observed that, although barriers exist, they are not made of stone. “By following the best practices described in this report, utilities can break through to owners and tenants of multifamily buildings,” she said. “Many of them are unknowingly wasting large of amounts of money.”
ACEEE looked at several successful programs already offered by energy utilities and state program administrators. The programs, typically funded by utility customers through their monthly bills, provide services and financial incentives to help businesses and households reduce energy use.
The paper will also be the centerpiece of a White House sponsored discussion that will launch an expansion of the Energy Department’s (DOE) Better Buildings Initiative. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan has called for the initiative to include multifamily buildings for the first time. DOE and the Department of Housing and Urban Development organized the event to bring together ACEEE’s utility partners and leading owners of multifamily housing. Participants are pledging to reduce energy consumption across their building portfolios by 20 percent within 10 years. Read more. Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 12/2/13
November 26th, 2013
Energy efficiency may be the last thing people are thinking about as they put the finishing touches on their Thanksgiving feasts. But the Alliance to Save Energy has some tips for reducing energy use around this holiday that can save them a little extra cash to spend on Christmas shopping.
Tips for an energy-efficient Thanksgiving:
- Use the correct size pan for your stove burner! This keeps extra heat from escaping and burning a hole in your wallet.
- If you are hosting a large gathering this Thanksgiving use a cooler stocked with ice to hold drinks. You’ll free up space in your refrigerator and prevent cold air from escaping from frequent door openings. This will save you energy and money on your next electric bill.
- The more freely the air moves in your oven the more efficiently it operates, so don’t cover your oven racks with foil. This saves you both roasting time and money.
- Every time you open the oven door while roasting your turkey you lose up to 25 degrees of heat – costing you time and money – use the light to check on the progress of your dinner!
Check out the Alliance’s Blog to Save Energy for more ideas for saving energy at Thanksgiving, or share your favorite tips with Breaking News. And don’t forget that our 2013 Holiday Lighting fact sheet makes a great December bill stuffer.
Happy Thanksgiving from Western’s Energy Services!
November 14th, 2013
Drivers now have a new mobile app to help them find stations that provide alternative fuel for six types of vehicles.
Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with support from the Energy Department (DOE), the Alternative Fueling Station Locator app provides information on more than 15,000 stations across the country. Users can search for stations that offer electricity, biodiesel (B20), natural gas (compressed and liquefied), ethanol (E85), hydrogen and propane. The user selects a fuel, and the app maps the stations closest to his current location. The stations’ addresses, phone numbers and operating hours are also included. The app’s filters allow drivers to narrow their search for stations to meet certain parameters, such as whether the station is open to the public and what payment methods it accepts.
The Alternative Fueling Station Locator is just the latest tool the DOE offers to help drivers find the right vehicle and fuel that suits their needs. It is a mobile version of the interactive web-based tool, one of 15 fuel-saving tools available from DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.
Utility field workers driving alternative-fuel vehicles with iPhones and iPads can download this free app from the Apple App Store. If your utility supports or owns an electric vehicle charging station, you can get your station listed in the database using the “Add a station” form, or by contacting the Clean Cities Coordinator in your area.
Read the DOE Progress Alert.
November 7th, 2013
An energy audit tool that more accurately pinpoints potential energy savings while potentially costing 35 percent to 75 percent less than traditional audits is set to hit the multi-billion-dollar energy retrofit industry next year.
The simuwatt Energy Auditor software package was developed by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in partnership with Denver-based software developer concept3D. simuwatt Energy Auditor replaces the clipboard-and-pencil approach of most building audits with a package that uses sophisticated, comprehensive computer modeling to find more potential energy savings.
The commercial buildings sector in America alone represents 7 percent of total energy consumption worldwide. Commercial buildings in the United States consume about $134 billion in electricity each year for lights, computers, office machines, appliances, and the like, according to the Energy Department’s Buildings Energy Data Book. Even a modest reduction in electricity costs would mean huge savings. Read more. Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 10/22/13
November 7th, 2013
The Washington State University Energy Program is presenting two webinars in November on Energy Efficient Emerging Technologies for Data Centers, as part of the Emerging Technologies Showcase series.
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, IT Equipment and Power Management will cover solid state drives, storage area network and network core consolidation, server virtualization, high-efficiency UPS equipment, and power management for IT equipment.
HVAC for Data Centers , on Nov. 26, features HVAC data center technologies and includes airflow management and air-side economizers for data centers, premium HVAC equipment, ongoing commissioning of economizers, and direct server cabinet cooling.
An E3T Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of regional and national information technology and data center experts are in the process of identifying, ranking and scoring IT technologies with the greatest potential for reducing data center energy use in the Pacific Northwest. Ten of the top technologies will be highlighted in these webinars.
Both webinars will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Mountain Time. There is no cost to participate, but registration is required.
Sponsored by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) with support from Western, these monthly webinars present the latest information about promising energy efficiency technologies and practices BPA is considering for future research opportunities or focus areas. All webinars are recorded and available on the E3T website and Conduit .
November 7th, 2013
The popular Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar series returns for its third year on Nov. 27 with Information Available for Tribal Energy Project Development , 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mountain Time.
This online event will explore the “go to” resources that tribes can use within the Department of Energy (DOE), and in other federal, state and local offices to help get their projects on line. Presentations will cover DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Program resources, Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team Programs, Tribal Energy Education Programs, Tribal Leader and Best Practices Forums, among other resources. Attendees will also learn about the latest developments in DOE’s renewable energy education curriculum for tribes .
DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, Tribal Energy Program and Western Area Power Administration are presenting this series on the last Wednesday of each month. The series expands on the information presented in the 2012 and 2013 webinars, with a focus on issues related to facility and community renewable tribal energy projects.
Tribal leaders and staff who are interested in developing facility or community-scale energy projects should register today for this free event. Participants must have internet access and an open phone line.
November 5th, 2013
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranking the 34 largest U.S. cities on their efforts to save energy.
But large cities aren’t the only municipalities trying to control their energy use. To help other cities see where they stack up, ACEEE has developed the Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool (Version 1.0 BETA). The tool scores a community’s energy-efficiency policies and compares them with other localities. For example, sustainability officers can use it to benchmark municipal energy-efficiency efforts and help inform future policy decisions. Nonprofit organizations would find the tool useful for researching new energy-efficiency programs and successful policy strategies that they can implement in their own communities or operations.
Communities determine their score by answering multiple-choice questions related to their energy-efficiency policies across local government operations, community-wide initiatives, buildings policies, energy and water utility policies and transportation policies. For instance, a community bike sharing program would earn the community one point. If households have access to a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, that would earn another two points.
By answering these and a series of other straightforward questions, communities can obtain a comprehensive view of their effectiveness of energy-efficiency efforts. Read more. Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 10/30/13