New tool from DOE helps utilities evaulate cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is an issue that is on everyone’s mind today, so utilities and grid operators may be interested in a new software program that enables them to assess their cybersecurity capabilities. The Electricity Subsector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (ES-C2M2) includes a cybersecurity self-evaluation survey tool, which looks at situational awareness, along with threat and vulnerability management, to allow a utility an internal option for the cybersecurity discussion. Utilities can also use ES-C2M2’s series of gradual assessments in platform areas to build a complete picture for prioritizing future cybersecurity actions and investments.

The Energy Department (DOE) developed the model in a public/private partnership formed in 2011, and launched the first version in May 2012. The White House approached DOE with a challenge to develop capabilities to manage dynamic threats and understand grid cybersecurity. The objectives for the model development included the desire to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities, along with the need to enable consistent evaluation and benchmarking, share knowledge and benefits and help prioritize actions and investments.

More than 77 utilities—cooperatives, international, investor-owned utilities, public power and regional transmission organizations—have downloaded ES-C2M2’s assessment tool. The DOE went on-site with 17 industry volunteers to walk through the model, using feedback from them to make changes in the next version. Comments have led to additional maturity indicator levels, performance metrics and measurement and informative materials.

DOE developed the model specifically for the electricity industry with Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Carnegie Mellon University and industry stakeholders. Utilities can download ES-C2M2 or contact DOE for more information. If you decide to explore this tool to improve your cybersecurity, don’t forget to share what you learn with Energy Services. Source: energybiz, 3/20/13

Energy Department creates PEV Readiness Scorecard

To help cities, counties and states put more plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) on the road, the Energy Department’s Clean Cities initiative created an online, interactive Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Scorecard.

The Scorecard allows community managers to measure their regions’ current ability to meet the needs of electric vehicle drivers—their “PEV-friendliness.” Users calculate their scores by answering a series of multiple-choice questions based on best practices. The questions range from the time required to issue a residential charger permit to incentives available to PEV drivers.

Because a number of city agencies, non-governmental organizations and even local businesses may be involved in the decisions that affect PEV readiness, every Scorecard account allows multiple users to enter information for the same region.

Read more about the PEV Readiness Scorecard, and start your account today. Then you can share your score with Energy Services, and let other Western customers know what you are doing to become a PEV-friendly community.

DOE offers $20mn for projects integrating solar and fossil fuels

The U.S. Energy Department (DOE) announced $20 million in new funding for two to four projects that will help integrate concentrating solar power (CSP) systems with fossil fuel power plants. The DOE seeks applications from industry, universities, and national laboratories. Read the full story.

If interested, act quickly as a letter of intent is due by Jan 14, 2013 with the full application due in mid-March, 2013. See the RFI for more information on the funding. Source: Renewable Energy World, 12/31/12

DOE funds development of energy-saving building technologies

As part of its efforts to help homeowners and businesses save money by saving energy, the Energy Department (DOE) is investing $9 million in leading-edge building envelope technologies, including high-efficiency, high-performance windows, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment.

In his announcement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu noted that a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills, much of which is wasted on air leaks and drafts in houses’ roofs, attics and walls. “By bringing new, affordable energy-efficient products to the market, we can help families save money by saving energy, while strengthening U.S. manufacturing leadership in technologies that are increasingly in demand worldwide,” said Chu.

This new investment focuses on improving whole-home energy performance through six advanced manufacturing projects in California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee. Funding includes:

  • About $6.5 million in four projects to develop highly efficient, cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • About $3 million to two projects targeting building envelope materials.

In Western’s territory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop and test highly insulated, easy-to-install windows that use automated shading that can capture or repel heat depending on the season. Projects elsewhere include the St. Louis, Missouri-based Unico developing a cold climate heat pump with a variable speed compressor that will maintain capacity and efficiency even at very low temperatures. The University of Idaho will design and demonstrate a roof sandwich panel that uses foam material to increase building thermal efficiency and helps reduce construction costs by 25 percent.

From 1990 to 2007, U.S. energy use per capita remained fairly consistent. In the last five years, however, improvements in building efficiency for space heating and air conditioning have helped to reduce consumption. Nearly 60 percent of homes now feature energy-efficient, multi-pane windows—up from 36 percent in 1993. About 40 million households have sealed air leaks with caulking or weather-stripping, and 26 million have added insulation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that energy use per capita will continue to fall by an additional 15 percent through 2040.

Greater savings can be achieved through more improvements. A typical residential or commercial building loses about 42 percent of energy through doors, roofs, attics, walls, floors and foundations—the building envelope. In the winter months, windows alone can account for 10 to 25 percent of a home’s utility bill through heat loss. The projects receiving funding will help bring new, affordable technologies to market and create opportunities for improved building performance and cost savings.

Learn more about these projects and find additional information on how the Energy Department is helping American homes and businesses save money by saving energy at and through the Buildings Technologies Program. Source: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 12/21/12