The International Energy Agency has today urged governments to put in place four energy policies that it claims will “keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth”.
Maine is trying to lower energy costs and increase energy efficiency. Sadly, its Governor may veto legislation that would do this at the expense of Maine’s ratepayers and emerging renewable energy industry.
A bipartisan omnibus energy bill is making its way through the Maine state legislature. The compromised package, L.D. 1559, passed the Senate on Thursday.
However, Governor Paul LePage opposes the bill, and his energy director said a veto will occur if the bill reaches his desk in its current form.
Andrew Sturgeon, president of the Action Committee of 50 (a group of business and community leaders promoting economic development), wrote a special for the Bangor Daily News highlighting the ways the omnibus bill helps Mainers:
- “By expanding efficiency programs, all electricity consumers achieve a net savings — amounting to $76 million last year.”
- “The expansion of natural gas infrastructure could reduce electric bills of Mainers by $100 million to $200 million per year after full implementation.”
- “The governor proposed adding ‘lowering energy costs’ to the Public Utilities Commission’s mandated responsibilities and goals for the Efficiency Maine Trust, something this bill achieves.”
- “By using $3 million to $5 million per year from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce residential heating costs, this bill does exactly what the governor asks for.”
Despite the bipartisan work and the savings customers in Maine will experience, LePage will veto the bill because he wants the 100-megawatt cap in the state’s renewable energy standard to be removed.
This provision requires renewable energy facilities to be smaller than 100 megawatts in generating capacity in order to quality for energy credits. Wind energy, thankfully, is not included in this provision. If this specific part of the RES law is repealed, large hydro facilities (specifically from Canada) would be allowed to receive energy credits and therefore Maine’s standard would be “watered down.” The incentive for wind energy companies to continue their growth in Maine would likely end.
LePage is certainly not putting the citizens of Maine first. Over the past few years, an ALEC sponsored initiative undertaken by LePage and his allies — State Senators Michael Thibodeau and Edward Youngblood — have introduced legislation that would dismantle the state’s RES. The “model legislation” provided by ALEC would require the use of large hydropower as a part of the RES calculation. This change would reduce the ability of Maine to utilize its own existing renewable resources to provide for the state’s electricity needs.
Wind energy is becoming a vital and innovative energy resource within Maine due to its positive economic and environmental benefits. Indeed, wind developers in Maine have spent nearly $1 billion since 2004 which has led to the creation of hundreds of jobs. Furthermore, for every 300 megawatts of wind energy installed in Maine, $375 million in construction wages is generated along with a $750 million tax base increase.
Health and environmental advocacy groups, such as the American Lung Association and Sierra Club Maine, have also endorsed new turbine projects citing their potential to “reduce pollution, create good local jobs, and protect wildlife.”
Phil Bartlett, Maine’s Senate majority leader from 2008-2010, recently wrote in the Bangor Daily News:
“The attempts by LePage and his allies to dismantle Maine’s RPS represent an embrace of a corporatist approach to Maine’s energy policy, which, if left unchecked, will have serious, damaging consequences for Maine consumers and our environment. As a former legislator, I am perhaps most troubled by the ease with which these groups have infiltrated our State House.”
It is necessary for wind energy to increase in Maine as 63 percent of the state’s electricity is generated from gas and oil, and 90 percent of homes are heated by oil — mostly imported from other countries.
America's power system is too vulnerable to meet modern challenges — a harsh reality underscored by Hurricane Sandy, which left 8.1 million people in the dark for extended periods. Yet, widespread outages should no longer come as a surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country's electrical infrastructure a "D" grade in 2008. Ye
The world has made “steady but modest progress” in improving global access to electricity and safe cooking fuels, increasing energy efficiency and adding renewable sources to the world’s energy mix, said Vivien Foster, energy unit sector manager at the World Bank’s sustainable energy department, at a recent briefing in London.
After Steven Chu departed the Energy Department, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) decided to take “A Look Back at Secretary Chu’s Enormous Impact on Energy Savings.”
The ACEEE found:
Taking into account products sold between now and 2035, new efficiency standards adopted during Chu’s four-year stint will net U.S. consumers and businesses more than $100 billion in savings. The energy saved by these new standards will be about enough to power the entire U.S. economy—all of our buildings, industries, homes, cars, and trucks—for about four months.
So Steven Chu is the $100 Billion man. No wonder energy efficiency has the highest documented rate of return of any federal program.
Here are some highlights:
- Standards completed in 2009 for the tube-shape fluorescent lamps used mostly in offices will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by DOE.
- New water heater standards will help heat pump technology and gas condensing technology gain a market foothold by focusing on large water heaters where these new technologies are most cost-effective.
- New residential refrigerator and clothes washer standards will reduce the average energy use of these products by about 25% and 40%, respectively. These standards show that continued technological gains can deliver cost-effective energy savings, even for products that have already achieved dramatic improvements.
In his first speech as energy secretary, Dr. Ernie Moniz pledged that “efficiency is going to be a big focus going forward.” Indeed, at a conference sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy, Moniz said:
“Let me just say off the bat that I have been working these problems for quite a while, I have never seen a credible solution to the climate risk mitigation challenge, to reach the kinds of goals we need to reach, without the demand side playing a very, very important part in that.”
Perhaps Moniz will be the first trillion-dollar man. Certainly future generations will need that kind of savings if we are to avert catastrophic climate change.
- Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution, the biggest and cheapest low-carbon resource by far
How many people around the world lack access to electricity and safe household fuels? What’s the share of renewable energy in the global mix? How are we doing in improving energy efficiency?
A new online database created by Colorado State University's (CSU) Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) aims to serve anyone interested in clean energy legislation in any state in the U.S., or even those who are crafting policy themselves.
By Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, I see a lot of fanfare applauding increased oil production in the U.S. and the increase is truly remarkable. We are producing nearly 2 million more barrels of oil a day than government (EIA) experts had predicted ten years ago. But here’s what is truly astounding: We are consuming over 5 million barrels less in oil a day than had been predicted in 2003. So, there is no question we are making dramatic strides in the oil sector, but we are doing twice as well on the conservation side of the ledger than we are in production.
Oil conservation lacks the sizzle that energy production enjoys. After all, you don’t see people striking it rich by taking a train to work, by driving an electric car, or converting their business’ fleet to run on natural gas. What’s worse, not only does it lack sizzle, some public figures say oil conservation isn’t even a serious approach to energy policy. Vice President Cheney famously said conservation is a “sign of personal virtue, but … not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”
But as a nation, in order to continue to improve our energy security, insulate our economy from high oil prices, and address climate change, we will continue to accomplish a lot more by using less oil than by producing more oil. It’s less exciting than an oil geyser, but the opportunity is simply much bigger. Increasing oil production in the U.S. helps our energy security and our economy, but increasing domestic production is often described as the healer of all wounds. Unfortunately it is not.
If it were, oil prices would not be so stubbornly high. Oil is traded in a worldwide market, so our increased production has been drowned out by increased demand elsewhere. But thanks to increased fuel economy standards, investment in public transportation, and a burgeoning market in alternative fuel vehicles, Americans do not need nearly as much oil to achieve mobility as once predicted. And we have a lot more improvement to do. After all, we use twice as much oil per capita as the United Kingdom and Germany and a third more than Australia.
Despite our exceptional prowess in drilling for oil, we simply cannot drill our way out of our problems. To address climate change, drive down prices, and truly end the world’s dependence on energy from unstable parts of the world, we need to use a lot less oil. The good news is that we have gotten off to a great start.
Volt owners are almost universally happy with their cars, despite the fact that very few will recoup the extra costs of the car in gas savings. Even though the financial savings are small compared to the large upfront payment for the vehicle, the emotional payback more than compensates.
The process started in 2003 when Boulder resumed studying the option to create a municipal utility. With a climate-action plan already in place, and a local carbon tax already financing conservation and clean energy, the once nascent issue became a serious option in Boulder. Creating a municipal utility would allow for more control over the grid, r
Ernie Moniz has been unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Secretary of Energy, in a 97-0 vote (with three nonvoters). He succeeds Stephen Chu who held the position for four years.
All German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to do was pick up the phone and dial her people in Brussels. Had she done so before the European Parliament's (EP) key vote last month on April 19, her party's representatives could easily have saved the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Europe's flagship mechanism for reducing carbon emissions. But the woman once hailed as "the climate chancellor," didn't make the call, a consequence of differences of opinion on the ETS within her ruling center-right coalition, she said. The impotent ETS is now withering on the vine, where it may remain until it is dead altogether.
You know that experience, when you buy a new car, and suddenly you see the model everywhere? Since Superstorm Sandy I’ve had the equivalent experience with the term ‘microgrid.’ Policymakers and thought leaders in the U.S. Northeast started talking microgrid in earnest shortly after the October 2012 storm leveled swaths of their region. Lately, the
Last week, energy industry watchdog Ofgem announced it would investigate three of the big six energy companies for missing targets under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Savings Scheme (CESP) – the government schemes which preceded the Green Deal and its sister scheme the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
Under CERT firms were required to deliver an overall carbon savings target, a quarter of which had to be delivered through insulation measures being installed.
Both SSE and British Gas missed their contributions to both of these targets.
Ofgem has the power to fine the firms up to 10% of their annual turnover.
It has been argued that the green building industry needs certainty that when carbon targets were set-they would be met and the best way to do that was to impose tough fines on those responsible for meeting them.
Do you think that fines are needed in order to encourage the building industry to become more sustainable in their new builds and retrofits?
Allen & York specialise in Energy recruitment, current job opportunities include:
Europe's program to halt climate change is in disarray with lawmakers in the region expressing concern the drift is undermining the planet's most significant effort to combat global warming.
Solar and wind are excellent sources of clean, renewable energy, but as they contribute a larger share to the generation fleet, their integration will become increasingly challenging. The reason: solar and wind cannot be dispatched in the same way as other sources of energy, such as nuclear, hydro, and fossil fuels. Because the grid must operate “j
The Financial Forum will address the rapidly changing state of renewable energy finance, and provide insight from industry experts about the future of this evolving industry. Although the potential for growth is great, renewable energy markets continue to struggle due to fallout from the credit crisis, a withdrawal of major lenders, a loss of tax equity capacity and uncertainty surrounding legislative support. New strategies for securing financing will emerge from the presentations and discussions at the POWER-GEN International Financial Forum.
In the depths of coal country, one would not expect to find a growing diversified energy economy that includes a healthy mix of renewables. But in Williamson, WV, Sustainable Williamson is bullish on making a change, and hopes to inspire other communities throughout central Appalachia, coal country and the nation.
Ohio is one of many states trying to scale back energy efficiency standards set for utility providers — even though these standards have lowered costs and reduced energy consumption by customers, according to the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.
OMA, the state’s largest manufacturing trade group, is fighting against Republican-led efforts to weaken the laws that require utilities providers help customers use less electricity. The laws set a deadline of 2025 for electric utilities to help their customers reduce consumption by 22 percent. All but one state legislator approved the bill in 2008. The effects were dramatic and immediate; from 2008 to 2009 alone, Ohio electric utilities saved 530,062 megawatt-hours, ten times the prior year’s savings.
First Energy Corp, Ohio’s influential utility company, is seeking to freeze the efficiency standards at 2012 levels, which mandate reductions of .8 percent. The energy giant tried to rally its larger industrial customers against the efficiency standards, claiming they were hurting businesses. While First Energy Corp’s profits have certainly dropped, industrial manufacturers and Ohio consumers alike are enjoying the lower utility bills resulting from greater energy efficiency.
OMA commissioned an analysis of how the standards were working, presenting the findings to the Senate Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday. The analysis found that the total savings for utilities customers have surpassed the cost of implementing the programs. If the efficiency mandate levels are kept intact, Ohioans could save roughly $5.7 billion by 2020. The group has also argued that energy efficiency competes with power plants, keeping power prices lower.
Ohio’s small businesses and other industrial groups also overwhelmingly support the standards, arguing that business owners are now motivated to strive toward more efficient energy use in order to reduce their costs. Even other Ohio power companies, including American Electric Power, Duke Energy of Ohio, and Dayton Power & Electric, have embraced the programs.
On the national level, comparable energy efficiency standards have a long record of success. Yet the Department of Energy recently backed away from these standards for natural gas furnaces, which would have avoided 100 million tons of carbon emissions and reduced consumers’ costs by $10.7 billion.
The industrial sector is historically the biggest energy consumer in the U.S. However, as companies work to reduce their energy use, the industrial sector now accounts for the majority of energy reduction. Manufacturing consumption in the U.S. dropped 17 percent between 2002 and 2010.
Earth Day highlights the need for a sustainable energy future, and experience suggests that there are only three meaningful choices for communities trying to increase local control of a greener energy future. But the three policies – deregulation (“customer choice”), municipal aggregation (“city choice”), and municipal utilities (“city ownership”)