Author Archives: Jim OReilly

Innovation and Regulation: A Winning Partnership Formula

It’s always interesting to witness a convergence of events that serve to highlight and illustrate an issue raised in the course of public debate.

Such a convergence has occurred in recent weeks, in this case involving energy efficiency standards set by the states and the federal government, which date to the days when Ronald Reagan was governor of California and public consciousness began turning to the idea that energy was a vital commodity that needed to be regulated via public policy.

On December 31, with most of us ensconced in a holiday glow against the biting cold, the Associated Press ran a story nationally that cited the energy use consumption analysis compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that the average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade – this despite the fact that the proliferation of consumer electronics grew exponentially over that same time span. In fact, electricity consumption fell in 2012 for the second year in a row, as the graphic below depicts:

Source: U.S. EIA, December 20, 2013

Source: U.S. EIA, December 20, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Connecticut, it’s Back to the Future … Unfortunately

Haven’t we been here before?

Connecticut's redirection of Energy Efficiency Funds could potentially halt monetary and energy savings.

Connecticut’s redirection of Energy Efficiency Funds could potentially halt monetary and energy savings.

For the third time in the last decade, legislators in Connecticut have decided to raid the ratepayer-funded clean energy program budgets and divert the monies to the state’s general fund to help them close the budget gap.

This time, they’re taking some $35 million from both the state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) – which was hailed as the nation’s first “green bank” when established two years ago – and from the state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) account, derived from the state’s proceeds from the sale of carbon allowances. Continue reading

Inaccurate facts and figures surface after the adoption of Boston’s Building Energy Rating Ordinance

building energy rating and disclosureDisinformation on Boston’s Building Energy Disclosure Ordinance continues – The Boston Globe needs a fact check when discerning building energy rating and disclosure’ fact from fiction.

NEEP’s Jim O’Reilly wrote a response to the Boston Globe’s article, Boston Energy, Water Use Law Approved, to set the record straight on Boston’s Building Energy Disclosure Ordinance. Continue reading

More from Baltimore: Taking down the barriers, accelerating the drivers to CHP

A great dialogue continues here in Baltimore on accelerating industrial energy efficiency and combined heat and power (CHP) in the region.

Not only do public policies need to provide a solid framework that allows for CHP to be broadly deployed, but champions among end users really need to drive projects and help other stakeholders understand their value propositions.

Those points were driven home particularly by John Baker, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, as well as speakers from New Jersey and New York, including Brian Platt of NYSERDA, Mike Winka, director of the Office of Clean Energy in New Jersey, and Steven Goldenberg, chief counsel to the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition. Continue reading

Opportunities and Successes in Industrial Energy Efficiency and CHP

CHP, Industrial Efficiency Dialogue in Baltimore Maryland To help set the table for the U.S. DOE and NEEP co-hosted dialogue on advancing industrial energy efficiency and CHP, NEEP’s Sue Coakley is moderating a discussion on ‘Opportunities and Successes.’ She started this dialogue by showing a video from NEEP’s 2012 Energy Efficiency Summit in Stamford, Conn. that highlighted Sikorsky Aircraft and the energy efficiency and CHP investments they’ve made to their Stratford plant. With support from United Illuminating, Sikorsky is aiming to make their facility zero net energy with the help of an innovative co-generation unit. And with support from the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, the payback period for Sikorsky’s measures has been dropped to under four years.

Showing that best practices are not limited to New England, Jim Freihaut, director of the Mid-Atlantic Clean Energy Application Center at Penn State University, highlighted Proctor and Gamble’s Mehoopany, PA paper products plant, which has saved so much energy with its CHP application, that the company has closed plants in other states and moved those jobs to Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Dialogue on Industrial Efficiency and CHP Kicks Off in Baltimore

Good morning from Baltimore, where the U.S. Department of Energy and NEEP have just kicked off our Regional Dialogue on Accelerating Industrial Energy Efficiency and Combined Heat and Power (CHP). This meeting is being held to advance the development and implementation of state-level best practices in both public policies and investment models that address the barriers to greater investments in industrial efficiency and CHP in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

Jason Miller, of the National Economic Council and a Special Assistant to President Obama for Manufacturing Policy, welcomed the 160+ participants here in Baltimore by highlighting the President’s Executive Order that sets a national goal of 40 gigawatts of new, cost-effective CHP by 2020. In noting that a revitalized manufacturing sector is a core element of the administration’s economic development agenda, Miller noted the importance of accelerating efficiency and CHP in this sector because “Energy is intertwined with competitiveness. Continue reading

Welcome Words, Obama Makes the Case for Energy Action

Hallelujah. Finally, we have an American president devoting considerable attention to the topic of climate change and the energy policies that drive it.

1360724706619.cachedIn his State of the Union address last night, President Obama made very clear that the time has come to act. For those of us engaged in ending energy waste and believing we can do more with less, his words were most welcome. The President is absolutely right in asserting that “After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future.”  But that sentence did more than just allow him to introduce the litany of progress that we’ve made; it also marked a call to end the “phony debate” on whether climate change is real.

Enough.

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Congratulations, Massachusetts! (And NY, VT, CT, RI and MD, while we’re at it!)

Northeast Region Tops the Nation in Energy Efficiency

The much anticipated state energy efficiency policy scorecard was just issued by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and, once again, Massachusetts has topped the list as the number one state in the nation for energy efficiency public policies. (See: http://www.aceee.org/sector/state-policy/)

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Way to go Philadelphia!

Add Philadelphia to the growing number of jurisdictions that have adopted laws requiring rating and disclosure of building energy performance.

The Philadelphia City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a new ordinance requiring energy benchmarking of large commercial buildings in the city. Thanks to the leadership of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will now be used by owners of buildings of greater than 50,000 square feet to benchmark their energy performance. Continue reading

Globe Magazine story misses the obvious: energy efficiency

In a Feb. 5 cover story of the Boston Globe Magazine, Neil Swidey’s “What if the Lights Go Out?” paints a bleak picture of the state of our regional electric grid. And all of his reasons are quite valid: we are overly-reliant on natural gas fired electricity generation; we have an aging electricity and natural gas infrastructure that is vulnerable to failures on its own and attacks from those intent on crippling our power system; and we are increasingly facing extreme weather events that challenge both that system and our resolve.

Swidey largely dismisses renewable energy resources, focusing on their intermittent nature rather than their promise to deliver clean energy from sources that, unlike fossil fuels, are not finite.

But his biggest disservice to readers is his complete omission of a solution that is quickly deployed, clean, reliable, affordable and indigenous to our region: energy efficiency.

Swidey makes no mention of the fact that cost-effective energy efficiency has the potential to save New England about 31,800 gigaWatt-hours of electricity, or the equivalent to the amount of energy produced each year by about four large coal-fired power plants.  The electricity saved could power 4 million homes for one year – about equal to the households in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont combined.

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