Category Archives: Uncategorized

Should the S in HEMS stand for ‘System’ or ‘Stabilizer’?

fukushima disasterIn 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred 43 miles east of Japan – the world’s fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Along with actually shifting the Earth on its axis by an estimated 4 to 10 inches, the earthquake triggered tsunami waves of up to 133 feet, traveling 6 miles inland and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

As it turns out, this calamity also affected HEMS – Home Energy Management Systems.

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Welcome to Highlights! August 2014
While late summer offers a much-needed lull for many of us, there is still some very important work being done by policymakers, regulators and program administrators to advance energy efficiency and address major regional energy issues.One of the biggest of issues: “the winter peak.” States in the heavily natural gas-reliant Northeast are concerned about what is forecasted to be another winter of supply concerns, with coincident heating and electricity generation demands straining delivery capacity. Together they are working to get out in front of the issue— maximizing the tools of energy efficiency and public awareness to mitigate constraints and impacts on customer bills. Last week, NEEP and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) convened a teleconference on winter peak issues, including participants from New England and New York state energy offices and public utility regulators with ISO-New England as observers.The group is seeking regional consensus to coordinate public education regarding the risk of potential energy supply constraints in the winter of 2014-15, and to encourage customers to reduce potential impacts on their energy bills through energy efficiency and conservation.This will also be a venue for states to discuss possible regulatory flexibility and program innovations to expedite solutions that can deliver relief in the near-term. Stay tuned for updates on what comes of these efforts — just another example of the value of working regionally for shared benefits.Meantime, please read on to catch up on the big news in Delaware (they’re busy this summer too!), a mid-year update on energy codes, legislative updates and more in our Policy Tracker, and a recap of three terrific workshops at the NEEP Summit: net zero buildings, EM&V issues, and those electrifying air source heat pumps!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and thanks for reading. We always love your feedback on Highlights.


Natalie Hildt Treat, Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager

Natalie Hildt Treat,
Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager


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In This Issue

Policy News & Views:

Policy Tracker: July 2014

High Efficiency Products:

Air Source Heat Pumps a Hot Topic at NEEP’s Pre-Summit Workshop

Building Energy Codes:

Mid-year Update: State Progress on Building Energy Codes

New and Noteworthy:

NEEP Policy & Forum Teams Host Trio of Interns

NEEP Summit and Business Leaders on YouTube

High Performance Buildings:

Cambridge City Council Passes Building Energy Usage Disclosure Ordinance

New Resource from SEE Action Network: How State & Local Agencies Can Save Energy in Buildings

Daybreak on Zero Net Energy Buildings: NEEP Workshop Sparks Dialogue on the Future of Buildings

In Focus:

Bright Future Ahead for Efficiency in Delaware

EM&V Essentials:

Alphabet Soup: Evaluation Workshop at Annual NEEP Summit 

Energy Efficiency Policy Tracker: August 2014

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

This summer, we’ve seen the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states continue tackle the major themes outlined at last month’s NEEP Summit in Newport: modernizing the electric grid, de-carbonizing the electric sector, and managing electric-gas infrastructure constraints in New England.

As you can see, policymakers did not shy away from strong action in June and July — whether it was the EPA releasing its Clean Power Plan, or states like New York and Massachusetts moving key proceeding on grid modernization forward. And the New England governors are still pressing for investment in new gas pipeline capacity, though plans are yet to be fully developed This in spite of the upcoming fall elections, where eight states and the District of Columbia will hold gubernatorial (or mayoral) contests in November.

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Only Natural? A Rush to Gas before Right-Sizing, Efficiency Would Cost Region

You can practically hear the hand-wringing. New England is increasingly dependent on natural gas for electricity generation, and in a long cold winter such as we’ve just experienced, heating need puts a squeeze on this energy feedstock, causing wholesale prices to skyrocket.

Figure 1: Electric Pricing Rising with Natural Gas Prices. Source: ISO-New England

Figure 1: Electric Pricing Rising with Natural Gas Prices. Source: ISO-New England

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Energy Efficiency Policy Tracker: May 2014

Spring has brought forth a rush of activity on energy efficiency and energy policy in states in the NEEP region. Below is an overview of a major proceeding in New York, a roundup of state legislative and regulatory activity, and a new report on the cost of energy efficiency programs.

New York Energy the Future of Utilities, Distributed Resources

New York State has opened a major proceeding on the future of energy regulation and the electricity grid, entitled Reforming the Energy Vision, or “REV.” The sweeping April 2014 order and proposal issued by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) will have major implications for the future of energy efficiency, distributed generation, and electric ratemaking in the Empire State and perhaps beyond. PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman said in a statement that New York seeks to “maximize the utilization of resources, and reduce the need for new infrastructure through expanded demand management, energy efficiency, renewable energy, distributed generation, and energy storage programs.”  At its core is an attempt to promote more customer-sided resources, including energy efficiency and distributed generation in order to reduce the costs of meeting New York’s peak electricity demand and the state’s carbon emissions.

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Critical Energy Decisions Ahead and the Role of Efficiency

Birud Jhaveri, Deputy Commissioner of Energy Policy & Assurance, Mass. Department of Energy

Birud Jhaveri, Deputy Commissioner of Energy Policy & Assurance, Mass. Department of Energy

This past winter, in my position at DOER, I watched wholesale gas and electricity prices spike to alarming levels. Demand was immense, and we at DOER worked closely with generators to ensure they had enough fuel to keep the lights on. New England faces a real challenge in meeting the continuing growth in peak electricity demand, reducing financial impacts, solving reliability problems and meeting environmental mandates.  The situation is exacerbated as more and more of the Commonwealth’s electric generation comes from natural gas, even while we face increasingly constrained gas supplies in winter.

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A High Octane Event for a Low-Carbon Future

It happens to the best of us..

It happens to the best of us..

We’ve all attended events that brandish flashy titles and pithy tag-lines that turn out to be a few experts taking turns projecting their esoteric insights and aptitudes onto an audience that, in large part, are not in the right frame of mind to effectively accept and/or digest that information.

It’s not that what’s being said isn’t important or intelligent; it’s just that there seems to be an element missing from the delivery of the information which is absolutely crucial when connecting to the audience more often than every tenth word.

Certain amounts of novelty, variability, and excitement are necessary ingredients in order to translate inspired words into inspired listening.

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LED Lighting.. for Zoos!

Thanks to E Source for contributing some of their insights on commercial LED applications. Take it away Beth!

As LED lighting becomes more popular, a wide range of larger commercial industries can benefit from the significant energy savings potential from this promising technology. Energy research firm E Source works with utilities to help them evaluate a variety of programs including how best to serve these large commercial customers with LED lighting programs. Recently, we received this question from a member:

Q: Could you recommend types of pathway lights and ground lighting that would be best for a zoo in terms of energy efficiency and lighting?

"Do Not Disturb.."

“Do Not Disturb..”

In terms of energy efficiency and light quality for pathway lights and other ground lighting at a zoo, there are several important issues to consider like time-sensitive controls and color temperature related to animal sleep patterns. Overall, LEDs seem to be a popular option for energy-efficient lighting retrofits in zoos because of their long life, effectiveness in cutting costs over that life-time,  and vastly improved quality of light for visitors and the animals.

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What is the Return on Investment of Energy Efficiency?

Efficiency Vermont has added another piece to their ‘Energy Efficiency as an Investment’ repertoire. This infographic clarifies one of the most apparent benefits of energy efficiency, the ROI tends to be high!

As we’ve noted before, energy efficiency is a solid investment. New lighting, equipment, and processes all have upfront costs that are paid off over time through reduced energy bills. So, what kind of return do large businesses in Vermont see for their investment in energy efficiency? The graphic below shows a healthy return of 167% - even after taking their contributions to the energy efficiency charge into account. 

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Energy Efficiency Has Never Looked Smarter!

It’s 4:15 A.M. It’s dark and well below freezing in Boston as I sleepily make my way to Logan for a 7am flight.  I board the plane, lift-off, and in a few short hours I land in the overcast, gem of a city that is Austin, Texas.  As I exit the terminal, a smile takes over my face as the warm Texas air is such a welcome relief from the bitter cold of the Northeast.  I board the bus from the airport ($1.50 to drop me off 2 blocks from my hotel—what a steal!), and I can’t help but get excited about the days to come at the Smart Energy Summit.

Look at all those savings!

Look at all those savings!

You know what we need?  An app to help manage the weather!  Does that exist? No? Well, even if I can’t dial up the heat-waves emitted from the sun, I can manage the temperature of my home, along with all other electricity-consuming devices, remotely. This burgeoning technology referred to as Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) has enormous savings potential that lays wait in a barnacle-covered, sunken chest, just waiting to be pulled to the surface!

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