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Integrated Energy: The Road Map to Energy Independence

Bismarck, ND – June 25, 2012 – Renewables

Integrated energy, a policy championed by energy giant North Dakota in the past decade, is proving to be one of the most effective models for energy reform in the country. North Dakota, a state usually known for its large coal and oil reserves, has long anticipated the need for clean tech investments as they sought to continue expanding their economy sustainably while avoiding the market instabilities stemming from fossil fuels. As a result of the state’s integrated energy policy, North Dakota now boasts a diverse range of fuel sources that, among other things, has expanded ethanol production sevenfold and allowed them to reach 9th in wind generation rankings—in addition to its climb to #2 in oil production, behind Texas. Furthermore, Sen. John Hoeven has credited the energy policy for creating an new sector of green jobs that allowed its citizens to retain their jobs and enjoy cheaper utility rates. The programs success has led many experts to consider ND as a model for Federal legislation in the future, and it seems the best way to take advantage of the immense individual potential each state contributes to the collective whole. At a macro level, each geographical region would specialize its power generation in accordance with its specific circumstances increasing overall efficiency and reducing investor risk.

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Integrated Energy: The Road Map to Energy Independence

Stamford – June 21, 2012 – Fairfield County Business Journal

The former energy efficient power-house Connecticut, and its governor Dannel Malloy, set their sights at retaking the # 1 spot atop ACEEE’s yearly state scorecard after being dethroned for the past 5 years by up-and-comers California and Massachusetts. Malloy boldly stated in front of a NEEP meeting this month “Lack of capital is the biggest barrier to making energy upgrades in buildings, so we are exploring all possibilities for attractive financing, including on-bill payment whenever that is practical.”

Over the next 2 years, Gov. Malloy has vowed to increase CT’s energy efficiency programs by authorizing policies like “as-of-right” construction sites, adopting the commercial PACE loan program already in use by several states, and expanding the overall budget for energy efficient programs by $53 million—from $105 million to $158 million. The state’s bold gambit comes in part as a result of its New England neighbors’ success in spurring clean tech investment by providing expedited permitting protocols and cheap, long-term financing options for residential and commercial retrofits through their state wide programs—namely MA’s 2008 Green Communities Act.

It remains to be seen whether the state legislature will heed Malloy and the DEEP’s budgetary recommendations amidst the widening local funding gaps. With only 37% of CT’s municipalities relying on multi-year green incentive programs however, there is no denying that there is a very real need for increased government support if the state wants to meet its lofty energy efficiency goals.

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Green Incentives to the Rescue for Low-Income MA Residents

Boston – June 21, 2012 – Real Estate Rama

TBoston Community Capital (BCC) and MassHousing have recently announced their joint plans to incentivize green investments and energy efficiency in low-income MA homes. The two entities have set an ambitious goal to increase energy savings by 20% in the next two years, a venture MassHousing CEO Tom Gleason says would not have been possible without a 3rd entities commitment to finance the projects and absorb a significant amount of the loan risks entailed. BCC’s willingness to mitigate investor losses finally provided MassHousing the catalyst it needed to tackle the daunting challenge of retrofitting some of the inefficient buildings within its 500-location portfolio.

The average loans will range from $50,000 – $500,000, with some exceptions for cases who can demonstrate a special need for additional funding; and the majority of the loans will go to projects involving increased insulation, HVAC upgrades, and installing low-energy light bulbs—including the expenses associated with contractors and audits. The news comes as a great relief for MA residents who have been ineligible for some of the larger bills the state has churned out, like the Green Community Act in 2008, and it will be interesting to see how close the two entities get to reaching their energy savings goals.

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Long Term Domestic Renewable Energy Investments

This morning (June 7th) Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) introduced a ground-breaking bill which aims at ensuring domestic renewable energy investments long-terms. The innovative approach Sen. Coons is proposing is based on the principle that the solution will not come as an additional burden to either strained budgets or tax payer dollars; and whats most interesting is that the mechanism have already been in use for decades. Under the bills provisions, the same Master Limited Partnership (MLP) scheme that has applied to oil and gas companies would now be extended to all energy sources, regardless of technology or fuel, making it a truly uniform government policy for industry. There are currently over 100 MLP’s with their combined revenues exceeding $350 billion. Sen. Coons has been able to rally bi-partisan support for his initiative from other members of the house, such as Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), making the short 2-page bill all the more appealing when we consider an objective solution to a highly politicized debate.

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Environmental Lawsuit Against NJ

Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) and his administration were sued on Wednesday (June 6th) by several environmental groups within the state. The organization’s legal action came as a response to New Jersey’s uni-lateral decision to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a move they claim violates the contractual language the state agreed to when they joined the commitments. The RGGI, which is composed of several states from New England and the mid-Atlantic, aims at curbing the rampant rate of CO2 discharge by setting a government cap on large emitters, and subsequently establishing a trading platform where parties could use market forces to exchange surplus credits. Gov. Christie’s office claimed the move came after the RGGI placed New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage with other, non RGGI states, because of the unreasonable taxes being levied on businesses and homeowners—even though the rest of the members also abide by the same standards and tax rates. It will be interesting to see how this ordeal turns out in the end; because either way the decision sways, it will produce a difficult legal precedent for states hoping to either join or exit a regional coalition.

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U.S. Commerce Department Imposes Tariff on Chineese Solar

In a surprise move last week, the US Department of Commerce opted to impose a rigorous tariff system on Chinese imported solar panels—reaching leaves of up to 31% in some cases. The final decision came after months of lobbying in Capitol Hill from US solar companies, who claimed their Chinese counterparts were selling at cut-price rates—below even their production costs—in order to force domestic competition out of the US market. The DOC’s decision will have a significant impact in the production of renewable energy in the near future; because although we will be retaining a significant amount of US jobs and putting them in the hand of Americans, the high cost associated with PV panels will reduce investors willingness to dedicate their support. Chinese companies like Suntech and Trina have seen their shares dip significant in the past week after the important news; and although the usual giants will remain afloat in the industry, many of the smaller competitors will likely be forced to merge or risk going under. It will be interesting to see what kind of effects the decision will produce in the renewable energy landscape, so be sure to keep checking in for more policy updates and green incentive data.

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Minnesota 2020

Minnesota has become one of the most intrepid states moving towards energy efficiency in the past couple of years. The new progressive attitude has made way for a number of grass-roots organizations and think tanks to mobilize their efforts in favor of sustainable policy reforms. Minnesotta 2020; a local think tank working in favor of liberal reforms on education, health care, renewable energy, among other issues; has just issued its 32-page report urging policy makers to address the dire energy efficiency standards being used by rental property owners across the state. Renters often suffer a disproportionate burden in their energy bills because they are subject to the previous owners previous decisions, and moreover, they don’t have the motivation to upgrade their home because they will never see the return on investment. In light of this predicament, MN 2020 has proposed the state government provide incentives and rebates for large real-estate companies who can use those funds to execute the all-important retrofits in their tenants’ properties. The new installments will allow renters to save a significant sum of money at the end of each month in their utility bills, in addition to the increase property value on the owners end. You can access the full report at: http://www.mn2020.org/issues-that-matter/economic-development/sensible-incentives , and together we can advocate in favor of energy efficiency and a green economy.

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Congress Votes Against Energy Freedom amendments

Today (Mar. 14th), Congress voted against the “Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity” amendments to the Transportation Bill. The provisions contained in the amendment would have added energy efficiency and retrofitting to the forefront of the bill and legislative efforts, but its critics argued that an “all-encompassing standard” would be ineffective at producing significant consumption cuts. Although the bill’s opponents are right in asserting that fuel sources are inherently different and so they require different legislation, energy efficiency is a field where most experts agree the same strategies and principles apply to most energy-producing technologies in terms of reduction potential. The approach is simple—doing more with less—but legislators have not been able to come to terms with this stark reality amidst the highly politicized debate on Capitol Hill.

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ACEEE Shows How Energy Efficency Can Change the Game For America

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released today, Jan. 31st, its 30-page report detailing how energy efficiency can help Americans meet government imposed air quality standards in the future. ACEEE, a non-profit organization based out of Washington D.C., tries to influence public policy in favor of energy efficient/ sustainable technology investments. You can access the report at: http://aceee.org/research-report/e122 , and become a member of the progressive wave that’s revolutionizing America.

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ACEEE Shows How Energy Efficency Can Change the Game For America

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released today, Jan. 31st, its 30-page report detailing how energy efficiency can help Americans meet government imposed air quality standards in the future. ACEEE, a non-profit organization based out of Washington D.C., tries to influence public policy in favor of energy efficient/ sustainable technology investments. You can access the report at: http://aceee.org/research-report/e122 , and become a member of the progressive wave that’s revolutionizing America.

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Iceland Aims for Complete Independence from Fossil Fuels; More Countries to Follow

Known for having twice as many sheep as people and musical protege Bjork, Iceland recently promised to become completely independent from non-renewable energy sources. The small republic, which is only 39K sq miles long and has nearly 320,000 citizens, already meets 80% of its clean energy needs. Iceland's sources of energy include mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs. Although the country hopes to expand wind and solar energy resources, Iceland can almost fully sustain itself using geothermal and hydroelectric energy.

Right behind Iceland lies New Zealand, the capitol of adventure, Lord of the Rings, and tiny, flightless birds called kiwis. 79% of New Zealand's energy comes from renewable sources. While New Zealand has avoided coal and other nonrenewable resources, clean energy production has spiked to an astonishing 5% in the past quarter. The list of countries opting out of fossil fuel continues.

Scotland recently reset their initial goal of producing 80% of its energy from renewable sources to 100% of its energy by 2020. Even China, known for its high CO2 emissions and congested population, has already surpassed the United States in clean energy ambitions. What does all of this mean? Although the U.S. has made great strides towards energy independence, it is restrained by its fossil fuel dependent infrastructure. Only 7% of our energy comes from clean sources. Hopefully, this number will change in the future.

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Residential Wind Turbines and Their Climb on a Bumpy Road

We may soon see a surge in small wind turbines powering homes in windy regions of the country. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the number of residential turbine units sold rose from 2,100 units in 2001 to over 10,000 units in 2009 (latest recorded data). Despite a sluggish economic recovery, experts predict a steady rise in demand for residential wind turbines in windy areas.

Residential turbines face challenges with local/state governments and zoning ordinances. There are few laws in most cities that moderate the use of personalized turbines. Cities such as Boston, however, have embraced both large-scale and small-scale turbine development as a source for alternative energy and additional jobs. Portland, Oregon and Kern County, California are aggressively pushing towards a more sustainable city as well.
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DOE Sparks Innovation in the World of Geothermal Energy Technologies

Heating up geothermal energy technology, the DOE just awarded more than $11 million to further the development of efficient and cost-effective geothermal technologies. The DOE has selected eight projects pioneering new manufacturing and operational technology in CA, CT, LA, and UT. As a part of Pres. Obama's US energy infrastructure initiatives, (including generating 80% of US energy from alternative energy sources), this funding will expand the US' clean energy portfolio.

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GE Takes the Lead in Smart Grid Innovation

Big ideas often come in small packages. On June 23, GE awarded PlotWatt, a small grid start up from Durham, NC, a $100K grant as a recipient of their "ecomagination Challenge." PlotWatt's free app uses algorithms to assess home energy data and provides energy efficiency recommendations that can save homeowners up to 20% on their energy bills. Five companies were picked to receive a $100K grant from a selection of over 950 innovative start-ups seeking support from the energy and innovation giant.

The "ecomagination Challenge" is not over, however. GE plans to invest $200 million to other green tech companies and has already invested $63 million to ten companies. Commenting on GE's strategy to create an open idea platform, Beth Comstock, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer remarked that, "The power of networked ideas, collaboration and partnerships to accelerate innovation represents a gathering force whose impact will be a significant driver in the future of the business."

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We at Us Green Data bring you the largest database of green incentives and tax rebates in the nation that will launch your business into another dimension of savings and further a greener, environmentally conscious image. Not only are our products easy to use and applicable to your sale-driving needs, but we wish to spread our passion for all things green to the community. Our blog is intended to spark conversation and peak your curiosity about innovations, developments, and the overall atmosphere surrounding the environmental movement. Have an interesting story to share? Drop us a line or send us an email. With that, please enjoy our content, may it serve you in the most fulfilling way!

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