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EREN Network News

August 18, 1999

News and Events

  • President Signs Bioenergy Executive Order and Memo
  • DOE Awards $13 Million to Support Executive Order
  • New Wind Turbines Operating in Minnesota and Texas
  • Report: Clean Energy Could Produce Jobs, Cut Emissions
  • First Stand-Alone Microturbine Generator Available
  • Geothermal Energy Heats, Cools California College

Site News

  • Different Roads: Automobiles for the Next Century

Energy Facts and Tips

  • Looking Back on 50 Years of Energy Use
  • Improper Outdoor Lighting Wastes Energy, Ruins Dark Skies

About this Newsletter


News and Events

President Signs Bioenergy Executive Order and Memo
President Clinton signed an Executive Order on August 12th, creating a national initiative to accelerate the growth of bioenergy, which is the use of biomass (organic matter) to produce electricity, transportation fuels, or chemicals. Biomass sources include dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural and forestry residues, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes.

The President's Executive Order establishes a permanent, Cabinet-level council for bioenergy, plus an independent advisory committee. The Order also directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy to establish a joint office to coordinate their bioenergy activities.

In a separate Executive Memorandum, the President established a goal of tripling the use of bioenergy by 2010. The Memorandum directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy to examine options to achieve this goal, including the enhancement of existing programs, the creation of tax credits, and the Federal use of bioenergy or purchasing of bioenergy products. Tripling the use of bioenergy would create $15-$20 billion in new income for farmers and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100 million tons.

The Executive Order, Executive Memorandum, speeches and a press briefing can be found by searching the White House site.


DOE Awards $13 Million to Support Executive Order
In support of the Executive Order, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced more than $13 million in financial assistance to promote the growth of the biomass industry. The awards will go to 17 institutions for projects ranging from soy-based engine oils to faster-growing trees. For more information, see the DOE press release.

DOE is also supporting the bioenergy industry by helping to organize the upcoming Fourth Biomass Conference of the Americas, to be held August 29th to September 2nd in Oakland, California. For more information, see the press release from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


New Wind Turbines Operating in Minnesota and Texas
Northern Alternative Energy (NAE), a wind power developer, announced August 16th that it had completed construction of two wind power plants in Minnesota. The Lakota Ridge and Shoakatan Hills wind facilities total 23 megawatts in capacity and will produce enough power for about 7000 homes. For more information, see the NAE Web site.

In related news, the 30-megawatt Delaware Mountain Wind Farm in West Texas was officially opened in July. The facility is the first phase of a planned 250-megawatt wind facility. The turbines were supplied by Enron Wind Corporation, and their power will be sold to the Lower Colorado River Authority and Reliant Energy HL&P. For more information, see Press Releases section of the Enron Wind Web site.


Report: Clean Energy Could Produce Jobs, Cut Emissions
A new report by the Tellus Institute and the World Wildlife Fund finds that the enhanced use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies would slash greenhouse gas emissions while creating U.S. jobs. According to the report, the implementation of a mix of financial incentives, regulatory changes and market measures would save the United States as much as $43 billion per year and create more than 870,000 new jobs by 2010. A state-by-state analysis in the study predicts job growth in every state. The report estimates that the proposed policies would cut greenhouse gases to 14 percent below 1990 levels, double the cuts specified in the Kyoto climate treaty. For more information, see the World Wildlife Fund Web site.


First Stand-Alone Microturbine Generator Available
Capstone Turbine Company of Woodland Hills, California, announced on August 9th the first commercial availability of a stand-alone microturbine for power generation. The turbine operates much like a jet engine, burning fuel to spin a shaft at high speeds. But rather than propel a jet, the turbine propels a high-speed generator to produce electricity. The Capstone microturbine produces 30 kilowatts of electricity and is designed to run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas, propane, diesel and sour gas. For more information, see the "Latest News" section of the Capstone Web site.


Geothermal Energy Heats, Cools California College
The Feather River College in Quincy, California, has been heated and cooled using geothermal energy for the past 18 months. The college is using a geothermal heat pump system for several buildings that total 53,000 square feet of enclosed space. Thus far, the system has cut the college's heating and cooling energy use by 421,000 kilowatt-hours annually, saving the college about $50,000 each year. The project was partially funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC). For more information, see the CEC press release.


Site News

Different Roads: Automobiles for the Next Century
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is featuring a special exhibition on alternative vehicles from July 22nd to September 21st. The companion web site analyzes this new generation of cars, which will help confront the major social, economic, and environmental conditions facing the consumer and the automotive industry. Nine cars that are either in production or that soon will be are examined. Special attention is given to their power sources; structures; the use of innovative materials such as composites, plastics, and aluminum; and their new forms of styling. The site also provides a public forum on the future of the automobile.

For this and other recent additions see the EREN Web site.


Energy Facts and Tips

Looking Back on 50 Years of Energy Use
How much has U.S. energy use changed over the past 50 years? Quite a bit. That's a clear message of the 1998 Annual Energy Review, released by DOE's Energy Information Administration last month. For the first time, the review has been expanded to include a 50-year historical perspective on U.S energy use.

For instance, in 1949, only 8 percent of U.S. coal was produced west of the Mississippi; by 1998, 49 percent came from the West. A shift from mostly underground mines in 1949 to mostly surface mines today, combined with the use of large-scale mining technologies, means that less miners are employed to produce a ton of coal. In 1949, each miner worked an average of 1.4 hours to produce a ton of coal; today it takes each miner only 10 minutes.

We'll revisit this report in future editions to gain more historical perspectives on energy, but you can read the entire report now on the EIA Web site.


Improper Outdoor Lighting Wastes Energy, Ruins Dark Skies
You don't need to be an energy expert to know that we waste energy with outdoor lights -- just find a nice vantage point for a city at night and think about how bright the city looks. Nearly all the light that's reaching your eye is missing its intended target. In fact, according to the International Dark Sky Association, an estimated 30 percent of outdoor lighting misses its mark and ends up lighting up the night instead. Some simple approaches to use outdoor lighting more effectively: use shielded fixtures that reflect the light downward, where you want it to shine; use lower wattage bulbs; and for low-traffic areas, use a motion sensor to turn the light on and off again. For more information, see the association's Web site.


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