EREN Network News
August 8, 2001
News and Events
- President Bush Signs Executive Order on Standby Power
- Study: U.S. Homes Could Slash Energy, Water Use
- Californians Continue to Save Energy, but Save Less in July
- GM Shows Home Fuel Cell, Gasoline-Powered Fuel-Cell Pickup
- New Eighty-Megawatt Hydro Plant Online in West Virginia
- EREN Network News Survey Results are Very Positive
Energy Facts and Tips
- Municipal Network for Energy Efficiency (MUNEE)
About this Newsletter
- Light-Colored Roofs are Proven to Save on Cooling
News and Events
President Bush Signs Executive Order on Standby Power
President George W. Bush signed an executive order last week that
requires federal agencies to buy electronic devices that use only
one watt or less when not turned on. Devices with an external power
supply, remote control, or a clock display can draw as much as
20 watts of power when turned off. In many cases, this "standby
power" is much more than necessary and can easily be reduced by the
manufacturer. Last week's executive order requires DOE to compile a
list of products that either meet the one-watt standard or have the
lowest standby power for that product line. Agencies must buy
electronic products from that list unless doing so would not be cost-
effective or practical. See the executive order on the White House Web site.
The executive order fulfills a promise made by President Bush during
a visit to DOE in June. See the July 5th edition of the EREN Network News.
DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) estimates that
standby power may account for 5 percent of the electricity used in
U.S. homes, totaling more than $4 billion per year in electricity
costs. See the Standby Power home page on the LBNL Web site.
Study: U.S. Homes Could Slash Energy, Water Use
New energy-efficient appliances can save between 25 and 68 percent of
the energy used by older appliances and save from 38 to 67 percent of
the water used, according to a study released by DOE last week. The
Save Water and Energy Education Program (SWEEP) study was
conducted in 25 homes in Oregon.
"Based on our estimates, a typical family with a home more than a
decade old could save $200 per year in electricity and water bills,
and 18,600 gallons of water, by switching to highly energy and water
efficient appliances," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. See
the DOE press release.
DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNL) participated in the
study. See the report on the PNL Web site.
Many of the appliances used in the study carried the Energy Star
label. The Energy Star program, a joint effort of DOE and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, now labels a wide range of products,
including appliances and home electronics. The Web site, by the way,
includes information on the standby power used by most electronic
products. See the Energy Star product list.
Californians Continue to Save Energy, but Save Less in July
With the threat of rolling blackouts seeming to dissipate,
Californians still saved electricity in July, but less than they have
in recent months. Governor Gray Davis announced last week that the
state's overall electricity use in July was 5 percent lower than last
year, although the peak power use was down by 11 percent. The
governor congratulated the state's residents, but warned that "this
is no time for complacency."
The state's figures are adjusted for weather and economic growth.
The actual metered peak power, without adjustments, was down by
7.1 percent, and the overall electricity use was down by 4.3 percent.
For full details, see the California Energy Commission Web site.
The governor also lauded the success of the state's 20/20 rebate
program, which gives an extra 20 percent rebate on the electric bills
of customers that cut their electricity use by 20 percent or more. In
June, nearly 30 percent of the customers of the state's three major
utilities qualified for the rebate, earning a total of nearly
$60 million in rebates.
Ironically, while California has thus far passed through the summer
unscathed, a heat wave in the Midwest and eastern United States has
led to record peak electrical demands in the past two weeks. For
instance, ISO New England Inc. the independent system operator for
New England's electrical grid declared a power alert yesterday. It
reached a new record peak demand of 24,780 megawatts, an increase
of 4.5 percent over last year's record. See the ISO New England Web site.
Media reports also said that the New York Independent System Operator
(NYISO) and Consolidated Edison had called for emergency demand
reductions yesterday, although this could not be confirmed on the
company's Web sites at press time. See the NYISO Web site.
GM Shows Home Fuel Cell, Gasoline-Powered Fuel-Cell Pickup
General Motors Corporation (GM) unveiled its latest advances in fuel-cell technologies yesterday, first by driving to an automotive
conference in a gasoline-powered fuel-cell vehicle, and then
by displaying a fuel-cell generator for homes and businesses.
GM's fuel-cell-powered S-10 pickup truck features an onboard reformer
that converts gasoline into hydrogen to power the fuel cell. Although
several fuel reformers have been technically demonstrated in research
settings, GM claims that the company's gasoline reformer is the first
to actually be used in a vehicle. GM's new fuel cell also produces about 25 percent more power for the same volume as the company's
previous model. The fuel cell generates 25 kilowatts, or roughly
33 horsepower, and the truck achieves twice the fuel economy of
today's S-10 pickup.
GM also introduced a 5-kilowatt power generator for homes or
businesses that uses the same fuel-cell technology and runs on
natural gas, methane, or gasoline. GM has been operating the unit
at a research facility for the past six months.
New Eighty-Megawatt Hydro Plant Online in West Virginia
Gauley River Power Partners (GRRP) announced last week that a new
80-megawatt hydroelectric project is now operating commercially in
Summersville, West Virginia. The hydropower facility is located
adjacent to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam on the Gauley River,
and is owned by the City of Summersville. GRRP, which is owned by
Catamount Energy Corporation, built and is operating the plant, and
Appalachian Power Company, a subsidiary of American Electric Power,
is buying the power from the unit. See the press release on the Catamount Web site.
Hydropower facilities often raise concerns about impacts on fish
populations, but recent work at DOE's Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory (PNNL) may help to address those concerns. PNNL is
working with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation,
the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to
study the effects of strobe lights on fish near the Grand Coulee Dam.
Suspended near the mouth of the third power plant, the strobe lights
are intended to frighten fish away from the turbine. A variety of
fish tracking techniques will be used over a five-week test period
to determine the effectiveness of the strobe lights. An estimated
402,000 fish pass through the turbines each year, and 85 percent of
them pass through the third power plant's turbine. See the Tribe's
press release on the PNNL Web site.
PNNL also announced Monday that a new acoustic camera may greatly
improve researchers' abilities to track fish underwater. Tested at
The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River, the camera allowed PNNL
researchers to view juvenile salmon movements up to 30 feet away.
The camera was originally developed at the University of Washington's
Applied Physics Laboratory. See the PNNL press release.
EREN Network News Survey Results are Very Positive
Our sincere thanks to all who responded to the EREN Network News
survey nearly 20 percent of subscribers took the survey. In
general, we found that most of you are happy with what we're doing
nearly everyone likes the length, likes getting it weekly, and reads
it often. More than 75 percent of you find the newsletter to be
comprehensive and unbiased.
About a quarter of you reported occasionally having trouble with
links. We should note that links sometimes don't work because the Web
site we're linking to goes down, or because the site changes the link
after the newsletter is sent out. We also recognize that some email
programs have difficulty interpreting the links. We suggest that if
you encounter problems with the links, try using our online version
of the newsletter (that is, the one you're using now). We fix broken
links on the online version and also use more precise Web addresses to point you more directly to the news (these addresses are often too long to include in the email version).
Another way for us to address the issue of links is to send you the
newsletter as an HTML file. About 27 percent of you favor this
option, although a majority prefer the text version. We'll consider
adding an HTML version as an option in the future, as we'll also
consider the wide range of other suggestions that you made.
Thanks again for your helpful feedback!
Municipal Network for Energy Efficiency (MUNEE)
MUNEE is a program of the U.S. Agency for International Development
that aims to improve energy efficiency in the cities of Central and
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The Web site includes
information about energy efficiency financing options and MUNEE's
projects and policy and planning activities.
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
Light-Colored Roofs are Proven to Save on Cooling
Is your roof starting to look a bit shabby? If you're in the market
for a new roof, and if you use a significant amount of energy for
cooling your home in the summer, you might want to consider
replacing your current roof with a light-colored roof.
Although light-colored materials for roofs makes intuitive sense, the
benefits have only recently been quantified in studies. The most
recent study, performed in Florida by the Florida Solar Energy Center
(FSEC), showed that reflective white roofs can cut cooling costs by
20 percent or more. The study was carried out by installing a variety
of roofing materials on seven otherwise identical homes in Fort
Meyers, each of which kept their thermostat at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The study found the best results with white metal and cement tile
roofs, which reflected from 66 to 77 percent of the solar energy,
cutting cooling costs by 20 to 23 percent. See the FSEC report, with
links to the press release and photos.
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