EREN Network News
January 31, 2001
News and Events
- California Maintains but Softens Its Zero-Emissions Rules
- New York Doubles Its Support for Efficiency and Renewables
- California Adopts New Building Energy Efficiency Standards
- Texas, New York Encourage On-Site Power Generation
- Waste Gas to Power Fuel Cell in King County, Washington
- Energy-Efficient Home Wins ASHRAE Technology Award
Energy Facts and Tips
- U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association
About this Newsletter
- Natural Gas Costs May Increase 31 Percent in 2001
News and Events
California Maintains but Softens Its Zero-Emissions Rules
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) voted last week
to keep its mandate for automakers to sell zero-emissions
vehicles (ZEVs) starting in 2003, but also modified the rules
to include hybrid electric vehicles and to phase in the ZEV
requirements. The new rules require automakers to produce
at least 4,450 electric cars for sale California in 2003, but
also require the production of an additional 100,000 cars that
must either be hybrid electric vehicles or have extremely low
emissions. The requirement for the production of low-
emissions vehicles will increase to 400,000 by 2006. See the
ARB Web site.
New York Doubles Its Support for Efficiency and Renewables
The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) announced
last week its approval of a near doubling of its "Systems
Benefits Charge," which funds the New York Energy $mart
program. The program encourages energy efficiency and
renewable energy in the state and also provides low-income
energy assistance. The PSC extended the charge for five
years and increased the amount collected annually from
$78.1 million to $150 million. The funds are generated by a
small surcharge on the cost of electricity and will increase in
February. See the PSC press release (PDF 151 KB).
The New York State Energy Research and Development
Authority (NYSERDA) administers the New York Energy
$mart program. In its December 2000 quarterly report, the
agency estimated that the projects funded at that point
totaling $136 million would save 580 million kilowatt-hours
of electricity annually, cutting peak electricity demand by
137 megawatts. The energy savings will cut New Yorkers'
energy bills by $67.8 million each year while creating 1,315
new jobs. The program helped to fund such facilities as the
11.5-megawatt Madison Wind Plant, microturbine installations
totaling 350 kilowatts, and a 150-kilowatt photovoltaic
system in Ithaca, New York. See the NYSERDA report (PDF 545 KB).
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimated
that the increased funding will result in the construction of
more than 200 megawatts of wind power capacity in the
state enough to meet the annual energy needs of 84,000
homes. See the AWEA press release.
California Adopts New Building Energy Efficiency Standards
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved early
this month new standards for the energy-efficient
construction of buildings throughout the state. The updated
standards place an increased emphasis on preventing
wasteful leaks in air conditioning and heating ducts. Studies
show that the ductwork in a typical new home loses between
20 and 30 percent of the cool air it carries in the summer.
The new standards also require radiant barriers that reflect
heat from the sun in attic spaces, and improved windows
that will reduce the amount of solar heat that radiates into a
home. See the CEC press release.
Texas, New York Encourage On-Site Power Generation
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) announced
Monday that it has approved pre-certification standards for
equipment used for on-site power generation. The standards
allow nationally recognized testing laboratories to designate
specific models of equipment as safe to interconnect to the
Texas power distribution grid. Each customer can
interconnect up to 10 megawatts of on-site power generation
to the power grid. See the press release on the PUCT Web
The Texas approach is much like the approach already
taken by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC).
See the PSC Web site.
Speaking of New York, the Long Island Power Authority
(LIPA) announced last week that it will provide financial
incentives to businesses and government agencies that
generate a portion of their own power this summer. In return
for lower year-round rates, the organizations must agree to
use their self-generation capabilities during peak usage
hours throughout the summer. LIPA estimates that the self-
generation capacity on Long Island could total 100 megawatts
of power. Just one-tenth of that could save enough electricity
to supply about 2,500 homes on a summer day. See the
LIPA press release.
Whether you call it "self-generation" or "onsite power
generation," the production of energy at or near the
customer's location is what the power industry calls
"distributed generation." Distributed generation, in turn, is
part of a larger category called "distributed energy
resources," which includes distributed ways of storing,
transporting and saving energy. With an increasing U.S.
interest in distributed generation technologies ranging from
natural-gas-powered microturbines or fuel cells to wind
turbines or solar panels DOE has chosen to establish a
new Distributed Energy Resources Center at its National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). See the press
release on the NREL Web site.
Waste Gas to Power Fuel Cell in King County, Washington
FuelCell Energy, Inc. and King County, Washington,
announced last week their plans to build a one-megawatt
fuel-cell power plant at the county’s South Wastewater
Treatment Facility in Renton, Washington. An anaerobic
digester process used to stabilize solids and reduce
pathogenic microorganisms will produce a methane-rich
gas to power the fuel cell. The power plant is expected to
start operating in late 2002 as part of a two-year
demonstration project. See the press release on the FuelCell
Energy Web site.
Energy-Efficient Home Wins ASHRAE Technology Award
An energy-efficient home designed by two researchers at
DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
has won a first-place Technology Award from the American
Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning
Engineers (ASHRAE). Otto Van Geet's house, designed by
Van Geet and co-worker Paul Torcellini, uses solar energy
for 90 percent of its energy needs and rang up only $100 in
energy costs for all of 1999. See the NREL press release.
The Van Geet house was also a project of DOE's Building
America program, which works with the home building
industry to produce quality homes that use at least
50 percent less energy without costing more to build. See
the project description on the Building America Web site.
U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association
This site provides a general overview of combined heat and
power (also called cogeneration) and explains the
association's 20-year plan for achieving growth in the
industry. The site includes numerous reports and papers,
case studies, presentations, policy alerts and press releases,
as well as upcoming conferences and events.
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
Energy Facts and Tips
Natural Gas Costs May Increase 31 Percent in 2001
DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released
a projection of natural gas costs based on prices in its "Short
Term Energy Outlook January 2001" and accounting for this
year's harsh winter. For a household that paid $568 for
natural gas for all of 1997, the 2001 cost is projected to total
$746 a 31 percent increase. The EIA projects natural gas
prices dropping somewhat by the fourth quarter. See
"Natural Gas Use in American Households."
One way to moderate natural gas costs is to lower your
thermostat the EIA notes that a one-degree-Fahrenheit
lowering of the thermostat in a typical U.S. household would
save $15 to $40 or more. See "Winter Energy Savings from Lower Thermostat Settings."
To take advantage of these energy savings without any loss
in comfort, try using a programmable thermostat to turn
down your heat at night and while you're not home. The
thermostat can be set to turn the heat back up before you
wake or before you return. By turning your thermostat back
10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 hours, you can save about
5 percent to 15 percent on your heating bill. See the
"Automatic and Programmable Thermostat" fact sheet on the EREN Web site.
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