EREN Network News
October 10, 2001
News and Events
- DOE Launches Energy Awareness Month, Solar Home Tour
- DOE-Funded Research Wins 25 R&D 100 Awards
- DOE, EPA Publish Fuel Economy Guide for Model Year 2002
- California Helps Fund 300 Megawatts of New Renewable Power
- Southern California to Spend $28 Million on Clean Vehicles
- Siemens Westinghouse to Build Fuel Cell Plant in Pittsburgh
Energy Facts and Tips
- New Web Site for DOE's Office of Industrial Technologies
About this Newsletter
- U.S. Heating Bills are Expected to be Lower This Winter
News and Events
DOE Launches Energy Awareness Month, Solar Home Tour
October is Energy Awareness Month, and as noted by
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, "We observe Energy
Awareness Month because meeting our nation's energy
needs is a task of immense proportions and utmost
importance now and in the future." See the DOE press
This month also marks the 25th anniversary of DOE's
Weatherization Assistance Program, which has served as
the nation's core program for delivering energy conservation
services to low-income Americans since 1976. The
Weatherization Assistance Program reduces the heating and
cooling costs for low-income families, particularly the elderly,
persons with disabilities, and children. The program has
weatherized more than 5 million homes since its inception.
To launch Energy Awareness Month, Secretary Abraham
accompanied professional crews that were installing energy-
efficient weatherization improvements in a home in Arlington,
Virginia. See the DOE press release.
See also the Weatherization Assistance Program Web site.
As part of Energy Awareness Month, DOE is cosponsoring
the American Solar Energy Society's National Tour of Solar
Homes, being held this Saturday, October 13th. More than
800 homeowners in 43 states and the District of Columbia
will open their doors to the public to demonstrate how solar
energy can be used for heating, hot water, and electricity
generation. See the DOE press release.
Solar home tour organizers often charge a fee, but not
always. For information on solar home tours available in your
area, see the American Solar Energy Society Web site.
DOE-Funded Research Wins 25 R&D 100 Awards
Research projects funded by DOE won one-quarter of the
100 awards presented this year by R&D Magazine. The
prestigious R&D 100 Awards mark the year's most
outstanding technology developments with commercial
potential. The DOE-funded award winners work at 13 DOE
facilities across the country, including 10 national
laboratories. See the DOE press release.
Among the DOE-sponsored research developments are
many relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy,
including a catalyst for a fuel reformer that converts fuels into
hydrogen, a process to remove silica (which fouls pipes and
heat exchangers) from geothermal fluids, energy-efficient
heating elements for melting aluminum, a high-efficiency
solar cell, a method for battery recharging that extends the
life of lead-acid batteries, and a residential water heater that
uses a heat pump. For a full listing of DOE-sponsored
winners, see the article on the DOE Office of Science Web site.
To see all 100 award winners, see the R&D Magazine Web site.
DOE, EPA Publish Fuel Economy Guide for Model Year 2002
DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
unveiled the updated Fuel Economy Guide for model year
2002 yesterday. Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles again took
top honors for fuel efficiency, with the Honda Insight
demonstrating the highest fuel efficiency and the Toyota
Prius claiming the highest mileage for compact cars. See the
DOE press release.
The Fuel Economy Guide Web site features a printable
version of the guide in Adobe PDF format, as well as an
online database that allows you to find a specific model,
compare it with other cars, and search by class, make, or
miles per gallon. See the Fuel Economy Guide Web site.
Unfortunately, despite the advances in fuel economy using
hybrid electric technologies, the overall fuel economy of light
vehicles cars, pickups, vans, and most sport utility vehicles
(SUVs) has continued to decline and is now at a 21-year
low. According to the EPA, the average new light-vehicle fuel
economy has declined nearly 8 percent since 1988 and is
now at 20.4 miles per gallon. The EPA notes that car
mileage has remained essentially flat for the past 16 years
and light truck mileage has stayed largely unchanged for the
past 20 years. However, the growing market share of light
trucks (including vans, pickups, and SUVs) has dragged
down the overall fuel economy of light vehicles. See the EPA
"Light-Duty Automotive Technology and Fuel Economy
Trends" Web page.
California Helps Fund 300 Megawatts of New Renewable Power
The California Energy Commission (CEC) announced last
week that nine new renewable-energy power plants will
receive a total of up to $40 million through the state's
financial incentives auction. The incentives were "auctioned"
by requiring bidders to submit their preferred incentive in
cents per kilowatt-hour, and the lowest bidders were
selected. Winning bids ranged from 0.65 to 0.8 cents per
kilowatt-hour and included a 30-megawatt waste tire plant, a
21-megawatt small hydropower plant, and seven wind plants
totaling 249.2 megawatts. All of the projects are expected to
start generating electricity in 2002. Of the 72 successful
bidders from the CEC's first two auctions, 35 projects
totaling more than 200 megawatts are now online. See the CEC press release.
The CEC provides funding for a wide variety of energy
projects through several programs. For instance, Onsite
Energy Corporation, an energy service company, announced
last week that it has entered into a $5 million contract with
CEC to provide 20 megawatts in peak load reduction by
June 2002. Onsite will work with its customers to reduce the
electrical load from food processors and cold storage
facilities. See the Onsite press release (PDF 11 KB), (Download Acrobat Reader).
Southern California to Spend $28 Million on Clean Vehicles
The governing board of California's South Coast Air Quality
Management District (SCAQMD) approved last month a total
of $28.17 million in funding for clean vehicles in Southern
California. The funds will go toward replacement of diesel
engines in more than 150 construction vehicles and other
equipment, low-sulfur diesel fuel for locomotives, co-funding
for up to 10 liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations, and
co-funding for more than 1,000 clean-fueled and lower-
emission vehicles and equipment, including 507 transit and
shuttle buses; 285 delivery and refuse pickup trucks; and
273 other vehicles. Some of the funds will also go toward the
replacement of portable diesel generators with propane-
powered microturbines. See the SCAQMD Web site.
Siemens Westinghouse to Build Fuel Cell Plant in Pittsburgh
Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation announced in
late September that it will build a new fuel-cell production
plant in the Greater Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania. The
430,000-square-foot facility will manufacture solid oxide fuel
cells for generating electricity in buildings. The facility will be
built by next year and will be fully operational by spring of
2003. Siemens Westinghouse plans to begin commercially
producing fuel cells by fall of 2003. The company says the
manufacturing plant will initially employ 150 people, but may
expand employment to 500 people by 2006. See the
Siemens Westinghouse press release.
New and expanded facilities are a common occurrence
throughout the field of renewable energy and energy
efficiency. Another recent example is Xantrex Technology
Inc., a maker of inverters that allow people to use the energy
from solar energy systems and also connect the systems to
the electrical grid. The company recently expanded its
Arlington, Washington, facility from a production capacity of
3 megawatts per year to a capacity of more than
35 megawatts per year. See the Xantrex press release.
New Web Site for DOE's Office of Industrial Technologies
DOE's Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) Web site has
been revamped to provide easier access to the office's vast
resources. OIT strives to improve energy efficiency and
environmental performance in the core U.S. industries. The
new Web site's straightforward design provides OIT news on
the home page and industry-specific news on the pages for
the various industries. The site also places special emphasis
on the nine Industries of the Future: agriculture, aluminum,
chemicals, forest products, glass, metal casting, mining,
petroleum, and steel.
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
U.S. Heating Bills are Expected to be Lower This Winter
DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced
last week that U.S. homeowners are expected to pay less to
heat their homes this winter. Assuming a normal winter,
residential heating bills could average from $170 to $320
lower than last winter. High inventories of natural gas and
low prices for natural gas and crude oil are expected to keep
costs down. Meanwhile, a slowing economy is expected to
reduce the growth in energy demand while keeping all
energy prices low. See the EIA press release, with a link to
the full "Winter Fuels Outlook" report.
According to the EIA, oil prices collapsed on September 24th,
dropping to near $20 per barrel. Despite the low prices, the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has
refrained from reducing its production quotas. See the
recently updated OPEC fact sheet on the EIA Web site at:
The news about energy prices isn't all good, however: a
recent refinery fire in Illinois has tightened gasoline and
diesel fuel supplies in the Midwest, and the EIA warns that
motor fuel prices there may be above the national average
for the next few months. The EIA expects the tight supply
situation to be resolved by December. See the "Midwest
Gasoline and Distillate Fuel Near-Term Outlook" on the EIA
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