Congress Votes for Clean Energy with Omnibus Bill

On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed the much ballyhooed 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill contained spending and resources for many industries and groups, including for energy efficiency. The Consolidated Appropriations Act (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4417591-FY-2018-Omnibus.html) passed by Congress disregarded major cuts in spending proposed by the administration and instead raised funding in many areas that Congress favored, including federal programs that help consumers and businesses save energy. President Trump reluctantly signed the bill, enabling several programs to be re-established.

Overall, the bill increases funding for energy efficiency programs at the USDOE and maintains funding levels for such programs at the USEPA. The bill maintains current funding levels for ENERGY STAR® and other programs that give consumers and businesses information to select energy-efficient products. The USEPA’s laboratory, where vehicle certification testing and research occurs, was not cut.

There had been concern that funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy would be cut. Instead, the USDOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will see an overall increase in funding of 11%. The Building Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices will each receive an increase of 10% more funding. The Bill also includes a 10% increase for the Weatherization Assistance Program. It should be noted that the USDOE’s Equipment and Building Standards Program was cut by 7%.

It is ironic that Republicans in Congress strongly supported such programs that are also supported by environmentalists and by those wishing to fight Climate Change. However, Republicans supported these programs because they represent “clean energy” and cost savings, something they recognize the US needs to stay in the lead at globally. Several Republicans whose states stand to gain from these technologies, such as Ohio, which has several wind turbine manufacturing plants, supported these measures.

In addition to the funding, the Bill also addressed financial incentives for energy projects. For example, the combined heat and power (CHP) market will get a boost from the extension of the federal tax credit for such projects. The tax credit can benefit the owner or an operator of its CHP system or a 3rd party owner selling power to the utility through a power purchase agreement. It is anticipated that more investors will take an interest in microgrids and CHP, including utilities, to spread the risk of power delivery. This would be an interesting development as utilities for quite some time fought hard to discourage microgrids as unfair competition against their large grid service.

Finally, the Bill reinstates the IRS tax deduction for energy efficient upgrades of buildings called EPACT (Section 179D), going back to January 1, 2017 and is valid through December 31, 2018. EPACT provides a potential tax deduction up to $1.80 per square foot for certain energy upgrades.

CCES has the experts and experience to assist you in performing energy efficiency evaluations and implementing the projects with the maximum financial benefits for the building owner and manager, including getting the greatest incentives from appropriate agencies and tax deductions. Contact us at karell@CCESworld.com or 914-584-6720.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise for 1st Time in 3 Years

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose by 1.4% in 2017, the first rise in three years. GHG emissions have reached a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes (Gt), a resumption of growth after three years of global emissions remaining flat. See https://www.iea.org/geco/. The increase in CO2e emissions, however, was not universal. While most major nations saw rises, some others experienced declines, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan. The biggest decline came in the U.S., mainly because of growing installation of renewable sources of energy.

Improvements in global energy efficiency slowed down in 2017. The rate of decline in global energy intensity, the energy consumed per unit of economic output, slowed to only 1.6% in 2017, lower than the 2.0% decline in energy intensity seen in 2016.

The greatest growth in global energy demand was in Asia. China and India together represented over 40% of the increase. Energy demand in all advanced economies contributed over 20% of global energy demand growth, although their share in total energy use continued to fall.

Notable growth was also registered in Southeast Asia (which accounted for 8% of global energy demand growth) and Africa (6%), although per capita energy use in these regions still remains well below the global average.
In November 2017, the US EIA projected that growth in global CO2e emissions from energy-related sources will slow to 0.6% per year through 2040 despite increased energy consumption.

CCES has the experts to help your firms understand the technical aspects of all climate change rules and to help you organize a successful Climate Change or Energy program for diverse company types. We have helped others benefit! Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Debate Over How US Consumers and Businesses Will Be Affected by Changes To CAFE Standards

On April 2, 2018, the USEPA took initial steps to roll back Obama-era rules that mandated that automobile manufacturers meet ambitious mileage and emission standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE) from cars sold in the US by 2025. The most recent CAFÉ standards that the Trump Administration wishes to reverse were set in 2012 and mandated an average fuel economy of cars and trucks of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. At that time, the USEPA estimated that meeting such a limit would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion tons per year and reduce total oil usage by 12 billion barrels over the cars’ lifetime. The announcement did not say to what level the USEPA would change the required fuel economy requirement – back to the pre-2012 level or something in between.

US automakers argued that the current standards for 2025 were too difficult and costly for car manufacturers to meet and would likely cause car prices to rise significantly and/or force manufacturers to produce a fleet of cars for sale not reflective of what US consumers want. Each of these could hurt the U.S. economy. In addition, some business interests point to research studies that indicate that reducing gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is not as effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to reducing energy use in the residential building sector. (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0739456X17729438)

Historically, California has requested and received the right to enforce stricter standards than the nationwide one given its smog issues. However, the USEPA indicated they may fight California and any other state that may wish to maintain the 54.5 mpg standard. California subsequently did. Several car manufacturers stated that it would be difficult to build and sell fleets of cars having to meet different mileage requirements for California (and other states that may follow it) and for the rest of the US. Leaders from states representing one-third of the US car market stated support for the current standards; it is unknown how many will follow through.

On the other hand, several business groups issued statements against the proposed roll back of fuel economy standards, stating that such actions would undermine the global competitiveness of the US auto industry at a time when the larger world market is prioritizing cleaner vehicles and those that use less gasoline, and save consumers and businesses (which are major customers for automobiles and trucks) significant costs. Other statements pointed out that the aggressive fuel economy standard would also reduce the US’s dependence on oil, reduce climate risk, create jobs, and by saving costs at the gas pump, give US consumers more discretionary spending opportunities, growing the overall economy. Strong fuel economy standards also offer automakers flexibility to keep market share by selling fuel efficient vehicles during periods when gasoline prices spike.

Given the recent tumult and controversy at the USEPA and its Administrator, Scott Pruitt, it is unknown whether the agency will modify the CAFÉ Standards, how drastically, and when and how. But this will likely result in lawsuits and other actions.

CCES has the experts to help your firm keep up on the technical aspects of federal and state environmental rules so you can make informed decisions. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@ccesworld.com.

Using Utilization and Activity Data in the Workplace

This blog and newsletter has published many articles on how to smartly save energy. But a broader issue to address, which will also save energy is about proper space utilization. How and when is our space being used throughout the day? If this issue can be managed well, then savings, not just in energy usage, but in rents and other expenses can be saved, as well. While many companies track when different spaces are used, also cataloging how effectively space is used can provide information about both the cost and the value of corporate real estate.

Many companies track worker population and usage of different portions of their space in order to understand the cost of their space, such as tracking employee density, square footage, energy consumption, and other costs. But additional studies can result in deeper understandings about how space results in greater efficiency, productivity, and retention.

To determine whether a company is getting its cost worth of a space, utilization data, such as how often spaces are used over a given time and by how many employees, is most important. Utilization refers to how often spaces are in use over a given period of time. Knowing the usage (or lack of usage) of space can help the company plan future usage better, more effectively using real estate costs. It also affects energy usage, as with utilization data, one can program thermostats more accurately to respond to real needs to keep warm or cold.

The follow up question is how best to obtain utilization data. The simplest way is to collect data that already exists, such as reservations for conference rooms. However, this way is inexact, as many of us know of people who reserve a conference room or other area and then never use it (but reserve it “just in case”) or use it for a much shorter time than planned. Thus, such data may need to be supplemented by humans actually walking down the halls and recording what’s going on from time to time to see if what is reserved is really happening. Of course, technology exists, too, to obtain this data. Sensors not only turn on and off lights, but also can collect data about how many people are in a room for a given amount of time if designed and programmed properly. Of course, researching, procuring, installing, and using such technology can be expensive. Depending on the accuracy needed, this can be helpful or an occasional walk-through by people can provide the accuracy needed.

How is this related to energy? Someone told me a story that is quite relevant. She told me that a review of reservations, backed up by some visual data indicated that a certain conference room, popular most of the time, was mainly unused in the summer. This room is in the southwest corner of the building and, therefore, tends to get warmer on a given summer afternoon. A check of the thermostat showed that it was set for 74 deg. during the day, perhaps a level not comfortable enough with the afternoon sun coming in. Resetting the thermostat for a few degrees lower encouraged others to utilize this conference room more.

But getting back to the broader question, it is paramount that your organization decide what your goals should be: to lower real estate or energy costs, or improve productivity? This will help you decide whether you want to focus on gathering more utilization data or more activity data of your employees throughout the facility. Then one decides whether it wants to utilize and coordinate sensor technology around the property (“passive” approach” and what type of technology or use instead human observations and/or interviews, of which there is software to manage responses and “crunch the numbers”.

CCES has the experts to help you study energy usage in your facility, including where in the building or doing which functions uses the most energy (and costs), and can help you pinpoint the most cost effective energy saving strategies. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Tips To Gain Support for Your “Green” Program

One of the most difficult items for an environmental/sustainability manager to deal with is showing progress in a program that you know is beneficial, but others at the firm do not understand or are fearful of. How do you educate your colleagues and get them on your side, so you have support as you implement changes to be more “green”? Here are some proven ideas on how some companies promote “green” programs.

1. The standard is set at the top. There is no question that culture and change and importance of philosophy starts at the top, with – quite literally – the CEO. Whether it is just saving energy costs or a comprehensive sustainability program, the CEO stating support for the program goes a long way. I was involved in a project to establish a sustainability program for an entity and the head person was all for it. He understood the benefits and wanted to maximize these and get ahead of his competitors. He sent a mandate to cooperate and move toward a more sustainable future. An environmental committee was established. But then the Great Recession hit and several existential issues came up for the firm. The leader lost interest in sustainability. Then, members of the environmental committee stopped returning my emails and voicemails; the project ground to a halt. I convened a meeting of this committee and most members revealed to me they did not believe in climate change or sustainability, Al Gore was a ___ (well, I won’t use the language here!), sustainability was a foreign plot to take over the US, etc. When the head was interested in sustainability, these employees had to cooperate. But once the leader lost interest, they let their true feelings show and it derailed the project.

Since the “top” is so important to jumpstart a “green” program, it is important that you, as a manager, reach the CEO or other head and educate him/her on what the program is all about (I dealt with a senior VP of a company who thought a “green” program was just planting trees. Really!). Emphasize the benefits, but do not overpromise or give the impression these items will appear overnight. This education is not one-time, and it must be continual. You must keep track of how the program is doing and inform the leader. Also, manage expectations. Make sure leaders understand that achievements occur slowly, but they themselves will lead to more benefits down the road.

2. Establish a winning culture/brand. Perhaps more important than a strategy or procedures is establishing a “green” culture, such as no tolerance for environmental or OSHA violations or looking to avoid wasting of energy, water, etc. First, know the entity, its history, its own culture and people, and then you can establish a “green” culture that is likely to be accepted by most people. Software programs exist to help assess the current culture of a company. People like consistency, and stating and maintaining goals like these make others realize the value of a “green” program to a company (besides saving costs) and that the program is here to stay. This culture should be spread to other groups to give the environmental group a positive identity. Take the time to explain to all who will listen the culture and how they benefit.

3. Go beyond the workplace. While the top rung of management is most important to support a “green” program, it is important to communicate the program to all levels of stakeholders. Support is needed from all layers. One way to achieve this is not just to implement changes to reduce energy use, water use, etc. at the facilities, but also to recommend strategies for employees to engender energy, water, etc. savings themselves at home. Let them be “heroes” to their families for saving money or the planet, and they will return the support tremendously.

4. Communicate rationally, yet emotionally, too. We engineers tend to communicate using only facts, numbers, savings, comparisons, etc. It’s what we’re used to. But to promote a “green” program, this will not work for many; their eyes will glaze over! Therefore, in addition to communicating the facts, it is also important to engage one’s calls to action in their hearts as well as their minds. The “green” program not only benefits the bottomline, but also the livability of the immediate area and the Earth as a whole. Make others feel like they are part of something consequential, and you will engender more support. Of course, with a “green” program, there is much to choose to show positive consequential outcomes.

5. Assess and adapt. One strategy does not always work well or approaches need to change as a “green” program progresses and matures. Periodically assess where your “green” program is – not only how it’s doing, but also its acceptance in your company. You may need to make some changes to the communication or to who you communicate with to engender further support. Assess and adapt to new realities to gain followers and momentum.

6. Don’t give up. The first Earth Day may have been in 1970, but for many, the environment is this fuzzy concept that does not affect them. Education about the environment has lagged, and many still do not understand its importance to everyday life. And sustainability is an even newer concept. Certainly anybody who is a leader likely did not learn about sustainability in Business or Engineering School “back then”. People innately feel that if they did not learn it in school is must not be important.

Therefore, it is not only the rational and emotional message, but the fact that it is sustained that will make people learn and understand the importance of these concepts. Constant education and communication about different aspects of environment, energy, and sustainability are needed, not only during the early stages of establishing a program, but later on, as well, even after the major elements of the plan are in place. Communication by multiple means has been shown to be effective.

CCES has the experts to help your company establish a “green” or sustainability or energy conservation program – not just the technical expertise, but we can help you organize it and begin the communication process to engender support in your firm. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

USEPA Attempts To End “Once In Always In” Policy

In late January 2018, the USEPA issued an internal memorandum and in early February USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified to Congress of his desire to rescind its “Once In Always In” (OIAI) policy for major sources under the federal National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) program. Under OIAI, major sources subject to Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards are prohibited from reclassification that would excuse them from these standards even if the facility reduced air toxic emissions sufficiently to become a minor source. The memo reverses this position. This action is being done to reward major emission sources who have invested resources to significantly reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions to fall below the major source threshold. The USEPA plans to amend NESHAP text to codify this new policy beginning with a Federal Register posting. Legal challenges are expected.

Background

The federal NESHAP program provides emission limits based on “maximum achievable control technology”, defined in the rule as fairly stringent requirements. MACT apples to sources that emit any of 187 listed hazardous air pollutants (“HAPs”) in over 100 source categories. NESHAP covers two categories of sources: “major” and “area” sources. Major sources have the potential to emit at least 10 tons per year (tpy) of any listed HAP or 25 tpy of all HAPs. Any source that is not “major” is treated as an “area” source. Most MACT standards only apply to major sources; area sources are exempt. However, MACT standards for some source categories apply to both major and areas sources.

Given this, it is possible for a facility to accept federally-enforceable emission limits to become an area source (“synthetic minor”) to get out of installing expensive MACT-compliant technology (and avoid significant recordkeeping and reporting requirements). This can be achieved potentially with air pollution control strategies that are less stringent than MACT or by reducing hours of operation. Given the sensitivity of HAP emissions which could result in adverse public health effects on those near a plant, the USEPA in the early 1990’s established a policy that a facility can become a synthetic minor, but only by doing so before a MACT standard became effective. One cannot avoid the standard after the MACT standard went into effect, leading to the OIAI policy.

USEPA Justification

The USEPA justified the new policy on the grounds that Congress in the Clean Air Act provided no language pertaining to the reclassification of major sources to area ones. Their new guidance memo wishes to inject “plain language” that a facility would switch from a major source of HAPs to an area source when an enforceable limit on potential to emit HAPs below the “10/25” thresholds is achieved and approved.

Intended Outcomes

The USEPA believes its new policy ending OIAI will have several outcomes. It would:

• result in “meaningful incentives” for facilities to undertake projects that will reduce HAP emissions below major source thresholds.

• eliminate a “punishment” for facilities whose HAP emissions have dropped not because of conscious emission reductions, but because of changes in processes or business shifts for remaining “major”. For example, facilities who have permanently substituted less toxic compounds for HAPs for any of a variety of reasons (cost, availability, worker safety concerns) and is no longer major would no longer be required to comply with MACT and robust recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Also, this would apply to whose business has changed and no longer produce products or produce less product that require use of HAP compounds. They would no longer be burdened given this policy change.

• remove the burden for facilities whose potential to emit (based on unrestricted operation) is above the major source threshold, but whose actual emissions are significantly below it. Facilities who were unsure how to limit their operation to have federally-enforceable limits were careful and went into a given MACT program. But for those whose subsequent operation confirmed that actual HAP emissions were truly well below the major threshold, it was too late for relief.

A Compromise Solution?

While this is an article of facts and background, I do wish to provide a compromise position that I think would achieve the goals of both sides of this debate. New York State has a policy that any facility wishing to permit itself just below any applicable threshold (even for non-HAP compounds) must be limited to 10% below the threshold to account for any unexpected or accidental release (the facility would likely still be below the threshold. Applied to this situation, if a facility can commit and abide by permit limits of 9 tpy for any HAP and 22.5 tpy of all HAPs, and maintain this for a set time, say, 2 years, then it can be changed to an area source and all MACT requirements removed.

What Facilities Should Do

While there are likely to be legal battles concerning the elimination of OIAI, facilities who are regulated as major HAP sources should review their current emission inventories to see if they have fallen below the major source thresholds or are close enough to make the reduction to below the threshold technically and economically feasible. It may be to the facility’s advantage to catalog that its actual emissions are below the major threshold or implement the changes that will ensure this. To codify this, one would need to modify one’s Title V Air Permit to remove that MACT standard as an applicable rule and in so doing, remove or lessen control, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements. Some states, which may be resistant to this change, may not implement any such changes until all court proceedings are completed. Also, some have “anti-backsliding” provisions that may prevent the loosening of existing restrictions. Such facilities should retain the proper technical and legal experts as they are proceeding.

Please note that this is a technical, not a legal, assessment of the change in federal OIAI policy. Speak to appropriate legal counsel before making any decisions on this or related matters. CCES has the technical experts to help you assess whether your current emissions exceed or are below any major applicability threshold and can provide advice on the most cost-effective ways to reduce HAP (and non-HAP) emissions for a variety of processes. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Saving Energy Can Also Improve Air Quality

This blog has covered extensively the many financial benefits of saving energy. According to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Physicians for Social Responsibility concludes that saving energy can reduce the number of asthma attacks and other adverse health effects of air pollution from power plants. See http://aceee.org/research-report/h1801. This report concludes that reducing annual electricity use by 15% nationwide would prolong more than 6 lives every day, prevent nearly 30,000 asthma episodes each year, and save Americans up to $20 billion annually in avoided health care costs.

The cause and effect is simple. When less energy is needed, power plant emissions decrease, reducing byproducts of combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas into the atmosphere, some of which are tied to asthma, lung cancer, and other maladies. The report estimates that this reduction in pollution and harmful health effects would be enough to pay the annual health insurance premiums for nearly 3.6 million families.

The report estimates total potential avoided adverse health effects, such as heart attacks, respiratory illnesses, premature deaths, and emergency room visits to treat asthma, that could be achieved with a 15% reduction in electricity use across the country. Using USEPA modeling tools to identify the quantity of pollutants which would be avoided, the report ranks states and the 50 largest cities by their potential health benefits. According to the analysis, New York City would see the greatest benefits (more than $1 billion/year in avoided health costs), followed by Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. The dollar value of avoided health cost would average more than $70/person in the highest impacted cities, with Pittsburgh seeing the greatest per capita benefits: over $200/person on average. West Virginia would see the greatest benefits per person for a state: $184 on average.

Therefore, this evaluation demonstrates that a viable strategy to improve public health is to encourage improves energy efficiency. A further benefit is that the vast majority of energy efficiency measures results in energy savings and, therefore, reduced power plant emissions, over many years, meaning public health would benefit and costs reduced for many years. While the degree of benefit is certainly quite site-specific, any facility that undergoes an energy upgrade, becoming more energy efficient, can state that they likely will have, as an additional benefits, reduced emissions in areas around the power plant it gets power from and improved health of those nearby residents.

CCES has the experience to help you implement a smart energy efficiency program to reduce energy demand, reduce costs, and reduce air emissions from your facility and from the power plant that supplies you with electricity. We can help you economically reduce emissions from other sources to show a positive societal contribution. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Plan for Installing Occupancy Sensors

A few years ago I performed an energy audit for an office building and developed a good half-dozen sound energy strategies to save them money. While discussing occupancy sensors with the building’s owner, he understood its value. I offered to help, but he turned me down. He was going to go to the nearest Home Depot to pick up some on sale and install them himself. Well, big mistake. I suppose this owner so understood the simplicity of how an occupancy sensor works that he felt that no thinking was necessary. On the contrary, proper planning will make the difference between a reliable, cost-saving venture vs. an unsuccessful one. A few things to consider:

1. Invest time, determine where sensors can save the most by observation. Determine which areas have long periods of dormancy and can use occupancy sensors to save energy and which areas are regularly used. Yes, one can guess the need for occupancy sensors by evaluating a room’s use (for example, an IT room, where, theoretically, people enter rarely). One can review conference room reservation logs, but in many cases, rooms are fully booked, but hardly actually used. Thus, spend a few days to observe which rooms are actually unoccupied for long periods. Perhaps there is significant flow in and out of the IT room after all; perhaps a conference room really is or is not used as much as the logs show.

2. Accurate, up-to-date floor plans. Once areas are identified, plans are needed to determine which lights and electrical panels serve each space to place the sensors appropriately. With this information you can determine in which rooms to place occupancy sensors (connected to which panels) to get the best effect.

3. Placement of sensors. This is crucial to their effectiveness and occupant satisfaction. Sensors should be capable of “seeing” anyone who comes in the door. In some cases, multiple sensors may be needed for odd-shaped rooms or for spaces shielded by high cubicle walls or cabinets. Do you place the sensor high up on a wall “to see” more of an area, but make it inconvenient to repair? Or closer to where people work?

4. Pick your occupancy sensor brand carefully. Don’t buy them just because they are cheaper or are on sale. There are differences in quality and sensitivity. Installing the “wrong” sensors can affect morale and efficiency. If your budget allows, consider dual technology sensors, those that sense both motion and thermal, particularly for large or odd-shaped spaces. You don’t want lights going out just because people in a room have not moved in some time. This just happened to me. The host was quite embarrassed.

5. Provide early notification to staff. Establish an installation schedule and give advance notice to staff approximately when occupancy sensor installation will occur in their areas. Send staff either a brochure or some summary of the specs. of the sensors, so they have an idea of what it can and will do.

Final question: does one still procure occupancy sensors if one has switched to LEDs? Installing LEDs and saving energy costs should not preclude one from installing occupancy sensors. Even reduced wattage lamps, such as LEDs, represent wasted electricity and cost if on for many hours when a space is unused. The math may be different (lower savings because the cost of wasted electricity is lower), but in most cases there should be a reasonable, if somewhat longer payback for using occupancy sensors.

CCES has the experts to help you perform a full assessment of your lighting and total energy usage and needs, and provide detailed smart strategies to reduce usage, demand, and cost that have worked for others. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Future of US Energy Debated Between Industry Pros and Federal Government

The Trump administration has proposed several new rules, repeal of existing rules, and other policies in order to promote coal as a fuel for power plants and to promote nuclear energy. One of their arguments is that the US grid is in a crisis and the more sources of energy the greater the resiliency and reliability of the grid, which will help the economy grow. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy requested that older power plants receive federal subsidies to continue to operate and to enable others to store up to 90 days of fuel on site to enhance reliability given problems with the grid.

In the latest budget proposal, the Trump Administration recommended a decrease in federal funding of renewable energy from about $2 billion to about $0.5 billion, by 72%. Most of this decline would be sharp reductions in research spending, including an 82% cut to research on fuel efficient vehicles, an 82% cut on research into bioenergy technologies, and a 78% cut for solar energy technology research. Congress must approve this for it to go into effect. The Administration proposed a similar large cut in renewable energy programs in the previous year, but it was rejected by Congress.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), many members the president had appointed, rejected the arguments about grid reliability. In January, FERC voted down the idea of subsidies for coal-firing, saying that keeping alive older and less efficient plants would not improve reliability. Promoting such energy sources would put the US and its businesses at a disadvantage compared to other countries which promote more competitive energy sources, such as green energy and natural gas, to their businesses.

FERC argued that the grid is not facing a crisis, and that subsidies or preferred treatment for coal or nuclear plants would hurt a competitive electricity market and drive up costs for businesses and consumers. FERC went on to say that it should not favor any market that is costly and non-competitive. FERC also said that current US problems with the grid do not originate from sources of fuel, but, rather, from transmission shortcomings, such as downed power lines. The commission did go on to say that there is room for improvement of the nation’s grid and asked regional transmission organizations and independent system operators for their ideas on improvement.

The Trump Administration has been working to repeal many Obama-era environmental regulations that would hurt coal-fired power plants, combat climate change, and reduce subsidies for renewable power. In many cases, they have succeeded. However, many major US businesses support not only the Clean Power Plan, which President Trump is attempting to repeal but also the Paris Climate Agreement, which the President has announced the US will withdraw from. Such major firms include Alcoa, Berkshire Hathaway, DowDupont, EMC Corp., and General Motors.

CCES can help your firm become both energy efficient and more flexible in terms of the fuel sources it uses to benefit your bottomline. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Reducing Water Usage Saves Energy, Too

While the focus of this blog has been on energy use and demand and greenhouse gas emission reductions, it should not be forgotten that an effective sustainability and self-improvement plan addresses other issues, such as water conservation, solid waste generation (or lack thereof), etc. A recent study indicated that while California was just short of meeting its goal of a 25% water use reduction in 2015, when most of the state was in a severe drought, the policies implemented in the program did result in additional benefits. See https://phys.org/news/2018-01-california-bonus-effects.html

Coming off a four-year drought, California ultimately reduced water usage by 524,000 million gallons. In addition, it was determined that this action resulted in a decrease in electricity usage of about 1,830 GWh, which exceeded electricity savings achieved by investor-owned electricity utilities’ efficiency programs during the same period. In addition, significant declines were seen in natural gas and oil usage for generators in water service. This also resulted in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of about 524,000 metric tons of CO2e.

California implemented a Water Action Plan, with strict guidelines for continuing to manage water use in the state. These guidelines were localized to the needs of the state’s 410 urban water suppliers. Businesses and homeowners have and will continue to face restrictions such as bans on wasteful practices such as hosing sidewalks and watering lawns after rain. Strict planning, measurement of water use, and reporting were also required.

These results should not be a surprise as previous inventories have indicated that water transportation, treatment, distribution and end-use consumption account for 19% of total electricity demand in California. With significantly less water to manage and use, electricity demand would be expected to and did decline.
This can be a lesson for other states, counties, and communities that wish or need to decrease total energy usage and/or greenhouse gas emissions. Reduced water usage (particularly, reduced waste) will lead to significant energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

CCES has the experts to help your entity reduce water, as well as energy, usage waste and maximize the financial gains for you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion about the matter at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.