Are You Suffering From EEPA (Energy Efficiency Performance Anxiety)?

By Sandy Gutner, P.E., President, ROI Energy Services

EEPA, or Energy Efficiency Paralysis by Analysis, needlessly affects millions throughout the US, and the world. Some call it Energy Efficiency Performance Anxiety. EEPA is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a number. And it can be easily fixed.

You know energy efficiency is a universally accepted “win-win”. You know it will boost your bottom line make your organization more competitive. You even know it will improve your sustainability profile. If this describes you, you’re probably suffering from EEPA.

What are the Causes of EEPA?

OK, I’ll admit it. I made up the term EEPA, but the reality is most businesses are missing opportunities to improve their bottom line. How do you know if you have it?

• You feel confused and overwhelmed with information
• You don’t know whom you should trust.
• You’ve gotten many new insights about your energy use, now you think there is so much more to explore, and maybe you’d better do some more research.
• You feel like you need even more information before making a decision but in your heart you know that more information might make your EEPA worse.

If any of these indicators or similar excuses is stopping you from cutting electricity costs, you probably have EEPA.

How did you get to this point? You’ve been thinking about energy conservation, but…..
• “You’ve done an energy audit, and one of your contractors/suppliers/advisers/vendors (circle one) has other suggestions”;
• “Your engineering or technical staff wants to study it further”;
• “You’ve heard renewables are looking more attractive”;
• “Someone in your golf foursome, poker game, advisory committee (circle one), mentions that technology is advancing so quickly that it would be better to wait a couple of years”.

Most likely, you do not even realize you have EEPA.

How Is EEPA Affecting You?

Simply stated, if you have EEPA you’re giving the cash that could be used to streamline your operation and giving it to your electric utility. Unlike other capital investments, the cost for energy efficiency solutions are already covered by the savings gained. When these costs are financed the savings exceed the finance costs yielding a positive cash flow. You can see an example of this right here. On the flip side, delaying energy efficiency is actually costing you money. The Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator, developed by Energy Star can help you determine the actual and opportunity costs of waiting.

How Can You Treat EEPA?

The solution to EEPA is not more information, just better information from a trustworthy source, that addresses your specific and unique needs, and that provides clear actionable steps. The most important information for most management and executives is:
• “What is the payback”,
• “Will it affect my operations or workspace environment?”
• “What will I have to do?”
• “How do I know I will really see the savings?”

That is why ROI Energy Services takes the approach of managing the details and delivering a package that meets a guaranteed payback and ROI. We study your system, design a solution that is customized to your needs, meets your required ROI and payback period, and whose savings is guaranteed. Our approach delivers a specific, actionable recommendation with a firm not-to-exceed cost, and guaranteed ROI. We will worry about whether LEDs are cost effective, and where, or whether other methods are better. We will determine how to make your existing equipment more energy efficient without costly replacement.

Important Side Effects

Implementing energy efficiency may result in higher profitability, better equipment reliability, longer lasting equipment, improved sustainability, productivity improvement, and many other benefits. Please consult with ROI Energy Services to discuss how to achieve these results.

Sandy Gutner, P.E., is the President of ROI Energy Services, Weston, FL
Website: www.ROIEnergyServices.com
Phone: 1-888-855-5471
E-mail: sgutner@ROIEnergyServices.com

ROI Energy Services is an engineering firm that offers energy saving solutions with a unique financial proposition for our commercial and industrial clients. Our financially viable turnkey solutions help reduce one of the most challenging operating expenses – energy consumption– and are paid for by the savings from reduced electricity costs.

Guaranteed Energy Savings Offers Unique Financial Proposition

ROI Energy offers a unique financial proposition to commercial and industrial energy consumers by creating energy savings solutions tailored specifically to meet their financial requirements. With a useful life many times greater than the payback period our clients reap long-lasting financial rewards. If the energy savings is less than our guarantee, we pay 100 percent of the shortfall –guaranteed

Renewable Energy, Water, Wastewater and More – 25 Years Engineering Consulting

The ROI Energy team has more than 25 years of experience providing engineering consulting services to public and private sector clients. We have represented owners’ interests in a wide variety of large-scale infrastructure projects including renewable energy, water, wastewater, and many others. The insight gained from this perspective has led us to our primary focus, which is adding value in everything we do.

Alternatives to Traditional Rooftop Solar Panels

Solar PV has come down in price markedly in the last few years. Adding incentives from a number of government agencies and utilities, solar PV has become a technology that pays back in a timeframe acceptable to most. However, many buildings cannot have traditional rooftop solar PV panels because of the age of the roof or because of shade from trees or other items. Now alternatives exist for buildings to still benefit from generating electricity from the sun, and get around these issues.

A North Carolina State University team demonstrated that water gel-based solar PV called “artificial leaves” can produce electricity. The analysis was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. These plant-like units are composed of water-based gel containing light-sensitive molecules (like plant chlorophyll) coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite, which can be activated by the sun’s rays to generate electricity, similar to plants synthesizing sugar. And therefore, these units can be stored in wooded areas or in bodies of water.

In many cases, owners of buildings with old roofs think that installing a new roof is the only way to support the weight of solar panels. One argument is that the cost savings of using solar PV can pay some or all of the costs of a roof upgrade. But for those that cannot use this logic, there are now solar PV built into roof shingles. So instead of laying a new roof and place panels on top of them, new roof shingles can be installed containing the silica and other elements to convert sunlight to electricity. Such units cannot be used on certain types of roof (i.e., slate).

If a roof is old or some sunlight is blocked, it may be possible to install solar PV at ground level in open areas. Of course, such available space is rare. However, several firms have developed solar PV panels that can be placed in outdoor parking areas to serve as shading panels on islands. These shields collect sunlight and produce electricity which is directed to the building from cables underneath the parking lot. But besides generating power, the panels create shade so cars are not too hot in the summer. Plus, the panels can direct snow to specific areas, reducing plowing needs.

Finally, entrepreneurs have developed ways for people and companies to benefit from solar-generated electricity or hot water without having it on their roofs or property. In recent years, the concept of “community solar gardens” has started up. CSG is the placement of a large number of solar panels in an open area (unused land in a corporate footprint or of a municipality). The electricity that is generated goes right into the grid for the benefit of all who live or work nearby. People and companies can buy shares in the community solar garden, composed of an initial payment representing a fraction of the total solar garden or a certain number of panels plus pay an annual upkeep fee. The investors would then be rewarded with savings on one’s electricity bill, even if that person lives far away, as well as a share of any awarded incentives. This concept may be ideal for a municipality with unusable land, perhaps an old, treated contaminated site with a population that cannot install solar PV (many multifamily units), but would be willing to invest and be part of the benefits and feel good investing in clean, green energy.

CCES has the experts to help you manage, see through, and maximize the benefits of renewable energy, including solar PV, whether through traditional installation of solar panels or alternatives, such as these discussed here. We can provide you with comprehensive technical advice on all energy issues to gain the greatest financial gains. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Energy Risk Expected To Rise in U.S.

There is a growing concern that large sections of the U.S. and other countries will be at greater risk of blackouts or periods of electricity shortages due to a number of factors. This can have grave consequences on the economic growth of many companies. Uneven electricity production and delivery is common in developing countries which have problems with both power plants plus the infrastructure to deliver reliable power to people and industry. Much has been written about countries in Africa, Asia, and South America which are investing in economic growth, but cannot achieve it because of unreliable power. As a result, there is either dangerous (explosions, fires) power supply or limited growth, as investors demand surety in utilities. But even North America and Europe are beginning to show increased risk of disruptions, too. These issues, called “fuel poverty”, have gotten the attention of major governments and power companies.

Increased risk of unreliable energy supply has been influenced by affordability, security, and sustainability issues. Many areas have seen a sharp increase in electricity demand in recent years and the capital cost to upgrade infrastructure to produce and deliver the additional power is very large. In some cases, necessary upgrades are not affordable without large rate increases or government assistance, two areas that politicians prefer to avoid. Many utilities recognize that offering incentives to be more energy efficient is cheaper than implementing full infrastructure upgrades, but will take longer and is a gamble of whether this will be sufficient to reduce the needed investments sufficiently. Thus, more people and business will be at risk of “fuel poverty” in the future.

This is also a long-term issue. While the recent recession tamped down energy demand, it is beginning to rebound. Several think tanks predict a worldwide doubling of energy demand between recent years and the 2030’s, something that cannot be met in terms of development and delivery without R&D and implementation of renewable energy, as fossil fuel availability is limiting, due to political and practical considerations.

What can your company do to reduce your risk of unreliable energy supply?

1. Preparation. Your company and facility should routinely develop an energy plan. How much and what types of energy does your company need to function? How much might it grow in the future? Where do you get your energy from? Are there other, more reliable sources? Looking forward, what energy sources may be more reliable for you in the future, such as renewable or certain sources plentiful near where your operations are? I was involved a few years ago with a confidential client that wanted to build new facilities in Asia, and I performed an evaluation of the energy sources around that region, and determined that wood is expected to be plentiful in the area, but fossil fuels not. Therefore, new boilers and cogen needed to be able to operate as well combusting wood as it does oil and gas, as wood should be plentiful in the next 20 years, but fossil fuels which has to be shipped in to region, may become more expensive in the future.

2. Invest in smart technology that will provide both information on energy use and paths to energy efficiency. Smart metering provides the opportunity for you obtain useful data on your energy usage and demand, which can provide you a truer picture of your costs, risks, and future. Knowledge of usage provides you with ideas to reduce your usage in the most cost-effective manner.

3. Renewables/clean energy is the long-term path to go. Depending on power from fossil fuels will be at risk in the future due to its finite nature, the more difficult it is to find and refine fossil fuels (raising its cost), and the political situation. Even in a positive scenario, fossil fuel costs will go up and down with conditions, and make planning harder. As renewable energy becomes more established and efficient, prices are coming down for installation, and the source of power is plentiful and free. Utilities in the US are being forced to generate more power from renewables; but they are realizing the advantages of these technologies.

CCES has the experts to help you establish short-term and long-term energy planning to increase your efficiency, reduce costs, and reduce risks of unreliable supply and delivery. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Investment in Clean Energy Grew Strongly in 2014

In this blog, I have talked a lot about energy efficiency and what a great investment it is. The relatively simple upgrades you can do for your existing systems in your buildings to improve the performance and get your money’s worth are a great investment in terms of cost savings and productivity.

But don’t just focus on energy efficiency. How about changing some of your systems altogether to clean energy? Clean energy has made great advancements in just the last few years, especially with prices coming down and becoming affordable. Worldwide investment in clean energy, such as solar and wind, rose 16% in 2014 alone, with investments totaling $310 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-09/clean-energy-investment-jumps-16-on-china-s-support-for-solar). This is particularly impressive given the global sharp decline in oil prices making any potential switch from fossil fuels less attractive. Demand grew sharply for both large-scale and for rooftop solar PV and a record $19.4 billion of offshore wind projects. This investment is than five times the spending one decade ago.

The increase in investment in clean energy in 2014 was 26% in Canada and 8% in the U.S. The increase was led by investment in new large renewable energy projects (slightly over half of the total), such as solar fields and off-shore wind, followed by small distributed capacity projects (a little over 25%), such as rooftop solar. Government and corporation clean energy R&D totaled $29 billion, while energy smart technologies, such as smart meters, came in at $16.8 billion.

Investment in solar rose 25% compared to 2013; investment in wind rose 11%. This indicates that despite the worldwide drop in oil prices, investors realize that in the long run renewable power, particularly for electricity production, is the best investment of funds and likely to be the most stable in terms of cost for the long-term. This should be beneficial for you, too.

CCES can help your company assess the feasibility, advantages/disadvantages, and costs of different renewable energy technologies for your company and buildings. We can help you determine whether this is the time and how best to invest to make clean energy a good, long-term investment for you and maximize your benefits. We can manage the bidding and installation process and ensure and verify that the system meets your needs and goals. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

More Proof of the Great Value of Energy Efficiency

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) issued a report last year detailing the special value and benefits of becoming more energy efficient (for access, see: http://aceee.org/research-report/u1402). The report determined that improved energy efficiency costs on average 2.8 cents for every kilowatt-hour saved, while the average American spends 10 cents per kilowatt-hour used (of course, we in the Northeast pay much more), making energy efficiency a great value. Therefore, efficiency is the true cheapest form of energy and pursuing energy efficiency is, if done properly, a positive financial success for any business or families in their homes.

This and other papers drive home this point this way:

The unseen cost value of energy efficiency. Many energy efficiency projects are judged by the payback on the initial investment. Many companies have a threshold (i.e., 3 years or 4 years) above which they will not make the investment in the project. No matter what! Within limits of what money is available to be invested, this is a short-sited argument. The real value of energy efficiency is in the length of time the savings continues, as well as, the continued and growing value of the savings.

Here is a conservative example where I overestimate costs and underestimate benefits: a simple group of lights in one particular room is replaced with LEDs, say 20 60-watt fluorescent lights with 18-watt LED equivalent lights. Assuming the lights are on 12 hours/day, 5 days/week, then the electricity savings would be over 2,600 kWh/year. At $0.20/kWh, this alone would save $520/year. Assuming an installed cost of $80 per LED, the upfront cost would be $1,600, for a simple payback of just over 3 years. Not a bad payback. (Again, overestimating costs, underestimating savings) 2 “by the ways”: 1st, this does not include incentives from your state or utility for lighting upgrades, reducing the payback. 2nd, many buildings pay for electricity based on peak demand as well as usage. Reducing demand here by nearly 1 kW would further save costs.

What is often not included in such evaluations of energy efficiency upgrades is that the new lights will likely last for over 10 years. Many LED lights are waranteed for 50,000 hours of usage, which would be 16 years of usage at this rate. So after the investment is paid back, you will continue to save and come out ahead for the next 7 years, maybe 13 years or more. These lights would save >$3,600 in the lifetime on short end of range.

Remember, the savings calculations are just for one area of only 20 lights. Imagine how many lights your building actually uses and, therefore, the potential cost savings! And now add on improvements in your insulation, HVAC systems, etc., and the savings multiply. There is a special value to this. Depending on the size and complexity of a building, energy cost savings can be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. That’s money in the company’s “pocket”. How else does a company make money? By increasing revenue; by selling more widgets. But if the average widget yields 10% profit, that’s an awfully lot of widgets that have to be sold to make up for energy efficiency savings. And, after a year, you have to go right out and sell even more widgets. Once you make the energy efficiency upgrades, the savings stick around with no additional work for a long time!

But even this underestimates the savings in two ways. Unit electricity prices change and only go up. Assuming the $0.20/kWh rate rises even 2% per year, cumulative savings will grow by about another 10%. Also, the fluorescent bulbs that would have replaced existing bulbs had LEDs not been used have a much shorter lifespan. They would need to be replaced much more often than LEDs, requiring additional capital costs and raising the cost savings of using LEDs.

Hard-to-measure added benefits. Energy efficiency projects also have many significant benefits that are good for a business or residence that are not directly energy-related and hard to quanitify, yet are significant. New, more efficient equipment generally needs less maintenance, freeing up your maintenance workers to perform other needed tasks. A more efficient HVAC system with smart controls (thermostats) will result in a more comfortable work staff, raising worker productivity and resulting in tenants who will complain less. Studies show that well-designed efficient lighting causes less eyestrain, not only also raising productivity, but also reducing sick days and even the number of “coffee breaks” a worker needs. How much this benefits a building owner or a business is hard to quantify and depends on the individual needs of the business; but nobody can deny that these benefits of energy upgrades are real and significant.

Not all energy efficiency projects are created equal. Different types of energy efficiency projects are more cost beneficial than others. According to the McKinsey report: “Pathways to a Low Carbon Economy”, replacing lights with LEDs and installing more efficient appliances and electronics are the two most cost-effective ways to be more energy efficient. According to the report, other strategies are less cost-effective (upgrade motors, retrofit insulation, upgrade HVAC) and some are theoretically not cost-effective at all (renewable energy in absence of incentives, plug-in hybrid fleets), yet have many positive non-energy benefits.

How do you get the go-ahead to pursue an energy efficiency project that is beneficial, but may have a longer payback or reduced return on investment? There are two approaches. In the first one, an entity may concentrate on “low hanging fruit”, such as lighting and appliance and electronics upgrades, have management be aware of the quick reduction in the electricity bills and quick payback. With this money “in the bank” and the confidence that this instills, then begin to address slower payback strategies, using the money saved as upfront cost, a springboard to implementing these strategies.

The other approach is to perform a comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade of your facility and address several strategies at once. Calculate the expected payback and return on investment of the blended project. Average the “good” numbers from a lighting or electronics project together with the worse-appearing numbers for insulation and HVAC upgrades to provide an overall payback and return on investment that management will accept and allow you to do all of the projects and reap all the benefits.

CCES can help you organize, implement, and verify the success of a robust energy efficiency program to maximize both your financial and non-financial benefits, reduce your upfront costs, and to ensure that all elements of your organization is “on-board” and shares in the benefits. Our technical and policy experts can maximize your benefits and ensure that the projects proceed smoothly with minimal disruptions. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or karell@CCESworld.com.

DOD Incorporates Climate Change into Planning

The US Dept of Defense (DOD), of course, does long-term planning, anticipating its necessary future actions, strategies, and technologies. A master plan for climate change adaptation was published recently by the DOD, and showed a major concern about the effects of climate change on DOD installations and operations (http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/CCARprint.pdf). Climate change adaptation has now become a major part of DOD planning.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this report is that the effects of climate change are now integral parts of DOD’s organizational structure and planning. Climate change issues will be part of DOD’s normal decision-making processes and of people’s jobs.

The DOD began to address climate change issues after publication in 2010 of its Quadrennial Defense Review, which analyzes long-term strategic defense issues, and first linked climate change to national security by evaluating its impacts in areas around the world, such as disasters and access to water and food. These are issues that can potentially accelerate instability and conflict. The report also indicated that climate change impacts will likely impact DOD facilities and operations, and, unless anticipated and addressed, ultimately military effectiveness.

The latter concern weighs greatly on the DOD which oversees over 500 bases worldwide and operates buildings and infrastructure valued over $850 billion. Damage to such assets by flooding, sea level rise, intense storms, drought, and thawing of permafrost is rightfully a concern of the DOD. As a result, the DOD has determined that climate change issues will be taken into account in future installation management.

The document also recommended that the DOD implement strategies to reduce energy usage, including greater efficiency and to increase the use of renewable energy sources, in order to both reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and to provide greater operating flexibility, such as to reduce dependence on large quantities of oil, which can be a target of enemy fire or terrorism.

The DOD promised to develop codes for its buildings to reduce the usage of energy, water, and other natural resources, to develop more resilient infrastructure, and to anticipate and plan for rapid recovery from damage that could occur due to severe climate change-driven situations (flooding, storms, etc.).

CCES has the experts to help your company and building plan to minimize your usage of energy and other natural resources and to plan for and be more resilient in the face of future climate change effects in your location. This effort can save you much money and reduce your risks. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Is LED Lighting Right For You? What to Consider

LEDs are all the rage now. LED vendors are beginning to advertise to a wide audience; they are being accepted. There have been great advances in LED lighting technology in recent years. Illumination no longer varies. LEDs can be dimmed or adjusted in other ways. LEDs can be made to resemble the fluorescents they replace and fit into their ballasts with little additional effort, yet reduce electrical wattage significantly.

While LED bulbs are highly energy efficient with a payback often of 3 years or less, it is important to plan out any LED replacement project to get the best financial and operational benefits. Here are some things to consider.

Do an illumination survey. Before you replace your lights, take this opportunity to determine whether changes in lighting are necessary. Are there areas that are relatively dark – in comparison to the need? Are there areas overlit? Have an illumination survey performed to determine levels. And don’t forget exterior space, too. Before you replace, determine where additional or different ballasts and lamps may be necessary for proper illumination and where you can remove some or have fewer lamps in a fixture.

When and where to install LEDs. You might think with such great energy cost savings and incentive programs in some states, it is best to just replace every existing bulb with LEDs. But that is not necessarily financially prudent, as LEDs do have a high upfront cost. Therefore, it may be best to prioritize your replacement program. If you cannot replace all of your lighting at once, then replace, as a first priority, your least efficient types of lighting or the lights used the most hours.

Save even more with lighting controls. Even LEDs use electricity needlessly if they are left on for extended periods with nobody around. Therefore, consider lighting controls, such as occupancy sensors and daylighting, sensors that dim artificial light as sunlight enters a room. LEDs can be installed that are compatible with these control types. Consider which areas of your building get used. In offices, occupancy sensors ensure that lights are not left on all night when nobody is around. In warehouses and storage and utility rooms that often go many hours, if not days, without activity, sensors can save, too. Which places in your facility get sunlight (sky lights or south-facing windows)?

Light locations. Do you currently have lights in inconvenient places that take a huge effort to replace? If so, prioritize LED bulbs in these locations to save you labor, storage space, and equipment rental expenses. I had a client that rents a cherry picker once every third year to replace burned out bulbs from a very high ceiling. As luck would have it, the day after the job was done one time, a light went out! With LEDs generally lasting well over 10,000 hours, the frequency and cost of replacing lights from an inconvenient spot drops markedly. Remember that reduced light replacement activity gives your maintenance crews more flexibility to perform other needed tasks. And fewer trips by your personnel up the cherry picker or ladders mean lower risk of an accident for you.

CCES has the experts to perform an evaluation of your lighting needs – to perform an illumination study and assess the right priorities for a lighting upgrade to give you the maximum financial benefits. We can manage and implement a complete turnkey lighting upgrade for you. Besides our technical expertise, we can help you apply for and get applicable incentives for such an upgrade. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Some Environmental Compliance Rulings of Feb. 2015

FTC issues warning to manufacturers of “biodegradable” dog waste bags.

The FTC recently sent letters to 20 dog waste bags manufacturers warning that their environmental claims that their products are “biodegradable” may be deceptive. (http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/02/ftc-staff-warns-marketers-sellers-dog-waste-bags-their). This is part of the FTC’s enforcement of the revised “Green Guides” of 2012 with changes to what is considered acceptable environmental claims for consumer products. Under the revised Green Guides “[i]t is deceptive to make an unqualified biodegradable claim for items entering the solid waste stream if the items do not completely decompose within one year after customary disposal.” The FTC is concerned and issued the letters requesting clarification of the claim because most waste bags end up in landfills where plastics biodegrade in much longer than one year.

The FTC also raised concerns about the manufacturers’ compostability claims. The revised Green Guides specify the degree that a product is compostable if the item cannot be composted safely in a home compost device and if the necessary municipal composting facility is unavailable to a “substantial majority of consumers or communities where the item is sold.” Dog waste is generally not safe to compost at home, and very few facilities accept this waste, according to the FTC.

These letters are merely warnings. The recipients – to continue to make their claims – will need to show professional, reproducible scientific evidence that their products will completely biodegrade within a reasonably short time period after customary disposal and, for compostable claims, show competent scientific evidence that the entire item will become usable compost in a safe, timely manner after being placed in an appropriate compost facility or home compost pile. Otherwise, they need to alter their claims.

This should be a warning to all marketers and product manufacturers to be careful about environmental claims and that the FTC is enforcing the Green Guides.

 

Federal court finds no violation of ESA or Eagle Protection Act for wind farm.

A federal court in Maine rejected a challenge to a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Oakfield wind power project. The court determined that the Army Corps did not violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Protection Act) in issuing the permit. A number of recent court decisions has allowed agencies to permit projects and not be limited by these rules.

A lawsuit was filed against the Army Corps over the issuance of a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit that allowed the Oakfield wind project developer to fill in certain wetlands during project construction. In short, the permit was challenged the permit on the grounds of ESA and EPA, arguing that the Army Corps improperly relied upon incomplete data to analyze the impact of the project’s construction on Atlantic salmon. The court denied the claims, stating that ESA requires use of best data available, which can include incomplete data. EPA was cited as the Army Corps issued the permit without first requiring the project developer to secure an incidental take permit given the project’s potential for taking a bald eagle. The court rejected this argument. The Eagle Protection Act imposes penalties on those who illegally take protected species. A take is defined as a purposeful action against a protected species; but the court ruled that issuing such a permit was not purposeful harm.

A number of recent court decisions state that federal agencies are not obligated to obtain permits under EPA or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when issuing permits for private projects. This trend is a positive development for developers of both renewable and conventional energy projects, allowing them to proceed more smoothly and reducing the litigation risk faced by developers.

CCES can help your firm or entity determine the viability of future projects and products with technical analyses of potentially applicable rules and regulations. Any firm or entity should get competent legal counsel. However, CCES can assist in performing technical assessments of rules and how to most cost-effectively comply. Contact us today at karell@ccesworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Energy Efficiency is Part of Any Strong Business

In recent weeks, major articles in the New York Times (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/06/investing-in-energy-efficiency-pays-off/) and the Wall St. Journal (http://deloitte.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2015/01/22/energy-management-becoming-a-core-business-competency-survey/?KEYWORDS=energy+efficiency) have stated what you have been reading here for several years: that energy efficiency pays off big time, better than most other investments, and that major companies now recognize energy management as an essential part of any business functioning and growing. Any business that ignores energy is at risk for major problems.

David Goldstein, the Energy Director of the National Resources Defense Council, recently wrote an interesting blog article (see NRDC’s Switchboard), stating that the lack of energy efficiency legislation for a number of decades contributed to the recession that hit the US starting in 2008 and that recent energy efficiency policies had a major influence in us getting out of the recession. For example, the Department of Energy recently issued stronger appliance efficiency standards than any previous administration. These standards have been conservatively estimated to save consumers over $425 billion over the next 30 years. That savings in the hands of consumers and businesses allow them to spend that money in other ways or save it, benefitting other businesses, banks, and investment houses.

Similarly, the USEPA issued updated fuel economy standard for automobiles and for trucks for the first time in decades, saving consumers and businesses an estimated $2.7 trillion, and generated almost an additional million new jobs for parts manufacturers and the businesses that the savings support.
States and localities are realizing this, too, and have implemented a wide array of rebates, tax credits, and low-interest loan programs. These programs help local businesses stay competitive and put more money in the hands of families and businesses to spend and benefit other businesses. In addition, being more energy efficient and reducing peak demand enables utilities to put off or reduce the amount of new or updated infrastructure it needs to install, saving billions of dollars which, of course, would be collected from consumers in higher energy (electricity and gas) rates.

Energy efficiency also influences markets. As we are all aware, crude oil prices have dropped (as of this writing) by over 50% compared to a year ago. Of course, many reasons contributed to this (greater natural gas and oil exploration). But one definite factor is energy efficiency, such as the greater purchasing of fuel efficient cars (not only in the US due to the recession, but in China and Europe) and that the average number of miles driven annually by Americans has dropped in recent years due to millennials staying home more and land use law changes reducing urban sprawl.

And finally, we come to everyday businesses and municipalities. In these tough monetary times, there is great economic benefit in improving energy efficiency, reducing energy used and, therefore, costs that go to someone else, while not impacting service at all. Here are three examples.

The recent NY Times article spotlights several universities that have set up “green funds” to pay for energy efficiency upgrades. The direct cost savings goes back into the green fund to implement other energy efficiency projects. The University of New Hampshire is an example. They started such a green fund with $600,000 of university money, and within 5 years saved $1.3 million, which went back into the fund and invested in other energy efficiency projects. They believe that in another 5 years, the university will have saved over $3 million dollars all coming from the original one-time $600,000 investment. Once all major projects have been completed, the university can reap the full benefits of the cost savings to their budget.

I recently did an analysis for a municipality for one energy efficiency project only, replacing street lights with LED lamps. This municipality had a cocophony of different types of lights and lamps. Many of them shone a yellowish tint and times were tough for it, being in a state that limits property tax increases. My analysis showed that switching all of their street lights to LEDs would likely save them $250,000 per year, which they were quite happy about. It would be a 3.5 year payback, but more important, the cost savings would likely increase every year as the utility’s rates would likely increase. Therefore, the rate of return of investing nearly one million dollars in LED street lights would be 14% per year for 7 years. What bank pays that rate of return? What Wall St. investment is as good with no risk (lower wattage means lower wattage)? With such a rate of return, it would be quite easy to borrow the money or float a bond. In addition, I pointed out that these LED street lights would likely be warranteed for 10 years before any need to be replaced; their current lights need to be replaced every 1-2 years. In fact, the town has two workers who nearly full time replace street lights that burn out. They were thrilled to free up those workers for other tasks. In addition, this means fewer trips up the cherry picker and reduced risk of an accident and tying up traffic.

And finally, how does energy efficiency help business? I worked for a small warehouse / light industrial facility who was not only being hurt by high energy costs, but the workers were not comfortable in the office and warehouse. The building was over 60 years old, and still had its original windows and some of its HVAC equipment. The owner, to his credit, did not just put “band-aids” to fix the problems, but instead went first-class, with 21st century energy upgrades. He saw this as an investment. He upgraded the windows, installed improved insulation on the exterior walls and roof, upgraded the lights, installed solar PV and hot water, and installed a new boiler with thermostats to control heat distribution. The building has reduced its energy bills by over 50% due to these changes. We also helped them obtain applicable incentives from the utility and state and a federal tax deduction for the upgrades. But two other things resulted from the energy upgrade. First, a section of their warehouse that was hardly used was now, given the upgrades, attractive for alternative use. The company fixed up the area and now rents it out to a supplier, not only resulting in additional (rental) income, but better assuring that supplies will arrive quicker! Finally, workers were much more comfortable in all seasons and noticeably more motivated and efficient.

CCES has the experts to help you design the right energy upgrades to maximize the myriad of financial benefits possible. We can manage the implementation of the upgrades you choose and ensure it confers the benefits projected. We can help you get the maximum incentives, low-interest loans, and deductions that the project qualifies for. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Changes To Reporting GHG Emissions From Renewable Energy, Low-Carbon Power Purchases

The World Resources Institute recently published new guidlines for entities to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from purchased electricity, Scope 2 emissions. This is the first major update to the GHG Protocol in many years, and responds to changes in the electricity market. The new GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance (http://ghgprotocol.org/scope_2_guidance) provides the methodology for entities to compute and report revised Scope 2 based on different types of electricity purchases.

The guidance offers methodology for companies producing their own electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. This electricity may be used in-house or sent into the grid. It allows estimation of GHG emissions for a building who may be a net developer of electricity for certain periods of a year and a net user of electricity from the grid during other periods. This report also allows calculation of GHG emission credits from companies that invest in renewable power, such as purchasing renewable emission certificates (RECs). The report also offers case studies of 12 companies that have already used the new guidance. The USEPA and The Climate Registry support the new guidance.

Scope 2 GHG emissions derive from activities even though the emissions physically occur outside the facility due to purchasing of electricity, steam, or cooling water. (Scope 1 is GHG emissions at the facility, such as combusting a fuel by a piece of equipment or vehicle.) Normally, companies purchase electricity for their facilities from the grid, and report these Scope 2 GHG emissions based on the emission factors of the main power plants that supply the electricity the facility is purchasing electricity from in the area. However, as more and more facilities either are purchasing “green” credits (such as RECs) and power purchase agreements and are investing in renewable means to produce their own energy, this accounting has now grown more complex. These contracts and agreements vary and are accounted differently from nation to nation, and this has been determined to be a problem to more accurately estimate GHG emissions.

The Scope 2 Guidance now allow companies to better compare and make decisions on purchase or renewable options based on GHG emission reduction targets.

CCES has the experts to perform a GHG emissions inventory (“carbon footprint”) for your company’s diverse facilities and operations using WRI and The Climate Registry procedures, including these revised procedures. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.