Category Archives: Energy Management

Trump Administration Repeals Obama-era Fracking Rules

The Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published in the Federal Registry on December 29, 2017 a revision to reverse a 2015 rule that contained strict standards for how one performs hydraulic fracking on public lands.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/29/2017-28211/oil-and-gas-hydraulic-fracturing-on-federal-and-indian-lands-rescission-of-a-2015-rule

For the Administration, this is part of their ongoing effort to rollback regulations and to encourage domestic energy production that will reduce energy costs for businesses.
This final rule is a rescission of most of the Obama-era rule whose effective date was June 24, 2015, which contained standards for fracking operations on public lands, including identifying the chemicals and the nature of the mixture of water, sand and chemicals injected to loosen shale oil and gas from rocks where it has adhered. It also contains standards to reduce the chance of contact between the mixture and underground supplies of drinking water.
This brings the debate about fracking back to the fore.

While oil and gas companies and their supporters want greater freedom to perform fracking operations, environmentalists were split. Some wanted an absolute ban on fracking, as they desire a carbon-free future and have an energy future dominated by renewable energy. Others understood that promoting natural gas, which emits greenhouse gases at about half the rate of coal, and enabling it to be plentiful and cheap in order to displace coal, leading to progress in meeting climate change goals and eventually be replaced by renewables as its costs decline in the future. Obama Administration leaders took this latter tack, encouraging fracking to reduce energy prices, yet protecting the environment and public health, too.

In opposition to this, oil and gas developers argued their fracking processes were continually improving over time and there was little evidence of harming drinking water supplies. These groups sued to stop the 2015 fracking regulation without success. With the new administration more sympathetic to oil and gas company concerns, it was a matter of time until the Obama rule would be repealed or altered. Oil and gas companies understood that many states had its own regulations protecting drinking water supply and the local environment, and were willing to comply with each state’s rules as they work in those states.

CCES has the experts to keep you up-to-date with technical interpretations of federal and state and city rules on energy and make sure you get the best information. Marc Karell, P.E., Principal of CCES will speak about recent new New York City energy rules at the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting on Thurs., Jan. 25 at 9:20 am. See http://www.nysba.org/am2018/ for more details.

USEPA Announces 2018 Renewable Fuel Standards

On December 12, 2017, the USEPA published in the Federal Register final volume requirements and associated percentage standards for its renewable fuel standards (RFS) program for calendar year 2018, as well as the biomass-based diesel volume requirement for 2019. See: https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/final-renewable-fuel-standards-2018-and-biomass-based-diesel-volume

As can be seen in the table below, he annual volume quotas for how much renewable fuel must be added to gasoline and diesel are virtually unchanged from 2017. These values set national standards for distributors to reduce the overall use of petroleum-based fuel.

Final Volume Requirements                     2017            2018            2019
Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)           311               288                 –
Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)       2.0                2.1              2.1
Advanced biofuel (billion gallons)              4.28              4.29              –
Renewable fuel (billion gallons)               19.28            19.29              –

The reaction to this was mixed. Many had feared that the USEPA would reverse the trend and lower significantly the required introduction of various biofuel, which current leadership sees as a hindrance to business. For them this is a victory.

However, many in the renewable fuel industry saw keeping requirements pretty much flat as harmful to business growth. The National Biodiesel Board and the governor of at least one corn-growing state complained that keeping requirements flat would harm many U.S. business sectors, including farmers, producers, truckers, and consumers.

Meanwhile, the petroleum industry was also disappointed with the flat RFS volumes of the coming year, and that the USEPA’s failed to repair a flawed program that answers to corn and other interests.

CCES has the energy experts to help you assess your fuel and electricity sources to maximize financial benefits and to strategize to ensure you have reliable fuel sources. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Lowering Energy Costs of Data Centers

Data centers and their servers within them are of growing importance to companies. As companies have painfully learned during non-functional periods, such as breakdowns, severe storms, or blackouts, the cost for a company of losing data is tremendous. It has been cataloged that many companies went out of business as a result of hurricanes or other natural disasters that caused data centers to stop functioning and lose data. After all, a lot of what a company is its data. Without which (for controls, sales, marketing, etc.) it can be existential. Even “small” companies realize the importance of a high-quality data center system.

Therefore, in utilizing larger and more redundant equipment and systems, companies are finding themselves paying a heavy energy cost penalty. Not only must they operate large amounts of energy-using equipment, but to prevent malfunctions (often due to excessive heating of systems), such data centers are often cooled 24/7 to very low temperatures, extracting a cooling energy penalty, too.

What can be done to maintain the reliability of a data center, or but save some energy costs, too?  The federal government’s Energy Star lists 12 items an operator can do to manage and minimize energy use and costs of a data center. See: https://www.energystar.gov/products/low_carbon_it_campaign/12_ways_save_energy_data_center These include decommissioning non-functioning systems, consolidating under-used servers, utilizing fans with variable speed drives, utilizing HVAC with air-side or water-side economizers, and others. The webpage lists several case studies.

Another way to reduce costs and improve reliability is to implement combined heat and power (CHP cogen) systems to supply electricity for data centers. CHP utilizes the waste heat from a boiler that would otherwise be lost to produce electricity, reducing the amount purchased from the local utility. Early data centers were often located remote from other offices or facilities of a firm, but the more recent trend is to co-locate a data center within an existing facility, often the corporate headquarters. This makes CHP more appealing, as it can produce electricity and steam for multiple functions besides a data center.

According to Persistence Market Research (https://www.persistencemarketresearch.com/mediarelease/us-combined-heat-and-Power-systems-market.asp), growth in CHP for data centers in the U.S. will be at 3.4% annually through 2024, as business owners see rising energy costs, and need to minimize the rising usage with maintaining a reliable data center. A growing number of utilities encourage companies to generate their own electricity and putting less demand onto the grid, and will provide financial incentives to incorporate. Revenue sales of CHP systems for data centers is estimated to reach $277 million in 2024, and will be predominantly high in five high-use energy states known to have corporate and data centers, California, New York, Washington, Texas and Massachusetts.

Data centers with greater and more sophisticated servers will become more common as the risk of losing data through natural disasters or loss of power becomes recognized as a critical issue for a company’s survival. These more redundant systems have an energy penalty associated with it, therefore, driving efforts to maintain such systems in a reliable manner while minimizing energy costs.

CCES has the technical experts to help you assess all of your company’s or building’s energy needs and be able to have you function normally and reliably, while reducing your energy costs and getting additional financial benefits, as well (improve sales, reduce O&M, etc.). We are here to maximize your financial benefits for utilizing smart energy conservation methods. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Upcoming Trends In The LED Market

The use of more energy efficient LED lights to replace incandescents and fluorescent lights has reduced total carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 570 million tons in 2017, according to a report issued by IHS Markit, or by 1.5%.

LEDs achieve this because they are more efficient than current light sources, using, on average, 40% less electricity for the same amount of light compared to fluorescents and about 80% less electricity than incandescents. An incandescent filament source needs about 7 watts to produce about 100 lumens of light. A fluorescent source needs about 2 watts to produce the same light. Metal halides and high-pressure sodium bulbs about 1 watt. LEDs, however, can produce this same amount of light using just 0.5 watt. Given this differential at many thousands of facilities, encompassing hundreds of thousands of light sources, that is many megawatts of power not needed and, therefore, all the more oil or gas or coal that needs to be combusted to make that power. Thus the major reduction in CO2 emissions.

Although LED lights are more expensive than current light sources, these electrical reductions make converting to LED lights quite economical, “low hanging fruit”.
Initially, there was objection to LED lighting based on their inability to be dimmed or the quality of light not being complementary to certain uses. But in time, these issues have been resolved, and LED lights today are dimmable and can have its intensity altered.

Upcoming Trends

Case studies have shown that spaces lit by the right LEDs have a whiter or higher quality of light, resulting in better worker productivity and better school performance. More vendors are specializing in such LEDs that will more likely result in better performance as their way of separating themselves from the pack.

Another item that has been driving the LED market is government or utility incentives. Such organizations have paid some of the upfront cost to building owners willing to change out large quantities of lights because this represents a relief to a stressed utility infrastructure. However, as LED light prices have been coming down, these organizations realize that the pure economic benefit of a building upgrading their lighting with LEDs is great enough; incentives will not add that much to the fine payback LEDs result in. The trend in utilities is to use incentive funds for other, more expensive energy-saving technologies and less for LEDs.

Finally, LEDs were initially more popular in states like NY, NJ, CT, MA, and CA, partially because energy-saving and greenhouse gas-reducing is part of their cultures, but also because the economics were better there because electric rates are higher in those states than in others. However, with more competition and the further drop in LED prices, even in other US states where electric usage rates are lower, converting to LEDs makes a lot of sense financially. Expect to see sales rise in the Midwest and the South.

CCES has the experts to help you assess whether now is the time to convert to LEDs for your commercial space. We can evaluate potential savings, payback, and IRR for you to determine if this is the right time. If you go ahead with a conversion, CCES can manage the project for you, saving you time to concentrate on other things, while ensuring that anticipated cost savings and other benefits are achieved. You reduce cost without the hassle. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

DOE Plans Major Changes To Its Appliance Energy Conservation Program

On November 21, 2017 the US DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) that provides notice DOE is considering wholesale changes to its energy conservation standards program. The current program for reducing energy consumption contains mandatory, minimum efficiency standards for appliances and other consumer, commercial, and industrial products that must be revisited every six years. The RFI suggests that the Trump Administration may replace this mechanism with a more market-oriented one. The RFI specifically solicits feedback on how trading schemes might be applied to energy conservation. The Federal Register notice was published on November 28 (see https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/11/28/2017-25663/energy-conservation-program-energy-conservation-standards-program-design) giving interested parties 90 days to comment (February 26, 2018).

The Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) requires the DOE to set minimum energy conservation standards for over 60 consumer, commercial, and industrial products. Manufacturers and importers must test and certify that their covered products meet all applicable energy conservation standards prior to initial distribution and annually after that. EPCA also requires DOE to review each energy conservation standard at least every six years for potential revision. This contains an “anti-backsliding” provision, preventing the DOE from loosening energy conservation standards for any reason.

The Trump Administration has put on hold several new energy conservation standards promulgated late in the Obama Administration. DOE Secretary Perry has called this program “overly burdensome”.

The RFI solicits feedback and suggestions on how market-based approaches might be used to improve energy efficiency. The RFI uses as a model established market-oriented approaches in other areas, such as the automotive corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, which permit automobile manufacturers to average the fuel efficiency of their automobiles across their entire fleet rather than have to comply with the individual fuel efficiency standard of each vehicle class. The RFI also cites the USEPA Acid Rain Program, a large regional cap-and-trade program, which succeeded in achieving significant reductions in power plant SO2 and NOx emissions by creating emission credits to be bought and sold to meet mandatory reduction goals. The RFI wishes to achieve energy use reductions at high efficiency and reduced cost.

The RFI is the DOE’s first significant attempt to modify the energy conservation standards program since it was enacted in 1987. Any changes to the rule can significantly impact energy and electricity usage and with that energy costs for all businesses and residents nationwide, greenhouse gas emissions and management of our electric grid, including the number and types of power plants nationwide. The public and manufacturers and importers of appliances have until February 26, 2018 to submit ideas and comments to the DOE for consideration in its redesign of the program.

CCES has the experts to help you plan and design your energy management program to maximize the direct financial benefits of minimizing energy use, including the most energy efficient equipment. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Another Financial Benefit of Energy Efficiency: Improved Space Utilization

This blog and newsletter have published many articles substantiating the many different ways a building owner, manager, or tenant will benefit financially from implementing smart proven energy efficiency strategies. Besides saving on one’s direct energy bill, there is improved asset value, making space more attractive to increase demand from tenants, reduced O&M, and higher productivity and retail sales. Now here is another one. Philips Lighting recently released a study estimating that businesses globally could reduce their office space per employee by as much as 50% and realize savings of up to $1.5 trillion just in reduced rental costs if office buildings were refurbished to the most efficient current standards. $220 billion of the savings is estimated for North America. Real estate costs are a major concern to any business; any opportunity to reduce the fixed cost of rental space can be very beneficial. See: https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3017951/refurbish-offices-to-save-usd15tr-philips-lighting-tells-business

These estimations were based on the results of an actual move by a major Deloitte office into a space considered very advanced in terms of energy efficiency. Deloitte reduced their space utilization from 50.2 sq. ft. per full-time employee to 24.9, not only saving on the amount of space they needed to rent, but on their energy costs, too, as they had less space to condition, light, and service. Deloitte also attributed increases in worker productivity and wellbeing in the new space, in part, due to the energy efficiency improvements.

The new office space used by Deloitte uses LED lighting and smart technology allowing employees to adjust the lighting and temperature at their own workspaces via a smartphone app. The system also provides building managers with real-time data on both energy usage and office utilization to help maximize energy and operational efficiency, based on data collected by sensors embedded in the lighting.

CCES has the technical expertise to help your office or any other space become more energy efficient, whether your goal is, like Deloitte’s, to be high tech or whether your goal is more modest. We can help you incorporate the right technology for your budget and goals to attain the greatest financial benefit, whether it be controlling real estate costs, utility costs, or to boost productivity and asset value. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Address Your Peak Demand To Really Reduce Costs

It used to be that a building utilized an electricity meter, which recorded how much electricity was entering the building during a month (billing cycle), it would be recorded, and the building owner would be charged for that electricity used (in kilowatt-hours). Simple: the more usage, the more one would pay. But some time ago that changed for many utilities. As the economy grew and technology grew, electricity demand rose greatly. However, keeping up with the growth in demand became a challenge due to more farflung buildings and infrastructure upgrades to provide power. For many utilities, it is possible that they cannot deliver electricity to all users in an area, especially during peak demand, which is a hot, summer afternoon when there is maximum usage of air conditioning. Technology has made this worse. For example, people can be comfortable and well air conditioned in their offices and with their smart phones, at the same time, start their air conditioners at home, so the house is comfortable when they walk in.

Being thus challenged, utilities began to confer an additional charge to certain customers for peak demand in addition to the electric usage charge. Having a very high demand (in kilowatts) for a short period – even for just 15 minutes – in a one-month cycle can become very costly. In fact, utilities often charge for peak demand on a sliding scale, with the highest such charges being conferred in the summer. Therefore, while a robust energy audit to reduce usage is a good thing, such an audit should reveal opportunities to also reduce that peak demand, as well.

To address the issue of peak demand, first study your electric bills and see for yourself what your peak demand charges are. How high are they? What rates does your utility use? What has been your historic peak electric rate (peak kW) and how does it vary by season? Once that is better understood, here are some inexpensive, but effective strategies to reduce the peak energy costs, yet still serve your building power needs.

Let’s use an actual example. A large building’s July electric bill indicates a peak demand of 136 kW during one short period due to several rooftop air conditioning units cooling most of the building, many rooms being lit, and a number of laptops, flatscreen TVs, and other plug load operating. The building owner pays $35 per peak kW, a very high rate

Reduce Usage – Reducing usage, of course, not only reduces that charge, but also your peak demand and charge. Simple example: a building replaces 100 fluorescents of 40 watts each with 100 LEDs of 16 watts each. Assuming 50 hours/week of operation, the reduction is 2.4 kW in peak demand and 520 kWh in usage per month. At $35/kW and $0.08/kWh, savings is over $125/month, with three-quarters of this from reducing peak demand. If building can de-lamp fixtures or dim LEDs, savings would be greater.

Modify Scheduling – This building is incurring this high peak demand cost because it is operating many energy intensive processes simultaneously. Modifying the schedule can alleviate this problem of multiple equipment operating, if certain equipment can cycle off during peak hours. Can the rooftop units be rotated such that there is no period when all are operating simultaneously? In other words, operate a couple of them earlier in the day and have them turned off during a particular hot period, but the rooms have been cooled sufficiently for comfort. A building management system (BMS) can be programmed to effect such a solution, such as turning off certain rooftop units during peak times and dimming certain lights, especially those near windows receiving sunlight. For example, a “typical” 20-ton rooftop unit has a demand of 24 kW of power (the actual number depends on its efficiency). If a BMS can ensure that 2 units are not operating at all times, then that peak demand of every unit being on would be reduced by 48 kW. At $35/kW, this would reduce the peak charge by $1,680, well worth the effort. And this is for one month, although the rate represents the summer months, so over one year, the savings would not be this figure times 12.

A related example of scheduling to reduce peak demand is to implement an HVAC scheduling program taking into account the predicted weather to turn on certain units during the night, even if the building is unoccupied, instead of a custodian turning on all of the units at the start of the day. This is applicable to both cooling (air conditioning) and to electric heating. Operating an electric heating unit when it may be very cold at night and the building is not occupied may increase usage slightly, but will reduce the need to use it during occupancy, and, thus, given high demand rates, will reduce peak demand and thus, reduce overall electric costs, even if overall usage rises slightly.

Peak Shaving – Another way to reduce electric demand in a peak period is to create electricity during other time periods to use during what would normally be your peak demand. During periods of low electricity demand, the building can charge batteries with electricity from the grid. Then during times of high electric demand, the building can use the stored electricity instead of having it provided then. Between the capital costs of the batteries and the loss of some electricity in time, this can be a costly option, but it may be economical if the building pays a high peak demand rate. This can also be applied specifically to cooling. Chillers can create ice at night, which is a cooling energy storage. Air can then flow through the ice to provide cooling for the building during a period of peak use, while using little electricity (just for the fans, not to make the cool air).

Alternative Energy – Renewable power, such as solar PV and wind can help reduce peak demand charges, as such sources of power does not require electricity from the grid. Whatever electricity is produced by the solar array is less to be supplied by the utility. Two negatives. One, such systems are expensive to install. Also, they depend on the presence of sun (or wind). If there is a hot day calling for a high cooling demand, but it is also cloudy, then the solar panels cannot produce the needed electricity to meet the basic building demand. Thus, there is no reduction in peak demand from the utility, and the building owner pays the same high demand charge as before.

CCES has the expertise to help your building or company reduce your energy costs, whether it be the usage or the demand portion. We can help you devise strategies to fit your needs for reliable power, while minimizing those high demand costs. Contact us today at karell@CCESWorld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Underevaluated Source of Energy Usage: Plug Load

When a building owner or manager calls for an energy audit, they are usually looking for ways to upgrade lighting, HVAC, insulation or windows to save energy. The big items. Technology has improved markedly in recent years in these areas to justify upgrades resulting in significant energy use savings.

However, one area that is sometimes overlooked in an energy audit is plug load. According to the US Energy Information Administration, plug load can comprise up to 30% of total energy consumption of a commercial building. It should not be neglected.

Plug load is energy demand (almost always electricity) from devices plugged into electrical outlets (one notable exception is a stove/oven, plugged into a supply of natural gas. These devices include computers, speakers, printers, monitors, scanner, copiers, chargers, TVs, space heaters, fans, refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines, vending machines, task (desk) lighting, and others. These are mainly small items and taken for granted because they are so commonplace. However, while each item may draw less electricity compared to a large AC, cumulatively they can use significant energy and if not properly planned and controlled, can impact your energy costs.

3 Things You Can Do To Lower Plug Load Energy Costs

Use Efficient Equipment

While these may be “small” items one just “runs in” and purchases quickly, there are differences in energy use among similar equipment. The USEPA and USDOE have a joint program called “Energy Star” which compares many plug load items. Brands that are Energy Star-certified generally use at least 20% less energy (usually, electricity) than the average for the item, yet performs the same. Such items have an Energy Star logo displayed prominently on the equipment and box. A McKinsey study lists different strategies to reduce GHG emissions (usually matched with energy reduction), and puts plug load programs like Energy Star at or near the top in terms of economic effectiveness. See page 5 of the report from: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/impact-of-the-financial-crisis-on-carbon-economics-version-21. Many Energy Star products may be a few more dollars (or for larger equipment, $50) more expensive than the average one, but the energy savings will pay back that extra upfront cost very quickly, normally in just a few months. And then the savings for the rest of the time you own the equipment is “gravy”.

Another advantage of Energy Star is that it is an energy cost saving approach that does not rely on engineering or any kind of “work.” It is simple: a change in policy by Purchasing to purchase only Energy Star products allow you to lock in cost savings.

Controls

Smart controls allow you to program equipment for, say, “sleep” mode during certain hours or off altogether. For example, software can turn a vending machine’s lights and refrigeration off or reduce them slightly during non-office hours to save energy, yet keep food fresh. Sensors can turn off computers or lights when not in use. Make sure controls can be overridden, when necessary. This allows you to keep energy from being used when not needed, yet does not involve daily manual efforts to do so, which rarely work.

Raise Awareness

Make sure your employees/residents understand the importance of plug load as contributing to energy costs, which affect their costs as employees and renters. In time, they will be motivated to turn off equipment when not in use, saving energy. And they’ll do so at home, saving them costs, as well.

CCES can help your building or company review and analyze your energy use, including equipment, software controls, and operations with the intent of finding common sense and technological solutions to enable you to save significant energy costs while enhancing productivity. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Growing Proof That Improved Indoor Quality Results in Healthier Occupants

Harvard University scientists recently published an article in the journal Building and Environment summarizing 30 years of public health research demonstrating that improved indoor environmental quality directly results in better health outcomes. “The Impact of Working in a Green-Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health” by MacNaughton, Satish, Laurent, Flanigan, Vallarino, Coull, Spengler, and Allen, Building and Environment 114 (2017) 178-186

One recent research project utilized 109 participants from 10 buildings in 5 different US cities that met ASHRAE Standard 62.1 (2010) ventilation requirements and had low indoor total volatile organic compound concentrations. In each city, buildings were matched over time by tenant, type of worker, and work functions. Buildings were distinguished concerning whether they had achieved green certification. Workers were administered a cognitive function test of higher order decision-making performance twice during the same week while indoor environmental quality parameters were monitored. Workers in green-certified buildings scored 26% higher on cognitive function tests, controlling for annual earnings, job category and level of schooling, and had 30% fewer sick building symptoms than those workers in non-certified buildings.

These outcomes may be explained by a number of indoor environmental quality factors which certified green buildings must meet, such as temperature control and lighting. However, the findings suggest that the benefits of green certification standards go beyond measurable environmental quality factors. The researchers have given the name “buildingomics” to describe the holistic approach for examining the complexity of factors in a building that influence human health. They believe further research will identify how these different factors lead to positive cognitive and health results.

In response to this growing trend, the USGBC has recently developed and issued new building standards to maximize indoor environmental quality known as WELL. The first buildings are being evaluated for whether they meet WELL standards and the first practitioners are studying for and becoming accredited as WELL professionals. See: https://www.wellcertified.com/

CCES is growing our expertise about WELL, as well, and can provide for you information about the standards and be able to provide insight and perform a study to demonstrate whether your existing or planned building meets WELL standards and, if not, what can be done to meet the WELL certification standards, including estimated costs to achieve WELL, and to maximize the health and financial benefits of WELL certification. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Update on Energy – October 2017

October 2017 has been an eventful month in US energy news.

Trump Administration Takes Steps to Repeal Clean Power Plan

On October 10, the Trump Administration’s USEPA submitted a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which mandates 32% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, undoing a signature achievement of the previous administration. The proposed change would repeal the CPP entirely, not just the portions that the Administration disagrees with. While the agency has said it will submit a future ”carbon” rule, it did not give any details of when that might be. Therefore, many think this represents repeal, but not replace, of CPP. While some commentators believe the CPP usurps the rights of states to regulate energy and would force a shift from coal, others say that CPP does provide states flexibility on how to comply with the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements. Even USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt acknowledges that GHGs must be regulated due to the “endangerment” rulings made by the Supreme Court in 2007 and 2014; greenhouse gases meet the legal definition of an “air pollutant”, and the Clean Air Act requires its regulation to reduce emissions.

However, the impact of a repeal of CPP, if it survives the inevitable lawusits, is hard to determine. The US has already succeeded in reducing GHG emissions by 13% in the last 9 years, mainly because of a shift from coal to natural gas and growth in renewable energy (both due to market prices). Certainly more and more companies are learning that using cleaner fuels and energy conservation result in major, multiple financial benefits. The recent major storms, some of which were acknowledged to be exacerbated by Climate Change, impact businesses. Between these two, it will be interesting to see how business interests react to the potential elimination of the CPP and disincentives toward clean and renewable power.

USDOE Directs FERC to Issue Rules Supporting Nuclear, Coal

On September 29, USDOE Secretary Rick Perry directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to undertake rulemaking to enable generation assets in regional transmission organizations and independent systems operators to receive payments for reliability and resiliency benefits viewed as uncompensated under current market rules. If adopted, the proposed rule would provide revenue to coal and nuclear generators by allowing cost-based recovery, independent of normal market forces counteracting market forces that have recently have exerted significant downward pressure on rates. Coal producers and nuclear facilities would receive payments just for being “there” in case of an emergency, even if they are not used to supply a utility with electricity. Secretary Perry considers this a security issue, as making coal and nuclear sources more viable would raise the reliability of the US’s electric grid in case of market changes and its resiliency in case of severe storms or conditions. Others feel that this is a way to support the coal and nuclear industries; pay fees for not producing electricity. The proposed rule must be implemented by FERC, not USDOE; thus, it may take some time to go into effect.

Utility-Scale Solar Costs Fell 29% Last Year

A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report showed that utility-scale solar costs fell 29% last year to roughly $35/MWh. This continues a trend as utility-scale solar power purchase agreement (PPA) costs have dropped nearly 75% since 2009. The report can be found: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy17osti/68925.pdf. The USDOE Laboratory based its study on 189 PPAs nationwide totaling nearly 11,800 MW. The cost decline is attributed to lower equipment component costs, improving efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity, and lower labor costs. The NREL study indicates that USDOE’s SunShot Initiative (https://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/sunshot-initiative) has already reached its 2020 cost target for utility-scale solar systems three years early. The report offered that the rate of cost reduction is declining; however, the growing flexibility given by new battery storage projects attached to utility-scale solar will only grow utility-scale solar project’s value.

CCES can help your company with technical issues concerning energy whether it be how to maximize financial benefits of being more energy efficient and how to have your energy system serve you more reliably and resiliently. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.