Category Archives: Renewable Energy

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

U.S. Climate Change News October 2017

Trump Administration Takes Steps To Repeal the Clean Power Plan. On October 10, 2017, USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt submitted to the Federal Register proposed legislation to repeal the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature legislation to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gases (GHG) by developing stringent GHG emission standards for power production. As coal-fired power plants cannot reasonably meet these emission standards. The USEPA believes it is unfair to have legislation to target a particular fuel type, and began the repeal process to encourage growth in coal usage from U.S. mines. This is quite controversial as coal, a high emitter of GHGs, as well as other and toxic compounds, is still a major source of energy in the U.S. electric industry. By encouraging coal production and use, the U.S. would be hard-pressed to meet the Paris Climate Accord goals, although President Trump has already announced that the U.S. will leave the Accord anyway. In addition, much has been written that this move may make little difference, as other economic factors makes coal a non-ideal choice as a fuel for a utility (see below), such as the declining cost of building and operating a renewable plant. The public has 60 days from initial publication in the Federal Register to comment after which the USEPA must respond before making the repeal official.

States, Cities And Private Businesses Put U.S. Halfway To Paris Climate Accord Goal. According to a study released on September 25 by New Climate Institute and the Climate Group, efforts to address climate change by states, cities and corporations have already put the U.S. halfway toward its Paris Accord climate goal despite the current Administration’s attempt to reverse recent federal efforts. The study estimated that such efforts will cause GHG emissions to drop by 12-14% below the 2005 baseline by 2025. The study, based on certified data from the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that U.S. private sector commitments were the biggest factor in reducing GHG emissions. The decline in emissions are being caused mainly by these commitments of switching from fossil fuel combustion to renewable power.

First State-Wide, Economy-Wide Carbon Tax Is Proposed. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Massachusetts House and another in the Senate that would establish a tax on fossil fuels with the goals to reduce GHG emissions and return the proceeds to consumers and businesses. https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1726. Both bills would impose an initial tax of $10 or $20 per ton of CO2 emissions, rising to $40 per ton in the future. Several years ago, the USEPA estimated that the cost of a ton of GHG emissions was about $42 per ton, which was why they chose this endpoint. It was understood it needed to be approached gradually. Both bills require refunding of some or all of the tax proceeds to households and businesses.
It is estimated that should either bill become law the price of gasoline and heating fuel in Massachusetts would eventually rise by about 35 cents per gallon. The bills contain rebate programs to incentivize energy efficiency, rewarding businesses or households that reduce energy usage per employee (or member), not just energy usage as a whole.

Currently, Massachusetts enforces GHG reduction rules targeted to power plants. However, with electric generation comprising just 28% of GHG emissions in Massachusetts, legislators felt it was time to regulate other sectors, as well, particularly, the transportation sector, which accounts for about 30% of statewide GHG emissions.

While certain business groups are concerned about competitiveness and disproportionate impacts, the bills have many co-sponsors. Therefore, it is likely that some such bill will pass and with a sympathetic governor, a carbon tax would become law in Massachusetts, perhaps signed in 2018, going into initial effect in 2019.

CCES has the technical experts to help you assess your energy needs and help you be more energy efficient, which has many financial benefits, including preparing for future carbon taxes or monetization of GHG emission credits. Contact us today and we can help at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Why Energy Should Be Incorporated As Part of Your Company’s Strategy

It’s approaching the end of the year, which means self-evaluation of your company. What went well; what did not. What can be changed or should be incorporated to ensure growth moving forward? Historically, companies focus on sales and profits. Look at the headlines in major business journals: “XYZ Reports Auto Sales Jumped by X% In 1 Year”, etc. Expenses are pretty important, but the one that most companies seem to focus on is labor, as in how can it be lowered (lay off workers, increase automation, etc.). While companies cumulatively spend billions on energy annually, that expense is considered a fixed expense with little need for managing. This is a mistake. Companies can reduce energy costs and at the same time reduce risk and improve resilience.

Energy should be more important to a corporation given the fixed supply of it and issues involving regulations due to environmental, climate change, and business trends. Companies can now make choices about its energy sources and usage that it could not have made before with impacts on profit, costs, and flexibility. This is exemplified by the shift in the U.S. from traditional industrial manufacturing to more IT, cloud-based services by corporations, where energy costs can be a potential deal breaker.

Sources

Companies now have many more options of where energy comes from than before. A major new force is renewables. Solar, wind, hydro have been around for a while, but major technological advances now make building an operating a solar PV farm comparable to purchasing electricity from the local utility or running your own cogen. With the growing number of states who want to achieve a higher percentage of power derived from renewables and utilities wanting to get more facilities to become independent because of infrastructure concerns, incentives exist to sweeten the pot even more if one wants to invest in renewable power.

Another approach is to look at site-specific approaches and restrictions. You have a specific facility in a certain country or region. What are the sources of energy that are most easily accessible and plentiful in that region? Companies should make sure that equipment is capable of using that fuel or be ready to invest in new plants to secure that energy source. And they should take the long view. Which fuels may be impacted by future climate change rules or by future shortages for political or technical reasons?

Usage

Obviously, reducing usage of a fuel critical for your operations will reduce costs. But doing so will also improve your operational flexibility. If there is a looming shortage of a critical fuel, and you use less of it than your competitors, that flexibility puts you in a more commanding position, needing less. Being able to use more than one type of fuel for critical operations is beneficial, too, and gives your firm tremendous flexibility to ride price upheavals.

An overlooked issue in minimizing energy usage and improve flexibility is treatment of heavy equipment. Boilers, AC equipment, electric generators all need to be maintained and replaced at the appropriate times. It is a positive investment to perform retro-commissioning to maintain that the equipment is operating as you wish it; for you, the owner, to get your money’s worth. Also overlooked is proper training. Sometimes the first to be let go are maintenance workers; they appear not to contribute to the “bottom line”. But good maintenance people and managers (overseeing good procedures) can lengthen the effective life of equipment and keep down usage and costs very effectively.

How-To

A key to getting energy to be taken seriously as a top-of-the-line corporate interest is to have the top person, the CEO, involved. He/she should understand the importance of managing energy in a robust way and what the benefits are to the company’s moving forward. There may be doubters in the C-suite, including people who may not want Energy to “elbow its way” into decision making. But if the CEO understands the ultimate value of considering, tracking, and managing energy sources and usage, then those doubters can be silenced. So invest time in educating the entire C-suite, but particularly the CEO and update him/her on developments.

Make sure that energy is tracked as well as other business items, such as sales, workforce, profits, etc., and is included in business reports. Make sure that gains and benefits are explained and recognized.

CCES can help your company develop a robust energy program to serve your company. Its infrastructure, as well as technical evaluations of strategies to raise its value in the company and to demonstrate financial benefits. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Some Environmental Legal Updates – August 2017

Things change so quickly, but here are a few new items that have gone on this summer. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had been very vocal about how he feels EPA regulations have hurt industry and job creation. Since taking office, he has quietly begun an effort to repeal or not to enforce several Obama-era environmental rules.

On July 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit nixed EPA Administrator’s Scott Pruitt’s attempt to delay a rule limiting methane leaks at oil and gas facilities. The rule requires companies digging for natural gas to plug leaks of methane, which would help them recover natural gas they can sell, as well as reduce emissions of a potent greenhouse gas and air pollutant. As part of his effort to ease regulations for industry, Pruitt decided, instead of having the rule repeal, to instead achieve the same end by suspending the rule’s compliance deadlines. The EPA had argued that the Clean Air Act allowed the EPA to do this (temporarily suspend a rule) while considering objections that could not have been raised prior to the rule’s issuance. However, the court found the claim to be false. The objections were clearly shown to have been raised earlier.

Pruitt’s actions to repeal or reduce enforcement of rules have been done very quietly without proper public notice or comment. The Administrative Procedure Act requires EPA to seek and respond to public input before taking major deregulatory steps. But Pruitt has been attempting to bypass that requirement by suspending rules indefinitely without public comment, instead of repealing them. Suspension can only occur for rules before they go into effect. Therefore, he has been successful in only suspending rules that had just been promulgated at the end of the Obama Administration, but had not gone into effect yet.

Once a rule goes into effect, elements of the rule, such as what is compliance and when it goes into effect cannot be suspended or altered without a request for public comment, and serious review of such comment. This has not stopped the EPA from suspending compliance deadlines for several rules after those rules went into effective.

On July 18, 2017, the EPA published in the Federal Register its proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program: Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019. (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-07-21/pdf/2017-14632.pdf). The proposed volume requirements represent decreases from current standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and renewable fuel. Only the requirements for renewable fuel is essentially the same in 2018 and 2019 compared to 2017. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by August 31, 2017.

While the proposed reduction in the amount of renewable fuel is relatively small, many in the biofuels industry are concerned that it sends the signal to the market that the U.S. renewable fuel industry will no longer grow. The proposed volume requirements may undercut the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. reliance on foreign energy and reviving U.S. manufacturing, despite President Trump’s repeated pledge to support the ethanol industry.

Please note that this should not be considered a legal interpretation in any way. For further information, speak to a qualified environmental legal representative to fully understand new or modified rules and how they may affect you and your firm. CCES has the technical experts to help you keep abreast of new rule changes at the federal and state level and how to address them to impact you as little as possible. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.