I was really suprised to open up my SJ-R today and see this really great article. Hope they print more.

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141013/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/141019833/-1/json

Commentary: Climate change is our problem

By Maggie Lenkart
Voice Correspondent
Posted Oct. 13, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

The effects of climate change and the environment have been in the news a lot in the past few weeks. Last month more than 300,000 people marched in New York to demonstrate for more regulations to help the environment. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio took to the podium to discuss the need for change. Even President Barack Obama called on the American public to start paying attention to this issue.

I plan on majoring in environmental studies in college, and all this focus on climate change makes me happy. I want to be someone to make a change, as I’m sure many other teens do. If we lose the earth, we can’t get it back. I hope that by doing things such as majoring in environmental studies and writing about climate change, I can make a change.

I’m not the only teen who cares about these changes. Other teenagers care — and they should.

“Environmental change will possibly cause our earth to die around us,” said Kayla Houston, a junior at Southeast High School.

Isaac Miller, a senior at Springfield High School, agreed with Kayla and said “If (the earth) gets too bad, we won’t be able to survive.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Everything the Capitalists tell us is a lie. Doing what is good for the planet is good for our homes as well.

 

http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/electricity-prices-fall-europe-german-renewable-energy-increases/

Electricity Prices Fall In Europe As German Renewable Energy Output Increases

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman | Tuesday April 15th, 2014

For the fifth consecutive month, electricity prices in countries neighboring Germany have decreased, recently released Platts data reveals, due in large part to increased solar and wind generation in Germany.

The Platts Continental Power Index (CONT), described as a “demand-weighted base load average of day-ahead contracts assessed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” dropped steadily in early 2014. The index decreased to €35.06 (or about $48.50) per megawatt hour in March, an 18 percent drop from February. Overall, the index is down by more than 39 percent since peaking at €50.50/MWh in November of last year.

“A mid-March surge in German wind output followed seven days of peak solar output, which rose above 20 gigawatts (GW) to a new monthly record of 23 GW on March 20,” Andreas Franke, Platts managing editor of European power and gas said in a news release.

“German power prices for March 16 delivery turned negative as wind power output rose above 24 GW combined with stronger solar production,” Franke continued. “Further along the curve, German year-ahead power prices fell below €34/MWh in March for the first time in more than nine years as the price CO2 fell drastically and coal prices retreated.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I find this all very charming. Not the utility company rasing rates, but the idea that the utility companies think they can fend off solar this way.

 

http://grist.org/climate-energy/utilities-to-battery-powered-solar-get-off-our-lawn/

Utilities to battery-powered solar: Get off our lawn

In Wisconsin, utilities are jacking up the price to connect to their electrical grid. In Oklahoma, utilities pushed through a law this spring that allows them to charge the people who own solar panels and wind turbines more to connect to their electrical grid. In Arizona, the state has decided to charge extra property taxes to households that are leasing solar panels.

Welcome to the solar backlash. In Grist’s “Utilities for Dummies” series last year, David Roberts prophesied that solar and other renewables could “lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground.” And lo, it is coming to pass — though not without a fight from the utilities first.

This May, Barclays downgraded its rating of America’s electricity sector from “market weight” to “underweight.” Its rationale? Solar — or, more specifically, the great leaps that are happening or expected to happen in technology for storing the energy that solar generates. While the solar industry took a roller-coaster ride over the last decade, the R&D that went into electric cars created the killer add-on it was waiting for: really awesome batteries.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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There is such a thing as the cost of doing business.

http://wtax.com/news/101101-ameren-threatens-20-monthly-fee-for-no-smart-meters/

Ameren Threatens $20 Monthly Fee for No Smart Meters

Ameren Illinois says customers who refuse to have an electricity meter installed will see an additional $20 monthly fee on their bills.

Ameren says the so-called smart meters, which transmit details about power usage, enable the utility to pinpoint outage problems and fix them faster. It says the meters can be read remotely and that the $20 fee covers the cost of sending out a person to read the older analog meter.

The company is set to install 780,000 of the new electricity meters in central Illinois and 468,000 upgraded gas meters, which offer similar capabilities.

The Illinois Commerce Commission, the state’s utility regulators, approved the extra charge and said the company should be compensated for meters that require a person to visit them.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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For someone like me that has been at this for so long, you get a little lazy about keeping up with the new stuff so this caught me off guard.

 

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/the-power-monitor-top-tools-for-watching-your-home-energy-use.html

 

The Power Monitor: Top Tools for Watching Your Home Energy Use

You can reduce electricity use by 15 percent without trying. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. For those consumers using power monitors, this these are typical reductions. Just by being aware of where and when electricity is used, you’re far more likely to off a few devices or flipping a few light switches that might have been left on before, and can make a big dent in their energy consumption. IBM just solidified this statistic with their recent smart meter pilot program, and those households who really put in the effort showed as much as a 40% reduction on energy use. When looking at ways to monitor the energy consumption in a home, power monitors fit in three big buckets: checking the consumption of single devices or appliances, monitoring the energy use of a whole house, and online dashboards that link up with utility companies as part of a smart grid. The steady advance of smart grid technologies will bring more and more user-friendly options to the table. But for now, here are the three umbrella categories, and a few of the top tools under each that are helping people shrink the amount of electricity they use.

Plug Load Power Monitors

Kill A Watt is a classic example of a plug load monitor. These are power monitors that plug into a wall outlet, and then the device is plugged into them. They monitor how much energy the device is sucking up. They’re a great way to know which devices are power sippers, and which need to be unplugged. Other examples are the Watts Up Pro, which is similar to, but bulkier than the Kill A Watt; and the Brultech ECM-1220, which can monitor not only plug-in devices but also things that are wired into the home or the plug isn’t accessible (like dishwashers or ceiling fans) thanks to a current sensor that clamps onto the cord of the device.

 

The price range is significant, from about $35 for a Kill A Watt, to about $120 for a Watts Up, to about $250 for a Brultech ECM-1120. So your investment can vary, and really depends on how involved you need your basic plug load monitor to be.

You can check out a couple of these reviewed by Jon Plowman, the former head of BBC Comedy, along with some from the next category

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Go there and read. More next week.

 

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So how would we build a house that consumed as much energy as possible? Well, first let us start with Neon Lighting. I am talking about the old fashioned Las Vegas style. The only lighting allowed in the house.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_lighting

Neon lighting

Neon lighting consists of brightly glowing, electrified glass tubes or bulbs that contain rarefied neon or other gases. Neon lights are a type of cold cathode gas-discharge light. A neon tube light is a sealed glass tube with a metal electrode at each end, filled with one of a number of gases at low pressure. A high potential of several thousand volts applied to the electrodes ionizes the gas in the tube, causing it to emit colored light by fluorescence. The color of the light depends on the gas in the tube. Neon lights were named for neon, a noble gas which gives off a popular red light, but other gases and chemicals are used to produce other colors, such as helium (yellow), carbon dioxide (white), and mercury (blue). Neon tubes can be fabricated in curving artistic shapes, to form letters or pictures. They are mainly used to make dramatic, multicolored glowing signage for advertising, called neon signs, which were popular from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The term can also refer to the miniature neon glow lamp, developed in 1917, about seven years after neon tube lighting.[1] While neon tube lights are typically meters long, the neon lamps can be less than one centimeter in length and glow much more dimly than the tube lights. They are still in use as small indicator lights. Through the 1970s, neon glow lamps were widely used for numerical displays in electronics, for small decorative lamps, and as signal processing devices in circuity. While these lamps are now antiques, the technology of the neon glow lamp developed into contemporary plasma displays and televisions.[2][3]

Georges Claude, a French engineer and inventor, presented neon tube lighting in essentially its modern form at the Paris Motor Show from December 3–18, 1910.[4][5][6] Claude, sometimes called “the Edison of France”,[7] had a near monopoly on the new technology, which became very popular for signage and displays in the period 1920-1940. Neon lighting was an important cultural phenomenon in the United States in that era;[8] by 1940, the downtowns of nearly every city in the US were bright with neon signage, and Times Square in New York City was known worldwide for its neon extravagances.[9][10] There were 2000 shops nationwide designing and fabricating neon signs.[11][12] The popularity, intricacy, and scale of neon signage for advertising declined in the U.S. following the Second World War (1939–1945), but development continued vigorously in Japan, Iran, and some other countries.[11] In recent decades architects and artists, in addition to sign designers, have again adopted neon tube lighting as a component in their works

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Go there and read. More next week.

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That is right. While they really can’t raise your electricity  rates, they will in effect be raising your electricity costs. That is because Carbon Sequestration is expensive.

 

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/epa-approves-futuregen-plan-for-carbon-dioxide-storage/article_3a5a3b42-0de6-5621-8e60-dd446b50244b.html

EPA approves FutureGen plan for carbon dioxide storage

16 hours ago  • 

Updated at 6:25 p.m.

CHICAGO • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday said it has approved permits for the FutureGen clean coal project to store carbon dioxide underground, a key step in the longstanding plan to build the project.

FutureGen plans to store carbon dioxide, a greenhouse linked to climate change, after capturing it from a power plant in western Illinois.

“The issuance of the permit is a major milestone that will allow FutureGen 2.0 to stay on track to develop the first ever commercial-scale, near-zero emissions coal-fueled power plant with integrated carbon capture and storage,” FutureGen Alliance CEO Ken Humphreys said in a printed statement.

The FutureGen Alliance is a group of coal companies that are trying to build the $1.65 billion project with $1 billion in financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I am really shocked by this article. The idea that residential energy consumption could change so dramatically  in only 16 years is so amazing. Its like when we shifted to coal or later when we shifted to natural gas and then electricity. Only nobody is really talking about it.

 

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10271

March 7, 2013

Heating and cooling no longer majority of U.S. home energy use

For decades, space heating and cooling (space conditioning) accounted for more than half of all residential energy consumption. Estimates from the most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), collected in 2010 and 2011 and released in 2011 and 2012, show that 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 was for heating and cooling, down from 58% in 1993. Factors underpinning this trend are increased adoption of more efficient equipment, better insulation, more efficient windows, and population shifts to warmer climates. The shift in how energy is consumed in homes has occurred even as per-household energy consumption has steadily declined.

While energy used for space conditioning has declined, energy consumption for appliances and electronics continues to rise. Although some appliances that are subject to federal efficiency standards, such as refrigerators and clothes washers, have become more efficient, the increased number of devices that consume energy in homes has offset these efficiency gains. Non-weather related energy use for appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting now accounts for 52% of total consumption, up from 42% in 1993. The majority of devices in the fastest growing category of residential end-uses are powered by electricity, increasing the total amount of primary energy needed to meet residential electricity demand. As described in yesterday’s Today in Energy, increased electricity use has a disproportionate effect on the amount of total primary energy required to support site-level energy use.

Other notable trends in household energy consumption include:

  • The average U.S. household consumed 11,320 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity in 2009, of which the largest portion (7,526 kWh) was for appliances, electronics, lighting, and miscellaneous uses.
  • On average, residents living in homes constructed in the 1980s consumed 77 million Btu of total energy at home. By comparison, those living in newer homes, built from 2000 to 2009, consumed 92 million Btu per household, which is 19% more.
  • Space heating accounted for 63% of natural gas consumed in U.S. homes in 2009; the remaining 37% was for water heating, cooking, and miscellaneous uses.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Most environmentalists go after coal fired power plants. They make a mistake. Methane is a much more dagerous and persistent gas and our houses use more and thus waste more of it.

http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-use/home-work/

How We Use Energy

Home & Work

We use energy in homes and commercial buildings in similar ways. We keep rooms at comfortable temperatures, provide lighting, heat water for bathing and hand washing, and power computers, copiers, appliances, and other technologies. Many of these luxuries weren’t even possible 100 years ago—and they require a lot of energy. In 2008, 41% of all the energy consumed in the United States went to powering homes and commercial buildings.

Many of these luxuries weren’t even possible 100 years ago—and they require a lot of energy.

Whether you live in an apartment, townhouse, or a single-family home, chances are you want to keep it warm in cold weather. Data from 2006 show that space heating accounts for the greatest energy usage in the residential sector, with the rest devoted, in decreasing proportions, to appliances, water heating, and air-conditioning. At 7%, electronics usage surpasses washers/dryers and dishwashers, cooking, and computers in energy use. Appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters, and washers/dryers are all considerably more energy efficient than they used to be, thanks to legislation that requires appliances to meet strict standards.

In U.S. homes, natural gas is the most widely used energy source (49%), followed by the secondary energy source, electricity, at 39%. That’s reversed in commercial buildings, where electricity (55%) is depended on more than natural gas (32%). The commercial sector includes a broad array of building types, including offices, grocery stores, sports arenas, schools, shopping malls, hotels, and hospitals. Practically any space where groups gather falls into this economic sector. The energy needs for these different buildings vary but when viewed as a whole, more than half of the energy used in commercial buildings goes to just heating (36%) and lighting (21%). Within this sector, retail stores and service buildings use the most total energy (20%), followed by office buildings (17%) and schools (13%).

For a fuller picture of energy use in these sectors, explore Our Energy System.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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My friend, Margie Vicknair, lives in Southern Louisiana and recently leased a solar system for her residence. That is all I will say about Margie or the company she leases from. The purpose of this post is not to “out” Margie ashe is a single gal, nor to advertise a company, because we do not do that here. But it is to show that real people can get real benefits from solar leasing. (sorry i did not post this last week but I got on a tear about silly humans and i just could not let it go. and even sorry about the death of Robin Williams – nanoo nanoo)

http://solarprofessional.com/articles/finance-economics/the-evolution-of-residential-solar-leasing

 

The Evolution of Residential Solar Leasing

The introduction of the solar lease financing model and third-party system ownership has rapidly and fundamentally transformed the residential solar market in the US. One could argue that the advent of high-voltage string inverters in the US market in 2001 was the last transformative event of this magnitude. The solar lease is a once-ina- decade industry-changing product that has created vast opportunities for some integration firms, and competitive challenges and disadvantages for others. Examining the evolution of the residential solar lease, its current status, and likely future developments can assist integrators in navigating these often complex and quickly evolving system-financing mechanisms.

Solar Lease History

Many people contend that the residential solar lease was born in 2007 when Sunrun, a start-up finance company led by two Stanford business graduates, introduced its residential lease product. Lynn Jurich and Ed Fenster believed that the number one, two and three obstacles to the propagation of residential solar were—no surprise—money, money and money. Sunrun’s financial model was simple: Leverage investor resources and tax equity to purchase PV systems on behalf of residential homeowners, providing a financed solution with no or low up-front costs. The solar lease effectively simplifies a homeowner’s path to investing in solar. Under this model, the lease provider—not the residential homeowner— receives all rebates, tax credits and depreciation. The lease provider in turn offers a warranty on all aspects of the system and provides some degree of system monitoring and O&M over the typical 20-year lease term. At the end of the term, homeowners have three options: renew the lease, purchase the system at fair market value or have the system removed at no cost.

Residential solar lease providers typically offer two plan options.

Monthly payment plan. A monthly payment plan allows for zero money down or a low up-front investment, usually in the $1,000–$4,000 range. The homeowner agrees to purchase all the electricity produced by the PV system for the next 20 years at a rate lower than or equal to the local rate of conventional power per kilowatt hour. Depending on the specifics of the financing, the new rate may include an escalator that can be more beneficial to the lease provider than to the customer. The general lease approach provides the homeowner an opportunity to switch to solar power without having to come up with the system’s total cost out of pocket. It also streamlines the homeowner’s transaction by eliminating the need to claim the 30% federal tax credit.

Prepaid plan. Under this plan, the homeowner makes a large payment (typically about 65% of the total system cost) at the initiation of the lease term, but does not need to make another payment over the lease’s 20-year term. This approach enables the customer to have a PV system installed without shouldering the tax liability necessary to take full advantage of available tax credits. A prepaid plan may be ideal for a homeowner such as a retiree living on a fixed income, who is prepared to make a large investment in solar but does not have the tax appetite required to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit. The system owner also typically benefits from an extended warranty, O&M services and system monitoring provided over the 20-year term.

Both of these options have proven to be very appealing to a large number of consumers who want to make the switch to solar. According the 2012 U.S. Solar Market Insight report published by GTM Research and SEIA, as of Q2 2012 solar leases finance approximately 70% of residential installations in the major markets of California and Colorado, 80% of the installations in Arizona and more than 45% in Massachusetts. The increase in third-party–owned residential systems is expected to continue across all mature solar markets.

Early on, solar lease providers faced challenges from a regulatory standpoint. Existing rebate and interconnection processes were based on the concept of sole ownership. However, Sunrun and other solar finance companies have worked diligently to resolve these issues. Residential solar lease financing is now available in at least 12 states. The primary limiter on these products is generally not regulatory issues, but regional financial viability based on available financial incentives, electricity costs and the region’s solar resources. Currently only a few states explicitly prohibit third-party residential financing.

Current Lease Models

As residential lease products continue to evolve, providers are developing and refining a range of business models. There are currently three solar leasing models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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