Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dark Grid: Electric Utilities Scramble to Get Smart

Here is a great article in Forbes regarding the incredible opportunities that utilities have with our nation's electricity grid to make them "smarter". I learned in one of my renewable energy classes (and it's talked about in this article) that utilities don't know when their customers have a power outage until those customers call and let them know the power is out. How crazy is that? Unfortunately it's true. The power grid is dumb because there is no instant feedback mechanism to provide utility operators with real-time information on the state of the grid and power flow. Lot's of money is beginning to be poured into making the grid smarter, which I think will ultimately be good for the electricity consumer.

A Colorado Community Center Powered by the Sun

How cool is this? A community center in Glenwood Springs is generating 20.5 kW of sweet and clean renewable electricity from our friend the sun. Now this is only about 2% of the community center's electricity usage, but they have completed an energy audit of the center, which after implementing $250,000 in efficiency improvements, the center is expected to save another $31,000/year. That's about an 8-year ROI and less carbon going into the atmosphere each of those years and beyond. Congrats to the Glenwood Springs community for setting a good example and thinking about the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Final Approval Paves Way for Colorado’s Largest Private Solar Array

Good news coming from the Western Slope of Colorado. The Clean Energy Collective is going to build a private 1.5 megawatt solar array in Rifle, Colorado. "Private" essentially means that this will be a community-owned clean energy plant. The Clean Energy Collective builds the plant and then members from the community are allowed to purchase as much clean energy as they can afford. They then get a credit on their electricity bill from the local utility. This is a fascinating business model and is worth keeping an eye on. I wish we had some of this love on the Front Range.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy Expands to Meet Demand for Full-Scale Business Sustainability

This is great. Local Colorado firm Renewable Choice Energy has been focusing on implementing business sustainability programs over the last 18 months. From this article it appears that awareness of business sustainability methods is increasing. The article also mentions that they've outgrown four Boulder, CO offices. I guess business sustainability programs make good sense!

FERC Moves Ahead With Campaign to Promote Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Interesting article from The Times on how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is full steam ahead with putting policy in place to help promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Some of these proposals are a bit controversial, if you are an energy generator, although it appears that consumers would benefit from some if not all of these FERC proposals. It also seems like this is going to come down to the fed's right versus the states' rights to regulate their energy production, transmission, and consumption. We'll see what happens. I'm glad that our current regulators have an ear and eye towards renewable energy and energy efficiency for U.S. consumers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Need More Programs Like the Key West High School Alternative Energy Center

The students these days are really fortunate to have alternative energy programs like this. I think that this is a positive sign renewable energy is beginning to take root in our collective psyche unlike in the 1970s during the last energy crisis. I could be naive here because I was knee high to a grasshopper when the oil crisis happened in the 1970s. But people I've talked to that were conscious during that period said there was an emphasis on finding alternative energies but the momentum evaporated when oil became cheap again.

What makes this time different? There is more of a focus in our educational system on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability at the high school level and even at the grade school level. Our future policy makers and business leaders are being educated today on alternative energies. This simply means that renewable energies and energy efficiency and sustainability practices will permeate our society and flourish at a much greater rate than today. That's my theory anyway and it gives me great hope for the future.

So when get a chance you have to check out the Key West High School Alternative Energy Center blog and leave a comment of encouragement for these students. And dear readers if you know of any school programs like this in Colorado please list them in the comments!

BLM Auctioning Off Geothermal Parcel

Looks like we are going to have a geothermal project somewhere in Chaffee County, Colorado. Clean geothermal energy is always good news. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also providing assessments on two other geothermal parcels of land near Gunnison. I think Interior Secretary Salazar deserves some of the credit for expediting the process for parcel auctions of BLM land for renewable energy projects. I look forward to seeing what's developed.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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