Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Utilities, Regulation  -  October 17, 2020

Weekend reads: Enforcing corporate responsibility; The most energy-efficient U.S. state

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

Report: Utah Is the Most Energy-Efficient State (U.S. News) According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical American household spends at least $2,000 a year on home utilities. Experts further estimate that space heating and water heating respectively account for 45% and 18% of the average American family's annual utility bill. And based on 2017 data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has been spending upward of $1 trillion per year on energy since the mid-2000s. With more families staying home during the pandemic and driving up energy costs, consumers nationwide could welcome cost-cutting measures. According to a new WalletHub report, Utah, New York and Massachusetts are the three most energy efficient of the contiguous states. Meanwhile, states in the South and Appalachia – Tennessee, West Virginia, and South Carolina – came out as the least energy-efficient states in the survey.

We asked Joe Biden’s campaign 6 key questions about his climate change plans (Vox) Last year, Vox asked every Democratic presidential campaign at the time to answer six questions about climate change. Our questions stemmed from two key themes. The first is that we wanted to know what candidates would do specifically with the powers of the presidency rather than their beliefs. The second theme is that political power, not science, is the main limiting factor to action on climate change. We wanted candidates to go beyond professing their belief in the science and talk about how they will shift the balance of power in government toward their positions. (You can see their responses here). A lot has changed since then. Biden is now the nominee, with California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, and he has put out a more aggressive climate plan than what he had in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic, meanwhile, continues to rage. Millions are out of work. More than 215,000 Americans are dead. With that in mind, we asked the Biden campaign to revisit their responses to see if any priorities had shifted.

Virginia utilities move ahead with energy storage, offshore wind efforts (S&P Global) As Virginia's largest utilities continue to grow their renewable portfolios, they have partnered with some nonprofits and government entities to expand renewable energy storage in Southwest Virginia. Dominion Energy said in an Oct. 14 statement that it plans to use the permitting, design, installation and operations experience from a 12-MW pilot project -- now supplying power to the grid, but not on a commercial basis -- to its proposed 2.6-GW offshore Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, with construction to start in 2024. On Oct. 13, Dominion and Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power, announced a public-private partnership with InvestSWVA, the Appalachian School of Law, Mountain Empire Community College and the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority "to advance energy storage technology" and encourage economic development.

Webinar: No Capital Needed:
 A Guide to No-Cost Energy Projects (Enel X) Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 2:00 PM EDT/11:00 AM PDT. Distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar panels, battery storage systems, and backup generators offer major benefits to large commercial and industrial energy consumers. They can help businesses reduce energy costs and earn more revenue through market programs, incentive payments and more. Many organizations lack the capital to invest in DERs upfront—but that does not mean they cannot pursue a successful, revenue-generating project. This webinar from Enel X will show the wide variety of no-cost energy projects available, and will discuss: The business case for distributed energy resources; financing opportunities for solutions like energy storage and solar; and how new automation maximizes the ROI of these assets. REGISTER HERE

Helsinki Makes Sustainability a Guiding Principle for Development (The New York Times) When his tour as the American ambassador to Finland ended in 2015, Bruce Oreck decided to linger. Part of the draw was a business opportunity. In a neighborhood just north of the city center, Mr. Oreck paid about 11 million euros for a vast, abandoned, century-old train factory. He has been transforming the site into a market and community center that he intends to be a model of green building and consumerism. But Mr. Oreck, who was a New Orleans tax lawyer and professional bodybuilder before he became an Obama political appointee, said he had stayed because he was enchanted by something besides the potential for real estate success. “You don’t hear about it unless you spend time here, but something is happening in Helsinki that isn’t happening almost anywhere else,” Mr. Oreck said. “Helsinki is a city full of people waiting for the revolution. They really want to make the world a better place, and they’re trying to lead by example. Which is a paradox, because Finns are decidedly not showy people.”

If we want more companies like Patagonia, we need laws to enforce it (Fast Company) Corporate America had already been examining its complicity in furthering systemic racism and inequality in the wake of a summer rife with police killings of Black people. Uber, for its part, was one of many companies standing up for what’s right—so long as it didn’t have to change too radically. Several weeks earlier, Uber had committed to anti-racism education for riders and drivers, established that it had no tolerance for discrimination, and pledged $1 million toward criminal justice reform. Even so, the company had committed more than $30 million to overturn AB5, the California law that requires its contract drivers be treated as full-time employees. In other words, Uber was arguing against the single biggest thing it could do to foster equity: give its drivers, which some estimates have put at two-thirds non-white, the stability of healthcare and benefits. (When asked for comment, Uber pointed to previous statements on how it’s fighting AB5 because its workers want flexibility.)

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