Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Green Energy Can Fuel Economic Recovery

With the U.S. economy continuing to suffer through a serious economic slowdown and unemployment reaching 7.2 percent nationwide (9.1 in Nevada), there is no better time for green energy — specifically measures already passed by Congress — to become a priority in helping fuel economy recovery.

Just one of these measures, the funding of Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) Section 471, could create up to 7,000 jobs by the end of 2010. In fact, according to the International District Energy Association (IDEA), job creation could start immediately by focusing efforts on "shovel-ready" projects. IDEA has compiled some 62 member projects that are ready to start in 28 states.

Funding EISA Section 471 creates jobs and sustainable benefits.

• It provides near-term economic stimulus, designing and building new clean energy infrastructure.
• It stimulates local economies in the long term by encouraging investments in local energy supplies and sources.
• It reduces costs at public institutions by cutting energy consumption and reducing emissions.
• It stimulates private investment in green infrastructure, providing near-term and long-term benefits.
• It achieves critical environmental and energy goals by reducing demand on local power supplies.

Along with funding EISA Section 471, IDEA recently released green economic stimulus recommendations as part of its energy and environmental policy for the new administration. These recommendations work because they increase economic productivity, result in labor intensive jobs, and reduce the exportation of stimulus dollars. Some highlights from the full brief:

• Loans and Grants for Institutions. The appropriation of $750 million annually for five years has already been authorized for implementing or improving sustainable energy infrastructure, which benefits institutions of higher education, local governments, municipal utilities, and public school districts.

• Waste Energy Recovery Incentives. Sections 451-453 of EISA draw additional attention to the recovery of industrial waste heat so it can be recycled into usable heat and electricity. The provision establishes waste energy recovery grants.

• CHP Investment Tax Credit. The current CHP investment tax credit (ITC) under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Service Code only makes eligible the first 15 MW of capacity. Increasing the cap to 50 MW would encourage the implementation of many projects that could quickly result in efficiency increases and reduced emissions.

• Tax-Exempt Financing. Currently, the IRS Code allows tax-exempt bonds to be used for “local district heating and cooling facilities.” However, the interpretation needs to include plant facilities, which would encourage the implementation of job-producing, low-carbon energy systems such as thermal energy production equipment.

• Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). While the definition of ‘renewable’ varies dramatically from state to state, it generally focuses on solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. IDEA recommends EERS include CHP and other forms of waste energy and waste heat recovery to be included within the definition.

Benz Air Engineering Co. specializes in custom-engineered solutions, combining expertise in various distributed control systems and programmable logic controllers for the implementation of energy efficiency projects. More than 230 boilers have been retrofitted throughout the country by Benz Air, typically providing a return on investment in approximately one year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review Your State's Energy Management Programs

The Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), which works to reduce the cost and environmental impact of the federal government, recently released its state-by-state assessment of current energy management programs. The report details state energy management programs, including:

Public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs, which are administered either by utilities, state agencies or other third parties. These programs generally help fund conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy programs.
Utility energy efficiency programs, which are administered by local utilities to help improve infrastructure through financial, technological, and operational solutions that meet specific criteria.
• Load management/demand response options, which provide incentives to curtail demand and reduce load during peak periods in response to system reliability or market conditions.
Distributed energy resource options, which include programs that provide incentives for renewable distributed generation.
Energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government, which generally include research, development, and demonstration programs such as those offered by California's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.
• Any additional opportunities, including area-wide contracts with GSA and, by extension, all other federal agencies.

For detailed information about specific state programs, visit the Energy-Efficiency Funds and Demand Response Programs and click on your state. In addition to programs, each brief details participating utilities and program partners.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Funding Energy Sustainability And Efficiency for Institutions

In 2007, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which was then signed by the President. Among many other initiatives and programs, the act authorized a program for Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions [Section 471 of Public Law 110-140, incorporated as Section 399a in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6371h-1)]. Funded, these projects could:

• Provide near-term economic stimulus by designing and building new clean energy infrastructure that will stimulate high quality construction and green collar jobs.
• Stimulate local economies in the long term by investing in local energy supplies and sources that keep money recirculating in regional economies and improve the U.S. international trade balance.
• Reduce pressure on public institutions because these newer energy assets cut operating costs, reduce emissions and relieve financial pressures on higher education and communities.
• Achieve critical environmental and energy goals, including reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increased local power supplies and reduced peak power demand.

However, due to the economic crisis, many clean energy infrastructure and sustainability projects at public institutions made possible by the bipartisan passage of (EISA) Section 471 have been halted at a time when university endowments have shrunk, credit markets have tightened, and local government tax revenues are down.

Since the immediate and long-term benefits include creating jobs, reducing institutional costs, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying fuels, and saving energy, I believe urgent action is needed for investments in public sector energy infrastructure. And last week, I sent the following letter, along with a three-page program and benefit summary, to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Dear Senator Feinstein:

I urge you to support, as a part of the economic stimulus bill, $1.5 billion in funding for Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions as authorized in the Energy Security and Independence Act (EISA) of 2007. The attached three-page summary describes this program and its benefits.*

By funding EISA Section 471, Congress will provide significant near-term job creation benefits. These shovel-ready projects are also transformative, providing sustained economic stimulus by reducing carbon emissions, increasing economic competitiveness, strengthening power grids and enhancing energy security.

The funding can be quickly and effectively delivered through procurement processes being developed by the Department of Energy as directed in EISA.

Thank you for your interest and support in strengthening our nation's energy infrastructure.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Benz

Since these funds still need to be appropriated, I encourage you to do the same. Urge your members of Congress and U.S. senators to fully fund section 471 Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions of Public Law 110-140, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. You can also learn more about this section of the act and other energy programs at the UCLA Sustainability Institute of the Environment.

*Available on request

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's The First Boiler Question To Ask In 2009?

"What has been the average percentage of O2 in each boiler stack over the past 24 hours?"

As fuel burns, it produces chemical chain reactions. For example, the presence of nitrogen and excess oxygen radicals in this hot combustion environment promotes the formation of nitrogen oxides, or NOx.

However, by using air mass flow and fuel mass flow solutions as control parameters to maintain specific chemical reaction ratios, the amount of excess oxygen in flue gases can be limited and the possibility of unburned fuel eliminated. In fact, a one percent increase in boiler efficiency can be achieved by lowering excess oxygen in flue gases by two percent.

How can this be accomplished? Benz Air Engineering focuses on boiler retrofits that include technologies and components that were not available when most boilers were built decades ago. The result is more efficient boiler for a fraction of the cost of a new boiler, without sacrificing the reliability of boilers that were built to last more than a hundred years. Payback is typically less than two years.

Benz Air solutions can increase boiler efficiency to better than 95 percent, saving millions of dollars in fuel and energy while meeting all emission regulation guidelines. Many installations also qualify for rebates up to 50 percent, which can be predetermined by Benz Air engineers.

If your plant is considering a boiler replacement or retrofit in 2009, Benz Air can provide a cost comparison to help make the best decision. Simply fill out and return a brief one-page questionnaire and fax it back to Benz Air offices.