The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 30 unanimously approved the 2015-2017 Energy Efficiency Program Plan. The plan features goals and strategies for saving energy and reducing bills that will allow Rhode Island to provide low-cost, clean energy to homes and businesses.
The three-year energy efficiency plan was developed collaboratively by key stakeholders that represent a wide range of consumer and environmental interests, including Acadia Center, the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Office of Energy Resources, The Energy Council of Rhode Island, Consumers’ Energy Alliance, and National Grid.
“Energy efficiency is a powerful tool to help chart Rhode Island’s pathway to a sustainable economy and clean energy future,” said Dan Sosland, president of the Acadia Center.
Recently the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy announced that Rhode Island earned a third-place ranking in the annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The scorecard ranks states in six energy-saving categories. In the category for utility energy efficiency programs and policies, Rhode Island tied for first with Massachusetts.
Acadia Center Rhode Island Director Abigail Anthony represents environmental interests on the state’s Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council (EERMC), which provides independent input and oversight to National Grid’s electric and natural gas efficiency programs.
“The RI PUC’s approval of the plan is a big win for Rhode Island’s environment, economy and energy consumers because it means that energy dollars will go toward cost-effective programs and help customers save, instead of being sent out of state to pay for expensive and polluting energy supply,” Anthony said.
Energy efficiency is a proven strategy for boosting Rhode Island’s economy and saving consumers money. Between 2012 and 2014, Rhode Islanders’ investments in energy efficiency met 6,200 GWh of electric demand at a cost of some 4 cents per kilowatt-hour instead of more than 8 cents per kilowatt-hour if that demand had to be met through energy purchases. This is equal to $320 million in direct savings to Rhode Island consumers. Since 2008, Rhode Island has invested some $558 million in cost-effective energy efficiency, and consumers have realized $1.9 billion in benefits.
By investing in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible, the state is reducing the cost of doing business there and leaving consumers with more money in their pockets. Such consumer savings often are spent in Rhode Island where they can support local markets, students, education and health facilities; payments to fossil fuel providers, however, head immediately out of state. Every dollar invested in cost-effective energy efficiency boosts the Rhode Island gross state product an estimated $3.60, and every $1 million invested in energy efficiency generates nearly 40 job years of employment. If fully implemented, the 2015-2017 Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan will boost Rhode Island’s economy by $1.27 billion and create more than 11,000 job years economywide.
The Division of Public Utilities commissioned Synapse Energy Economics to analyze what RI’s energy efficiency investment is doing to electric bills. The analysis finds that a homeowner who gets a home energy assessment can save some 12 percent on her electric bill by replacing inefficient lighting and appliances and upgrading home insulation and weatherization. Factor in savings on natural gas or fuel oil use, and total spending on energy is even lower. Small business customers can save as much as 37 to 47 percent by installing high-efficiency equipment and making recommended retrofits. Even customers who do nothing to their own houses or offices benefit from their neighbors’ energy efficiency actions. Reducing the state’s demand for power helps lower the costs of the whole energy system, and those savings are passed to all electric consumers. The division’s study finds that these bill savings significantly outweigh the amount-an average of just more than 1 percent-that all consumers pay to finance low-cost, low-risk energy efficiency investments.
“By approving the 2015-2017 Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission took another big step to ensure that RI continues its nation-leading levels of energy savings. Energy efficiency lowers the cost of doing business in Rhode Island and puts money back in the wallets of all consumers,” Sosland said.
Stem to Provide 85 MW of Capacity for Southern California Edison
Southern California Edison (SCE) recently awarded advanced energy storage technology, software and data analytics company Stem Inc. 85 MW in the local capacity procurement, according to Stem.
Under the terms of the multiyear agreement, Stem will deploy its advanced, behind-the-meter energy storage solution at customer locations in the Western Los Angeles Basin to act as dispatchable capacity to enhance the local reliability of the region.
“This is a major win for behind-the-meter storage, demonstrating that this technology is a valuable tool for both utilities and their commercial and industrial customers,” said Janice Lin, co-founder and executive director for the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA). “SCE is a pioneer in leveraging customer-sited storage for local capacity requirements and should be commended for its efforts to make storage an integral part of its operations.”
Through the combination of reliable storage and a proprietary software platform, Stem empowers customers to more efficiently monitor and manage energy use while providing additional capacity to SCE. The Stem Zero financing program, backed by more than $100 million in funding, enables immediate energy savings with no upfront cost.
Stem previously was selected for projects with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Hawaiian Electric Co. and is active in the California Independent System Operator wholesale energy market.
Stem will begin system deployment upon approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.
The headline for POWERGRID International‘s December cover story “ComEd Builds Neighborhood Microgrids” indicates that greater Chicago electric utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) is building community microgrids. It is not. ComEd recently won a Department of Energy grant to work with a select group of industry authorities to develop an advanced microgrid controller with applications to community microgrids. We apologize for any confusion this headline might have created.
Dave Thomas Foundation Lists SRP Among Top 5 Adoption-friendly Workplaces
Salt River Project ranked fifth among a group of 100 energy and utility companies on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption 2014 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List.
This is the fifth time SRP has been recognized among the top five companies in its industry in the eight years that the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has issued its list of adoption-friendly companies.
Last year, SRP also ranked No. 5 in the nation in the energy and utilities industry category. In 2012, for the first time, SRP at No. 67 was ranked in the foundation’s Top 100 in its survey of U.S. employers.
Employees who participate in the SRP adoption benefit program can receive payments, per child, of as much as $4,000 for a regular adoption and as much as $6,000 for a special needs adoption. Employees receive the payments in their paycheck when the adoption is complete and final.
Under the employee program, the adopted child is eligible to be added to the SRP group insurance plan once he or she is legally placed in the home. Also, employees may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave as defined under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
To view the full list, visit www.adoptionfriendlyworkplace.org .
Since 2008, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has compiled an annual list of the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces to honor U.S. employers with the best adoption benefits. The rankings, compiled from an annual survey of U.S. employers, are determined by an analysis of each company’s adoption benefits, including the maximum financial reimbursement and the amount of paid leave provided for employees who adopt.
The eighth annual Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list also helps increase foster care adoption awareness while celebrating businesses that support adoptive families. There are more than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted. Every year, more than 20,000 children in foster care turn 18 and age out of the system without families.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated exclusively to finding permanent homes for the more than 134,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, who was adopted, the foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns and innovative grant making.
AES to Help Southern California Edison Meet Local Power Reliability With Energy Storage
Southern California Edison (SCE) recently signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with AES Southland to provide 100 MW of interconnected battery-based energy storage, a 200-MW flexible power resource, AES announced.
This new capacity can deliver 400 MWh of energy and will be built south of Los Angeles at the Alamitos Power Center in Long Beach, California.
The scale of this award brings advanced energy storage to a new phase, recognizing it as an alternative to a traditional peaking plant. This selection is an outcome of SCE’s 2013 Local Capacity Requirements Request For Offer (RFO), a competitive solicitation for new power capacity in the Western Los Angeles Basin.
More than 1,800 offers were submitted, including thermal generation, demand response, preferred resources and energy storage, according to SCE. This award is an industry first for the selection of energy storage in a competitive solicitation with other peak and flexible power capacity alternatives.
California seeks various new generating resources and advanced energy solutions to replace the retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and older natural gas-fired power plants that will retire to comply with California’s policy on the use of ocean water for cooling. SCE also signed contracts with AES for new combined-cycle power plants at its existing Huntington Beach and Long Beach facilities.
SCE and California have taken steps to modernize the power system with a solution that provides unmatched operational flexibility, enabling the most efficient dispatch of other generating plants, and lowering cost and emissions while supporting the ongoing addition of renewable power sources. The project will be ready for commercial operation in 2021, consistent with the scheduled retirement of older, existing power plants.
Oracle Primavera, Forbes: Half of Organizations Somewhat, not Ready to Execute Business Transformation
For companies that want to lead in the utilities industry, continual business transformation is a must. Realizing this transformation, however, also is one of their most vexing challenges, according to research from Oracle Primavera and Forbes.
The ability to execute transformation is critical to remaining relevant, but nearly half of 534 executives surveyed say their organization is only somewhat or not at all ready to successfully execute a business transformation today, according to the study, “Making the Change: Planning, Executing, and Measuring a Successful Business Transformation.”
Other key findings include:
- 86 percent said business transformation is necessary for continued success, but 48 percent of executives surveyed said their organization is only somewhat or not at all prepared to successfully execute a business transformation today;
- 1 in 5 respondents said their attempts at transformation had failed, and 3 in 5 have not attempted a transformation;
- 39 percent of executives said failing to anticipate market changes was the biggest planning challenge threatening their business transformation activities; 35 percent said misjudgment or failure to anticipate risk factors posed a substantial threat; and
- 27 percent of business transformation leaders leverage enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) across their entire enterprise, compared with 13 percent of total executives surveyed; 55 percent of transformation leaders leverage EPPM across either their whole company or their business unit, compared with 38 percent of total respondents.
Utilities-specific stats from the report include:
- Respondents said of transformation initiatives that have occurred during the past three years, only 47 percent have met expectations;
- 29 percent leverage EPPM methodologies/processes consistently across business units/groups;
- 45 percent said their organization is only somewhat prepared for a business transformation;
- Respondents said the top reason for transformation success is support from leadership (48 percent);
- Respondents said inefficient execution is the top reason for transformation failure (55 percent); and
- Respondents said that a summary of all costs associated with transformation initiatives is the capability/functionality most critical to the successful execution of transformation initiatives (55 percent).
DOE Awards Microgrid Project to Alstom
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded the $1.2 million Microgrid Research Development and System Design (RD&D) project to Alstom.
The company is one of seven organizations to receive DOE microgrid funding-$8 million total.
The project will support President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and commitment to improve U.S. power grid resiliency and help critical facilities, communities and cities better prepare for possible weather-related electricity disruptions.
The funding will allow for research, development and testing of advanced microgrid controllers capable of managing and controlling microgrid systems to improve electric distribution grid viability, reliability and resiliency.
Alstom will research and design community microgrid systems for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD).
The demonstration project will be implemented at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the 1,200-acre former naval shipyard that is now a progressive, modern business campus with more than 145 companies that occupy more than 2 million square meters.
Upon completion, part of the campus will be self-sufficient in generating, managing and storing electricity and will be able to operate independently from the main grid in case of an outage related to extreme weather or other extraordinary events.
By combining Alstom’s energy management and substation automation technology, the Microgrid RD&D project will provide PWD and PIDC with a comprehensive end-to-end microgrid controller system prototype that includes microgrid islanding, synchronization and reconnection, protection, voltage frequency, power quality management and system resiliency.
ABB Commissions HVDC Station to Improve Grid Stability in Michigan
Power and automation technology group ABB has commissioned a power solution that will control the flow of power and enhance grid stability in Michigan.
ABB’s low-loss and eco-efficient HVDC Light technology controls the power flow between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It provides dynamic voltage support, thereby increasing regional grid reliability and enabling integration of additional wind generation. The HVDC Light station has been commissioned on schedule and handed over to the customer, American Transmission Co. (ATC).
“The Mackinac station is the world’s first HVDC back-to-back system for transmission using voltage source converter technology,” said Hans-Peter Faessler, head of grid systems within ABB’s power systems division. “This is a milestone demonstrating how ABB can help customers achieve efficient grid control and stabilization.”
ABB designed, supplied and installed the 200-MW, back-to-back HVDC Light station in Upper Michigan. An HVDC back-to-back system comprises two HVDC converters connected directly to one other without any DC transmission line, making it possible to fully control the power transfer through the connection.
The voltage and reactive power control features of the system enable the integration of additional wind energy and stabilization of the network. Its black-start capability allows for fast network restoration using power from the other end of the system in the case of a power outage.
Consumers Energy Taps Silver Spring Networks for Big Data Customer Engagement, Energy Efficiency Program
Consumers Energy recently selected Silver Spring Networks Inc. for a customer engagement and energy efficiency program, the smart grid products company announced.
Consumer Energy provides natural gas and electricity to 2.9 million Michigan customers across all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. The Silver Spring CustomerIQ Suite, powered by the Silver Spring SilverLink Sensor Network, will give residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) customers access to near-real time information on their energy usage and management, regardless whether they have a smart meter installed. Consumers selected Silver Spring to help meet its ambitious goals to improve customer engagement, increase energy efficiency, and create a platform for innovative applications using smart grid big data.
The SilverLink Sensor Network is an approach to organizing, programming and using any data from any sensor network to fuel any application at up to 10 times the speed and one-tenth the cost of traditional utility information technology infrastructure. Built on top of SilverLink, the CustomerIQ App Suite, including Web portals, email and text message alerts, utility call center tools, and APIs for third-party applications, will offer the utility a multichannel, integrated engagement platform that provides a seamless customer and brand experience. It also will provide insightful, relevant information to the utility’s customers.
“We are committed to providing the best experience to our business and residential customers, and that includes using technology to help them to use less energy,” said Brian Rich, vice president and chief information officer of Consumers Energy.
The SilverLink Sensor Network is a network-based service that transforms how a utility can analyze its real-time smart grid big data to improve operations and increase customer engagement. With fully networked sensor devices, a utility easily and quickly can organize, program and use smart grid big data for a more agile, innovative organization.
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