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Category Archives: ‘Energy Efficiency’


New standard practice manual for cost-effectiveness is an indispensable resource



Media Contact: Patrick Kiker, (202) 507-4043

By Martin Kushler, Senior Fellow

On May 18th the National Efficiency Screening Project and E4TheFuture announced the release of the first National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM). The detailed manual guides regulators on how to develop their own jurisdictional cost-effectiveness tests of utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs. More than 40 key organizations and national experts reviewed the manual.
Time for a refresh

Few areas of utility energy efficiency policies and procedures possess as much diversity of opinion as cost-effectiveness testing. Virtually every state uses some version of the five tests outlined in the California Standard Practice Manual (CA SPM). But as we documented in a 2012 study, substantial variability exists in how

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Weatherization Assistance Program: Job creator or government excess?

Environmentalists are fighting to save to the federal grant program from being axed under a Trump budget. But can they convince his administration it is as much about jobs as it is about going green?


John Rucosky/Tribune-Democrat/AP | Caption

  1. pastedGraphic_1.pdf
    Ben Rosen
    Staff | @Benji_Rosen

MAY 12, 2017 —Jonathan and Veronica Berry knew when they bought an 1890 farmhouse on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that it would be a fixer-upper. It needed new insulation for the floors and attic, a wood stove and heat pump, and better plumbing and electricity systems. The only problem was the Berrys couldn't afford to make the improvements. He was just getting his painting business off the ground, and she was a stay-at-home mom with their two young children.

If it wasn’t for the $5,000 in weatherization improvements they received from a Department of Energy (DOE) grant program – the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Ms. Berry admits they might never have gotten around to it.

“It would have just been a constant thing on our household to-do list,” she says. “This, for us, is just phenomenal, as parents and as homeowners.” Not only are they more comfortable in their home, she says, but they also have reduced their energy usage, contributing to a greener Earth for their children.

But the program, which has served more than 7 million low-income households since it was started in 1976, could end in October. Funding for the program, as well as for the rest of the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is not included in President Trump's budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

The Trump administration has not explained why it excluded WAP from its budget blueprint, but the program has long been in the crosshairs of limited government advocates. The conservative Heritage Foundation repeatedly recommended Congress defund it and other energy-efficiency programs because, they say, it is not Washington’s responsibility, while former Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma included the program in his annual “Wastebook” of government expenditures he said should never have happened.

But environmentalists and other supporters say the weatherization program is not just about going green or providing welfare. They say it is about jobs, an appeal they hope will resonate with a president who campaigned on being the “greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

“It really is a huge job creator,” says Matthew Hargrove, president of Total Home Performance in Easton, Md., who audited and completed the improvements on the Berrys’ home. Mr. Hargrove says not only does the weatherization program help support his 27 employees but he also contracts some of his work out to plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians and buys materials from local construction suppliers. “It’s a whole industry,” he says.

The weatherization program works by providing up to $6,500 in grants to low-income households to make their homes more energy efficient, according to the DOE. Improvements include adding insulation, replacing heating and cooling equipment, and sealing up holes in walls and windows.

DOE distributes grants to all 50 states, Washington D.C., Native American tribes, and the five US territories.  States then contract work out to more than 900 local agencies, including community action groups, nonprofits, and local governments that use their own employees as well as contractors, such as Hargrove’s for-profit business.

The total amount of grant money DOE has given out from year-to-year has varied since 2008, according to the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). In the aftermath of the Great Recession, DOE gave out about $413 million in 2009; in 2013, it gave out about $147 million. But utilities and states often provide additional funding on top of federal grants. In 2009, utilities and states provided an additional $883 million in funds to go along with the $191 million WAP gave out that year, according to NASCSP.

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Opinionated: The Energy Efficiency Conundrum

9  MAY 2017

By Todd Edmister

Todd Edmister is of Counsel with Morrison & Foerster, and was a CPUC  Administrative Law Judge.

In its well-intentioned efforts to address climate change in SB 350, the California Legislature mandated that state investor-owned utilities “double” energy savings cost-effectively by 2030. The fly in the ointment here is that SB 350’s new “doubling” requirement rests atop long-established legislation already requiring private utilities to obtain “all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective . . .”  This collision of old with new is now roiling the waters at the California Public Utilities Commission.

Thanks to pre-SB 350 statutes, and the body of implementing regulations and programs that have grown up around them, pretty much any cheap – and much not-so-cheap – energy savings have been captured by utility efficiency programs.

And so the obvious but hard-to-answer question is this: If IOUs are already undertaking “all available” cost-effective energy efficiency and demand response, where is the cost-effective “doubling” supposed to come from?  Something’s got to give.

The easiest way to square the circle is to change the metrics for determining cost effectiveness in order to fund and count savings from lower-quality projects that historically would not have passed muster. But, this is a dubious approach. Whatever the shortcomings of the current cost effectiveness and savings measurement regimes (and there are real shortcomings, no doubt), simply backing into metrics that make it easier for such projects to qualify for funding benefits no one in the long run.

There is a better alternative to just widening the goalposts.  We saw in the solar power takeoff that finance is king.  Finance also is the key to energy efficiency taking off, particularly in retrofits of existing buildings, as promoted variously by AB 758 and AB 802.  Bring finance into the picture, and watch energy efficiency fly.

But this raises yet another obvious, but awkward, question. Energy efficiency has been around for decades without attracting the levels of financing and investment needed for the market transformation that efficiency advocates envision. What’s different now?

The key change has been the emergence of technology that allows for measuring, and thus metering, savings. Metering enables treatment of savings as a commodity, which in turn enables a cash flow from a savings stream, which in turn enables project finance approaches to energy efficiency projects. New “EE meters” are subsumed within the broader ambit of “Measurement and Verification 2.0”.  M&V 2.0, and new efficiency meter technology in particular, looks to be the key to moving forward. The basic idea, as outlined in recent work by Jessica Granderson at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is that automated software will generate a “baseline” energy use, against which actual use will be compared. The difference between the two is the measured savings.


Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

While this sounds simple in theory, in practice promoting such an approach poses collective action and regulatory risk problems of the first order. First, the collective action problem: would-be providers of metered energy efficiency services need counterparties to justify investment in efficiency meter technology. Second, the regulatory risk problem:  utilities who could be the counterparties needed to solve the collective action problem, are reluctant to jump in with both feet because of regulatory risks. While everyone dances around these problems, lenders, to the extent they are paying attention at all, remain largely on the sidelines of what could be an energy efficiency revolution.

The Commission is uniquely postured to break up the measurement and verification logjam. It should start by fast-tracking approval of utility participation in programs built around automated meter based tools.

Where California goes on evaluation, measurement and verification, many other states follow. Getting state government behind programs based on energy efficiency meters, and thereby reducing regulatory risk, is a key component in bringing next-generation pay-for-performance programs along. The Commission has already taken steps in this direction with the “High Opportunity Programs and Projects” pilot.

To accelerate matters, my law firm, Morrison & Foerster, is working pro bono with the non-profit Future Grid Coalition to reframe Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed Diablo energy efficiency procurement as the world’s largest metered pay-for-performance program. As part of its request for Commission authorization to close the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant, PG&E has sought authority to procure 2,000 GWh of energy efficiency. This is a huge potential procurement, equivalent to roughly half of PG&E’s current energy efficiency goals for non-low-income energy efficiency programs. The Future Grid Coalition proposal offers an extraordinary opportunity to advance next-generation efficiency programs by directing money towards pay-for-performance programs and setting the needed standards for energy efficiency meter technology.

Ideally, metered energy efficiency will be able to compete with or complement other distributed energy resources in all source approaches to procurement. Unfortunately, as we have seen in Southern California Edison’s request for offers, very little energy efficiency gets picked up in all-source procurements. Investor-owned utilities are essentially forced into “siloed”, energy efficiency-only procurement by the combination of SB350’s “doubling” requirement and the code’s “all cost effective” requirement.

Putting metering technologies in place offers energy efficiency, ostensibly the least-cost resource out there, a seat at the same table with other distributed energy resources. The Diablo proceeding offers a great opportunity to pull the requisite technology and associated new program approaches forward, if only the Commission is willing to do so.

Todd Edmister is of Counsel with Morrison & Foerster, and was a CPUC  Administrative Law Judge.

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SoCalGas warns of natural gas shortage to meet surging demand, as Aliso Canyon wells remain closed


A sign declares the boundary line of the Southern California Gas Co. gas fields where a gas well has been leaking methane daily near the community Porter Ranch, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the massive natural-gas leak that has been spewing methane and other gases into a Los Angeles neighborhood for months, sickening residents and forcing thousands to evacuate. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News

POSTED: 05/01/17, 6:13 PM PDT |

Operators of the natural gas wells in Aliso Canyon are warning California regulators they have concerns about meeting energy and electricity demands this summer and for the upcoming winter.

In a letter sent to three agencies that oversee planning and managing the state’s energy supplies, the Southern California Gas Co. said natural gas storage facilities in Santa Barbara, Valencia, and Playa del Rey contain 40 percent less inventory than usual. In addition, SoCalGas’ inability to inject natural gas into functioning wells in Aliso Canyon places upcoming service during peak demand, at risk, according to the letter, sent Friday.

“The state was lucky this past year to have experienced a mild summer and winter,” according Bret Lane, president and CEO of SoCalGas, in the letter. “For the upcoming summer and winter seasons, California cannot rely on luck, and energy reliability should not depend upon continually mild weather conditions. This is particularly true now, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a 60 to 70 percent chance above normal temperatures throughout California this summer.”

Lane’s letter follows findings released earlier this month that contradicts SoCalGas. Consultants hired by Los Angeles County concluded that several mitigation efforts worked well enough so that withdrawing natural gas from the wells in Aliso Canyon is unnecessary in the short term. Those mitigation efforts included using other sources of reliable energy and conservation.

Consultants said the wells contain enough natural gas in case of emergencies so that injecting them with more product also wasn’t needed.

“There is sufficient time to aggressively implement demand-side mitigation measures that will eliminate the need to withdraw gas from Aliso Canyon during the next winter season,” according to researchers with EEE Consulting, Inc.

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JUICE: Trump & CA’s Clean Energy House

APR 2017

President Donald Trump’s growling about climate-friendly federal laws, rules and programs could be worse than his greenhouse gas emissions bite to California’s climate protection efforts, at least in the short term.

But, threatened financial chomps are a concern with the possible slashing of federal funding for state renewable energy programs and low-income energy assistance. Sharp teeth also are being barred at energy savings in California with the possible elimination of the federal Energy Star program budget.

The Golden State relies heavily on energy efficiency to help meet its carbon reduction mandate.

The California Energy Commission, utility efficiency programs and some cities rely on the voluntary federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

Energy Star appliances and buildings sold in California generally exceed CEC energy efficiency codes and standards. The voluntary program covers 70 categories of energy efficient products.

California can only set mandatory appliance efficiency standards for devices not regulated by the federal government.

The voluntary federal Energy Star program is used as a benchmark for utility energy efficiency programs. California’s private utilities spend $1 billion a year on energy savings.

If Energy Star disappears, 90 percent of consumers will lack energy efficiency information, and utilities will lack a critical tool in their energy programs, said Lowell Unger, senior policy analyst with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

However, given its technical expertise and dedication to energy savings, the CEC is fairly well positioned to recreate Energy Star in California’s large market.

Trump has threatened to cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to struggling customers with utility bills and programs to cut wasteful energy use.

The $3 billion 2016 federal program budget included $159 million to California.

Another considerable source of funding for the state is the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Trump said he wants to do away with this office’s state renewable and weatherization programs. DOE’s State Energy Program provides grants to advance clean energy.

California was awarded more than $8 million last year from the State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program. Since 2010, it has benefited from a total of $45.5 million in grants from the program, according to DOE.

Getting rid of the new Bureau of Land Management’s rules to reduce emissions from  flaring natural gas in oil and gas fields on federal land won’t cause the Golden State’s temperature to rise immediately. The Methane & Waste Prevention Rule was only finalized last November. Also, it was to be rolled out in phases to attain a 50 percent reduction in flaring.

However, oil and gas production on public lands is not an insignificant source of emissions.

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The Buzz

30 MAR 2017

—The Editors

California environmental regulators are creating a big profitable opportunity for electric utilities to get into the transportation fuel business by reaffirming the state’s auto fuel efficiency standards while Washington marches in the opposite direction.

State lawmakers advanced a handful of energy bills this week, from trying to encourage more renewable energy to serve peak load to ensuring that clean energy demonstration projects funded with research money benefit polluted, low-income communities.

This week’s Guest Juice column finds that state energy efficiency programs are no longer reducing per capita electricity use.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry failed to hit the jackpot during his recent trip to Nevada aimed at paving the way for a revival of a nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain.

The Northern California Power Association looks to a solar energy project in the sunny desert community of Lancaster to help meet the state’s renewable energy goal.

After further analysis, the California Air Resources Board still hangs its hat on cap-and-trade as the best way to cut greenhouse gases.

California’s renewable natural gas is coming to SoCal Gas pipelines soon.

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power customers who have been waiting more than three years for refunds due to overbilling will have to wait a little longer, though the muni claims progress.

—The Editors

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Guest Juice: California Energy Efficiency Dreamin’

30 MAR 2017

By Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia Mitchell is a 40-year veteran energy economist and utility consumer advocate and consultant for The Utility Reform Network. The views expressed herein are her own.

In the 1990s, California led the nation in deregulating its electric utility industry. The result was a disaster. The subsequent energy crisis during 2000 and 2001 was characterized by extraordinarily high prices and blackouts.

Re-regulation included proclaiming energy efficiency as the state’s highest priority[i] “first loading order resource”[ii] based upon three decades of perception that state energy efficiency had accomplished what no other state or jurisdiction had been able to do: significantly reduce per capita electricity consumption.[iii]

Today, California’s decade-old greenhouse gas reduction policy is in large part premised on the state having achieved a direct and strong “cause and effect” between energy savings (utility programs and building and appliance standards) and declining per capita energy consumption.[iv]

That makes this is a good time to check-in on the veracity of this proclaimed success story given current lackluster energy efficiency results.

Over the past decade, California has spent billions in ratepayer dollars on an increasingly complex and complicated mix of utility energy efficiency programs and building and appliance standards.

The story goes that from 1975 to 2003, the state saved about 40,000 GWh, or the equivalent of 15 percent of annual electricity use, through a combination of utility energy efficiency programs and appliance and building standards.

Until the mid-1970s, per capita electricity use in California and the U.S. increased at about the same rate. After that, California’s usage leveled off, while nationwide usage continued to increase. The graphic representation of this tapering off of per capita consumption is known as the “Rosenfeld curve,” named after energy efficiency pioneer and former California Energy Commission member Arthur Rosenfeld.  The underlying phenomenon is called the “Rosenfeld effect,” and even has its own Wikipedia page.[v]

The CEC asserted that energy efficiency improvements were the cause of California’s declining per capita consumption.[vi] The commission continues to assert that “…energy efficiency efforts have saved California consumers billions of dollars since the 1970s and have held per capita energy use in the state relatively constant, while the rest of the United States has increased by roughly 40 percent.”[vii]

These assertions have not gone unchallenged.  When I controlled for the price of residential electricity, climate, household size, housing mix, conservation ethic, and long-term trends in the structure of the economy, my firm’s 2009 analysis showed that annual changes in state-level energy efficiency activities did not correlate highly with changes in per capita electricity consumption.[viii] Others have raised similar points.[ix]

Whatever one thinks about the causes of the Rosenfeld effect, it seems clear that more is needed to achieve the state’s carbon reduction goals, as set out in 2015’s Senate Bill (SB) 350. Flattening load growth isn’t enough–load needs to start going down. Assuming a flat or growing population, this means that per capita electricity use has to decline.

It is not doing that.

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Guest Juice: Energy Efficiency as a Distributed Resource

MAR 2017

Editor’s Note: This is a second in a series of articles on how California counts on energy efficiency to help meet state greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy goals while serving as a meaningful distributed energy resource alongside of rooftop solar, energy storage, and demand response.[1]

By Cynthia Mitchell

As California’s “first loading order resource,” energy efficiency is to help with much needed utility rate relief. And, as California moves away from fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a more decentralized system of significant variable renewable resources, energy efficiency also is needed to help meet ramping and peak capacity requirements caused by California’s infamous “Duck Curve.”

The opportunities (imperative) for using efficiency to ameliorate the duck curve are there[2] – how to make them happen is the “billions of dollars” question.

(The duck’s neck reflects a run-up in late afternoon of commercial building loads from internal heat gains [increased space cooling, lighting, data centers, other office and retail functions] and early evening residents returning home from school and work [turning on/up air conditioners, lights, starting cooking, watching television, etc.]. Californians and others have recognized for some time that energy efficiency solutions targeted at reducing electrical demand on a whole building/home basis can ease the need for and provide dramatic ramping and peak capacity.)

The market for energy efficiency meter-based savings tools is fledgling. California needs to accelerate CPUC-approved commercial specification of automated, open-source, meter-based savings tools (developed by CPUC-retained experts) for the commercial building sector, where non-routine adjustments to savings baselines are needed.

CPUC President Mike Picker, at a recent conference on California’s Distributed Energy Future, said the today’s challenge is greenhouse gas reduction:[3] “As we have seen from the Germans and China, you can increase the amount of renewables and still have to build backup [gas-fired] generation, thus contributing to more GHG emissions.”

He added that increasing amounts of variable resources lead to a grid becoming “highly variable,” causing over-generation, peak shifts, and annual shifts in generation. “The most important part of this [electric system transformation] is at the distribution level where you can prioritize ‘negawatts versus megawatts’ – demand resources become part of the exchange, and customers become part of the exchange, as generation technologies.”

Picker’s recent remarks speak to the critical intersection of energy efficiency at both the aggregate system and distribution level.

Despite CPUC proceedings on distributed energy resources and distribution resource  plans, and all source solicitations,[4] energy efficiency as a distributed energy resource is not being developed at anywhere near the scale and pace of rooftop solar and energy storage.

There are various reasons why this is so. Perhaps the largest is that energy efficiency programs number in the hundreds. Each program, in turn, is made up of thousands of discrete and dispersed efficiency measures. The savings from nearly all of these measures are not metered.

As a result, energy savings measurements are unmetered estimates.

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Report: White House planning deep cuts to DOE efficiency, renewables office

AUTHOR Robert Walton @TeamWetDog

PUBLISHED March 8, 2017

Dive Brief:


Dive Insight:

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Guest Juice: The Role of Energy Efficiency in State Climate Change Policy

10  MAR 2017

By Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia Mitchell is a 40-year veteran energy economist and utility consumer advocate and consultant for The Utility Reform Network. The views expressed herein are her own.


California is counting on energy efficiency to help meet state greenhouse gas reduction goals and as a meaningful distributed energy resource alongside rooftop solar, energy storage, and demand response. And, as California’s “first loading order resource,”[1] efficiency is to help with much needed utility rate relief.

There’s a growing number of state mandates[2] that call for efficiency to scale up significantly beyond the accomplishments of the past decade. The California Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission, utilities, various other government agencies, institutions, organizations, and other stakeholders are in the trenches in several related regulatory proceedings and  working groups trying to figure out how to scale energy efficiency to meet state policy directives.[3] To say that this is all terribly complex does not begin to describe the spider’s web that currently tangles up California’s efficiency efforts. Couple that with a regulatory pace best described as “It’s an all happening now, no time to waste,” and it means it’s high time for a critical look under the existing energy efficiency hood to consider the strength and performance of the existing energy efficiency program framework.[4] From here, policy makers and regulators can more fully assess the road worthiness of relying on the existing energy efficiency engine, and what tune ups or overhauls are necessary to get California where it needs to go.

Through a series of columns published here periodically this spring, I with others will examine efficiency’s role as a greenhouse gas reduction strategy and as a distributed energy resource that is supposed to provide utility rate relief along the way.  Next we will discuss the existing efficiency program framework and share our research and findings as to what’s working and what’s not. From there we will share what it will take to scale up energy efficiency so it can fuel California’s expanding population and robust economy while greening the planet.

Meanwhile, here’s our premise: It’s possible to scale efficiency to achieve more significant, strategic and reliable savings, though not by relying on the existing program framework. That’s why California’s energy efficiency community needs to take a hard look at the very real economic and market limits of the current construct and embrace them as opportunities for real change rather than merely resorting to rearranging deck chairs at this time.  That means dropping old ways of thinking and stop trying to change the optics of how we value and measure efficiency to make it appear more successful without significant changes in approach. Instead, it’s time to break out, go non-linear and make efficiency attractive to the investment community thus shifting it to generation-equivalent status. Doing that will take new meter-based approaches that procure metered efficiency from suppliers analogous to how California obtains metered generation from generators.

Role of Energy Efficiency in CA Climate Change Policy

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03.08.17  TIME OF PUBLICATION: 7:00 AM.
7:00 AM



IF YOU’RE AN environmentally conscious consumer, you probably own more than a few devices bedazzled with an Energy Star logo. Every laptop or dryer or refrigerator that meets the logo’s energy efficiency expectations—established by a program within the Environmental Protection Agency—gives you a tiny planet-saving dopamine spike.

But that program could soon lose its federal sponsorship. Yesterday, energy industry wire service E&E News revealed that a draft EPA budget (leaked by an unnamed source) calls for shuttering the program. Energy Star’s responsibility could be transferred to an outside group—possibly run by an inter-industry consortium. Tech companies would definitely score by controlling the specs behind the stamp, which eco-conscious consumers flock to as a sign of quality. Wait, what’s that you say about conflict of interest? Insiders say the industry has been policing its environmental impact for a few years already, and things are going just fine.

Energy Star debuted in 1992, and the first products to earn the label were computers and desktop monitors. But the program has has grown far beyond consumer tech. The EPA and Department of Energy have developed standards (all optional) for refrigerators, HVAC units, swimming pool pumps, entire homes, and just about anything else that taps sufficient amps. And as more products in an industry meet its standards, Energy Star responds by raising the bar—triggering more innovations in efficiency. “The program’s managers typically want to improve the program so it covers about 25 percent of a market,” says Jennifer Amann, a program director at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Computers are already on version 6.1 of their Energy Star specifications.

Overall, that system has worked pretty well. On an individual level, buying an Energy Star compliant piece of tech probably won’t shave more than a few dollars a year from your energy bill. But at the scales that people use personal electronics—TVs, laptops, smart phones, routers, etc—the savings are huge.

And the Energy Star brand does wonders for the companies selling their devices: In 2015, a Consortium for Energy Efficiency survey showed that brand recognition was around 90 percent in 2015; over 45 percent of the survey’s respondents said they’d knowingly purchased an Energy Star product. Plus, the tech sector doesn’t really mind it. “By being voluntary, market-oriented, and ultimately consumer-driven, it has had the flexibility to keep pace with the tech industry,” says Doug Johnson, vice president of tech policy at the Consumer Technology Association.

So the tech industry probably doesn’t want to lose Energy Star any more than the EPA does.

The leaked EPA document leaves the option for transferring the program to the industry. “I think we’re open to discussing all of these issues with other Energy Star stakeholders, and the EPA,” says Johnson. “Energy Star might be changed or transformed.” For hints of what the transformation might entail, he points to the industry-developed voluntary agreements for set-top boxes initiated in 2012. Set-tops are covered under Energy Star, but manufacturers and retailers were worried that federal or state agencies might institute mandatory minimum efficiency requirements on their industry. So they proposed their own regulations as a precautionary measure. They had lower efficiency standards than the Energy Star agreement, but required much wider adoption.

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California’s largest utility offers farm rates, efficiency programs to marijuana growers

AUTHOR Robert Walton @TeamWetDog

PUBLISHED March 6, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • Just months after California voters elected to legalize recreational marijuana use, the state's largest utility has said it will offer agricultural rates and energy efficiency programs to permitted commercial growers for whom 70% or more of their metered use is farming-related.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric will offer the programs and rates to both outdoor and indoor growers, but it will not apply to individual residential customers who can also legally grow the plant.
  • With cannabis now fully legal in the state, California regulators are wary they may face a wave of new energy demand they are not fully prepared to meet, meaning efficiency programs could be critical for both grid reliability and the profits of farmers, who must contend with high rates and demand charges.


Dive Insight:

Marijuana is a particularly energy-intensive crop, and power bills commonly add up to more than $1 million for commercial growers, making them prime candidates for energy efficiency and demand-side management programs.

But the product remains illegal under federal law, and utilities have been cautious in targeting growers for their programs. While some municipal utilities have put growers on time-of-use rates, most utilities have continued to view marijuana farmers as any other customer.

The sheer scale of the industry's expected power demand in California may be changing that. PG&E's decision to offer agricultural rates and efficiency programs for growers could give cover for similar actions at other power providers.

The Press Democrat reports Sonoma Clean Power is already planning similar rates and programs, and will expand the offering into Mendocino County this summer.

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JUICE: Efficiency Pays, Crime Doesn’t

FEB 2017

Daily Show host Trevor Noah knew from birth about the importance of conserving resources. He grew up in poverty in South Africa. His mother, for instance, had to stretch each gallon of gas pumped into their battered, used car to the max. She coasted down hills, turned off the engine in traffic jams, and had Trevor push their car short distances as traffic inched forward for several blocks because all that was left in the tank were fumes, according to his autobiography, Born a Crime.

Arthur Rosenfeld was a rich country’s version of Noah’s energy efficient mom. He too was motivated by necessity, but not the kind driven by dire poverty.

Soaring energy prices caused by the oil embargo in the mid-1970s and sky high gas prices launched Rosenfeld’s fossil fuel conservation mission. It started with his notorious evening treks around the UC Berkeley physics building turning off lights in empty rooms.

It quickly became obvious that energy efficiency pays. The conserved watt, BTU and gallon of gas are the cheapest supply and also the cleanest, fastest and safest.

Almost three decades later, the king of energy savings was appointed to the California Energy Commission in the midst of the 2000-01 energy crisis.

Just after he was appointed by then Gov. Gray Davis, I had the pleasure of interviewing him at his office at the Energy Commission.

It was a warm sunny Sacramento morning and I entered a dark office. Rosenfeld was dressed in shirt sleeves, the window shade was pulled down and his desk housed a stack of papers and digital room thermometer that read 72 degrees.

Saving energy was a matter of common sense for Rosenfeld.

He practiced what he preached, including biking to the Berkeley train station to commute to the Commission headquarters in Sacramento. But, he knew conservation gains on a statewide basis depended on getting beyond crisis-driven energy conservation and normalizing it. To that end, he worked on automated savings devices, including motion detector lights, and also championed building, refrigerator and other and appliance efficiency standards.

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Art Rosenfeld, ‘Godfather’ of Energy Efficiency, Dies at 90


“Art was a true champion for energy efficiency, science, and improving the planet.”

by Eric Wesoff January 30, 2017

Arthur H. Rosenfeld, an energy pioneer often referred to as the "Godfather of Energy Efficiency," passed away at age 90 in Berkeley, California late last week.

Speaking on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission, Commissioner Carla Peterman said, “Art was a true champion for energy efficiency, science, and improving the planet. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on."

As GTM reported, "Back in the 1970s, Rosenfeld, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab (and Enrico Fermi's last grad student), determined that the power consumption in California and the nation would soon outstrip our ability to produce it. He kicked off a massive effort to get the state to pass efficiency regulations. Appliance makers fought vigorously, but California passed appliance and building regulations (Title 20 and Title 24) anyway."

"They all claimed it was the [expletive] end of civilization as we knew it," Rosenfeld told GTM's Michael Kanellos. "Autos were getting 14 miles a gallon. Energy efficiency wasn't part of the American ethic whatsoever."

The result? Per-capita power consumption has remained relatively flat in California but nearly doubled in the rest of the country in a phenomenon partially attributed to the "Rosenfeld Effect." Modern refrigerators consume half or less the energy consumed by fridges back in the '70s, hold more food and cost less when adjusted for inflation. His work has likely been responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in energy savings."

In 1974, Rosenfeld established the Center for Building Science at Berkeley Lab, which he led until 1994.

Rosenfeld served as a California Energy Commissioner and mentored former Energy Secretary Steve Chu and Arun Majumdar, the UC Berkeley professor who administered ARPA-E. Rosenfeld was still publishing papers well into his eighties.

Julia Pyper just reported, "Last weekend, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a government-wide freeze on new or pending regulations, including four nearly finished Energy Department energy efficiency standards, The Washington Post reports. The regulations deal with an array of products, including portable air conditioners and commercial boilers."

A measurement unit, the “Rosenfeld,” has been suggested that would refer to yearly electricity savings of 3 billion kilowatt-hours -- roughly the equivalent of one coal plant.

“Art Rosenfeld helped make California the world leader in energy efficiency,” California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement. “His pathbreaking ideas transformed our energy sector from one of massive waste to increasingly elegant efficiency. I will miss him.”

May all of our lives be as long and as efficient

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Three Signs Of Hope In The U.S. For Energy Efficiency And Renewables In 2017

JAN 9, 2017 @ 03:26 PM

Energy Source

Voices from the world of energy.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


Micah Remley

Micah Remley is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Software, EnerNOC

Forbes Guest, Contributor



As if writing predictions for the energy industry weren’t tough enough every year, 2017 presents a particularly challenging dynamic, as the expected policies of the next presidential administration clash with diverging global ideals to create a very cloudy future for the sector.

President-elect Donald Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax, vowed to bring back coal, threatened import duties on a number of goods, and promised a more business-friendly environment in general. If we take these claims at face value, it’s easy to foresee a tough year for energy management and renewables.

However, I think just the opposite will happen. Here are three reasons why energy efficiency, renewables, and sustainability will continue to gain significant traction in 2017.

Energy prices will be higher in 2017, driving businesses to embrace energy efficiency

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