For do it yourself energy efficiency improvements there are thousands of websites offering advice and suggestions. Here is a collection of some of my favorites. These include one by the State of California, one by the U.S. Department of Energy and a rebate program site for PG&E customers. Through these sites you can easily identify and implement a variety of low cost energy saving opportunities, which are great financial vehicles for your money. Just as company stocks, CDs, bonds, U.S. Treasury notes and other banking investment can be a good opportunity to invest your money, energy efficiency projects are too, usually even better. Energy efficiency projects can take an upfront capital investment and then pay you back over time. Also, many of these projects have a much better rate of return and lower risk than many of their bank investment equivalents. Take a look at these sites and consider many of the projects they pose as worthy investments of your time and money. Do the calculations yourself and see how great these projects can be for your bottom line.
For business owners and decision makers with multiply facilities, energy management and energy efficiency is of the utmost importance because of the financial impacts that improved management practices provide. A portfolio management tool allows for business managers to control and understand their various energy uses throughout all of their facilities. By allowing a manager to access this information quickly and efficiently it allows them to be able to indentify improvement opportunities for money savings and other facility improvements. Some of the tools provided in a benchmarking program such as the Energy Star Program’s Portfolio Manager include: a rating opportunity to compare facilities to similar buildings, ability to calculate carbon footprint of facilities, prioritizing investment opportunities, tracking improvements and gaining EPA recognition for good performance. Through this tool, facility managers can also communicate with other facility managers to share best practices, stories and other critical facility management insights. If you or someone you know manages facilities as part of their job please take the time to look through this tool and use it to improve your facilities energy use and reduce your operating budget and greenhouse gas emissions.
Sierra Outdoor School finds opportunity in Sierra Nevada Energy Watch Program
The Sierra Outdoor School sits at 4,100 feet in the Stanislaus National Forest in the heart of Gold County. Located thirty minutes from the historic town of Sonora and within PG&E territory, the school was recently audited through Sierra Business Council’s implementation of the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch Program.
Backed by the resources of Clovis Unified School District, the mission of the school is to provide an educational experience based on the sciences and to teach respect of the environment, self, and others. The school offers adventure-filled educational opportunities for children and adults, including team building, a high ropes course, wilderness skill training, and activities that bring people closer to nature. The Sierra Outdoor School facility is also available for retreats and conferences, providing an optimum setting for groups to gather.
“A naturalist from Sierra Outdoor School contacted Sierra Nevada Energy Watch to participate in the program. While performing our complimentary audit, I knew Sierra Outdoor School would be able to take advantage of our rebates to improve the energy efficiency of their school and be a great project,” said Emily Williams, Energy Associate with Sierra Business Council.
Many of the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch installations are performed at highly reduced costs to participating small businesses. Rebates are also offered through the program for measures such as facet aerators, low flow showerheads, and door gaskets for reach-in and walk-in coolers and freezers.
In the case of Sierra Outdoor School, a rebate of over $14,000 dollars at a total cost to the school of $3600 enables them to save nearly $13,000 annually. Their return on investment is nearly 250% with payback occurring in just under four months.
“We are excited to be a part of the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch Program because it fits into our mission and curriculum in three ways: it helps to reduce our energy footprint, it provides efficiency and cost savings to our school, and it provides us with another avenue to educate students about resource management,” said Mike Olenchalk, Director of the Sierra Outdoor School in Sonora.
“This makes a huge difference for businesses,” said Sierra Business Council Chief Operating Officer, Greg Jones. “We are able to marry the best of both worlds with our Energy Watch program, bringing economic and environmental interests together.”
For more information about how your business can participate, visit www.sbcouncil.org/energywatch or contact our Sonora office at 209-532-7200.
I have been out on the road doing a number of community forums on Proposition 23. One of the issues that comes up regularly is the difficulty developers of alternative and renewable energy projects have getting permits in California.
That’s why this story caught my attention.
The world’s largest solar-thermal plant, a $6 billion project generating up to 1000 MW of power, was recently approved by the US Department of Interior. The project was approved with the support of the Natural Resources Defense Council and active involvement by the business and environmental communities to protect 8000 acres of habitat for the endangered desert tortoise and other special status species Construction will begin in November, will create approximately 1000 jobs during construction and 300 permanent jobs. When finished the project will provide power to 800,000 homes.
We love this example of business, labor and environmental interests working together
The disposal of mercury containing fluorescent lamps is an important topic to cover, in order to both discuss recycling options and to dispel common myths surrounding these energy efficient products. First we need to understand what mercury is. Mercury (Hg on the Periodic table) is a heavy metal of concern because animals accumulate mercury both naturally occurring and human produced forms throughout their lives. This process is called: bioaccumulation. The accumulation of mercury for humans is a problem because mercury is a fat soluble element that can lead to harmful and even fatal poising. However, the amount of mercury in fluorescent lamps is very small (see below), in fact, the amount is much smaller than what would be release into the atmosphere by using an old style incandescent lamp. According to an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet, “CFLs present an opportunity to prevent mercury emissions from entering the environment because they help to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants. A coal-fired power plant will emit 13.6 milligrams of mercury to produce electricity required to use an incandescent light bulb, compared to 3.3 milligrams for a CFL.”
While this may sound like a better option since it is from a far away source instead of right in our homes, it actually is not. When coal-fired power plants release the mercury stored in coal it enters the atmosphere and eventually is deposited on land, water, everywhere. This deposited mercury makes its way into the food stream and accumulates in fish and other food sources that humans then eat. By reducing the overall human caused mercury emissions we can reduce our exposure to mercury and reduce our neighbors’ exposure too.
Here’s the good news: there is a proper way to clean up a broken fluorescent lamp and recycle lamps at the end of their lives. Follow these instructions and visit earth911.com to learn where the CFL recycling facilities are near you, or call your local waste disposal service. For more information visit this write up about fluorescent lamps, produced by the EPA Energy Star program.
Sierra Business Council’s President Steve Frisch wrote the following article for The Union on October 2nd 2010.
Once in a while, we get to make a real choice about the future. Your vote on Proposition 23, the proposal to overturn AB 32, California’s landmark climate change law gradually reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is the big vote.
Our choice is simple. Prop. 23 will devastate California’s struggling economic recovery and will hand our state’s decision-making processes over to powerful out of state interests whose sole motivation is increasing profit.
That’s why the Sierra Business Council is urging you to vote No on Prop. 23.
We’re not alone — business and civic organizations across the state including the Bay Area Council, E-Bay, American Lung Association, National Venture Capital Association, League of Women Voters, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Ski Industry Association, Los Angeles Business Council, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and thousands of others, are also urging you to vote No on Prop. 23.
California has benefited over the years from being at the forefront of innovation: In trade, defense, manufacturing, computer technology, biotech, communications and the generation of new ideas.
The fastest growing area of the California economy since the Great Recession has been clean tech and renewable energy technologies. California clean tech is consistently out-performing the state and national economy, capturing 40 percent of all U.S. venture capital, driving the revenue stream for 12,000 companies, and employing 500,000 Californians.
Investments in clean technology, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, build a Main Street economy instead of sending our money to Wall Street.
Due to AB 32, California is leading a new innovation economy aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, saving customers money, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Investments in the California clean tech economy have increased 10 fold in four years, from $288 million per year to more than $2.8 billion per year. Innovation can lead us out of our current recession and help California regain its economic engine.
If Prop. 23 passes, investment in the clean tech economy will be halted in its tracks. Investment will flow overseas, to our Chinese competitors, relinquishing an edge in the clean tech field that we may never regain. California companies that have already invested billions in breakout technologies and manufacturing processes will be cut off at the knees.
Speaking at a recent event at Google, noted venture capitalist Vinod Khosla explained why he and so many others urge a no vote: “Proposition 23 will kill markets and the single largest source of job growth in California in the last two years. Not only that, it’ll kill investment in the long term for creating the next 10 Googles.”
For those of us that live in Nevada County the stakes are high. As California fares, Nevada County fares. We need the economies of the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Sacramento to recover if we are going to see economic recovery here. It is the wealth generated in the entire state and nation that drives our economy; choke that wealth generation off and our economy stays stagnant. When innovation based businesses are created across the state, they are created in our own back yards, and we all benefit
The co-benefits of investing in clean tech and renewable energy are truly stunning; we clean our air, reducing health care costs; we reduce fuel loads in our forests by investing in biomass energy production, making us safer in our homes and property; we create new markets generating local wealth; we create local jobs as we begin to play a role in our own energy production and networks.
Finally, every Californian should be offended by the role that out-of-state big oil interests are playing in this election. Just three companies, Texas based Valero and Tesoro — and America’s second largest privately held company Koch Industries — are bankrolling Prop. 23. Between them they account for more than 90 percent of all money raised for the proposition.
The reason is profit. They profit when you stay dependent on their old technology, antiquated systems and pollution creating processes. We win when jobs are created here in California. It is that simple.
If you want to vote for job creation, for innovation, for walking boldly into a new economy that will benefit our children and their generation, for reducing our dependence on foreign oil, for clean air, and against big oil companies using consumers like their own private piggy bank, Vote No on Prop. 23.
Steve Frisch is the president and CEO of Sierra Business Council.
A link to the Union.com article http://www.theunion.com/article/20101002/OPINION/101009967/1024
The Sierra Nevada Energy Watch (SNEW) an energy efficiency program administered by the Sierra Business Council (SBC). Working alongside Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and third party contractors, the program launched for the Sierra Region in January of this year. To date the program has served 74 customers in 7 Counties throughout the Sierra Nevada and brought customers 1,418,400 kWh in savings. At an average price of $0.17 per kWh these energy efficiency measures produce a savings of approximately $241,128.
One customer excited about their experience with the SNEW program has been Columbia Student Housing, a facility associated with Columbia College in Sonora, CA. This project installed new lighting in the dorm rooms and student housing office for overall more efficient and better quality light. One portion of this lighting retrofit included changing 289 incandescent lamps for high quality Energy Star compact florescent lamps, reducing a current energy use of 16,360 Watts to a current 3,463 Watts, an almost 80% reduction in energy use for this energy saving measure. Here are some hard and fast numbers about the project:
Total Project Cost: $5,069.48
SNEW Rebate: $4,562.53
Customer Cost: $506.95
Estimated Annual Savings: $3,742.95
Return On Investment: 514%
Payback Period: less than 2 months
“I found that all SNEW employees were easy to work with, were very professional and followed through. Overall it was an easy process, not much effort on our part, they (SNEW) did most of the work and in the long term this project is going to save a tremendous amount of money. I would recommend this program 500%,” said Samantha Huebner, Housing Director.
The Sierra Nevada Energy Watch program is funded by California utility ratepayers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The program offers services for municipal, special district, and non-profit facilities as well as small and medium businesses throughout the PG&E service area from Lassen to Mariposa Counties. Those interested in participating in the program or learning more should contact Sierra Business Council at 530-582-4800 or www.sbcouncil.org/energywatch.
We all know energy efficiency is a beneficial objective. Not only for an environmental stand point but also from a financial one. This project demonstrates how lucrative an investment in energy efficiency projects can be. Even though the project was highly subsidized by the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch, even without the rebate the payback period would still be less than two years. When looking for place to put your dollars, think about energy efficiency projects as great, low risk, unconventional investment vehicles. Investments like this keep local dollars in local pockets and help to educate people about these types of opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked. The next real question is how else should small and medium businesses, special districts, and non-profit facilities and municipalities invest their money? If not energy efficiency, what is a better investment and why? If it is energy efficiency, what is the next step and investment worth making?
Just received an email from Pat Stoner at the Local Government Commission announcing that ICLEI has created an online guide to help navigate funding opportunities available to California local governments.
THE ICLEI GUIDE TO RECOVERY ACT OPPORTUNITIES IN CALIFORNIA unpacks each of the ARRA-funded programs and will help local governments take advantage of the funds to advance energy efficiency initiatives within their communities and operations.
ICLEI’s Guide will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. Bookmark the page and check back frequently.
Thank you, Pat….and ICLEI
Small Cities and Counties–Get ready to apply for your Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) allocation provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). EECBG funds are non-competitive formula grants but they must be applied for. Now that the California Energy Commission has adopted the Guidelines, funding solicitations will be released shortly. Applications deadlines will be short and it is recommended to identify projects as soon as possible. The application requires identification of cost effective energy efficiency projects or there is an option to purchase and install specified energy saving equipment.The Energy Commission must encumber the majority of the funds within 180 days from September 14 when the U.S. Department of Energy approved the California Energy Commission’s application. [Larger cities and counties should have applied for EECBG directly through the U.S. Department of Energy]. All projects must be completed and paid by September 2012. In additions to completing the application, participants must have a Dun and Bradstreet DUNS number, a current Central Contractor Registration and meet the Single Audit Requirement.
These ARRA funds can be leveraged with utility rebates and incentives for energy and water efficiency projects. Sierra Nevada jurisdictions should contact the Sierra Business Council for more information on combining these funds.
The California Energy Commission has released the final draft version the State Energy Program Guidelines. The Energy Commission is to receive $226 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which is to be used to increase energy efficiency to reduce costs and consumptions, reduce reliance on imported energy, improve reliability, and reduce energy production impacts on the environment. The Energy Commission will use the State Energy Program (SEP) funds to fund projects in the following program areas:
1. Municipal Financing Program (”AB 811-type programs)
2. California Comprehensive Residential Building Retrofit Program
3. Municipal and Commercial Building Targeted Measure Retrofit Program
4. Low Interest Energy Efficiency Financing Program
The Guidelines describe the manner in which the Energy Commission will implement the ARRA SEP for the four program areas.
The California Energy Commission is scheduled to decide on the guidelines on September 30th. Following approval, solicitations for bids will be issued as early as October 1 with proposals due as early as November 5th, and winners announced as early as November 30th. If on schedule, awards will be issued December 1 to January 31.