Both cities improved their standings since the first survey in 2013. Minneapolis was in eighth place in that survey while Chicago came ninth.
Minneapolis moved up in part due to new programs to promote energy efficient buildings while Chicago’s rise came from benchmarking and energy transparency initiatives, said David Ribeiro, ACEEE research analyst and one of the authors of the report.
The survey is based on a 100 point scoring system which allots points in five categories: Local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, energy and water utilities, and transportation policies. →
A 2014 report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that Ohio’s program administrator costs under its energy efficiency standard (second bar from top) were among the lowest in the nation—less than 1 cent per kwh on a levelized basis. (Click to enlarge)
An expert scheduled to appear before the committee this week has just released a 20-state study showing that even when when voluntary customer investments that produce other benefits are added to utility program costs under energy efficiency standards, the average “total cost” of saving electricity through energy efficiency is 4.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
That “still compares favorably” to the costs for new energy supply and electricity, said Charles Goldman in last week’s announcement of the new study. Goldman co-authored the report with Ian Hoffman and other colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. →
A robust and vocal opposition is expected today at a meeting of a Kansas City, Missouri council committee that will consider an ordinance that would require owners of large buildings to measure and disclose their energy and water use.
Similar laws have passed in about a dozen U.S. cities. Just last week city councils in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon unanimously approved similar legislation, known as benchmarking. The programs are designed to encourage efficiency by giving tenants and buyers a more complete picture of the costs of operating buildings.
A number of property owners in Kansas City have made clear that they believe that being required to measure their energy and water use — and then making the results public — would be a costly intrusion. →
Over the past decade, Michigan communities have been hit with a one-two financial punch. One from declining property values and the subsequent loss of tax revenue, the other from steady declines in statutorily shared revenue from the state.
So it hasn’t exactly been easy for municipalities to pursue meaningful energy efficiency upgrades intended to save taxpayer money in the long run.
“When it comes to political willingness to do energy efficiency projects, that is a very low bar. Most communities want to make their buildings and their systems more energy efficient and when you talk to them about it, you don’t come across people who say we want to waste more energy,” said Conan Smith, executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, which helps facilitate projects through the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office. Smith is also a county commissioner in southeast Michigan who represents Ann Arbor.
“Where the challenge arises is the financing structure. The way municipal financing structures work, it’s not likely they’re going to have a lot of excess revenue in the next decade. The question becomes: How do you get money to capitalize on these kinds of projects?” →
Gas from a nearby landfill helps fuel a combined heat and power system at Gundersen Health System’s Onalaska, Wisconsin campus. (Photo courtesy Gundersen Health System)
Last fall, the Gundersen Health System hospital campus in La Crosse County, Wisconsin, generated more energy than it used and became the first hospital in the country to attain “energy independence,” as Gundersen’s sustainability program “Envision” describes it.
The hospital did this thanks in part to two combined heat and power (CHP) projects that generate electricity and use the waste heat from that generation. CHP is an important way industrial, commercial and other institutions nationwide can greatly increase their energy efficiency and reduce emissions from fossil fuels, and hospitals are often especially suited to embrace the technology.
Hospitals use massive amounts of energy, both electricity and heat, in part because of the rigorous sterilization, air circulation, food service and waste disposal practices they must employ. Hospitals operate around the clock, and serve large numbers of people. →
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the Budget address to lawmakers on Feb. 18. (AP Photo / Seth Perlman)
New Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has promised to make energy efficiency and renewable energy a priority. And clean energy advocates are hopeful the governor will support sweeping legislation introduced Feb. 19 that would increase mandates for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
But in trying to address the state’s current budget crisis, Rauner is proposing to cut existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, and to sweep money already collected for those programs into the state’s general coffers.
The administration’s draft budget released in February calls for shifting $175 million worth of energy programs from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity into the state’s general revenue fund. (See chapter 4-12 of the draft budget).
That means energy used at night or other low-demand times would be much cheaper, and energy used at peak times more expensive. People would theoretically then shift nonessential electricity uses like running the dishwasher or charging batteries to low-demand times, saving money on their bills and curbing energy demand, potentially cutting the need for extra carbon-emitting generation. →
A rural Minnesota co-op is offering customers who participate in a demand-response program a hard-to-beat deal on community solar.
Customers of Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric (SWCE) who want to own a photovoltaic panel in a community solar garden and add a new electric water heater to their homes can have both for just $170. →
Less than three years after it began offering substantial rebates to customers for investing in certain energy-efficiency improvements, a Missouri utility is proposing to throttle back on its efforts.
In late December, Ameren Missouri filed with state’s Public Service Commission (docket #EO-2015-0055) a proposed three-year efficiency plan to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Compared to the 2013-2015 efficiency plan, the budget would be about 8 percent lower, and the energy-savings goal would be just 54 percent of the current goal.
“Ameren has left substantial amounts of savings on the table and is not close to performing at the level of leading utilities,” said John Hickey, director of the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club. “Ameren can, and should, make energy efficiency a larger part of its resource portfolio.” →
Indiana’s legislative session is scarcely a week old, but a pair of bills has already re-established a wedge between utilities and clean energy advocates.
One of the measures would allow utilities to propose their own energy efficiency goals and programs. The other would alter terms and impose demand charges for utility customers who choose to generate a share of their electricity with solar energy systems.
The bills dive into two of the thorniest energy policy issues facing states today — how to encourage reductions in energy use and give consumers the ability to generate energy with rooftop solar arrays while keeping utilities financially strong and able to reinvest in the grid. →
Former Ohio coal plant to become energy storage facility • "Solar is the new shale", fastest growing U.S. energy source • Environmental groups call for removal of Straits of Mackinac pipelines • Utilities see opportunities in EV charging stations