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EERE Network News -- 04/07/04

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  • tomgray@igc.org
    1f6f34b.jpg 1f6f3ec.jpg A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2004
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      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

      April 07, 2004

      News and Events

      Energy Connections

      • Task Force Issues Final Report on August 2003 Blackout

      News and Events

      Editor's Note: Last week's newsletter incorrectly stated that DOE was intending to develop wind turbines for "poor" or "marginal" wind energy resources, when in fact the new wind turbines are expected to produce low-cost power from class 4 wind resources, which are considered "good" resources (the windiest locations are class 7 resources). Harvesting wind power from class 4 sites will open up much larger areas of the United States to wind power, including large expanses in the Midwest, Northwest, and Northeast.

      DOE Awards $128.2 Million to Weatherize Homes in 30 States
      and the Navajo Nation

      Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced last week the award of
      $128.2 million to 30 states, plus the Navajo Nation, to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. Such families spend an average of 14 percent of their income on energy, compared with 3.5 percent for the average U.S. family. Weatherization reduces an average home's energy costs by $218 a year. For a full list of states and the amount awarded to each, see the DOE press release.
      1f6f4e6.jpg 1f6f54a.jpg

      A weatherization service provider installs a low-flow showerhead.
      Credit: Community Action Partnership of North Alabama

      DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program performs energy audits to identify the most cost-effective measures for each home, which typically include adding insulation, reducing air infiltration, servicing the heating and cooling systems, and providing health and safety diagnostic services. For every dollar spent, weatherization returns $1.40 in energy savings over the life of the measures. The program is delivered through the states and 970 local agencies, and gives priority to low-income households with elderly members, people with disabilities, and children. The funding for DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program in fiscal year 2004 is $227 million, which is expected to cover the weatherization of about 94,450 homes. President Bush has requested $291.2 million for the program in fiscal year 2005. See the Weatherization Assistance Program Web site.

      DOE Will Enforce 13 SEER Air Conditioner Standard

      DOE announced last week that it will enforce a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) standard of 13 for residential central air conditioners. This standard, which will apply to central air conditioners starting in January 2006, represents a
      30 percent increase in energy efficiency compared to the 10 SEER standard that applies to models sold today. DOE had promulgated a 12 SEER standard in 2002, but earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the department had done so improperly.

      "At this point, all parties have had their day in court," Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Garman said. "In the interest of giving consumers and industry the regulatory certainty they need, it is time for the government and for private parties to stop litigating, and start working towards complying with the 13 SEER standard." See the DOE press release.

      The air conditioner manufacturing industry had challenged the 13 SEER, which DOE had originally issued in January 2001, but recently withdrew its challenge. "A lot has changed in three years," said Geraud Darnis, president of Carrier Corporation, in a March 12th press release. "Given the choice between 10 SEER and 13 SEER, we think the industry should support higher efficiency." See the Carrier press release.

      Florida Schools Launch On-Line Energy Monitoring

      The public schools in Florida's Orange County are the first in the nation to try a new on-line energy monitoring system that tracks, evaluates, and charts energy use in the schools. The new system, called the "Utility Report Card," was launched on Monday by DOE, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Orange County Public Schools, and the Walt Disney World Company.

      The information system helps school districts to monitor energy used by individual schools during everyday activities, allowing districts to implement operation and maintenance changes to reduce consumption. Teachers and students can also examine on-line data to learn more about smart energy use and efficiency as a complement to DOE's EnergySmart Schools education program. See the DOE press release and the EnergySmart Schools program Web site.

      GE Energy Completes Its Acquisition of AstroPower

      GE Energy, a subsidiary of the General Electric Company, completed its acquisition of "substantially all" of the U.S. assets of AstroPower, Inc. last week. GE Energy says its new solar energy business will remain headquartered in Delaware. With the new acquisition, GE Energy has added solar power to its renewable energy portfolio, which also includes wind energy and hydropower. And the company is not wasting time: It has already set up a Web page for its new solar energy business. See the GE Energy press release and Solar Power Web page.

      GE Energy has recently chalked up a number of successes in its other renewable energy businesses. In late March, the company announced that its wind energy business produced more than $1.3 billion in revenues in 2003, a 150 percent increase above 2002 revenues. The company installed 873 megawatts of wind power in the United States and 630 megawatts of wind power in Europe and Asia in 2003. GE Energy recently announced agreements to install wind turbines for a
      39-megawatt project in Taiwan, a 45-megawatt project in France, and a
      30-megawatt project in Canada. The company is also supplying turbine-generators for a new 180-megawatt hydroelectric project in China, and a pair of gas turbines for a cogeneration project in Ireland. See the GE Power press releases.

      Illinois Gains Its First Commercial Wind Power Plant

      1f6f5ae.jpg 1f6f5fe.jpg

      The Mendota Hills Wind Farm in Illinois.
      Credit: Navitas Energy

      The first commercial wind power project in Illinois, a
      50.4-megawatt project, was dedicated in late March by Spanish wind energy developer Gamesa Energia. Called the Mendota Hills Wind Farm, the project is the first in the United States for Gamesa. See the Gamesa press release.

      California has also gained another wind power plant: SeaWest WindPower dedicated the 22-megawatt Mountain View III wind plant near San Diego, California, on
      March 10th. See the SeaWest WindPower press release.

      Wind power has gained sufficient status in the United States to prompt Underwriter Laboratories Inc. (UL), a not-for-profit testing organization, to develop the country's first commercial wind turbine testing site. The new facility will be
      built just north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, by the end of this year, allowing UL to independently test and certify commercial wind turbines. The State of Wyoming is providing $1.25 million for the new facility in conjunction with DOE. See the UL press release and Distributed Generation Equipment Web page.

      New Jersey Doubles Its Requirements for Renewable Energy

      The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) announced in mid-March that it has adopted new rules that require electricity suppliers to draw on renewable energy for 4 percent of the electricity they sell by 2008. The new rules double the amount of renewable energy that was originally required by the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which was adopted in 1999. Electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy count towards the requirement, as well as power produced from renewable biomass and landfill gas. The rules follow recommendations issued last year by a Renewable Energy Task Force, which was created by Governor James McGreevey. See the New Jersey BPU press release and the Renewable Energy Task Force announcement.

      The Solar Energy Industries Assocation (SEIA) lauded the new rules for requiring a total of 90 megawatts of solar power in the state by 2008. SEIA claims that the new requirement could allow it to overtake California as the nation's leading solar energy market. See the SEIA press release.

      Energy Connections

      Task Force Issues Final Report on August 2003 Blackout

      The United States and Canada need to establish tighter and tougher electricity reliability standards in order to prevent a repeat of the August 14th, 2003, blackout, according to the final report of the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force. The report, which DOE released on Monday, recommends the implementation of mandatory and enforceable reliability standards, backed by appropriate government oversight. It calls for strengthening the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and developing a funding mechanism for NERC and the regional reliability councils that will ensure their independence from the parties they oversee. It also recommends improved training and certification for electrical grid operators and increased physical and cyber security for the power grid.

      The Task Force reviewed previous major North American power outages and found that the causes of the August 14th blackout were "strikingly similar" to those of earlier outages. To prevent history from repeating yet again, the Task Force mandate has been extended by one year to ensure its recommendations are acted upon. See the DOE press release.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE news page. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address or unsubscribe online.

      If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the editor, Kevin Eber, at kevin_eber@....
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