EERE Network News -- 05/19/04
A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
May 19, 2004
- DOE, GM Launch a Fuel Efficiency, Emissions Contest for the Chevy Equinox
- Maryland Local Governments Buy a Large Amount of Wind Power
- State and Utility Clean Energy Programs Chalk Up Successes
- Popular PG&E Energy Efficiency Rebates Running Low on Funds
- EPA Awards Energy-Efficient Businesses and Congregations
- DOE Launches Science.gov 2.0, an Improved Portal to Science Information
- EIA Expects Summer Gasoline Prices to Average $1.94
DOE press release.
The Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in West Virginia will soon supply wind power to local governments in Maryland.
Credit: Community Energy, Inc.
A group of six county agencies in Montgomery County, Maryland, along with 11 local municipalities and nearby Prince George's County, have agreed to purchase five percent of their electricity from wind power. Montgomery County executives announced the wind power purchase last week, and claimed it as the largest U.S. purchase of wind energy by a local government, the largest retail purchase of wind power in Maryland, and the fifth largest retail purchase of wind power in the country. The group is buying more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of wind power per year for two years from Community Energy, Inc. (CEI), which generates the wind power at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in West Virginia. See the Montgomery County press release.
CEI, which markets power from most of the wind plants in New York and the mid-Atlantic, noted in late April that it is now selling more than 350 million kilowatt-hours per year. Since its founding in 1999, the company has sold more than two billion kilowatt-hours of wind power. But CEI isn't the only game in town: Constellation NewEnergy announced in early April that it is supplying more than 50 megawatts of power to government buildings in New York City, roughly one-quarter of which will come from renewable energy. See the press releases from CEI and Constellation NewEnergy.
Wind power is also selling well in the West, where Avista Corporation has agreed to buy the next ten years of power output from 35 megawatts of wind turbines at PPM Energy's Stateline Wind Energy Center, located near Walla Walla, Washington. Avista provides electric power to its customers in four western states. Meanwhile, students at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins will have a new opportunity in fall: the chance to buy 100 percent wind energy for their dorm rooms. The university is offering the wind energy option at a cost of $17 per year. According to CSU, the average residence-hall student uses about 1,600 kilowatt-hours of electricity during the school year. See the press releases from Avista and CSU.
In New York, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) released a five-year report on its Clean Energy Initiative last month, noting that the initiative has saved more than 624,000 megawatt-hours of electricity while cutting Long Island's peak power demand by 110.5 megawatts. The initiative has helped to install 138 geothermal heating and cooling systems, more than 2.7 megawatts of solar power, and 40 fuel cell installations. See the LIPA press release.
Nearby, Pennsylania's Energy Harvest grant program is proving a bit too popular, as last year's $5-million program was greeted with 139 applications requesting a total of $45 million in funding. Another $5 million is available this year, but Governor Rendell hopes to boost funding to $80 million, spread over the next four years. Applications for this year's funds are due on July 23rd. See the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest announcement and the press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
In the nation's heartland, Wisconsin's Focus on Energy has helped install more than 70 solar, wind, and biomass energy systems that will generate more than 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and nearly 27,000 therms of energy. The partnership has also helped nearly 3,000 Wisconsin businesses save a total of nearly $15 million in energy costs since July 2001. See the Focus on Energy press releases from March 4th and April 22nd.
And in the Pacific Northwest, DOE's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) takes a different approach, offering a discount to the utilities that buy its power if they implement energy efficiency or renewable energy projects. As a result, the program has yielded an average energy savings of about 37.4 megawatts, and has resulted in nearly $14 million in investments in renewable energy projects over the past three years. See BPA's interim report on its Conservation and Renewables Discount Program (PDF 85 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.
Northern and central Californians can still earn rebates on compact fluorescent bulbs.
Homeowners and apartment building managers in northern and central California are clearly enthusiastic about energy efficiency. In fact, they're so enthusiastic that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
is already running out of funds for many of this year's residential rebates for energy efficient products. PG&E has received "an overwhelming response" to its rebate program for multifamily property management (that is, apartments, townhouses, and the like), and is not accepting any more applications. The utility has also run out of rebate funds for energy-efficient dishwashers, room air conditioners, natural-gas-fueled furnaces, water heaters, dual-paned windows, and attic and wall insulation. According to the PG&E rebate Web site, funds for programmable thermostats are nearly gone, but your odds are better if you want to buy an energy-efficient clothes washer, central air-cooling system, whole-house fan, central heat pump, or a pool pump and motor. And last but not least, rebates are still available for one of the best buys when it comes to energy efficiency: lighting products that are Energy-Star qualified. See PG&E's "Rebates for Your Home."
California's other large utilities don't appear to be facing the same funding problems. Southern California Edison (SCE) is still accepting applications for multi-family housing rebates, and as of May 1st, the utility still has 75 percent of its funds for home energy efficiency rebates. San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E) also appears to be accepting applications for all of its rebate programs. See the SCE and SDG&E Web sites.
Thirteen small businesses and congregations earned Energy Star awards in late April for their contributions to energy efficiency. Institutions and organizations that promote energy efficiency among small commercial facilities also earned awards. The businesses included an inn, a grocery, a building materials supplier, and a non-profit corporation. The energy efficiency upgrades generally included energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems, as well as insulating and sealing air leaks. See the EPA press release (PDF 12 KB) and the Energy Star Web site's list of the winners. Download Acrobat Reader.
Last week, the EPA presented two awards and three certificates of recognition to companies that have installed combined heat and power systems at their facilities. BP Solvay Polyethylene North America won for a gas turbine system with heat recovery that operates at an estimated efficiency of 78 percent, and Calpine Corporation won for a combustion system with heat recovery that operates at 72 percent efficiency. See the EPA announcement and the full list of awardees on the EPA Combined Heat and Power Partnership Web site.
DOE press release.
EIA Expects Summer Gasoline Prices to Average $1.94The outlook for summer gasoline prices worsened last week, as DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline at about $1.94 this summer. That's 18 cents higher than the EIA projected a month ago, reflecting increased pressures on the oil market. The EIA expects average U.S. gasoline prices to peak at $2.03 in June. Spot prices for crude oil averaged about $36.70 per barrel in April, and the EIA expected them to average $36 to $37 per barrel for the rest of the year. See the May 11th edition of EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook."
Unfortunately, EIA's report is already looking a bit optimistic. According to Platts, June crude oil futures (the benchmark price for crude oil), hit $41.38 per barrel on May 14th. See the Platts oil price chart, and for the latest crude oil prices, see the New York Mercantile Exchange Web site.
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