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EERE Network News -- 03/01/06

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    [] [] A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2006
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      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
      Energy (EERE). The EERE Network News is also available on the Web at:

      March 01, 2006

      News and Events

      * DOE Offers $160 Million for Biorefinery Construction
      * Energy Officials Promote Solar, Biofuels, and Hydrogen Initiatives
      * DOE Conducts Energy Assessments at Seven Industrial Plants
      * USDA Awards $8.6 Million to Clean Energy Projects
      * IRS Releases Guidance on Energy Efficiency Tax Credits
      * California Builders Include Solar Power on Hundreds of Homes

      Energy Connections

      * Alaska and Oil Producers Reach Natural Gas Pipeline Agreement

      News and Events

      DOE Offers $160 Million for Biorefinery Construction

      DOE announced last week its offer of $160 million in funds over the next
      three years to construct up to three biorefineries in the United States.
      Biorefineries are a concept similar to today's refineries, except that
      instead of using petroleum as their raw material, they draw on woody
      biomass resources such as agricultural waste, trees, forest residues, and
      perennial grasses. Like today's refineries, biorefineries will produce both
      fuels and chemicals. See the
      of biorefineries on the DOE Biomass Program Web site.

      The goal of the new solicitation is to demonstrate that commercial
      biorefineries can be profitable once initial construction costs are paid.
      DOE will provide up to $100 million for any single demonstration project,
      and industry is required to provide at least 60 percent of the total cost
      of the project. The solicitation is part of President Bush's Biofuels
      Initiative, which includes a goal to make cellulosic ethanol­ethanol
      derived from woody biomass­cost-competitive by 2012, potentially displacing
      up to 30 percent of the current U.S. fuel use by 2030. See the
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3246.htm>DOE press release.

      Energy Officials Promote Solar, Biofuels, and Hydrogen Initiatives

      DOE officials traveled around the country last week to promote various
      aspects of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative. Secretary of Energy
      Samuel Bodman highlighted President Bush's Solar America Initiative during
      a visit to GT Equipment Technologies, Inc., which designs, manufactures,
      and assembles equipment for the solar power and semiconductor industries.
      The Solar America Initiative seeks to accelerate the widespread acceptance
      of clean solar energy technologies throughout the United States by 2015.
      The goal of the initiative is to generate enough solar energy by 2015 to
      provide 5 to 10 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 1 to 2 million
      homes. See the <http://www.energy.gov/news/3251.htm>DOE press release and
      the <http://www.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/index.html>Solar
      America Initiative page on the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program Web site.

      Secretary Bodman also visited General Motors Fuel Cell Activities to
      highlight the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The President's budget
      for fiscal year (FY) 2007 includes $289.5 million for the initiative, a 22
      percent increase. In addition, Douglas Faulkner, the Acting Assistant
      Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, spoke about the
      President's Biofuels Initiative at the Biomass and Switchgrass Conference
      at Alabama's Auburn University. The initiative aims to replace more than 75
      percent of U.S. oil imports with biofuels by 2025. The President has
      requested $150 million for the Biofuels Initiative in his FY 2007 budget, a
      60 percent increase. Finally, Karen Harbert, Assistant Secretary for Policy
      and International Affairs, toured the Steelcase Wood Plant in Grand Rapids,
      Michigan, and the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.
      Steelcase Wood Plant is the world's first manufacturing plant to receive a
      LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the
      U.S. Green Building Council. The Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy
      Center is a LEED-certified demonstration facility for distributed power
      generation, featuring solar roof tiles, a fuel cell, and a nickel metal
      hydride battery. See the DOE press releases on the visits by
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3256.htm>Secretary Bodman,
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3255.htm>Acting Assistant Secretary Faulkner,
      and <http://www.energy.gov/news/3261.htm>Assistant Secretary Harbert.

      DOE Conducts Energy Assessments at Seven Industrial Plants

      DOE launched Industrial Energy Saving Assessments at industries in seven
      states last week. The three-day energy assessments were carried out at a
      steel mill in New Jersey, a glassmaking plant in Pennsylvania, a
      semiconductor manufacturing plant in Texas, a chemical plant in West
      Virginia, and at paper mills in Idaho, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Through its
      free energy assessments, DOE is working with major manufacturing facilities
      to identify opportunities to save energy and money, primarily by focusing
      on steam and process heating systems. DOE's Energy Saving Teams have
      completed visits to 28 large federal facilities and are in the process of
      visiting 200 of the most energy-intensive manufacturing facilities in the
      United States as part of the national
      "<http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/save_energy/>Easy Ways to Save
      Energy" campaign launched in October 2005.

      Bird's eye view of the Union Carbide plant, which covers a rive

      DOE Energy Saving Teams are visiting some of the nation's largest
      industrial sites, including this Union Carbide plant in West Virginia.
      Credit: Dow Chemical Company

      The Energy Saving Teams visited Lewiston, Idaho, where the Potlatch
      Corporation's lumber products and paper mill manufactures more than 1,500
      tons of paper products per day; Wickliffe, Kentucky, where NewPage
      Corporation produces 282,000 tons of coated paper and 330,000 short tons of
      hardwood pulp each year; St. Francisville, Louisiana, where Tembec USA
      produces roughly 1,000 tons per day of paper products; Perth Amboy, New
      Jersey, where Gerdau Ameristeel converts scrap metal into wire rod and
      coiled rebar; Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where PPG Industries Inc. produces
      flat glass; Dallas, Texas, where Texas Instruments Incorporated operates
      four large semiconductor manufacturing facilities; and South Charleston,
      West Virginia, where Union Carbide Corporation's chemical plant produces
      more than 500 different chemicals and plastics. See the DOE press releases
      on the visits to <http://www.energy.gov/news/3225.htm>Idaho,
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3249.htm>New Jersey,
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3226.htm>Texas, and
      <http://www.energy.gov/news/3228.htm>West Virginia, as well as the
      <http://www.dow.com/ucc/locations/westvir/awv/inf03.htm>description of the
      Union Carbide chemical plant on the Dow Chemical Company Web site.

      USDA Awards $8.6 Million to Clean Energy Projects

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week its award of
      more than $21 million to 15 energy projects, including $8.6 million for
      four renewable power projects, one energy efficiency project, and one
      biodiesel production plant. USDA High Energy Cost Grants totaling more than
      $5.4 million will support a wind power project in Hooper Bay, Alaska; a
      wind and diesel hybrid system in Nikolski, Alaska; the repair of a
      1.5-megawatt hydropower system near Cordova, Alaska; the installation of
      hybrid solar power systems on Navajo tribal lands near Cameron, Arizona;
      and energy saving retrofits to homes in Greenville, Alabama. In addition, a
      Renewable Energy loan guarantee of more than $3.2 million will be awarded
      to Clinton County Bio Energy LLC of Iowa, which is building a biodiesel
      plant capable of producing 10 million gallons per year. The plant will
      consume more than 7 million bushels of soybeans each year and will produce
      much of its energy supply from the by-products of the biodiesel production
      process. The plant already received a $500,000 Renewable Energy Grant from
      the USDA in December. See the USDA press releases on the
      awards and the
      <http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia/news-05-12-14-ia.html>previous award, and
      see the
      list of recipients on the USDA Rural Development Web site.

      As part of its energy strategy, the USDA also released a Web-based tool to
      help farmers and ranchers identify potential nitrogen cost savings
      associated with nitrogen fertilizer applications. For each major crop and
      application method, the USDA's Energy Estimator for Nitrogen presents
      potential alternative practices and estimates their cost savings. According
      to the USDA, fertilizer accounts for 29 percent of agriculture's energy
      use. See the
      press release and the <http://nfat.sc.egov.usda.gov/>Energy Estimator for

      IRS Releases Guidance on Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

      The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance last week on the
      tax credits for new energy efficient homes and for energy efficiency
      improvements to existing homes, as established by the Energy Policy Act of
      2005. A credit of up to $2,000 is available for eligible contractors who
      build a qualified new energy efficient home and sell it either this year or
      next. The credit is available for all new homes, including manufactured
      homes constructed in accordance with the Federal Manufactured Homes
      Construction and Safety Standards. See the
      <http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154658,00.html>IRS press release
      and the guidance for traditional homes
      (<http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-06-27.pdf>PDF 25 KB) and manufactured
      homes (<http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-06-28.pdf>PDF 36 KB).
      <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html>Download Adobe Reader.

      For existing homes, the law provides a 10 percent credit for buying
      qualified energy efficiency improvements, including insulation, reflective
      metal roofs, insulated exterior doors, and energy efficient exterior
      windows and skylights. The law also provides residential tax credits of $50
      for each advanced main air circulation fan and $150 for qualified furnaces
      or hot water heaters fueled with natural gas, propane, or oil. That credit
      increases to $300 for qualified heat pump water heaters; high-efficiency
      water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and central air conditioners; and
      geothermal heat pumps. To earn the credit, the improvements must be made
      this year or next year. The maximum credit for both years is $500, of which
      expenses for windows can provide no more than $200. Manufacturers of these
      products may certify them as eligible for the tax credits, in which case
      the homeowner can rely on the certification to claim the credit. See the
      <http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154657,00.html>IRS press release
      and the full IRS guidance (<http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-06-26.pdf>PDF
      37 KB). <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html>Download
      Adobe Reader.

      To help homeowners take advantage of the energy efficiency tax credits, the
      Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) has created a special tax credits Web site.
      ASE has also issued state-by-state energy saving tips for 37 states and the
      District of Columbia, and has published a free consumer booklet of energy
      saving tips called "Power$mart: The Power Is In Your Hands." See the
      <http://www.ase.org/section/_audience/consumers/taxcredits>ASE Energy
      Efficiency Tax Credits Web site, the
      <http://www.ase.org/content/news/detail/2889>ASE press release and
      <http://www.ase.org/content/article/detail/2821>Web site for the
      state-by-state energy tips, and the
      <http://www.ase.org/content/news/detail/2916>ASE press release and
      <http://www.ase.org/section/_audience/consumers/powersmart/>Web site for
      the Power$mart booklet.

      California Builders Include Solar Power on Hundreds of Homes

      Two California homebuilders­The Grupe Company and Victoria Homes­are
      building hundreds of new homes that will feature solar power systems and
      advanced, energy-efficient designs. The new homes will meet about half of
      their electricity needs using SunTile solar power systems from PowerLight
      Corporation. The Grupe Company is currently building 144 homes near
      Sacramento, creating the second largest "Zero Energy Home" Community in the
      United States. The Victoria Homes developments in Southern California will
      be designed and built under ConSol's ComfortWise energy efficiency program,
      which works with builders to combine energy saving technologies with energy
      efficient design and testing. The ComfortWise program yields homes that are
      30 percent more efficient than the national Model Energy Code standard and
      15 percent more efficient than the California Residential Energy Efficiency
      Standards. Since all the new homes will combine energy efficiency with
      solar power, homeowners are expected to achieve annual savings of up to 70
      percent on their utility bills. See the PowerLight press releases about
      Grupe Company and
      Homes, as well as the <http://www.victoriahomesinc.net/news.htm>Victoria
      Homes and <http://www.consol.ws/comfortwise.asp>ConSol Web sites.

      Solar power installations on homes and small businesses may get less
      publicity than large projects at corporations and universities, but they
      also add a significant contribution to U.S. solar power production. On
      February 1st, California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
      connected its 10,000th solar customer to the grid. The 10,000 customers
      provide the utility with more than 70 megawatts of solar power. Of course,
      California provides substantial rebates for solar power systems, and
      federal tax credits are also available now. How much do state rebates help?
      A new study from DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
      suggests that California's solar rebates do not directly affect solar
      module costs, but do drive down the costs of the remaining electrical
      components. Unfortunately, the rebates can also result in some price
      inflation for solar power systems. See the
      <http://www.pge.com/news/news_releases/q1_2006/060201a.html>PG&E press
      release and download either the executive summary of the new LBNL report
      (<http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/59282-es.pdf>PDF 141 KB) or the full
      report (<http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/59282.pdf>PDF 2.1 MB).
      <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html>Download Adobe Reader.

      Energy Connections

      Alaska and Oil Producers Reach Natural Gas Pipeline Agreement

      The prospects for delivering natural gas from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay to the
      lower 48 states improved significantly last week, as the State of Alaska
      and the state's major oil producers reached an agreement on major fiscal
      provisions for a natural gas pipeline contract. However, Alaska Governor
      Frank Murkowski noted that technical issues connected to the gas contract
      must still be addressed, along with terms on oil contracts. In return for
      their commitment to move forward on a natural gas pipeline, the oil
      producers are seeking greater financial stability. According to ExxonMobil,
      oil contract terms consistent with an oil tax bill proposed by the governor
      would allow the gas project to move ahead.

      For the State of Alaska, a key part of any agreement on a natural gas
      pipeline is a reworking of oil production taxes. Alaska's Kuparuk field,
      the second-largest oil field in the nation, will no longer pay a production
      tax this year, and Prudhoe Bay will pay near zero taxes in about 12 to 14
      years. To keep tax revenues flowing, the governor is proposing a new tax
      system based on the percentage of the net profit. Tax revenues would be
      lower when initial large capital investments are made and higher as oil
      production increases. At current oil prices, Alaska would receive an
      additional $1 billion in production tax revenue under the proposed new tax
      system. See the <http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=2211>governor's
      press release and the state's <http://www.gov.state.ak.us/gasline/>Alaska
      Gas Pipeline Web page.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of
      Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the
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