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Shine and Get Solar

Reclamation plant solar

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Howard County com­pleted a 217 kW DC Solar PV sys­tem at the Lit­tle Patux­ent Water Recla­ma­tion Plant.

Reclamation plant solarThe pho­to­voltaic sys­tem com­prises two roof mounts (42.5 kW on the Dis­in­fec­tion Build­ing and 47.2kW on the Admin­is­tra­tion Build­ing) and two car­port struc­tures (127.4 kW). The project is part of the County’s elec­tri­cal pro­tec­tion sys­tem upgrade to safe­guard the Water Recla­ma­tion Plant from elec­tri­cal out­ages, such as the one that occurred dur­ing trop­i­cal storm Sandy. Since late May 2014 we have gen­er­ated 66,181 kWh. It is esti­mated that the solar pan­els will result in a yearly power cost sav­ings of $22,900.

Home­own­ers also have more oppor­tu­ni­ties to go solar than ever before. Solar energy options in Mary­land are avail­able every­where in the State and there are a lot of incen­tives that makes it more attrac­tive than ever. You will be reduc­ing your energy costs as well as con­tribut­ing to the State’s renew­able energy goals. Mary­land Renew­able Port­fo­lio Stan­dard (RPS) requires that 20 per­cent of Maryland’s Elec­tric­ity be gen­er­ated from renew­able energy sources by 2022, includ­ing 2 per­cent from solar energy.

There are many advan­tages to res­i­den­tial solar power:

  1. Save on your elec­tric­ity bills
  2. Increase your home value
  3. Take advan­tage of incentives
  4. Help to decrease your car­bon footprint
  5. Help to reduce U.S. depen­dence on for­eign sources of energy

Here is a list of some of the finan­cial incen­tives avail­able for Mary­land residents:

Fed­eral

The Fed­eral gov­ern­ment is offer­ing the invest­ment Tax Credit – a tax­payer may claim a credit of up to 30% of the cost for a system

More info at http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=US37F&re=0&ee=0

State

The State of Mary­land offers a Clean Energy Pro­duc­tion Tax Credit for elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from solar and other clean energy sources.

More info at: http://energy.maryland.gov/Business/CleanEnergyTaxCredit.html

Res­i­den­tial Clean Energy Grant Program:

Fund­ing for res­i­den­tial solar sys­tems up to 20kW

More info at:

http://energy.maryland.gov/Residential/cleanenergygrants/index.html#goals

 

So why not take advan­tage of a pow­er­ful yet free energy source….the Sun. Live Green and get Solar!

Yeimary San­tos
Sep­tem­ber 2014

EVerybody is talking about them…

EV charging pic revised

EV Charg­ing Stations

EV charging pic revised

John Pear­son from County Fleet at the new charg­ing sta­tion in Elli­cott City

Elec­tric vehi­cle (EV) charg­ing sta­tions have always been on the OES* radar, but have recently been in higher and higher demand. The County recently installed four new EV charg­ing sta­tions at the Elli­cott City cam­pus to serve its employ­ees and res­i­dents. In addi­tion to the new sta­tions, there are eight other charg­ing sta­tions at gov­ern­ment build­ings, five of which are avail­able to the pub­lic. The Ulman admin­is­tra­tion has also pro­moted the use of elec­tric vehi­cles by pur­chas­ing them for County fleet. Here is a video that shows the first charg­ing sta­tions at Ben­dix Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt5C-X7P9c0.

The sta­tions are well used, and in recent months Howard County has received requests for addi­tional charg­ing infra­struc­ture. Stay tuned for more devel­op­ments com­ing in the near future…

*Office of Envi­ron­men­tal Sustainability

Laura A.T. Miller

June 2014

Peak Rewards

I just saved another $50 bucks this sum­mer by being in the PeakRe­wards pro­gram. That could have been $100 if I had cho­sen the high­est level in the pro­gram, but I like a good com­pro­mise so this works for me.

If you’re not famil­iar with the pro­gram, home­own­ers receive money towards their bill for allow­ing BGE to “cycle” their energy on days where there is high energy demand. Renters can be in the pro­gram with their landlord’s per­mis­sion. Energy com­pa­nies are try­ing to reduce the need for build­ing more power plants and reduce the chances of brown-outs and black-outs.

The one time last sum­mer that I actu­ally noticed a “cycling,” my air con­di­tioner would turn off for 15 min­utes then on for 15 min­utes and this went on for a few hours. The indoor tem­per­a­ture went up to 80 dur­ing that time but it was back to the nor­mal pro­grammed tem­per­a­ture by the time we went to sleep. Not bad at all.

I called BGE and was told that there are usu­ally 4–6 cycling events per sum­mer. These high demand times usu­ally hap­pen on week­days between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sum­mer of 2013 had only one “emer­gency” event. In non-emergency events, every­one is cycled at 50% (even if you sign up for a higher level) and emer­gency events are cycled at your cho­sen level (50%, 75%, or 100%).

I have been in the pro­gram for sev­eral years and I saw a big improve­ment this year in BGE’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Now you can get email alerts let­ting you know a cycling event is hap­pen­ing. Also, I think they are bet­ter about putting the info on the web­site. I found this very help­ful, rather than hav­ing to look at my pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mo­stat to see if it had the “SAVINGS” mes­sage that comes on dur­ing cycling events.

The free pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mo­stat that was installed when I signed up is actu­ally my favorite part of PeakRe­wards. You don’t have to get the ther­mo­stat, you can get an out­door switch instead. But I LOVE the one that I got. It is very easy to use and I’m sure I save a bunch of money by using it. MUCH bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous “pro­gram­ma­ble” ther­mo­stat that came with my heat pump. I found that one incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Now I use the easy touch screen to pro­gram day and night tem­per­a­tures and I change those dur­ing vaca­tions, etc. You can also sign up to be able to change your tem­per­a­tures remotely, but while I am a fan of the pro­gram, that’s one step beyond me.

PeakRe­wards is part of a larger energy effi­ciency effort called EmPOWER Mary­land. The goal of EmPOWER Mary­land is to reduce energy use 15% by 2015.

Other cool things about PeakRewards:

For more fun facts, here is a suc­cess story page of the program’s results.

Elissa Rei­neck
Novem­ber 2013

Mixed Emotions and Energy Supply Choice

I live in a small town­home com­mu­nity on a mostly quiet dead-end street. When a sales­per­son comes to my door, I feel aggra­vated and imposed upon, while simul­ta­né­ously feel­ing great respect for some­one who is try­ing to earn a liv­ing by going door –to-door.

A few months ago, my hus­band signed up with an elec­tric­ity sup­plier who had come to the door. As I had been intend­ing to change our sup­plier for some time, it forced me to spring in to action. He had got­ten a bet­ter price than we would have had we stayed with BGE… but I wanted more. I wanted to sup­port renew­able energy gen­er­a­tion. After sev­eral phone calls (one to can­cel the new sub­scrip­tion) and an online reg­is­tra­tion process, our energy sup­ply now comes from renew­able energy sources.

One resource that I just learned about that would have been very help­ful to us in our energy sup­ply deci­sion process is:

http://www.opc.state.md.us/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=EZNZCx3ZGEI%3d&tabid=71

Take a look at this invalu­able infor­ma­tion col­lected all in one place! You’ve got all the rel­e­vant data nec­es­sary to make an informed deci­sion. Note: I work in the sus­tain­abil­ity field, and even I wasn’t aware that this resource was avail­able to Mary­land residents.

Reduc­ing our col­lec­tive car­bon foot­print starts with small indi­vid­ual choices. Make the choice to sup­port renew­able energy generation!

Laura A.T. Miller
Sep­tem­ber 2013

Energy Contract Saves Big Bucks

Howard County Gov­ern­ment is sav­ing big bucks in build­ing energy costs. That is because in seven of our most energy-intensive build­ings we have engaged an Energy Per­for­mance Con­trac­tor. This is a spe­cial kind of con­tract­ing arrange­ment in which the County pays no money up front. The con­trac­tor is paid based on the per­for­mance of the energy sav­ing mea­sures they install in our build­ings, at their own cost (or by using third-party financ­ing). The cost sav­ings that these mea­sures pro­duce is divided between the County and the con­trac­tor. The con­trac­tor gets pay­ment for the cost of equip­ment, its instal­la­tion and main­te­nance, and the County get’s to keep some of the sav­ings as well. It’s a win-win situation.

The Howard County Per­for­mance Con­tract has been in place for two years. Dur­ing the first year, the por­tion of the sav­ings that the County got to keep was over $494,000. Dur­ing the sec­ond year we kept over $133,000, and made a pay­ments total­ing over $534,000 to pay for the new mea­sures. So in just the first two years we have saved over $628,000. That’s a lot of money that tax pay­ers don’t have to spend to heat, cool and light County buildings.

An impor­tant fea­ture of the Per­for­mance Con­tract is the Per­for­mance Guar­an­tee. The con­trac­tor guar­an­tees a cer­tain level of energy cost sav­ings, which is high enough to make the pay­ment to the con­trac­tor for the mea­sures. If the sav­ings fall short of the guar­an­tee, the con­trac­tor is required to come up with the dif­fer­ence. This way, the County doesn’t risk los­ing money on the deal. If sav­ings exceed the guar­an­teed amount, we keep them. Because the con­trac­tor bears all the risk, the cost of the mea­sures is slightly higher than if we were able to install them our­selves, at tax­payer cost. But bud­gets don’t gen­er­ally allow for a com­pre­hen­sive approach to build­ing effi­ciency, and this con­tract­ing mech­a­nism fills that void quite nicely.

Howard County plans to expand the Per­for­mance Con­tract to at least two addi­tional build­ings in the com­ing year. Imag­ine how much we could save if all of our build­ings were run under a Per­for­mance Con­tract­ing arrangement.

To see a col­lec­tion of case stud­ies on the Fed­eral Government’s use of Energy Sav­ing Per­for­mance Con­tract­ing, click here: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/financing/espcs_casestudies.html

Ann Elsen
Sep­tem­ber 2012

An Energy Team with Energy!

Energy Team

 

Unsung heroes, silent part­ners… call them what you will, but they are Howard County Government’s Energy Team! For the past 18 months, this Team has been busy at work bring­ing energy aware­ness to Howard County employees.

Of all of the com­mit­tees, groups, task forces, etc., that I have been involved in over the years, I can hon­estly state that this has been the most moti­vated and engaged vol­un­teer group that I have worked with. And what has also been inter­est­ing to me is the level of enthu­si­asm we have encoun­tered through our efforts. Employ­ees have taken their break times to ask ques­tions regard­ing energy, offer energy effi­ciency ideas, and edu­cate them­selves about energy usage.

The Energy Team has per­formed sev­eral infor­mal energy audits (“Trea­sure Hunts”), given pre­sen­ta­tions, and staffed an energy exhibit. They have recruited other employ­ees to sign an energy pledge to reduce their energy usage in their day to day activities.

Trea­sure Hunts have been con­ducted at the Recre­ation and Parks Head­quar­ters build­ing, Sav­age and Elkridge Libraries, the Gate­way Build­ing (5th Floor), and the Bureau of Util­i­ties build­ings on Old Mont­gomery Road. These exer­cises have been per­formed with sev­eral end goals: to edu­cate the par­tic­i­pants con­duct­ing the “Hunts;” to present the Trea­sure Hunt obser­va­tions to the employ­ees of the des­ig­nated sites to bring the infor­ma­tion and out­reach “home;” to rec­og­nize and repli­cate good mea­sures that may have already been imple­mented; and to final­ize the effort with a mem­o­ran­dum of rec­om­men­da­tions that is pro­vided to the divi­sion chiefs and/or depart­ment heads as well as the Bureau of Facilities.

The energy pledge has also played a role when reach­ing out to fel­low employ­ees. In many cases there was an incen­tive to sign on to reduce energy usage; energy effi­ciency prod­ucts such as insu­lated lunch bags (to dis­cour­age the use of mini-refrigerators) and com­pact flu­o­res­cent light bulbs were provided.

Right now, the Energy Team is work­ing on prepar­ing an out­reach plan for the Bureau of Util­i­ties… who knows where you will see us next!

Laura A.T. Miller
May 2012

Home energy audits

BLOG UPDATE — The fol­low­ing blog post is from 2012. Howard County had a one-time pro­gram, funded by a fed­eral grant, so no appli­ca­tions are being accepted. But it has some info about what an energy audit is all about, and we’ve kept our old blogs on the live­g­reen­howard site.

 

Have you been con­sid­er­ing apply­ing for the pro­gram but did not have enough details about the actual audit? Well, I present to you my expe­ri­ence observ­ing a home energy audit:

It was a dreary and cold Tues­day after­noon in Novem­ber – what bet­ter day to fol­low an audi­tor around a friend’s house as they per­form a free home energy audit. Free? Wait, there must be a catch!

Actu­ally, the catch is that Howard County received a fed­eral gov­ern­ment stim­u­lus grant to per­form home energy audits at no cost to res­i­dents. The hope is that by pro­vid­ing energy sav­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to res­i­dents, they will see an oppor­tu­nity to reduce their energy bills by reduc­ing their home energy usage.

George, the audi­tor from ecobeco, arrived promptly at the sched­uled time, and sat down with Lisa to go over a sur­vey regard­ing her home and energy usage, as well as types and ages of appli­ances. He was very thor­ough and cov­ered top­ics rang­ing from which rooms are typ­i­cally “lived in” to how often kitchen appli­ances are used.

The audit began with a walk­through of each of the rooms, which included mea­sur­ing of all of the rooms and a visual sur­vey. Areas around win­dows were exam­ined for drafts and doors were checked for weatherization.

A thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of the attic was next. George pointed out to Lisa var­i­ous places in the insu­la­tion layer where there appeared to be air leak­age; this was indi­cated by small black areas on the yel­low insu­la­tion. There were also some obvi­ous places (specif­i­cally on a sloped ceil­ing that came up) where there was no insu­la­tion. (See images in the Home Energy Audit Report.)

One of the next steps was an exam­i­na­tion of the nat­ural gas sys­tem – the water heater and fur­nace. Through a series of steps, George checked on the draft to deter­mine if there is suf­fi­cient air­flow for the nat­ural gas sys­tem. This included run­ning all of the upstairs fans under cer­tain con­di­tions; and then check­ing the draft with no fans running.

Upon the com­ple­tion of the audit, a Home Energy Audit Report was sent to Lisa that included options for improv­ing energy effi­ciency in her home, and the esti­mated pay­back peri­ods. Lisa and her hus­band are cur­rently con­sid­er­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions, and decid­ing which to implement.

Laura Miller

Jan­u­ary 2012

What You Should Know About Vehicle Idling

tailpipe_exhaust

More idling = more car­bon = more cli­mate change.
Good news: Com­pared with unreg­u­lated vehi­cles 30 years ago, today’s new cars gen­er­ate 98 per­cent fewer hydro­car­bons, 96 per­cent less car­bon monox­ide and 90 per­cent fewer nitrous oxides.

Bad news: One ele­ment in tailpipe emis­sions can’t be “cleaned up” – car­bon diox­ide (CO2). This is the prin­ci­ple green­house gas linked to cli­mate change. Every gal­lon of fuel that is burned pro­duces about 20 pounds of CO2. The bot­tom line: the more fuel you use, the more CO2 you pro­duce. And one of the best ways to cut fuel con­sump­tion is to avoid idling. After all, it gets you nowhere.

Is it impor­tant to idle my engine to warm it up, espe­cially in win­ter?
No. Idling may be a habit bestowed upon us by our beloved grand­par­ents, but remem­ber that they had cars with car­bu­re­tors. Today, we rely on fuel injec­tion. Tests show that you need no more than 30 sec­onds of idling to cir­cu­late the engine oil before you can drive away on cold days. The best way to opti­mize engine com­bus­tion and vehi­cle per­for­mance is to warm up the tires, trans­mis­sion, wheel bear­ings and other mov­ing parts. As well, the cat­alytic con­verter doesn’t func­tion at its peak until it reaches between 400°C and 800°C. The best way to warm the engine and all other com­po­nents is to drive your vehicle.

 

Is it more eco­nom­i­cal and fuel-efficient to leave my car run­ning for a few min­utes than to con­stantly turn it off and on?
No. If you’re going to be stopped for more than 10 sec­onds (except in traf­fic), you’ll save fuel and money by turn­ing off the vehi­cle and then restart­ing it when you’re ready to drive again. Every 30 min­utes of idling costs you nearly one-tenth of a gal­lon in wasted fuel – and more than three-tenths of a gal­lon if your vehi­cle has an eight-cylinder engine. As well, restart­ing a car many times doesn’t wear out the bat­tery and starter motor too soon. And cat­alytic con­vert­ers stay warm for up to 25 min­utes after you turn off the engine, so fre­quent stops and starts don’t pro­duce the large amount of harm­ful emis­sions seen with cold starts. There’s no ques­tion about it – idling gets you nowhere. Instead, it wastes fuel and money and dam­ages the environment.

Can idling dam­age my car’s engine?
You bet it can! Because the engine isn’t work­ing at its peak oper­at­ing tem­per­a­ture when it’s idling, the fuel doesn’t undergo com­plete com­bus­tion. This leaves fuel residues that can con­t­a­m­i­nate engine oil and dam­age engine parts. For exam­ple, fuel residues tend to deposit on spark plugs. As the amount of engine idling increases, the plugs’ aver­age tem­per­a­ture drops, and they get dirty more quickly. This, in turn, can increase fuel con­sump­tion by four to five per­cent. It’s a vicious cir­cle of wasted fuel and need­less green­house gas emis­sions. Exces­sive idling can also let water con­dense in the vehicle’s exhaust. This can lead to cor­ro­sion and reduce the life of the exhaust system.

 

What steps can I take to min­i­mize idling?
It’s easy – think about fuel effi­ciency every time you use a car. Try these sim­ple steps:

  • Min­i­mize warm-up idling. This is espe­cially impor­tant in win­ter, because emis­sions can dou­ble in a cold engine. Drive away after no more than 30 sec­onds of idling, assum­ing the vehicle’s win­dows are clear.
  • If you’re going to be stopped for more than 10 sec­onds, turn off the engine. Never leave the vehi­cle run­ning while you zip into a cor­ner store or fast-food restau­rant – it’s hard on your pock­et­book, bad for the envi­ron­ment and an invi­ta­tion to car thieves.
  • Avoid using remote car starters. They encour­age you to start your car before you’re ready to drive it, which just means need­less idling.
Christo­pher Russell
Energy Man­ager
crussell@howardcountymd.gov
Octo­ber 2011

Better Alternatives for Your $$$

half time report

Almost every home has some type of energy waste – energy that is being used when there are ways to pre­vent it. Whether the home­owner has unin­su­lated pipes or is using flu­o­res­cent light bulbs, the energy waste adds up, and that costs you — the res­i­dent — real cash.

You may be think­ing to your­self that your win­dows may not be as well-insulated as they could be. What you most likely don’t know is what impact that leak­age is hav­ing on your energy bill. Is it $2 per month, or $20 per month? And what’s your thresh­old for throw­ing cash away? Bet­ter yet, what’s your dis­com­fort thresh­old — are you tired of being chilly in your house even on the mildest days?

And now we inter­rupt this blog­cast for spe­cial half-time cov­er­age from our news desk:

The Howard County Home Energy Audit kicked off this past June with star play­ers on both teams. Since that time County con­trac­tors have com­pleted an amaz­ing 422 home energy audits for res­i­dents. These audits assess how much energy your home con­sumes and eval­u­ates what mea­sures you can take to make your home more energy effi­cient. Sound like a game win­ner? We think so.

Res­i­dents have pro­vided a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back regard­ing the audits, and many are tak­ing advan­tage of cur­rent home per­for­mance and energy effi­ciency rebates from the util­i­ties. Here’s what a few of our star play­ers have said about the audit game:

Kathy True: Thank you so much for your time. The report is very com­pre­hen­sive and easy to understand.

Nii and Theo J-Q: Thanks for the visit yes­ter­day and your very prompt report I received this after­noon. As with your audit, the report is very detailed and spe­cific; it’s going to help. My wife and I will pri­or­i­tize each and every oppor­tu­nity to upgrade the energy effi­ciency of our home. Some are quite sim­ple and can be done on our own and oth­ers, includ­ing pur­chase of appli­ances, will have to be per­formed by professionals.

The pro­gram is now in full swing, with approx­i­mately 90 audits awarded every week. This will con­tinue through the end of the year until the pro­gram total of 1,600 audits is met.

Once all of the audits have been com­pleted, the County will have a data­base of energy audit reports and stats which will pro­vide the ground­work for putting together a game plan of best prac­tices for rec­om­mended energy upgrades based on a wide vari­ety of hous­ing types.

Karen Tow­son of Colum­bia had one of the first home energy audits, and has since had seal­ing and insu­la­tion work done. Her pro­jected annual energy sav­ings of $350 was con­firmed upon test­ing of the work, with a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in the air leak­age in her home – and she is happy to be liv­ing more com­fort­ably as well!

Don’t just sit on the side­lines and watch it hap­pen – jump in the game! Enter the lot­tery by fill­ing out the appli­ca­tion pro­vided on the home energy audit page.

And now back to our reg­u­lar blogcast:

Here are some ideas for the cash you can save on your energy bills: a karaōke night out; buy­ing sports para­pher­na­lia; dying your hair green in the spirit of “Live Green;” tak­ing a jujitsu class; etc. Let us know what you’re going to do with the money you save!

Laura Miller
Office of Envi­ron­men­tal Sustainability
Sep­tem­ber 2011

Get Paid to Save Energy

Are you inter­ested in get­ting money back from your elec­tric util­ity? Then please keep reading.

The heat wave that hit Cen­tral Mary­land in July is notable for a few rea­sons. One is the fact that we endured it with­out black­outs of any sig­nif­i­cance. Next, the sum­mer is not over yet. Finally, the expe­ri­ence reveals the impact of an elec­tric­ity mar­ket inno­va­tion known as “demand response,” which allows util­i­ties to pay their cus­tomers to scale back elec­tric­ity usage at crit­i­cal times.

As always, neces­sity is the mother of inven­tion. Demand response is a solu­tion to the lim­its posed by the very large (and very elderly) net­work of power gen­er­a­tion assets that sup­ply elec­tric­ity in the North­east and Mid­west U.S. The capac­ity to gen­er­ate and dis­trib­ute elec­tric­ity is flex­i­ble. This means that more (and more expen­sive) elec­tric pro­duc­tion capac­ity is put into oper­a­tion when demand for power reaches peak pro­por­tions. That hap­pens dur­ing heat waves when homes, offices, and stores crank up their air con­di­tion­ing all at the same time. While power demand cer­tainly spiked upward in July, cer­tain mea­sures are help­ing to min­i­mize the use of expen­sive power sup­ply and to avoid black­outs. These inno­va­tions are col­lec­tively labeled “demand response.”

Demand response is a mar­ket inno­va­tion that reverses the tra­di­tional rela­tion­ship between power util­i­ties and their con­sumers. These pro­grams allow util­i­ties to pay their cus­tomers to cut back on power con­sump­tion at cer­tain crit­i­cal times.

Cus­tomers vol­un­teer to par­tic­i­pate in these pro­grams. Res­i­den­tial par­tic­i­pants can have ther­mostats and cer­tain equip­ment auto­mat­i­cally scaled back by the util­ity.  Com­mer­cial and other large energy con­sumers have the option of acti­vat­ing their on-site power gen­er­a­tors in lieu of draw­ing power from the util­ity. These pro­grams pay the cus­tomer a fixed fee just for sign­ing up. The BGE Peak Rewards pro­gram offers $100 — $200 the first year and $50-$100 the next years depend­ing on what level you sign up for. Addi­tional value to the cus­tomer is the dol­lar sav­ings from reduced con­sump­tion at peak hours. These cut-back episodes last a few hours at a time, per­haps a half-dozen times dur­ing the sum­mer, and almost always on week­days dur­ing the late after­noon. In the BGE pro­gram, you also have to option to opt out of up to 2 cycling events per sum­mer. So if you are hav­ing a party or event that you need your air on full, you can sign up in advance to opt out of that day.

In a press release from the BGE web­site, the util­ity announced that Peak Rewards pro­gram load cur­tail­ment on Fri­day July 22 reduced power demand by a vol­ume equiv­a­lent to 600 megawatts, which is the capac­ity of a mid-sized power plant. The busi­ness propo­si­tion is sim­ple: it’s cheaper to pay cus­tomers to scale back their power than it is to build new power plants that only oper­ate dur­ing peak times.

Demand response pro­grams are increas­ingly imple­mented through­out the U.S.  In total, they could cut peak demand by up to 15 per­cent in the United States, sav­ing con­sumer dol­lars and reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions. In our area, pro­gram par­tic­i­pants rep­re­sent reversible demand capac­ity equal to about eight per­cent of total peak power require­ments. The pri­mary hur­dle to the growth of demand response is lack of cus­tomer aware­ness and under­stand­ing. The sav­ings incen­tives are the main moti­va­tor, but the par­tic­i­pants also often feel that they are shar­ing the respon­si­bil­ity to off­set over­whelm­ing the sys­tem. Bet­ter to have a few days when you might be uncom­fort­able for a few hours than to have to deal with black­outs. Util­i­ties have very good web­sites for explain­ing their demand response and other energy-saving mea­sures. These are worth the time to visit. Here’s the BGE Peak Rewards page.

Christo­pher Russell
Energy Man­ager
August 2011


Green Tip

Buy local.It’s fresher: Produce shipped from outside the country travels up to two weeks before it arrives in grocery stores.