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Posts Tagged ‘energy conservation’

The Texas electric grid operator (ERCOT) has introduced an app for smartphones intended to alert Texas users about emergencies to the electric grid that could trigger rolling blackouts.  This alert system would urge consumers to conserve energy during those times.

In the midst of last summer’s record breaking heat, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas called on Texans to conserve when power generators weren’t able to keep up with extreme demand on several days. That conservation helped ERCOT avoid rolling outages. ERCOT has said it will probably have to call for conservation again this summer.  The new app will notify users of Apple and Android devices when the grid operator needs people to cut back usage to avoid blackouts.

iPhone, iPad and Android users can find the free ERCOT Energy Saver app by searching for ERCOT in the Apple and Google app stores, or you can link to the app below.

ERCOT will also use traditional methods of alerting the public about grid emergencies, but for the tech obsessed – this is a new option.  As for me, armed with my new smart thermostat, its smartphone app and the new ERCOT app, I stand ready to do my part.

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As temperatures soared yesterday, ERCOT estimates that electricity usage reached an all-time peak high (breaking Wednesday’s record) with Texans using 60,157 MW of power – flying past the official record set on August 31, 2000 when 57,606 MW of power was consumed by Texans in the ERCOT service region.

“Texas is experiencing a very serious energy emergency,” said David Power, Deputy Director of the Texas office of Public Citizen, “and we are urging everyone to shut off any unnecessary appliances to conserve energy.”

For tips on how to conserve energy, go to http://www.texasishot.org/.

Tom “Smitty” Smith, the Director of the Texas office of Public Citizen applauds the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)’s heroic efforts in keeping the lights on under enormous stress. “They are doing a great job, however without the assistance of all Texans in conserving energy during this unusual heat event they may not be able to do so for long.”

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“In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party”.

So begins an article by Natasha Lennard in Salon

Why is the Tea Party suddenly obsessed with light bulbs?

by Natasha Lennard of Salon

In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party.

Suddenly, saving the old-fashioned 100-watt bulb — which wastes most of the energy it consumes and costs households more in energy bills than the new model — has become a matter of personal liberty. And so, House Republicans on Monday will seek to repeal the 2007  law, which calls for the phaseout to begin in January 2012.

The law has been dubbed “the light bulb ban” by activists on the right and has struck a Tea Party nerve. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann have all called it government intrusion par excellence. It essentially mandates that no new bulbs can go on the market after January ’12 without meeting a new, higher standard of energy efficiency. Bulbs that don’t meet the standard but that are already in stores won’t be taken off shelves.

“It is one of those issues out there that just inflames people,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, co-sponsor of the bill that would reverse the phaseout, told Politico. “What in the world were you doing restricting the kinds of light bulbs in my home?”

Of course, you could also craft an argument that the law is fiscally conservative.  According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Analysis shows the standards [of the 2007 light bulb law] would save the country more than $12.5 billion annually when fully implemented in 2020.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu showed little sympathy for libertarian stalwarts, when in a press conference on the issue he bluntly said, “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”

And in an opinion piece for The Hill, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., put the bulb debate in much needed context: “We’ve got big fights ahead, with real disagreements that will require us to find some common ground — like how to get our financial house in order, how to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and how to reform our education system. If Republicans and Democrats can’t come together on more efficient light bulbs, I have little hope of us tackling the bigger issues.”

And, of course, Texas was right in there leading the charge.  On June 17th, Governor Perry signed into law HB 2510 (Relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation).  Check out our earlier blog about why this legislation is such a futile fist-shaking at the federal government and really, not in the best interest of consumers.  And check out this article in the LA Times, poking fun at Texas for their new battle cry “Remember the Incandescent Bulb”.
The article concludes with musings by one of our own  – “And for all the hoopla over the Texas law, there is virtually no chance in the near future that residents of Lone Star State will be able to buy a state-made incandescent,” said David Power, deputy director of the Public Citizen office in Texas.

We don’t mine tungsten in Texas,” Power said. “So there is no place where they can get a Texas-made filament” for bulbs.

Way to make a statement Texas!

And if that wasn’t enough . . .

Texas’ Congressman Joe Barton took this fight to Capital Hill.  The measure was defeated, but not before it became the delight of comedian’s across the country.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart slammed House Republicans relitigating a fight over incandescent light bulbs while the country was on the brink of default.

“I just want to make this clear,” Stewart said. “They aren’t fighting about light bulb standards. They are re-fighting a light bulb standards fight that we settled in 2007. We’re three weeks away from having to park our country down the street so China can’t find it and these yutzes are relitigating incandescent v. florescent.”

Watch this video from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast July 12, 2011.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

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The following contribution on a new Angelou Economics report showing positive economic impact to the state since 2009. is from Tod Wickersham of Businesses for an Energy Efficient Texas coalition (BEET).

Texas’ energy efficiency programs have saved the state’s residents, schools and businesses money on their electric bills for years. However, a new study by noted economist Angelos Angelou quantifies the employment and economic impact benefits of energy efficiency programs to the state of Texas. While utilities and their customers each have their own way to value economic impacts of energy efficiency investments, this study offers a different perspective, finding that between 2009 and 2011, energy efficiency programs in Texas created or retained nearly 12,000 jobs and generated an overall economic impact of $1.5 billion statewide.

When the Texas electric market was deregulated in 1999, the Texas Legislature recognized that energy efficiency provided Texans a valuable tool to lower the cost of energy and established energy efficiency programs administered by investor-owned utilities (IOUs). These successful programs were expanded in 2007 by the Texas Legislature and further expanded by the Public Utility Commission in 2010. Angelou’s study also recognizes additional economic, job creation and energy savings benefits that would result if these energy efficiency programs were further increased.

The nine IOUs in Texas currently are working to meet these state requirements through programs that offer financial and/or technical assistance to help customers be more energy efficient. As a result of these efforts, electricity demand in Texas was reduced by 240 megawatts in 2009 alone – enough energy to power 46,000 homes. Furthermore, in 2009 these programs provided nearly $55 million in annual savings for residents, businesses, schools and other utility users and reduced smog-producing emissions such as nitrogen oxide by more than 413 tons per year.

Angelou stated that while these Texas energy efficiency program findings are significant, there remains the potential for an even greater economic impact. His report states that  36 states are currently contributing a larger percentage of their capital to energy efficiency programs, resulting in increased energy savings and greater economic benefits.  Texas’s current energy efficiency investments per capita are one-third of the national average, and less than programs in Iowa, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Mississippi.

Currently, the Texas Legislature is considering two bills, SB 1125 (Carona) and HB 1629 (Anchia), that would continue these successful energy efficiency programs. These bills are supported by many stakeholders, including businesses, environmental groups, and utility companies.

In the face of tough economic times, Texas’ energy efficiency programs provide a positive economic impact to the state, including saving Texans money, improving businesses’ competitiveness and creating jobs. This study provides additional evidence that continuing the state’s energy efficiency efforts is valuable to Texas.

 To see the report click here

 

About Businesses for an Energy Efficient Texas coalition (BEET): BEET is a coalition of businesses seeking to improve Texas’ competitiveness, save Texans money, and create more Texas jobs through the implementation of energy efficiency projects and programs. BEET is also focused on educating Texas leaders about how energy efficiency programs, products and services benefit the state. For more information about BEET, visit www.BEETcoalition.org.

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We use more electricity now than ever, and since 2007 our energy usage in Texas is outpacing population growth.  How many of us charge our cell phones or laptops all night so they’re ready for use in the morning?  Or perhaps run the AC 24 hours a day during the blazing Texas summers?   Several years ago the Legislature passed a bill to bring down our consumption, but there’s still much to be done.  On one hand, legislation can continue to push down the maximum levels of energy consumption, thereby compelling energy companies to utilize more efficient forms of energy.  On the other, consumers and business owners can decide to individually pursue energy efficient technology, such as light bulbs, solar panels, and more efficient appliances.

Both suppliers and consumers must pursue energy efficiency to push it into the mainstream.  It’s the simple market equation of supply and demand—but who is going to push first?  Will energy companies supply more efficient forms of energy, or will consumers demand it until it really catches on?

While trolling the halls of Legislature during the last session and passing around information on efficient energy, I was pulled into a conversation between two gentlemen in one of the offices.  We discussed a slew of topics, including the Austin rodent problem of Fall 2008, the general usefulness of cats, and (prompted by my flier) light bulbs.   One gentleman was insistent that LEDs do not provide near the quality of incandescent bulbs, and therefore refused to use them in his home.  I was not exactly sure how to respond to that (I’m no bulb expert) but in my research I found the video posted below.

So why aren’t these alien light bulbs everywhere?  Some are too expensive for the average consumer, but I had no idea that so many varieties exist.   Since they save so much on energy usage, why aren’t they more popular? (more…)

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Oncop logoOncor wants to get some home energy monitors in the field to see how they work and get customer feedback. There are a limited number available, so you would need to act fast to have a chance at one. There are a couple of qualifications, of course.

First you must live in the Oncor service territory. Oncor is the “poles and wires” part of the DFW-area electrical system, not the Retail Electric Provider. (Their general area is in the DFW area but they reach into east and central Texas, as well as some other areas.)

Second, you must have an active smart meter. These are the new meters that Oncor has been deploying, you should have received a door hanger when you had your meter changed out, and the meter must be active. You can check on the Smart Meter Texas website to see if your meter is active.

Here is the information found in the flier that they are distributing:

“Act Now! You may be eligible to receive a free in-home energy monitor!

Oncor is giving away up to 500 FREE  In-Home Energy Monitors through the end of the year.  The monitor interacts with smart meters and
allows electric customers to monitor energy consumption in a real-time basis.  You may be eligible to receive a FREE In-Home Monitor* by
taking the following steps:

1.  You must have an active smart meter.  You may verify this by logging on to the Texas smart meter web portal at www.smartmetertexas.com and sign up to view your energy usage.

2.  Email us at [email protected] with “Free IHM Request” in the subject line of the email.  We simply need your name, ESI ID number,
which can be found on your electric bill, email address and the address for us to mail the device.

This FREE offer is part of Oncor’s Smart Meter Verification Plan.  If you have questions about the program, please contact Lauren Davis at
214.486.5306

*While Supplies Last

This is a limited offer so if you have a new smart meter and are interested in you real time energy consumption here is an opportunity to get a free in-home display and participate in the initial roll out of this new program to help save energy.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Meet Mona Avalos.

Mona is our charming, diligent global warming intern. She’s finishing up a master’s degree at Sam Houston State while working with Andy Wilson to educate the public about the strategies for and the benefits of energy conservation.

Don’t be fooled by her studious demeanor; she is a fun-loving dork at heart. Plus… (she has superpowers!) Shhhh, don’t tell anyone though

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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