All posts by Carolyn Sloan

2019 BCSE Summer Fellowship – Accepting Applications Now! (March 7, 2019)

The 2019 Jan Schori Summer Fellowship Program

About the Council

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors, and includes independent electric power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, commercial end-users and environmental market service providers.  Founded in 1992, the Council advocates for policies at state, national and international levels that increases the use of commercially-available clean energy technologies, products and services.  The coalition's diverse business membership is united around the revitalization of our economy and creation of a secure and sustainable energy future for America.

About the Jan Schori Summer Fellowship

The BCSE seeks one fellow to assist with policy research, legislative analysis, membership coordination, communications, and general office management.  Qualified candidates should have interest in the energy and environment fields and/or legislative experience. Responsibilities related to communications include press outreach, website maintenance and social media. 

Jan Schori Summer Fellows work alongside the BCSE’s fulltime staff in the Council’s downtown Washington, DC offices.  The Fellowship runs approximately from the beginning of June to mid-August, depending on fellows’ academic schedules and on-going congressional activity.  The position is unpaid, though a stipend is available for qualified candidates.

Following their work with the BCSE, previous Jan Schori fellows have gone to work for the Office of Management and Budget, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Maryland State Energy Administration, the Texas Legislature, and various clean energy businesses and business organizations.

The Fellowship was established in 2008 to honor upon her retirement Jan Schori, former BCSE Board Chair and general manager and chief executive officer of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).  Ms. Schori is currently of Counsel at Downy Brand in Sacramento, CA, and serves as an independent trustee on the North American Electric Reliability Council Board of Trustees and as a Board Member on the Climate Action Reserve.

Issue Areas 

Energy and environmental policy, greenhouse gas emissions management, domestic and international clean energy market development, politics.

Application Process

Please send a cover letter and résumé to Carolyn Sloan ([email protected]). The deadline for applications is March 20, 2019. Interviews for selected candidates will begin shortly thereafter and decisions made within a few weeks.

BCSE Supports Clear and Stable Policies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Last week EPA released its new proposed greenhouse gas regulation – the Affordable Clean Energy rule. This is the Trump administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with a narrower regulation aimed only at heat rate improvements at coal plants. Read here for a summary of the ACE rule and how it differs from the Clean Power Plan.

The Council believes the ACE rule does not go far enough to curb the power sector’s emissions in part because it does not take into account the full range of readily available technologies proven to reduce emissions at ever decreasing costs. The Council’s core sectors of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy have been proven to provide the broad portfolio of technologies necessary to achieve rapid emissions reductions while simultaneously growing the economy.

The findings of the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook show that total US GHG emissions are at a 26-year low, while the economy has grown 15% in the last ten years and primary energy consumption has declined 1%. US power sector emissions are on a steep decline, ending 2017 at 28% below their 2005 peak.  The broad portfolio of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy have enabled these dramatic reductions in emissions, while keeping energy costs low and creating over 3 million jobs across the country.

The Council has long supported federal, market-based mechanisms to promote a cleaner, more sustainable energy sector. Clear and stable policies are critical to meaningful emissions reduction and progress toward the scientific goals that must be met to avoid the work effects of climate change. The Council supports the following priorities in any greenhouse gas reduction policy:

  • Inclusion of targets and standards that are in line with scientific analysis that indicates the level of ambition needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change
  • Inclusion of clear and sustained market signals that spur emissions reductions through investment in the full portfolio of clean energy technologies, including energy efficiency, energy storage, renewable energy, and natural gas, as well as carbon capture utilization and storage applications, among others
  • Utilization of market-based regulatory approaches that reduce costs and encourage competition and over performance
  • Inclusion of provisions that enable states, localities, and the private sector to go beyond regulatory targets
  • Inclusion of provisions that enable states to link emissions reduction programs through regional markets
  • Recognition and rewards for early action and investment in clean energy technologies
  • A federal policy that is complementary to existing state and regional climate policies

As the EPA and others move forward on developing policies to reduce emissions and combat climate change, the Council will continue to advocate for these policy principles on behalf of the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.

About the Author: Carolyn Sloan is a Manager of Federal Policy at the BCSE.

BCSE Technology Brief: States Take the Lead on Renewable Natural Gas

The policy landscape is changing for renewable natural gas, and market opportunities for the domestic, renewable, clean fuel and energy source are expanding as well. Under the leadership of one of BCSE’s partner organizations, the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, states are advancing policies that promote the use of renewable natural gas (RNG). These policies are needed to create market certainty, which is necessary to drive greater development, deployment and utilization of RNG.

Thirty-seven states and DC have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) programs, which can be met in part by producing renewable electricity from RNG. Many states and regions are also adopting policies that facilitate the use of RNG for transportation fuel. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is the California regulation that requires a 10% reduction in transportation fuel carbon intensity by 2020. Governors of CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PN, RI, and VT signed a 2009 memorandum of understanding committing to develop a regional low carbon fuel standard. Many states are considering new policies to create new markets for RNG, such as California’s Senate Bill 1440, which would establish a biomethane procurement goal for gas corporations.

As the policy landscape continues to evolve, states and the federal government should continue to support policies that promote the use of renewable natural gas, and result in longer term market certainty for this renewable energy and ultra low-carbon fuel.

RNG has many applications that make it a valuable and flexible resource. It can be blended with or substitute for conventional natural gas in vehicles as well as in commercial, industrial and residential end-use applications. RNG can be used to power your home or business’ natural gas appliances. It can also be converted to Compressed Natural Gas (R-CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (R-LNG) to fuel natural gas vehicles; many cities have transitioned their diesel bus fleets to natural gas engines fueled by renewable natural gas.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal program administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency requiring transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. Renewable Natural Gas meets the highest standards of RFS2 for lifecycle GHG emissions reduction, and currently comprises greater than 95% of all the cellulosic biofuel under the RFS program.

Many are familiar with natural gas, and with renewable resources, but what exactly is renewable natural gas?

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG, Biomethane) is an ultra-low carbon alternative to traditional natural gas. When organic waste breaks down naturally, it emits methane gas, also called biogas, a mixture of carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons. Renewable natural gas is biogas that has been upgraded to transportation fuel grade specifications or natural gas pipeline quality standards such that it may blend with, or substitute for, geologic natural gas. Large amounts of biogas (the raw, freshly emitted and untreated gas) can be collected at local landfills, wastewater treatment plants, commercial food waste facilities and agricultural digesters (dairies, etc.).

For more information on RNG, please see the RNG Coalition website at www.rngcoalition.com

 

Paul Bertram Named Distinguished Member by the Construction Specifications Institute for Work on Energy Efficiency

Former BCSE Board Member Paul Bertram was recently recognized with the Distinguished Members award by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). The award was presented last month in Providence, Rhode Island, at the CONSTRUCT and CSI Annual Convention. This is the highest award given by CSI and is conferred on individuals who have performed distinguished services to the construction industry in fields of activity related to the purpose of the Institute. BCSE was proud to support Mr. Bertram’s nomination. Since the first award in 1954, only 49 members have earned this illustrious honor. Mr. Bertram is the 50th recipient of this award.

Throughout Mr. Bertram’s career he has demonstrated excellence and commitment in the field of energy and building efficiency. He was an observer and speaker at the UNFCCC COP21 climate meeting in Paris and worked tirelessly for the advancement of energy efficiency policies in the US and abroad.


Mr. Bertram retired from full time work last year, but

continues to work to influence energy efficiency policy, including through the NYSERDA Retrofit program. As a Vietnam veteran, Mr. Bertram also works to lower the veteran suicide rate by supporting Guardian Angles Medical Service Dogs, a program that uses service dogs to assist veterans with PTSD.

The Council extends its congratulations to Mr. Bertram on this well-deserved award!

BCSE Celebrates its Silver Anniversary

2017 is a milestone year for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. For the last two and half decades, the Council’s work has contributed to an amazing clean energy transformation that has taken root in the United States and is expanding globally.

The Council was founded in 1992 by corporate leaders in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors, with the vision that together these commercially-available technology solutions would improve American energy security, reliability and affordability. That vision still guides the work of the BCSE today.

Over the Past 25 Years …

A diverse business coalition that includes leading energy trade associations, big and small companies and manufacturers, independent power producers, utilities and others, the BCSE has nearly doubled in size since its first days and now represents 52 corporate and trade association members.

The BCSE has led over 60 business delegations to all of the United Nations conferences on sustainable development and climate change, including landmark summits in Rio and Johannesburg, as well as Kyoto and Paris.

The BCSE has produced five Sustainable Energy in America Factbooks in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (2013-2017), injecting a reliable source of market information into the policy discussions in Washington, DC, and beyond.

Here are some more reasons that the BCSE is celebrating the growth of clean energy since 1992:

  • 92% of all new power capacity built in the US since 1992 has been renewable energy and natural gas
  • More than $58 billion spent on energy efficiency programs by natural gas and electric utilities
  • A 58% increase in US energy productivity
  • Over three million US jobs supported by energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy
  • A 25-year low in US greenhouse gas emission from the power sector in 2016
  • The passage of 4 major energy bills that have supported energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy deployment and financing

Follow the BCSE Clean Energy Blog in the weeks and months to come for more reflections and posts that celebrate a quarter century of good work to accelerate the deployment of clean energy in America and around the world, and what’s next!

AEE 2017 Market Report Shows Sustainable Energy Transformation is Well Underway in American Economy

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Today, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released its Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report, highlighting key trends in advanced energy growth, and showcasing the $1.4 trillion in global advanced energy revenue seen in 2016. As the report notes, “advanced energy is bigger than ever” and shows no signs of slowing down. Advanced energy – defined by AEE as “a broad range of technologies, products, and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow” – has grown by 28 percent in the U.S. since 2011.

Other facts highlight the significant growth in advanced energy in 2016:

• Notably, revenue in U.S. building efficiency products and services, grew by 8%, or $5 billion – led by energy efficient lighting and commercial building retrofits, both up 7% reaching $26.4 billion and $8.4 billion, respectively.
Advanced electricity generation was up $3.9 billion, led by solar PV, which capped off five years of growth with a 30% surge, to $24.9 billion.
Natural gas turbine revenue was down 12%, but natural gas remains the number one source of electricity generation in the U.S. at 34%.
Wind energy stayed constant at $14.1 billion in revenue, and Rhode Island has taken the first steps towards off-shore wind.
Combined heat and power generation saw $29.1 billion in revenue.
• The energy storage market grew 54% in 2016, up to $427 million.
• Sales of fuel cells for onsite power jumped 21% to $373 million.
Plug-in electric vehicles revenue has grown tenfold over the last five years, up to $7.8 billion.
• The advanced energy economy supports over 3 million U.S. jobs.

The report, produced with Navigant Research, covers seven areas of advanced energy: building efficiency, electricity delivery and management, transportation, fuel production, industry, fuel delivery, and electricity generation. Each section highlights the market growth and impact of these sectors, indicating the huge impact advanced technology has on the US economy.

AEE’s report doubles down on the message of the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, released last month with Bloomberg New Energy Finance; America’s energy transformation towards cleaner, more sustainable sources is well underway. The Factbook shows that, in addition to the exciting growth in the advanced energy economy, the U.S. economy is growing, prices are falling, and clean energy is supporting millions of jobs.

Get the Full AEE Market Report At: http://info.aee.net/aen-2017-market-report

2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook Released

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The Business Council for Sustainability, in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, is proud to announce the release of the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. In its fifth year, this annual resource outlines key trends influencing America’s investment and economics, energy supply and energy demand. This year’s edition demonstrates that growth and development of key energy industries continues to contribute to positive energy and economic trends benefiting the US.

Far from “alternative,” sustainable energy is now the new normal in the United States. Twenty sixteen saw rapid acceleration in renewable deployment, record levels of natural gas consumption and export, and an economy that is more energy efficient than ever.

The best part? Americans have never spent a lower percentage of household income on energy.

These trends are not new, and they are not slowing down. The Factbook shows that since 1990, over 90 percent of cumulative generating capacity additions have been renewable energy or natural gas. In the past 10 years, over half of new additions have been from renewable sources. Natural gas is now the number one source of power for the US, contributing 34 percent of the electricity mix in 2016, and renewables surged to 15 percent in 2016, up from just 9 percent in 2007. Together, natural gas and renewable energy generated nearly 50% of U.S. electricity in 2016.

Importantly, the US has decoupled economic growth and energy demand: since 2007, US GDP is up 12 percent, while overall energy consumption has fallen by 3.7 percent. Even with all this change, consumers devoted less than 4 percent of their total annual household spending to energy in 2016, the smallest share ever recorded by the US government. The growing portfolio of sustainable energy sources – energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy – has allowed the American economy to do more with less while creating jobs, reducing emissions, and saving money.

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Get the facts and learn more about the sustainable energy transformation by downloading the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook for FREE here: bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook

 

Commercial Natural Gas As Economic Driver: Report Shows Low Prices, Increased Efficiency

This Tuesday, the American Gas Association (AGA) released a comprehensive study on the natural gas commercial sector in the US. Using data from the Energy Information Administration, AGA studies, and economic modeling from Regional Economic Modeling Incorporated (REMI), the study focuses on how natural gas is used within businesses and commercial entities such as hospitals, schools, fire stations, restaurants, and malls.

This study is timely given the critical role the commercial sector plays in the US economy and the major implications its energy use patterns have for the transformation underway in the US energy sector. Natural gas is an economic driver - total natural gas utility revenue in 2013 was $101.1 billion, while commercial customers accounted for $21.4 billion of that. Additionally, prices for commercial natural gas customers are at their lowest in over 40 years, saving commercial customers $76 billion since 2009.

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Not only are commercial customers paying less for natural gas, efficiency measures have allowed them to do more with less. The amount of natural gas consumed by the average commercial customer decreased steadily from 1977 to 2015, with an average of -0.3% per year. All of this serves to boost the profitability of America’s businesses, especially small businesses.

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As part of the portfolio of available clean energy technologies, natural gas production continues to increase as a share of overall US energy production, reaching record highs in 2016. Gas utility construction expenditures for distribution infrastructure rose to $9.7 billion in 2014, and further infrastructure investments will be required to meet the needs of a 21st century energy system (Read more on BCSE infrastructure ideas here).

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In total, the US commercial sector accounts for nearly one-fifth of all energy use in the United States. Natural gas is an essential resource for this sector; it comprises 18% of total commercial energy consumption, and more than 5.4 million commercial customers use natural gas for space and water heating.

The report goes into further detail on the characteristics of commercial buildings, the economic implications of commercial natural gas use, appliance and building codes and standards, and the future of commercial natural gas use and consumption.

Learn more and download the full report here.

New Report Points to Energy Efficiency Opportunity in Virginia

Virginia’s power mix is making the clean energy shift, and it has significant opportunities for progress in improving its energy efficiency. This analysis comes from a new report from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), a coalition of clean energy companies that promotes the adoption of market-ready clean and sustainable energy products and services, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Compared to the rest of the country, the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions are lower than the national average and it has lower than average power prices.

The Virginia Clean Energy Landscape

The Virginia Clean Energy Factsheet shows that Virginia is making positive steps towards a diversified energy portfolio. Overall, the Factsheet finds that last year Virginia ranked 10th in total electricity consumption, and 17th in electricity generation. This makes Virginia one of the nation’s biggest electricity importers. Natural gas provided a record 39% of electricity in 2015, while renewables grew to 5.3%. The remaining generation comes from nuclear (33%) and coal (21%).

The Factsheet contains more data and analysis on the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and natural gas sectors in Virginia – providing a succinct look at Virginia’s power sector as it diversifies and moves to a lower carbon energy mix.

It also highlights that there are significant opportunities for energy savings to be realized through energy efficiency measures and programs. The right energy efficiency programs can reduce energy costs for consumers, benefit the economy, and reduce emissions. They can also help make Virginia more energy independent.

Energy Efficiency Programs in the U.S. and Virginia

Nationwide, energy efficiency programs and services implemented over the past several decades have contributed significantly to the increased energy productivity of the U.S. economy. According to BCSE’s 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, energy efficiency has led to the decoupling of GDP and energy consumption; between 2007 and 2015, GDP went up 10%, while energy consumption actually went down by 2.4%. This means that every unit of GDP requires less and less energy spending to produce.

National spending on these energy efficiency programs grew 25% per year from 2006 to 2011, reflecting the growing acknowledgement of its economic and energy benefits.

Despite this surge in national spending on energy efficiency, Virginia has not been as quick to make similar investments. Virginia ranks 31st according to ACEEE’s energy efficiency scoring system, and ranks last among states in utility spending on energy efficiency as a percentage of revenue. In 2014, Virginia spent just .01% of electricity revenues on energy efficiency programs, while Maryland and New Jersey (states that also operate in the PJM market) spend 4.3% and 2.0%, respectively.

Energy Saving Opportunities

Investments in energy efficiency products and services have demonstrable benefits to consumers. From 2010 to 2015, as national spending increased, consumers actually saw reductions in their electricity use and bills. The Factbook shows that the average U.S. residential customer used 6.2% less electricity, despite owning more gadgets, and paid about $80 less in real dollars on their electricity bills annually.

In Virginia, the Factsheet shows the energy savings potential is a cumulative 23% by 2030. That means avoiding 25TWh of generation in 2030.

Given these benefits, as the Governor’s Executive Order 57 Working Group on emissions reduction continues to seek ways to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint, energy efficiency should be prioritized. It is a cost effective way to cut back on emissions that also saves money for consumers.

Other policy makers are well positioned to take action on energy efficiency. The General Assembly took an important step towards advancing energy efficiency in the Commonwealth by mandating that the State Corporation Commission evaluate the establishment of uniform protocols for measuring verifying, validating, and reporting on the impacts of utility energy efficiency programs. Establishing a robust system for evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) will be crucial to the success of energy efficiency programs. BCSE has recommended that the SCC consider the many well established resources available on EM&V as it makes decisions about how Virginia will move forward with EM&V protocols.

The Commonwealth is in a good position to deepen its commitment to an economic growth pathway that further embraces a diverse portfolio of clean energy resources. Energy efficiency is a key component of that portfolio, and one through which Virginia stands to gain significant economic and energy saving benefits.

For more information and to download a free copy of the Virginia Factsheet and Sustainable Energy Factbook please visit bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook.

This article was also published on the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council Blog