Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tonight: UI seeks comments on rate increase

United Illuminating is seeking permission to raise distribution rates over the next couple of years.  According to this letter (pdf) from UI president Anthony Vallillo, the rate increase is due in part to a reduction in demand.  While the amount that the company collects depends entirely on customer usage, the cost of maintaining the grid does not vary linearly with demand.  Therefore, they say, UI needs to raise the per-KWh rates to make up the difference (and to make up for an increase in uncollectables, pension plans, and new capital expenditures).  Since United Illuminating's services are heavily regulated by the state, they need permission from the DPUC in order to raise rates.  

The rate increase will affect only the distribution portion of your bill, so while that rate will increase by about 40% over the next two years (26% in 2009 and another 13.1% in 2010), your total bill will increase by about 10%.  If you haven't already replaced all your lights with CFLs, now is a good time.

Come hear the case and share your thoughts on the matter.  Here is the meeting info:
Tuesday, Dec 16th, 6:30 PM
Hall of Records, Room G-2
200 Orange Street
New Haven, CT

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now you see it, now you don't -- CT's solar rebate fund goes broke

CT has run out of money for residential solar subsidies. The rebate program, which offered rebates of up to 30% of the installed cost, may be shuttered until 2010. The solar leasing program, however, will remain in effect, as will a federal tax rebate program of up to 30% of installed cost.

Read more here (Business New Haven)
Solar leasing program here (CCEF)
Federal tax incentives here -- 41 page pdf (SEIA)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Biodiesel gets boost from state grants

Keep an eye out for more opportunities to buy biodiesel in CT. Seven grants of $50k apiece have been awarded to companies around the state to encourage distribution of renewable biodiesel fuel, which can be used for home heating and transportation. Click here for more info.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Saturday: New London Sustainability Fair

Learn about efforts to reduce energy consumption, increase recycling and support sustainable practices

SATURDAY, NOV. 8, 2008
10:00AM – 1:00pm
New London Science & Technology
Magnet High School
490 Jefferson Avenue, New London

FREE FOR EVERYONE!
Money saving tips for conserving energy
Valuable information for your family

GUEST SPEAKERS 11:30am – 12:00PM
Commissioner Gina McCarthy,
CT Department of Environmental Protection
Connecticut Light & Power

Sponsored by New London Sustainability Committee

For more info visit http://nlsc.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CT reduces solar rebate


As federal tax incentives for solar installations lose their $2k cap, the CT Clean Energy Fund is lowering its subsidy.  CCEF says this reduction in benefit is a response to the increased federal aid and is meant to maintain the same percentage of out-of-pocket expense for the applicant. New rebates are shown below.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UI seeks to raise rates



UI wants to raise distribution rates -- apparently we are not using enough electricity.  The new rates, they say, will cover $62.5 million in revenues that were previously approved by the DPUC but not collected due to reduced consumption, increased bad debts, and increased expenses to ensure reliability.  The increase to the distribution portion of your bill would be about 34% over two years for typical residential customers.  An average user would see roughly a 8% increase to their total bill.  More details on the rates below.

A public meeting was held in New Haven last night.  Though UI's announcement regarding this meeting was dated Oct 6th, I didn't receive mine until yesterday.  There will be a public meeting Dec 10 at Bridgeport City Hall and another in New Haven on Dec 16th at the Hall of Records, 200 Orange St.

Ratepayers blast 20% UI hike New Haven Independent

Rate increases (click for larger image):
***UPDATE 11/3/08: rate request numbers have changed.  I'll update later tonight, but  nothing dramatically different***
Most residential customers use  "R" rates. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SCG customers to get rebate

Look for a rebate soon on your gas bill. SCG has over-earned $15 million and must return the money to ratepayers. Story here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"World's Fair of Energy Conservation" to be held in Hartford


Governor Rell's One Thing campaign is throwing a party. Well, actually an Expo. Come to Hartford Oct 10-12 to see this "dazzling" display. (more details here)
Conceived as a "World's Fair of Energy Conservation," and part of Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell's OneThing campaign, the OneThing Expo will be an engaging exploration of energy topics and an unforgettable celebration of conservation. The story will be told in bright detail by hundreds of individuals and organizations across the state - and the country - representing a myriad of industries and topics, including agriculture, recreation, transportation, building technology, the arts and education, alternative energy, consumer products and much more. More than 250 exhibitors and thousands of visitors from Maine to Maryland are expected to take part.

Tickets are $8 adults, $4 seniors, 12 & under free
Personally, I think most of us could do more than just one thing but I suppose that's just a catchy marketing phrase. It is easy to remember, like "a stitch in time saves nine" or "shut off the lights when you leave a room".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spanish wind giant buys northeast NG company


Energy East owns CNG and SCG. Now Iberdola owns them.

Iberdola, incidentally, is the world's largest renewable energy operator. How that will affect me is unclear, but it doesn't sound like such a bad thing, does it?

P.S. According to Wikipedia, Iberdola's headquarter building in Bilbao was designed by New Haven's Cesar Pelli Architects.

P.P.S. I used to sweep the floors at Cesar Pelli Architects when I was a teenager. I remember them as nice people who work very late.

More fuel cell installations coming to CT

CT Clean Energy Fund has approved five new projects.

A 3.4 MW fuel cell/energy recovery generator project by FuelCell Energy in Bloomfield, Conn.
A 14.3 MW fuel cell/organic rankine cycle project by Bridgeport Fuel Cell Park, LLC in Bridgeport, Conn.
A 3.2 MW fuel cell/energy recovery generator project by FuelCell Energy in Trumbull, Conn.
A 3.2 MW fuel cell/energy recovery generator project by FuelCell Energy in Glastonbury, Conn.
A 3.2 MW fuel cell/ unfired gas turbine project by EPG Fuel Cell, LLC in Danbury, Conn.

Read more here.

Support Public Transportation

I know I've been slack lately, just busy busy busy with the baby.  I'll try to generate more content soon (I have a few things brewing), but for now I will just pass along items of interest.

Regarding the posting below, please don't ever just take someone else's word for it, read the legislation yourself before supporting it.


Hello everyone,

Tri-State Transportation Campaign urges you to contact both Senator Dodd and Senator Lieberman and urge them to co-sponsor or publicly support Senate Bill 3380, The Saving Energy through Public Transportation Act. This bill would bring approximately $20 million in operating funds from the federal government to Connecticut and could be used to stave off possible fare hikes on several of Connecticut's mass transit systems, including Metro-North and the Greater Bridgeport Transit system.

Adequate operating funding is integral to the overall and long term health of Connecticut's mass transit network. However, due to high energy costs and unexpected ridership numbers, these transit systems are finding their annual operating budgets are being depleted at faster than projected rates while the agencies ask the riders, often those that can afford it least, to pick up the tab.


So please take the time to reach out to Senators Dodd and Lieberman at the contact information below.



U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
448 Russell Building | Washington D.C., 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2823 | Fax: (202) 224-1083
30 Lewis St Suite 101 | Hartford, CT 06103
Tel: (860) 258-6940/(800) 334-5341 —CT only
Fax: (860) 258-6958

http://dodd.senate.gov/index.php?q=node/3128

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman
Washington, DC Office
706 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4041
(202) 224-9750 Fax

Connecticut Office

One Constitution Plaza
7th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 549-8463 Voice
(800) 225-5605 In CT
(866) 317-2242 Fax

http://lieberman.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm?regarding=issue
Thanks in advance for your support and please let others know about this issue!


Best,
Ryan


Senior Planner/Connecticut Coordinator
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
350 West 31st Street, Suite 802
New York, NY 10001
www.tstc.org
NYC Office: 212-268-7474
CT Cell: 860-796-6988
LI Cell: 631-742-7528

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Event: Oil, War and the Future of American Foreign Policy

"Oil, War and the Future of American Foreign Policy"

NEW HAVEN, CT -- Michael T. Klare, renowned security and energy expert, will speak at a forum on the geopolitics behind today's energy wars in the Middle East, Russia and Georgia, and innovative policy changes at the national and international level that can make a difference.

The forum, "Oil, War and the Future of American Politics," will be held from 3-5:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Educational Center for the Arts, 55 Audubon St., corner of Audubon and Orange Streets. Klare is the author of a new book, "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy."

Preceding the talk will be a screening of the documentary film, "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Dependence on Foreign Petroleum," based on Klare's book.

The event is a benefit for Squeaky Wheel Productions, nonprofit distributor of Between The Lines Radio Newsmagazine; and co-sponsors the Greater New Haven Peace Council and the New Haven/Leon, Nicaragua Sister City Project. Suggested donation is $15, $5 for students. Seating is limited, advance reservations recommended. For more information, visit www.squeakywheel.net or www.btlonline.org call 1-(203) 268-8446.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We're "great"

CT Energy Blog was recently given an 8.2/10 ranking from blogged.com based on "Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design and Writing Style". I have to say I've felt like a slacker over the last couple months for barely managing weekly updates with two-sentence blurbs. I wonder how close they monitor the blogs. Mebbe me can rite bad an seee if score chenge...


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Energy Policy Database

Here is a useful summary of Connecticut legislation regarding energy efficiency and emissions. For example, a tax incentive for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is outlined in House Bill 7432.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cheshire biodiesel plant for sale

This almost-finished 5 million gal/yr biodiesel plant got caught up in the F&S bankrupcy ordeal and it is now up for sale. The price? "Whatever anyone will pay for it". Story here.

According to Cheshire Town Council member Tim White, some unresolved disputes may complicate the purchase. Auction date is August 12th. According to this receiver's notice, there has been a "high volume of interest" in the facility.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rebates available: get $$$$ back for upgrading your boiler or furnace

The following is a press release for CT Senator Bob Duff. He refers to Stamford & Darien residents, though the rebates are available to all CT residents who meet the criteria. It may even apply retroactively to installations completed last year.

August 5, 2008

Duff: New Hotline Allows Residents to Take Advantage of Furnace Rebates

Call 1-866-940-4676 to request rebate application materials

State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) is urging all Norwalk and Darien residents considering replacing their home furnaces before this winter’s heating season to take advantage of a new state rebate program created by the General Assembly in 2007.

Under the program, Connecticut families with household incomes up to approximately $100,000 can receive a $500 rebate toward the purchase of a new, energy efficient furnace or boiler for their home. Families earning up to $200,000 may also be eligible for smaller rebates.

“Most homeowners don’t consider replacing their furnace unless it breaks down,” said Senator Duff. “But the reality is that replacing an inefficient furnace can help save hundreds of dollars on energy costs, especially during the winter heating season. This program is designed to make it easier for middle-income families to replace their old furnace or boiler with one that meets a higher efficiency standard.”

Senator Duff added, “With projected prices for heating oil this winter expected to be around $5 per gallon, it’s important that we do all we can to be prevent what could be a crisis for many Connecticut families. I’d expect the demand for this rebate program to be very high over the next few months, and I urge all of my qualifying constituents to take advantage of this opportunity very quickly.”

Forms and instructions for applying for the rebates will be available from the state Office of Policy and Management within two weeks. However, interested residents can begin immediately calling toll-free 1-800-940-4676 to request the forms, which will be mailed to home addresses.

The rebates are available for qualifying furnaces and boilers installed any time after July 1, 2007. Yesterday, the State Bond Commission approved $5 million to fund the program, which is expected to help about 100,000 middle-income Connecticut families this year.

State of Energy

The CT Office of Policy and Management produces a bi-monthly energy information newsletter. Check out the latest here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Live Solar Action

The Lee Company has installed a 308 KW Solar system in its Westbrook, CT facility. The coolest thing about this installation...you can watch real-time data!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

States boost efficiency spending

Connecticut has approved a budget increase for energy efficiency programs administered by the former electric utilities -- UI and CL&P. This is intended to allow for continued services like free energy audits and efficiency rebates.

For more info on free energy audits:
click here UI customers
click here CL&P customers

(hooray)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Many eggs, one basket


This op ed piece in the Norwich Bulletin calls on CT to fund only fuel cell-related clean energy projects. The goal, they say, is to support a long-term effort to develop cheaper alternatives to ever-growing fossil fuel costs. They really need to do some research and a little math before expressing their views.

The stated goal is to reduce "demand for electricity from fossil fuel-burning generators — and lower electric costs eventually." The vast majority of fuel cells run on fossil fuels. Others run on hydrogen that has been produced primarily using fossil fuels and nuke power (same grid that you and I use).

Fuel cells are relatively expensive -- even more expensive than the wind project example they use to bolster their point. Fuel cells typically come in at $4500/kw installed cost. The wind project is $200,000/50kW = $4000/kw. With zero fuel costs for the life of the turbine. While there have been many projections that fuel cell costs will come down, this number has not changed in many years.

The editorial derides the wind and solar installations for only providing power to a small facility. Unfortunately for their case, fuel cell installations are not much larger -- on the order of single-digit megawatts, compared to hundreds of megawatts for a traditional fossil fuel plant. Fortunately for us, small-scale distributed generation, like these projects, can go a long way towards reducing costs by stabilizing the regional grid and reducing congestion charges.

"There simply isn’t enough wind in Connecticut to produce enough electricity to make a dent in the state’s electric needs." Who says we need a single solution to supply the state's entire energy needs? That really seems impractical. In the end, we will have a mix of technologies like we do now (nuclear, oil, coal, hydroelectric, etc...).

There is no silver bullet. We should absolutely continue to support fuel cell development, but for large-scale power generation it is way too early to put all our eggs in one basket -- particularly a basket that has been under development for over 100 years and has yet to produce a single commercially viable product.

Shortening the work week to reduce energy costs

Some municipalities are toying with the idea of a four-day work week, reducing building energy costs as well as commuting fuel.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

High electric rates linked to deregulation

Another study, this one from UConn, shows that electric rates in states with "deregulated" markets are higher than those with "regulated" markets.

“Connecticut has not had the best, the most enlightened leadership in terms of electric deregulation,” said Quarterly co-editor Arthur Wright. “Too little attention was paid to the design of the (power) auctions used to establish so-called competitive prices..."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Real estate developer may purchase fuel cell company

I leave my post for a few weeks (yikes, over a month) and look what happens! The parent company of CT's Proton Energy Systems is filing for bankruptcy and selling off to a real estate developer. Proton has had its ups and downs over the last decade or so, but survived the major bubble burst of the fuel cell craze and has been chugging along ever since. They have carved out an interesting niche in the hydrogen market -- let's hope the (potential) new owners can keep things moving.

Sorry I have been absent for so long. Having one of these tends to drain any spare time you thought you had.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fight The Hike in Hamden

Grass-roots organization Fight The Hike has organized a meeting in Hamden to discuss three pending bills (5783, 5815, and 5819) geared towards re-regulating CT's electricity market and providing relief to the ratepayers. Click here for more information.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thule HQ goes solar

Roof rack manufacturer Thule is installing a roof rack of their own -- a 318 KW solar system on top of their Seymour, CT Headquarters. The system will provide about 26% of the facility's power and will be funded by $1.3 million from the CCEF. $4,000/KW is not so bad for a solar installation -- usually $5-10k -- but it's not really clear if this is the entirety of the funding.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New York says "No Thanks" to Broadwater

In a long-awaited decision, Albany has chosen to deny the first of several permits the LNG project requires from various New York State agencies. They "...found the project inconsistent with six of 13 criteria under New York's coastal zone management plan".

Good news for the opposition, but the war is likely to wage on in Federal courts. CT has no jurisdiction over the proposal as the facility would lie entirely on the NY side of Long Island Sound.

CT Sec of State Susan Bysiewicz put out this press release regarding the decision.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Broadwater approved by FERC


The Broadwater LNG terminal floated past one of it's last remaining regulatory roadblocks yesterday. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission welcomed the project with open arms and rebuffed Connecticut officials who opposed it. Blumenthal threatened to sue. Approvals from the US Coast Guard and several NY state departments are pending. Let's hope the new NY governor has his mind on his job.

FERC press release
CT Governor Jodi Rell press release
NH Register article
Richard Blumenthal press release
New Haven Independent

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Two takes on CT's fuel cell investment strategy

I enjoyed the contrast between these two opinion pieces regarding investments of public funds into fuel cell technology. The first is a letter signed by three CT state representatives. They enthusiastically endorse a $200 million investment into a technology that could have a "huge impact" on our state's economy.
"The state already has 20 percent of the world's fuel cell producing work force."
Wow, 20 percent out of the whole world! Sounds impressive, but according to this piece in the Hartford Courant, this amount to only 1,200 jobs. That's less than 0.1% (one tenth of one percent) of jobs in the state.

My opinion -- buy technologies that make sense. Will forty million-dollar fuel cell bus recuperate the investment in fuel savings? Will they have a significant impact on emissions? The technology will take off when it can compete on these levels. Already there are niche markets where fuel cells make sense and more are developing as the technology improves.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Broadwater still brewing

Good editorial in the New London Day opposing the Broadwater LNG plant. With a new Governor coming into office in New York, things are still very much in the air with this project.

Residents understand the cost of energy. They pay for it every day. And most of them work hard to be able to make those payments.

They get it. But what Mr. Hritcko doesn't seem to understand is that protecting Long Island Sound is important to them. They believe the risk to the Sound, which they consider one of Connecticut's greatest assets, to be too great. They see an environmental disaster in the making.


Broadwater's take here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Raising the age, lowering the consumption



Governor Jodi Rell says she's not interested in raising the driving age from 16 to 17. Aside from the safety issues, she (and the legislation) should consider this effect on energy consumption. According to the 2000 census, about 2% of the driving-age population is 16. A 2% reduction in fuel consumption would be a significant achievement. Actually, it might be higher as a 16-year-old might spend more time on the road than an 80-year-old. I would encourage the legislation to investigate this more thoroughly.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sunny Windsor Locks

There are many ways to generate electricity using the sun's energy. One common technique involves the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels -- these are a series of flat cells that use the sun's energy to directly generate electricity. Another technique is to heat up a working fluid to drive a turbine generator, using mechanical energy to spin magnets and create electricity. With both of these common applications, the problem of storing energy until it is needed adds significantly to the cost and complexity of the systems.

Hamilton Sundstrand has partnered with US Renewables Group in California to create an innovative plan for solar energy storage. They will heat molten salt to 1000F and use it to generate steam for a steam turbine. HS claims that the molten salt retains more heat over time than water or other commonly used fluids, thereby reducing energy loss and increasing overall efficiency.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Trying to stay warm?

Happy New Year! Time to bundle up and stay warm without running up fuel costs. By far, the cheapest way to stay comfortable is to simply dress warmly. Keep your heat just low enough so that your fingers don't turn blue (that's about where I start to hear it from the wife). As my friend likes to say, it's always 98.6 if you're properly dressed!

Here is a good resource with creative ways to lower heating bills without spending a fortune.


Check out this one showing how to install a simple acrylic interior storm window, including a payback analysis (less than one year for the example shown).