Archive for Energy efficiency

ARRA Symposium notes, March 10 2009

I’ll be referencing these notes in an article to be published on AltEnergyStocks.com as What the ARRA Means for Clean Energy: One State’s Example on March 15th.

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Investing in Obama’s Stimulus Plan

Since Obama’s election, my partent Charles and I have been looking at what Obama’s refreshing attitude towards Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, combined with the credit crunch, will do for some of our favorite stocks… here are the highlights:

Companies that may benefit from a solar glut

How Oil prices affect Alternative Energy Stocks

Emissions trading stocks under Obama

What might happen to Solar Photovoltaic companies if consumers pull back

Charles and I expect divened paying companies to come back into vogue. He has a few dividend paying alternative energy companies and I have a couple dividend paying energy efficiency companies to consider.

I also revisited my list of Blue Chip Alternative energy companies to see which ones might benefit from the expected stimulus package, while Charles looked at Smart Grid stocks that might benefit from a stimulus package. One technology I’m betting on is Geothermal heat pumps.

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AltEnergyStocks.com Endorses Obama

My partners and I received a couple angry emails because of what I consider very well reasoned arguments as to why Barack Obama would be better on Energy and Climate than John McCain. It still shocks me that anyone interested in alternative energy investing would even consider this controversial. If they support McCain, they might not like the fact that their candidate isn’t the best on energy issues, but simply consider other matters more important.

YouTube Removes Clip of McCain mocking tire inflation.

It’s a crazy world we live in. In the first draft, we had found a video where McCain was shown deriding Obama’s advocacy for energy efficiency in the form of well-inflated tires, but it had been taken down by YouTube a day later. We had to settle for a news story talking about the McCain campaign and their tire guages, not McCain himself.

On what grounds was it removed, I have to wonder? It was a public appearance of a public figure, so you would think that it would not have been removed on copyright grounds, but your guess is as good as mine. Does YouTube remove all videos of public figures making fools of themselves?

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Votes for Clean Energy in Colorado

I vote in Colorado, and we actually have more initiatives on the ballot than in California. Again, from the perspective of a voter primarily concerned about climate change and clean, renewable energy, here are the propositions that are relevant. (I’ll spare you my opinion on if eggs should be people.)

Amendment 52 – Redirect severance tax revenues for road repairs. No.
A quick look at who’s backing this thing is enough to convince me it’s crazy. See my article on Colorado Republicans.

Amendment 58 – Ends a tax subsidy for the oil and gas industry. The saved money would be used to expand college scholarships, preserve wildlife habitat, support clean energy projects and help local communities deal with the impacts of oil and gas drilling. Yes.
I looked into this in detail as Policy Committee Chair for the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES), which endorses the bill. Naturally the oil and gas drillers want to keep thier subsidies, which is why you’ve probably seen more ads against it than for it. See A Smarter Colorado for the other side’s take.

Boulder Initiative 1A. Yes. This would allow Boulder county to issue municipal bonds and use the proceeds for loans to help fund home energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in residents’ homes. CRES has also endorsed this one, for pretty obvious reasons.

And, of course, if you care about clean energy, you’ll be voting for Mark Udall and Barack Obama. I used to like John McCain, and once even voted for him in a primary… back when he was a maverick. Now he’s just old, and in the pocket of his party.

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Votes for Clean Energy in California

I’m not a California voter, but my father is, so he asked me my advice on the energy propositions. Here are the intiatives I see as affecting the clean energy global warming picture.

Prop 1: High Speed Rail Bonds. Yes. Rail is the most efficient form of transport we have.

Prop 7: Renewable Energy Generation Initiative Statute. Yes. This bill raises targets for CA’s RPS, but lowers the level of penalties for noncompliance. However, it does make the penalties slightly more enforcable. See CEERT for more details.

Prop 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds Initiative Statute. Nah. This bill would mainly subsidize conversion of vehicles to natural gas and subsidize natural gas transport infrastructure. This would be an improvement over gasoline, but is not renewable. It would also be a windfall for T Boone Pickens and his Pickens Plan. Clean Energy Fuels, a company which Pickens Controls (and I own some stock in) would be the greatest beneficiary… it’s also the primary funder.

In addition, there are some worries that California would be subsidizing conversion of vehicles to natural gas, and then the vehicles would leave the state. If your main concern is global warming and energy security, however, natural gas vehicles would help both, no matter where they are in the country. But it is rather unfair to ask CA to subsidize the rest of the nation. I’d like this much better if it were a national initiative, rather than just California; the fairness issue bothers me most.

My dad’s voting for Prop 10… but he’s more enthusiastic about natural gas vehicles than I am, and seems unfazed by the fairness issue.

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Enery Efficiency And Utilities

In addition to investing, I’m also a consultant for the Energy Efficiency Busisness Coalition for regulatory matters. This work has spawned a series of articles, looking into what it really takes to make an energy efficiency business work, and what constitutes progressive regulation. Here they are:

Barriers to Selling Energy Efficiency

There’s Much More to Energy Efficiency than Saving Money

Demand Side Management Policies That Work

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Greener Money in Smart Energy Living

5/24/10 note: If you’re looking for GreenerMoney.com: I have no idea where it is. However, I have written a series of free articles intended for people interested in green investing. You can find it here: Green Investing for Beginners.

The new edition of Smart Energy Living Magazine is out, including the first of a regular series of columns called “Greener Money” by Yours Truly, discussing investing in clean energy.

The new editor (Rebecca Cantwell) has totally revamped this magazine about how to live energy efficiently. My column will be familiar to readers of my blogs, but you will likely learn something about other aspects of green living. You can sign up for a free copy here.

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How to look for an Energy Efficient Rental (or resale home)

Does it seem totally unfair to you that the young, who are typically much more environmentally aware, are often stuck living in cold, drafty, unhealthy, and expensive to operate rentals, while it’s the old and the wealthy splash out on gigantic mansions with multiple low efficiency furnaces and air conditioners?

It does to me. Well, if you’re one of those green renters, you can do something about it. I’ve put together a checklist to use that can help you sift out the efficient buildings from all the cold, drafty ones.

Since it’s not really about stocks, I sent it over to Jetson Green as a guest post. But if it’s stocks that might benefit from the trend in energy efficient homes you’re looking for, I list several in the intro I wrote for it at Alternative Energy Stocks.

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Five Free (or nearly free) Ways to Learn about Alternative Energy near Denver

I’m often aghast at the price conference organizers ask for people looking to
learn about alternative energy, when there are so may great inexpensive
opportunities available, sponsored by nonprofits a and other organizations
whose mission is to get the word out about our energy options.  Here are
three monthly events that Denver area residents can go to… I go to most of
these regularly.

  1. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Brown Bag Analysis seminar … Free, but make sure to bring photo-ID.
  2. The Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s Monthly Meetings. ($5 or $40 annual membership – snacks usually served afterwards.)
  3. The Colorado Cleantech Initiative monthly meeting. ($10 with RSVP – you get dinner & free beer.)
  4. Smart Energy Living Workshops (Usually about $10-15, lower with membership)
  5. Clean Energy Action monthly meetings (Boulder)

Please leave comments if I forgot (or don’t know about) your regular free
or almost-free event.

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Denver’s Plan for Tiered Electric and Gas Rates

Once again, I’m proud to live in Denver. The new plan for electric and gas rates (if approved by voters) is one of the least expensive ways to imporve conservation measures. Link to and excerpt from Denver post article below. It will also improve the economice of net metered distributed generation.

Mayor backs ‘green’ plan for Denver

By: Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
October 24, 2007

Mayor John Hickenlooper today formally adopted Denver’s Climate Action Plan, a series of steps intended to reduce the city’s per capita greenhouse emissions 10 percent by 2012.

The plan is the result of more than a year’s work by a 33-member Greenprint Advisory Council, which studied best practices from across the country to determine the top 10 opportunities to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“With adoption of the Climate Action Plan, our real work as a community begins,” Hickenlooper said. “If there is only a 3 percent chance that 95 percent of the world’s top scientists are right about the consequences of climate change, we all have a responsibility to act now. Denver remains committed to leading by example.”

Included among the 10 recommendations are:

Incentive Energy Conservation. Subject to voter approval, it would apply a tiered rate structure to electrical and gas usage. Similar to water rate charges, tiered rates would impose a premium charge for excessive electrical and gas usage. Funds generated would support energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction programs, especially for lower-income neighborhoods.

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Todd Litman on Pay as You Drive Insurance

A couple weeks ago, I suggested to Bill Paul at Energy Tech Stocks that he interview Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

As an investor, I have yet to figure out a way to make money from Mr. Litman’s ideas, but as a citizen of the planet, I see his ideas as the best ones available for quickly and painlessly imporiving our society’s well-being while also reducing emission and oil consumption.

So I’m happy to say that now there is one more place you can read about pay as you drive insurance, and other Win-Win emission reduction strategies.

Part II: Get Paid for NOT driving to work
Part III:‘Congestion Pricing’ to Include Entire Regions

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Greener Money at Smart Energy Living

I’ve accepted an offer to write an investment column for Smart Energy Living, a quarterly magazine put out by the Colorado Energy Science Center, which focuses on clean enrgy solutions for homowners.

I’ve been a subscriber since I arrived in Colorado in 2005, and I find them an excellent resource for home imporvement. They have plans to go national with the next issue, and recruiting me to write for them is part of that move.

The column will tentatively be called “Greener Money” and will focus on helping small investors green their portfolios.

You can sign up for a free copy here. If you read my blogs, there probably won’t be a lot that you’ll learn from my columns, but if you’re interested in energy efficienct home imporvement, it’s well worth getting for the other articles.

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Denver Tour of Solar Homes Sneak Peak; links to National Tour

Preview the Denver Tour of Solar Homes Online


The Denver area Tour of Solar Homes takes place in less than a month, and this year you can preview some of the buildings involved online. 
Check out the Sneak Preview on the right-hand side of the
Tour of Solar Homes page on the CRES Web site

.

 

The 2007 Tour of Solar Homes will take place on Saturday, October 6 in Denver and most locations around the state.  However, some of the activities are slightly different. 
The Boulder tour will take place on Saturday, September 30. 
And the tour in Pueblo will span two days: October 6 – 7. 
See a complete listing of solar home tours in Colorado on the American Solar Energy Society Web site.

 

National Solar Tour

 

Outside of Colorado, people you can find tour in your own community by visiting the National Solar Home Tour website.

 

Volunteers Needed for the Tour of Solar Homes October 6

CRES needs volunteers to help with the Denver Metro-Area Tour of Solar Homes on Saturday, October 6.  If you step forward, you will assist homeowner with visitors.   

There are two shifts: morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and afternoon from noon to 4 p.m.  

Volunteers are welcome to spend the half-day they are not working touring homes themselves. Volunteers are also invited to attend a workshop free of charge from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 titled "Solar Photovoltaics and Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Program" and presented by Jeff Scott of SolSource and Juliea Gauthier of Xcel Energy.  The
workshops take place at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Visitor’s Center at 15013 Denver West Parkway in Golden, which is two blocks west of the Denver West Marriott at I-70 and Denver West.

Following the workshop, veteran volunteer John Avenson will give a brief orientation for volunteers about the duties the day of the
Tour of Solar Homes
. To volunteer, contact Patty Roberts via email at: patty at pacificmillimeter dot com

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What I told Bill Paul

Mea Culpa, I’ve been falling behind keeping this blog updated… but most of you probably realize that the real stuff goes on at AltEnergyStocks these days. Over the last two weeks, I wrote a series of companion pieces to a series of articles that were published on energy Tech Stocks, based on a long interview Bill Paul, the writer did with me. Here’s an index to them (and they each contain links to the interview articles.)

1. Large Scale Electricy Storage

2. Plug-In Hybrids and Battery Stocks

3. & 4. Improving Transmission and my Ambivalent stance on Biofuels

5. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Stocks

6.Cellulosic Ethanol and Sustainable Forestry.

7. Alcoa and Blue Chip Stock Picks

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How to Sell Energy Efficiency

In my Alt Energy Stocks column this week, I take a look at what business needs to do to sell energy efficiency to the consumer. I look at the examples of the Prius’s sucess, despite only marginally imporved economics over non-hybrid vehicles, the CFL’s slow path to acceptance, and difficulties in selling geothermal heat pumps. I conclude that the economics of an energy efficiency measure have very little to do about how well it sells. To find out what does, you can read more here.

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Energy Efficient Homes & Performance Contracting

I have now posted the last two articles in my series on the WGA Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop.

The third article (here) talks about some of the “above code” standards, such as Energy Star and Built Green, why I feel the code should resemble these standards a lot more than it does now (above code should mean measures that are not viable on a pure economic basis, but that people want because it makes them feel good… when total cost of ownership is taken into account, these “above code” standards actually produce homes that are cheaper to live in and own than houses built just to code.)

I also talk about several companies that my benefit from a move to wide adoption of these above code standards, as well as from energy retrofits of existing homes.

Article number four (here), talks about the trend to performance contracting, where a building owner contracts for a certain level of service (lighting levels, temperature, etc.) with a third party, and that party upgrades the building’s efficiency, with the savings from efficiency gains not only paying the energy bills, but also paying for the upgrades (which can include solar panels and other renewable energy projects as well as energy efficiency upgrades) as well as a profit for the contractor.

Investing in Energy Efficient Homes
Investing in Performance Contracting

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Western Governor’s Association Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop

This week, I’ll be covering the WGA’s Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop, which took place in Denver on July 17 and 18. I have drafts of 4 articles, the first two of which are an overview of the workshop, and a Western States Energy Efficiency Political update, which I just published on AltEnergyStocks. I’ll be publishing articles on Homebuilding and Performance Contracting later this week.

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ABB Group: Efficient Electiricty Transmission and Distribution

TransformerThis week, I highlight ABB, (the maker of all those boring green boxes most people see every day without even wondering what they are) in my AltEnergyStocks column.

As I have written before, a smarter, more efficient grid is key to integrating more renewable energy and replacing fossil fuels. ABB is well placed to profit from the increase investment that’s needed. You can read the whole column here.

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Indigestion After the Coal Binge

Many energy advocates are concerned about the construction of new conventional electricity generation. This is not only due to the harmful effects of mining, using, and disposing of the waste from coal, natural gas, and uranium, but also because there is only so much electricity demand. My Alt Energy Stocks column this week exproles the possibility of utilites building too much conventional generation to need any renewables at all.

Utilities often say that they will have trouble meeting future demand… this was the justification for the coal plants (now mostly replaced by nuclear) planned by TXU. But these projections massively underestimate the potential of imporved energy efficiency which most studies put at about 1.2% acheivable savings per year, but I believe could be much higher with changes to the regulatory landscape.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Smart Metering for Energy Efficiency

I forgot to post about this one, but better late than never. Here’s an article I did for AltenergyStocks on Smart Metering, and how giving people feedback about how they use eletricity can lead to better decision making.

I’ll have another article tomorrow, on rooting out stock scams (it’s easier than it sounds.)

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