PSE&G Moves Forward with Energy Efficiency Program
Top consumer smart energy news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) recently approved an important piece of Public Service Electric and Gas Co.’s (PSE&G) Clean Energy Future Proposal – a plan for the utility to invest $1 billion in energy efficiency programs with the goal of reducing customer bills and creating jobs. One area of negotiation between the utility and BPU involved the board’s proposal that program investments would be amortized over a seven-year period, which PSE&G said could adversely affect low-income customers.
People are struggling to pay their monthly bills. For many U.S. households, personal finances are being unexpectedly strained as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. From reductions in working hours and hourly wages to lost jobs and closed businesses, the impact on U.S. households’ income has been swift and severe. To gain a deeper understanding of these dynamics, TransUnion has been conducting a multi-wave Consumer Financial Hardship Study that tracks changes over time.
Many U.S. cities are in dire need of affordable housing, and what is available often needs repair. But making buildings more energy efficient can help – taking steps such as updating the windows, caulking, resupplying insulation and upgrading the HVAC system. Making efficiency improvements can lower utility bills for renters, says Khalil Shahyd, a Senior Policy Advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. And if the utilities are paid by a landlord, that can help them avoid raising the rent.
Utility energy efficiency programs invested $8 billion nationwide in 2018, so determining their impacts and effectiveness is critical. How much energy was saved? Were program dollars well spent? Did programs meet their goals? How did customers benefit? And how much carbon was kept out of the atmosphere? Asking and answering these questions is the realm of energy program evaluation.
U.S. homes and commercial buildings consume roughly two-fifths of the country’s overall energy, three-fourths of all electricity, and account for most of the peak electricity demand that drives generation and power grid infrastructure costs. Each of these statistics points to different solutions for reducing buildings’ carbon footprint. Shifting heating from fossil fuels to electricity can cut direct emissions.
Tesla deployed a record 759 MWh of battery storage, while solar installations doubled thanks to the company's decreased installation cost and online order form, company executives said during Wednesday's Q3 earnings call. Demand has exceeded supply for Tesla’s utility-scale Megapack battery product, according to RJ Johnson, the company's head of commercial energy.
In Batesville, Arkansas, just 17 miles west of the state’s largest coal-fired power plant, a solar array at the local high school is having an unconventional impact: boosting teachers’ pay. In 2017, energy efficiency company Entegrity conducted an energy audit of the Batesville School District, which currently comprises Batesville High School and five other schools that serve roughly 3,200 students.
Blockchain’s energy sector applications range from the highly speculative – think peer-to-peer energy-trading using cryptocurrency raised in initial coin offerings – to more incremental efforts, grounded in the real-world challenges of operating an increasingly decentralized power grid. The latter describes how utilities and energy market operators are applying blockchain as a distributed ledger technology to track renewable energy from the point of generation to the point of trade.