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Jeff Ihnen

Wild Energy Ride

Next Up: A Wild Energy Ride

By Energy Rant No Comments
It has been a frothy year for the energy industry, and it will continue well into next year and beyond. How far? Heh heh. Let’s start with coal. After plummeting 30% in 2020, consumption bounced back, gaining 35% in 2021. Doing the math, that doesn’t quite get coal back to 2019 consumption. Coal plants are still closing at a breakneck pace, so consumption in the United States is bound to decline in the long haul, but will load balancers and utilities be able to keep the lights on in 2030? This is a concern to me because no source of...
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Supporting DBEs

Supporting DBEs? Play the Long Game

By Energy Rant No Comments
We live in a world of instant gratification and making this quarter’s numbers, or at most, annual numbers, is the main goal – except, of course, for zero-carbon goals that no one knows how to solve. Too often, governors, mayors, legislatures, and companies throw goals out there 30 years or more down the road, making it someone else’s problem. Planning, setting critical milestones, and preparing for the next five or ten years, or even longer, requires discipline, but it is also where the big payoffs to success are born. Not surprisingly, I learned the long game about taking on challenges...
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Fork in the Road

Middle Actors Take the Fork, Customers Take the Change

By Energy Rant No Comments
When I stick my neck out, it’s often nice to discover others are on board to slow down the machete. I stash potential topics in an electronic pile, and when something triggers a need, I’m ready to go. This time, a co-presenter triggered me as I was delivering an electrification presentation for the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute’s Utilities Basics Course. The co-presenter was Erin Monroe-Nye, who discussed and provided the essentials of energy efficiency programs. Erin described a scenario in which she wanted to install a cold-weather heat pump. She got resistance and a runaround from her HVAC contractor. I...
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GEBs The Final Chapter – Baby Steps!

By Energy Rant No Comments
This is my sixth and final post on Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs), including the great interview with Doug Scott (#5) of the Great Plains Institute. This week, I will wrap up with a mishmash of items in the DOE’s GEB Roadmap. As I start this wrap-up, what I wrote three years ago comes to mind - How About Some D in DSM? Here is the gist as it applies to GEBs today: I have always found it interesting that “demand-side management,” the term that is generally used synonymously with energy efficiency programs, includes virtually no demand management whatsoever. The term...
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What's in your name?

What’s in Your (Org’s) Name?

By Energy Rant No Comments
After several weeks of hardcore grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) discussion and brutal challenges, I’m giving your brains a break this week – kind of like a shot of whiskey after weeks of drinking green protein smoothies in preparation for that marathon you always wanted to do. Pronunciations Speaking of GEBs – how do you say GEBs? Gebs, right? What about SEM. No. SEM aficionados are a highfalutin crowd. It’s es ee em. So dudes, if you don’t like the way people pronounce your organization or activity, name it something simple or deal with the consequences of busy people. What about...
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energy rant with doug scott

Special Rant Vlog with Performance-Based Ratemaking Guru, Doug Scott

By Energy Rant, Featured Energy Rant No Comments
This week, we’re continuing our discussion on GEBs (Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings) with our special guest Doug Scott. Doug is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Great Plains Institute and is a great resource for performance-based ratemaking which is a key component of GEBs for both customers and utilities. Check out our fun conversation with Doug!
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image of a group of buildings

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings Part 4: Utilities Ask, Why?

By Energy Rant No Comments
This is the fourth in a series of posts on grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs). Here is a summary of the series: August 23 – Why GEBs? What is it, and why do it? August 31 – GEBs are difficult to achieve, beyond efficiency that should be done regardless. September 7 – What will customers think of this madness? Let’s peek at where we’ve been and where we are going. This series is based on a list of challenges noted in DOE's National Roadmap for Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings: Consumer awareness (Covered 07SEP21) Complexity (Covered 31AUG21) Utility interests (Today) Regulatory models Policymaker...
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Illustration of man standing next to building

Grid-Interactive Buildings Part 3: Customer Perspectives

By Energy Rant No Comments
The first in this series of posts on grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) described the intent of GEBs. The objective is to use buildings to shift, shave, or shed load to improve grid reliability without making expensive investments like peaker plants or electricity storage. Sounds great, but there is more than enough complexity to make that happen, and that is what we skimmed last week. The list of challenges as noted in DOE's National Roadmap for Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings is repeated below. We’ll attack the list from the top. Consumer awareness Complexity (Covered 31AUG21) Utility interests Regulatory models Policymaker ignorance Consumer...
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clown

Grid-Interactive Buildings Part 2 – Funny How?

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week in the Opening Salvo, we studied the desired results of grid-interactive efficient buildings, aka GEBs. The desired outcomes include shaving, shifting, shaping, and shimmying electric loads to better match the supply provided by intermittent renewable supplies. This week, we’re going to examine barriers and difficulties on the way to these desired results, with solutions to come, of course. A single paragraph from the Executive Summary of DOE's National Roadmap for Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings provides plenty of fuel for this fire: Consumer adoption of this technology[1] will require overcoming a lack of consumer awareness of participation incentives, mitigating perceived...
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carbon reduction

Opening Salvo to Grid-Interactive Buildings

By Energy Rant No Comments
To help accommodate intermittent renewable solar and wind power generation while minimizing grid and supply-side energy costs, the Department of Energy, its national labs, and our industry are exploring possibilities to use buildings as grid resources. The acronym de jour is GEBs, for grid-interactive, efficient buildings. What about the I? A focus group decided that gebs sounds better than giebs; therefore, GEBs[1]. Potential GEB benefits include: Accommodating large penetrations of renewable energy by shaping loads to take excess power when it is available for use when it is not available. Decarbonization. Energy conservation. Less-expensive energy supply. More customer control over...
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