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Energy Rant

This is a satirical and at times humorous but critical commentary on energy efficiency issues of the day.

“Keep up the good work! I like the variety of topics; never boring. It's like a Box of Energy Chocolates.... you never know what you're gonna get!”

Mike MernickSenior Vice President, ICF
Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

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

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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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Grid-Interactive Buildings Part 3: Customer Perspectives

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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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Grid-Interactive Buildings Part 2 – Funny How?

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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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Opening Salvo to Grid-Interactive Buildings

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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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Chasms of Big Tech and Utilities

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Last month, Utility Dive posted an article describing how big tech (Google, Amazon, etc.) is taking the lead for home automation and energy management. But there is still hope for utilities – they have trusted relationships with customers, Dive says. Chasms of Risk Tolerance There may not be a pair of industries more dissimilar than big tech and utilities. Big tech has so much cash flow they can afford to have half their products bomb: Amazon failures include Fire, Destinations, Local, Register, and Importer. I only recognize Fire and none of these other boondoggles. Too bad, so sad for Mr....
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Fish Fried Conversations of Efficiency

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As described last week, net savings and program attribution are measures of an efficiency program's influence on making a project happen for utility customers. There is a range of influence that energy savings has in motivating customers to do a project, and that range is 0% to 100%, while accurate attribution results may be 90% or better. The role of energy savings in a decision can be largely irrelevant in determining attribution. How? Non-energy benefits! The situation reminds me of fluid dynamics, a core course in mechanical engineering. There are major friction losses and minor friction losses. Major losses are...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Socially Undesirable Net Savings

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I’ve never been a parent to humans, but as I say to friends and companions, I was a child once, and I did have parents. Moreover, I’ve supervised and had dozens of people report up to me directly or indirectly. Plus, I love kid stories, so I may be more uh, qualified or knowledgeable than some prospective thirty-year-olds who are about to take the plunge. Sleep up, my friends! Similarly, I have many roles in the utility-led efficiency business, conceptualizing, developing, delivering, and evaluating efficiency programs. I’m an engineer and not a social scientist but see above with the parent...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

From Pilot to Mainstream – Barriers and Solutions

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“We need some ideas for saving energy. Whaddya got?” Have you ever heard those lines? They are about as common as “Are we there yet? How much further?” Last week I was on a working group call on the subject of emerging technology. They didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. Specifically, the discussion centered around taking successful pilot work and broadcasting it nationwide to expand it to the mainstream. That is emerging technology or maybe market transformation. From my brain, emerging technologies include proven technologies or approaches that are not yet widely common in the market or...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Climate Change, Theory, Practice, and the Farmer’s Almanac

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We are carrying the ball forward from last week’s post that delivered hoards of historical climate data. If you didn’t see it, check it out because I guaran dam T you will find things you didn’t know – like the fact that the Earth has almost the lowest concentration of CO2 in hundreds of millions of years. That was a surprise! This subject started with a paper from the Institute of Energy Research (IER),[1] CLIMATE POLICY The Case for a New Perspective, which I had barely skimmed, and the super heatwaves in the Northwest. The IER paper provides credible information...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Measuring Climate Change

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The super heatwave of a couple of weeks ago in the northwest got me thinking about weather anomalies and climate change. What is really happening, as if anyone knows. This fits nicely with a paper that was published a month ago by the Institute for Energy Research entitled Climate Policy - The Case for a New Perspective. That provided some interesting data and got me going on more in-depth research. I added to that through a few hours of mining National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data. Whoa, does NOAA have data! Yeow! So let’s look at the data and...
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