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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

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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

PBR Me, and Spare the Ham

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Last week we explored the mélange of combinations of energy efficiency portfolio administration, delivery, and evaluation among stakeholders, including public utilities’ commissions, utilities, for-profit and non-profit administrators, and program implementers. No two states are alike. This week we will discuss a few more things from the article in Public Utilities Fortnightly, Top Performing States in Energy Efficiency. Impact of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) States have everything from carrots, sticks, both, or neither for meeting efficiency goals. Some states have energy efficiency resource standards. The map below, courtesy of ACEEE, shows recent EERS across the fruited plain. An EERS “is...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Efficiency in Your State – Hulk Hogan v Rowdy Roddy Piper?

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What are the key ingredients to high-performing energy efficiency programs? That is the question that came to mind as I randomly grabbed an old edition of Public Utilities Fortnightly out of my six-inch stack of unread stuff. The article is entitled Top-Performing States in Energy Efficiency by Sanem Sergici with the Brattle Group. You can read that yourself, but I only got about three paragraphs in and realized how broadly one must observe to answer the question at hand. Administrators and Delivery Contractors What is an administrator? They are responsible for the results of a portfolio of programs for a...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Know Grid History and the MOPR

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The electric grid is the most complex beast on the planet, ever. Let’s set the table. Electricity has been inexpensive and very reliable in the US for the better part of 100 years. At first, electric utilities were hub and spoke systems that sent power from the hub (power plant) to customers around its service territory. Then, high voltage transmission systems were used to interconnect the hubs for reliability-sake, redundancy, and likely lower prices. Neighboring utilities cut deals to buy and sell power to each other to further keep prices low for their customers. And, of course, electricity sales kept...
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