Thursday, March 31, 2016

Analyzing Your Energy Consumption in Micro Increments, at a Macro Level

Energy consumption can be tricky to manage, even on a single building level.  Most utility bills don’t go into much detail, showing only what’s being drawn from the grid, not how much power your refrigerator or air conditioner consumes.  And even then, you find out how much in almost 30-day increments—how useful is that?  By taking advantage of your smart meter data, you can find a lot of information about the operational characteristics of your building.

This is a chart of hourly energy consumption over the course of 13 months for a small office.  It’s been averaged out over every hour of the day and separated out by day of the week, with the addition of holidays being its own day of the week.  As we can imagine, when the business is closed, you should be consuming less energy—the lights are off, the thermostat is set to a higher temperature, and far fewer people are in the building, reducing the energy load.  But what do you notice with the standard Monday through Friday?  Consumption slowly rises throughout the day, as more people arrive at work, turn on their computers and go about their day.  Around 7 at night, everything begins to slowly shut down.  We could, for this example, call that our baseline active usage.
How about weekend usage?  The light blue and orange lines represent the weekend days, and they’re pretty low—we could almost call that our baseline vacant usage. But look at the energy spike from 8pm to what looks like almost 10pm—it’s even greater than on the weekdays!  Remember, the usage is averaged from every weekend day out of the year, so if this was an anomaly, we would see maybe a little blip than a spike.
Now let’s look at the holiday usage.  Assuming that the office is closed, we’re seeing higher than expected usage from 9 to 8, compared to Saturday and Sunday usages.  Maybe the thermostat wasn’t turned off on the Thursday or Friday before the holiday.  Remembering to do so could bring in a lot of savings.
So after looking at this chart, we’ve noticed some more-than-likely quick and effective energy conservation measures—turning off the thermostat before holidays.  With a baseline vacant consumption day of around 2,000 kWh, this building could potentially save around 19,000 kWh per year, or $3,600 per year just by turning down the thermostat.  That’s some big savings just by reminding staff to turn down the thermostat before they leave!
If that weekend spike could be addressed too, that alone could potentially save 63,000 kWh per year, or about $12,000 per year.

Environmental Impacts of Cut Flowers

Some of you may not appreciate this blog post. I apologize in advance; I myself am very sad that one of my favorite things is so detrimental to the environment. I am talking about cut flowers, and unless you, like me, live in Seattle where five-dollar bouquets of local blooms are readily accessible, you are probably getting flowers that have been grown under terrible conditions and flown halfway around the world.

Most of the flowers we buy here in the States come from South America. The constant warm weather provides great growing conditions for the flowers, but to keep production at a maximum, the flowers are frequently sprayed with an excessive amount of chemicals. Then, to keep the flowers as fresh as possible, the flowers are flown to North America, transported across the continent in temperature-controlled trucks and stored in refrigeration units.
There are many issues here and it doesn’t end when someone buys a bouquet, but we’ll briefly touch on that later. Let’s start with the chemicals. The pesticides used are highly limited in all countries where these flowers end up, but not at all where the flowers are grown; these chemicals create higher risks of miscarriage, neurological problems and respiratory illnesses in the laborers, most of whom are women and sometimes children as well.
Once the flowers leave these chemical-ridden farms, they are transported over thousands of miles to grocery stores, floral shops and corner stands. Transportation is one of the leading generators of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When millions of flowers are driven and flown this far each day, you can imagine how much the transportation of flowers must contribute to the pollution of our air and water. On top of all this, the flowers are stored in chilled warehouses after harvest and in refrigerated trucks to and from the airport. These refrigeration units are energy vampires to say the least!
To give you an idea of how much flowers can create a spike in GHG emissions, I’ll tell you about the consequences of floral purchases during a single Valentine’s Day in the United States. Americans purchase about 100 Million roses each year in early February and the transportation of these flowers from South America to North America and then throughout the U.S. and Canada produces 9,000 metric tons of CO2. The EPA’s GHG equivalence calculator tells us that these emissions equal ANNUAL emissions of nearly 1,900 passenger vehicles or CO2 emissions from over one million gallons of gasoline consumed. That’s not a trivial amount! Sadly, this is not even the end of the adverse effects.
Once these flowers are in the States, they are transported to various shops again via refrigerated truck and stored in chilled units until someone buys them. Then, after a few days or a week, the flowers are tossed in the trash since most cities don’t have composting resources, bins or ordinances. The flowers end up in landfills where they decay and emit methane, a gas more potent than CO2 and is the second most prevalent GHG contributor to global warming.

To top it all off, most grocery stores and flower shops wrap the flowers in cellophane and plastic tubes, which also go directly to the landfill.
When I first looked into this, I was determined to never buy fresh flowers again. However, you can make responsible floral purchasing decisions and not give up having a pretty bouquet in your home once in a while. Most importantly, determine what flowers are in season. You’ll be more likely to find flowers that have been grown locally and without all the chemicals. Also, ask your florist or local expert for sustainably grown and/or certified organic arrangements. These flowers, and other plants, will have been grown in a sustainable environment with socially responsible practices.
What’s your favorite flower? Do you know when it’s in season? See? No need to give up cut flowers completely! Just make sure you know what you’re getting.

Statewide LG EE Best Practices : Weekly Update

Here are your WEEkly Updates:
  1. EM&V Roadmap Draft Now Available for Comment
    The CPUC released the 2013-2016 Energy Division & Program Administrator Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement and Verification Plan, which is open for comments now through December 17th. This version includes the EE portfolio - HVAC, lighting, commercial, industrial, agriculture, and more for you to review and comment on.
  2. San Diego City Council Readies 100% Renewables Mandate for Approval
    The San Diego City Council's environmental committee unanimously approved a proposed Climate Action Plan that would move the city to 100% renewables by 2035. To get to 100%, the San Diego Climate Action Plan puts Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in place.
  3. Report: Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency's Multiple Benefits
    The benefits of energy efficiency extend beyond energy savings. Focusing on the residential, business, and utility sectors, this report examines each of these multiple benefits, their role in program marketing, and current best practices for including them in cost-effectiveness testing.
  4. Job Opportunity: Statewide Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
    The Local Government Commission (LGC) in partnership with the Institute for Local Government and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability through the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative is recruiting to fill the Coordinator position. The LGC is open to other arrangements that are not full-time to fill this position.
  5. Job Opportunity: Sustainability Coordinator, Contra Costa County (attached)
    The Sustainability Coordinator is a management position assigned to the merit-system classification of Principal Planner-Level A in the Department of Conservation and Development. Under general direction, the Sustainability Coordinator plans, organizes and coordinates the implementation of the County's Sustainability Activities. Application deadline is December 18, 2015.
  6. 12/8 California Gold: Partnerships for Cap-and-Trade Success
    The Southern California Association of Governments is holding its second regional forum on competitive grant funding from cap-and-trade revenues. This event will assist applicants seeking funding in the near term for transformative projects implementing Southern California's regional and local plans. The workshop will take place at SCAG's main office with video conference options available.
  7. 12/15 Best Practices in SEEC ClearPath: A Year in Review
    Participants will learn emerging practices and updates on how to best utilize SEEC ClearPath to monitor and track government operations and community-scale emissions data. This will be a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to best leverage SEEC ClearPath to its fullest.

And that is all for this week!

Do You Know Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Climate Change?

With the 2016 Presidential elections fast approaching we are becoming bombarded with all of the election talk and ads from the candidates on TV. Most of the ads on TV focus on the candidates positive track records and what they can do for the country if elected. All of the debates seem to focus on what the candidates economic strategies are and how they would handle foreign policy. Don't get me wrong those are all important items to focus on when electing a president, but what about energy policy and climate change? 
The Nations energy future seems to get the raw end of the deal when it comes to election time. Our current administration has made energy and climate change a large priority over the past eight years. And so Americans have made climate change a high priority and a critical issue when it comes to electing our next president. You would think that each candidate would come out swinging when it comes to the topic of energy and climate change then. So with that being said I will go ahead and lay out where each candidate stands on energy policy and climate change. Hopefully it will give you a better picture of who you might be voting for.

First we will start with those that have taken a clear stance on the issue and have a plan to continue to combat climate change. This group contains a majority of Democrats and one lonely Republican. That lone Republican is Governor Jindal who believes in the science of climate change and combating warming temperatures. He has laid out small scale projects like forest management and the energy efficiency of airlines. Then for the three Democrats those would be Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders and Martin O'Malley. All three believe in climate change and believe that we need to act now to combat it. Clinton would like to install a half billion solar panels by 2020 while also generating 33 percent of America's electricity from renewables. Senator Sanders on the other was quoted in a USA Today op-ed as saying "we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren."O'Malley has a plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2050 and switch to clean energy.
Then we move on to the candidates that fall in the middle of the climate debate Senator Graham, George Pataki, Jeb Bush and Governor Christie. Senator Graham is one that believes that we as a country need to act on climate change and he would like to do that in a business- friendly way. As for George Pataki has a long history of supporting climate change. Back in 2007 he was the co-chair of the Independent Task Force on Climate Change. He is also has become an advocate for climate change and green-friendly enterprise. Jeb Bush has stated that he believes humans contribute to global warming, but believes that the current energy policy needs tweaking to not hurt the economy. Governor Christie has been known to flash his states position in the solar energy production realm while also being the one that withdrew the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cap and trade program for the states within the Northeastern part of the US. 
We now begin to face the candidates that have taken a stance that climate change is not man made. Those candidates being Senator Rubio, Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul and Jim Gilmore. Senator Rubio has stated that he does not believe that human actions are causing global warming, but has at least acknowledged that climate change is real. He also has come out with his own energy policy that would include affordable fuel alternatives. So Rubio in my mind falls right in the middle of the road. As for Ted Cruz he is one that believes in climate change but also believes that there hasn't been any warming as of lately. Ted Cruz may want to step back and check out a few of the maps below that clearly show that 2015 was one of the hottest years on record. Senator Paul and Jim Gilmore both believe in climate change and believe that we should act on it even if we do not know what may be causing it. 

To round out the group we have the candidates that are at the opposite end of the spectrum on climate change. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are ones within this group that can swing in both directions. Both candidates agree with climate change, but either don't believe humans are causing it or that we can't make a difference on it as a nation. Ben Carson after his statement to the SF Chronicle that climate change is not man made cause the California Governor to send him a thumb drive that was loaded with climate research. Then we move to the candidates that have taken a hard stance on climate change being a hoax. Those candidates would be Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. These candidates all have come out with different words to describe climate change as not being real. With that being said since they don't believe in climate change they don't believe in doing anything to combat the issue. 
Everyone has their own views on if climate change exists and how it is caused. Every one and every candidate is entitled to their own opinion on the issue, but when it comes to running a country and implementing a plan for or against climate change the game has changed. Our newly elected President in 2016 will direct the Country on its energy and climate future. This will dictate how us Americans will live our lives for at least four years during their term. When you go into the voting booth make sure you are well informed on where each candidate stands on each topic.  

See What SJVCEO Has Been Up to in November

We hope that everyone had a safe and indulging Thanksgiving this year. SJVCEO was able to have a few days off and enjoy a little downtime and hope that you were able to do the same.Now we are back to work and cranking out the energy projects.
For the VIEW Partnership the month of November included a lot of travel. The partnership attended the PG&E as well as the SCE and SCG all partners meetings. These meetings took place in San Francisco as well as Los Angeles. We were able to hear all of the amazing work that partners all over California are doing as well as the new outcomes from each utility. Being able to see our fellow energy partners at least once a year is nice. We are able to take pointers from each other as well as compare notes. The partnership has also been working hard processing incentives to the tune of 450,000kWh savings as well as getting projects in the pipeline for the beginning of 2016.
SJVCEO's municipal energy tune up program has been busy at work as well. After several months of benchmarking, we finally met with the County of Kern to discuss our findings. We’re using the benchmarking information to dig down deeper to find savings.  The county has also saved 169,000 kWh in exterior lighting by switching to LED. Exterior lighting is an easy way for municipalities to get a quick payback as lights typically stay on for 4,100 hours per year.  The maintenance savings are also huge too, as LED lights can last more than 50,000 hours, or over 12 years!  As METU keeps raking up the savings we will keep you in the loop.
And last but not least SJVCEO participated in the Electric Vehicle Partnership meeting that took place in November at the Fresno Airport. This event was a big success and even included a ride-and-drive component. We hope that this leads to a wider adoption of electric vehicles in the Central Valley.

Stay Tuned for Next Months Update! 

Mother Nature is Happy With Your Green Thanksgiving

Each year American families gather around a large table with family and give thanks. Many of the common items that we give thanks for are family, friends, health and life that we have. But, what is mother nature thankful for this year? I am sure that she is not very thankful for the food and decorations that we burn through to have a beautiful celebration. So what are some ways that we can appease her this Thanksgiving.

First we will start with the decorations and items needed for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. When you go to the grocery store be mindful of bringing a reusable shopping bag with you. Try getting away from using what the store provides you (paper or plastic) when you get to the checkout. Also when you are confronted with the easier option of prepackaged foods in the vegetable aisle try to steer clear. Take the extra few minutes or even seconds to bag your own vegetables from the section. And always be mindful of how much you are buying. You are only feeding your family not a whole army. Now moving onto when you get home and start setting up the table or buffet line try to be conscious of what you are using. Use cloth napkins and plates, but if you happen to run out of plates and have time to order try to find bamboo plates and cutlery
So now that the table and food items are set let talk about our actions to the celebration as well as at the celebration. Over 42 million people will be hitting the road this Thanksgiving and I am pretty sure most of those cars on the road only contain one or two people. So how about we take a page out of our daily commute book and try carpooling. I am not saying that people should go out of their way to carpool, but if you know someone going to the same area or location why not tag along. We emit enough on a normal week or weekend much less on holidays. Once we are at the Thanksgiving celebration lets try to change the way we look at how much we have on our plates. Yes... Thanksgiving is about over indulgence but we can still indulge while being mindful. The NRDC estimates that 40 percent of the Thanksgiving feast ends up thrown away each year. So how about we take a step back from those large helpings and just go back for seconds and shoot maybe event thirds. But if we over load our plates and don't finish everything all of that foods goes right into the trash. while on the other hand if you were to leave it in the pan or dish it could then just become leftovers. Also, while we are on the topic of conservation how about we take it easy on the water this year. Remember we in California are still in a drought. Only pour water when it is needed.
Now we are to the grand finale of "greening" your upcoming Thanksgiving feast; avoiding food waste. We are all guilty of having food waste especially on this day of thanks. But, we will help you with trying to make a difference and limit your food waste as much as possible. There are a few options that are easy and conventional while others are out of the box. To start off with try composting your food scraps, since this is the easiest option. If you are not a fan of composting try freezing your excess leftovers. Sure turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving are good, but what about the stuffing. After three days in a row of that for lunch you may want to pull your hair out, but if frozen your leftovers can be kept for longer and used down the road. Now we move on to the out of the box ideas out there where you are able to send your uncooked leftovers to someone in need as well as donate leftover produce so that it doesn't go to waste. If you are interesting in sending your uncooked leftovers try out the organization City Harvest.  They will take packaged goods that you didn't cook as well as prepared foods that were not served. Once donated they share the food with those that are less fortunate. If you would just rather donate your extra produce check out The organization is worldwide and all you need to do is to download the app and find out where you are able to drop the items off at. And last but not least the animals. Sure your dog enjoys being fed by the kids at the kid table, but those aren't the animals that I am talking about. I am talking about zoo animals! Rhinos and zebras like turkey day too! Contact your local zoo if you have one and see if they will take your leftovers for the animals. 
At the end of the day you don't need to try all of our recommendations that are outlined here we are only trying to help you make a difference in which ever way possible. We want to make sure that mother nature is as thankful as we are for what we have. 

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:
  1. Draft LGP REN EM&V Roadmap
    The comment period is now open until 5pm on Sunday, November 30th for the REN and LGP chapters of the EM&V Roadmap. This is an update for version 6 of 2013-2015 EM&V Evaluation Plan.
  2. Database of Energy Incentives & Rebates
    A comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the U.S.
  3. Energy Storage in the Fast Lane
    The energy storage industry is growing quickly. It is being driven, according to experts, by the parallel growth of on-site energy generation and an increasingly attractive list of operational and financial benefits.
  4. Benchmarking Training in San Francisco, sponsored by PG&E
    12/1 - Benchmarking Your Commercial Building: Learn how to benchmark your building's energy performance with the help of PG&E's Web Services.
    12/1 - You've Benchmarked Your Building: What's Next?: Learn how to set targets for improvement - estimating the actual amount of energy savings needed, which low-/no-cost capital upgrades might produce various magnitudes of savings, and more.
    12/14 - Benchmarking as a Business
  5. Energy Calendar
    If you have any events you would like to see added to this calendar, please send details to

That is it for this week!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your WEEkly Updates:
  1. Behind the Meter: The Many Advantages of Energy Benchmarking (audio)
    Carl Weinschenk, the Editor of Energy Manager Today, spent a few minutes this week discussing EnergyScorecardsMinnesota, a web-based energy and water benchmarking and tracking initiative, and the broader world of benchmarking with Jonathan Braman, the VP of Strategic Initiatives at Bright Power.
  2. 2015 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award Nominations due December 1st
    If you know someone in the air quality community - scientists, professors, legislators, activists, business leaders, and others - who has made a significant lifetime achievement, you can nominate them for an award by completing a nomination form. Since 2001, the California Air Resources Board has annually bestowed the distinguished Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards to extraordinary individuals for their significant career accomplishments.
  3. Job Opportunity: Business Planning Specialist, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
    The City and County of San Francisco seeks candidates for a Business Planning Specialist in the Power Enterprise, the City's publicly owned electric utility. The position will provide analytical and planning support related to new business opportunities, evaluation of potential infrastructure investments, and development of new energy programs and service offerings. The application and supplemental questionnaire are due Monday 11/23/15.
  4. 11/16 - ARCCA Learning Session: The Ins and Outs of the LA Energy Atlas
    Join ARCCA for a webinar to learn about the LA Energy Atlas - what it took to get it started, how to navigate and best utilize the Atlas, and what the project team is doing next. We're excited to have Krista Kline from the LA Regional Collaborative for Climate Adaptation, Zoe Elizabeth from the CA Center for Sustainable Communities, and Ron Mohr from LA County present on this webinar.
  5. 11/18 - Public Workshop on LGP & REN EM&V Roadmaps
    The Energy Divison will be hosting a call open to the public and in conjunction with its Local Government Stakeholder Advisory Group for the purpose of receiving input on the update to the EM&V Roadmap, REN and LGP chapters.
  6. 12/3 and 12/9 - Webinar on Energy Data for Local Governments (PG&E)
    Learn about energy data available to local governments for greenhouse gas inventories, climate action planning, and energy efficiency activities. By the end of the webinar, participants will have an understanding of the types of data available, how to request data, and the frequency with which PG&E releases new data. Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how to provide feedback to PG&E on current and future local government data needs. The training will be offered at two alternate dates and times (click to register): Thursday, December 3rd, 11am-12:15pm and Wednesday, December 9th, 10-11:15am.
  7. Energy Calendar
    If you have any events you would like to see added to this calendar, please send details to

And that is all for this week!

SJVCEO Loves Being Out in the Community

Over the last two months SJVCEO and the VIEW Partnership have been out in our hard to reach communities within Tulare and Kings Counties spreading the word of energy efficiency. The Partnership was able to work with our energy champion partners as well as utility partners, PG&E, SCE and SCG, in the cities and counties to bring communities together for an evening of fun and education.
The VIEW Partnership believes that working with our energy champions we can make a difference one house at a time. At our outreach events we find it very valuable to offer  free or low cost flu shots and community resources and not to focus just on energy. With these hard to reach communities residents are not able to have immediate access to all resources that are available to them. So the Partnership is able to bring these items right to their front door. 
This year alone we have added two additional events. In total we were able to have six outreach events. Those six events took place in Visalia, Farmersville, Home Garden, Hardwick, Monson-Sultana and Allensworth. As you can see our events take place all over our two county jurisdiction. I am sure that most people reading this post are not even aware of some of these smaller communities that exist in our Central Valley. 
With these events the Partnership had different means of outreach to households and offered different snacks and refreshment options to the attendees. But the one common thread in each of our outreach events was the involvement of the County Supervisors that represented the area of each event. Having the support of the board of supervisors in our areas means a lot. Knowing that we have someone on board with helping communities find energy savings  is great. We thank them and our energy champions for their support of the VIEW Partnership. We hope to add more community events next year so keep your eyes peeled to see if we will be in your area in 2016. 

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your WEEkly Updates:
  1. New Building Codes Study Shares Important Lessons for Research and Evaluation
    A recent paper from the Florida Solar Energy Center, "Why Doesn't 25 Years of an Evolving Energy Code Make More of a Difference," presents a fascinating story about the impacts of the Florida new home building energy code. They found a number of key factors that helped explain the lower-than-expected energy savings.
  2. Lower Savings Than Predicted? Try Calibration
    This study, funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and performed by Performance Systems Development, identified the underlying causes for over-estimation of contractor-reported energy savings and assessed the potential impacts on savings prediction accurately.
  3. 11/16 ARCCA Learning Session: The Ins and Outs of the LA Energy Atlas
    Join the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA) and Dr. Stephanie Pincetl and Zoe Elizabeth from the California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC) to learn about what it took to get the LA Energy Atlas project started, challenges the project faced when developing this tool, how to navigate and utilize the Atlas, and what it will take for an atlas to be developed for your community.
  4. 11/18 CPUC EM&V Studies Workshop to Vet the Update of the REN and LGP Chapters of the EM&V Roadmap
    Join the CPUC Energy Division and the CPUC EM&V Studies Stakeholder Advisory Group for a public "twork"shop on identifying the most urgent and appropriate next studies in the LGP and REN-CCA EM&V Roadmaps. The call will take place from 10-11am at 886-630-5989 PIN 336 2110#. A presentation will be posted soon on for you to follow along on the call.
  5. Job Opportunity: Energy and Sustainability Project Manager, County of Santa Barbara
    The County of Santa Barbara's Energy and Sustainability Initiatives Division (housed in the Community Services Department) is seeking exceptional candidates for Project Supervisor (a management level position) to provide analytical support and development for multi-jurisdictional energy and sustainability projects such as Community Choice Energy and community efficiency and clean energy programs. Application and supplemental questionnaire deadline is 11/30/15.
  6. Job Opportunity: Senior Project Manager, County of Orange
    The County of Orange Facilities Maintenance and Central Utility Facility has an exciting opportunity for a Senior Project Manager in the Utility/Energy Unit. The incumbent will serve as a subject matter expert for programs and issues associated with all County utilities, including power, water, gas, trash, and sewer. The position is open until Friday 11/13/15 at 11:59PM Pacific Time.
  7. Job Opportunity: Energy Technician, Sierra Nevada Energy Watch
    The Sierra Nevada Energy Watch (SNEW) Energy Technician is responsible for working in collaboration with the SNEW team to achieve energy savings goal, supporting Project Managers from the sales phase through the inspection of the completed project. This position is open until filled with a start date between December 2015 and January 2016.
  8. Energy Calendar
    If you have any events you would like to see added to this calendar, please send details to

And that is all for this week! 

Guest Posting: America's Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

*This post originally appeared on where you can find comprehensive solar information from industry experts.*
America’s energy policy has been the subject of much recent debate: From the Pope’s public advocacy of environmental stewardship to the EPA’s toughened regulations on pollution from petroleum refineries, the sources that power our society have rarely been so widely scrutinized. Once regarded as a subject best left to the energy sector, the way we fuel our economy has proven its relevance for all citizens, both in America and across the globe.
For the team at Modernize, this subject seems particularly important. They're dedicated to providing consumers information and opportunities related to one of clean energy’s most promising technologies: solar panels. Their primary interest is in helping individual readers find environmentally friendly solar options that generate wallet-friendly savings in the long run.
They're also paying attention to how whole swaths of the American energy landscape operate. That’s where the project “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States” comes in. If you want to know your state’s energy track record or find out which states are leading (and trailing) the push for renewables, you’re going to want to read what comes next.


For this project, the team went straight to the most authoritative source available on America’s energy realities. They gathered data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency responsible for tracking stats related to America’s energy production and consumption. Lucky for them, they’ve got data dating back to 1960 and as recent as 2013, so they took the long view on each state’s energy legacy. Their work engaged a range of subjects, from total energy production from renewable sources to carbon dioxide emissions over time. Take a look at what they found out:
Not Everything is Bigger in Texas…

Let’s get something straight: “Renewable” energy sources run the gamut from hydropower to wind, solar, and more. The EIA includes biofuels, such as ethanol, in this category as well. That means that virtually any state can tap into renewables, though some types are more readily utilized in certain natural environments (for instance, the Midwest makes good use of its wind). But that also means oil- and coal-rich states like Texas and West Virginia have historically focused their efforts on sourcing energy from “fossil” fuels, so their output from renewables is relatively paltry.
And here are the top 10 producers of total energy from renewables:

Maybe Washington, California, and Oregon come as no surprise – we associate them with environmental concern and the geographical variety to embrace multiple renewable technologies simultaneously. But the rest of the states that top the renewables ranking embody a striking mix of size, population, political preference, and socioeconomic standing. If this ranking indicates anything, it’s that success with renewables is possible in any combination of circumstances.

Power Percentages

Now we know the score when it comes to the total volume of energy produced from renewables by state. But some states produce plenty of both, while others have pristine clean-energy records but fall short of the top 10 because their total production is too small to compete. So we also looked at how much of each state’s total energy production renewables account for – call these our Percentage Power Rankings:

Then there’s the cohort above, all of whom derived less than 2.5% of all the energy they produce from renewable sources from 1960–2013. The difference in reliance on renewables couldn’t be starker: Wyoming’s renewable portfolio accounts for roughly one in every 250 BTUs (British Thermal Units – oddly, no longer commonly used in the U.K.) that the state produces. Many of the constituents of this dirtiest energy ranking are too rich in coal and oil to need much in the way of renewable alternatives – but that doesn’t mean they won’t adopt more sustainable technologies in the coming years.

Pollution and Solutions

Perhaps the most concerning byproduct of fossil fuel energy production is pollution. That term covers many kinds of potentially harmful emissions, but the best-known variety is carbon dioxide. The EIA offers carbon dioxide data from 1990–2012, so the team tracked the worst emissions offenders over that time:

Predictably, Texas is at the top – but what about California or New York? Why do states that ranked high in renewable energy production make the list? The answer is simple: Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just a function of energy production. It’s no accident that the top-ranked states are almost all quite populous; the more people, the more energy they consume. That translates to emissions resulting from cars, heat, and other comforts modern Americans depend upon in daily life. But don’t think emissions are an intransigent evil: Some states are making great strides.

Let’s take a moment to commend these states for what they’ve accomplished in just 22 years. New York, Michigan, and Ohio are particularly exciting cases, demonstrating that even states closely associated with major industry can reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, some of the states that ranked high in the percentage of energy generated from renewables appear on this list, making it clear that improvement can always be a priority, whatever you accomplish for the environment.
Speaking of improvement, let’s remember that your own home can contribute to the pursuit of new, clean technologies, no matter which state you live in. Whether it’s turning off the light when you walk out of a room or researching solar options that will also create savings, you can do a lot to promote a cleaner energy world. Who knows? If you and enough of your neighbors make the right choices, your state might just jump up on our cleanest states ranking!

What States Are Doing to Compete in Energy Efficiency

Just this past month the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) published its Ninth Annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard which ranks states on their energy saving progress. Sadly for us Californians we did not take the top spot, but placed second to Massachusetts which took the number 1 spot for the fifth year in a row. With the release of this annual scorecard I am happy to see that someone or something is keeping state governments  liable for states energy progress. But what are states improving upon to even crack the top 10 of this annual scorecard?
The ACEEE scorecard is not a ranking system solely based on the views of the organization itself. The scorecard is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hogan. Rankings for the scorecard are based on analysis of each states energy efficiency policies, program efforts and offerings that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries and transportation. The group focused upon six key policy areas: utility and public benefits, transportation, building energy codes and compliance, combined heat and power, state government initiatives.
See how and why states crack the top ten when they are ranked on each of the policy categories.
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont topped this category since all three have a long track record of success. All three states continue to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies.
Energy Efficiency in Transportation
California, Massachusetts and New York lead in this category. Massachusetts continues to promote smart growth in areas all throughout the state with state delivered financial incentives. While on the other hand the state of New York has implemented a vehicles per mile traveled reduction target. No word on California’s efforts in this category.
Building Energy Codes and Compliance
For this grouping there were only two states that made the top grade, California and Illinois. Both states continue to improve upon codes each year.
Combined Heat and Power
Massachusetts, Maryland and California were the highest ranking states.
State Government Initiatives
California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York are the top leaders on this policy area.
Now with those being stated I am sure you are interested to see who cracked the top ten.

1.       Massachusetts
2.       California
3.     Virginia
4.     Rhode Island
5.     Oregon
6.      Connecticut
7.     Maryland
8.     Washington
9.     New York
10.   Minnesota and Illinois (tied)

Maybe having states being pitted against one another in a friendly competition can be a win for the US energy grid as well as residents. Savings figures for 2014 from energy efficiency are pretty impressive. In total approximately 25.7 megawatt-hours were saved for the year, that equates to 0.7% of retail electricity sales all across the US. As for gas savings in 2014 those were reported to be around 374 million therms. With all of those savings combined it seems as if the US is making major leaps and bounds when it comes to energy efficiency. But…sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The US ranks thirteenth out of sixteen in the world. Us Americans seem to view ourselves and our country as the innovators of the world, but these rankings clearly tell a different story.

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released in 2014 and showed Germany, Italy, the EU, China and France as the top five leaders in the world for energy efficiency. You may ask yourself Germany taking the top spot…really? Well yes really. Germany has an outstanding comprehensive energy strategy which includes tight guidelines on building codes, retrofit policies, and tax credit and loan programs. The country has its own state development bank building renovation loan program which stimulates private investment. Just in 2013 alone the loan program produced around 46 billion dollars.
The United States has a ways to go on as a country on the issue of energy efficiency. When comparing the 2014 scorecard to the 2012 one ACEEE stated that the US’s improvement was unchanged. The Congressman Peter Welch when interviewed stated that he hopes that energy efficiency in the US will get a boost from the federal air pollution rules that will be enforced on states. Some other items that were outlined as being hurdles to the top for the US were transportation and not having a national energy savings plan.
With fingers crossed maybe the states will help the United States climb the rankings and make the country a better healthier place to live for all.