By ROLAND HWANG  | 8/22/12 4:30 AM EDT  As reported in Politico

With the darkest days of the recession behind us, Americans are looking to  better economic times. They also are looking forward to their politicians  working together to find solutions.

While there are many areas where different sides are far apart, there is a  very good news story expected from Washington this week. It’s an issue that  almost all Americans can get behind: higher fuel efficiency.

An agreement set to be finalized by the Obama Administration as  soon as this week promises that by 2025, new vehicles will get an average of  54.5 miles per gallon. This builds on standards already in place, which by 2016  will raise the average fuel efficiency of the new passenger vehicle fleet to  35.5 mpg.

The standards will be introduced incrementally. For consumers, this means  that in less than 15 years, everything from compact cars to pickup trucks will,  on average, burn about half as much gas as vehicles driven today. This saves  about $8,000 in costs over the life of a new vehicle.

This is Washington at its best, working to move America forward.

Republicans and Democrats, automakers and environmental groups supported the  stronger standard because it redirects hard-earned cash away from the gas pump  and back into your wallet. They also understood that the standard fortifies  national security and protects the environment.

And this agreement puts Americans back to work.

Thousands of new jobs are being created in the automotive industry, the  largest manufacturing employer in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor  Statistics, the auto industry has added more than 230,000 jobs since June 2009,  when the industry scraped bottom. Most of these jobs are in the manufacturing  sector, but U.S. auto dealerships are beefing up their payrolls as well.

Stronger standards give automakers a long-term roadmap to improve vehicle  efficiency.

By greening the Rust Belt, the U.S. can seize global leadership in  innovative, fuel-efficient technologies – a market historically dominated by  Europe and Asia.

The jobs that accompany this domestic expansion aren’t outsourced; they  remain at home.

In Saginaw, Mich., for example, a century-old auto supplier called Nexteer  Automotive recently added 650 employees to help manufacture electric power  steering components for pickup trucks. These components replace more  energy-intensive hydraulic systems. Electric power steering is a fast-growing  segment of Nexteer’s business, and automakers who want to squeeze more  efficiency from their fleet are driving the increased demand.

Outside the auto industry, job growth will expand even further – by more than  half a million jobs, many in discretionary sectors like services and retail – because money saved at the pump will be spent on things like tuition, new  clothes, or a vacation.

The benefits don’t stop there. Cutting energy use while driving also reduces  our dependence on oil. By 2030, the 54.5 mpg standard will slash oil imports by  one-third. This enhances national security and strengthens the economy by  investing money in the Midwest – not in the volatile Middle East.

Fuel efficiency standards also protect the environment by reducing carbon  pollution equal to taking 85 million cars off the road. This helps fight climate  change that leads to costly droughts and dangerous heat waves. Less pollution  also means a healthier populace and lower medical bills.

Washington responded to America’s demand for more fuel efficient cars. By  implementing a smart, tough standard, Washington showed that it is committed to  creating good jobs and continuing our economic recovery.

54.5 mpg is a standard that works for America.

Roland Hwang is the Transportation Program Director for the Natural  Resources Defense Council.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79949.html#ixzz24J7UKPjn

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By Maya Rao Inquirer Staff Writer TRENTON –

 Last month, a state utilities board voted to allocate $15 million in federal stimulus money for grants to make businesses more energy efficient.

The money for the program, which seeks to lower New Jersey residents’ utility bills by reducing demand from the biggest users of the electric grid, should have come from a fee assessed on major commercial and industrial users since 2003.

 But the Retail Margin Fund, which holds that revenue, is empty – among the consequences of hundreds of millions of dollars in diversions from “dedicated” funds to help the state close a multibillion-dollar budget gap.

 Budget documents show that environmental and clean-energy programs designed to reduce New Jersey household and commercial utility bills are being hit particularly hard, with about $400 million rerouted into the state’s general fund.

The state raided $128 million from the Retail Margin Fund, which is generated by fees from commercial and industrial users, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, and will take $14 million under the $29.4 billion budget signed into law last week.

Greg Reinert, spokesman for the Board of Public Utilities, said the fund had never spent the money collected over the years.

 Today, he said, “there’s nothing left in it.” Just last year, the state enacted a law authorizing the fund to spend $60 million on combined-heat-and-power grants for businesses. The program aimed to help the state develop 1,500 megawatts of cogeneration capacity by 2020.

 Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D., Somerset), a primary sponsor of the 2009 law, criticized the shift of $15 million in stimulus money to fund the cogeneration program as a one-shot fix. The fund is paid into by business customers “who are hurting with higher energy costs.

 By taking their money away and not giving it back to them, to balance the budget, it’s totally inappropriate,” he said. Chivukula grilled the sponsor of the bill authorizing the diversions from that and other environmental funds on the Assembly floor during last Monday’s marathon legislative session. Yet Chivukula provided one of the handful of Democratic votes needed to pass the measure, citing “the spirit of bipartisanship.” “Given the dire circumstances we’re facing in New Jersey with revenue shortfalls, we have little or no choice” but to look to other areas “to make this budget balanced,” Assemblyman Joseph Malone (R., Burlington), the bill’s sponsor and a previous critic of budget raids, told Chivukula.

The moves concern lawmakers and environmental advocates alike. “One of the problems is that this isn’t taxpayer money. . . . It was ratepayer money that had been set aside and dedicated to clean energy that helps people save money and helps create jobs and helps reduce pollution, so it was a no-win situation for the environment, the economy, and the people of New Jersey,” said Matt Elliott, the global-warming and clean-energy advocate for Environment New Jersey.

 “Once they get used to robbing these funds,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, “they may continue to rob them because it becomes easy – and that is going to mean higher electric costs for consumers, fewer jobs in a time when we need to grow our economy, and more air pollution.”

The largest diversion comes from the Clean Energy Fund, which annually takes in about $250 million, an average of $20 per New Jersey household, through a charge on utility bills. The fee stems from the 1999 utility deregulation under Republican Gov. Christie Whitman.

Revelations that the administration of Gov. Jon S. Corzine rerouted $30 million from the fund in 2009 drew outrage from several South Jersey lawmakers. Assemblymen Vincent Polistina and John Amodeo, Republicans from Atlantic County, lambasted the move as “Exhibit A of budget-balancing gimmicks.” Sen. Diane Allen (R., Burlington) called for an end to the practice.

 But those same lawmakers closed out fiscal 2010 by voting to authorize a $158 million diversion from the fund, and an additional $10 million this fiscal year.

In interviews, the three legislators said they continued to oppose raiding funds, but described their votes as necessary in a difficult fiscal climate.

Polistina blamed the Democratic Corzine administration, saying it had “overestimated revenues so badly that we were left with very little options, and at this point it seemed like the best way to try to close the shortfall that was created by Corzine.”

The moves have also upset the industry: The Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association sued the Christie administration in May, saying diversions of clean-energy money were unconstitutional. Reinert said the impact of the diversions from the Clean Energy Fund had been softened by the BPU’s recapturing $61 million that had been set aside but never spent on various projects.

He said the BPU had actually increased funding for a successful home energy audit program. Taking money from dedicated funds is a longtime, if controversial, practice under administrations of both parties in Trenton.

State leaders gave approval last week to dip into funds dedicated to spinal-cord and breast-cancer research, disability payments, and economic development. They authorized diverting $10 million set aside to make state buildings more energy efficient, and tapping the recycling fund for $7 million, the same amount diverted last year. The budget also says that “all revenues from fees and fines collected by the Department of Environmental Protection . . . shall be deposited into the state general fund without regard to their specific dedication.”

States from California to Connecticut are raiding dedicated funds to offset enormous budget deficits. Rhode Island this year decided it was a violation of state law to divert cap-and-trade revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is an agreement among 10 Northeast states to cut carbon emissions. New York and New Hampshire, however, took millions from their RGGI funds this year.

New Jersey is redirecting $65 million in RGGI money to its general fund. Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D., Cape May) said the moves meant a lack of investment in the future, given that New Jersey has been “on the cutting edge of clean energy.”

He withheld his support for the budget last year out of numerous concerns about raiding dedicated funds, and has sponsored a resolution to bar the practice through a state constitutional amendment. He nonetheless voted to authorize the diversions last week, explaining: “We have to move forward in New Jersey.

We have to put out a message that we can’t have a [government] shutdown.”

Our Perspective:

I find this article to be really distuurbing. It just continues to validate my view that the system is broken. We have been caught up in greed and abandoned our ideals to be self serving. We have to rethink our efforts and start thinking outside the box.

The status quo is not working. The politicians are not serving our best interest. There must be a better way and we have to start electing people who our true to our ideals and will work to make this world a better place. Stop putting bandaids on everything.

Government boards regulate the utility market price.  Although, the state utility regulator is required to pass market savings onto the consumer, local providers buy natural gas on the wholesale market and bill their customers’ retail. We put our clients in a wholesale position because brokers/marketers have the flexibility to buy gas when rates are lower and pass the savings onto their clients.

Comparing and deciding among the various offers.

In the new deregulated industry, buying natural gas is like getting a home loan. You can select between:

  • Contract terms of 1 to 5 years
  • Lock in at a fixed rate for an extended period of time
  • Choose variable rates and rely on an experienced gas manager to get you the lowest price

Why switch?

Most consumers switch to brokers/marketers to save money.  Together you can determine your comfort level.

Ø    Security – if the utility price makes you feel more secure, choose an option that offers a percentage less than the utility for guaranteed savings.

Ø    Lowest Price – if you want to have a knowledgeable gas company managing your gas supply, select the variable rate and let a gas supplier manage it for you.

Ø    Fixed Price – if you think prices are going to continue to rise and you want to be sure of your bills, choose a fixed price.

Regulated rates are not fixed rates.

Each province or state has an agency that regulates utility rates. Utilities can and do apply changes to rates.  They are not allowed to offer fixed contracts. By signing up with an energy marketer you can avoid these unexpected rate changes. We competitively tender your natural gas needs to deregulated natural gas marketers.

If you choose to buy from a gas broker/ marketer, your gas service won’t change.

You will continue to receive a bill from your distributing utility authority indicating their regulated delivery charge (about half of your bill) and a gas supply charge that goes to the gas supplier. If you also have rental equipment or a service contract, these will appear on your bill, as usual.

It’s important to remember these cost splits when comparing prices. The suppliers, brokers and/or marketers are offering rates on only half of your bill. As previously stated, the distribution charge and monthly service charge is fixed.  It is strictly regulated by an Energy Board or Public Service Commission. As a result, when a promotional message claims a 10% saving, it is ONLY referring to that 10% controlled by all energy brokers.

You do the math.

To qualify in the deregulated market, your company must spend a minimum of $5,000.00/ month ($60,000.00/year) on natural gas. Half of that monthly fee ($2,500.00) is a regulated transportation and delivery charge. The remainder is the gas supply charge.

A gas marketer offering a 10% savings is offering a savings of $250.00/ month, 10% of the $2,500.00 gas supply charge. Your annual savings would be $3,000.00.

Saving is parity to how much you spend. The above example applies only to minimum qualifications.  The more you use, the more you save.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent energy management consultant. We have been providing deregulated energy solutions to our clients for over 10 years. HBS clients are saving from 10% to 20% on their natural gas supply bills.

Large market swings offer you big savings.

If you have been following market prices for natural gas, over the past couple of years, you have probably noticed the large market swings. ie: In 2008, PSEG prices ranged from $1.07 per therm in February to $1.64 per therm in July. In 2009, prices dropped and we saw $.889 cents per therm in January with a low of $.496 cents a therm in September.  With so much market fluctuation, we have been advising our clients to float their accounts, based on the market index.  In this way, our clients can save anywhere between, 8% up to 20%, depending on whom their local provider is.

Choosing to float the market index does not preclude you “locking in” on a fixed price at any time during the term of the contract. Conversely, if you choose a fixed price, you are unable to change to a float when market prices go down.

Want to learn more about opportunities to save in the deregulated natural gas market email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

    

One of the easiest ways to save money these days is to switch utility providers. Recent increases in the cost of energy are astonishing and finding a competitive deal is a must. There’s hot competition in the utility markets with many companies competing on price alone, as services are otherwise the same across the board.

Apples to Apples

Current market conditions have opened the door to many new faces selling energy in NJ and PA.  The difficulty is to properly define all the ancillary costs in order to present a true comparison of your current cost and the true savings that will be realized during the term of the contract.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent energy broker and has been defining saving opportunities in the deregulated natural gas and electric market for the past 10 years. We represent all the providers selling energy in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

10% to 50% Savings

Though each account is unique, many of the deregulated providers have what they consider to be their sweet spot (their most competitive market).

Because of our strong personal relationships with the providers we are able to more accurately identify the right provider/s for you.  This enables us to present a specific proposal outlining your current cost and all the deregulated utility opportunities available.

We understand your time restraints.  We have an excellent streamlined procedure that makes the whole process simple and easy.  All we need is a copy of your latest provider invoice with a signed letter of authorization, which allows us to pull the annual usages on your account(s).

All the savings fall to your bottom line

There are no costs associated with our service. We receive a small residual from the provider during the term of your contract.

To qualify, your monthly energy costs should be a minimum of $5,000 for electric and $3,000 a month for natural gas.

To find out more, email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

You may also visit us on the web to learn more about savings in the deregulated utility market. www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

 

By REBECCA SMITH  as reported in Wall Street Journal

Slack demand for electricity across the U.S. is leading to some of the sharpest reductions in power prices in recent years, offering a break for consumers and businesses who just a year ago were getting crunched by massive electricity bills.

On Friday, the nation’s largest wholesale power market serving parts of 13 states east of the Rockies is expected to report that electricity demand fell 4.4% in the first half of the year. That helped to push down spot market prices by 40% during the first half of this year.

[Electricity Prices Plummet]

Wholesale electricity — power furnished to utilities and other big energy users — cost an average of $40 a megawatt hour in the region, down from $66.40 a year earlier. The price declines in this market, which extends from Delaware to Michigan, come on top of a 2.7% drop in energy use in 2008 over 2007.

The falloff in demand represents a reversal of what has been one of the steadiest trends in business. For decades, the utility sector could rely on a gradual increase in electricity demand. In 45 of the past 58 years, year-over-year growth exceeded 2%. In fact, there only have been five years since 1950 in which electricity demand has dropped in absolute terms.

But this year is shaping up to have the sharpest falloff in more than half a century, and coming on top of declines in 2008, could be the first period of consecutive annual declines since at least 1950.

Dramatic price reductions don’t immediately mean lower power bills for all consumers. That’s because many customers pay prices based on long-term contracts. But lower prices will have a softening effect over time.

In California and Texas, a combination of cheap natural gas and lower industrial demand is putting pressure on prices.

In the Houston pricing zone, which has many power-gobbling refineries and chemical plants, the spot market price was $61.82 in June, versus $129.48 a megawatt hour a year earlier. Power demand in Texas is down 3.2% so far this year due to business contraction and reductions in employment which are causing many households to economize.

Just a year ago, many businesses and residential customers were reeling from electricity prices on the spot market that had spiked to historic highs, driven by high fuel prices and hot summer weather. Some businesses curtailed their operations because electricity and natural gas were too pricey.

[Electricity Prices Plummet]

But the flagging economy has resulted in a slump in demand that has jolted some energy markets. American Electric Power Co. and Southern Co., for example, both reported double-digit drops in industrial electricity use for the past quarter.

Meanwhile, natural gas, which strongly influences electricity prices, has fallen below $4 per million BTUs, or British thermal units. That’s down from $12 at last year’s peak.

For many businesses, the cost of electricity represents one of the few bright spots in a dismal economy. Andy Morgan, president of Pickard China Inc. in Antioch, Ill., which makes fine china, figures his electricity cost is down 30% to 40%.

Last year, when everything was spiking, he looked at different options — including negotiating a fixed-price contract for energy with a supplier. He says he held off and now he’s happy he did.

“We’ve definitely reaped savings,” says Mr. Morgan, adding that “especially in a down economy, you’ll take whatever you can get. That’s one of the few blessings during this storm.”

Slowdowns at major industrial companies such as Alcoa Inc. help account for the decline in electricity usage this year. The recession and drop in consumer demand for products that contain aluminum has caused the company to idle 20% of its smelting capacity world-wide this year.

In the U.S. the company has cut production at smelters, which are traditionally big energy users, in New York, Tennessee and Texas. Kevin Lowery, a company spokesman, said he did not believe that Alcoa has saved much money thus far because the company primarily purchases electricity through 25- to 35-year contracts.

Steel Dynamics Inc. is benefiting from lower pricing. The company operates five steel mills, with four purchasing electricity at spot market prices in Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia. The benefit, though, is smaller than it might be because the steelmaker is producing less steel this year.

“We’re producing fewer tons, but every ton we produce we seek to minimize the costs and electricity is one of those,” said Fred Warner, a company spokesman. Its mills are running at 50% capacity this year, down from 85% capacity last year.

Some wonder whether the deregulated markets of the Eastern U.S., Midwest, Texas and California will be especially hard hit if demand comes roaring back. That’s because utilities in these markets no longer are required to build new resources. It’s left up to the power generators to determine when the market conditions are ripe.

“There’s more supply than demand and prices are really low so it doesn’t make sense to build anything,” says John Shelk, president of the Electric Power Supply Association in Washington, D.C., a group that represents power generators.

Many electricity markets throughout the country have implemented demand reduction programs that give consumers a further incentive to reduce power use. The 13-state PJM Interconnection market has been one of the most aggressive — and has seen one of the steepest price drops.

A new report from the region’s official market monitor found a strong correlation between falling prices and an increase in demand-reduction programs. In the PJM market, energy users can collect money through an auction process for pledging to cut energy use in future periods.

In May, PJM conducted an auction to ensure it will have the resources it believes it will need in 2012-13. About 6% of the winning bids came from those who pledged to cut energy use by a total of 8,000 megawatts in that future period.

Our Perspective:

For those companies faced ith rising utility prices over the past 4 years, there is finally relief in the deregulated market. Prices have fallen due to the decrease in demand.

If you look at you electric bill over the past 12 months you will see that your price to compare for electric supply was most likely over .12 cents per kWh. Current market rates will allow you to lock you supply price in the dregulated market somewhere in the .10+ cent per kWh area. This could provide a 11/2 to 2 cents per kwh savings over the next year or two.

Our clients are finding substantial savings which fall to the bottomline.

Would you like to know more? Give us a call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com . Contact us for a free evaluation You will be surprised by the savings it will provide.

—Timothy Aeppel, Sharon Terlep and Kris Maher contributed to this article.

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

Peco Energy Co. yesterday offered its vision of the electrical grid of the future:

In a few years, “smart” electric meters will be able to do much more than measure the power consumed in customers’ homes. They will tell customers how much money they are spending on electricity in real time, and offer options for cutting costs.

“Your air conditioner will be able to talk to your dishwasher and sequence their usage to save money,” Glenn Pritchard, a Peco engineer, said as he surveyed a table of meters and thermostats at the utility’s Center City headquarters.

At his Souderton home, Pritchard is testing a wireless model that supplies a weather report on its digital readout. His children’s favorite is a 9-inch-high, Web-enabled plastic rabbit that can be programmed to flash red and wiggle its ears when the price of power is getting dear.

If all goes as planned, Peco will connect 600,000 customers to smart meters in three years.

The utility announced plans to spend $650 million in the next 10 years to upgrade its transmission and distribution system to incorporate “smart-grid” technology. The improvements include fiber-optic and wireless-communications systems to enable the smart meters.

To accelerate the rollout, the company applied for $200 million in federal stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Energy, which is administering the $3.3 billion Smart Grid Investment Grant Program.

“This isn’t your father’s old utility anymore, and I can say that as my father worked here for 35 years before me,” said Peco president Denis O’Brien.

The investment will generate customer savings of $500 million over 10 years and $1.5 billion over the expected 25-year life of the equipment, O’Brien said, as well as create employment equal to 4,300 “job-years.”

Peco will have competition for the stimulus money, though. Yesterday was the deadline for smart-grid applications, and other utilities also announced proposals.

Public Service Electric & Gas Co. in New Jersey applied for a $76 million grant to fund half of a $152 million project to improve the grid’s reliability and protect it against cyberattacks.

PSE&G’s plans also include communications technology that would allow for the eventual integration of plug-in electric vehicles, small-scale wind and solar generation, and smart meters.

PPL Electric Utilities Corp., of Allentown, has proposed a $38 million pilot project – half of it funded by stimulus money – that would introduce 60,000 Harrisburg customers to smart technology.

Most of the smart-grid improvements would be invisible to customers, incorporating advanced switches and digital equipment that would increase the system’s reliability, efficiency, and security from attack.

The power companies are responding to increasing pressure to meet emerging emission-reduction goals. A new Pennsylvania law requires utilities to reduce electrical-output production 3 percent by 2013 and cut peak-demand load 4.5 percent. It also provides for utilities to recoup their expenses through higher rates.

Next week, Pennsylvania’s utilities must disclose their smart-meter deployment plans, which will set the stage for discounting power during off-peak hours to encourage customers to shift consumption away from times when the electrical system’s generation and distribution systems are stressed.

Peco is still examining equipment options and pricing plans. Customers will be able to opt to keep the current flat-rate pricing scheme.

Part of Peco’s grant proposal is to incorporate a pilot project for clients of the Philadelphia Housing Authority that would become a model for low-income customers. Liberty Property Trusts and Drexel University have also signed on to integrate properties into the Peco network more efficiently.

Residential customers may have an array of smart-meter options. They might range from simple devices that provide a color-coded light signal to curtail power during peak hours to sophisticated ones that tie in major appliances so that customers could volunteer to allow Peco to remotely manage their use during peak hours.

Or customers might be able to manage their home thermostats through the Internet, or even a wireless handheld device such as a BlackBerry.

“When we all see the meter running . . . we will all be able to manage our energy much more effectively and efficiently,” O’Brien said.

Written by Rob Perks

Visit NRDCs Switchboard Blog


The clean energy economy is upon us — but will the U.S. heed the call?

That’s the gist of today’s Washington Post story with this stark headline: Asian Nations Could Outpace U.S. in Developing Clean Energy.

 

Excerpt:

President Obama has often described his push to fund “clean” energy technology as key to America’s drive for international competitiveness as well as a way to combat climate change.

“There’s no longer a question about whether the jobs and the industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy,” he said on June 25. “The only question is: Which country will create these jobs and these industries? And I want that answer to be the United States of America.”

But the leaders of India, South Korea, China and Japan may have different answers. Those Asian nations are pouring money into renewable energy industries, funding research and development and setting ambitious targets for renewable energy use. These plans could outpace the programs in Obama’s economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill sponsored by  Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and  Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

In due time fossil fuels will be gone — no one can dispute that.  So why is it that so many people — including an alarmingly high number of those serving in Congress — would rather waste time and energy denying the clear and present danger of climate change and resisting the solutions promised by a clean energy future?

[UPDATE: This just in…A new Harvard study finds that wind energy potential is considerably higher than previous estimates by both wind industry groups and government agencies.]

In my mind I can see a television commercial with just an hour glass on screen and this narration:

“Oil is running out.”

“Coal is running out.”

“Whether we like it or not, fossil fuels are going the way of the dinosaurs.”

“But we know that the wind and the sun will never run out.  And we can generate power from these natural, safe and limitless sources.”

“It’s time to move beyond the dirty energy of the past and embrace reliable clean power for the 21st century.”

“As a nation, we need to do this…before time runs out.”

Let’s all remember that America is a nation built on the foundation of freedom, independence and self-sufficiency — and those values must be at the heart of our strategy for energy policy.  We shouldn’t be losing ground in the world economy, buidling up massive trade deficits to pay for foreign oil.  It’s time we commit ourselves as a nation to develop clean, safe energy from the sun, wind and other natural sources that will create millions of jobs and rebuild our manufacturing base.

It just so happens that the best way to bring jobs and prosperity back to this country is also the way to end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and protect the Earth we leave our children.  Let’s get back to building things again, starting with wind turbines, solar panels, and energy-efficient products that say ‘Made in America.’  After all, we have led every technological revolution of the last two centuries — electricity, railroads, the telephone, automobiles, the television, computers — and there’s no reason we can’t lead this one.

I have to question the logic (and patriotism!) of those politicians who would do the bidding of polluting industries — Big Oil, Big Coal, Nukes — when those dirty and unsafe technologies offer only short-term energy generation benefits at an extremely high cost to our heath, air and water, and climate.  The sun, the wind, and the geothermal energy at the core of the Earth provide a limitless supply of clean energy — our scientists can harness them and our workers can build them.  Our leaders should harness — not hamper — the greatest source of power we have in this country: American ingenuity.

The fact is, we already have wind and solar technologies that can dramatically cut our reliance on dirty coal plants that create most of the pollution that is poisoning our lungs and damaging our atmosphere.  What we need now are leaders who can build on this progress by partnering with business to develop and deploy innovative energy technologies that will recharge our economy and create jobs. 

As Thomas Friedman wrote in his book “Hot, Flat and Crowded”:  “[T]he ability to develop clean power and energy efficient technologies is going to become the defining measure of a country’s economic standing, environmental health, energy security, and national security over the next 50 years.”

The story in the Washington Post today is yet another wake-up call.  We shouldn’t need countries in Asia or Europe or South America to show us how to compete in the emerging markets for efficient appliances and alternative fuels.  We need leaders with vision and courage who will invest in technological breakthroughs that will once and for all end our reliance on oil and spur manufacturing jobs that can’t be outsourced.  That way, America can start exporting clean energy instead of jobs.

As a nation, we have a choice to make.  Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between clean, new energy sources and economic prosperity.  The choice is between accepting the status quo by holding tight to the dirty energy of the past or boldy embarking on the path to safe, reliable clean energy — an investment which promises both immediate and long-term gains. 

At this important juncture in our history, what choice will our elected leaders make?  It’s up to each and every one of us to help them make the right decision.

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard blog.

Natural Gas Market

May 30, 2009

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Apr 30, 2009

As was the case with other industries that have been deregulated, natural gas deregulation has resulted in competition which helps lower the cost of natural gas and increase customer choices.

Deregulation is the process of lessening the amount of government restrictions an oversight applied to private companies. The natural gas industry has been gradually deregulated over the past ten years.

Before deregulation, utilities charged their customers for all the necessary steps to get the natural gas from the gas well to the customer’s home or business. This included purchasing the natural gas, delivering it to the customer, measuring the customer’s use,providing emergency service, and billing the customer.

One effect of deregulation has been that customers may now choose to purchase only part of the full line of services that are offered by the utility. This ability to choose is called
unbundling. The complete package of services has been unbundled so that a customer can choose to separate the gas purchasing transaction from the delivery — or transport — transaction.

Our Perspective:

Natural Gas prices are the lowest they have been in 3 to 4 years. For companies spending more than $3000 a month we are finding 20% to 30% saving over what they have paid over the past year.

One of our new clients signed up today and will see more that $42,000 savings over the next year.

Like to know more? Feel free to contact us. There are no additional fees, your savings fall to the bottom line.

Email george@hbsadvantage.com  or call 856-857-1230

ANGELA CHARLTON | May 28, 2009 05:01 PM EST | AP

PARIS — The top U.S. environment official says it’s time for the United States to shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.

After several years with a relatively low profile under President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “is back on the job,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday during a trip to Paris.

What the EPA does domestically this year will be watched closely overseas. Nations worldwide are working toward a major meeting in Copenhagen in December aimed at producing a new global climate pact. The U.S. position on curbing its own pollution and helping poor countries adapt to global warming is seen as key to any new pact.

Jackson was in Paris for international talks on how rich governments can include global climate concerns in overall development aid.

She dismissed worries that economic downturn was cutting into aid commitments or investment in new energy resources. She said the United States should take the lead on clean energy technology, recession or no.

“We have to get in the race now _ and win it,” she said. “I don’t expect a moving backwards because of recession.”

At climate talks in Paris earlier this week, European environment ministers welcomed greater U.S. commitment to environmental issues under the Obama administration _ but said it still wasn’t aiming high enough in its targets for cutting U.S. emissions.

Jackson said a shift in the American mindset is only beginning.

Talking about energy efficiency and saying companies should pay to pollute _ “that’s a revolutionary message for our country,” she said.

For a long time, she said, “People didn’t even expect the EPA to show up” at events, much less set policies that could be seen as examples for the rest of the world.

“Now it seems like every day we’re rolling back or reconsidering a Bush era policy on clean air,” she said.

She said it was time for the United States to take a more active role in limiting chemical pollutants, after falling behind Europe in that domain.

The U.S. also has lessons to learn from countries such as the Netherlands, she said, after visiting its low-lying, flood-prone lands to study ways cities like her native New Orleans can better manage water.

Our Perspective:

It is good to hear the administration making positive comments about our energy’s future. Alternative energy is a growth business and the correct path for insuring our future energy indepenence.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Would you like to know more about the financial opportunities that drive this investment. Feel free to contct us.

JEAN H. LEE | May 18, 2009 12:57 PM EST |

SEOUL, South Korea — Urban visionaries in London and Seoul, two of the world’s busiest capital cities, foresee buses gliding through their streets with speed, ease and efficiency _ without emitting the exhaust fumes that scientists say are contributing to global warming.

Under Mayor Boris Johnson’s vision, London’s iconic red double-decker Routemaster buses would be back on the streets _ but powered by electricity, not gasoline.

Engineers at South Korea’s top-ranked KAIST university are meanwhile working on a novel prototype for an electric vehicle system: one that provides power on the go through induction strips laid into the roadway.

Cities _ which house 75 percent of the world’s population and generate 80 percent of its pollution _ must take leadership in tackling the problem of polluting emissions, Johnson said Monday in Seoul on the eve of the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit.

“I think as a collective of cities, what we should be doing here in Seoul is agreeing that we are going to stop the endless addiction of mankind to the internal combustion engine,” he told reporters. “It’s time that we moved away from fossil fuels. It’s time that we went for low-carbon vehicles.”

“Cars form many problems that we see in Korea as well as other countries. We use hydrocarbon organic fuels, mostly petroleum, and that, in turn, creates environmental problems _ and Seoul is notorious,” said Suh Nam-pyo, president of KAIST in Daejeon, south of the South Korean capital.

Seoul, population 10 million, is getting warmer three times faster than the world average, the National Meteorological Administration said Monday.

The obvious solution, Suh said, is to “replace all these vehicles with vehicles that do not pollute the air and do not use oil.”

Back in March, Johnson zipped down a British highway in a U.S.-made electric car that he wrote marked “the beginning of a long-overdue revolution.”

He rhapsodized in a Telegraph newspaper editorial that the Tesla has no exhaust pipe, carburetor or fuel tank, and “while every other car on that motorway was a-parping and a-puttering, filling the air with fumes and particulates, this car was producing no more noxious vapours than a dandelion in an alpine meadow.”

Last month, he launched an ambitious plan to get 100,000 electric cars onto the streets of London by 2015. He pushed for the creation of 25,000 charging stations and vowed to convert some 1,000 city vehicles to make London the “electric car capital of Europe.”

“The age of the diesel-emitting bus has got to be over in London,” Johnson said.

He has promised electric motorists an exemption from the congestion charge imposed on drivers in central London, an annual saving of up to 1,700 pounds (about $2,600).

But that discount would barely make a dent in the eye-popping price tag of electric cars now on the market; the sleek Tesla that Johnson took for a spin costs more than $100,000.

And scientists are still grappling with the massive, sensitive, costly and fast-depleting batteries that take the place of international combustion engines and gasoline. Electric cars run between 40 and 120 miles (60 to 200 kilometers) on one charge, and it takes anywhere from two to seven hours to fully recharge, said Christian Mueller of the IHS Global Insight consulting firm.

“Everybody is frantically working on coming up with a viable electric car,” he said from Frankfurt, Germany.

Batteries “aren’t yet at a state where we can say they are cheap, they’re reliable and they’re easy to come by. They all still have their technical drawbacks,” said Mueller, who specializes in electrics and electronics.

The lithium supply for batteries is finite, and the question of where to charge them becomes complicated in cities where residents cannot easily plug their cars in overnight. A California company, Better Place, has introduced a promising battery-swapping technology.

Suh, an MIT-trained inventor with some 60 international patents to his name, approached the challenge from another angle.

“Why not have power transmitted on the ground and pick it up without using mechanical contact?” he said in an interview in his office overlooking the staging grounds for the university’s electric cars.

KAIST’s “online” vehicles pick up power from trips, or inverters, embedded into the road rather than transmitted through rails or overhead wires. A small battery, one-fifth the size of the bulky batteries typically used, would give the vehicle enough power for another 50 miles (80 kilometers), said Cho Dong-ho, the scientist in charge of the project.

South Korea produces its own nuclear power, meaning it can produce a continuous supply of energy to fuel such a plan.

President Lee Myung-bak, whose government gave KAIST $50 million for two major projects, including the “online” electric vehicle, took a spin in February.

Online buses are running at the KAIST campus and will begin test runs soon on the resort island of Jeju.

But Seoul, which has promised to set aside $2 million for the underground charging system, is within Suh’s sights. He said 9,000 gasoline-fueled buses now crisscross the capital, with 1,000 going out of commission each year. He envisions replacing those aging buses with electric models. Initial test runs are expected to take place this year.

Mueller, the consultant, called it a creative approach with potential.

“It sounds very intriguing; you don’t store your energy, you provide it on the go.” he said. “The (battery) storage problem is overcome instantly. That would be a very intriguing way of doing it.”

___

Associated Press writer Jae Hee Suh contributed to this report.