Now, Aldie, I believe I could throw a cat through that crack under your door. That’s right nice of you, heating the neighborhood like that, but the way oil’s going you might want to tighten ‘er up just a dite.

Efficiency/Conservation News

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY

We all waste more energy than we like to think about. Because wasted renewable energy is still wasted energy, we need to maximize our energy efficiency before we invest in renewable energy sources for our homes & businesses. The cheapest unit of energy is the one we don't need to burn at all. Read on to get started.

 
Seven Maine Businesses Receive REAP Grants for Energy Improvements
03/12/2017 - 4:16pm

USDA logo courtesy of USDAUSDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins announced on March 2, 2017 that seven Maine businesses have been selected to receive Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants totaling $77,500 for the purchase and installation of solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Here is the list of recipients:

FEDCO Seeds, Inc.
Harpswell Freezers, LLC.
Power Gripps, USA, Inc.
Solar Center, LLC
Trippcrest Farm
Waldoboro Environmental Park, Inc.
Wilbur B. Bradbury, dba Bradbury Maple

Read what they are going to do with the money on the USDA’s Maine page.

USDA logo courtesy of USDA.

Brunswick Junior High Students Explore Energy Efficiency with Evergreen Home Performance
02/02/2016 - 3:34pm

Evergreen Energy Advisor Cree Krull prepares BJHS students for a blower door test. The bright red blower door has a calibrated fan that measures a building's air leakage image courtesy of Evergreen Home PerformanceBrunswick Junior High School 7th graders competed to see who could build the most energy efficient “home” last week, with some pretty surprising results. The structures started with cardboard from the cafeteria, and the insulation and air sealing options were limited to paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, blueboard, tape, and glue, but the improvements helped students connect the science of heat transfer to the real-life challenges of weatherizing Maine homes.

“The kids can unequivocally confirm that well-taped plastic wrap is great at reducing air leakage but not so great at stopping heat loss,” said Cree Krull, who led the activity and helped students test their structures with fans and infrared cameras. “And we can extend that observation to explain why homes need air sealing and insulation.”

Krull should know; as an energy advisor at Evergreen Home Performance, he uses the same tools to assess real homes for air and heat loss. “Using an infrared camera is pretty straightforward, so it makes sense to have kids work with the real thing,” said Krull. “Interpreting what you see and knowing what to do about it is what takes expertise.”

The BJHS students may not be ready for careers in energy efficiency yet, but they’re much more informed thanks to a month-long interdisciplinary project that highlights the science, economics, and politics of home weatherization and introduces students to the need for lower reliance on home heating oil and greater emphasis on energy efficiency.

“Weatherizing Maine’s old homes reduces our dependence on the fossil fuels used to heat them, which in turn reduces heating expenses and environmental impacts” said BHJS teacher Cris Lavigne. “When kids learn how weatherization works and how they can be a part of it, they make things better for their community. It’s a powerful service-learning opportunity.”

Students will share what they’ve learned by creating a bank of weatherization materials, along with instructions on how to use them, and using those weatherization materials to seal drafty spaces in their lives. In March, they will share the results of their learning at a community-wide event.

Photo and article courtesy of Evergreen Home Perfomance.

Maine National Guard Battalion Opens Solar Facility
11/25/2015 - 4:35pm

The readiness center of the Maine National Guard 133rd Engineering Battalion photo courtesy of Maine National GuardThe new, LEED Silver readiness center for the 133rd Engineering Battalion of the Maine National Guard at Brunswick Landing opened in September 2015. Following new National Guard regulations to build energy efficiency and renewable energy into all new projects, the $23.5 million building boasts 38 KW of solar capacity, geothermal heating wells, LED lighting and a living roof growing blueberries.

Read more about it in the Sun Journal.

E2Tech Hosts its First Expo Oct. 1
09/28/2015 - 9:45pm

Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine E2TechThe Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) and its partners are pleased to host the inaugural E2Tech Expo on October 1, 2015. Events include keynotes from a Fortune 50 company and a venture capital firm; its first-ever “E2Tech Talks” on Maine’s local and global food movements; a high-level plenary panel on cleantech markets, technologies, and public policies; workshops on energy policy, workforce development & career connections, sustainability in the supply chain, and cluster development and seed funding; and dozens of tables featuring environmental and energy companies, products, services, and resources.

You may see the agenda and register here.

Legislature Overrides Veto to Help Restore Efficiency Maine Funding
07/01/2015 - 8:31pm

And image courtesy of Maine Association of Building Energy Professionals.L.D. 1215, the bill that restores the missing word "and" that was omitted from the 2014 Omnibus Energy Bill and reverses the ruling by the Public Utilities Commission to cut Efficiency Maine funding by $38 million, is now law.

On June 23, 2015, the governor vetoed the bill. First the House voted 144-0 to override the veto, then the Senate voted to do the same, 35-0. The Public Utilities Commission will be asked to reconsider its vote in light of the new legislation and set the funding level at the intended $60 million.

Read the full story in the Portland Press Herald.

Image credit: And image courtesy of Maine Association of Building Energy Professionals.

Bowdoin College Earns EPA Award for Energy Efficiency Efforts
07/01/2015 - 4:42pm

Solar panels atop Bowdoin's Farley Field House and Watson Arena Image courtesy of Bowdoin CollegeOn July 1, 2015, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine was recognized by EPA with a 2015 Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award. CHP technology produces electricity and useful heat simultaneously from a single energy source, such as natural gas, oil, or biomass. For hospital systems and universities, CHP systems can also provide reliability benefits which ensure that these facilities’ operations can continue in the event of power outages.

This award recognizes Bowdoin College for the superior efficiency of its CHP system that produces 630 kW of electricity and steam that provides space heating and hot water to 1.4 million square feet across 56 campus buildings. Bowdoin’s CHP system, designed by RMF Engineering, includes an oil or natural gas-fired boiler and a 630 kW steam turbine. With an operating efficiency of nearly 87 percent, the CHP system requires approximately 12 percent less fuel than grid-supplied electricity and conventional steam production. The system also avoids emissions of air pollutants, including an estimated 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equal to the emissions from the generation of electricity used by nearly 130 homes.

Follow links for more information about EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership or on Energy Star CHP awards.

Image: Solar panels atop Bowdoin's Farley Field House and Watson Arena. Image courtesy of Bowdoin College.

King Proposes Bill to Promote Personal Energy Independence
06/01/2015 - 12:20pm

Senator Angus King of Maine image courtesy of Angus KingOn May 6, 2015, Senator Angus King of Maine introduced The Free Market Energy Act of 2015, which would establish a set of parameters for the governance of distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar power, stored energy or demand response. Existing policies discourage investment in DER. For example, utilities may levy expensive grid-connection fees on consumers who pursue newer technologies, while current net metering formulas may not properly compensate grid owners when these new technologies are connected.

The proposed act would protect the right of consumers to connect their distributed resources to the grid for a reasonable price while also ensuring that grid owners and operators receive proper compensation to maximize the potential of DER in relation to the grid. The act would also retain the authority of each state to design its own set of rules within its parameters, to properly reflect the state’s needs.

Read the bill here.

Efficiency Maine Increases Incentives on Heat Pump Water Heaters
05/01/2015 - 11:03am

diagram of a heat pump water heater image courtesy of US DOEEfficiency Maine has announced that effective April 15, 2015, the mail-in rebate on qualifying heat pump water heaters will be increased from $100 to $300.

This means that, after rebates, a $1,000 heat pump water heater costs only $300 more than a traditional electric water heater. With average savings of $250/yr, a heat pump water heater will pay for itself in 1.2 years - an 83% return on investment after taxes, according to Efficiency Maine.

Learn more here.

Dimmable LED Street Lights to Save Big at Brunswick Landing
04/16/2015 - 11:44am

A worker installs LED street lighting at Brunswick Landing in Maine image courtesy of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment AuthorityBrunswick Landing has become the first demonstration site in the US to use radio-frequency controls to dim LED street lights at times and locations of low traffic. Pemco Holdings, LLC, which managed and financed the project, announced its completion in April of 2015.

The cost of the conversion from sodium and metal halide fixtures to dimmable LED's will be paid for from the expected 85% savings on the cost of lighting at the former naval air station. Pemco has raised another $30 million to finance similar projects.

Read the full article here.

Image courtesy of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

Public Utilities Commission Cuts Efficiency Maine Budget
03/22/2015 - 9:07pm

Efficiency Maine logoOn March 17, 2015, the Maine Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 in favor of cutting the budget for Efficiency Maine's programs from $60 million to $22 million per year. Commissioners Mark Vannoy and Carlisle McLean, both LePage appointees, cast the 2 votes to cut the budget.

Michael Stoddard, Executive Director of Efficiency Maine, said of the cuts, "We would stop having heating programs or programs to save peoples' heating levels through weatherization and high-efficiency heating systems, plus we still wouldn't have enough to reach our electricity-saving obligations".

Environmental groups plan to appeal the decision.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.