Friday, January 30, 2009

Electric Cooperatives Send Line Crews To Kentucky

/PRNewswire/ -- Personnel from 12 electric membership corporations (EMCs) in Georgia and Georgia Transmission Corp. are headed to Kentucky to help the state restore power to areas hardest hit by the recent winter storm.

"Being an electric co-op means calling upon your neighbors during emergencies," says Jim Wright, Georgia EMC Vice President of Training, Education & Safety. "We have an unwritten agreement that says if we're in trouble, they help us. In return, we help them."

Nearly 100 workers began leaving yesterday from Carroll EMC in Carrollton, Central Georgia EMC in Jackson, Cobb EMC in Marietta, Coweta-Fayette EMC in Newnan, Flint Energies in Reynolds, Diverse Power in LaGrange, Georgia Transmission Corp. in Tucker, Habersham EMC in Clarkesville, Hart EMC in Hartwell, Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington, Southern Rivers in Barnesville, Walton EMC in Monroe and Washington EMC in Sandersville. Additional crews are on standby, should they be needed.

EMC crews from Georgia will be working to restore power to approximately 200,000 co-op customers following reports of massive power outages due to thick layers of snow and ice causing downed trees and power lines. Georgia Transmission has sent two transmission line repair crews to Kentucky, and is likely to provide additional support as requests are received. Due to the extent of damage to distribution and transmission lines, some customers could be without power for several days.

The EMCs in Georgia have vast experience in restoring power following major weather events. In addition to recent efforts in Georgia, EMC crews have worked alongside electric co-ops in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas to repair damage to the distribution system in the aftermath of winter storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state's 42 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Through this statewide network, the 42 customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to nearly four million people, nearly half of Georgia's population, across 73% of the state's land area. Georgia's 42 electric cooperatives now serve more customers than any other state network of EMCs in the nation.

Georgia Transmission Corp. plans, builds and maintains a transmission system of more than 2,700 miles of power lines and nearly 600 substations. The company also jointly plans and operates most of Georgia's 17,500 miles of transmission lines and substations with Georgia Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Ocean Power Technologies and Lockheed Martin Announce Collaboration for Utility Wave Power Project

/PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) and Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) (NASDAQ:OPTT) (NASDAQ:and London) (NASDAQ:Stock) (NASDAQ:Exchange) (NASDAQ:AIM:) (NASDAQ:OPT) announced they have signed a letter of intent to collaborate in the development of a utility-scale wave power generation project in North America.

Lockheed Martin and OPT intend to enter into an agreement under which OPT would provide its project and site development expertise, build the power take-off and control systems of the plant, and provide its proprietary PowerBuoy(R) technology. Lockheed Martin would provide construction, systems integration and deployment of the plant, as well as operations and maintenance services.

This is the first agreement between the two companies for a utility-scale renewable energy project and builds on their previous work together on systems for U.S. homeland security and maritime surveillance consisting of OPT's unique autonomous PowerBuoy integrated with Lockheed Martin's advanced acoustic sensors, signal processing and communications systems.

OPT's PowerBuoy wave generation system uses a "smart" buoy to capture and convert wave energy into low-cost, clean electricity. The generated power is transmitted ashore via an underwater power cable. The prospective wave power project between Lockheed Martin and OPT is expected to be off the coasts of either California or Oregon.

Dr. George W. Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of OPT, said "We are pleased to announce these plans to work with Lockheed Martin to pursue a utility-scale power station using our PowerBuoy technology. This collaboration will serve to draw on the key strengths of each company, and leverage our respective commitments to renewable energy as both the U.S. federal and state governments increase their investment in the sector. We believe that our existing and prospective customers will highly value the combined innovation and execution capability this match brings to the marketplace."

"This agreement is another step in Lockheed Martin's effort to support our national security through energy independence built around zero-emission renewable energy sources," said Howard Luebcke, Lockheed Martin director of Renewable Energy Business Development. "The depth and breadth of Lockheed Martin's systems engineering, procurement, manufacturing and process improvement capabilities, combined with OPT's innovative PowerBuoy technology and their project development experience, will promote the rapid deployment of utility-scale systems."

In November 2007, Lockheed Martin teamed with Starwood Energy Group to pursue utility solar generation projects in North America and has been pursuing multiple utility-scale opportunities. In December 2008, Lockheed Martin broke ground for construction of a solar power test bed to support these efforts, demonstrating its systems engineering and resources commitment to the renewable power generation market.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Georgia Republican Delegation Calls on Obama to Allow Offshore Drilling, Development of Oil Shale Fields

The nine Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation today called on President Obama to scrap plans to halt exploration of our domestic energy resources. News reports say Obama plans to re-impose a ban on offshore drilling and to rescind a plan to develop oil shale fields in the western United States.

The letter to Obama was signed by Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss as well as by U.S. Representatives Jack Kingston, Tom Price, Lynn Westmoreland, Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, Nathan Deal and John Linder. The text of the letter is below:

January 22, 2009

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write in regards to recent news reports that your Administration is considering ordering a hold on an executive order issued by President Bush to allow offshore drilling in previously banned areas. These same news reports indicate that the Department of Interior will rescind a plan to develop oil shale fields in the western United States. We respectfully write to ask that you not reinstate an executive moratorium on offshore energy exploration and production and that you not rescind the Department of Interior plan for oil shale exploration and recovery.

Environmentally responsible offshore oil and natural gas exploration and recovery, as well as oil shale exploration and recovery, are essential components of a comprehensive energy policy that will enable the United States to become energy independent. Exploration and recovery of these resources is critical to our national security and economic wellbeing. We believe allowing for exploration in these areas is also consistent with your priorities of economic growth and environmental protection.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

USDA Approves First Ever Guaranteed Loan for Commercial-Scale Cellulose Ethanol Plant

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced last week that USDA Rural Development has approved the first ever loan guarantee to a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The $80 million loan to Range Fuels Inc., Soperton, Ga., comes from the Section 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

"The investment in this facility - which will make cellulosic ethanol from wood chips - has the potential to significantly advance the timetable for second generation ethanol production in this country," Schafer said. "I visited the pilot plant last October and was excited to see how well the technology works. The funding announced today helps the Bush administration fulfill its commitment to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by developing alternative, renewable energy sources. USDA is proud to work with the private sector to lead this important breakthrough in renewable energy production."

The Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels - defined as fuels that are not produced from food sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project. The program is designed to create energy-related jobs and economic development in rural America. The loan to Range Fuels is approved subject to conditions.

The project is expected to produce an estimated 63 jobs. When fully operational in 2010, the plant is expected to produce approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested more than $111 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 2 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Continuous Descent: Saving Fuel and Reducing Noise for Airliners

Airline passengers arriving in Atlanta on early morning “redeye” flights during the past few months may have noticed something different during their descent to the runway. Instead of the typical sound of engine power rising and falling as the aircraft descended in a series of level flight steps, they may have noticed a quieter arrival – without the steps.

The changes were part of Georgia Tech’s flight-testing of “continuous descent arrivals,” a procedure designed to save fuel and time while producing environmental benefits by reducing both noise and emissions. Involving more than 600 flights, the Atlanta study was done in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), FedEx and Atlanta’s two dominant air carriers: Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways.

The continuous descent arrival procedure has already been studied at Louisville and Los Angeles airports. Proponents hope the 90-day test at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – currently the nation’s busiest airport – will move the concept one step closer to nationwide implementation. Estimates suggest that continuous descent arrivals could save a large airline as much as $80 million per year in fuel costs alone.

“In commercial aircraft, we see anywhere between 300 and 1,000 pounds of fuel saved for each arrival,” said John-Paul Clarke, director of the Air Transportation Laboratory at Georgia Tech and an associate professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering. “With fuel cost at $3 per gallon, that would amount to as much as $600 per arrival and could really add up for the airlines at a time when they need all the savings they can get.”

Because aircraft engines don’t throttle up and down during a continuous descent arrival, there are also significant reductions in noise and emissions. Keeping engines at idle power can cut emissions of nitrogen oxides by nearly a third, and reduce noise by 6 decibels along certain portions of the flight path – both significant reductions that would improve the environment in the vicinity of airports.

And the technique could cut two minutes off the approach and landing portion of a flight. While that doesn’t seem like much, it could result in more efficient utilization of aircraft and reductions in flight times for crews.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the nation’s busiest.

Continuous descent arrival is one in a series of improvements aimed at creating the next generation of air transportation technologies. The goal is to redesign the airspace to allow future airliners to travel the most efficient paths to their destinations.

Though the final numbers from the Atlanta evaluation won’t be known for several months, the potential savings have been demonstrated by more than 60,000 landings at Los Angeles with a continuous descent arrival technique developed by Georgia Tech. But adopting the procedure throughout the airspace system won’t be easy. Safety considerations must be paramount, and there are a number of optimization challenges caused by widely varying aircraft types, wind conditions and airport configurations.

“Imagine a line of aircraft descending through a long tube that’s fixed laterally and limited vertically to be within a narrow band,” explained Clarke. “If each airplane were like a ball with a different coefficient of friction, then when you put the balls in the tube at equal intervals, they would begin to catch up with one another. The ball with the lower coefficient would tend to catch up with the ball with a higher coefficient. That’s something that we have to work very hard to avoid.”

While the risks of getting aircraft too close are obvious – and governed by FAA rules on minimum spacing – too much spacing between landing aircraft can waste time and reduce airport throughput.

“The goal is to design a procedure that allows the aircraft engines to throttle back to idle power at the point of initial descent and to remain at idle power along the flight path to the runway as long as possible,“ Clarke added. “We have figured out how to put altitude and speed constraints along the flight path so they can stay at idle power as long as possible while achieving the required minimal spacing at the runway threshold.”

Determining those constraints requires detailed knowledge of the performance of each aircraft type in use. Clarke and his research team have obtained performance data for most Boeing aircraft, as well as some of those manufactured by Airbus. Based on the performance data, they have simulated the operation of each aircraft type under varying wind and weight conditions.

The researchers have also modeled variation in pilot behavior, because small differences in when flaps are deployed and landing gear lowered create variations in speed, which affect aircraft spacing.

Arrivals would be customized for each airport, taking into account wind and traffic patterns. And because the spacing between aircraft is determined well before they arrive at their destinations, adoption of the technique will require changes in the nation’s air traffic control system.

“The air traffic control system currently isn’t designed to allow the kind of fine-tuning we need, but I’m very optimistic about being able to change that,” said Clarke. “Throughout all the areas, the FAA and the airlines, there is a growing acceptance that this is a solution. We have been able to do the analysis, the flight-testing and the number crunching to show that it can be done.”

Clarke, who began the research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining Georgia Tech in 2005, believes the cost savings will ensure adoption of continuous descent arrivals. He compared the technique to the adoption of fuel-saving winglets, small vertical attachments that have replaced traditional wingtips on many aircraft.

“For years people knew that winglets provided better performance, but it costs money to install them,” he added. “When fuel got more expensive, airlines started installing winglets because the savings justified the costs. The benefits of continuous descent arrival may also take some time to be realized.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Research Horizons, Georgia Tech’s research magazine.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Governor Perdue Recommends Phil Foil for GEFA Executive Director

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Phil Foil, deputy commissioner of operations and federal affairs for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is his recommended choice to succeed Chris Clark as the executive director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA). The GEFA board of directors will meet January 27, to consider the Governor’s recommendation.

“It is my privilege to recommend Phil Foil as GEFA’s new executive director,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “Phil is a respected leader at DCA and throughout state government. The GEFA staff and the customers they serve will benefit greatly from his leadership.”

GEFA provides financial assistance and administers programs that encourage stewardship of the environment and promote economic development statewide. GEFA is the lead state agency for energy planning and alternative fuels; manages Conserve Georgia, the Governor’s Energy Challenge and the Georgia Land Conservation Program; maintains state-owned fuel storage tanks; and offers financing for reservoir and water supply, water quality, storm water, solid waste and recycling infrastructure.

“I deeply appreciate the Governor’s recommendation that I serve as the GEFA executive director,” said Phil Foil. “Through its many programs and initiatives, GEFA promotes sustainable economic development and the conservation of Georgia’s natural resources. I look forward to this mission that is so vital to the future of our state.”

Foil, 41, has served in a senior management position with DCA since July 2003. He currently manages the agency’s operations and serves as DCA’s federal affairs and congressional liaison. Foil successfully led DCA’s pursuit of the 2008 Georgia Oglethorpe Progress Award (the Georgia version of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award). Prior to joining DCA, Foil was a public relations consultant and a client services manager for Automatic Data Processing (ADP).

Foil earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Georgia. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Leadership Institute’s Executive Development Program and the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ Advanced Executive Development Program at Notre Dame University.

Foil resides in Winder with his wife, Paula, and their two daughters.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Stimulus Package to Include $25 Billion for Renewable Energy

/PRNewswire/ -- Congressional leaders together with Barack Obama's new Cabinet are planning a $25 Billion stimulus package in order to meet the President-elect's goal of doubling renewable energy production in the next three years, according to a report in Sunday's Washington Post.

President-elect Obama's Cabinet favors an $8.6 billion extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit, a program that speeds-up the building of new wind power generation projects. In addition, a bi-partisan initiative first backed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) for a National Clean Energy Lending Authority, is likely to be approved by the Obama team. The new agency could receive as much as $10 billion to extend low-interest loans, grants or guarantees to wind, solar and other renewable energy projects.

In the wind sector, most turbine manufacturers are foreign owned and not likely to qualify for stimulus dollars. Analysts expect U.S. based wind power project builders, to be big winners. New Jersey's NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) which just completed its second wind project in the Texas Panhandle, has received a buy recommendation from UBS. Another wind power company with two projects underway in the Texas Panhandle is Denver based Nacel Energy (OTC Bulletin Board: NCEN). CNBC guest analyst Francis Gaskins has a $4 price target on the company. Nacel Energy closed yesterday at $1.15.

There are even more U.S. companies to like in the solar sector. Analysts at Stanford Capital have issued a buy on Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ:ESLR) with a $3.70 target. Evergreen is based in Marlboro, MA, and is a leading manufacturer of integrated solar modules. Needham and Co. has a buy on New Mexico's Emcore (NASDAQ:EMKR) and a $2 price target. Both Emcore's semiconductors and Evergreen's solar modules expected to benefit from increasing demand as the Obama stimulus plan is implemented over the coming months.

A Before the Bell(TM) renewable energy update.

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Protecting Indoor Air Quality Required as Homes Go Green

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just like an old neighborhood as it gentrifies, so is the residential construction industry as it undergoes a significant shift from old ways of building to new sustainable (green) practices. With this change, comes a requirement to insure healthy indoor air for those inside, while protecting the natural resources of our planet outside. Architects, homebuilders and contractors are learning that a homeowner's right for non-toxic, healthy indoor environments ranks right up there with energy and environmental conservation.

Results of a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw-Hill bear this out in terms of market share and homeowner attitudes. For example, the U.S. residential green building market is expected to double in size garnering 12% to 20% ($40 billion to $70 billion) market share by 2012. The survey results also showed that 70% of homebuyers were more apt to buy green even in today's economic climate, and 87% were at least moderately knowledgeable about green home construction. Homeowners cited lower operating costs through energy savings (91%), having a healthier place to live (84%) and environmental concerns (80%) as the top three most important reasons for buying green homes.

Yet, according to the survey results, which were reported in the McGraw-Hill Construction 2008 SmartMarket Reports, builders still tend to focus more on energy and environmental conservation in their selection of green features, such as tight construction, insulation, Energy Star(R) products and water-efficient plumbing. While these features are excellent choices for lowering energy costs and conserving water, they may inadvertently contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

"As with commercial buildings, super tight, insulated homes with minimal ventilation and low air change rates can result in indoor mold growth and indoor air pollutants building up to levels that threaten occupant health. Conversely, pursuing good IAQ without considering the efficient use of energy may unnecessarily increase construction and energy costs, create financial hardships for families, and increase emissions of greenhouse gases, thereby contributing to outdoor air pollution" said Tony Worthan, President of Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS).

A new white paper from AQS, titled Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Benefits of Achieving Both in Homes, explains the importance of balancing the efficient use of energy with good indoor air quality. It also emphasizes that all those involved in building and renovating homes must strive towards adopting one defining common set of green principles that place equal emphasis on energy efficiency and protecting occupant health (good IAQ). The two must work in concert with one another. In addition, this white paper reviews who is most at risk from indoor air pollution, common indoor air contaminants found in homes, their sources, health impacts and what steps can be taken to achieve efficient use of energy and good IAQ.

This white paper completes a three-part series on energy and indoor air quality. The other two papers in the series, Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Partnering to Protect Human Health, and Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Lessons From the Past Have Relevance for the Future, are recommended reading to gain a valuable perspective on the interdependence of IAQ and energy conservation and the benefits of considering them as primary and complementary goals for healthy indoor environments. All three white papers are available free of charge from the Aerias-AQS Indoor Air Quality Resource Center at, Premium Content tab / White Papers.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Georgia Power Announces Energy-Savings Tips for the Winter

/PRNewswire/ -- Winter is here and with it frigid cold temperatures. Now is the best time to start thinking about ways to save on your energy bill.

To keep warm and cut down on your energy use, try these helpful energy-saving tips around your house all winter.

-- Wrap water pipes. This will reduce heat loss from your hot water lines and help to prevent your pipes from freezing. The best type of wrap to use is "foam pipe wrap" that you can find at hardware stores for an inexpensive price.

-- Caulk or re-caulk around windows and doors. This helps keep the cold out and the heat in. If your caulking is cracked, remove it and reseal with new caulk.

-- Change your air filters. This should be done every month or so to help your unit's air exchange and indoor air quality. Dirty filters can increase your system's operating costs, damage equipment and reduce efficiency.

-- Have your heating or cooling system professionally checked to make sure it is running properly. This can prolong the life of your system, as well as reduce operating costs.

-- Insulate your water heater with at least R-6 insulation. Read your water heater manufacturer's warranty to make sure it's not voided by adding a water heater jacket. Do not cover the pressure release valve when you wrap the water heater.

-- Check weather stripping around doors, windows and between heated and unheated areas of your home - such as garages, basements, attics, etc. A good check to see if stripping needs changing: close your door; if you see light coming through, the stripping needs changing.

-- If you have a gas heater or furnace, make sure you get a carbon monoxide detector before using the unit.

-- Make sure your pilot light (gas furnace) is lighted before the winter season starts. If you are not sure about lighting it yourself, call a heating and cooling professional to do it.

-- Keep the thermostat on your heating system at the lowest comfortable setting. Georgia Power recommends 68 degrees Fahrenheit. On the average, you consume five percent more energy for every degree it's set above 68 degrees. Consider using a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature automatically according to your schedule.

-- If you are going away for several days, lower the thermostat to 60 degrees, but not to "off." By setting the thermostat at 60, there will be less strain on your heating system when you return and it's time to reheat the house. Also, having some heat in the house will prevent damage, such as frozen or burst water pipes, from outside freezing temperatures.

-- Keep heating vents and registers clear. Make sure they are not blocked by draperies or furniture. The vents should also be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or broom.

-- Let the sun shine in. On sunny days, open drapes or blinds to allow natural solar heat to warm the house. Keep drapes and blinds closed on cloudy days and at night. Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows facing the north side of the house.

-- Make sure fireplace dampers fit tightly, and keep them closed when not using the fireplace. Add a glass fireplace screen, if possible.

-- Cover bare floors. Carpeting adds to comfort and heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.

-- Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. Adding moisture allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling colder.

-- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to help maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Check the switch located on your ceiling fan or refer to your owner's manual for the proper direction of rotation.

-- If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can't be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.

-- Check the R-value of insulation in your home. For existing homes, Georgia Power recommends R-30 in the ceiling, R-13 in the walls and R-11 in the floor for maximum comfort and energy efficiency. R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

$900 Million in Energy Conservation Contracts Awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced the awarding of sixteen contracts for energy conservation measures under the Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) program. These contracts are third-party financing tools to help achieve mandated energy reduction goals in accordance with the National Energy Conservation Policy Act. The contracts are to be used for government installations or facilities throughout the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, District of Columbia, U.S. Territories and possessions. The contracts have a five-year base ordering period and one optional five-year ordering period with a possible payback period of up to twenty five (25) years from the time of award. The total capacity of these contracts is $900 million which is split between sixteen Energy Service Companies (ESCOs).

The Federal Government is the largest single user of energy in the United States and these awards demonstrate its commitment to sound government stewardship by recognizing efforts to save energy, reduce federal energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, promote cutting-edge technologies, strengthen national security and create a stronger economy. Lime Energy's (NASDAQ:LIME) subsidiary, Applied Energy Management (AEM) has a long history of servicing ESCOs under ESPC and Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) programs. Last month the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the award of $80 billion under a new set of IDIQ programs to sixteen ESCOs that include current AEM customers.

"AEM has been serving ESCOs through IDIQ and ESPC contracts for over 12 years," stated John O'Rourke, President and CEO of Applied Energy Management, a subsidiary of Lime Energy. "We currently work with 10 of the 16 ESCOs awarded contracts by the Army Corps of Engineers and hope to develop relationships with additional companies as part of this new program. In addition to our experience in energy efficiency, we are also looking forward to incorporating our renewable energy construction experience in geothermal, solar and biomass for projects under the new program."

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Efficiency and Conservation Key to Meeting Rising Energy Demand, Southern Company CEO Says

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Energy efficiency and conservation will play an increasingly important role in meeting rising energy demand, said Southern Company (NYSE:SO) Chairman, President and CEO David M. Ratcliffe during the National Association of Regulators and Utility Commissioner's Anybody Can Serve, So Let's Conserve energy efficiency campaign launch. Ratcliffe also noted that along with efficiency and conservation as first choices, a diverse portfolio of generation resources including renewables, new nuclear and advanced coal technologies would be crucial in meeting customers' electricity needs.

Anybody Can Serve, So Let's Conserve is a campaign designed to help inform consumers about the many ways to move toward a more affordable, energy efficient, eco-friendly society by making conservation efforts more accessible, affordable and practical.

Addressing a broad audience including utility commissioners, federal and state lawmakers, consumer advocates and utility CEOs, Ratcliffe noted that energy efficiency programs have a history of helping Southern Company and other utilities meet demand. "Between 1989 and 2005, such programs saved enough electricity to power 74 million average U.S. homes for one year," said Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe also noted that demand-side and energy efficiency efforts have helped Southern Company avoid building more than 3,000 megawatts of peaking capacity since the 1990s, which is enough energy to power nearly half a million homes. "Over the next decade that number will grow by at least another 1,000 megawatts," Ratcliffe continued. "Between now and 2020, we will invest more than $1 billion in energy efficiency programs for our customers."

Southern Company recently launched a program called EarthCents that is designed to reduce customers' energy use and save them money. It includes initiatives ranging from energy audits, weatherization, direct load control, geothermal heating and cooling, as well as homebuilder programs, smart meters and real-time pricing.

Ratcliffe noted that public awareness campaigns like Anybody Can Serve, So Let's Conserve, school partnerships, interactive Web sites, and personal contact are key to helping customers use energy more wisely. "While we do these things now, this new campaign is a creative approach that will help us be even more effective," he said.

Ratcliffe concluded his remarks by emphasizing the need for increased collaboration between federal and state governments, business leaders and the environmental community to meet the energy challenges facing this nation.

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Obama Inauguration to Highlight Dramatic 'Green Energy' Agenda

/PRNewswire/ -- President-Elect Barack Obama will take office January 20th with the strongest commitment to renewable energy of any President in history. Obama's widely anticipated inauguration speech is expected to highlight bold new national policies to speed America's transition to a renewable energy economy.

-- Construction of a high-voltage "interstate highway" system to bring more wind and solar energy to America's major cities.

-- A national policy mandating America's electric utilities to buy a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind - the most readily available, abundant and affordable sources of green energy.

-- Aggressive near-term targets to reduce America's dependence upon imported oil to address both global warming and national security.

Wind and solar energy companies, already coming off a year of record growth in 2008, are expected to gain new momentum through the inauguration and first 100 days as the new Obama administration implements its green agenda.

Growth and investment in the solar industry is focused on manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) laminate - which convert sunlight to renewable energy. Analysts at Lazard Capital Markets confirmed buy ratings on leading PV suppliers Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER) and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) .

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Global Energy Systems Signs Subcontractor Agreement with Georgia Utility

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global Energy Systems, a subsidiary of the diversified renewable energy company Global Energy Holdings Group, Inc. (NYSE Alternext US: GNH), today announced it has signed a subcontractor agreement with AGL Services Company, a subsidiary of AGL Resources, the parent company of six natural gas utilities including Atlanta Gas Light. Under the terms of the agreement, Global Energy will develop a variety of services involving energy conservation measures at Atlanta Gas Light’s customer owned facilities.

“This agreement with AGL Resources opens up a number of opportunities for Global Energy in the stable gas utility market,” said Mike Ellis, President of Global Energy Systems. “We are committed to developing energy conservation initiatives and providing alternative energy to AGL Resources’ customers.”

Atlanta Gas Light serves more than 1.5 million residential, commercial, industrial and governmental customers in 243 communities throughout Georgia. Global Energy will institute conservation measures to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency at Atlanta Gas Light’s service locations. Global Energy Systems will also identify and market energy management services to U.S. Government facilities affiliated with AGL Resources and Atlanta Gas Light. The subcontractor agreement runs through November 2011.

“AGL Resources is looking forward to working with Global Energy in our efforts to reduce our environmental impact and expand our renewable energy offerings,” said Donna Peeples, Chief Marketing Officer, AGL Resources.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Big Homes, 1-Person Households are Main Causes of Consumer Energy Waste, Study Finds

/PRNewswire/ -- Changes in household size and home construction have been the main causes of over-consumption of energy by American consumers, according to a new study released today by SMR Research Corporation.

A reversal of these trends, SMR noted, would dramatically reduce U.S. energy use. Yet, household demographics and home building are seldom mentioned in the debates over global warming and energy independence.

SMR's study, Consumer Energy Spending And The Demographics Of Over-Consumption, is based on detailed interviews with more than 27,000 households.

Single-person households, which have grown at triple the rate of overall population growth since 1960, use 18.4% more energy per capita than two-person households do, SMR found. They use 52.8% more energy per capita than three-person households.

Even when excluding households with children, since they do not drive, per-capita energy use is far higher among single-person households than any others, SMR found.

SMR also found that people in houses with 10 or more rooms use 18.8% more energy than people in 8-room homes, and 31.3% more than people in 7-room homes -- regardless of the age of the home. The average square footage of newly built homes has increased by some 34% since 1980, SMR noted.

"This study shows that energy conservationists need a new public message," said SMR President Stuart A. Feldstein. "The old focus on things like home insulation and auto fleet mileage is incomplete. People who decide to live alone, now more than one of every four households, and people who buy the McMansions, are those who squander our energy resources."

The SMR study reviewed household spending on six major energy products: electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, heating oil, and bottled gas. Tables in the study show spending per household and per capita on all the products combined, as well as on each individual product, based on the demographic, financial, and housing characteristics of the interviewees.

Among other findings of the study:

-- Spending data belie the notion that the most educated consumers are
the most sensitive to energy conservation. Instead, people with
Master's degrees or higher spend more on energy per household and per
person than any others.

-- Energy spending per person rises along with incomes.

-- There is poor correlation between energy spending and the age of a
home, suggesting that by now, people in older homes have already taken
such steps as adding insulation. The housing characteristics that do
correlate powerfully with energy spending are size and value.

-- Household density is the key problem in over-consumption. In 2007, the
U.S. hit a new record low of 2.56 persons per household. The data show
that Americans are now spending 29.6% more on energy per capita than
in 1960, based solely on the decline in density.

-- Households headed up by young adults and by Hispanic persons are the
most frugal energy users. Households headed by persons aged 75 or
more spend the least per capita on motor fuels, but spend the most per
capita on electricity, natural gas, and heating oil.

SMR's study is based on its work with the "micro-data" files of the Consumer Expenditures Survey (CES), conducted by the Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These large, complex files contain raw data on household spending on hundreds of products, allowing a researcher to isolate any product and compare spending patterns to the characteristics of families. SMR used data from 27,159 household interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007, the most recent available.

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GridWise Alliance Releases Smart Grid Jobs Report: 280,000 New U.S. Jobs Tied Directly to Smart Grid Deployment

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a Smart Grid Jobs Report released today by the GridWise Alliance, it is estimated that up to 280,000 new jobs can be created directly from the deployment of smart grid technologies. The report explains that Federal investment in a smart grid could act as a catalyst for these planned and immediate direct jobs as well as spawn many indirect jobs.

The Smart Grid Jobs Report was written by GridWise member company, KEMA, Inc. In addition to the 280,000 direct jobs, the report notes that a smart grid will drive a substantial number of indirect jobs as it enables the deployment of new technologies such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, distributed renewable energy resources such as solar, smart appliances, home automation software and hardware, and wind energy generation. The report does not quantify the number of these indirect jobs. To view the full report visit

"Increasingly a smart grid is seen as a key enabler for the new energy economy and as such, is foundational for the millions of 'green collar jobs' President-Elect Obama is aiming for," says Guido Bartels, Chairman of the GridWise Alliance and General Manager Global Energy & Utilities Industry at IBM.

The report projects that a $16 billion Federal investment in smart incentives over the next four years would drive $64 billion in smart grid related projects resulting in approximately 280,000 new direct positions across various categories. "Over 150,000 of these jobs would be created by the end of 2009 and nearly 140,000 newly created high-value positions would become permanent after a smart grid deployment," explained Ralph Masiello, Sr. VP, Energy Systems Consulting, KEMA, Inc.

"We know first-hand that a smart grid allows our electric infrastructure to be more reliable, resilient, and secure. There is also a growing consensus that a smart grid is one of the critical and necessary enablers for optimizing renewable resources, maximizing energy efficiency, and unleashing the potential of distributed energy storage technologies," said Katherine Hamilton, President of the GridWise Alliance.

President-Elect Obama and key Senate and House leaders have frequently mentioned a smart grid as an economic and infrastructure booster. The GridWise Alliance, with 70 members from all across the energy value chain, believes that a smart grid is essential to achieving goals for integrating energy from renewable resources and energy efficiency technologies such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

"A smart grid will enable a transformed electric supply sector and related job creation; incentivize a strong domestic market for U.S. smart grid technology firms; and create high value permanent positions in the energy economy," concludes Hamilton.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Green Power EMC Awarded Nation's Leading Voluntary Certification for Renewable Energy

/PRNewswire/ -- Green Power EMC (GPEMC) announced today that its renewable energy program received Green-e Energy(TM) Certification from the Center for Resource Solutions, the nation's leading certification and verification program for renewable energy.

The Green-e Energy Certification program provides independent, third-party certification to ensure renewable energy meets strict environmental and consumer protection standards. GPEMC joins a network of more than 150 certified Green-e Energy Certified suppliers that market almost 10 million megawatt hours of renewable energy annually.

"With Green Power EMC being the first renewable energy program in Georgia, and now one of the largest programs in the southeastern United States, the Green-e Energy certification validates the significance of what we have accomplished and recognizes our potential for achieving even more," says Michael Whiteside, president of GPEMC. "It was an extremely rigorous process, and the certification signals that our program meets national as well as local environmental standards," he adds.

For over a decade, the Center for Resource Solutions has been certifying renewable energy that meets environmental and consumer protection standards it developed in conjunction with leading environmental, energy and policy organizations. The Center also requires that sellers of certified renewable energy disclose clear and useful information to potential customers, allowing consumers to make informed choices.

Providers of Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy agree to abide by the Green-e Energy Code of Conduct and meet strict disclosure and truth-in- advertising requirements. All marketers of Green-e Energy Certified products undergo an annual verification audit to document that the company purchased and/or generated enough renewable energy, both in terms of quantity and type, to meet customer demand and marketing claims.

Through the GPEMC program, 38 of the state's electric cooperatives, representing more than 1.6 million homes, businesses, factories and farms, have signed on to offer their members renewable energy. Because green power costs more to generate than electricity from traditional sources, some participating EMCs offer their members the opportunity to purchase green power on an individual basis, while others incorporate the green power into their pricing structure.

"We're pleased to offer our members easy access to certified, locally- produced renewable energy," says Whiteside. "The Green Power program offers a convenient, yet effective way for customers to make a significant contribution to energy conservation and efficiency, and the Green-e Energy Certification is one more way to let them know they are participating in a valuable program."

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