Monday, November 30, 2009

Georgia Consumers Compare Costs and Choices to Cut Heating Bills via Allconnect.com

(BUSINESS WIRE)--With temperatures falling and gas bills rising, Georgia consumers are ensuring they’re staying warm at the lowest price possible by comparing options at Allconnect.com.

Deregulation of the gas industry has expanded choices and introduced competition, both of which benefit consumers. The challenge is to keep up with the options and the offers. Allconnect.com is a free online resource to review and compare the costs and choices for natural gas, as well as other essential home services including high speed Internet, phone, cable TV, satellite TV, home security systems, and electricity.

By going to Allconnect.com and entering a home address, Georgia consumers instantly see the options, prices, and promotions for all the home service providers in their area, including natural gas. Promotions and pricing options, such as fixed rates versus variable rates, are presented; and plans can be evaluated easily by using a side-by-side comparison tool. Allconnect’s service is free and comes with a lowest-available price guarantee. Consumers can also call 1-800-ALLCONNECT to reach a Home Service Consultant who can explain specific options.

“With the deregulation of natural gas in Georgia, consumers realize they have a choice when it comes to providers. Now they also have a convenient resource for evaluating the choices,” said Mark Miller, Allconnect CEO. “Allconnect.com makes it simple and less time-consuming with a free, one-stop resource for comparing options, as well as the different rate plans and special offers.”

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GE Applauds the Department of Energy’s Announcement of Smart Grid Demonstration Projects across the Nation

(BUSINESS WIRE)--With one of the broadest portfolios in the industry for modernizing the electrical grid, GE (NYSE: GE) applauds the Department of Energy's selection of the smart grid demonstration projects which were announced today at American Electric Power’s Dolan Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio.

“The Department of Energy recognizes the importance of investing in innovative smart grid solutions to expedite the advancement of the commercialization of these transformative technologies,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president – transmission & distribution for GE Energy Services. “The smart grid demonstration projects announced this afternoon in Ohio will establish a ‘proving ground’ for next-generation smart grid tools, techniques and solutions—from advanced energy storage to smart appliances to the integration of plug-in electric vehicles. These grants support regional demonstrations that combine technologies to form holistic solutions, proving the business case for large-scale deployments."

Gilligan continued, “While the investment grants announced last month will contribute to projects based on 'commercially available' products, the demonstration money announced in Columbus will fund new technologies and approaches, helping to establish the United States as a global leader in smart grid advancement and opening doors for U.S. companies to become net exporters of advanced smart grid solutions.”

He concluded, “We applaud the federal government for its ongoing commitment to smart grid progress. Ultimately, these projects will help us identify the best approach for delivering reliability, efficiency and clean-energy technologies across the electrical network, while empowering consumers to better manage their energy consumption and costs. Our environment, our economy and our future will be better for it.”

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Georgia Power, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Forge Green Energy Partnership

/PRNewswire/ -- The nation's premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has signed a two-year contract with Georgia Power to purchase renewable energy for its centers nationwide.

The purchase of more than 364,600 blocks of green energy, or 5 percent of the organization's annual kilowatt-hour consumption, will make the CDC Georgia Power's largest Green Energy customer.

"This recent purchase by the CDC really demonstrates the agency's commitment to the environment and the development of renewable energy in Georgia and around the country," said Ervan Hancock, Georgia Power's renewable and green strategies manager. "By purchasing such a large number of blocks of green energy, the agency has clearly taken a leadership role among its counterparts and given a significant boost to the program."

By using environmentally friendly green energy generated from sources like the sun, wind, water, landfill methane and biomass, the CDC will help protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help promote the use of renewable energy in Georgia and support domestic self-reliance.

The CDC made its purchase through the large volume option of the Green Energy program. Georgia Power is currently getting most of its electricity for the program from a landfill methane-to-energy plant at the Seminole Landfill in DeKalb County.

Since Georgia Power began the Green Energy program in October 2006, more than 4,300 customers have committed to purchase in excess of 3 million kilowatt-hours of green energy, or enough electricity to power approximately 3,100 homes using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month.

Residential customers can purchase 100-kilowatt-hour blocks of Green Energy for $3.50 per block, which is added to their monthly electricity bill. They may also choose Green Energy that includes a solar component for $4.50 per block.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

The CDC is the nation's disease prevention and wellness promotion agency, protecting people's health and safety, providing credible information to enhance health decisions, and improving health through strong partnerships. The agency includes 18 institutes, centers and offices, with approximately 14,000, full-time, part-time and contract employees. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and in 54 countries.

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Reducing Greenhoue Gases May Not be Enough to Slow Climate Change

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone’s paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

“Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Stone. “Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole – a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs – like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress – may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming.”

According to Stone’s research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

“Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming,” said Stone. “The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media.”

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the “green loss effect” through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

“As we look to address the climate change issue from a land use perspective, there is a huge opportunity for local and state governments,” said Stone. “Presently, local government capacity is largely unharnessed in climate management structures under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Yet local governments possess extensive powers to manage the land use activities in both the urban and rural areas.”

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Southern Company Breaks Ground on Biomass Plant

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Power, the Southern Company subsidiary that acquires, builds, manages and owns wholesale generation assets, today took a major step in building one of the nation's largest biomass-fueled projects with a groundbreaking ceremony in Sacul, Texas.

"Southern Company continues to develop and deploy smarter and cleaner energy technologies, including increased energy efficiency, nuclear power, clean coal and renewables," said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company chairman, president and CEO. "This project represents another step in developing a diverse portfolio to meet the nation's growing energy demands."

"This is an exciting time for Southern Power as we expand our presence in the wholesale market and diversify our fuel mix with a renewable resource," said Southern Power President Ronnie Bates. "Southern Power has a reputation of helping its customers meet their energy needs in cost-effective, reliable and environmentally responsible manner and we're pleased to be a partner with Austin Energy on a project that supports their environmental goals."

Southern Power acquired the 100-megawatt project -- the Nacogdoches Generating Facility -- from American Renewables, LLC on Oct. 9, noting at the time that it would move ahead with construction and bring the plant on line in the summer of 2012. The plant's output is committed to Austin Energy in a 20-year agreement that will help the city of Austin, Texas, meet a 30-percent renewable energy goal.

As a Southern Company subsidiary, Southern Power supports the parent company's commitments to corporate responsibility, which include generating affordable and reliable electricity and reducing environmental impact. Southern Company has invested about $6.3 billion in environmental controls and plans to spend an additional $3.1 billion through 2011 to further reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury.

The company is committed to finding solutions to environmental issues that make technological, environmental, and economic sense.

The Nacogdoches plant is one of two Southern Company biomass projects. The Georgia Public Service Commission in March approved Georgia Power's application to convert its 96 megawatt Plant Mitchell near Albany, Ga., to biomass. Georgia Power is the Atlanta-based Southern Company subsidiary serving 2.25 million customers in 155 of Georgia's 159 counties.

Southern Company is evaluating the feasibility of converting five additional coal plants to biomass as well.

Construction of the Nacogdoches facility will take about 32 months and will generate about 300 construction jobs. Approximately 40 permanent jobs will be created to operate the plant.

Total cost of the project will be between $475 million and $500 million. The plant, which will be built on 165 acres, will be fueled with biomass materials, including forest residue from the surrounding areas, wood processing residues and clean municipal wood waste. The project will require approximately 1 million tons of fuel annually, which is planned to be procured within a 75-mile radius of the project site.

Southern Power is among the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. The company owns and operates more than 7,500 megawatts with facilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina and has an additional 820 megawatts committed to construction in North Carolina and Texas.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vendor Information Meetings Set for Plant Vogtle 3 and 4

Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear and The Shaw Group will host several supplier information meetings to familiarize local vendors with the procurement process for the new construction at Plant Vogtle.

Meetings are being held in the following locations: Waynesboro, Augusta, Savannah and Atlanta.

-- The Waynesboro meeting will be held Dec. 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Burke
County High School located at 1057 Burke Veterans Parkway in
Waynesboro.

-- The Augusta meeting will be held Dec. 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Augusta
Marriott Hotel and Suites located at Two 10th Street in Augusta.


At these sessions potential suppliers will learn more about the construction project and find out about available opportunities to provide products, materials and services to support construction.

Participants must register in advance at http://www.georgiapower.com/supplier/ . Space is limited on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Similar sessions will also be held in Savannah on Jan. 19, 2010, at the Savannah Marriott Riverfront Hotel and in Atlanta at the Georgia Power Corporate Headquarters on Jan. 27 and 28. Specific information on those meetings can also be found at the Web site.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, operates the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant near Baxley, Ga., the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant near Dothan, Ala. and the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

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Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers: Reduce Gasoline Costs, Pollution, CO2 Emissions with Drive Smarter Challenge Website, Resources

Whether driving to “Grandmother’s house” or anywhere else for the upcoming Thanksgiving and other holidays, you can start saving money on gasoline even before hitting the road with a little advance planning and basic vehicle maintenance. The Alliance to Save Energy’s Drive Smarter Challenge website (http://DriveSmarterChallenge.org) offers extensive money-saving tips for travelers as well as everyday drivers (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/Default.aspx).

If you also want a chuckle with your tips, watch how the four recently announced winners of the Drive Smarter Challenge video contest illustrated some of those fuel efficiency tips in wild and wacky ways – http://www.drivesmarterchallenge.org/contest.

The Drive Smarter Challenge website offers extensive resources that cover such questions as: Where can I find cheap gas along my travel route? Where can I rent a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle? What public transportation is available at my destination? (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/fuel-efficient-resources.aspx).

In this economy, it’s smart to practice more fuel-efficient driving. After all, why spend more than you have to – or create more unnecessary pollution and greenhouse gas emissions? It’s also useful to remember that although driving in cold weather decreases a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, drivers can empower themselves to reduce their gasoline costs in any season with simple fuel-efficiency steps.

Planning your road trip:

Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. Print a customized vacation map that highlights low-cost gas stations along your route using campaign website resources (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/fuel-efficient-resources.aspx). Or, navigate with a GPS system.

Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage if possible.

Rise and shine! When possible, drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.

Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination when possible.

Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles on the Drive Smarter Challenge website resources page.

Before you leave: maintenance tips

Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.

Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

On the road: driving tips

Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.

Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.

Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.

It’s a “drag.” Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.

Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.

Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don't fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.

Find out how to save hundreds of dollars a year on gas with your specific vehicle by taking six actions at www.drivesmarterchallenge.org. If you choose to take the challenge (commit to 1-6 actions), your savings on money, gasoline, and CO2 emissions will be added to the collective total of all who have taken the Drive Smarter Challenge – more than 40,000 people to date. The website fuel economy.gov reports that each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of CO2. That's about 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year for a typical vehicle.

The 17 partners of the award-winning Drive Smarter Challenge campaign include the Alliance to Save Energy, American Petroleum Institute, American Public Transportation Association, Bryan Herta Autosport, Car Care Council, Citizens for Affordable Energy, Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ExxonMobil, Green Solutions Magazine, League of American Bicyclists, NASCAR, National Association of Counties, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Independent Auto Dealers Association, National Fuel Funds Network, National Low Income Energy Consortium, and Rubber Manufacturers Association’s Be Tire Smart.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Electric Utilities Are Invited to Shed Light on Energy Efficiency

/PRNewswire/ -- Electric utilities across the country are invited to help bring consumers out of the dark about the importance of energy efficiency. Power companies can now provide easy access to information about their energy efficiency programs at no charge on www.ziptogreen.com, a new one-stop online resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. ZiptoGreen's user-friendly format can link consumers by ZIP Code to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs offered by their electric utility. A survey conducted by ZiptoGreen found that more than 75 percent of consumers do not connect to their utility for help in reducing energy consumption.

Beginning with the end of daylight savings time until the clocks move forward again, power companies can collaborate with ZiptoGreen to illuminate the importance of energy efficiency by providing links to their energy efficiency programs and incentives at no charge. When daylight savings time arrives in March, ZiptoGreen hopes consumers are "enlightened" about the importance of partnering with their utility to meet their energy reduction goals. Utilities that collaborate with ZiptoGreen during this period can become Charter Members and substantially reduce their participation fees thereafter.

"Many consumers are too busy and overwhelmed to spend time looking for programs offered by their utility company," says Julia Glenn Carter, founder and CEO of ZiptoGreen. "A comprehensive website was needed that gives residential consumers easy access to the wealth of energy efficiency solutions available right now, including those offered by utilities. Such a website is essential if we are going to tackle our energy challenges any time soon. Consumers need and want help reducing their monthly costs."

According to a report released in October by the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, a weak economy has contributed to lower energy consumption in both the commercial and residential sectors. Experts expect consumption to increase as the economy rebounds, however. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report released last week, modest but consistent growth from July to September suggests economic recovery has begun. While natural gas prices have fallen with the economy, coal prices for electricity generation are expected to increase by 7 percent, according to the EIA report.

ZiptoGreen helps consumers become energy efficient by making it easy for them to create and implement a customized action plan. Users of the website can see in real-time the impact actions have on estimated energy usage. When a user clicks on an incentive icon associated with a specific action, ZiptoGreen calls up a window with incentive information. Currently, federal tax incentive information is featured; however, participating utilities and state governments can provide incentive information on their programs by ZIP Code.

ZiptoGreen also provides ongoing support to help consumers achieve energy reduction goals. Users can schedule and receive email reminders of their actions. In addition, they are given a personal page to monitor and update their reduction plan, and product discount "rewards" to motivate action.

"Most people need a little hand holding to change a habit. How we consume energy is definitely a habit," says Carter.

From the personal page, ZiptoGreen supports users by providing links to local resources serving their ZIP Code, including the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs of participating utilities. The sustainability programs of cities that have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Program are also featured. Any community, however, can provide these links to their residents at no charge. Interested local governments should email ZiptoGreen at communities@ziptogreen.com.

User access to all resources on www.ziptogreen.com is free of charge.

ZiptoGreen was a featured link on the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy during its launch in Washington, D.C. The website is owned by LaCour Incorporated, a privately-held corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia. For additional information visit www.ziptogreen.com.

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