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Consumption of Renewable Energy Sources on the Rise

- Monday, May 23, 2011

The recent unrest in the Middle East also underscores the importance of weaning the United States of imported oil. The logic, on the surface, seems simple enough: more domestic fuel production yields greater consumer energy choice and reduced energy costs.

A key ingredient in bolstering the domestic energy supply is increasing production of renewable energy. And on that front, recent data from the US Energy Information Administration shows the country is making positive steps.

In its Annual Energy Review, the US EIA found that total consumption from renewable energy sources grew, with biofuels coming out on top. At the same time – and perhaps more encouragingly – the percent of energy consumed attributable to fossil fuels went down.

Continued momentum in expanding renewable energy sources, however, is not guaranteed. It takes a concerted effort from Congress and the Administration to incentivize companies to pursue these sources, and it takes citizens to remind the representatives that increased energy choice can help them save money.

Energy Deregulation Underscores the Importance of Third-Party Brokering Arrangements

- Friday, May 20, 2011

When properly executed, energy deregulation should be a boon to both customers and energy providers.

For customers, they have additional energy choice, and it’s this choice that can help them reduce their energy bills, as multiple providers are competing for their business.

And it’s these very same providers who can now go after previously un-tapped consumer energy markets and grow their business in the process.

But, as is always the case in life, things aren’t that simple.

Energy providers are certainly pleased to have a new consumer market to draw from, but accessing these would-be customers does not come cheap. Energy providers are faced with the challenge of spending marketing dollars to access these new customers, yet at the same time try to keep prices competitive. After all, in a post-deregulated world, the risk of being under-sold by a competitor is very real.

Perhaps this is why utilities are turning to third-party brokers, who on behalf on consumers, essentially “shop around” various providers to secure the best deals possible

Urban Wind Turbines and Solar Panels Provide Homeowners with Additional Energy Choice

- Monday, May 16, 2011

More and more, homeowners looking for additional energy choice are banding together and taking matters into their own hands.

Citizens in urban environments, for example, are installing wind turbines mounted on the roofs of buildings. By generating their own electricity, the buildings’ developers look to realize tens of thousands of savings per year in avoided heating and cooling costs. Homeowners too expect to reduce energy costs.

On paper, this seems like a no-lose proposition. Unfortunately, many cities are ill-equipped to support wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources on a relatively large scale due to antiquated zoning laws. In addition, the potentially costly capital investments required to build such systems may be exacerbated by further infrastructure needs, like reinforced roofing or additional circuitry work.

That said, the benefits of this new electricity choice for renters and developers alike cannot be denied. City zoning officials all over the country are examining ways to make their urban environments more “renewable energy-friendly.”

Switching from Oil to Natural Gas

- Friday, May 13, 2011

Many folks wonder if making the switch from oil to gas heat in their homes is something they should seriously consider. Natural gas is cleaner and more energy efficient and if your State offers energy deregulation and you are given a natural gas choice, it may even save you money. So, how easy it is to make the switch? There are several things you will want to consider.

If your current home does not use gas for any appliances you need to call your local gas company to see if there is a gas main in your area. If there is no gas main in the vicinity, chances are you won’t be able to make the switch at this time. But if there is a local gas main, contact several gas companies to find out what they charge to covert oil to gas heat.

The cost can range from $2,000.00 to $10,000.00 depending on where you live and the location of the gas mains and meters. There will be an upfront cost that you should be made aware.

If you are able to make the switch, be sure you check the credibility of the HVAC company and the contractor you hire. Make sure they are licensed and that you are happy with their customer reviews

As Other Countries Commit to Renewable Energy, Some Lessons for the US

- Monday, May 09, 2011

A recent article in the New York Times provided an extensive overview of Portugal’s five-year old efforts to transition to a renewable energy-based economy and its implications for Europe and the U.S.

The country started constructing an extensive network of wind turbines and solar panels to wean itself off fossil fuels beginning in 2005.  Six years later, roughly 45 percent of the electricity in the country’s grid comes from these renewable sources.

The article also underscores some of the drawbacks of such a rapid transformation.  For starters, Portuguese households pay twice as much for electricity as Americans, and prices have gone up 15 percent in the last five years.  It also restructured and privatized energy utilities, which, understandably, had political repercussions.

If anything, the United States is in many way one step ahead of where Portugal was.  First, unlike Portugal, the US has domestic fossil fuel sources, which can still provide consumers with natural gas choice, among others.  And second, the US has already withstood energy deregulation to a far greater extent, making – in theory – political decisions somewhat easier.

President Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Greater Energy Choice

- Friday, May 06, 2011

Washington has been buzzing the last week in response to President Obama’s renewed push for clean energy.

He highlighted efforts to boost the national fuel efficiency and to drastically expand the number of fuel-efficient vehicles operated by government agencies.

In many ways, Obama’s plan mirrors that of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has called for greater exploration of natural gas as an alternative energy choice. Doing so, according to Pickens, could cut the United States’ dependence on OPEC in half, to 2.5 million barrels a day.

Inevitably, the administration’s interest in alternative energy sources can also positively impact average US homeowners by providing greater and more affordable energy choice. For example, while the cost of heating oil shows no signs of stabilizing, natural gas is looking like a cheaper alternative. Switching to natural gas can benefit many of the nation’s eight million users of heating oil.

Obama’s agenda, naturally, is riddled with both political and geographic risks. But what’s certain is that the private and public sector alike have both moral and financial incentives to pursue additional sources to provide more affordable energy choices.

States Take the Lead in Providing Homeowners with Greater Energy Choice

- Wednesday, May 04, 2011

While development of renewable energy may be stalled at the Federal level, many states are moving forward to develop alternative sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and give consumers more energy choice.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill that greatly increases the state’s investment and commitment to renewable energy, particularly offshore wind energy.

The bill, known as the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, provides financial aid and tax credits in an effort to attract companies to build ocean-based wind farms. By attracting wind turbine manufacturers to the state, the bill also hopes to provide jobs for a struggling economy. 

Solar power, meanwhile, is growing rapidly in Georgia: the state’s solar power income tax credits drew 10 times the number of applicants than were funded by the legislature.

These state tax credits can also be used in tandem with federal solar energy tax credits, which help homeowners in the purchasing and installing solar panels and over time, help reduce energy costs.

The Energy Orb

- Friday, April 29, 2011

Most folks know that there are peak hours and off-peak hours during the day that offering lower rates for energy consumption.

During the mid-evening to early morning hours, weekends and holidays the energy rates are lower than they are in the middle of the day or the peak hours. If you would like to know when the rates are the lowest you could purchase an energy orb. This orb gathers information on the price of electricity at any given minute and visually communicates it to you through a color coded system.

From green to yellow to orange to red the color lets you know what the current grid load is and when the price is right. When the color is green, this is a great time to be using appliances which use the most electricity, such as a dishwasher or clothes dryer. When the color is red the energy is at it’s peak and this would be the most expensive times to use these appliances.

This little energy orb can help you in your quest to reduce energy costs in your home.

For more information: http://www.ambientdevices.com/cat/orb/PGE.html

Analysts Increasingly Bullish on Natural Gas - and Consumers Stand to Benefit

- Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A disturbing confluence of events across the recent past has raised serious questions about the viability and safety of certain energy sources.

The BP disaster in the Gulf, for example, underscores the risks associated with new oil drilling, while the issues involving Japan’s nuclear plants highlight problems posed by nuclear power. As a result, natural gas is being viewed as a more sensible and realistic option.

The rise in natural gas’ stature stems from the aftermath of these calamities, but also due to stabilizing prices and a boost in supply. With the global demand in energy expected to grow, natural gas comes across as a less-risky and plentiful option.

This may be good news for consumers as well. Despite the uncertainty of Japan’s nuclear plants and the dangers associated with oil drilling, development of these sources is likely to continue. With the anticipated proliferation and consumption of natural gas added to the equation, consumer energy choice will only grow.

District Energy Helping Reduce Energy Costs

- Monday, April 25, 2011

Having a natural gas choice in a state offering energy deregulation has freed up many commercial building’s ties to traditional energy suppliers for their energy needs. But there is another trend that is also helping commercial buildings save on energy costs.

Offices, hospitals, churches, hotels, retail stores, food establishments, police stations, to name a few are getting involved in the use of “district energy” or a “district system”. What this means is, many commercial buildings in close proximity to other commercial buildings will utilize a central heating or cooling plant, which will disperse energy along underground pipes to these buildings close to each other. Delivering hot water, cold water or steam to all these buildings means the individual buildings don’t have to purchase their own space, air conditioning or water heating equipment. After the buildings have used this water, it is retuned to the central plant to be heated or chilled again and is then redistributed back to the buildings.

This system reduces maintenance and equipment costs and will significantly reduce energy costs

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Businesses save on average 10-30% off their energy costs

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