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May 2019 CIP News

5/16/2019 1:51:15 PM


CIP News


CARD Grant Program Update

The purpose of the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program is to identify new technologies, strategies, and program approaches that utilities can implement to help achieve the annual state energy conservation goal of 1.5% as established by the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. 

Examining prepaid electricity in Minnesota: Customer concerns and benefits alongside potential energy savings

Although prepaid electricity is common in some regions of the world, it is relatively new to the United States. What is the potential of this type of payment plan as an energy efficiency program? Preliminary evidence suggests that prepay customers reduce their consumption, but more evidence is required to determine how and why. Understanding what causes the reduction in consumption and investigating how low-income customers (which represent a large proportion of participants) respond to enrolling in the plan are key to determining whether prepay plans could be used as energy efficiency behavior change programs.

Prepay programs are controversial because some have argued that they cause a reduction in quality of life among low-income customers. Others have argued that the high level of customer satisfaction suggests that customers are not experiencing reduced quality of life. A recently completed CARD white paper conducted by two nonprofit research organizations, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Seventhwave, investigates these issues and provides recommendations for utilities interested in implementing prepaid electricity pilot research programs. Read more.


Utility Webinar: A Cohort Approach to Wastewater Treatment Energy Efficiency
Learn about how to effectively achieve significant energy savings in mechanical wastewater treatment plants
Tuesday, June 25, 2019, 11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. 
Mechanical wastewater plants use large, industrial blowers to facilitate treatment of water throughout the state. The cohort approach to wastewater treatment energy efficiency draws on research to develop a program approach for Minnesota’s wastewater treatment sector through delivering tailored training while leveraging peer networks to effectively achieve wastewater treatment plant energy efficiency. The webinar explains how this approach may be used as a utility CIP program, including program administration considerations as a result of the geographic distribution of mechanical wastewater plants to achieve statewide energy savings. The webinar will also highlight the mechanics of the training program, as well as its methods to help wastewater operators identify and implement operational energy efficiency opportunities.  
The webinar will be co-led by Audrey Partridge and Julie Drennen with the Center for Energy and the Environment and Jon Vanyo with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program. Partridge and Drennen are regulatory policy experts who will describe the CIP model strategy in depth. Vanyo is an engineer with five years of experience on projects related to wastewater energy efficiency and nutrient optimization; he will explain the training and implementation portion of the program.
News & Resources 
Energy efficiency, solar are good new-home, carbon-reduction partners
A recent analysis released April 25 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) finds that energy efficiency and solar make complementary energy and carbon reductions in new home construction, but when budgets are tight, efficiency needs to come first. With the U.S. building stock estimated to add a net average of 1.4 million homes each year, states will need to minimize their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on effective building codes and standards. For the U.S. residential sector, building codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and voluntary labels like ENERGY STAR provide cost-effective guidance for insulation, windows, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment to construct efficient and sustainable homes. The ACEEE research paper and summary show that the energy efficiency measures found in these codes and standards are more cost-effective than an equivalent amount of energy generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
New residential window attachments provide energy and cost savings
A new technical brief explores emerging opportunities for energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. The brief, from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), looks at residential window attachments, including storm windows, interior shades and blinds, and window films. These devices save energy by mitigating heat transfer during summer and winter. Two new platforms have been launched in the past year that may spur the use of attachments as energy efficiency measures: the ENERGY STAR Storm Windows program and the Attachments Energy Rating Council (AERC) certification and label. ACEEE explores these ratings and presents data on energy and cost savings. Read more.
Note: A 2015 CARD white paper, Window Retrofit Technologies: Increased Energy Efficiency without Replacement, explored the potential for energy savings with window retrofit technologies, specifically window panels and surface applied window films, in residential and commercial buildings across Minnesota.
Zero energy homes near completion in Rochester and Claremont
Two Rivers Habitat for Humanity is on track to complete two certified zero energy ready (ZER) homes this summer in Minnesota, one in Rochester and the other in Claremont, according to the Clean Energy Resource Team in southeast Minnesota. These homes will be so efficient that a renewable energy system could offset most or even all of their energy consumption. The reduced energy operating cost will be a great benefit to a low-income families living there. U.S. Department of Energy research indicates that while a ZER home might cost up to 8% more to build, because it is 40-50% more efficient, it could save as much as $100,000 on utilities over the period of a 30-year mortgage, and net a positive return. The energy efficiency starts below ground on this split-level home with 4 inches of foam insulation under the concrete floor and insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation walls above. Read more.


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