Why Alabama Still Lags the Rest of the Southeast on Solar

While other Southeastern states are surging ahead with solar energy, advocates say a unique combination of policy obstacles, burdensome fees, and one reluctant utility company has Alabama lagging behind.

The low numbers are the result of several regulatory issues, said Daniel Tait, CEO of nonprofit Energy Alabama.

“At the end of the day, Alabama has three things not going for it,” he said. “There are no basic conditions that most states have, like operating procedures of how to handle solar; in most areas of the state there are onerous fees; and there are terrible buybacks.”

To continue reading the full article, please visit: http://southeastenergynews.com/2017/04/06/why-alabama-still-lags-the-rest-of-the-southeast-on-solar/

Is Alabama Really Open for Business?

Alabama says it is open for business, but does it really mean it? A recent piece in AL.com explored many of the ways Alabama is, in fact, closed for business when it comes to renewable energy.

The AL.com profile looked at a report titled the Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index authored by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group representing large retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Alabama’s score on the index was 1.82 out of 100. The next-lowest score was a 13.60; putting Alabama about as far behind as is technically possible.

To continue reading the full article, please visit: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/03/is_alabama_really_open_for_bus.html#incart_river_home

Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS® Joins North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge

Huntsville, AL – One of Huntsville’s most prominent professional organizations, the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS® (HAAR), has joined the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge, committing to achieve ENERGY STAR certification within 10 years. HAAR is reducing operating costs to deliver more resources toward their members and and ultimately the community at-large.

“We strongly believe this is not just financially beneficial but also the right thing the do,” says Josh McFall, CEO of the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS®. “Energy efficiency is increasingly important to home-buyers and we want to lead the way.”

The North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge aims to support the Department of Energy’s goal of helping businesses save energy costs, enabling them to grow, invest in new technology, and create American jobs. The North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge has identified over $50 million dollars of low hanging savings potential in Huntsville alone.

“HAAR is clearly stepping up to the plate,” says Daniel Tait, CEO of Energy Alabama. “Homeownership is fundamental to the fabric of our community and it’s great to know our local professionals want homeownership to be as affordable as possible.”

The North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge is a collaborative effort of Avion Solutions Inc., the Energy Huntsville Initiative, and Energy Alabama. The Challenge now boasts over 8 million square feet of participating building space.

About Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS®
Founded in 1948, the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS® (HAAR) is a 2,000 member organization of real estate professionals engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential/commercial sales and leasing, appraisal, etc. They also maintain ValleyMLS.com, the leading real estate source in North Alabama.

About Energy Alabama
Energy Alabama is a non-profit organization accelerating the transition to clean, sustainable energy throughout Alabama. We accomplish our mission by educating at all levels, informing smart energy policy, building the next generation workforce, and providing technical assistance to deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in 100% sustainable energy for all.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Daniel Tait by phone at 256-303-7773 or by email at dtait@alcse.org.

Alabama makes it harder than any other state for companies to use clean energy, report says

Alabama finished dead last in an index of all 50 states that examined how easily companies could use clean energy like solar and wind power to meet their electricity needs.

The report, titled the Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index, was released in January by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group representing large-scale retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Dollar General.

For Daniel Tait — CEO of non-profit group Energy Alabama, which advocates for renewable energy policies within the state — the index results were disappointing but not surprising.

“We’re just kind of standing in our way,” he said. “If a company wants to go solar, for example, and participate in these types of projects, they have to work really, really hard here and they’re just going to go to a state somewhere else where it’s going to be a much easier pathway for them to make these types of investments.”

To continue reading the full article from AL.com, please visit: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/alabama_clean_energy_rankings.html

Energy Alabama Helps Local Churches Save on Utility Bills

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Energy Alabama is hosting an energy bench-marking event for local churches and houses of worship. The event is specifically designed to help them cut back on utility costs.

Many churches around the Valley use a lot of energy throughout the week. Sometimes their design isn’t the most forgiving to energy efficiency.

To continue reading the full article, please visit: http://whnt.com/2017/02/07/energy-alabama-helps-local-churches-save-on-utility-bills/

Energy Alabama Promotes Sustainable Energy with 2 Federal Grants

A North Alabama nonprofit is the recipient of a $77,680 federal grant to study strategies to develop an advanced energy economy with an emphasis on coal-impacted communities.

Energy Alabama, founded in 2014 by CEO Daniel Tait, will use the technical assistance grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to identify the advanced energy industry of the coal-impacted areas and jobs within that industry. The organization will also seek workforce training resources from local community colleges and career placement to assist unemployed workers in the advanced energy sector.

To continue reading the full article from AL.com, please visit: http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2017/02/energy_alabama_promotes_sustai.html#incart_river_home

Energy Use Intensity

Here’s What Energy Use Intensity Means, And Why Should You Care

To calculate an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) score, all you really need is a few key pieces of information and some basic math skills. Sure, you’ll have to learn what a kBtu is, but it’s really not as complicated as you might think.

To understand what you EUI means—well, that’s what we’re here to discuss today. But first, let’s practice those basic math skills as we walk through a quick scenario.

So, you have a building and you may or may not want to know its EUI. You’re not really sure what an EUI is, but you’ve heard it can be a valuable metric. (This is true, by the way. More on that later.) Great. First order of business: Find out how much energy your building uses per year.

Got it? Now divide that number by your building’s total area. The resulting number is your EUI. That’s it.

 

So What Does My Energy Use Intensity Mean?

Unlike an ENERGY STAR score, which runs from 1-100, a lower EUI number generally represents better performance. Just like an ENERGY STAR score, however, you’ll be able to compare your building to others that are similar in age and size. It just won’t be in the form of a percentile ranking.

Energy Use Intensity Chart

Some types of buildings will always have a lower EUI than others, as this chart from Energy.gov illustrates.

Some good news: At Energy.gov, Portfolio Manager will do all the math for you. So no matter which units you use to input your energy consumption and building area, you’ll be fine. At the end, Portfolio Manager will spit out a number expressed in kBtu/square feet.

(In plain English, a “kBtu” is one thousand British thermal units. So now you know, and it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll ever use that information again.)

But here’s the kicker: It’s possible to calculate an EUI for virtually any building. (That’s not the case with an ENERGY STAR score.) So if you’re taking the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge, calculating your building’s EUI could generate some seriously valuable energy-efficiency information for yourself and your company.

Even if your building doesn’t produce enough data for an ENERGY STAR score.

So basically, when you calculate your EUI, you’ll know how exactly how well you’re doing with your efficiency efforts. What’s more, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement.

And most importantly, you’ll continue to make progress toward your overall goal of improving your building’s energy efficiency.

SELC, partners push for open dialogue around energy efficiency in Alabama

A rate increase proposed by Huntsville Utilities, a municipally-owned utility in northern Alabama, has spurred discussions around the importance of making energy efficiency programs more widely available in a state where efficiency policies have not been widespread.

“A major first step in moving the needle and opening access to energy efficiency is to start an open dialogue with utilities and make the case for financial models that remove disincentives and encourage customers to save energy,” said Daniel Tait, CEO of Energy Alabama. “We are hopeful that the Huntsville City Council members heard the message, and we look forward to future discussions with Huntsville Utilities to establish a robust, transparent process that includes all stakeholders going forward.”

To read the full article, please visit: https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/selc-partners-push-for-open-dialogue-around-energy-efficiency-in-alabama

Energy Alabama to Help Local Churches Slash Energy Costs with Energy Benchmarking

HUNTSVILLE, AL—Energy Alabama is helping local churches and houses of worship get the most out of their utility bills. More budget for work in the community is just a perk.

On Tuesday, February 7, Energy Alabama will host an Energy Benchmarking at Avion Solutions, Inc. on Research Drive in Huntsville. At this free event, local church representatives will have energy experts on-hand to help guide them through the process of using energy benchmarking to save money on utility bills.

Energy benchmarking is the process of measuring how much energy a building consumes, and comparing it to the same data from similar structures. This benchmarking “jam session” will bring energy experts together with church leaders to maximize energy and water efficiency throughout the community. In addition, businesses will be able to identify potential projects eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

Tickets are free, although space is limited. The jam begins at 5:30 p.m. and finishes at 8:30. Refreshments will be provided. Each building representative should bring the following:

  • Laptop or tablet
  • The building street address, year built, and contact information.
  • Twelve consecutive months of utility bills for all fuel types used in the building.  Historical energy use data can be downloaded on the Huntsville Utilities website with an online account.

Space can be reserved at: https://alcse.org/events/church-energy-benchmarking/

About Energy Alabama

Energy Alabama is accelerating the transition to clean, sustainable energy throughout Alabama. We accomplish our mission by educating young and old alike, informing smart energy policy, and providing technical assistance to help deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in 100% sustainable energy for all.

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For more information about this topic, please contact Daniel Tait by phone at 256-303-7773, or by email at dtait@alcse.org.

Understanding Your Huntsville/Decatur Utility Bill

It’s that time of the month: bills. You go to your mailbox and get those white envelopes. You get to your utility bill and open it up. All the other times you’ve gotten this bill, you just look at the amount you owe, write the check, and you’re done with it. But, this time, you open it, and you decide you want to know what the heck you’re actually being charged for. Well, we are here to help! We are going to be looking at a couple of bills from Huntsville Utilities and Decatur Utilities and break them down so can find out what they mean for you.

Huntsville Utilities

The image to the right  is a sample of the front of a Huntsville Utilities bill. The top sections are pretty obvious. They are the parts of the bill that tell you your account information, what you owe, and when you owe it by. Below that section, there are a couple of parts that break down your usage. The sections we are going to look at are indicated in a red box marked with a red A and a purple box marked with a purple B.

Section A: This section details the meter reading.  The utility company uses the meter reading to determine how much electricity you used that month. This section of the bill shows you the date the meter was read for this month and last month, the previous and present reading, and the amount of electricity used.

Section B: This bar chart portrays the electricity usage of the past 13 months, if available. You’ll notice that in our example there is not 13 months of usage perhaps because this person has not yet lived at the address for 13 months. This is just a visual representation for you to see how your usage changes month to month.

The photo to the left shows an example of the back of the Huntsville Utilities bill. This breaks down what you are being charged for in the bill.

Section C: This section breaks down the two charges of the bill: the availability charge and the consumption charge. The availability charge is the fixed cost of maintaining service to the resident and is the same no matter how much energy you use. For example, it covers things like meter reading and maintenance. The consumption charge is the charge for the amount of electricity used.

Section D: This section details the consumption charge. In this example, this customer consumed 695 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity. The charge per kWh is 0.088410. When you multiply 695 kWh by the charge of 0.088410, you get the charge for the consumption, which is $61.44. Adding the $61.44 to the availability charge, $8.88 in this example, gets you the charge, before tax, of your electric bill.

Decatur Utilities

To right you’ll find a sample of a Decatur Utilities bill. Just like the Huntsville Utilities bill, the top half of this bill is pretty self-explanatory. It shows your account information, the amount you owe, and when you have to pay it by. There is one section in this particular bill that is important in understanding your charges.

This section of the bill gives you some details of your consumption analysis. It shows you the current usage, the usage from the last month, and the usage from a year ago. The section circled in red is where the information for your electricity usage will be. In one column, it shows you the total consumption in kWh (kilowatt hours), and in the next section it shows the daily average in kWh.

Note that your utility may show more than just electricity depending on how many products you purchase from the utility company. Each of the other products, like gas or water, will have breakdowns like the ones for the electricity; the main difference will be the units in which the consumption is measured, like gal (gallons) for water.

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