Monday, January 26, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Court: TVA Must Install Pollution Controls Near NC


All eyes are on TVA lately. After the initial coal sludge debacle and another one, the court has sided with the state of NC in requiring TVA to install pollution controls on four generation plants.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is your Lighting Efficient?

From MRO Insider:

"Winter solstice is now behind us, so the days are getting longer again. Yet, your facility seems drearier. Being the sharp electrical troubleshooter that you are, you grab a light meter and take some measurements.

When you review your findings against the lighting plan, your suspicions are confirmed. Light levels really have dropped. In some places where the plan shows 45 footcandles, you measured only 25. In an inspection area that requires 90 footcandles, you measured 70. How can you figure out what’s going on?

A drop in light output is hard to isolate in time, because it tends to creep up on us. As light output diminishes a little each day, we adjust to the new normal. That makes troubleshooting more difficult, but not impossible.

Light output diminishes as lamps near end of life (the output curve varies by lamp type). So, maybe it’s just be time for relamping. However, there are probably other factors to correct. Things to check include:

  • Dust and grime accumulation. Are the lamps, lenses, and shades clean?
  • Overloaded neutrals. A plastics plant in Kentucky solved a dim lighting problem in one building by rewiring the lighting system. Most of the neutral wires had overheated to the point of discoloration. This rewiring more than doubled some footcandle readings.
  • Transient protection deficiencies. Is your surge protection (Art. 285) plan tiered so that it protects lighting ballasts from events generated from inside your facility? If not, you probably have damaged ballasts. Replace a few ballasts to see the effect. Correct the protection deficiencies.
  • Bonding deficiencies. Walk down your lighting system for violations of Art. 250, Part V. You should not have connections to ground (as defined in Art. 100) anywhere in this system."

LED lighting to save $1.8 trillion


With the upcoming economic stimulus package just around the corner, we certainly need to save somewhere!

FPL Energy to be renamed NextEra Energy Resources


NextEra is the largest producer of wind and solar energy in North America. The company currently has more than 6,300 megawatts of wind generation in operation, or enough to power more than 1.5 million average homes. It also is the largest generator of solar thermal power in the world. NextEra co-owns and operates seven solar plants in California’s Mojave Desert, which collectively form the world’s largest solar site. In all, the company operates 310 megawatts of solar power.

With aid from the state, Californians warm to rooftop solar power


As I lived in the Bay Area during the energy debacle in 2000, I have watched this initiative with great interest. California leads the nation in subsidizing rooftop solar. Most of these systems are grid-tie systems which don't require storage batteries. They use grid-tie inverters to feed the grid such as made by Xantrex. Even so, this can be quite an investment with a long (10-15 year) payback. Looks like the subsidies along with new federal tax credits are driving adoption in California.

The closest thing we have in TN is Green Power Switch. Here as a residential you can buy green power from TVA or one of its distributors. Green generation is at the utility level with this plan.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Distributed Power Demands Safe, Reliable Controls

Article from Control Engineering Magazine. Link

Allocating Costs is Efficient, Too!

Here is an article I wrote for Buildings Magazine several years ago. Link

Kilowatt Hours - Movie and discussion with the director

Movie: Kilowatt Ours
FUUN Sanctuary / January 21
Join producer Jeff Barrie as he screens and discusses his award-winning film Kilowatt Hours: A Plan to Re-Energize America. The film suggests connections between an average homeowner’s electrical energy use and adverse health and environmental impacts, including mountaintop removal coal mining, global warming, and asthma. Kilowatt Ours shows the actions that homeowners, businesses, and communities can take reduce their demand for energy. Get more information at

First Unitarian Universalist Church
of Nashville
1808 Woodmont Blvd. Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 383-5760 Fax: 383-5785

What is Energy Efficiency?

There is an increasing focus on Energy Efficiency in the marketplace these days but what exactly is it? A basic definition would be would be using the same or less energy to do more work. This implies a more efficient technology or process. This is used alone or in concert with Energy Conservation which implies a change in behavior to use less energy. Examples of Energy Efficiency would be installing compact fluorescent lighting (CFC), adding more insulation, or installing a more efficient HVAC system. Many technology companies focus on Energy Efficiency rather that Energy conservation as it drives new technologies and new products. However, the most impact will be created by a combination of Energy Efficiency, Energy Conservation, and alternative and renewable energy sources.

State Energy Efficiency Policies

Tennessee Coal Ash Spill May Revive Efforts For Tighter Pollution Rules.

Christian Science Monitor
Bloomberg News
Chicago Tribune

Updated Grid to support brown energy?

There seems to be concern that updating and expanding the electricity grid may inadvertently support the transportation of traditional energy.


Identifying Hurdles to Renewable Electricity Transmission American Progress (12/18/08)

There are many challenges facing renewable energy in the 21st century, from the need to modernize the electricity grid that transmits power to training a skilled workforce to meet industry needs.

Wanted: More Science and Math Teachers in the US Christian Science Monitor (12/29/08)


Nuclear Power - "spectacularly expensive"

In Time (1/4), Michael Grunwald writes, "Nuclear power is on the verge of a remarkable comeback," but cost is a significant issue. Another interesting fact is that "America's existing nuclear plants already prevent the release of nearly as much carbon as America's passenger cars actually release every year."

Tennessee Compiles Wish List For Infrastructure Projects

Nashville Business Journal

Pros, Cons Of Canadian Oil Sand

New York Times reports, "The oil that is extracted from Canadian dirt is being portrayed as saving America from energy dependence on the unstable Middle East, or an environmental catastrophe in the making -- depending on the perspective."