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The Maryland Clean Energy Center will host its 2013 Clean Energy Summit October 15-16 at the newly renovated Marriott Inn and Conference Center UMUC in College Park.
This year's theme is "Solving the Distributed Energy Puzzle: Microgrids and other Smart Solutions."
Microgrids - which include renewable energy technologies, advanced energy storage, intelligent grid-management systems and high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) solutions - are becoming an essential element in the future of energy distribution in the U.S. and around the globe. Analysts project that future investments in microgrids will total billions of dollars.
Speakers and panel discussions at the 2013 Maryland Clean Energy Summit will focus on integrated design and deployment of energy systems for greater efficiency, reliability, affordability and effectiveness in providing clean power to the grid and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
MCEC is currently looking for abstracts, speakers, and sponsors to showcase at the fourth annual Maryland Clean Energy Summit.
Every year, the Summit brings together industry leaders and innovators from a broad spectrum of clean energy specialties, as well as senior federal, state, and local government officials. Last year's Summit attracted hundreds of attendees from Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region, making it one of the best professional development and networking events in Maryland's clean energy sector.
As a Summit speaker, sponsor, exhibitor, or attendee, you will gain exposure to industry leaders, project developers, investors, policy makers, public officials, academics, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
MCEC heavily promotes the Summit through our newsletter, network partners, social media, and advertising campaigns in print and broadcast media. Sponsors who sign on early, get maximum exposure in those publicity efforts. Exhibit space is available at the Summit for sponsors who wish to attract clients or partners by showcasing their products, services, and innovations.
Plan to be part of the Maryland Clean Energy Summit 2013. Please contact us with your ideas, proposals or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-949-8505.
The Maryland Clean Energy Center's Advisory Council held its annual meeting earlier this month to assess the state of Maryland's clean energy sector and opportunities for MCEC to further drive the development of a clean energy economy.
With more than 90 members, the Advisory Council represents all facets of the clean energy, energy efficiency, and support sectors, and includes representatives from companies of all sizes, utilities, financiers, innovators, government agencies, academia, and nonprofits.
Jeff Eckel, President of the MCEC Board of Directors, said the center has "weathered some dark years" but now has more stable funding that will enable it to embark on more ambitious and influential work.
"We are a unique, centralized and independent third party that facilitates access to information, access to capital, access to markets and access to partnerships. We are in a position to move the needle towards a new energy economy," said MCEC Executive Director Kathy Magruder.
MCEC has taken on a direct role in advancing energy efficiency through two programs.
Over the last 18 months, MCEC's Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP) has provided 630 loans at below-market rates (6.99 or 9.99 percent) to homeowners seeking to finance the purchase of high-efficiency HVAC equipment or complete other efficiency upgrades.
MCEC's newest financing initiative, the Maryland Clean Energy Capital (MCAP) program, is already financing six energy efficiency upgrades at Coppin State University and has triggered discussions with several other potential clients about large efficiency initiatives. MCAP uses MCEC's bonding authority to provide largely tax-exempt debt financing to underwrite energy efficiency projects at large institutions.
At the Advisory Council meeting, representatives of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MD DOE) and the Maryland Energy Administration discussed state plans to embark on more ambitious clean energy initiatives.
State officials have spent the last eight months discussing new options to reduce Maryland's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, said David Costello, Deputy Secretary for Policy and Planning at MD DOE. The state has committed to cutting GHG emissions 25 percent by 2020. That would require the elimination of 55 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.
Since energy and transportation are the two largest sources of GHG emissions, state officials are considering increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard from its current target of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 to 25 percent. State officials are also discussing options to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and considering raising the EmPower Maryland goals, which currently call for cutting total energy consumption and peak load by 15 percent by 2015.
"It's an ambitious plan, but we see it as a driver of the green economy," Costello said. "We believe when this plan is fully implemented, we will be looking at about $7 billion in terms of economic activity in the state and thousands of jobs associated with that."
Devon Dodson, MEA's Director of Government and Community Relations, said the state has made good progress with EmPower Maryland goals, "but we've still got a long way to go."
Armed with a one-time capital budget allocation of $4.7 million for Fiscal 2014, the MEA is creating three new programs that will support energy retrofits in large commercial and industrial facilities, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at public facilities, and the completion of measures to improve the reliability of the electric grid.
MCEC is proud to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors.
"We are grateful to have such high-caliber individuals as these new board members join forces with our existing board members to move MCEC further into the future," said MCEC Executive Director Kathy Magruder. "The expertise they bring to the table will be very valuable to MCEC."
John Spears, president of Sustainable Design Group and the nonprofit International Center for Sustainable Development in Gaithersburg, is an internationally recognized expert in energy conservation, renewable energy systems and sustainable design. He has designed model, sustainable communities in several countries, including the first passive solar, sustainable community development project in South Africa which was presented at the UN Global Warming Conference in Kyoto, Japan as a model for sustainable growth in developing countries.
Some of his recent projects have included a development of net-zero, market-rate houses in Frederick, an off-grid building at Frostburg State University, and a modular, sustainable, environmentally friendly infrastructure system which won the National Sustainability prize at the Cleantech Open Global Forum in 2012.
Spears is also a founder of the Maryland Clean Energy Center.
Spears said he is eager to help MCEC advance its "primary focus of encouraging economic development in clean energy. To do that, you need to create a very friendly business environment for clean energy technology and clean energy businesses. You need to provide access to funding, both project funding and business funding, and you need a supportive political environment."
Joshua Greene, a partner with Patton Boggs and regional director for Cleantech Open Mid-Atlantic Region, has built a professional practice focusing on energy and environmental policy, regulatory and business planning, with a particular concentration on renewable and alternative energy development, energy efficiency, technology, sustainability and corporate counseling.
As a regional director for Cleantech Open, Greene helps facilitate the nation's largest clean technology accelerator program for entrepreneurs and startup companies. He has also worked on landmark pieces of legislation, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
Greene said he would like to help MCEC grow innovation, technology and jobs in Maryland's clean tech sector.
"I think the center needs to position itself as a full-scale resource for both those within the Maryland clean energy sector and those looking to invest in clean energy in Maryland," he said. "I would also like to further collaborate with the wealth of resources that are within Maryland, including our universities, our friends within the federal government and the private industry. The Maryland Clean Energy Center could be a key facilitator in helping younger companies grow, supporting job creation and advancing innovation through a public-private partnership model."
Mark Hooley, an assurance partner with CohnReznick LLP, focuses on two primary industries, Technology/New Media and Renewable Energy. For renewable energy clients, Mark provides services to developers and owners, entrepreneurs, investors, as well as lenders. His primary services include corporate, facility and fund level audits, and providing technical accounting consulting for complex financing and investment transactions.
"From a National, State and Local perspective, CohnReznick has dedicated time and resources to growing clean energy for the past decade, so my appointment to the Maryland Clean Energy Center Board of Directors fits very well for me personally and professionally. Being part of a Firm with a dedicated renewable energy practice, I will be in a position to leverage what I see across the U.S. and Internationally to bring new ideas and concepts to the Board that will help drive a more sustainable future here in Maryland.
Over the past few years, the State of Maryland and the Maryland Clean Energy Center has identified innovative new ways to finance and incentivize businesses and residents to deploy clean energy measures. During my tenure on the Board, I hope to contribute ideas and solutions that further this mission. Maryland is poised to be a leader in the U.S with respect to clean energy deployment and the Maryland Clean Energy Center is in a position to influence behavior and drive change by advocating across many platforms, including solar, wind, energy efficiency, and by supporting the development of new and innovative technologies.
For example, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 will create a framework for the development of wind energy off our state's coast, creating jobs and clean energy."
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has rejected the unanimous recommendation of a stakeholder working group to use EmPower Maryland funds to finance the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP).
Operated by the Maryland Clean Energy Center, MHELP provides Marylanders with below-market-rate loans (6.99 percent or 9.99 percent) to complete energy efficiency projects in their homes, such as upgrading insulation, completing air or duct sealing, and installing high-efficiency HVAC equipment.
After the PSC advised Maryland utilities that they need to support more financing for energy efficiency projects, a broad-based, energy industry working group assessed financing options and unanimously recommended that the PSC approve the use of some EmPower Maryland funds to sustain MHELP.
In a mid-May ruling, the commission rejected that proposal.
"At this time, we simply cannot justify the cost of the MCEC program within the cost effectiveness bounds of EmPower, particularly the administrative costs which we have noted are high compared to other EmPower programs," the commissioners wrote. "To clarify, we do not find the proposed MCEC financing program to be unworthy. In fact, we are hopeful that MEA will continue to support the program and suggest that it pursue funding assistance through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund available to MEA through proceeds from RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) to do so."
MCEC Executive Director Kathy Magruder expressed disappointment at the PSC's decision not to support a financing program that has proven to be an effective instrument in promoting energy efficiency.
"The decision by the PSC was surprising in light of the fact that the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program has in a short two-year period funded over 630 loans, valuing over $5.2 million and resulting in over 2.5 million kilowatt hours saved," Magruder said. "We will be looking for other ways to sustain this funding assistance program for residential customers in the future."
"I am utterly stunned that the PSC did not support this proposal," said Peter Van Buren, President of Terra Logos Energy Group and a member of the working group. "There was unanimous support in the stakeholders working group, including from utilities, the Office of the People's Counsel, contractors, PSC staff, and the MEA.
"To me, MHELP is a national, A-plus caliber program," Van Buren added. "It is an excellent vehicle for supporting home performance, it leverages money from the bank in an extremely cost-effective manner, and it is a huge plus for consumers. Many people simply would not do home performance projects otherwise because they couldn't have gotten the money without MHELP."
Brian Toll, Policy Chair for Efficiency First, also expressed disappointment at the PSC's ruling.
"We think the State of Maryland should utilize ratepayer money to advance energy efficiency which is what EmPower does," Toll said. "For many homeowners the cost of an energy efficiency retrofit is out of reach so you need financing to make it accessible for people. Without MHELP, lenders would charge credit-card-like rates and nobody wants that. We certainly would like to see MHELP become a permanent fixture of our efficiency program."
Efficiency First, Toll said, has initiated its own effort to identify means to sustain an energy efficiency financing program in Maryland.
Across the country, industry experts, regulators, and legislators have been debating how to get the best return on investment for dollars spent financing energy efficiency projects. Some states, he said, have created home performance and financing programs that are less consumer-friendly than Maryland's programs, but generate more efficiency gains.
Toll and other Efficiency First representatives are studying other states' programs and plan to develop a proposal to strengthen Maryland's Home Performance program and layer in a financing program that will meet the cost-effectiveness standards stipulated by the PSC and the EmPower Maryland legislation.
Meanwhile, officials at MCEC are working to determine how long the center can sustain MHELP with existing funds and to identify new sources of funding for MHELP.
General Motors has started manufacturing motors and drive units for electric vehicles (EVs) in Baltimore County.
|Photo compliments of General Motors|
Company officials described the opening of GM's 110,000-square-foot "eMotor" plant in White Marsh last month as a milestone in U.S. manufacturing. To date, EV manufacturers have relied overwhelmingly on foreign plants for electric motors and EV drive units. GM, however, decided to move its EV motor and drive unit manufacturing from Mexico to America.
"The motor design was created by American engineers and it's being manufactured and assembled by American workers," said Bill Tiger, Plant Manager of GM Baltimore Operations.
About 20 workers at the eMotor plant, which was constructed beside GM's White Marsh transmission factory, completed extensive training on the machinery and hand-assembly processes used to create the sophisticated motor and drive unit. Designed for GM's Spark EV, the motor can produce 130 horse power and deliver acceleration of 0-60 mph in less than eight seconds.
GM plans to begin selling the Spark EV in California and Oregon this summer and later expand sales to Canada, Europe and South Korea.
|Photo compliments of General Motors|
"The era of using electricity to help improve performance and fuel economy is already here and the trend is only going to grow," said Mike Robinson, GM Vice President of Sustainability.
GM spent $121 million to build the eMotor plant, received another $105 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and could qualify for $2 million in state incentives.
Governor Martin O'Malley noted that, "In Maryland, innovation is something we do well and with our world-class workforce, we're in a position to grow Maryland's Innovation Economy so we can create even more jobs for our hardworking families."
General Motors has implemented several innovations at its White Marsh operations in recent years. The company installed a 1.2-MW roof-mounted solar array on the facility in 2011, and has followed operating practices since 2007 that recycle 100 percent of the plant's waste.
Verizon is outfitting facilities in Maryland and six other states with $100 million of solar panels and fuel cells.
The clean energy systems - which will be installed at a variety of Verizon buildings, including corporate offices, call centers, data centers, and central offices - will enable the company to generate more than 70 million kilowatt hours of clean energy. That's enough energy to power more than 6,000 single-family homes.
The initiative is part of Verizon's goal to cut its carbon intensity - specifically, the carbon emissions produced per terabyte of data flowing through its networks - in half by 2020. The planned 19 solar and fuel cell installations will eliminate more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
"These projects will reduce our carbon footprint, relieve demand on the electrical grid and enhance the resiliency of our proven service continuity, even during outages," said James Gowan, Verizon's Chief Sustainability Officer.
Verizon has signed a multi-year agreement with SunPower Corp. and will deploy high-efficiency rooftop and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems as well as solar parking canopies at facilities in Maryland, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona, and North Carolina. All systems are slated to be installed before the end of the year.
Verizon is also working with ClearEdge Power - a manufacturer of scalable, distributed power systems - to install PureCell Model 400 fuel cell systems at sites in California, New Jersey, and New York.
Many Americans are rethinking how we distribute electricity, with good reason.
The United States pays 43 percent more today to build and maintain local power grids than it did in 2002. At the same time, the grid is becoming less reliable. Blackouts now take 20 percent longer to fix. Furthermore, Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 Maryland derecho, and other weather events have demonstrated that a large, connected grid is vulnerable and can suffer widespread, lengthy outages.
Consequently, electricity users - including military bases, university campuses, hospitals, factories, data centers, and even individual homeowners - are starting to look at creating microgrids to protect themselves from sustained electrical outages.
On June 19, the Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) and bwtech@UMBC will host a gathering of industry professionals, entrepreneurs, innovators, government officials, and other individuals interested in distributed generation and microgrids.
The afternoon meeting will explore how the confluence of cheap natural gas, renewable energy generation, improved combustion turbine generators, and the need for a more resilient grid is affecting the development of microgrids. An expert panel will discuss a range of topics, including:
By Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
Takoma Park, Maryland
|Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.|
Our relationship with the electrons that light our homes and offices, keep our food from spoiling, and power our computers is changing for the first time since homes and offices began to be wired to the electric grid a century ago. From consumers who flip the switch on and off and pay the bills when they come, fundamental changes in technology are making a democratization of the energy system possible. We can become producers of the electricity we consume and manage those switches so the system works more efficiently and economically for everyone. We can vote with our wallets individually, or in cooperatives, not only to draw electrons into our homes, but also choose to send them out to the grid to supply others. Indeed, this is the most effective and economical way to install and operate the technology that is the poster-child of distributed generation: solar photovoltaics on rooftops, carports, and parking lots.
Democratizing electricity generation in this way has many advantages – greater individual and community control, the opportunity to reduce disruption during storms when portions of the grid go down, reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced water consumption (central station electricity generation is very water intensive). But matching these great opportunities will be big challenges.
Regulated utility profits are now geared to their total investment, so if the public owns much of the generation system, their stake in the system and their profits will go down. Utilities are coming to see this as a "disruptive challenge" to their business model. This was explicitly discussed in a recent paper by the Edison Electric Institute, which stated, "When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened….[I]nvestors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector. This will be manifested via a higher cost of capital…."
If utility cost of capital increases, that could make the new smart grid infrastructure more expensive. Will cooperatives, municipalities, and counties step in to make those investments? Will utilities change their business model and go into the business of owning distributed generation? How could that be reconciled with democratizing the energy system which implies more individual and community control?
However, new opportunities will also open up for large-scale investments. Offshore wind is one example. Maryland has the good fortune that offshore wind seems strongest in the winter when solar is weakest. These two sources could form the backbone of a renewable energy system, with one component, solar, being distributed and the other, wind, being large-scale. Solar and wind will also need storage and demand-response investments to ensure reliability. A distributed grid will need an information technology infrastructure in parallel with the power infrastructure.
How will the various new services that are needed be priced? Will the utilities rise to the challenge of investing in new technology, and help create new jobs and a 21st century electric system? Or will they seek to preserve the present centralized business model of large fossil fuel and nuclear investments that have profited them handsomely and fight change?
To be sure, the transformation will not happen overnight. Maryland is still in the early stages of an electricity sector transformation, which means that an efficient transformation is possible if we chart a thoughtful course. Electricity consumers, regulators, utilities, and the new industries supplying solar, wind, smart-grid and microgrid infrastructure will need to explore solutions creatively to make a clean and more democratic energy future a reality. This doesn't guarantee harmony because there is some real clash of interests. A distributed smart grid, amenable to democratization, with large numbers of consumers becoming energy producers and managers as well, is going to happen. The main question is whether the road will be conflict-ridden, and hence slower and costlier, or cooperative and equitable, which will make it easier for all parties as well as health and the environment to win.
Editor's Note: For more on this subject, plan to attend the Maryland Clean Energy Summit 2013 on October 15th & 16th where thought leaders will address the theme of "Solving the Distributed Energy Puzzle: Microgrids & Other Smart Solutions."