Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, October 26, 2009

United Technologies Gets Federal Grant Money

EAST HARTFORD - The federal Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday that it has given the United Technologies Research Center $2.25 million to develop a technology that ultimately could be used to capture carbon dioxide emitted from coal -fired power plants.

The UTC Research Center project is one of 37 that received $151 million in funding from the Energy Department’s newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency. This is the first round of projects funded by the DOE's agency, which is receiving at total of $400 million in stimulus money to develop creative and inventive approaches to address critical energy issues using technology.

The 37 projects that are receiving DOE money were selected from a field of about 300 applicants, according to DOE officials.

The UTC technology uses synthetic enzymes to capture carbon dioxide that his emitted from the flues of coal-fire power plants.
It uses a synthetic version of carbonic anhydrase, the enzyme that is used to remove carbon dioxide from the body. Company officials believe it could be used to reduce the costs associated with capturing carbon dioxide as it comes out of power plant smoke stacks.

UTC officials were not immediately available for comment on Monday regarding how soon the technology might be ready for use.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Report Ranks Connecticut in Top Three for Energy Saving

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has ranked Connecticut third in the country in a 50-state scorecard based on energy efficiency policies, programs, and practices, according to an announcement made Wednesday morning.

California was ranked first followed by Massachusetts. Joining Connecticut and Massachusetts in the top ten were three other New England states: Vermont (sixth), Rhode Island (9) and Maine (10th).

ACEEE is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. This is the third year that the organization has compiled the scorecard, which examines six state energy efficiency policy areas.

The areas in which the states were reviewed are:

-Utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies.
- Transportation polices.
- Building energy codes.
- Combined heat and power.
- State government initiatives.
-Appliance efficiency standards.

Steve Nadel, executive director of the ACEEE, said the impact of the current recession, "has not put a dent in the vast majority of state programs."

"Energy efficiency is the only resource that can actually reduce energy consumption while growing the economy – making efficiency the ‘first fuel’ states can use to balance their energy portfolios,” Nadel said

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Former DEP Commissioner Back In Connecticut

The keynote luncheon speaker at Wednesday's Connecticut Business & Industry Association energy conference was former Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy was selected in March by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. McCarthy took over as head of the Connecticut DEP at the end of 2004.
She was appointed when Arthur Rocque Jr. retired after it became apparent that Gov. M. Jodi Rell would not re-appoint him to continue to lead the agency, which was facing state and federal criminal investigations at the time.
McCarthy said much of this year, the first under the new president, has been spent reworking more than 20 regulations that were put forth by former President George W. Bush's EPA. The courts, she said, have overturned the regulations because they are not legal.
McCarthy told business leaders who attended the CBIA conference that Connecticut was the place she learned that environmental regulators "need to work really closely with utilities."

"It's about doing environmental regulation that helps grow the economy and doesn't put people out of work," McCarthy said.

Consumer Counsel to Head National Organization

You'd think that Connecticut's Consumer Counsel Mary Healey has enough to do fighting for the concerns of the state's utility ratepayers.

But starting next month, Healey will be taking on some new responsibilities in addition to her work for the people of Connecticut.
She will become the new president of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates. The Silver Spring, Md. group is an association of 44 consumer advocates in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Healey became Consumer Counsel in 2001, after having served as vice president, general counsel and secretary at Yankee Gas Services Co. from 1989 to 2000. She is in the midst of her second five-year term, which ends June 30, 2011

"Cash For Clunkers" Not Just About Cars Anymore...

An official with the state's Office of Policy and Management says Connecticut is expected to roll out its version of the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program by the end of the year.

Raymond Wilson , who is director of energy research and policy development for OPM, told business leaders at the CBIA conference this morning that the program is awaiting $3.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal money will be used to provide rebates to consumers in an effort to get them to replace older appliances and with newer, more efficient models.

"Every state is designing its own program, so ours will be different than the ones in Massachusetts or Rhode Island," Wilson said.

Connecticut's program calls for rebate amounts of anywhere from $50 to $500, he said. Appliances covered under the Connecticut program include refrigerators, clothes washers, individual room air conditioners and central air conditioning units, Wilson said.

Further details of the program, which is scheduled to debut by mid-December, are still being worked out, he said.

Blogging from Connecticut Business & Industry Association Energy Conference

I'll be updating the blog throughout Wednesday with information from the Connecticut Business & Industry Association Business Energy Conference in Cromwell.

Today's conference includes a luncheon keynote speech from former Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy. It also features a panel discussion with Kevin DelGobbo, chairman of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control and State Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford), who is co-chairman of the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee.

Check back through out the day for more updates....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nukes On Ice

Here's a little news that gives a new meaning to the term, "Power Play": The Associated Press is reporting that the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals have added The Nuclear Energy Institute as a sponsor.

The trade group has signed a season long deal with the team to promote the advantages of nuclear energy at the Verizon Center in Washington, where the team plays, as well as in radio advertisements. Financial terms of the deal have not been released

NEI President and CEO Marv Fertel (left) with Washington Capitals Majority Owner Ted Leonsis at Kettler Iceplex, the Capitals' practice facility, located in Arlington, Virginia

The marketing marriage between the NEI and the team is an interesting one.

As has been noted in this blog in previous posts, the nuclear industry seems to feel that the time has come to test whether the stigma of the accident at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979 still resonates with the American public 30 years later.

The joint press release from the team and the NEI notes that two utilities near Washington - Constellation Energy in Baltimore and Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy, which owns the Millstone nuclear plant here in Connecticut - have filed permits with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build new nuclear energy facilities.

But in partnering with an NHL hockey team, the NEI is hedging its bets.

In terms of public popularity among the nation's sports fans, the NHL runs a distant fourth behind the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. And the Capitals have finished in the lower half of the league's 30 teams in terms of attendance in all but three of the last eight seasons (the NHL didn't have a 2004-2005 season because of labor issues between the players and the teams).

So what does that mean for the NEI?

Well, for starters, it probably means that their marketing deal with the Capitals cost them a lot less than if they had tried to strike a deal with the Washington Redskins of the NFL. It also means that the NEI has limited the potential fall out from those opposed nuclear power, although the AP reports that the environmental group Greenpeace has already weighed in on the marketing partnership.

Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for the Washington-based organization, told the AP that the group doesn't want sports teams being used to "greenwash" nuclear power, which it believes isn't a solution to global warming. The group says nuclear plants take years to build and methods of disposing nuclear waste haven't been developed.

"There are real solutions to climate change, unfortunately, nuclear isn't one of them," Riccio said.
"If you want to actually address climate change in a meaningful manner we need things that are fast and affordable. You're not going to see a new nuclear reactor for another decade; how is that supposed to abate climate change?"