Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

From EPA.gov

What is a REC?

A REC (pronounced: rěk) represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source.
RECs provide buyers flexibility:
  • In procuring green power across a diverse geographical area.
  • In applying the renewable attributes to the electricity use at a facility of choice.
This flexibility allows organizations to support renewable energy development and protect the environment when green power products are not locally available.

How do RECs work?

All grid-tied renewable-based electricity generators produce two distinct products:
  • Physical electricity
  • RECs
Renewable Energy
Certificates (RECs)
This diagram shows how renewable energy certificates (RECs) and electricity take different pathways to the point of end use.  RECs represent the right to claim the attributes and benefits of the renewable generation source.
High Resolution
At the point of generation, both product components can be sold together or separately, as a bundled or unbundled product. In either case, the renewable generator feeds the physical electricity onto the electricity grid, where it mixes with electricity from other generation sources. Since electrons from all generation sources are indistinguishable, it is impossible to track the physical electrons from a specific point of generation to a specific point of use.

As renewable generators produce electricity, they create one REC for every 1000 kilowatt-hours (or 1 megawatt-hour) of electricity placed on the grid. If the physical electricity and the associated RECs are sold to separate buyers, the electricity is no longer considered “renewable” or “green.” The REC product is what conveys the attributes and benefits of the renewable electricity, not the electricity itself.

RECs serve the role of laying claim to and accounting for the associated attributes of renewable-based generation. The REC and the associated underlying physical electricity take separate pathways to the point of end use (see diagram). As renewable generators produce electricity, they have a positive impact, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based generation sources to meet consumer demand. RECs embody these positive environmental impacts and convey these benefits to the REC owner. The following is a list of the inherent primary and derived attributes that a REC can convey to an owner:

Primary REC Attributes Derived REC Attributes
  • Renewable fuel source
  • Emissions of the renewable generation
  • Geographic location of the generator
  • Vintage of the generator
  • Eligibility for certification or RPS
  • Avoided emissions
  • Eligibility for emission reduction credits or offsets
  • Price stability
There are two approaches to verifying REC ownership and the right to make environmental claims:
Both of these approaches help buyers avoid double counting and double claims and ensure against fraud. Of the two, REC tracking systems provide greater transparency when tracking RECs from their point of creation to their point of final use.

Added Reading

The following documents provides greater detail on issues related to this Web page.
Text Box: ThumbnailEmerging Markets for Renewable Energy Certificates: Opportunities and ChallengesNational Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL/TP-620-37388, January 2005 (PDF) (69 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF). Exit EPA Disclaimer This report describes how RECs are marketed; examines RECs markets, including scope and prices; and identifies and describes the key challenges facing the growth and success of RECs markets.

Cover of Renewable Energy Certificates document.Renewable Energy Certificates (PDF) (6 pp, 996K, About PDF). This white paper provides a brief overview of renewable energy certificates (RECs): what they are, how they work, and why they are an important option for individual and organizational buyers in renewable electricity and green power markets.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Get A Home Energy Audit - Home Energy Team

Why Get A Home Energy AuditWhy get a home energy audit is a common response, which many homeowners have when asked the question. However, if you're serious about saving on your high energy costs, then here are a few reasons to get a home energy audit:

Manage Your Energy Consumption

Average 30% SavingsA Home Energy auditor will provide a detailed assessment of your home and supply you with recommendations to maximize your home's energy efficiency. To help you implement your proposed energy saving strategy, the Home Energy Team can also provide you with certified energy efficient contractors to help you get the job done. These independent contractors are practiced in energy management solutions. Trust the team, and put an end to your energy loss today!

MitigateYour Energy Loss

Older Homes Save MoreDue to the natural settling of the ground, exposure to the elements, deterioration of building materials, and the development of modern energy efficient materials, older homes are less energy efficient than newer homes - so owners of older homes can benefit even more from a home energy audit.

If your home is more than 25 years old, you will save an average of 35% on your energy bills. And if your home is more than 50 years old, that percentage goes up to 38 % (according to Osprey Media). Even if your home is just over 10 years old, there is a good chance that it's losing energy.

Energy Audits Pay Dividends

16% Return on InvestmentYou may be thinking that saving money on your energy bill is a good idea, but what about the cost of the upgrades needed to improve your home's energy efficiency? After taking into account the cost of upgrades, the average return on investment is 16 percent (see chart). That's a better return than bonds, money market accounts and even the stock market can offer. And with those investments you have to pay tax on your earnings, while the money you save on your energy bill is yours to keep.

Federal Tax Rebates - and a Rebate from Home Energy Team!Many energy efficient home upgrades are eligible for tax rebates from the federal government. Check the 2009 Tax Benefits article for more details. You will also receive up to a $300 rebate from Home Energy Team if you use a contractor listed on this website.

Increase the Comfort of Your HomeBeyond the financial savings, other reasons to get a home energy audit include increasing the comfort in your home. Imagine your home without the draftiness or the cold basement. Imagine the upstairs being as cool as the main floor in summer. Increasing your home's energy efficiency and improving ventilation will give you greater enjoyment from your home.

Increase Your Home's ValueFinally, making your home more energy efficient will increase your home's value. According to a study published in Appraisal Journal, the market value of a home increases $20 for every $1 decrease in annual energy costs. So whether you are planning to stay in your home for years to come, or thinking about re-locating, a home energy audit is the first step to maximizing the value of your largest investment.

Social Responsibility

The Environmentally Responsible ChoiceAccording the non-profit environmental advocacy group, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 21 percent of the green house gas emissions in the United States are due to residential energy use - even more than cars. By getting an audit and making your home more energy efficient, you are doing your part to reduce the greenhouse emissions which threaten us all.

From the http://www.homeenergyteam.com/

Monday, December 6, 2010

From the Department of the Environment

2010 -- A Watershed Year

In 2010, the recharged effort to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay attracted wide interest and garnered many headlines, probably the most of any environmental story. The attention was well deserved. Marylanders worked diligently throughout the year to set limits on water pollution -- and plotted a course that finally puts the restoration of the Bay within sight.

But that wasn't the only good news this year. In Maryland, where the quality of our air is the best it's been in a long time, we saw signs that air pollution programs are making a real difference. We continued to help lead the way in addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gases -- which also helps our economy and creates jobs. We made progress in cleaning up industrial sites and protecting children from lead poisoning. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects put people to work and provided environmental and health benefits.

An MDE initiative to improve our enforcement of environmental regulations continued to produce results: for the third straight year, the Department issued more enforcement actions than in any previous year.

And Maryland businesses and organizations shared ideas on environmentally sustainable practices through the Maryland Green Registry, a Smart Green and Growing Program that earlier this year won a national award for pollution prevention.
The Air

Key provisions of the Healthy Air Act -- the most sweeping air pollution program ever in Maryland and the toughest power plant emission law on the East Coast -- went into effect in 2010. The state's major power plants met the requirement to install "scrubbers" to help meet benchmarks for reducing air pollutants.

Hot, sunny weather helps to create ground level ozone -- and the summer of 2010 was a record-breaker for heat. But the number of unhealthy air days would have surely been higher if not for our progress in improving air quality. MDE also continued to push for tougher federal standards for air quality, including regulations that would reduce the amount of ozone transported into Maryland from other states.

Meanwhile, Marylanders were finding ways to help. Hundreds came to Camden Yards on a summer Saturday to trade gasoline lawn mowers for cleaner, battery-powered models (discounted as part of a program co-sponsored by MDE).

And progress continued in addressing climate change. Maryland worked with a coalition of northeastern states to establish the start of a framework for a low-carbon fuel standard. Maryland's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country's first cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has raised more than $130 million for such initiatives as low-income energy assistance and for energy efficiency and clean energy programs that will lower greenhouse gas emissions. The program will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the State's electricity generators by about 10 percent by 2019.

The Land

Maryland continues to address needed cleanup at some of our state's most polluted sites. MDE staff worked throughout 2010 to advance the cleanup of areas at the Sparrow Point steel-making facility and successfully pushed for improved communication between the company and the community. Also in 2010, Maryland asked that the Dwyer Property, a former munitions plant in Cecil County, be added to the national Superfund list of polluted properties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the site be added to the list.

We continued to make progress in addressing lead poisoning, the biggest -- and entirely preventable -- environmental threat to children. The annual Childhood Lead Registry report for 2010 showed that more Maryland children were tested last year for lead poisoning and fewer were poisoned by lead than in any year since figures have been collected. But, as First Lady Katie O'Malley pointed out in announcing those results, we must do more -- and that includes spreading the word that lead poisoning can also occur in owner-occupied homes as well as in older rental units.

MDE moved forward in 2010 to implement requirements of a new program to improve the management of manure at animal feeding operations. The program will reduce polluted runoff from over 500 poultry operations and help farmers comply with Federal and State laws.

The Water  

To meet Maryland's ambitious two-year milestones, we have more than doubled our efforts to reduce nitrogen, the most serious pollutant in the Bay. Indeed, we worked on many fronts in 2010 to improve the quality of our waterways.

We took steps to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff, the fastest-growing source of Bay pollution. Regulations adopted in 2010 require "environmental site design" -- that is, permeable surfaces, vegetative buffers, and other small-scale treatment practices to trap and absorb stormwater -- for new development.

Also this year, MDE worked to address the largest source of stormwater pollution -- our already developed areas. Montgomery County supported a stormwater permit issued by MDE that is one of the most progressive in the nation and provides a framework for similar stormwater permits for other Maryland jurisdictions.

Maryland's septic upgrade program continues to be a tremendous success, with more than 2,200 septic systems upgraded through MDE's program. Meanwhile, Marylanders continue to upgrade many of our largest wastewater treatment plants with Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology. We have upgraded 16 plants, and another 15 are under construction.

ARRA funding created and saved jobs and helped pay for projects that provided environmental and public health benefits. MDE administered the $121.6 million for 85 clean water and green projects.

Finally, 2010 has proven to be a pivotal year in the long fight to restore the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland worked with the EPA on the development of a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, often called a pollution "diet." We were the only State, along with the District of Columbia, to submit an adequate Draft Watershed Implementation Plan to meet that diet. After hearing and considering public comment to our proposal, we are putting the finishing touches on a refined Plan that will significantly reduce pollution by 2020 -- a self-imposed deadline five years ahead of the EPA and the other Bay States.

It is a plan that will improve our environment and public health, help create jobs, and protect the economic value of the Bay.

These are but a few of the many accomplishments this year, achievements that occurred during difficult economic times and that could only be made possible through the hard work of State employees and our stakeholders, and I thank you for all you did this year to protect the environment and public health.

On behalf of our talented staff -- scientists, administrative specialists, emergency responders, meteorologists, modelers, radiation experts, geologists, project managers, planners and engineers and more -- thank you for your work to achieve the important progress we are making. If you attended a stakeholder meeting, submitted a comment, sponsored a cleanup, sought funding for a project, reported a problem, or obtained a permit, you have improved Maryland's environment. The Department looks forward to working with you in 2011.

On a personal note, I want to take this opportunity to offer many thanks for your support over the past four years, as I recently announced my decision not to seek a second term. Serving the citizens of Maryland as Secretary of the Department of the Environment has been my honor and my privilege. I am enormously proud of our collective accomplishments and particularly of the significant progress we've made under Governor O'Malley's leadership. I look forward to following Maryland's continued achievements in protecting our air, land, water, and public health.