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Bush energy plan whacks conservation

May 31, 2006

Bush energy plan whacks conservation

By Mark Clayton, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

A few years ago a little-known US Energy Department program helped produce a design technology for lightweight cars and trucks that in 2004 alone saved the nation 122 million barrels of oil, or about $9 billion.

Even without that breakthrough, the tiny Industrial Technologies Program routinely saves the United States $7 worth of energy for each dollar it spends, proponents say.

So, with energy prices spiking and President Bush pushing for more energy research, the ITP would seem a natural candidate for more funding. In fact, its budget is set to get chopped by a third from its 2005 level. It’s one of more than a dozen energy-efficiency efforts that the Energy Department plans to trim or eliminate in a $115 million cost-saving move.

The push to solve the nation’s energy woes are bumping up against the federal government’s budget problems. To be sure, the Bush administration is anxious to fund its new Advanced Energy Initiative – long-term research into nuclear, coal, wind, solar, and hydrogen power. But to accomplish that, it is cutting lesser-known programs like ITP whose payoffs are far more near-term.

“This is the worst time to be cutting these programs,” says William Prindle, deputy director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington think tank. “At this point in time, with high energy prices and pressures, you’d think maybe we’d want to invest in a suite of energy-efficiency programs that make a dent right away.” Entire story

Joint Solution Enables Energy Industry to Manage Grid Reliability and Prevent Blackouts

May 30, 2006

Joint Solution Enables Energy Industry to Manage Grid Reliability and Prevent Blackouts

Tampa, FL (PRWEB) May 29, 2006 — Simple Com Tools, LLC – creator of the award-winning COM1000 Industrial Internet Appliance, and leader in the M2M hardware market, and Conservation Resource Solutions, Inc. (CRS), a nationwide application provider specializing in energy usage information and management tools, are teaming up to help both electric utility and competitive electricity providers manage electric power grid reliability by enabling Real Time Demand Response Program management.

Demand Response programs are one method that an Independent System Operator (ISO) may use to provide independent energy utilities with access to power on a fair and balanced basis. Demand Response programs are where local utilities and their enrolled customers can be called upon to reduce their electricity consumption in response to either system reliability problems or high wholesale market prices. These programs provide a lower cost, reduced risk, and more environmentally sound solution to managing capacity demands, helping to manage electric power grid reliability and prevent blackouts.

Under their partner relationship, CRS will utilize SCT’s COM1000 as their preferred customer premise hardware enabling data collection and usage reporting to the CRS supplied iEMS energy usage information and management system. CRS selected the COM1000 from Simple Com Tools as its preferred data collection hardware because of its ability to help CRS meet the near real-time customer reporting interval and communications requirements of the New England bulk power system operator, ISO-NE. ISO-NE is recognized as the industry leader in the successful implementation of Real Time Demand Response Programs. With the capability to interface to a wide variety of meters, capture and totalize usage data, and transport the data to the iEMS server over any network architecture, the COM1000 enabled CRS with a customer premise solution that would work with all potential network options, a factor crucial to simplifying customer installation, turn-up, and troubleshooting.

“Simple Com Tools has enabled CRS to improve our service offering to our diverse utility and non-utility customer base and ensure a compelling ROI,” states Todd Moran, Managing Partner, Operations for CRS. Demand-side response is an excellent example of this. We look forward to continuing to provide quality, value added solutions to our customers using the COM1000.”  Entire story

Permit fees should be reasonable

May 29, 2006

Permit fees should be reasonable

The Answer Spot is an occasional feature that addresses your post-Katrina questions. To submit a question, e-mail it to insurance@timespicayune.com.


I contracted an electrician in the fall to rewire the flooded portion of my home and paid him $700 for the electrical permit and inspection. The work was completed December through April, and the electrician inspected his own work. As part of our final accounting, I have asked for a copy of the permit and approval, but he says there are no such documents to provide. The city’s office of electrical permits says no permit was actually filed for work at my address, but that I should still pay him for the permit and inspection. Is the $700 fee for the electrical permit and inspection legitimate? Is a certified electrician currently allowed to inspect his own work? What kind of documentation should be provided for the permit and inspection?

The fee is not legitimate.

The Department of Safety and Permits is charging $30 for permits for Katrina repairs through the end of June, and online permit applications are free. Electricians may charge for their time to get the permits, but Mike Centineo, director of the safety and permits office, says those fees should be reasonable and in line with the electrician’s normal hourly rates. Getting a permit at City Hall usually takes less than an hour, and getting it online is even faster.

For residential properties, New Orleans licensed contractors can certify their own work by signing an affidavit with the homeowner saying they will not hold the city liable for any problems. The certification form is available in the permitting resource section of the city’s Web site. As part of the emergency, post — Katrina procedures, contractors will certify their own work until the state is able to create procedures for certifying independent, third-party inspectors because there are not enough city inspectors to keep up with the demand. City inspectors randomly spot-check properties and have suspended six electricians and have put 15 others on probation for shoddy work. Entire Story

Safety Tips for Using Portable Generators

May 28, 2006

• Under no circumstances should portable generators be used indoors, including inside a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. The CO from generators can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death, but CO can’t be seen or smelled. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY— DO NOT DELAY.

• Because you may have windows open to get fresh air while the power is out, be sure to place the generator away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors. To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. To protect the generator from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Dry your hands if wet before touching the generator.

• It is a good idea to install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. Test the battery frequently and replace when needed.

• Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

• Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator. Local laws may restrict the amount of fuel you may store, or the storage location. Ask your local fire department for additional information about local regulations. Store the fuel outside of living areas in a locked shed or other protected area. Do not store it near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage. If the fuel is spilled or the container is not sealed properly, invisible vapors from the fuel can travel along the ground and can be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.

Utilities Urged To Push Energy Conservation

May 27, 2006

Utilities Urged To Push Energy Conservation

RALEIGH, N.C. — Billions of dollars in expansion plans by North Carolina’s largest utilities are frustrating environmentalists, who say the companies and their customers are ignoring key answers to the problem of skyrocketing demand.

At an upcoming series of public hearings, they plan to urge state regulators to demand that the companies push conservation and alternative energy sources.

“Utilities should be focused on helping customers use as little electricity as possible and do this in a meaningful way,” said Bob Rodriguez, a manufacturing salesman of wireless testing equipment.

Rodriguez, who lives in Raleigh, is trying to cut his family’s power usage. He got a home energy audit, then sealed leaky ducts in the air-handling system, added insulation in the attic and crawl space, and replaced most light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, which use less energy. Entire story

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