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Take Light Rail to the Santa Clara Convention Center for ConnectivityWeek

It's possible to take rapid transit from the San Jose airport to the Santa Clara Convention Center, but it's not obvious how. Here's the run-down.

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Getting Some Perspective on Smart Grid

Smart Grid. If you work in the energy industry, it’s everywhere you turn. Conferences, webinars, articles, press releases, advertisements. Messages on renewable integration, electric vehicle charging, privacy, security, consumer backlash, mergers and new acquisitions. Which aspect matters the most?

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Is ZigBee or Wi-Fi More Cost-Effective and Efficient for Smart Grid Communications in the Home?

A newly published GE white paper finds that, between two popular technologies for home area network (HAN) communications, ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi.

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Energy's "Internet Revolution"

I see myriad opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to transition to energy. The parallels between the Internet and the smart grid are notable -- from innovations to startup financing to industry transformation.

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Transitioning from High-Tech to Smart Grid for NW Entrepreneurs

Founding editor Denis Du Bois is moderating the MIT Enterprise Forum on smart-grid entrepreneurship next Wednesday evening. Here's a description. We hope you can be in the audience to ask your questions or share your tech-to-grid experience.

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Alliance Hopes to Accelerate Adoption of Automated Demand Response Standard

Big players like Honeywell, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Edison have come out in support the formation of the nonprofit OpenADR Alliance.

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GridWeek 2010 - The annual gathering of Smart Grid industry

Guest columnist Anto Budiardjo says GridWeek is broadly recognized as the most important annual Smart Grid gathering.

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The Smart Grid Wants You - Building Priorities Briefing

The smart grid wants you! But what does it take to be a participant in the smart grid? What's in it for you? If the smart grid is so smart, why does it need buildings to integrate with it? And what about the people who are paying for the smart grid -- yeah, all of us -- what do we get out of it? Denis Du Bois interviews two pioneering experts at the building-to-grid frontier, at ConnectivityWeek 2010. (podcast)

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Continuous Commissioning - Energy:Minute

Continuous commissioning goes by many names. It's a way of making sure building systems are running at peak efficiency. Learn about it, in a minute. (podcast)

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Efficient Energy: Sizing and Seizing Opportunities

I had the pleasure of moderating an expert panel at the Washington Innovation Summit on April 9, 2010. The panelists were executives from an energy efficiency startup, an energy utility, a government agency, and an independent producer of renewable energy.

Washington's Governor "joined us" on stage for a role-playing exercise. And with the help of a prototype Time Machine, we explored several opportunities for businesses, researchers and policymakers to create a prosperous future in clean energy.

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Energy Monitoring - Energy:Minute

You can't manage what you can't measure. Monitoring is an essential component of managing energy use. (podcast) (transcript)

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Top 10 "Cleantech Top 10" Lists for 2010

One of the items on my "top 10 observations on January 1, 2010" is how many people are making Top 10 lists this week. Here are, well, how about 10 of them.

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America's Berlin Wall of Energy

Germany's Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago today. It reminds me of the green movement...

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Microsoft "Hohm" Connections Available to Seattle City Light Customers

Seattle City Light is the first utility to announce that it is offering customers the ability to link their electricity consumption data with Microsoft Hohm. Google's Powermeter has a head start over Hohm, but both lag behind the energy-monitoring industry.

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Duke Rhymes with... Smart Grid?

When utility CEOs make proclamations about leadership in renewables or the smart grid, it's often difficult to get the troops to take it seriously. As a result, progressive pronouncements often are met with nods, but no action. At Duke Energy, observes the Smart Grid News, that may be changing.

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Duke's Smarts

Duke Energy’s smart grid program continues to expand. The nation’s third-largest electric utility struck an agreement with Echelon to make the vendor's Networked Energy Services (NES) system a key part of the program. Duke CEO Jim Rogers, considered a visionary in the utility industry, tells Fortune about his career path.

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Connectivity's Train Has Arrived

Some have called smart energy "the internet's next killer app." Actually it's the other way around.

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Juval Lowe Interview

Juval Löwe, Principal of IDesign and Microsoft "Software Legend" and keynote speaker at ConnectivityWeek 2009, interviewed by Denis Du Bois, Editor of Energy Priorities Magazine. (podcast)

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FERC Reports a National Assessment of Demand Response Potential to Congress

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) delivered its report to Congress quantifying the potential for demand response in the United States. The report was mandated two years ago by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007) Section 529 (a).

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New Dictionary Defines Everything about the Smart Grid, and Then Some

Every business needs a dictionary to define important terms and decipher acronyms, and the smart grid business sector finally has one.

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ConnectivityWeek 2009: Internet Visionaries Share their Energy Views

ConnectivityWeek 2009 keynote presentations this morning ranged from networks and nuclear to blackouts and blogging. Speakers were Bob Metcalfe and Juval Lowe.

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Energy Efficient LED Streetlight Demonstration in San Jose To Use Intelligent Controls

The City of San Jose will soon embark on its second streetlight pilot using light-emitting diodes. The LED project is part of the city's Green Vision, a 15-year plan to promote environmentally sustainable practices and reduce energy use. (photos)

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Smart Grid Battle Moves to the States

At the federal level in the U.S., the fight to legitimize the Smart Grid is over. It has been recognized in several key pieces of legislation -- mostly recently the stimulus package -- as an essential national asset. But the federal government has only limited say over the electric power industry. The final say lies at the state level, where public utility commissions oversee the regulated utilities that deliver the lion’s share of the nation's electricity. Here's what that means for Smart Grid proponents.

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Smart Meters Read $4.2 Billion in Stimulus

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law this week calls for a $4.2 billion grant program that would support smart grid and smart metering projects.

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Google Taking a Step Into Smart Meter Monitoring

Is this genuine hardware-agnosticism, or naïveté? Google launched a service to monitor residential electricity consumption, without knowing whether smart meters will work with it.

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GE Smart Grid Ad Laments: "If I Only Had a Brain"

GE's Smart Grid campaign started during Super Bowl XLIII this week with a $3 million, 30-second ad.

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Wasting Our Watts: Efficiency and Conservation

Time Magazine writer Michael Grunwald gets it. Energy efficiency is the fifth fuel. His 3,000-word article in the most recent issue explores the potential and the barriers. Here are the main points.

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Smart Metering Is Gaining Traction in France

Smart meters haven't taken off in France yet, while electricity distributors wait for European standards. A consortium of distributors decided to take the lead with open-interface meters that will let them expand capabilities later.

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Data Center Energy: Reduction Is Not Really the Priority

White papers are pouring out of vendors in the information technology space as they shift their marketing positions to "green" as fast as they can. Many have locked onto an imagined want in data centers to reduce energy consumption from equipment and cooling. Energy efficiency is out of line with the business goals of most IT departments.

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Grid Operator Warns of Power Rationing Eventuality

Michael Morris, chairman, president and chief executive of American Electric Power, which runs the nation's largest electrical transmission system, told the Associated Press he sees a dire situation ahead for the power grid, and the U.S. could eventually face power rationing.

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5-Year Anniversary of the 2003 Northeast Blackout

On August 14, 2003, a sagging power line coming into contact with untrimmed trees near Cleveland, Ohio triggered a massive blackout that left 50 million people without electricity in a 9,300 square mile area in the Northeast and Midwest United States and parts of Canada. Economic losses were estimated at as much as $10 billion. Five years later, is the North American electrical power grid less susceptible to disruption?

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PG&E Chief’s Green Crusade (Fortune)

PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee called a handful of journalists into his boardroom and talked about being a successful utility in an era when it's is less about building centralized power plants and more about tapping renewable energy and balancing supply and demand.

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Top 12 Green-IT Companies 2008 (CW)

The next issue of ComputerWorld magazine (Monday, 18 February, 2008) will feature the magazine's picks for the top "green IT" companies. The winner's circle includes 12 vendors and 12 user companies.

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If IT Merged with Energy Technology (NY Times)

Thomas L. Friedman says Mumbai and Calcutta, strained from the influx of workers from rural areas, can't keep growing. The tech revolution in India could expand to rural villages, benefiting some of India's 700 million villagers. But it can’t do it off car batteries, backup diesel generators and India’s rural electric grid. It will take a real energy revolution.

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Power Lines Buried, but Not Dead: Novinium Injects New Life into Cables

In the 1970s, American utilities started burying cables to avoid unisghtly poles and vulnerable overhead lines. It soon became common practice to also bury privately-owned power lines under corporate campuses, universities, hospitals and factories. Now there are billions of feet of underground aluminum and copper cables nearing the end of their 25-year lifespan. One company has invented a way to rejuvenate cabling and extend the life of its insulation. Novinium treats the cable by injecting chemicals into it, for about half the cost of replacing the line. There are important environmental advantages to this method, too. Denis Du Bois interviews Glen Bertini, CEO of Novinium. (podcast)

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DR-Expo 2007 Moves Demand Response to Forefront of America's Energy Sustainability Agenda

As American businesses wrestle with sustainability and the prospect of even higher energy costs, competitive energy suppliers and members of the building automation industry are coming together at DR Expo 2007 to collaborate on ways to fast-track energy demand response solutions.

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Pushing a Smart Grid (NW Current)

In business, as with utilities, the real cost savings come not from the technologies themselves, but from the business strategies they enable. As energy costs rise, businesses must take strategic advantage of being able to know and control the costs in operations and production.

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Marketing Intelligence: The Challenges of Selling Smart Meters in the US

One of the promises of a "smart grid" is to bring the advantages of data and communications networks to the infrastructure that delivers electricity to our businesses and homes. That would make it possible to fully deploy ideas like demand response and real-time pricing -- ideas that depend on having intelligence at both ends of the wire -- sophisticated systems at the utility end; and at the customer's site, smart energy meters. Why is the United States so far behind Europe in deploying advanced metering infrastructures? What will it take to accelerate adoption? Denis Du Bois interviews Jeff Lund, a VP in the Networked Energy Services division at Echelon. (podcast) (transcript)

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Energy Efficiency Creates Unusual Alliance between Manufacturer and Utility

Trojan Battery Company made record-setting investments in technologies that essentially enable them to buy less energy from their utility. What's unusual about that? The utility paid for the technology, and pays Trojan Battery to use it. The process of preparing for summer demand response yielded a fortunate financial byproduct: Trojan gets lower rates that are saving the company thousands on its electric bill every month. (photos)

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Smart Meters

Energy Minute: Smart electric meters communicate over a network, so utilities can verify demand response and provide net metering of on-site renewable energy. (podcast)

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GridWeek 2007: Buildings and the Future of Electricity

This is the last day of GridWeek. Denis Du Bois is hosting a daily podcast series featuring the top speakers at the conference. Today he interviews Kurt Yeager, Executive Director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, and Volker Hartkopf, Director of the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University. (podcast)

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GridWeek 2007: Balancing Innovation and Regulation -- Interview with NERC President Rick Sergel

This morning marks the halfway point for GridWeek. Denis Du Bois is hosting a daily podcast series featuring the top speakers at the conference. Today he interviews four presenters, including the head of the North American Energy Reliability Council. (podcast)

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GridWeek 2007: Interview with Kevin Kolevar, Director of the DOE's Office of Electricity

Day two of GridWeek is devoted entirely to the topic of demand response. Denis Du Bois is hosting a daily podcast series featuring the top speakers at the conference. Today he interviews the DOE's Director of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Kevin Kolevar, one of today's keynote speakers. (podcast)

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GridWeek 2007: Interview with EnerNex CTO Erich Gunther

The first annual GridWeek kicks off today in Washington DC. Energy Priorities editor Denis Du Bois is hosting a daily podcast series featuring the top speakers at the conference. Today he interviews Erich Gunther, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of EnerNex Corporation. (podcast)

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Can Renewable Energy Help Manage Peak Demand?

Energy Minute: Demand response programs ask customers to stop buying as much power during periods of peak demand, because there's not enough energy to go around. This "triple-shot" Energy Minute examines whether those customers, or the utilities, could somehow use renewable energy instead. (podcast)

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BPA Charts its Grid Future (Smart Grid News)

Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Innovation Officer of the Bonneville Power Administration, highlights three emerging issues: intermittency, interaction and immediacy. He also predicts unpleasant surprises for utilities that fail to recognize the growing power of reliability rules and equipment standards.

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Demand Management Technology Has Cross-Atlantic Reunion

Demand management vendors have traditionally specialized in either industrial or commercial spaces. That means few choices for industrial sites that want to automate their entire facility using a centralized system. A recent merger could eventually result in a new system that can manage both plants and offices. Will it have enough of an advantage over integrating multi-vendor systems?

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Getting Started with Demand Response

Demand response is catching on around the world as a means of reducing the need for new power plant construction, lowering wholesale power costs, and cutting harmful emissions. It can also be a source of revenue for participating companies. If demand response is going to be part of your energy cost management strategy, then you have some options for how you go about it. (podcast)

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When Will Demand Response Be as Accepted as Daylight Savings Time?

Demand response has been around for many years, but it still hasn't caught on at a national level here in the US. Participants still are pioneers -- they need a willingness to wade through the options and paperwork, not to mention dealing with immature technologies and managing their programs with sketchy data.

When will demand response become a mainstream resource? I went to America's most progressive state for demand response, and asked the top regulator and top grid operator to get specific about when demand response will be commonplace. (podcast)

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Demand Response: Experts and Businesses Discuss the Challenges Ahead

California's big three utilities have 2,660 MW of demand response enrolled, ahead of the regulators' policy goal for next summer. Enrollment is not the same as participation. Do companies have enough price elasticity to participate? If so, is demand response cost-effective for utilities? Can participating companies recover the cost of the necessary equipment? Who pays the price?

Blogged live from a meeting entitled "Demand Response: Simple Solutions, Real Savings, Fast Payback," this article grew as the meeting proceeded. It's still in its rough form, but nonetheless full of interesting information and perspectives. I invited readers to post questions using the comments form at the bottom of this article, and I posed some of them to the speakers and panelists.

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European Utility Expands its Echelon Automated Metering Infrastructure

A San Jose company is boasting the largest intelligent metering infrastructure -- and it's in Sweden. Vattenfall AB has ordered 500,000 units from Echelon, and eventually could deploy automated meter reading equipment and software to three-fourths of its one million customers.

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Seattle Is Dark

Saturday, December 16. Eight shopping days until Christmas, and retailers are closed. Energy Priorities is running on generator and internet dial-up. Utilities say it could be five days before power is restored to most of their customers. What is the cost of a severe blackout?

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Demand Response Programs Help Utilities Avoid Rate Hikes

Energy Minute: Demand response is a program where electricity customers reduce their consumption at critical times. It's a way for utilities to avoid large capital expenditures and postpone rate hikes. (Podcast)

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European Energy Usage Pushes the Limits (Deutsche Welle)

Many EU countries are getting nervous about having enough electricity supply to meet peak demands. Although Europe is not expecting widespread blackouts on the scale of those in the U.S. in 2003, a new report says energy conservation and investments in alternatives are urgent.

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Product Oriented Environmental Management System Measures Embodied Energy in Products (Intl Herald Tribune)

Europe's Product Oriented Environmental Management System -- "Poems" for short -- determines how much energy is used across a production process, and what waste is generated at each step. Scoring could eventually allow consumers to compare products and select the more energy-efficient choice.

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Modern Grid Initiative Expands Online Resources

The Modern Grid Initiative has launched an expanded and redesigned Web site to disseminate information and promote collaboration about grid R&D.

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Demand-Side Management Technology Avoids Grid Construction for Bonneville Power (Case Study)

To understand the problem of grid constraints, imagine you're an ice cream maker. It's a hot summer afternoon and you get orders for every last gallon of your cold treats. Now imagine your delivery trucks get caught in a traffic jam in your own shipping yard. You have perishing products, complaining customers, and a retailer revolt -- not to mention the mess. Peak demand management is like keeping your customers from placing their orders all at once.

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Peak Demand Management in a Nutshell

An alternative to grid construction is based on changing when energy is used. Several programs are in place across the nation, designed to level the load on the grid by reducing peaks. Consumers use the same amount of electricity, but slightly earlier or later than usual. This example shows how peak demand management works using technology. Programmable thermostats allowed BPA to remotely raise or lower the temperature setting. Using remote switches, BPA also could turn off the heating elements in water heaters, or turn off pool pumps.

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Energy Priorities Turns Two on Earth Day

Online magazine separates reality from hype in leading-edge energy technologies for commercial and industrial users.

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Voltage Reduction Saves Snohomish PUD Customers Millions

Utilities typically send out more voltage than utility customers need, just to make sure the last customer on the line gets enough. A Washington state utility is changing that -- and willingly costing themselves millions a year in revenue -- by installing conservation voltage reduction devices.

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Time of Use Electricity Billing: How Puget Sound Energy Reduced Peak Power Demands (Case Study)

When power prices are volatile or supplies are short, reducing peak loads becomes a top priority for utilities. Billing customers for energy based on the time of day has proven to be a viable means for reducing peak loads. This case study examines one of the first field trials of time-of-use tariffs and automated meter reading technologies, how they worked, the results, and why the program ended abruptly.

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California Energy Commissioner Recommends Investing in Efficiency

California is a model for the rest of the United States in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld shared some of the state's experiences with an audience of investors at the Clean Tech Investor Summit.

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Standby Power Supports Business (Energy User News)

Businesses are considering the economics of power outages alongside the conventional load calculations when sizing on-site power. Utility incentives and penalties also figure into the decision to be self sufficient with distributed generation. The need for backup electric power is categorized based on the net cost of an outage and a facility's risk tolerance.

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Business Magazine "Energy Priorities" Celebrates One Year Anniversary

First "hybrid" publication on energy combines best qualities of magazine and blog.

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Maxwell's Backup Capacitors Bridge Power Outages for Telecom, Other Critical Uses

Maxwell takes the "interrupt" out of "uninterruptible" and takes batteries out of the data center. PowerCache was recently named a Best Product of the Year by a mechanical design magazine. The product bridges momentary outages while a longer-term backup power source starts up. Ideal for medical, industrial, telecom and enterprise VoIP environments where continuous electric power is mission critical.

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2005 Energy Priorities

What are the top five actions that your business can take in 2005 to become a more responsible energy user and take us closer to a clean and sustainable energy future? EP gathered ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs and investors to compile this year's business energy priorities. Here they are, in priority order.

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Distributed Generation's Technology Threesome

"Energy reliability" is a subjective term. Until the digital age, 99 percent reliable centralized generation was sufficient. Business reliance on voice and data networks and precision manufacturing processes have given "reliability" a new meaning. That hundredth percentage point is the most costly to achieve.

Distributed generation is a logical means of providing high levels of reliability to those who need it, without incurring the public capital outlay of providing it to everyone. As businesses consider making their own electricity, they should take into account a triad of interrelated technologies -- distributed generation, demand management, and alternative energy -- that will be inseparable for years to come.

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Distributed Generation in a Nutshell

Distributed generation (DG) is an alternative approach to supplying electricity. Instead of building centralized power plants, the power is generated from smaller plants that are geographically dispersed.

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Demand Response: Risks, Rewards for Early Adopters

Demand response is in its infancy. Even though it depends on regulators and utilities changing their ways, growth in demand response (DR) could happen faster than seems likely.

When that tipping point comes, some businesses will discover internal barriers to participation. Businesses who are prepared to implement DR will benefit in ways that won't be available to later adopters.

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Demand Response in a Nutshell

In demand response (DR), electricity customers reduce their consumption at critical times. This is different from energy efficiency, which is performing the same services but using less power. In demand response, customers shed loads in response to a demand from the utility. Services (lights, machines, air conditioning) are cut back for a few hours or a day at a time.

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Smart Energy -- What's the Big Deal?

In the late 1800s, America began building its electric infrastructure. Large centralized generation, coal-fired power plants, wires crisscrossing the landscape, this was the state of the art a hundred years ago -- and we're still using it today.

Our 19th-century model has its share of 21st-century problems. Blackouts, scandals, pollution and high capital expenditures are among them.

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Coal Energy Is Green, Clean and Plentiful...?!

Your business runs on energy from coal, most likely. And you can take steps today to make that energy clean and plentiful, without large capital expenditures.

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Enterprise Power Profiles: Sleep Tight, Windows

Do you love your PC's power management function, or hate it? If you haven't grown impatient with ill-behaved hibernation and turned off your Windows power management, you're in the minority.

Power management is viewed as a disruption by users, and a nuisance by IT. Windows power features are meager, with no centralized control or reporting. That's why a handful of network power management tools are available to automate PC energy conservation across the enterprise. Is it worth the time to implement and manage them?

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New Online Resource Launched for Business-Related News on Renewables, Efficiency, Reliability

Welcome to Energy Priorities. We have officially launched the first hybrid publication on energy!

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