Look in this section for information from a variety of sources to provide, at times, varying of points of views about the energy industry and fuel sources. Platte-Clay relies on a variety of sources, including industry publications and trade associations, for the material presented here.
To suggest other reliable organizations or publications, use the form below.
As part of Platte-Clay’s move into making solar energy available to members your co-op has established a Solar Committee. The purpose of the Solar Committee is to learn, with co-op management about how well solar performs for co-op members.
Members may buy the output of up to five panels or lease up to five panels, and there are advantages to both programs.
The co-op will post the Solar Committee presentations in two locations–in News and in Energy.
Please let us know if you have any questions or would like more information including solar energy in the mix that comes to your home or business.
Environmental Protection Agency
The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.
EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:
- all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
- national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
- federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
- environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
- all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
- environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
- the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.
Nearly half of the EPA budget goes into grants to state environmental programs, non-profits, educational institutions, and others. They use the money for a wide variety of projects, from scientific studies that help us make decisions to community cleanups. Overall, grants help us achieve our overall mission: protect human health and the environment.
More about grants
Teach people about the environment
Protecting the environment is everyone’s responsibility, and starts with understanding the issues. The basics include reducing how much energy and materials you use, reusing what you can and recycling the rest. There’s a lot more about that to learn!
Learn the issues
Web sites for students and educators
ECT.coop » Industry Channel – Avoid HVAC Headaches at Home
Posted: 19 Aug 2013 11:03 PM PDT
It’s one of the biggest investments a homeowner will make: installing a new HVAC system. But hiring the right company requires a lot more research than asking your friends who they used.
CRN says to do lots of research before investing in a new HVAC system. (Photo By: Jupiterimages)
“You have no idea if the person coming to your house is even remotely qualified to do a good job,” warns Brian Sloboda, senior program manager at NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network.
“It is not a secret in the HVAC industry that there are times when you buy a very nice brand new, highly efficient heat pump or air conditioner, and by the time the person is finished installing it, you’re left with something that might actually be less efficient than the thing you just replaced.”
Say what? How can that happen?
“The duct work in your house may not be functioning. There are instances where duct work is lying on the ground and not actually connected when the person leaves. There are other cases where the duct work is not designed properly, so you may need to reconfigure some of the duct work,” Sloboda cited as common examples.
Other problems: The refrigerant could be under-charged or over-charged. Or you could be sold a system that’s oversized for your house, leaving it humid inside.
Mistakes like these are commonplace, Sloboda said, because there “really are no standards that HVAC installers have to meet to get their job.”
However, some industry groups have come up with their own quality installation programs, including the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)—which CRN has met with—and North American Technician Excellence (NATE), which was formed by several HVAC industry stakeholders.
CRN and its strategic partner E Source have been looking into quality installation programs, which Sloboda said teach proper design and installation, as well as how to instruct consumers on correct use “so that the system works the way the manufacturer intended.”
Sloboda said consumers should ask their utility if it has a preferred contractor program, consisting of companies that the electric cooperative or other utility has vetted. If not, check the ACCA or NATE websites for accredited companies.
But that’s just for starters. Sloboda said that when you call a contractor, “You really should insist that the person who actually comes to your house and does the work is the person with the certification.” Not everyone working for an accredited company is necessarily certified.
“When they come to your house, ask questions,” Sloboda advised. A good one to lead off with: How long have you been doing this? “If they say, ‘This is only my second job,’ you may want to ask the HVAC contractor to send somebody out with the person.”
So what about asking friends or neighbors who they used?
“They have no clue if the person did proper duct analysis or charging of the system. No one knows. You can’t tell by looking at it. You can’t really tell by looking at your energy bill,” Sloboda said. “You have to hook electronics up to the system to see how it’s performing, and you can’t do that as a regular homeowner.”
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Report Analyzes Grid Resiliency to Natural Disasters
The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported on the impact of power outages caused by severe weather between 2003 and 2012. During that period, an estimated 679 severe weather-related outages cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion per year (adjusted for inflation).
Severe weather events have increased in recent years—last year, 11 weather events occurred where damages exceeded $1 billion, trailing only the 14 events that occurred in 2011. In order to reduce future economic loss, the council called for increased cross-sector investments in the electric grid to boost its resiliency and reliability.
“A more resilient grid is one that is better able to sustain and recover from adverse events like severe weather,” the report said. “A more reliable grid is one with fewer and shorter power interruptions. Methods for improving the resilience and reliability of the grid include both high and low-tech solutions.”
The report outlines strategies for boosting resiliency following six priorities: improved risk management; cost-effective grid strengthening (noting that underground lines are often cost-prohibitive); increased system redundancies and flexibility; increased situational awareness (via smart meter reporting, for example); improving advanced control capabilities; and increasing the availability of critical replacement components, such as transformers.
“Developing a smarter, more resilient electric grid is one step that can be taken now to ensure the welfare of the millions of current and future Americans who depend on the grid for reliable power,” the report said.
The full report, “Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages,” is available at www.energy.gov.
Courtesy CFC NewsBulletin
The next time you take your bicycle out for a spin, think of riding uphill with a prosthetic leg. Seems impossible?
Not so for Ride 2 Recovery, a national non-profit that uses cycling to heal war veterans’ physical and emotional wounds. On Aug. 9, the group received a $10,000 donation from NRECA to support the group’s programs, which include adapting bikes for injured veterans and staging multi-day cycling events.
Retired four-star Gen. George W. Casey Jr., a former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, accepted the donation on the group’s behalf at NRECA’s Benefits Update Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
A board member of Ride 2 Recovery who’s ridden in many cycling events, Casey told the gathering of co-op benefits administrators about hearing “stories of commitment and courage” from wounded vets riding alongside him.
Casey recalled pedaling a mountainous stretch of the 9/11 Challenge, a five-day 530-mile event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks. “It was 42 degrees and raining. We’re about halfway up this mountain. I’m suffering… then I heard this person coming up behind me. As he passes me, he says, ‘Come on, general. You can do it.’”
The rider was a young Army veteran who had lost his leg in Afghanistan.
“He passed me after what he’s been through,” Casey told the group. “I said, ‘Stop whining, general. Get your butt up the hill.’ And I did it.”
The $10,000 donation is the first time NRECA has directly supported Ride 2 Recovery, said Peter Baxter, NRECA senior vice president of insurance and financial services.
A cyclist himself who met Casey at a recent R2R event, Baxter said later this year he will “explore ways that NRECA and Co-op Nation can further participate and benefit from this great program” for co-op employees and vets returning to co-op communities.
Baxter described his 40-plus mile ride in Virginia “as an incredibly rewarding experience from which I have received some real inspiration to push myself harder and further than I thought I could. The veterans in this program are doing that every day, and they should be an example for all of us.”
Courtesy NRECA – ETC.coop
USDA Offers New Tools to Ease Risks
By Cathy Cash
Published: June 12th, 2013
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced immediate steps to help farmers and ranchers on a regional basis deal with extreme weather patterns, drought, invasive species, wildfires and other risks.
“We know that developing modern solutions to a changing climate requires a doubling down on collaboration—between farmers, governments, researchers and industry,” Vilsack said in a June 5 address at the National Press Club in Washington. “This is not a single, one-size-fits-all problem. We need a targeted approach geared to the particular challenge faced by each region.”
Vilsack outlined a three-pronged approach for partnerships and strategies with landowners, farmers and ranchers that will involve markets, conservation and new crop methods.
USDA is creating “Regional Climate Hubs” to serve as “science-based risk management” extension centers to better coordinate agency assets specific to a region’s vulnerabilities. “Practically, the hubs will deal out advice to farmers and forest owners on ways to reduce risks and manage change,” Vilsack said.
Should competitive markets form for carbon sequestration and water protection, “these regional hubs will play a useful role,” he said.
The department is also rolling out an online tool dubbed the “Carbon Management and Evaluation Tool” or “COMET-Farm,” that will allow access to the USDA’s extensive database on soil carbon. Farmers and ranchers can use the new tool to determine the best conservation practices to increase soil carbon and decrease emissions and how land management decisions impact energy use and carbon emissions.
Improved soil is more resilient to drought and extreme weather and can absorb carbon stocks and eventually “serve as a gateway for future efforts to help producers participate in voluntary carbon markets,” Vilsack said.
USDA further has come out with new cover crop guidance to keep farmers in compliance with agency rules while using local climate data to maximize the cover crop’s carbon sequestration benefits without harming cash crop yields.
Vilsack said the department is implementing these strategies immediately and no legislation is required for it to do so.
WCA partners with Brazilian Coal Association for strategic research on clean coal technologies
World Coal Association
August 23, 2013
GRAMADO – The World Coal Association (WCA) is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with the Brazilian Coal Association (BCA) to pursue collaborative work to advance technical, environmental, and strategic research on clean coal technologies.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed this week in Brazil by WCA Chief Executive, Milton Catelin and BCA President, Fernando Zancan, the WCA and BCA have agreed to take part in cooperative activities across a range of technologies.
Milton Catelin, WCA Chief Executive said, “As the coal industry works to improve access to modern energy, it is critical to develop and utilise technologies to reduce the environmental impacts associated with our energy consumption. Research has shown that if we had used advanced coal technologies between 2000 and 2011 for new coal-fired generating capacity, cumulative emissions of CO2 over that period would have been reduced by almost 2 Gigatonnes (Gt) – this is three times the expected effect of the Kyoto Protocol. Technology is clearly critical to meeting the environmental challenges we face today.
“This MOU not only highlights the importance of clean coal technologies in the future production of energy, it is an invaluable opportunity to work with BCA to deliver pragmatic solutions that address environmental challenges.”
Cooperative activities covered by the new MOU include: the development of clean coal technologies studies; carbon capture use and storage (CCUS); coal-to-liquids technologies; technologies to tackle acid mine drainage; and tackling waste from coal production and use, such as the utilisation of coal combustion products.
“We look forward to cooperating with the Brazilian Coal Association across these important areas. The MOU has the full support of WCA’s Strategic Research Institute, based in Beijing, and we welcome this opportunity to cooperate internationally on these matters,” said Mr Catelin.
WCA provides a voice for coal in international energy, environment and development forums, presenting the case for coal to key decision-makers, including ministers, development banks, NGOs, international media, the energy industry, business and finance and research bodies.
Courtesy World Coal Organization (www.worldcoal.org)