Impact of Energy Efficiency on the System

by Jigar Shah, Founder SunEdison and CEO of the Carbon War Room

I was looking at the new Homestar program on the Efficiency First website here:
To start, it would be an amazing effort on the part of the Federal government. This comes on the heels of a huge effort on the part of the government to weatherize homes across this country. As many of you who know me, this is right up my alley. The problem with this program is that Homestar doesn’t really fundamentally shift our priorities as a nation. Assuming there is $23B of money available over 2 years available, here are some options:
1) PACE – property tax financing. This money could be used as a first loss guarantee available to the first $230B of non-recourse financing by cities. This would NOT be a Federal loan guarantee. As many of you know I find the Federal loan guarantee generally allows banks to be lazy and cuts out small contractors that can’t afford to do the paperwork
2) Utility on bill payment mechanisms – with the threat of PACE above, you might finally see utilities offer this program in a large enough quantity to offset the need for new generation facilities period. The beauty of this method is that it protects utility profits with decoupling or other half measures that really do not scale fully. The utility can use this method to carefully roll out energy efficiency in the best interests of its shareholders. Physical equipment like ice storage: would be my first choice. It shift peak power to off-peak power and reduces overall air conditioning by making ice at night when it is cooler. This technology by itself could reduce demand charges for customers by over 30% while make the utility more profitable by smoothing out generation usage. In this case the $23B would be used as a 20% subsidy to be matched by 80% utility money for energy efficiency. The 20% would pay for the “utility profits” and usher in a new way of thinking.
The reason this is better than Homestar can be best summed up by the article below. When the utility sells less electricity, it needs to raise rates to cover its fixed costs. The Federal government would spend its $23B in energy efficiency only to see almost 50% of that be charged back to rate payers in bill increases . . not catalytic.

“It’s a balance,” said Mayco Villafana, FPL spokesman. “If you do too much energy efficiency, a la what the conservationists are asking for, you are going to increase electric rates. You are reducing consumption but you still have to pay for existing power plants, transmission lines plus any new

It’s a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma for the utility regulators. They’ve let the companies start charging customers for new nuclear power and natural
gas-powered generators based on the companies’ predictions that Florida needs to double it electricity capacity by 2050. But if conservation reduces demand, will existing customers be forced to pay more?

“How outrageous is that?” asked Kristin Jacobs, a Broward County commissioner and chairman of the county’s Climate Change Task Force. “We should just continue to stumble along in our wasteful excessive ways?”

You can find out more about Jigar Shah and how the Carbon War Room is fixing market failures to create Climate Wealth at

Renewable Energy Reaches over 60% of new capacity additions in 2009

by Jigar Shah, Founder SunEdison and CEO of the Carbon War Room

As wind come out at a robust 9.9GW in 2009, Solar at maybe 600MW, etc, it looks like the zero-emissions folks will again install a majority of incremental MWs. The balance is mostly natural gas a little bit of Coal. Getting this number of 100% by 2012 and then above 100% by 2015 will be critical to achieving emissions reductions in our electricity sector. So what are the barriers:

1) Project Finance — we have to acknowledge that the arms race that we have on the tax credit side has to be reversed. Natural gas, coal, wind, solar, etc will have to agree to eliminate their Federal Tax Credits. If we can take all fossil fuel credits a phase them out over a few years and allow the wind and solar credit to expire when they are due, project finance would get a lot easier and you could go offshore for the money.
2) Respect — we are still looking to build new Nuclear, Coal, and other resources when we can show on paper that distributed energy combined with aggressive energy efficiency, smart grid, and storage can compete favorably while creating more jobs. This means that we need the DOE and other credible bodies to start publishing research in this area at an accelerating pace.
3) Liquidity support — many renewables projects can cost less than $10MM. For these project, efficient access to capital markets are difficult. Using a Fannie Mae like body to buy these projects under fixed rate of return formulas and selling them to Wall Street would help bring liquidity to the system
The technology is ready to meet the price points of the electricity industry, but integration and scaling takes a level of cooperation that we have here-to-for not seen. This can be done without more money from the Federal budget and at a cost that is less than new Coal, new Nuclear, and new Transmission.
Watching this play out will be fun. For more information this is a good report from Black and Veatch.
You can find out more about Jigar Shah and the work of this new organization at

Obama State of the Union: Clean Energy: 15; God: 2

Today, reading back through President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address I went looking for his discussion of energy and cleantech. I counted Energy with 15 mentions, crushing Healthcare at 7, and losing out to Jobs at 26. Of course, God only got 2 mentions in the final line (1 more than George W. Bush’s last state of the union address).

So what exactly did he say?

“To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil.

Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps. Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make a greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.

This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy efficient technology.”

Oh, wait, that was from George W’s last state of the union address. Hmmmh. Here’s President Obama’s:

“Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. (Applause.) Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy;
. . .

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. (Applause.) From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.
. . .

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities — (applause) — and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.
. . .

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations — they’re not standing still. These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.
. . .

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) — an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.) And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. (Applause.)

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. (Applause.) And this year I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. (Applause.)

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation. (Applause.)”

Reducing dependence on foreign oil? New technologies? Renewables? Energy efficiency? Combating climate change? New nuclear? Offshore oil drilling?

I like it all. And it seems like I’ve heard this before. And unlike Obama President Bush even mentioned clean technology by name. Stop talking and deliver.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at cleantech merchant bank Jane Capital Partners LLC and the Chairman of Carbonflow and

What is Your Water Really Worth?

Hydrocommerce Corner-Where Water & Money Meet

Brought to Investors by and its water investing portal,

January 26, 2010 Edition
By William S. Brennan
Bio and more info:

What is Your Water Really Worth?

A typical day for most adults in the western hemisphere begins with a cup of coffee, a shower and a brush of the teeth before we head of to work for the rest of the day. Most never even give water a second thought as we move about our daily routine since every time we turn the faucet, out gushes a commodity that never seems to end. But what would happen one day if you went to turn the shower on and nothing came out? Or worse the color was dark brown or something unrecognizable that reeked and was visually unappealing? What would you be willing to pay for uninterrupted clean water in the developed world? From an investment perspective, water prices are based on user expectations, failing to reflect the costs of infrastructure and maintenance. A prime example is the Metropolitan Board in Southern California where a 14% price increase did not cover the cost of delivering water, triggering the utility to access its reserves for $182 million. We bring this to light because this is not a one off situation. Water utilities get paid based on usage fees, giving them perverse disincentives to conservation and limiting their ability to invest in new technologies should water stress occur.

Most Americans as well as inhabitants of developed countries don’t pay much attention to the price of water because it is probably the cheapest utility bill that arrives in the mailbox. Think about it. Aren’t you excited that your cell bill is going down due to competitive pressures. So when is the other company going to show up at my front door and install a new water pipe in my front yard so I have an option who I should write the check to at the end of the month? Never! What you have now is what your children and grandchildren will have for the next 50 to 100 years. I can say that with a high degree of confidence since we have for the most part the same pipes and the same company supplying water over the last 100 years. Sure the name may change and the municipality may run out of money forcing it to sell its water works but the majority of us are dealing with the same company that our Grandparents did. This means that those same pipes that worked so well in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles since the 1930’s are still the same pipes that are bringing us our water today!

So what is the real underlying value of water relative to the state of our infrastructure, the energy used to treat and move it and ultimately, is it priced correctly? The water that runs into our homes goes through a comprehensive treatment protocol that is governed by the EPA before it ever hits the transmission pipes. The cost of treatment alone when you add in the energy to move water through various membranes and filters is likely far more than the average person realizes. Once clean enough for potable use, that water travels miles to reach its destination through a complex menagerie of pipes, motors, and valves before it reaches its final destination. Did you ever consider the energy cost to move water up a hill? Just ask the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California or Denver Water in Colorado and they will be happy to provide an answer. In addition, hydro electric plants regularly pump water uphill by “pumped storage,” in which water is moved from a lower-elevation storage facility (either a reservoir or a purpose-built container) to a higher elevation for release during peak demand. Although pumping the water uphill consumes more electricity than is generated by the water flowing back down, the financial return for the peak power is higher than the cost of pumping water during off-peak times. Did you ever give a second though to just how much energy is needed to provide water services? Energy is required to lift water from significant depth in aquifers, pump water through canals and pipes, control water flow and treat waste water, and desalinate brackish or sea water. Globally, commercial energy consumed for delivering water is more than 7% of total world consumption. Energy consumption effects water use more than we realize with 50% of our fresh water being used by electrical power plants

What most fail to realize is that the water industry is a “rising-cost” industry, with prices rising faster than the rate of inflation. Most costs are associated with infrastructure replacement, regulatory compliance (treatment), and population growth (for some areas). Labor, energy, and chemicals are the three major operating expenses for many systems where rising costs are coupled with flat or declining demand (conservation), another source of price pressure. One of the first points we always make with investors in the water sector is that water demand is relatively price inelastic; however, large-volume and discretionary use may fall due to price response. Ultimately, water customers experience the combined and regressive effect of water, wastewater, and stormwater charges. So get ready for higher water rates.

From our view, full-cost water pricing is essential for sustainability, as well as economic efficiency; in the coming years, accurate pricing will signal and encourage efficient production and use and emerge as the catalyst for behavioral change among end users. In the absence of full-cost pricing, subsidies can flow to or from water systems and sustainability will become more questionable, especially in regions where water shortages are expected to persist. Regulated water utilities, many of which are nongovernmental, are likely to charge customers for the full (accounting) cost of service. Presently many government-owned (but not all) water systems are reluctant to charge the full cost of service through rates. That will change albeit slow due to the political nature of the beast. Census Bureau data illustrate a persistent gap between expenses and revenues for water and wastewater services (comparatively). Remember, ratemaking can be politicized (“willingness to charge”), which may play a role in cost avoidance, including investment deferrals as we have seen from our not so stimulating U.S. stimulus plan. However, cost allocation and rate design are both technical skills that reside within the body of a water utility. And don’t leave out political skills which are needed too (communications, participatory processes, and accountability) in order to prepare the public for the inevitable price increases that we believe will be 3x-5x your present water bill over the next five years.

Often overlooked by most people, politics has and will continue to play the leading role in setting the ultimate price of water globally, resulting in prices that short term, may remain artificially low in comparison to the intrinsic value of water in certain parts of the world; not enough water stress exists in those areas to move pricing that wakes up the end user. Shortsighted but prevalent. Consider this as likely scenario…even while the average water usage drops among end users, the cost to maintain existing operations continues to climb. First, a minimum usage charge for those areas that the water usage does not support the underlying cost will be implemented. Ultimately, however, we will pay the full cost and when that occurs, pricing will become significantly higher and hopefully more intelligently applied across the usage spectrum. We anticipate that regional pricing structures will become more creative (as we have seen in certain parts of water starved California) – including tiered rates where the first tranche of water-basic “human right” water is priced just below or at full cost while the next tranche of water beyond the first tier is substantially increased through tariffs and usage levels that provide a true and measurable disincentive to overuse. So while you ponder over your next underpriced water bill (if you are lucky enough), consider picking up a few shares of the local water company if it’s a publicly traded security.

By William S. Brennan
Brennan Investment Partners LLC

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Disclaimer: This column, Hydrocommerce Corner-Where Water & Money Meet with Bill Brennan, is the opinion of William S Brennan.Content found in the articles is subject to the terms found in the disclaimer and does not represent a recommendation of investment advice. Investors should seek the advice of a qualified investment professional prior to making any investment decisions.

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TVA Expands Renewable Energy and Solar Charging

The smart grid charging of electric cars with renewable energy advances. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Friday (ORNL) announced that they will deploy solar-assisted charging stations for electric vehicles across the state of Tennessee as part of one of the largest electric transportation projects in U.S. history.

Speaking at an event in Knoxville introducing the Nissan LEAF (NSANY), TVA Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore said that the first prototype charging station using solar-generated electricity will be tested at EPRI’s Laboratories for Electric Transportation Application in Knoxville this spring, possibly near the University of Tennessee campus where many electric car enthusiasts may live in multi-unit dwellings where garage charging is not available.

Modular solar charging stations can start with the charging of four cars and expand to over 10 electric cars and may be part of future fueling stations. Both stations and Nissan LEAFs will use J1772 smart charging communication.

This regional electric vehicle initiative is being done in conjunction with ETEC, which has received $100 million matching funding from DOE to install over 12,500 electric charging stations nationwide and a smart grid infrastructure.

The solar-assisted charging stations will use the sun to generate power needed to offset the charge of the electric vehicles during peak power demand periods. While vehicles are charging, the stationary batteries and smart grid controls will provide additional localized support to mitigate any impacts on the power system.

The TVA Fact Sheet also discusses re-use of automotive lithium batteries stating, “Stationary battery storage will provide additional localized grid support to mitigate the impacts of charging multiple vehicles in one centralized location. Stationary storage will also provide future opportunities to re-use automotive batteries that are no longer ideal for vehicles. These batteries may have 60 to 70 percent life left in them and can be used to support the power grid.”

Over 5 GW Renewable Energy

The Tennessee Valley Authority is moving closer to its goal of having more than 50 percent of its power generation from renewable energy by continuing to add solar and wind energy.

A power purchase agreement (PPA) with Iberdrola Renewables (IRVSF), will deliver up to 300 megawatts from the Streator Cayuga Ridge project in Illinois, starting in mid-2010. This 300MW PPA is the largest PPA to date for Iberdrola, the world leader in wind farm assets with over 10GW of wind power and 54GW of additional RE power in its pipeline.

With the new contracts, TVA has purchased up to 1,265 megawatts, enough power to serve more than 300,000 average-size homes in the Tennessee Valley. TVA’s current renewable energy portfolio now includes 5,095 megawatts from hydro, wind, solar, and methane sources. In addition, TVA’s nuclear plants contribute 6,900 megawatts of electricity.

TVA is the nation’s largest public power provider and is completely self-financing. TVA provides power to large industries and 157 power distributors that serve approximately 9 million consumers in seven southeastern states.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences.

Momentum Building for REDD+ Global Market for Forest Carbon

By David Niebauer

Whatever else happened or didn’t happen as a result of the recent Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, the Global community did take action on slowing the destruction of the world’s tropical forests. Certainly one can argue that we are not doing enough, but getting the “global community” to agree on anything is always a daunting prospect. Consensus does appear to have crystallized around the UNFCCC’s REDD program (Reduced Emissions from the Destruction and Deforestation of the world’s tropical forests). Now termed REDD+, with the addition of sustainable forest management and afforestation/reforestation, momentum continues to build for the use of market mechanisms to slow the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

When a global market for carbon finally emerges, tropical forest offsets will be part of the mix. There are many many details still to be worked out, but the barriers no longer seem insurmountable. As methodologies are refined through use and stakeholder action, I believe forest offsets will come to be accepted carbon reduction instruments, as beneficial for the planet as offsets generated from other sources, such as conversions to renewable energy or less carbon-intensive industrial practices. At the end of the day, it is about living sustainably on the planet. And without the “lungs of the planet”, as the world’s tropical forests are often called, that goal will never be achieved.

A few examples of the positive momentum, as I see it:

CAR Addresses Permanence

Regardless of how fast or how slow the federal government is going to move on creating a US market for carbon, California is moving forward on implementation of AB 32 and the Western States Initiative. The California Climate Action Registry was originally a non-profit entity formed by the State for the purpose of (a) establishing protocols for calculating the carbon emissions of California industries, and (b) being a clearing house for those industries to voluntarily register their baseline emissions in a public database. This entity has evolved into the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), a quasi-governmental agency for establishing methodologies and registering carbon emission offsets (called Climate Reserve Tons, or CRTs) throughout North America.

Offsets from avoided forest destruction and improved forest management in North America are very much a part of the AB 32 initiative. Currently offsets generated from forests in the United States are eligible as CRTs and soon Canada and Mexico will be added. I believe tropical forests will some day come under the ambit of CAR, although the official CAR position, as stated on its website is “as of yet there are no plans to expand to other countries beyond Mexico and Canada…”

CAR has published the third version of its Forest Project Protocol as it continues to address issues raised by stakeholders. Notably in the new v3.1), CAR has taken great strides in addressing the issue of permanence. When credits are generated from avoided deforestation, those credits become meaningless if the forest that was preserved is destroyed at any time in the future (called a “reversal”). This is true whether the reversal is avoidable (such as intentional deforestation for purposes of development or agricultural use) or unavoidable, such as a natural disaster like forest fire. CAR has addressed the permanence issue in two important ways. First it has implemented a system of “buffering” credits to provide a kind of insurance against future loss. In this system, a forest owner is required to set aside a certain percentage of the credits generated from the forest conservation activities. These buffered credits would be used in the future in the event of a reversal. Second, CAR will require forest owners to enter into a Project Implementation Agreement (PIA), with a term of 100 years, pursuant to which forest owners will be legally bound to preserve the forest and insure against reversals. Importantly, the PIA is attached to the land (and not just the owner of title to the property) and would require subordination of any future property interest (such as a mortgage or partial sale).

As the international community takes on developing effective REDD methodologies, the pioneering activities of CAR will no doubt be instructive.

Jane Goodall Institute Begins Developing REDD Credits

Some good news came out of Copenhagen for the Jane Goodall Institute (“JGI”) and its efforts to preserve the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem in Tanzania, one of the most undeveloped tropical forests in Africa). JGI was awarded a three-year, $2.7 million (USD) grant from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania to continue its conservation efforts and, importantly, to begin the process of applying REDD methodologies to ultimately generate and sell tropical forest carbon offsets. From its experience in implementing one of the world’s first REDD projects, JGI intends to assist other NGOs and indigenous groups in protecting tropical forests by marketing REDD credits to generate necessary funds.

As the project is described on the JGI website:

The project will conserve about 70,000 hectares in one of the last large expanses of intact forest in Tanzania, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem functions such as provision of habitat for chimpanzees. Communities will be eligible to earn credits for the carbon stored in their protected forest areas. The income will help fund future forest management and improve community living conditions. The project will also support secondary use of forest products such as wild honey or medicinal plants.

The JGI-Tanzania project appears to be a model for successful REDD development. Such projects require participation from governmental as well as non-governmental organizations, plus an active role for private finance in the form of REDD credit offtake/purchase arrangements.

Tropical Rainforest Fund

More evidence of this public/private cooperation can be seen in the announcement at Copenhagen that the US and five other countries have pledged $3.5 billion (USD) over the next three years to a program aimed at protecting rainforests. The other countries are Australia, France, Japan, Norway and Britain. The US portion is $1 billion (USD). The money will be available for developing countries that produce ambitious plans to slow and eventually reverse deforestation.

While the creation of this multi-national fund highlights the issue of government vs. private project financing, which still needs to be resolved (and will be the subject of a future blog), the funding commitment is significant.


Destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests accounts for a huge proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. REDD+ is an international, public/private initiative that is attempting to assist in the preservation and conservation of the remaining rainforests of the world. Momentum has picked up in establishing protocols and developing models that will be employed in an eventual world market for tropical forest carbon. We predict that the momentum will continue to build until (and well after) the market is finally established.

David Niebauer is a corporate and transaction attorney, located in San Francisco, whose practice is focused on clean energy and environmental technologies.

Reach Out and Green Touch Someone

by Richard T. Stuebi

A few weeks ago, the legendary Bell Labs, now the R&D engine behind Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), announced the launch of a new global initiative called Green Touch.

The goal of Green Touch is to “create the technologies needed to make communications networks 1000 times more energy efficient than they are today.” To put that in perspective, the Green Touch roll-out press release noted that a thousand-fold reduction in energy consumption would power the world’s communication networks for three years with the amount of energy now consumed in one day.

Given the likely continuance of exponential demand increases for bandwidth around the globe, the need to make communications technologies radically more energy efficient will be critical — or else.

The founding members of Green Touch are a who’s who of high-technology, including enormous telecoms like AT&T (NYSE: T) and China Mobile, academic research labs such as MIT’s Research Laboratory for Electronics and Stanford University’s Wireless Systems Labs, and industrial labs (not only Bell Labs but Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology).

Green Touch is seeking additional collaboration partners, so if you’re interested and can contribute materially, it should be a fascinating table at which to sit.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Is Solar Cheaper than Nuclear?

by Jigar Shah, Founder SunEdison and CEO of the Carbon War Room
This is an interesting article from Greentech Media. It basically is saying that if we are aiming to decarbonize our electricity grid we cannot do it without Nuclear energy. 
I like to break this down into bite size chunks so that I can understand it better. The Florida public utilities commission recently slowed down the Nuclear plant from Progress Energy so that serves as a useful example: WSJ article here.
The plant seems to cost about $20B for a 2,237 MW plant. So the question is, “For the same $20B over 10 years what could you get?”
– Nuclear: 2,300MWs and 18,000 GWhs of electricity for $20B in ratebase
– Solar: 14,000 MWs and 18,000 GWhs for less than $10B in incentives (with my cost curves the number is actually only $2B, but . . . )
– Energy Efficiency: 6,000 MW and 18,000 GWhs for less than $5B in incentives (structural energy efficiency like HVAC, windows, building automation, etc)
– Ice Storage: shifting peak to off peak to load level the grid could be done for less than $5B.
Whether you agree with my modeling or not, the numbers are in the right ballpark. The challenge here is that the utility industry is not set up to embrace customer empowering technologies because neither they nor their investors understand how these technologies fits with their mode of profit making.
The next stage of this is national security. As has been shown time and time again, distributed, customer empowering solutions are more robust because they are spreadout. Our traditional infrastructure is susceptible to terrorist attacks (or tree branches in the case of Ohio).
Lastly, we have to look at economic security. If the grid goes down with theses central station plants, as happened in Florida in 2008, there are economic losses.
Nuclear power is a wonderful power source that has been serving us ably for many decades. But that isn’t a reason for bypassing the tough economic analysis required for a decision on this magnitude.

Investors can watch for the following green stocks coming to market in 2010: CDXS, JKS, DQ, SOLY

Green IPO Watch at Reports on Announced IPO’s in Biofuel and Solar, a leading investor news and research portal for the renewable energy sector within, reports on recent green IPO’s announced in biofuel and solar markets.

Investors can watch for the following green stock listings in 2010: CDXS, JKS, DQ, SOLY.

Codexis, Inc. originally filed for an IPO in 2008 that was later shelved, announced it filed a registration statement for an IPO of up to $100 Million on Dec 28, 2009. The Company applied to list its common stock on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “CDXS”.

Codexis, Inc. is a provider of optimized biocatalysts that make existing industrial processes faster, cleaner and more efficient than current methods and has the potential to make new industrial processes possible at commercial scale. Codexis has commercialized its biocatalysts in the pharmaceutical industry and is developing biocatalysts for use in producing advanced biofuels under a multi-year research and development collaboration. The company is also using its technology platform to pursue biocatalyst-enabled solutions in other bioindustrial markets, including carbon management, water treatment and chemicals.

China based Jinko Solar announced its IPO of up to $100 Million this week, with plans list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol JKS.

Jinko Solar, according to the company’s website,, is a fast-growing solar product manufacturer manufacturing high quality ingot, wafer, solar cell and solar module products all along the photovoltaic industry chain, with a global network spanning across North America, Europe and Asia.

Other solar stocks pending include China based Daqo New Energy Corp, with an announced $108m IPO earlier in January. According to the SEC filing, the company will be trading on the NYSE under trading symbol DQ.

According to the Prospectus: “We are a leading polysilicon manufacturer based in China. We manufacture and sell high-quality polysilicon to photovoltaic product manufacturers, who further process our polysilicon into ingots, wafers, cells and modules for solar power solutions. With an installed annual production capacity of 3,300 metric tonnes, or MT, as of September 30, 2009, we believe we are one of the largest polysilicon manufacturers in China. We plan to increase our installed annual production capacity to 9,300 MT by March 2012. In addition to ramping up our capacity, we have consistently focused on producing high-quality polysilicon in a cost-efficient manner, which we believe has contributed to our market position and will benefit us and our customers.”

Other green stocks pending include US based California solar company Solyndra Inc, announced in December.
The company’s filing and Prospectus are available to investors at under Solyndra Inc. The company has applied to have its common stock approved for listing under the symbol “SOLY.”

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About Our Green Investor Portals:® is one of several green investor portals within and provides investors with stock news, exclusive articles and financial columnists, audio interviews, investor conferences and a directory of stocks within the renewable energy sector.

Transitioning the Solar Industry away from Subsidies

By Jigar Shah

What a difference a couple of years make. Two years ago, the solar industry was over subsidized and doing well. Last year, the solar industry fell victim to the financial crisis, but emerged victorious through skill and determination to achieve another year of positive growth — after many predictions to the contrary. With today’s announcement that Germany will likely cut its solar subsidy substantially, many are asking, “what will this mean?”

The answer is that this means that the solar industry is growing up. As the subsidies in Germany are reduced, Germany’s global marketshare will also come down. This is a good thing. There are many countries that are looking at solar as a source of growth from South Africa to India to the United States. So, how do we increase demand for solar PV?

We as an industry have to send a strong signal that we are willing to adopt a “cost-plus” incentive model based on the cost of modules, installation, and financing costs. Every government around the world is looking to invest in their energy sector to provide much needed stimulus. This cost-plus model is not unknown in other industries. As our industry matures, solar PV will use the same paradigm that guides other electricity generation technologies globally. For most electricity projects, developers are not rewarded for installing equipment – they are rewarded for taking risk. Because of the solar industry’s early maturity cycle, we receive fixed priced contracts for 20 years. Because of the stability provided by feed-in-tariffs the only risk taken is solar radiation and execution risk, undeserving of the high-profit margins of the past year. An industry standard cost-plus model enables the solar industry to grow in a predictable way, attracting growth capital in a rational and hopefully less volatile way.

An example of trapped demand exists today in India. The country faces a rapidly growing economy with households needing affordable and adequate supplies of electricity. This is combined with limited domestic reserves of fossil fuels, the need to import a vast fraction of the gas, crude oil, and petroleum product requirements, and recently the need to import coal as well. For many countries like India, solar represents an important cost-effective way to meet growing electricity demands to maintain GDP growth. And given its long history of solar support, it can ramp up very quickly due to existing engineering, installation, and financing talent with the country. More importantly, it provides this power without incremental energy security and global warming issues.
The strategies used at our industry’s pioneering days have run their course. Now is time to implement the final set of strategies to set the stage for solar’s steady-growth phase. This phase will be characterized by incentives that point to our unique capabilities through a fair and transparent process that are in line with those that are received by the wind, biomass, coal, oil, and natural gas industries. This necessitates a global cost-plus model and the sooner we recognize this the sooner our industry will return back to a state of normalcy.
Jigar Shah is the CEO of Carbon War Room, was the founder of SunEdison, a pioneer in solar power financing.

Ford’s Clean Sweep with Ford Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) made a clean sweep by capturing both the North American Car of the Year and North American awards for the and 2010 Ford Transit Connect, respectively, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). It is only the third time in 17 years that one manufacturer has won both titles. The awards demonstrate Ford’s leadership in hybrid cars and in fuel economy.

The North American Car and awards recognize vehicles based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. A jury of 49 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada vote for the vehicles.
The Fusion Hybrid edged out finalists including the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Golf/GTI to win the North American Car of the Year award. The Fusion Hybrid is also winner of MOTOR TREND Car of the Year. The Fusion Hybrid is #4 on Clean Fleet Report’s Top 10 Hybrids for 2010.

The Transit Connect bested finalists including the Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback to win the North American award. It also is the second year in a row that Ford has captured the title. Last year, top honors went to the 2009 Ford F-150.

Ford Fusion Hybrid Delivers 39 MPG

The Fusion Hybrid is appealing to those who want a made in America midsized sedan. This roomy 5-seater delivers 39 mpg and 4.7 tons of CO2e per year. The Fusion Hybrid and its first cousin the Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows for more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes, making for a smooth and quiet ride. Read about Clean Fleet Report’s Fusion Hybrid test drive.

The Fusion Hybrid also offers drivers a way to be more connected to the hybrid driving experience thanks to Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide, a unique instrument cluster execution that helps coach them on how to optimize the performance of their hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid includes Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), Ford SYNC®, SIRIUS Travel Link™ and more total passenger and luggage capacity than the Toyota Camry.

Despite the slump in overall industry sales, 2009 was a record-breaking year for the Ford Fusion. Sales are at an all-time high, with the Fusion Hybrid accounting for almost 20 percent of total Fusion retail sales. Perhaps even more significant, more than 60 percent of Fusion Hybrid sales have been to customers coming from import brands – mostly Toyota and Honda.

Transit Connect Saves Small Business Money

The Transit Connect was brought to the U.S. to fulfill the unmet needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs, offering them a new vehicle choice with significantly improved fuel economy, generous and accessible cargo space, and the agility and maneuverability to operate in crowded urban areas.

Powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Transit Connect offers double the fuel economy of full-size vans, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The Transit Connect also has more than double the cargo-carrying capacity of the Chevrolet HHR Panel, making it suitable for a broader range of commercial-use applications. And it offers commercial users a cargo payload of up to 1,600 pounds.

The Transit Connect also is available with the industry-exclusive Ford Work Solutions™, a suite of affordable technologies that provides customers with connectivity, flexibility, visibility and security to better run key aspects of their business. On Transit Connect, Ford Work Solutions delivers three innovative features:
•A wireless in-dash computer that provides full high-speed Internet access, Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calling and navigation. The system also allows customers to print invoices, check inventories and access documents stored on their home or office computer networks right on the job site.
•Tool Link™, a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) asset tracking system that enables customers to maintain detailed real-time inventory of the tools or equipment.
•Crew Chief™, a fleet tracking, telematics and diagnostics system that provides dynamic location and performance data fleet owners need to more efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to job sites, monitor driver performance for safety and economy, and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records.

Ford is the first major automaker to offer a pure electric with the 2010 Transit Connect battery-electric commercial vehicle. Businesses and governments can deliver and haul goods all day long without ever needing a drop of gasoline.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Hope for Haiti – Solar Powered Rural Health Hospitals Saving Lives Now

I was pleasantly surprised by the work that Solar Electric Light Fund has been doing with Paul Farmer and Partners in Health. With over 75% of Haitians unelectrified pre-earthquake, it seems that the central command and control utility hasn’t worked too well in the past. With diesel fuel hard to come by, it looks the the solar powered rural health hospital is up and running.

Further, with solar systems able to be up and running almost immediately and at a lower cost today than just 4 years ago, many are buzzing about Haiti being the first country to the repaired using 21st century technologies.

Best Green Tech Innovations of 2009

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, E/The Environmental Magazine announced its Best Green Tech Innovations of 2009.

It’s unclear what criteria were used to select the winners, but I was impressed by the fact that I had not previously heard of any of these products or technologies. Since they were all news to me, I don’t know enough about any of them to have a favorite.

I’m also struck by the observation that the list represents innovation involving large corporations like Ford (NYSE: F) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) as well as tiny start-ups and individual inventors.

I used to pride myself on being pretty well-informed about the cleantech arena, but being unable to remain abreast of developments on so many fronts is a vivid illustration of how robust the cleantech space is becoming. I’ll gladly sacrifice the comprehensiveness of my awareness and understanding for increasing velocity from an exploding number of innovators — including industrial powerhouses — in the cleantech marketplace.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

The 21st Century will be the Cleantech Century

Dear Friends,

We know 2009 has been a rough year up and down, but we are proud to have had some great highlights to share. And as always, after 9 years in business as one of the leading merchant banks and advisors to the cleantech sector, Jane Capital is looking forward to our 10th Spring and the end of the first decade of the 21st Century (and another year of cleantech blogging!)

And yes, we do eat, sleep and breathe energy, and we do believe that the last century was the century of massive, cheap, available energy, and this one is shaping up to be all about cleantech: better, faster, cleaner energy. It will “take a village”, from natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, and better use of fossil fuels, to IT, carbon, wind, solar, superconductors et al driving us to a new and more efficient future.

A Few Highlights:

We capped off a multi-year engagement for New Zealand’s state owned all renewable power company Meridian Energy Ltd, successfully orchestrating the launch of Meridian Solar,, and arranging and executing the acquisition of California based solar IPP Cleantech America to anchor Meridian Solar’s business in the US. They are in the process of building the largest PV installation in California.

Our venture, Zenergy Power plc (AIM:ZEN), which we cofounded 5 years ago, successfully installed the first ever superconducting fault current limiter in the grid for Socal Edison, and secured FCL deals with AEP and Con Edison. FCLs instantly absorb spikes in power that are one of the major trigger of blackouts.

Our Carbonflow venture launched the first multi-party SaaS platform for the carbon verification market, and ended the year with pilots with 7 of the top 20 carbon market players. Neal spent much of the last year running Carbonflow helping it get off the ground, and we are very excited by the team we have recruited and the success they’ve had.

Despite a rough market, our industry leading handheld for restaurants company, TriniTEQ, continues to power along.

We spoke at over a dozen conferences this year, including the Wall Street Green Trading Summit, Cleantech Forum, and the Thin Film Solar Summit. Those of you who know us know we love speaking, and have a passion for this area.

And Giving Back:

This year Jane Lindner continued her work at California Pacific Medical Center’s non-profit Institute for Health & Healing, the largest integrative medical center in the nation, co-chairing their Community Advisory Council. IHH had another wonderfully successful Spring fundraiser in 2009, of which Jane Capital was a proud sponsor.

Our venture, created by Jane Capital in 2007 to provide a center of gravity for cleantech, really hit its stride. It’s now one of the largest social media ventures in green, ran its first webinar, partnering with powerhouse carbon verifier Det Norske Veritas, and reached 40,000 in newsletter subscribers plus over 18,000 in social network members. Along with, gives us now 2 of the top 5 sites on google for the term “cleantech”. And thanks to a great cast of bloggers led by Richard Stuebi and John Addison (who are entering their 5th year as bloggers, Cleantech Blog continues to live up to its reputation as one of the 3 original blogs in cleantech. We also are particularly excited to have successfully taken over and rejuvenated the 2,000 member group on Yahoo, giving us the largest cleantech dedicated social networking groups on both Linked In and Yahoo, as well as to have launched a new community on

And in a new effort this year, along with DNV, Center for Resource Solutions, and Hedge Fund Services, Jane Capital partnered with the City of San Francisco to launch the SF Carbon Collaborative under the leadership of the City’s cleantech advocate, David Pascal. SFCC has just launched its website, check out SFCC spun out the city’s cleantech initiative and this fall organized as a 501(c)(3). It’s first year successes included running over 50 stakeholder events to help coalesce the Bay Area carbon community, including a two week Copenhagen Café in San Francisco this month during COP-15, delivering from its policy committee multi-stakeholder comments to the CARB AB 32 rulemaking process, and helping to set up a Carbon Business Cluster at One Bush St in the heart of downtown San Francisco managed by Lee West of Hedge Fund Services.

We look forward to lots more in 2010. In particular, we are actively looking for acquisitions for both our account and select clients in solar, carbon, and the green web, and of course anyone looking for help launching a business in cleantech, give us a call.


Jane Lindner, Neal Dikeman, and the Jane Capital team

President Obama Awards $2.3 Billion Tax Credits for Cleantech Jobs

Recovery Act Tax Credits enable $7 Billion in New Manufacturing Projects

President Obama announced on January 8 the award of $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy manufacturing projects across the United States. 183 projects in 43 states will create tens of thousands of high quality clean energy jobs and the domestic manufacturing of electric cars, solar, wind, and energy efficiency.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” said President Obama. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.” These credits are also an important step towards meeting the President’s goal of doubling the amount of renewable energy the country uses in the next three years with wind turbines and solar panels built right here in the United States.

The President identified that this initiative is also important “To reduce our dangerous dependency on foreign oil….This initiative will close the clean energy gap with other nations.” He cited China and Germany as competing for wind, solar, and energy efficiency jobs.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said, “The awards announced today, together with the more than $5 billion in private sector capital spurred by our investment, will drive significant growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, good jobs, an energized private sector marketplace and a leadership role for the U.S. in these crucial high-growth markets.”

The investment tax credits, worth up to thirty percent of each planned project, will leverage private capital for a total investment of nearly $7.7 billion in high-tech manufacturing in the United States.

Cleantech Job Creation Projects

Electric Cars – $17 million for Think North America will establish a U.S. manufacturing operation/facility in Indiana. Think has delivered thousands of battery-electric vehicles in Europe. Think is 30 percent owned by American lithium battery maker EnerDel.

Smart Grid – $5 million for Itron whose OpenWay CENTRON meter is one of the first smart meters for the residential market providing built-in, two-way communications and a remote on/off switch which will give customers more choice and enable utilities to provide higher reliability at lower cost. The expansion of manufacturing capacity in their facility in South Carolina will allow an annual production of four million meters.

Building Efficiency and Energy Management – W.L. Gore is producing an advanced membrane for high efficiency fuel cells for buildings and vehicles. The company’s products can help enable lower-cost fuel cells for use in electric vehicles or to power homes and businesses. They are also manufacturing an advanced turbine filter to improve the performance of gas turbines to produce greater outputs at lower cost and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

LED Lighting – Cree received $39 million for purchasing new equipment to add capacity and capability to lower production costs of LED chips and fixtures. LED lighting technologies represent a new source of high efficiency lighting.

Fuel Efficiency – PPG Industries will produce a special tire tread component that reduces rolling resistance and improves fuel economy. PPG tax credits will also provide for manufacturing of one of the critical components of glass solar cells, the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coatings of the glass,.

Solar Energy – $142 million for Hemlock Semiconductor will expand a manufacturing plant that produces polycrystalline-silicon used in the production of solar panels. $43 million for Nanosolar to produce tools for the manufacturing of low-cost, low-GHG emission solar cells, using nanotechnology-enabled roll-to-roll processes. $10 million for Miasole to manufacture Solar PV Cells and modules based on an innovative thin-film production technology. $16 million for First Solar will expand its manufacturing facility to produce fully completed thin-film solar modules.

Wind Energy – TPI Composites. is building a new manufacturing facility in Nebraska to produce next generation wind turbine blades. TPI says the facility will create over 200 new jobs and will have a capacity equivalent to supplying 265 turbines rated at 2.5 MW for a total electrical output of 663 MW. TPI will also be expanding their existing manufacturing facility in Iowa. TPI’s composite materials are also used for lighter, stronger, and more fuel efficient vehicles. $52 million for world-leader Vestas to expand U.S. turbine blade production.

Nuclear – Alstom received $63 million to establish a new turbine manufacturing facility designed to manufacture the world’s largest steam turbines, with unit output up to 1700 MW. The new facility will focus on turbines used in advanced nuclear power plants, retrofitting existing turbines in nuclear power plants with higher efficiency technologies, turbines in new hydro power plants, and retrofitting existing turbines in hydro power plants with higher efficiency technologies.

183 Cleantech Projects in 43 States

While projects selected for this tax credit generally must be placed in service by 2014, approximately 30 percent of them will be completed in 2010.

The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent for facilities that manufacture particular types of energy equipment. Qualifying manufacturers will produce solar, wind, and geothermal energy equipment; fuel cells, microturbines, and batteries; electric cars; electric grids to support the transmission of renewable energy; energy conservation technologies; and equipment that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide or reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

“The world urgently needs to move toward clean energy technologies, and the United States has the opportunity to lead in this new industrial revolution,” said DOE Secretary Chu.

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

by Richard T. Stuebi

Did you know that yesterday, January 10, was “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day”? Until a couple days ago, I didn’t. That is, until the folks at SunRun, a provider of residential solar energy systems, promoted the day by sending out the following blast email:

“Five quick tips on how cut costs and save energy this new year.

1. Power Strips: Plug your TV, computer, and other home electronics into power strips and flip the switch when they’re not in use. Even when appliances are turned off, they’re still running on phantom energy. If you don’t use power strips, remember to unplug your appliances when you’re done with them.

2. CFLs: Switch out your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than and use about one-fourth the energy of incandescents.

3. Solar Panels: Reduce your electricity costs by installing solar panels in your home. You use the same amount of energy but pay less for it, because you can lock in a rate with solar, rather than be subject to your utility’s rate increases.

4. Sleep mode: Set your computers to sleep mode, rather than screen saver mode, when not in use. It takes about 100 Watts/hour to run a screen saver on your graphics card. Cut energy costs by letting your screen go black.

5. Air sealing: Seal cracks and openings to prevent outside air from otherwise entering your house. Paired with proper insulation, air sealing can increase energy efficiency and drastically reduce your heating and cooling costs.”

Well, truth be told, #3 above really isn’t an energy saving tip, but I’ll cut SunRun some slack because at least they are honest in pointing out that anyone interested in solar energy should first implement all cost-effective energy efficiency possibilities. It’s crazy, but too often the case, for someone to install a solar energy system when the building itself is terribly inefficient. There’s no point in generating relatively expensive electricity and then wasting it — especially when the costs to avoid the waste are often so modest.

We’ll have made real progress in this country when every day is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Renewables Supply 10 Percent of U.S. Energy

According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 10.51% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first nine months of 2009 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.

Domestic energy production from renewable sources grew by 4.10% during the first nine months of 2009 compared to the first nine months of 2008 – an increase of 0.228 quadrillion Btu’s. Most of that growth came from wind which expanded by 28.46% during the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

The mix of renewable energy sources consisted of hydropower (35.16%), biomass (30.72%), biofuels (20.25%), wind (8.17%), geothermal (4.52%), and solar (1.17%). Renewable energy’s (RE) contribution to the nation’s domestic energy production is now almost equal to nuclear power, which has been holding fairly steady in recent years at 11.6%.

“When Congress resumes its debate on pending energy and climate legislation in 2010, it would do well to take note of the clear trends in the nation’s changing energy mix,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Renewable energy has proven itself to be a solid investment – growing rapidly and nipping at the heels of the stagnant nuclear power industry – while fossil fuel use continues to drop.”
In the electricity sector, conventional hydropower accounted for 6.89% of U.S. net electrical generation during the first nine months of 2009 while other renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) accounted for 3.32% — for a total of 10.21%. By comparison for the first three quarters of 2008, renewables accounted for 9.18% of net electrical generation.

While renewably-generated electricity has grown, overall net U.S. electrical generation was 4.72% lower for the first nine months of 2009 compared to the first half of 2008 with coal-generated electricity dropping by 12.86%.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released the “Monthly Energy Review” on December 23, 2009. It can be found at: The relevant tables from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.2 and 10.1. EIA released its most recent “Electric Power Monthly” on December 16, 2009; see: The most relevant charts are Tables 1.1 and 1.1.A

Dot’s Nice

by Richard T. Stuebi

One of the virtues touted for the so-called “smart grid” of the future is the ability to help customers manage their appliance usage better, and thereby reduce unnecessary energy consumption. However, since people are heavily influenced by economic considerations, fully capturing this opportunity presupposes that customers understand how much money (= energy) they could save by reducing consumption at any moment in time.
As profiled in the January/February 2010 issue of Technology Review, a company called Talon Communications has developed a neat little product called the “edot” to address this issue.

The edot communicates wirelessly with a house’s “smart meter” to fetch updates on real-time power prices, thereby indicating when power prices are relatively high or low. At roughly $10 per unit, the magnetic edot can be stuck to many major appliances around the house, providing an on-the-spot indicator to the user whether or not it’s an especially good (i.e., lucrative) time to turn off or reduce power.

No, the edot will not save the world, but it is indicative of the many tiny but reinforcing elements necessary to bring the smart grid to full fruition — and to bring intelligence to energy decision-making at the household level.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.