Roundup: Major Developments in Energy Efficiency Programs and Studies

State governments and federal agencies are playing an increasingly active role in financing and encouraging energy efficient startups and projects.  Here are some highlights:

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a New York Green Bank Initiative with $1 billion in money collected form utility bills to encourage private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency projects. It comes on the heels of an announcement last year if an $800-million fund for energy efficiency improvements to state buildings.

The environmental agency in Connecticut proposed increasing its funding for energy efficiency programs from $122 million to $231 million a year for the next three years.

Republican Governor of Texas Rick Perry signed a bill into law enabling Property Assessed Clean Energy programs, which will allow commercial and industrial building owners around the state to obtain low-cost, financing for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements.

California’s energy commission announced it will consider imposing energy standards on 15 different types of consumer products, including everything from personal computers, video gaming systems and cable boxes to lighting products, water faucets and commercial clothes dryers. The rules could take effect by 2015.

It appears the Obama administration is not backing down in its effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, according to an unnamed source quoted by the Wall Street Journal. A draft of the EPA’s new proposed rules on new coal plants would limit emissions to 1,100 pounds of CO2 from coal plants, just a hair less stringent than rules proposed in 2012 that raised claims by Republicans during the election that President Obama was trying to shut down the coal industry. The proposal appears moot anyway, since the number of new coal plants proposed to be built anywhere in the United States in the foreseeable future equals precisely zero.

Who says bipartisanship is dead? A bill sponsored by Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen would force energy efficiency improvements in factories and government buildings. By 2020 the bill would create 70,000 green jobs save consumers $2.3 billion and spark nearly $10.9 billion in private investment, according to the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy.

The Energy Department announced boring bureaucratic processes for boring appliances. It’s not sexy like a new Tesla S electric car, but in August the DOE announced a series of proposed rulemaking processes toward making new efficiency standards. The rules will focus on commercial refrigerators, walk-in freezers, metal halide lamp fixtures, commercial boilers, home heat pumps and air conditioners. In a related note, the DOE estimated in a report that about 75 percent of all lights sold in the U.S. in 2030 will be LED’s.

Building managers looking to cut costs is the primary driver of investments in energy efficiency, not to reduce their organization’s environmental impact, according to a recent survey by Schneider Electric. Over 63 percent of the 369 private and government energy leaders surveyed have invested recently in efficiency programs, the survey found, and 65 percent plan to invest the same amount or more next year. The biggest focus of that spending will be building automation, followed by efficient lighting.

Clipper Equity LLC, which paid a staggering $1.3 billion in 2007 for a dystopian development of 46 housing towers, parking garages and retail centers in Brooklyn called Spring Creek, paid $2 million to Honeywell this summer to bring a smart building management system and local area network to the buildings that include multiple parking garages and retail centers. The system will form the backbone to future upgrades, including a renovation of the utility plant that provides electricity to the entire campus. The project is expected to recoup the capital invested in 3 years.

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