Archive for the ‘Green Resources’ Category

Your employees’ behavior can make the difference between whether your company’s energy strategy produces outstanding results or insignificant savings.

Four elements common to each of the efforts:
1. Leadership Set the Tone. Upper management led by example, set the tone with strong commitments to the programs and solid branding.

2. Programs Involved Strong Teams. In addition to green teams, programs featured a project committee and participation by peer champions.

3. Smart Use of Communication Tools. Programs reached out to their target audience through multiple channels: emails, websites, public meetings, posters and other visual prompts, like stickers.

4. Use of Multiple Engagement Techniques. Programs connected with building occupants through a variety of techniques to engage interest and motivate employees and tenants toward greener behavior. Feedback, benign peer pressure, competition and rewards were among the techniques used most frequently.
“Most notable is the degree to which the support of upper management, which is strongly stressed in all of the reviewed cases, proves to be critical to the development and success of an energy behavior program in the workplace,” Bin said in the report.

People tend to focus on individual efforts that are often related to purchasing — such as buying CFL bulbs or energy-efficient appliances — instead of considering that enormous savings can be reaped from broad-based energy-saving strategies with a systems approach, the report notes.
U.S. could reduce energy consumption by more than 50 percent, save consumers more than $300 billion a year, and add nearly two million jobs by 2050 by following “a more productive investment pattern” that includes consideration of industrial processes and improvement to infrastructure.

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To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, businesses strive for differentiation. One of the most promising ways for gaining that competitive advantage in recent years has been through a dedicated, company-level focus on sustainability.
We now see corporate America entering into an era of transformation, where businesses are placing serious value on sustainability practices. But this is just the beginning.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (of which my company, PricewaterhouseCoopers serves as the global advisor and writer of the CDP S&P 500 report), found a majority of leading American companies now integrate climate change into their core business strategies.
That is a first in CDP’s 10-year history. In fact, there was a doubling of companies reporting climate change policies as an integral part of corporate business strategy, up 30 percentage points from last year. Once seen as a tool to manage corporate risk, sustainability is increasingly becoming an opportunity for growth.
Nearly 90 percent of S&P 500 survey respondents indicated board or senior management oversight of their company’s climate change programs, indicating that the issue is viewed as an operational, fiscal and strategic business imperative. More companies understand that sustainability offers significant first-mover advantages.
As my colleague at PwC, Doug Kangos, observed during a webcast we hosted last week, “the S&P 500 2011 CDP leaders use sustainability to differentiate themselves in the same way they approach brand quality, product quality, service quality, market share, and so on.”
Once these benefits are recognized, many companies begin to consider how sustainability can be incorporated into the overall business strategy to protect enterprise value and generate strategic advantage. Those companies are reducing costs, mitigating current and future risks and even creating new revenue streams.
This suggests a permanent shift in the view of sustainability as being solely an environmental issue, or “something nice to do,” to being a strategic business imperative.
PwC’s 2011 Global CEO Survey found that 72 percent of CEOs support “good growth” that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Because more senior level executives are grasping the realities of today’s business risks — including energy and natural resources constraints and costs, regulations impacting the sourcing of conflict minerals, and increasing investor pressures and consumer demands — businesses understand that being “reactionary” will not drive growth.
Proactive steps to sustain one’s business over time will ultimately yield positive returns. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, survey respondents cite commercial benefits as significant, with over 60 percent of projects offering payback in three years or less.
The CDP report discloses many examples of leading companies’ successful sustainability programs, including:
General Electric: All of GE’s industrials businesses conducted emissions reduction projects in 2010. The 238 completed projects range from new technologies, to enhancing the efficiency of existing equipment, to driving employee engagement in energy conservation. As a result, GE saved just over $7 million with an overall payback period of 1.47 years.
Praxair: In 2009, Praxair voluntarily started collecting environmental key performance indicators in productivity projects. One year later, 8 percent of Praxair’s projects were tagged “sustainable development” and produced $32 million and 278,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent in savings.
United Parcel Service: Lastly, UPS uses more than 95,000 ground vehicles, more than 200 aircraft and the services of many other transportation companies. In 2010, routing technology provided savings of 63.5 million miles or 6.3 million gallons of fuel.
The natural evolution for companies to transform and become a truly sustainable business requires embedding sustainability not only at the board level, but across the entire organization.
Although we see a significant increase in CEO level focus throughout the S&P 500, we do not yet see integration across the organization in how decisions are made. Companies have not yet integrated sustainability program evaluations with the organization’s assessment of quality, reputation or financial stability.
But there is a reason to be optimistic: There are a growing number of companies leveraging sustainability to optimize their business and lay a foundation for growth. And that growth generates economic activity and prosperity. All the while, customers and employees are watching how well companies manage these challenges, increasingly linking brand loyalty to environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
The greatest value for businesses may be derived through sustainability competitive analysis, reporting and disclosure, revenue enhancement, reputational initiatives, or some combination of these factors.

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Going green isn’t just for buildings anymore — the sustainability trend has also hit the industrial sector.

In 2009, the Northwest Food Processors Association and the Department of Energy announced aggressive goals to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by 25 percent over the next 10 years. This topic will be discussed at this year’s annual Energy Efficiency Summit, which is held in conjunction with the NWFPA’s annual conference in January at the Oregon Convention Center.

Industrial companies can reduce energy usage by training employees on energy efficiency, formalizing operations and maintenance plans, implementing renewable energy solutions and changing the company culture so that energy reduction is a corporate value.

Another opportunity to conserve energy is to upgrade old equipment with new, more energy-efficient technology. Many industrial companies have aging boilers, used to produce process steam, that consume large amounts of energy and are costly to maintain.

Combined Heat and Power technology has been successfully used to reduce energy usage in industrial processing facilities that utilize large amounts of process steam. Combined Heat and Power plants produce both steam and electricity from a single fuel at a facility co-located with the steam host. These systems offset some of the cost of producing process steam by generating electricity for sale or use as a part of the Combined Heat and Power process.

There are many benefits to using a Combined Heat and Power system including reducing the demand on the utility grid, increasing energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the property against power outages, while significantly lowering the utility costs of building operations.

Plant managers and owners may believe the cost of upgrading isn’t practical, but with the tax incentives and grants that are available for energy efficiency improvements, upgrading is more cost effective than they may realize. It allows owners to shift their investment from steam generation to improving their food processing line. It also significantly reduces their carbon footprint — something that is being required by more of their clients every year. New technology, combined with overall energy programs and practices, will help this industry achieve the goals set forth by the NWFPA and the Department of Energy.

Industrial contractors, industrial construction management professionals and equipment vendors that can assist clients in upgrading their systems, reducing energy consumption, and saving money will be present at the January trade show to meet representatives of local food processing companies.

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After testing thousands of digital meters and reviewing hundreds of thousands of records, Oncor says it has found fewer than 25 defective smart meters.
That’s 25 out of 1.1 million smart meters that the regulated power line operator has installed in Texas. None of the defective meters were in Oak Cliff, Temple or Killeen – areas where customers have complained that the meters caused bills to spike.
“It’s a really nice outcome,” said Oncor chief executive Bob Shapard.
Last winter, customers complained that their electricity bills rose as soon as Oncor installed the new meters. The concerns prompted the Public Utility Commission to hire a consultant to test whether the meters and back-office equipment worked properly.
Oncor officials have said many bills rose during the winter because it was unusually cold. Electric heaters had to work harder to keep homes comfortable.
Shapard knows that response irritates people.
“It doesn’t satisfy customers to say, ‘Well, it wasn’t the meter,’ ” he said.
People want to find out why their bills rose, he said. That’s why Oncor set up a hotline to answer customer questions about electricity, at 1-888-875-6279 or http://www.askoncor.com.
The Public Utility Commission instructed utilities to exchange old, mechanical meters for new digital meters.
The new meters, sometimes called smart meters, will allow the utility to turn power on and off remotely and fix outages more quickly. The meters can also allow customers to see how much electricity they use each day, rather than wait for a bill.
Oncor has installed around 1.1 million smart meters, on its way to 3.4 million by the end of 2012. The PUC is allowing Oncor to charge customers $2.21 a month for 11 years to pay for the meters.
Shapard sent a letter on Thursday to the Public Utility Commission with the results of Oncor’s tests.
Oncor tested more than 7,300 smart meters at the request of customers. The company hired by the PUC to test meters, Navigant Consulting, tested 2,600.
Navigant found one meter that incorrectly registered higher readings, Shapard said. So Oncor tested similar meters and found around 25 with the same defect. The meter vendor paid to fix the problem, and Oncor provided electricity retailers with corrected billing information.
Shapard said those customers had paid, on average, about $100 too much for electricity.
The letter also says Oncor reviewed the records of about 780,000 customers and found human errors in about 1,800 cases. In some cases, the Oncor worker who replaced the meter read the old meter incorrectly. Shapard said Oncor corrected those errors.
Shapard said Oncor found no problems with back-office or software systems. He said Navigant hadn’t informed him of any such problems, either.
PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said Navigant probably would present its findings at the next PUC meeting, July 30. Once the commissioners have discussed the results, they will probably release the report to the public, he said.
Some retail electric providers, who compete for customers’ business, agree that the meter doesn’t tend to be the problem.
“We’re able to look at just the usage, and we’re not able to see anything in our usage data that would suggest a bias between groups that have and don’t have a smart meter,” said TXU Energy spokesman Brian Tulloh.
So what’s causing bills to rise? Shapard said most of the time, people need to shop for lower electricity rates, insulate their homes or upgrade to more efficient appliances.
“That’s 95 percent of the high bill problems in the business,” he said.

By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News

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Electricity Deregulation

Below are some common questions and answers related to deregulated states across the country. Although rules and regulations vary by state, many are consistent on a national level.

Q. What has stayed the same in electric service?

A. Your current Transmission and Distribution Utility, or “local wires company,” continues to deliver electricity to your business. Your local wires company still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the poles and wires. You will continue to receive the same reliable service you are used to with your local wires company, regardless of which Retail Electric Provider you receive service from

Q. What has changed in electric service?

A. You can choose to buy your electricity from a different electric provider than the original incumbent provider for your area. These companies are commonly referred to as Retail Electric Providers (REP’s) or Electric Service Providers (ESP’s). Additionally, your bill now looks different than bills you have received in the past, but each REP or ESP provides the same standard information. Transmission and Distribution charges are passed through without markup to the consumer by your REP or ESP.

Depending upon the state in which your business resides, you may receive one bill including both supply and delivery charges, or separate bills from both your energy provider as well as your local transmission and distribution company.

Q. Do all companies have the ability to choose their electric provider in a deregulated state?

A. No. Each state has different rules and regulations. In some states, city-owned utilities and member-owned electric cooperatives have the option of giving their customers a choice of providers, or keeping their grid closed to outside competition. To see if competition is active in your area, please contact a representative at Servant Energy.

Q. What are the benefits of Electric Choice?

A. Competition in other industries has often brought lower prices and innovative, new products and services. Having more control over your buying decision should make it easier to determine what matters most to you, whether it’s price, renewable energy, customer service, or simply a name you know.

Electric competition also should help the environment because energy providers must offer some energy from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy – such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass (gas released from landfills) – produce less air pollution than sources that rely on burning coal or natural gas.

Q. How does Electric Choice affect electric rates?

A. Energy commodity rates fluctuate based upon supply, demand, weather and generation resources within each region. Typically, eastern states have more traditional coal based generation sources, while many southern states such as Texas, are more heavily fueled by natural gas fired plants. Regardless of where your company resides, electric deregulation has resulted in extreme volatility since electricity cannot be stored like other traded commodities.

Electricity is the most volatile of all traded commodities, and, as a result requires more in depth risk management strategies. As many companies in the airline industry have recently experienced, minimal or improper hedging strategies can result in extreme variances in energy costs from one year to the next.

Q. With competition, will the reliability of my electric service change?

A. No. No matter which energy provider you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company, a company regulated by the PUC within each state.

Q. Do I have to switch from my current electric utility?

A. No. If you decide not to choose a new energy provider, your service will be provided by the incumbent or default provider at what is known as the default or standard offer rate as defined by each state’s rules and regulations. The incumbent or default provider is the electric provider that was part of the original electric company that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity and provides customer service.

In most cases, the default or standard offer rate is set higher than competitive market rates to encourage competition. Although, based upon market movement in each region, there are situations in which the default or standard offer rate will be lower than current market rates. Your Servant Energy representative can help guide you through the process comparing various price options and terms to the default and standard offer rates in your area.

Q. Should I choose an index based or fixed price energy contract?

A. Contact your Servant Energy representative to discuss the pros and cons of index-based versus fixed rate pricing. Each customer has different needs and levels of risk tolerance. A well-informed account manager can help you to determine the product option that is best for you.

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Carbon Footprint

Virtually every business activity, from powering a fleet of vehicles to manufacturing products to flying employees to meetings, emits greenhouse gases (GHG), including CO2 which are negatively impacting the environment. The environmental impact of an organization is referred to as its carbon footprint, which measures the total GHG emitted directly and indirectly by that organization.

Direct emissions result from activities that the organization controls, like operating a facility and producing a product, and from using electricity for things like lighting, heating, and powering equipment. Indirect emissions are those that the organization is responsible for but does not control, like the carbon emitted by suppliers who deliver raw materials for the manufacturing operations.

Servant Energy can help you calculate your organization’s carbon footprint and develop ways to reduce and/or offset it. Once you know the impact of your activities, there are two things you can do. First, you can reduce direct emissions by improving efficiency of lighting and equipment, opting for videoconferencing over flying to meetings, or switching your vehicle fleet to hybrid models.

You can also reduce indirect emissions by selecting partners and suppliers who have committed to reducing their own carbon footprints. These changes help, but it’s nearly impossible to reduce your emissions to zero. Another option is to purchase carbon offsets to reduce the remainder of your organization’s environmental footprint.

Offsets, or credits, are created when a project or an organization emits less carbon relative to a baseline, with that baseline established using a standardized methodology. The offset creator may then sell to someone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint but may not have cost effective options in-house. Typically, offset sales are used to finance carbon-reduction initiatives like methane capture, renewable energy and reforestation projects.

Servant Energy is in the process of solidifying relationships so that our clients can help reduce their organization’s environmental impact through purchase of carbon credit or carbon outputs.

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Green Resources

Like you, Servant Energy is concerned about the environment. The cleanest form of electricity is “green power” – energy that is produced by natural renewable resources. Green power is derived from sources such as solar (sun), wind, biomass, and hydro (water) – which are natural, renewable, and don’t contribute to global warming.

Green power is 100% free of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides – the primary cause of smog, acid rain, greenhouse gases, and contributors to asthma and lung cancer respiratory illnesses. When you choose green power for your business or home, you’re supporting the development and adoption of alternative, renewable energy. It’s easy to do, and future generations will thank you.

Servant Energy has “green power” options available in selected areas by our Retail Electric Provider partners. In these areas, electricity is typically generated by hydro (water) power from dams or is wind generated electricity.

Our green energy options support the environment and the economy. Green energy options available also include the ability to have a portion of your monthly electric supply cost going to support the development and adoption of renewable energy. It’s an easy way to become part of the energy solution.

What do you think?

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