Energy Spotlight August 2019


Bochenek Presents new Plan for Energy Huntsville

Former Department of Energy Acting Director Dr. Grace Bochenek has stepped forward to help the Energy Huntsville Initiative in its ongoing restructuring plan.Based on a series of meetings with Energy Huntsville, the City of Huntsville, and other interested stakeholders, Bochenek has put together the outline of a plan that Energy Huntsville leaders say could be the basis of a restructuring plan going forward."Grace attended some of our leadership meetings and had a lot a great input," says EHI Executive Director Cedreck Davis. "One of the things we're looking to accomplish is bring about closer ties to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, since it's the largest Federal energy facility close to us."Davis says the plan also envisions stronger ties to the Tennessee Valley Corridor, of which Energy Huntsville is a member.Bockenek has relied on her extensive Dept. of Energy and energy consulting experience, as well as recent interactions with the City of Huntsville, Huntsville Utilities, Hudson Alpha, and other parties to bring a broader perspective to Energy Huntsville's restructuring efforts."(Mayor Tommy) Battle had invited me to participate in a technology council where we discussed the future of energy in Huntsville and strategies going forward. From those and other interactions, I've come away with nothing but admiration for the kind of innovative, can-do spirit there is here. So often these good ideas actually turn into something," she saysShe feels that one aim of the restructuring plan should be to assist Huntsville in achieving what a true 21st century city could be like."We looked at other cities and their energy structures. We want to be more connected, both locally and regionally, which is something the plan emphasizes. We'd like to show what Huntsville and Energy Huntsville could be like in the future."Davis says Bocheneks's plan may be somewhat modified, but "it will be the basis of our plan going forward."

Tait Tells EHI "Solar is Feasible in Alabama"

For those who say solar power does not work in Alabama, Energy Alabama Chief Operating Officer Daniel Tait will tell you emphatically, "Yes it does." His presentation "Going Solar in North Alabama" to the July meeting of the Energy Huntsville Initiative effectively put to rest the notion that solar energy does not offer a viable energy alternative in the Tennessee Valley,To begin with, the Tennessee Valley gets about 5 KWH per square meter of solar energy per day, Tait showed, about average for the south and much better than the upper Midwest, Northeast or Pacific Northwest areas. "This alone is one reason it works here," he said.He continued by showing that, when combined with the major efficiency improvements solar panels have seen in the past 50 years and their steady drop in price, you have a situation where solar energy is very competitive to conventional electric generation.Alabama and a few other states have missed out on the national trend to solar PV that really took off in 2010 and has seen annual installations top 13,000 MW annually. His presentation showed that in 2016 solar accounted for nearly 374,000 of the 1.9 million U.S. energy jobs.His presentation focused on several federal and state incentive programs offered to encourage adoption of solar electric systems.Locally, TVA's Green Power Providers (GPP) program offers a 20 year contract buy back program, whether from a residential, commercial or industrial solar array. In place for nearly a decade, the program expires the end of December 2019.For several years the Federal government has offered a 30% tax rebate on solar systems, which also ends Dec. 31. However, smaller tax credits of 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 will still be offered.The Alabama SAVES program provides state-backed loans of up to $4 million for qualified energy savings programs, at an interest rate 2% below those offered by banks. Aimed primarily at industrial and commercial projects, these programs can be either energy production or energy savings projects, and the loans are supplemental to bank financing.Tait reminded the audience there is still time to get in on GPP. Those wanting more information on GPP and other TVA renewable energy programs can check the Green Power Providers section of the TVA website. The Alabama SAVES website gives the latest information on this important program.

TVA's GPP Ends Dec. 31, New Program in Works

While TVA's Green Power Provider program is about to end, TVA has a replacement program in the works.Dec. 31 marks the end of the landmark TVA green power initiative. Thousands of TVA residential, commercial and industrial customers have taken advantage of the program, and TVA will honor the balance of all existing 20-year contracts under Green Power Providers.TVA's replacement program is under development, but TVA has declined to release information on it until the program is ready to roll out. "TVA program planners are working with local utilities on the details, but we're not sure it will be ready by Jan. 1 of next year," said TVA Public Information Officer Jim Hopson in Knoxville. "We do expect to have something ready soon."

CEM Lunch Sponsorship Opportunities Available

The Huntsville Association of Energy Engineers chapter will be hosting 23 enrollees for the Certified Energy Engineer (CEM) course. The 4-day series of classes runs Monday - Thursday August 12-15 with the CEM exam to be given Friday August 16. All activities will be held at the Trane-Huntsville conference room, 301 James Record Road Bldg. 200, Suite 100.AEE Huntsville is still looking for a sponsor for Monday's and Wednesday's catered sack lunch. The sponsor will have the complete lunch hour for student contact and interaction, which should include up to a 20 -minute presentation with product samples, if desired. Most of the hour would be used to answer student questions. If needed, a computer and projector will be provided.For more information contact Jimmy Young (256) 955-7314 or Victor Keeling (256) 850-7603 with AEE-Huntsville.

National/International Energy News

(Excerpted from Energy Matters, the newsletter of the American Energy Society)

Climate and Sustainability

- Eighteen of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001; meanwhile, the last five "Januarys through Junes" are now the five warmest such spans on record.

- The following nine countries are getting hit hardest by the changing climate:

·     India - heat; water/food scarcity

·     Namibia - water/food scarcity

·     Mauritania - heat; flooding

·     China - water/food scarcity

·     Seychelles - rising sea levels; water/food scarcity

·     Marshall Islands - rising sea levels

·     Maldives - rising sea levels

·     Bangladesh - heat, tides and water/food scarcity

·     Vietnam - rising sea levels

- From 1970 to 2018, the combined emissions of six key air-pollutants dropped by 74%, while the U.S. economy grew 275%. AES Premium Members have access to the EPA "Fact Sheet."

Electricity, Power and Efficiency

There are five new trends for distributed energy resources (DERs); AES Premium Members have access to the study:

·     Increased implementation of residential time-based rates.

·     Development of rates and programs that promote midday load building.

·     Increased application of residential three-part rates (i.e., demand charges).

·     Development of new net-metering alternatives.

·     Development of new electric vehicle-specific rates.

- Once upon a time, most utilities in the US billed their customers according to a "demand charge" system - an average cost based on each customer's highest usage in any 15-minute (or sometimes, hour) interval of the billing period. Demand charges increased a customer's bill, sometimes by 30%. Eventually, most utilities phased out this billing practice. However, demand charges are going through something of a revival. Some utilities are assigning demand-charge rates to customers who have installed solar in order to generate more revenues.  

Electricity prices in Europe (highest and lowest; includes all taxes and fees; in USD).

Note: in Germany, the taxes on electricity are 15 cents/kWh), while the cost of buying natural gas is 6 cents/kWh: 


Denmark $.30 / kWh

Germany $.30 / kWh

Belgium $.28 / kWh


Hungary $.11 / kWh

Lithuania $.11 / kWh

Bulgaria $.09 / kWh

- The Ohio legislature and its governor signed a bailout bill that will provide $150 million/year to save its two nuclear power plants. The money will come from rate-payers ($4.74/month); however, its cost will be an offset - the legislative bill also ends its "energy-efficiency and renewable-energy" mandate, eventually reducing the ratepayers' overall bill by $3.78/month.

Cyber-Security Threat Post

The Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, if and when the president signs it into law, will support the development of low-tech solutions to combat cyber-attacks, like manual procedures controlled by human operators. (Note: the legislation was inspired by Ukraine, which was attacked in 2015 but was able to keep the grid running because it relies on "retro-" manual technology to over-ride automated operation.)


Upcoming Events

August 20 Alabama Solar Association monthly presentation, West End Grill, 5:30 pm·  

September 3 AEE-Huntsville monthly membership meeting, Redstone Fed. Credit Union, 220 Wynn Drive at Bradford, 11:30 am·    

September 5 HASBAT monthly membership meeting, Jackson Ctr., 7:00-8:30 am ·   

September 17 Energy Huntsville Initiative monthly meeting, USSRC Educational Facility, 1 Tranquility Base, 8:30 am. Note: August monthly meeting is cancelled.·    

September 25-27 AEE World Energy Engineering Conference & Expo Washington, DC

Association of Energy EngineersP.O. Box 11785Huntsville, AL 35814
Energy Huntsville InitiativeP.O. Box 11668Huntsville, AL 35816
Energy AlabamaP.O. box 1381Huntsville, AL 35807