Save $530, A Green Bank for Alaska, a new video, and more good news from REAP
Walking the Talk: A Work in Progress: Part I Electricity by Shaina Kilcoyne, Energy Efficiency Director
Nearly four years ago my husband and I bought our house, a ranch home with ‘character’. It turns out that in this case “character” meant wild fluctuations in our electricity consumption and some troublesome heating issues (we’ll get to the heating issues in next month’s newsletter).
In the last three and a half years, we’ve made energy improvements, specifically to electricity. Saving energy is quite literally my job so I decided to track the results. So where are we at?
Do you see that flat line from May ’15 on? This means we’ve lowered and stabilized our electricity use significantly. That’s a 40% improvement, saving us $260 over 2015 and $530 over 2014! By comparison, the average Chugach Electric Association customer used 602 kWh per month.
So… what the heck happened here? It’s about the hot tub. Our home came with a 1995, 500-gallon hot tub. We thought this was great and we would use it all winter. Well, we didn’t. The age and size meant it took forever to heat up and we barely used it. So I turned to Craigslist and gave it away. That’s not all – of course we immediately started swapping out old bulbs for more efficient LEDs. LEDs are a no brainer. They are 75 - 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Over the past five years they have dropped significantly in price and simultaneously increased in quality, offering a wide color spectrum. To further improve our efficiency, we chose an Energy Star washer when it came time to replace ours. Energy Star products met strict efficiency guidelines that save you money.
Even after those energy efficiency upgrades, some of the savings came down to good old fashioned energy conservation. I have declared myself the official Energy Czar of our house and after a couple of months of making my husband do push-ups when he left the lights on even he is in the habit of turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use. (Before you judge me too much, let me say that he needed the exercise just as much as we needed to save the energy!)
When it comes to heat, we had a greater challenge. Stay tuned in February for ‘Walking the Talk, Part II’.
Could a Green Bank Prosper Alaska?
REAP has long pioneered discussion in Alaska about how to finance clean energy. As the primary advocate of the Renewable Energy Fund in 2008, now REAP looks to the horizon to discover the most effective next option to pay for renewables and efficiency. We are focused on private sector involvement, partnerships, and tax-advantaged mechanisms. To forward this conversation in Alaska, REAP stakeholders encouraged us to bring the country’s first Green Bank — from Connecticut to Anchorage to tell us more.
Green Banks do not threaten nor compete with the traditional lending sector. Rather, a Green Bank offers new skills to the deal-making table: staff with expertise in lending and clean energy that bring an appreciation and focus to clean energy deals. In the lending world, one size does not fit all: Green Banks may attract different types of investors than those who prefer traditional, established loan profiles (like cars, commercial buildings, or mortgages). “Money attracts money,” is a common adage in the financial sector: Green Bank expertise unites hungry capital to deals that reflect the needs of new projects like commercial solar, solar gardens, or Power Purchase Agreements. An Alaskan Green Bank could invite national and international investors already earning attractive rates of return from renewable projects that have been delivering to clean energy investors globally for more than ten years. In fact, Bloomberg Finance’s New Energy Outlook reports that by 2040, zero-emission energy sources will compose 60% of installed capacity globally. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6Terrawatts of new power that will be added in the next 25 years. This is real money with real rates of return, and far from bleeding-edge technology.
As Alaska considers Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) finance mechanisms now popular in 33 states, the Connecticut example shows that Green Banks are ideal partners to launch C-PACE investments. In Connecticut’s case with C-PACE, the bank helped lending partners quantify perceived risk vs. actual risk. The perceived risk of default on loans for energy efficiency was higher than any proven default rate.
As Alaska transitions beyond the oft-referenced “grant era” and embraces loans, we will be more attractive for investment from around the country if a clean energy investment authority, like a green bank, is present.
Bert Hunter, the Chief Investment Officer of the Connecticut Green Bank visited Anchorage earlier this month as part of REAP’s Public Lecture series, sponsored by Advanced Energy Economy and Municipal Light & Power. Click here to see Bert Hunter’s slides.
GREAT ALASKA ENERGY CHALLENGE PUSHES STATE FACILITIES TO INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY
This winter, in collaboration with Governor Bill Walker's office, REAP is helping state facilities across Alaska reduce energy. Nearly 40 public facilities voluntarily entered the friendly competition to see who can save the most heating and electric use over the winter. The contest runs from October 2016 through March 2017, when Alaska energy bills are at their highest. The challenge has several objectives beyond saving the state money in a fiscally lean time. Additional goals include demonstrating to Alaskans that state employees are conscious stewards of public resources and empowering state workers to lead by example; with teamwork and personal commitment, we can do something good for the state budget and for the environment. For more on the contest, special energy saving tips for Alaskans, and challenge updates check out akenergychallenge.org.
New AK EnergySmart Video: drumroll please!
In Alaska, energy is everything: it is the foundation of our State’s economy; it’s how we connect, how we travel, how we work. Energy costs remain one of the largest issues facing many Alaskan families. Our work promoting and teaching the AK EnergySmart curriculum teaches Energy Literacy. Stage 2 Studios created a short, three-minute video for REAP and AHFC (Alaska Housing Finance Corporation) about Energy Literacy in Alaska. Alaska’s future generating energy and using it efficiently starts in the classroom and in the home. Learn more about AK EnergySmart, the free, interdisciplinary curriculum, here.
Letting a need be known
Compliance with an important Federal grant demands access to the grant portal that is inaccessible on our Macs. Might a REAP Newsletter subscriber have a Windows laptop that is less than 6 years old which they would like to donate?
ML&P announces student winners of 2017 calendar art contest
Municipal Light & Power held an art calendar contest for all fourth- and fifth-grade students in Anchorage last fall and received 136 entries from 27 schools in the Municipality. The contest was designed for students to share what they know about electrical safety and energy conservation.
Though it was a difficult decision for the ML&P team of employee judges, 13 entries were chosen for the 2017 ML&P PowerSMART calendar. Each month’s winner received a trophy, special prize and two day-passes to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, courtesy of the museum. The grand-prize winner’s artwork, featured on the cover of the calendar and in the artist’s birthday month, received a trophy, two day-passes to the Anchorage Museum and an iPod shuffle.
We sincerely appreciate the generosity of our donors who gave unselfishly to support the advancement of clean energy in Alaska during our annual appeal and fundraising push over the last two months. If you aimed to give, it's not too late! Please consider joining our group of monthly donors by emailing Piper or donate here now!
Multiple new members are joining REAP, and we are now up to 80 members. Have a look at our current roster, and consider adding your non-profit, consultancy, business to the list. Piper can tell you more about the value of membership!
Call to Action
1. Do you have an Electric Vehicle? If so, please offer Chugach Electric Association your perspectives? Contact Kate Ayers to share your story!
2. Do you have Project Management experience? Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is hiring! Senior Project Manager job description.
3. Do you have Rural Energy Management experience? Tanana Chiefs Conference is hiring! Rural Energy Specialist
4. Do you have interest in energy efficiency and community energy planning? Deerstone Consulting is hiring! Let them know of your interest.
5. Do you like to build coalitions and are you interested in clean energy education? REAP is hiring! Alaska Network for Energy Education & Employment
6. Conferences and Events:
Citizens Climate Lobby with Comedian/Economist Yoram Bauman at 49th State Brewing Co @ 5:30 on Jan 31
Alaska Forum on the Environment Feb 6-10th in Anchorage
Arctic Encounter Symposium April 13 & 14 in Seattle
News Headlines of Note
January International Energy Agency report on global RE outpacing coal-fired capacity
Jan 17 "Job Growth Pushes GOP Governors to Embrace Renewables" in Utility Dive
Jan 13 "The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy" by President Obama in the Journal Science
Jan 11 "Sound Economy and Sustainable Environment Not a Contradiction" in Alaska Dispatch News by REAP At-Large Board Member Kate Troll
Jan 11 "His Zeal isn't Clear but Tillerson Calls Climate a Threat" in Christian Science Monitor
Jan 9 "Climate Change or Not, Energy Efficiency is a Smart Move" in Huffington Post by REAP member Tom Marsik
Jan 6 "Renewables on the rise regardless of Clean Power Plan's fate" in Utility Dive
Dec 25 "Alaskans Cost of Staying Warm a Thick Coat of Dirty Air" in New York Times
Thanks REAP readers! As always, send us content leads, news tips or feedback.
Happy New Year,
Chris, Shaina, Colleen, Lydia, Henry and Piper
Renewable Energy Alaska Project