How to Convert Over To Green Electricity
by Electricitybid, Texas on 09.10.07

I’m not a vegetarian or animal activist so why would I want to go green?

Just today I watched as Natural Gas rose 8% because of a natural gas power plant explosion in Mexico. This raised electric rates and so does many other supposedly unrelated things each and every day. Electricity prices are expected to rise higher over the long term as we continue to rely upon fossil fuels. This takes a toll on the environment and it also eats away at our good hard earned money.

Some of the cleanest fossil fuel energy we use to produce our electricity is natural gas and the very dirtiest is coal generated. In Texas a Natural Gas lobbyist organization successfully created a campaign to stop the production of new coal fires power plants that TXU Energy was planning to build in the state. Coal is plentiful and meets the demand for Texas’ great need for electricity but wreaks havic on the environment.

The smoke and fume pollution coming out of those stacks has nothing to do with the CO2 global warming conspiracy. This smoke is just plain and simple dirty nasty pollution. It is some of the worst stuff to put in our air if you want to avoid acid rain and improve the air quality in our cities you will want to read on. To fight the demand we put on our government to find new and immediate energy sources like new coal fired power plants we need to do our part.

Start off by using less electricity and researching ways to create green energy for both your home and commercial business. To start off the research process we offer some secrets and tips to make a positive green effect on the environment.

1. Find out how much energy each appliance uses and where energy is lost.

Home Depot and Lowes both have energy guide sheets in their generator sections for free that show you about how much typical home appliances use in energy. You can compare their sheet with your appliances and look into possibly upgrading some items that may be old and inefficient.

You can save energy this way by picking and choosing which appliances to upgrade and what to wait on. A home efficiency expert can also come into your home and do an energy leak test using perhaps the Blower Door Subtraction Method to see how much air conditioning is getting away through the cracks.

You may also want to try using Do it yourself Energy Audit. If you have an energy expert do it they will close off the cracks they find and do another leak test showing you the amount of leaks they were able to close and the percentage of energy you will be able to save.

This is a very valuable test to perform and the government will give you credits back.

2. Find ways to use less energy

There are several cheap and easy ways to start the process:
  • a. There are these new LED light bulbs that are cheap and will save you even more then the compact fluorescent bulbs available in most stores. The LED light bulbs may have to be bought online. You can turn off your lights when you are not home but this will not save a substantial amount of electricity.
    b. Many electronics although turned off may still be sucking energy from the power outlet. TV’s and radios are a couple examples of appliances sucking power even while turned off. You can plug them first into a surge protector and then turn the surge protector off to keep this from happening. If you have laptops and large HDTV flat panel TV’s you will find that they have a standby mode. This mode takes electric current so be sure to turn the TV and radio all the way off to avoid loosing this extra energy.
    c. Laptop power cords that have a boxy AC adapter will pull current as well as many other similar power cords so make sure to remove these from the wall. A power strip surge protector can be used to go directly into the outlet and you may then leave the clunky AC adapters plugged in (Just be sure to turn off the power strip).
    d. Clothes driers are one of the main energy hogs in a house. By having a clothes line you can save most of your potential energy by hanging the clothes up to dry.

    e. Refrigerators use a large amount of electricity as well but a new cooling technology that uses magnets to cool will soon be changing this energy hog into a green energy cooling device. Don’t expect to see this new product in stores for about 5 years as it is in the early stages of development.

3. Heating and Cooling

Houses use most of their energy through heating and cooling. As said earlier, magnetic cooling will soon be changing the inefficiency of current cooling systems but until then there are certain easy steps to take to improve upon current conditions in the home.

Homes consume an enormous amount of energy, especially in heating and cooling. America uses 26 percent of the energy in the world and quite a bit of this consumption comes from homes. As a reminder, be sure to audit your homes energy use here – Energy Audit.

After auditing your home be sure to follow some of the easy guidelines below to make some of the more dramatic impacts in energy savings. If you live in a very humid location then natural cooling and ventilation will not work. If you don’t then you will want to buy a evaporative cooler.

Air conditioning uses so much electricity you would need to buy about $30,000 worth of solar power equipment just to power a 3 ton air conditioning unit to cool your house.  This being said, try to never use your air conditioner.

Ceiling fans (Energystar rated) are an added way to move the cool air throughout the house and keep you away from turning on that Air conditioner. When it is hot outside be sure to block the sunlight as much as possible.

Have energy efficient window blinds or tented gas filled windows. You can let the sunlight in some but just keep it out during the really hot part of the day. If you power your water heater with electricity you can wrap your water heater with an insulated blanket and then double wrap that with radiant barrier (Can be bought at Lowes).
4. Choose Energystar rated devices

Of course, cooling and heating is the main hurdle but if you are finished there you should move on to things that plug into the wall outlets around the house.

Although there are different types of energy rating guides it’s hard to go wrong with a government program as they have no vested interest.

Keep an eye out for Energystar rated devices as this is the US government’s stamp of approval. If you believe in those conspiracy theories and that George Bush or Dick Cheney is behind Energystar for oil money or something then you will want to find maybe a Canadian rating organization (More is written about Energystar at the bottom).

You will start to notice in many stores there is a yellow EnergyGuide label showing the consumption in kWh per year. Computers and audio equipment can be energy hogs so keep an eye out for those that have the Energystar logo.

5. Making your own green power

Many power making enthusiasts exist on the internet for some reason. I believe it is the easy accessibility of new and innovative technology and instructions to assist in alternative energy projects.

I must admit I have become lost in several forums learning about different ways of making energy from the wind and other sources.

There is even such a thing as a turbine you can hook up to a water source that will produce electricity. Check out eBay for some of the new and old wind turbines available on the market. Wind turbine technology is by far one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity over solar.

The wind turbine is not even the main cost. The tower to put it up in the air and the deep cycle batteries to store the energy is mainly where it will cost you. If you can hook up directly to the city utility you will be able to bypass needing to use deep cycle batteries and instead feed extra energy back into the utilities poles and wires.

In Texas the utility must buy the energy you feed back into their system. By doing it this way you could actually make money instead of having an electric bill although that would require some very energy efficient living.

The Skystream is recommended by many as well as consumer reporting companies as the superior wind turbine on the market. Another home alternative energy system that is relatively new is buying a diesel generator and converting it to run on vegetable oil.

The downside is you would need to get your used vegetable oil from restaurants in town but the upside is they will give it to you for free. This free energy would be the cheapest way to go but would be a little extra work.

The main cost would be the deep cycle batteries to store the energy and the generator. Together you would most likely pay about $4,000 – $5,000 for enough batteries and the generator.

Solar systems are the most expensive but have government subsidy programs to reduce the cost. If you want a solar system plan on paying about $20,000 just for the equipment to keep your air conditioner going.

Solar panels are now being manufactured in thinner plastic layers which is reducing the cost of these things. It may only be 2-3 years from now before solar panels are in most people’s budget.

I think it is a stretch to say that solar can provide all the energy for a home for most people but this is not too far off. Small, home-sized, wind turbines are a rapidly growing field.

6. Charge up that laptop with a solar charger

You wouldn’t think it’s possible since you haven’t probably heard about it but you can buy a solar charger to charge your laptop battery as well as many other electronic devices. The ipod, zune, radio, and many other similar items can be charged in this way. Look below for companies and products who offer this unique niche charging option.

7. Build it efficient and save it for retirement

If your building a new home or commercial building take time to hire someone who will design it with energy efficiency in mind. Radiant Barrier on the floor, ceiling, and walls will keep out 98% of the radiant heat.

You could reduce the average electric bill by 40% by doing this once thing. Other considerations can be taken in the design to bring the building as close to a net zero energy consumption as possible.

You can also make use of daylight in a way that will heat the home during the winter or hit directly on solar panels during the hot summer. Take a look at the EnergyStar government site which has a home certification program that will allow you to properly rate the energy efficiency of your house.

8. Change to a green energy provider

Most electric providers offer green electric power throughout the country. The way they are able to do this is through government credits. They may be buying energy that was produced using coal fired power plants but they also buy green credits from the government.

By buying the green credits they are trading in the coal generated electricity they bought for wind energy. It’s a way to keep those windmills turning so the wind generating plants keep on producing their kind of energy. There are some electric providers out there that have the word green in their name.

Think of this as a marketing gimmick. They still buy their energy from the same energy markets as everyone else. The green credits are bought by all the electric providers so don’t let one provider sell it to you for more.

Several hundred United States of America electric utilities provide green electricity generation through credits and wind energy. Green credits are the in thing these days and there are not many electric providers that are leaving this out of their energy products so be sure to ask.

9. Green energy credits can be bought by individuals

Green energy credits also go by renewable energy credits. These allow you to make up for the pollution you do cause by contributing back to the environment.

The Texas government has approved some renewable energy credits although not all of them are legit. Some of the electric providers in Texas buy green energy credits to offset the energy they sell that comes from coal and natural gas.

This is not always the case but it is done. There is a non profit company that certifies the Renewable credits that go by the name of Green-e Green Credits.

10. Many green advertised products are not so green

There are several solar and wind products out there for sale that contributed harshly to the environment in their own production.

When buying green energy products like a wind turbine you want to check and see just how much care went into preserving the environment during the process of making the device you’re buying.

It could very well be that the company manufacturing the green energy product is also a large industrial polluter. Don’t buy from the hypocrites.

Do even more to go green

1. Learn how to create and install a wind turbine for your home authority source .

2. Air conditioning uses the most energy in a home. If you don’t live in East Texas or similar humid environment then a swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) is a cheap and effective alternative.

3. Install radiant barrier in easy to install locations in the attic and throughout the house.

What does the data show?

What Does The Data Show?

Renewable Energy Pie Chart

The truth is, we do not use very much renewable energy in the United States. In fact, 98% of our energy is other fuel sources rather then clean renewable green energy.

United States of America Renewable Energy Profile, 2006
Renewable Energy Consumption Quadrillion Btu Change 2005-2006 (Percent)
Total 6.844 6.9
  Biomass 3.277 5.2
    Biofuels 0.758 27.6
    Waste 0.404 0.3
    Wood Derived Fuels 2.114 -0.1
  Geothermal Energy 0.349 1.8
  Hydroelectric Conventional 2.890 6.9
  Solar/ PV Energy 0.070 6.5
  Wind Energy 0.258 45.1
Source: Table 1 of this report.

Green Lingo

Alcohol Fuels: Alcohol can be blended with gasoline for use as transportation fuel. It may be produced from a wide variety of organic feedstock. The common alcohol fuels are methanol and ethanol. Methanol may be produced from coal, natural gas, wood and organic waste. Ethanol is commonly made from agricultural plants, primarily corn, containing sugar.

Alternating Current (AC): An electric current that reverses its direction at regularly recurring intervals, usually 50 or 60 times per second.

Amorphous Silicon: An alloy of silica and hydrogen, with a disordered, noncrystalline internal atomic arrangement, that can be deposited in thin-layers (a few micrometers in thickness) by a number of deposition methods to produce thin-film photovoltaic cells on glass, metal, or plastic substrates.

Annualized Growth Rates: Calculated as follows:

(xn / x1) 1/n ,

where x is the value under consideration and n is the number of periods.

Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) – 320, 325, 330: ARI heat pump classifications: 320 refers to a water-source heat pump; 325 refers to a ground water-source heat pump; 330 refers to a ground source closed-loop heat pump.

Availability Factor: A percentage representing the number of hours a generating unit is available to produce power (regardless of the amount of power) in a given period, compared to the number of hours in the period.

Biomass: Organic nonfossil material of biological origin constituting a renewable energy source.

Bioenergy: Useful, renewable energy produced from organic matter, which may either be used directly as a fuel or processed into liquids and gases.

Biofuels: Liquid fuels and blending components produced from biomass (plant) feedstocks, used primarily for transportation.

Biomass gas (Biogas): A medium Btu gas containing methane and carbon dioxide, resulting from the action of microorganisms on organic materials such as a landfill.

Black Liquor (Pulping Liquor): The alkaline spent liquor removed from the digesters in the process of chemically pulping wood. After evaporation, the liquor is burned as a fuel in a recovery furnace that permits the recovery of certain basic chemicals.

Capacity Factor: The ratio of the electrical energy produced by a generating unit for the period of time considered to the electrical energy that could have been produced at continuous full-power operation during the same period.

Capacity, Gross: The full-load continuous rating of a generator, prime mover, or other electric equipment under specified conditions as designated by the manufacturer. It is usually indicated on a nameplate attached to the equipment.

Capacity, Net Summer: See Net Summer Capacity.

Capital Cost: The cost of field development and plant construction and the equipment required for the generation of electricity.

Cast Silicon: Crystalline silicon obtained by pouring pure molten silicon into a vertical mold and adjusting the temperature gradient along the mold volume during cooling to obtain slow, vertically-advancing crystallization of the silicon. The polycrystalline ingot thus formed is composed of large, relatively parallel, interlocking crystals. The cast ingots are sawed into wafers for further fabrication into photovoltaic cells. Cast-silicon wafers and ribbon-silicon sheets fabricated into cells are usually referred to as polycrystalline photovoltaic cells.

Cogeneration: See combined heat and power.

Combined Cycle: An electric generating technology in which electricity is produced from otherwise lost waste heat exiting from one or more gas (combustion) turbines. The exiting heat is routed to a conventional boiler or to a heat recovery steam generator for utilization by a steam turbine in the production of electricity. Such designs increase the efficiency of the electric generating unit.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant: A plant designed to produce both heat and electricity from a single heat source. Note: This term is being used in place of the term “cogenerator” that was used by EIA in the past. CHP better describes the facilities because some of the plants included do not produce heat and power in a sequential fashion and, as a result, do not meet the legal definition of cogeneration specified in the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

Commercial Sector: An energy-consuming sector that consists of service-providing facilities and equipment of: businesses; Federal, State, and local governments; and other private and public organizations, such as religious, social, or fraternal groups. The commercial sector includes institutional living quarters. It also includes sewage treatment facilities. Common uses of energy associated with this sector include space heating, water heating, air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration, cooking, and running a wide variety of other equipment. Note: This sector includes generators that produce electricity and/or useful thermal output primarily to support the activities of the above-mentioned commercial establishments.

Concentrator: A reflective or refractive device that focuses incident insolation onto an area smaller than the reflective or refractive surface, resulting in increased insolation at the point of focus.

Conventional hydroelectric (hydropower) plant: A plant in which all of the power is produced from natural streamflow as regulated by available storage.

Digester Gas: Biogass that is produced using a digester which is an airtight vessel or enclosure in which bacteria decomposes biomass in water to produce biogas.

Direct Current (DC): An electric current that flows in a constant direction. The magnitude of the current does not vary or has a slight variation.

Distributed Generation (Distributed Energy Resources): Refers to electricity provided by small, modular power generators (typically ranging in capacity from a few kilowatts to 50 megawatts) located at or near customer demand.

Electric power sector: An energy-consuming sector that consists of electricity only and combined heat and power(CHP) plants whose primary business is to sell electricity, or electricity and heat, to the public–i.e., North American Industry Classification System 22 plants.

Electric Utility: A corporation, person, agency, authority, or other legal entity or instrumentality aligned with distribution facilities for delivery of electric energy for use primarily by the public. Included are investor-owned electric utilities, municipal and State utilities, Federal electric utilities, and rural electric cooperatives. A few entities that are tariff based and corporately aligned with companies that own distribution facilities are also included.
Note: Due to the issuance of FERC Order 888 that required traditional electric utilities to functionally unbundle their
generation, transmission, and distribution operations, “electric utility” currently has inconsistent interpretations from State to State.

Electric Utility Restructuring: The introduction of competition into at least the generation phase of electricity production, with a corresponding decrease in regulatory control.

Emissions: Anthropogenic releases of gases to the atmosphere. In the context of global climate change, they consist of radiatively important greenhouse gases (e.g., the release of carbon dioxide during fuel combustion).

Energy Crops: Crops grown specifically for their fuel value. These include food crops such as corn and sugarcane, and nonfood crops such as poplar trees and switchgrass. Currently, two energy crops are under development: short – rotation woody crops, which are fast – growing hardwood trees harvested in five to eight years, and herbaceous energy crops, such as perennial grasses, which are harvested annually after taking two to three years to reach full productivity.

Ethanol (also known as Ethyl Alcohol or Grain Alcohol, CH3-CH2OH): A clear, colorless flammable oxygenated hydrocarbon with a boiling point of 173.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the anhydrous state. However it readily forms a binary azetrope with water, with a boiling point of 172.67 degrees Fahrenheit at a composition of 95.57 percent by weight ethanol. It is used in the United States as a gasoline octane enhancer and oxygenate (maximum 10 percent concentration). Ethanol can be used in higher concentrations (E85) in vehicles designed for its use. Ethanol is typically produced chemically from ethylene, or biologically from fermentation of various sugars from carbohydrates found in agricultural crops and cellulosic residues from crops or wood. The lower heating value, equal to 76,000 Btu per gallon, is assumed for estimates in this report.

Evacuated Tube: In a solar thermal collector, an absorber tube, which is contained in an evacuated glass cylinder, through which collector fluids flows.

Flat Plate Pumped: A medium-temperature solar thermal collector that typically consists of a metal frame, glazing, absorbers (usually metal), and insulation and that uses a pump liquid as the heat-transfer medium: predominant use is in water heating applications.

Fuel Cells: One or more cells capable of generating an electrical current by converting the chemical energy of a fuel directly into electrical energy. Fuel cells differ from conventional electrical cells in that the active materials such as fuel and oxygen are not contained within the cell but are supplied from outside.

Fuelwood: Wood and wood products, possibly including coppices, scrubs, branches, etc., bought or gathered, and used by direct combustion.

Generation (Electricity): The process of producing electric energy from other forms of energy; also, the amount of electric energy produced, expressed in watthours (Wh).

Gross Generation: The total amount of electric energy produced by the generating units at a generating station or stations, measured at the generator terminals.

Net Generation: Gross generation less the electric energy consumed at the generating station for station’s use.

Geothermal Energy: As used at electric power plants, hot water or steam extracted from geothermal reservoirs in the Earth’s crust that is supplied to steam turbines at electric power plants that drive generators to produce electricity.

Geothermal Plant: A plant in which a turbine is driven either from hot water or by natural steam that derives its energy from heat found in rocks or fluids at various depths beneath the surface of the earth. The fluids are extracted by drilling and/or pumping.

Giga: One billion.

Green Pricing/Marketing: In the case of renewable electricity, green pricing represents a market solution to the various problems associated with regulatory valuation of the nonmarket benefits of renewables. Green pricing programs allow electricity customers to express their willingness to pay for renewable energy development through direct payments on their monthly utility bills.

Grid: The layout of an electrical distribution system.

Hardwoods: Usually broad-leaved and deciduous trees.

Heat Pump: A year-round heating and air-conditioning system employing a refrigeration cycle. In a refrigeration cycle, a refrigerant is compressed (as a liquid) and expanded (as a vapor) to absorb and reject heat. The heat pump transfers heat to a space to be heated during the winter period and by reversing the operation extracts (absorbs) heat from the same space to be cooled during the summer period. The refrigerant within the heat pump in the heating mode absorbs the heat to be supplied to the space to be heated from an outside medium (air, ground or ground water) and in the cooling mode absorbs heat from the space to be cooled to be rejected to the outside medium.

Heat Pump (Air Source): An air-source heat pump is the most common type of heat pump. The heat pump absorbs heat from the outside air and transfers the heat to the space to be heated in the heating mode. In the cooling mode the heat pump absorbs heat from the space to be cooled and rejects the heat to the outside air. In the heating mode when the outside air approaches 32o F or less, air-source heat pumps loose efficiency and generally require a back-up (resistance) heating system.

Heat Pump (Geothermal): A heat pump in which the refrigerant exchanges heat (in a heat exchanger) with a fluid circulating through an earth connection medium (ground or ground water). The fluid is contained in a variety of loop (pipe) configurations depending on the temperature of the ground and the ground area available. Loops may be installed horizontally or vertically in the ground or submersed in a body of water.

Heat Pump (efficiency): The efficiency of a heat pump, that is, the electrical energy to operate it, is directly related to temperatures between which it operates. Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient than conventional heat pumps or air conditioners that use the outdoor air since the ground or ground water a few feet below the earth’s surface remains relatively constant throughout the year. It is more efficient in the winter to draw heat from the relatively warm ground than from the atmosphere where the air temperature is much colder, and in summer transfer waste heat to the relatively cool ground than to hotter air. Geothermal heat pumps are generally more expensive ($2,000 $5,000) to install than outside air heat pumps. However, depending on the location geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption (operating cost) and correspondingly, emissions by more than 20 percent compared to high efficiency outside air heat pumps. Geothermal heat pumps also use the waste heat from air-conditioning to provide free hot water heating in the summer.

High-Temperature Collector: A solar thermal collector designed to operate at a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Incentives: Subsidies and other Government actions where the Governments’s financial assistance is indirect.

Independent Power Producer (IPP): A corporation, person, agency, authority, or other legal entity or instrumentality that owns or operates facilities for the generation of electricity for use primarily by the public, and that is not an electric utility.

Internal Collector Storage (ICS): A solar thermal collector in which incident solar radiation is absorbed by the storage medium.

Industrial Sector: An energy-consuming sector that consists of all facilities and equipment used for producing, processing, or assembling goods. The industrial sector encompasses the following types of activity: manufacturing (NAICS codes 31-33); agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (NAICS code 11); mining, including oil and gas extraction (NAICS code 21); natural gas transmission (NAICS code 2212); and construction (NAICS code 23). Overall energy use in this sector is largely for process heat and cooling and powering machinery, with lesser amounts used for facility heating, air conditioning, and lighting. Fossil fuels are also used as raw material inputs to manufactured products. Note: This sector includes generators that produce electricity and/or useful thermal output primarily to support the above-mentioned industrial activities.

Kilowatt (kW): One thousand watts of electricity (See Watt).

Kilowatthour (kWh): One thousand watthours.

Landfill Gas: Gas that is generated by decomposition of organic material at landfill disposal sites. Landfill gas is approximately 50 percent methane.

Levelized Cost: The present value of the total cost of building and operating a generating plant over its economic life, converted to equal annual payments. Costs are levelized in real dollars (i.e., adjusted to remove the impact of inflation).

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC): A company that limits the liability of its participants to the assets they commit to the enterprise.

Liquid Collector: A medium-temperature solar thermal collector, employed predominantly in water heating, which uses pumped liquid as the heat-transfer medium.

Low-Temperature Collectors: Metallic or nonmetallic solar thermal collectors that generally operate at temperatures below 110 degrees Fahrenheit and use pumped liquid or air as the heat transfer medium. They usually contain no glazing and no insulation, and they are often made of plastic or rubber, although some are made of metal.

Marginal Cost: The change in cost associated with a unit change in quantity supplied or produced.

Medium-Temperature Collectors: Solar thermal col-lectors designed to operate in the temperature range of 140 degrees to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, but that can also operate at a temperature as low as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The collector typically consists of a metal frame, metal absorption panels with integral flow channels (attached tubing for liquid collectors or integral ducting for air collectors), and glazing and insulation on the sides and back.

Megawatt (MW): One million watts of electricity (See Watt).

Methane: A colorless, flammable, odorless hydrocarbon gas (CH4) which is the major component of natural gas. It is also an important source of hydrogen in various industrial processes. Methane is a greenhouse gas.

MTBE: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether is a fuel oxygenate produced by reacting methanol with isobutylene.

MSW (Municipal Solid Waste): Residential solid waste and some nonhazardous commercial, institutional, and industrial wastes.

Net Metering: Arrangement that permits a facility (using a meter that reads inflows and outflows of electricity) to sell any excess power it generates over its load requirement back to the electrical grid to offset consumption.

Net Photovoltaic Cell Shipment: The difference between photovoltaic cell shipments and photovoltaic cell purchases.

Net Photovoltaic Module Shipment: The difference between photovoltaic module shipments and photovoltaic module purchases.

Net summer capacity: The maximum output, commonly expressed in megawatts (MW), that generating equipment can supply to system load, as demonstrated by a multi-hour test, at the time of summer peak demand (period of May 1 through October 31). This output reflects a reduction in capacity due to electricity use for station service or auxiliaries.

Nonutility Generation: Electric generation by nonutility power producers to supply electric power for industrial, commercial, and military operations, or sales to electric utilities. See Nonutility Power Producer.

Nonutility Power Producer: A corporation, person, agency, authority, or other legal entity or instrumentality that owns electric generating capacity and is not an electric utility. Nonutility power producers include qualifying cogenerators, qualifying small power producers, and other nonutility generators (including independent power producers) without a designated, franchised service area that do not file forms listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 18, Part 141.

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Cost: Operating expenses are associated with operating a facility (i.e., supervising and engineering expenses). Maintenance expenses are that portion of expenses consisting of labor, materials, and other direct and indirect expenses incurred
for preserving the operating efficiency or physical condition of utility plants that are used for power production, transmission, and distribution of energy.

Other Biomass: This category of biomass energy includes: agricultural byproducts/crops (agricultural byproducts, straw); other biomass gas (digester gas, methane); other biomass liquids (fish oil, liquid acetonitrite, waste, tall oil, waste alcohol); other biomass solids (medical waste, solid byproducts; sludge waste and tires.

Paper Pellets: paper compressed and bound into uniform diameter pellets to be burned in a heating stove.

Parabolic Dish: A high-temperature (above 180 degrees Fahrenheit) solar thermal concentrator, generally bowl-shaped, with two-axis tracking.

Parabolic Trough: A high-temperature (above 180 degrees Fahrenheit) solar thermal concentrator with the capacity for tracking the sun using one axis of rotation.

Passive Solar: A system in which solar energy alone is used for the transfer of thermal energy. Pumps, blowers, or other heat transfer devices that use energy other than solar are not used.

Peak Watt: A manufacturer’s unit indicating the amount of power a photovoltaic cell or module will produce at standard test conditions (normally 1,000 watts per square meter and 25 degrees Celsius).

Peat: Peat consists of partially decomposed plant debris. It is considered an early stage in the development of coal. Peat is distinguished from lignite by the presence of free cellulose and a high moisture content (exceeding 70 percent). The heat content of air-dried peat (about 50 percent moisture) is about 9 million Btu per ton. Most U.S. peat is used as a soil conditioner. The first U.S. electric power plant fueled by peat began operation in Maine in 1990.

Photovoltaic (PV) Cell: An electronic device consisting of layers of semiconductor materials fabricated to form a junction (adjacent layers of materials with different electronic characteristics) and electrical contacts and being capable of converting incident light directly into electricity (direct current).

Photovoltaic (PV) Module: An integrated assembly of interconnected photovoltaic cells designed to deliver a selected level of working voltage and current at its output terminals, packaged for protection against environment degradation, and suited for incorporation in photovoltaic power systems.

Process Heating: The direct process end use in which energy is used to raise the temperature of substances involved in the manufacturing process.

Production Tax Credit (PTC): an inflation – adjusted 1.5 cents per kilowatthour payment for electricity produced using qualifying renewable energy sources.

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA): One part of the National Energy Act, PURPA contains measures designed to encourage the conservation of energy, more efficient use of resources, and equitable rates. Principal among these were suggested retail rate reforms and new incentives for production of electricity by cogenerators and users of renewable resources.

Pumped-storage hydroelectric plant: A plant that usually generates electric energy during peak load periods by using water previously pumped into an elevated storage reservoir during off-peak periods when excess generating capacity is available to do so. When additional generating capacity is needed, the water can be released from the reservoir through a conduit to turbine generators located in a power plant at a lower level.

Quadrillion Btu: Equivalent to 10 to the 15th power Btu.

Qualifying Facility (QF): A cogeneration or small power production facility that meets certain ownership, operating, and efficiency criteria established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). (See the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 18, Part 292.)

Renewable Energy Resources: Energy resources that are naturally replenishing but flow-limited. They are virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time. Renewable energy resources include: biomass, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, ocean thermal, wave action, and tidal action.

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS): a mandate requiring that renewable energy provide a certain percentage of total energy generation or consumption.

Residential Sector: An energy-consuming sector that consists of living quarters for private households. Common uses of energy associated with this sector include space heating, water heating, air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration, cooking, and running a variety of other appliances. The residential sector excludes institutional living quarters.

Ribbon Silicon: Single-crystal silicon derived by means of fabricating processes that produce sheets or ribbons of single-crystal silicon. These processes include edge-defined film-fed growth, dendritic web growth, and ribbon-to-ribbon growth.

Roundwood: Wood cut specifically for use as a fuel.

Silicon: A semiconductor material made from silica, purified for photovoltaic applications.

Single Crystal Silicon (Czochralski): An extremely pure form of crystalline silicon produced by the Czochralski method of dipping a single crystal seed into a pool of molten silicon under high vacuum conditions and slowly withdrawing a solidifying single crystal boule rod of silicon. The boule is sawed into thin wafers and fabricated into single-crystal photovoltaic cells.

Sludge: A dense, slushy, liquid-to-semifluid product that accumulates as an end result of an industrial or technological process designed to purify a substance. Industrial sludges are produced from the processing of energy-related raw materials, chemical products, water, mined ores, sewerage, and other natural and man-made products. Sludges can also form from natural processes, such as the run off produced by rain fall, and accumulate on the bottom of bogs, streams, lakes, and tidelands.

Solar Energy: The radiant energy of the sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.

Solar Thermal Collector: A device designed to receive solar radiation and convert it into thermal energy. Normally, a solar thermal collector includes a frame, glazing, and an absorber, together with the appropriate insulation. The heat collected by the solar thermal collector may be used immediately or stored for later use.

Solar Thermal Collector, Special: An evacuated tube collector or a concentrating (focusing) collector. Special collectors operate in the temperature (low concentration for pool heating) to several hundred degrees Fahrenheit (high concentration for air conditioning and specialized industrial processes).

Spent liquor: The liquid residue left after an industrial process; can be a component of waste materials used as fuel.

Spent Sulfite Liquor: end product of pulp and paper manufacturing processes that contains lignins and has a high moisture content; often re-used in recovery boilers. Similar to black liquor.

Subsidy: Financial assistance granted by the Government to firms and individuals.

System Benefits Charge (SBC): A non-bypassable fee on transmission interconnection; funds are allocated among public purposes, including the development and demonstration of renewable energy technologies.

Tall oil: The oily mixture of rosin acids, fatty acids, and other materials obtained by acid treatment of the alkaline liquors from the digesting (pulping) of pine wood.

Thermosiphon System: A solar collector system for water heating in which circulation of the collection fluid
through the storage loop is provided solely by the temperature and density difference between the hot and cold fluids.

Thin-Film Silicon: a technology in which amorphous or polycrystalline material is used to make photovoltaic (PV) cells.

Transmission System (Electric): An interconnected group of electric transmission lines and associated equipment for moving or transferring electric energy in bulk between points of supply and points at which it is transformed for delivery over the distribution system lines to consumers, or is delivered to other electric systems.

Transportation Sector: An energy-consuming sector that consists of all vehicles whose primary purpose is transporting people and/or goods from one physical location to another. Included are automobiles; trucks; buses; motorcycles; trains, subways, and other rail vehicles; aircraft; and ships, barges, and other waterborne vehicles. Vehicles whose primary purpose is not transportation (e.g., construction cranes and bulldozers, farming vehicles, and warehouse tractors and forklifts) are classified in the sector of their primary use.

Turbine: A machine for generating rotary mechanical power from the energy of a stream of fluid (such as water, steam, or hot gas). Turbines convert the kinetic energy of fluids to mechanical energy through the principles of impulse and reaction, or a mixture of the two.

Useful Thermal Output: The thermal energy made available for use in any industrial or commercial process or used in any heating or cooling application, i.e., total thermal energy made available for processes and applications other than electrical generation.

Watt (Electric): The electrical unit of power. The rate of energy transfer equivalent to 1 ampere of electric
current flowing under a pressure of 1 volt at unity power factor.
Watt (Thermal): A unit of power in the metric system, expressed in terms of energy per second, equal to the work done at a rate of 1 joule per second.

Watthour (Wh): The electrical energy unit of measure equal to 1 watt of power supplied to, or taken from, an electric circuit steadily for 1 hour.

Wind energy: Energy present in wind motion that can be converted to mechanical energy for driving pumps, mills, and electric power generators. Wind pushes against sails, vanes, or blades radiating from a central rotating shaft.

Wind power plant: A group of wind turbines interconnected to a common utility system through a system of transformers, distribution lines, and (usually) one substation. Operation, control, and maintenance functions are often centralized through a network of computerized
monitoring systems, supplemented by visual inspection. This is a term commonly used in the United States. In Europe, it is called a generating station.

Wood/Wood Waste: This category of biomass energy includes: black liquor; wood/wood waste liquids (red liquor, sludge wood, spent sulfite liquor); wood/wood waste solids (peat, paper pellets, railroad ties, utility poles, wood/wood waste).

Wood energy: Wood and wood products used as fuel, including round wood (cord wood), limb wood, wood chips, bark, sawdust, forest residues, charcoal, pulp waste, and spent pulping liquor.

Wood pellets: Sawdust compressed into uniform diameter pellets to be burned in a heating stove.

How to go green

Texas Home Energy Efficiency Saver Program

Electricity Bid and Pierce Energy work with the Texas and Federal government to provide energy efficiency retrofits and solutions to your house. The best thing about this program is that most of it is paid by the state or federal government. If you would like to have an energy consultant in Texas speak to you more about this program please feel free to contact us here.


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