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Smart Discussion on Smart Grids

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As more and more distributed resources come onto the grid, we are coming full circle back to something that looks more like Edison’s original distributed energy system, after a century of Samuel Insull’s centralized model. Besides changes in how energy is generated, the way it is used is also changing, with energy customers becoming active participants rather than just passive consumers. The interoperability of all of the devices on the grid is essential to keeping up with the changing needs of customers and energy markets. The NIST Interoperability Framework On September 27, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) hosted the second of four…

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6 Energy Efficiency Financing Options You Should Know

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Energy efficiency improvements can be expensive and burdensome for residential homeowners, renters and building owners. Luckily, there are an increasing number of financial options to help cover the up-front costs of efficiency upgrades. Below, we lay out several financing options to make our homes and workplaces more energy efficient.   1. On-Bill Financing On-bill financing is an umbrella term for a financing program where a charge is added to a customer’s energy bill to repay a loan from a utility for energy efficiency upgrades. The utility acts as the lender and incurs the upfront costs of the improvements. How It Works Throughout MEEA’s territory, there are nine states with active on-bill programs, pilot program or programs in…

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Cost-Effectiveness Testing Needs a Refresh. The "Minnesota Test" Could be Just the Thing.

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Cost-effectiveness testing is an important part of energy efficiency planning, reporting and evaluation. Utilities use cost-effectiveness tests to demonstrate that their investments in energy efficiency are in the best interests of the utility, their customers and society in general. The traditional tests come from a California Public Utility Commission manual that was developed in the early 1980s and last updated in 2001. Unsurprisingly, the way that utilities and states use the traditional tests demonstrates that the tests are not always performed consistent with their theoretical definitions – because of statutory requirements for what must be included or excluded, the asymmetrical inclusion of costs without including their associated…

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