Utility efficiency programs offer model to merge climate, racial justice solutions

Many states require utilities to help low-income customers conserve energy despite higher costs and barriers.

As urgency grows to simultaneously address climate change and racial justice through proposals like the Green New Deal, low-income energy efficiency programs provide a potential example of how to merge the priorities. 

The time is right to bolster such programs since the pandemic’s economic effects mean more households will likely need assistance with energy bills, advocates say. 

Budding Midwest marijuana industry could send energy use sky-high

But energy efficiency measures could blunt the impact.

Recreational marijuana recently became legal in Illinois and Michigan. But for cannabis plants to thrive year-round in the Midwest, they must be grown indoors. So as the industry expands, its energy use could easily get, well, pretty high.

“Lighting is one of the largest energy uses of an indoor cultivation facility, followed closely by heating and cooling and then dehumidification,” says Molly Graham of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Efficiency businesses consider an uncertain future with COVID-19

Like workers across the country, energy efficiency professionals are on precarious footing as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.

Non-essential work has been ordered to stop in many places, unless employees can work from home. In some cases, contracting work is allowed as long as workers can maintain appropriate social distance.

This puts efficiency contractors in a challenging position: Their work isn’t deemed “essential,” and much of it takes place in those now-crowded homes — whether it’s an energy audit, weatherization or installing a new heating and cooling system.

Will Kansas City stick to climate pledge or bow to pressure from homebuilders?

As Kansas City considers updating its building energy code, city officials are weighing the city’s climate commitments against concerns from homebuilders.

Adopting the latest international standards without revisions likely would increase costs for homebuilders but save energy and money for homeowners.

Builders have generally opposed the new code without amendments, while energy efficiency advocates say it is necessary if the city is serious about fighting climate change.

Marijuana growers gobble up electricity, but Michigan pot law doesn't address energy efficiency

Pot is a power-hungry crop.

Indoor marijuana grow facilities gobble up massive amounts of electricity, prompting a push from some environmental advocates for energy efficiency in the industry.

Michigan's marijuana laws do not directly address energy efficiency, but some utilities say they will work with growers to help them cut back on electricity.

Continue reading at Lansing State Journal.

Should New Homes be More Energy Efficient? City Council to Decide at Next Meeting

Springfield developers, contractors and builders were at odds once again with environmental activists over proposed changes to the city's building code. 

The modifications would require builders to pay a little more and take a few extra steps to make sure homes are well-insulated and sealed — key components designed to make buildings energy efficient and save homeowners money on their utilities. 

Letters for November 10: Tell City Council to reject lobbyists and support modern building codes

It is a sad day for our city when City Council makes decisions based on "special interest lobbying" (HBA) and inaccurate figures to bring forward a "compromise bill" that weakens our building codes. HBA says it will add $5,000 to the cost of building, whereas Ian Blanding with the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance calculated the cost at $1,225.

Read the full letter to the Editor.