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EPA Launches New Energy Star Campaign in Fight Against Climate Change
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a national campaign to help Americans join in the fight against climate change. The campaign, “Change the World, Start with Energy Star” helps people make important energy-efficient changes at home and at work that can add up to significant reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.

The campaign builds on the success of the Energy Star Change a Light campaign by providing a set of steps people can take to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to replacing at least one light in the home with an Energy Star one, the new Energy Star pledge encourages consumers to:

  • Make home heating and cooling systems work more efficiently
  • Make sure homes are well sealed and insulated
  • Enable the power management features on home computers and monitors
  • Choose an Energy Star qualified refrigerator, dishwasher and/or clothes washer when replacing or purchasing new appliances
Read the full press release.

Washington Enacts Bill to Fight Climate Change and Grow the State's Economy
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed legislation that will lead to reduced greenhouse gas pollution, increase the state's energy independence and set the stage for creating thousands of new “green collar” jobs.

“This is another example of Washington leading the way on climate change by being clean, green and competitive,” Gregoire said. “Because we are acting now, we will capitalize on unique and exciting economic opportunities and increase our competitive edge in the world economy.”

Washington 's new Climate Change Framework/Green-Collar Jobs Act was developed with the help of a broad coalition of business, environment, education, labor and energy leaders. Read the full press release.

Four Key Renewables Markets Increased 40% in 2007
Global clean-energy markets are expanding rapidly, with revenues in four benchmark sectors — biofuels, wind power, solar photovoltaics, and fuel cells — up 40 percent from $55 billion in 2006 to $77.3 billion in 2007, according to the Clean Energy Trends 2008 report, recently released by clean-tech research and publishing firm Clean Edge, Inc. The four sectors are projected to more than triple over the next decade, growing to $254.5 billion by 2017.

The annual Clean Energy Trends report, produced by leading clean- tech research and publishing firm Clean Edge, can be downloaded free at www.cleanedge.com/reports/reports- trends2008.php.

The 2008 report finds that for the first time three leading clean- energy technologies each surpassed $20 billion in revenue:

  • Global production and wholesale pricing of biofuels reached $25.4 billion in 2007 and is projected to hit $81.1 billion by 2017. The global biofuels market last year consisted of more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol and more than 2 billion gallons of biodiesel production worldwide.
  • Wind power is expected to expand from $30.1 billion in 2007 to $83.4 billion in 2017. Last year's global wind power installations reached a record 20,000 megawatts (MW), equivalent in size to 20 conventional fossil-fuel power plants.
Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation), which totaled $20.3 billion last year, will more than triple to $74 billion by 2017. Annual installations in 2007 were just shy of 3,000 MW worldwide.

Funding Alert! Conservation Innovation Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for the Conservation Innovation Grants Program, for projects that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production.

CIG targets on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. $20 million expected to be available, up to 60 awards anticipated. Responses are due February 20, 2008 . For more information, contact Tessa Chadwick at [email protected] or go to: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/. Refer to Sol# NRCSNHQ0801.

Negotiators Reach New Climate Agreement in Bali
Representatives from 187 countries have agreed to work toward new and stronger climate change goals, reports EERE's Network News. The agreement was reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Bali, Indonesia, and allows until 2009 to complete negotiations on a new climate change agreement by 2009. The agreement is expected to be implemented by 2013, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. For now, the negotiators have agreed to a framework for the upcoming negotiations in the form of the "Bali Roadmap," also called the "Bali Action Plan." The action plan calls for quantified limits and reduction objectives for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from developed countries, while also calling for developing countries to address their GHG emissions using "nationally appropriate" mitigation actions that are measurable, reportable, and verifiable. The agreement also addresses deforestation and carbon capture and storage and will lead to the immediate establishment of an adaptation fund for developing countries, funded through a mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. The White House noted that the United States joined in the consensus decision, but continued to express concerns about holding developing countries accountable for their GHG emissions. See the White House press release.

Energy Bill Stalled in Senate
A day after the House passed the Energy Bill, Senate Republicans have blocked it. According to this report from MarketWatch, the bill includes provisions to increase in automobile fuel-economy standards, increase taxes on big oil companies by $13 billion over the next decade, and require utilities to generate a larger portion of their electricity using renewable resources such as solar and wind. And these very issues, says the report, are what have the bill roadblocked in the Senate. More…

Habitat for Humanity Demonstrates ENERGY STAR Home Features
The ENERGY STAR building features of the Missoula Area Habitat for Humanity house will be demonstrated at the nearly completed house located at 4825 Potter Park Loop in the Windsor Park Development. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will conduct this free and open-to-the-public session, which will begin at 2:00 PM on December 18.

Missoula Habitat houses exceed the ENERGY STAR standards, which are about 20% more efficient than a standard house, by building houses with higher levels of insulation, enhanced air sealing and heat recovery mechanical ventilation. The features ensure low energy bills, good indoor air quality and comfort. The session will demonstrate testing for air tightness and insulation integrity of the house. The session will consist of a blower door analysis and infrared camera scan. The blower door analysis, a requirement for a Northwest ENERGY STAR home certification, is done with a large fan assembly in an exterior doorway drawing air out of the house. The infrared camera will show locations of colder outdoor air being drawn into the house by the fan. Paul Tschida of the DEQ notes that Missoula Habitat has been building tight, well insulated house for years following the motto to build tight and ventilate right. The demonstration will allow attendees to view the infrared image of the house to see small areas of air leakage.

Representatives from Missoula Habitat, as well as structural insulated panel, heating, and ventilation equipment suppliers will present information about their products. Information about energy efficiency construction, radon prevention, Montana Energy Code, and the Energy Conservation Tax Credit will also be presented.

For more information about the session, contact the Missoula Habitat for Humanity office at 406-549-8210 or Montana Department of Environmental Quality at 406-841-5232.

Report: Utility Energy Efficiency Vision Can Save Billions of Dollars While Fighting Climate Change
More than 60 energy, environmental and other organizations have collaborated on a new report that could save Americans more than $500 billion in energy costs over 25 years and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 90 million vehicles. This report, National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Vision for 2025, provides a framework for states, utilities and other stakeholders to consider when seeking policies and programs to achieve all cost effective energy efficiency measures.

"Environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility – and today I'm pleased to see states, utilities and energy customers are taking this motto to heart," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By committing to conservation, Americans are making the vision for an energy efficient future a reality today."

The action plan, launched in 2006, is facilitated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The plan provides five recommendations for helping states and utilities overcome policy, regulatory, and other barriers that limit investment in energy efficiency even when investment in more efficient homes, buildings and industries would cost less than new supply and would lead to overall lower energy bills. Along with the vision for 2025, the Action Plan Leadership Group released a number of 'how-to' resources to help parties meet energy efficiency commitments and announced new commitments under the action plan from more than 30 organizations. The list of organizations and their new commitments can be found at www.epa.gov/eeactionplan under Leadership Commitments. Read the full press release.

President Clinton Announces Major Partnerships to Retrofit Public and Private Buildings Nationwide
President Bill Clinton has announced several new partnerships to improve the energy efficiency of hundreds of millions of square feet of public and private real estate throughout the United States.

The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) will partner with the City of Chicago to enable a green overhaul of privately-owned housing around the city, as well as two major landmarks, the Sears Tower and the Merchandise Mart— the country's tallest and largest buildings, respectively. CCI will also partner with GE Real Estate to identify and implement building retrofit projects across GE Real Estate's global portfolio. In addition, along with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), CCI will create a Green Schools Program to retrofit schools and universities across America. More...

NorthWestern Energy Announces Weatherization Events
NorthWestern Energy has kicked off its 2007 Weatherization Events with nearly 40 events taking place across Montana . At the weatherization events, NorthWestern Energy will be giving away free "starter kits" to Montana NorthWestern Energy natural gas home-heating customers to help them weatherize their homes. The kits will include window plastic, door sweep and weather-stripping, insulating spray foam, and foam switch and outlet gaskets. More…

EPA-DOE Release Fuel Economy Lists for 2008 Models
EPA and DOE have released the 2008 Fuel Economy Guide to help consumers make well-informed choices when purchasing new vehicles.

"Greater fuel efficiency is something we must approach more aggressively, effectively and creatively than we have over the past 30 years," Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. "The president's ambitious Twenty in Ten Plan forces us not only to approach increased vehicle efficiency like never before, but significantly reforming CAFE standards in a way where safety remains a priority."

Data show that hybrid vehicles continue to lead the government's fuel economy ratings and hybrid technology can be effectively used to improve fuel economy. The Toyota Prius tops the list at 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway. More hybrid models are available than ever - including SUVs as well as cars - giving consumers greater choices when shopping for fuel efficient vehicles.

Fuel economy estimates, which appear on the window stickers of all new cars and light trucks prior to sale, are determined by tests that manufacturers and EPA conduct according to EPA specifications. This year's label values are based on new test methods EPA finalized in December 2006. The new methods are designed to better account for actual driving conditions that can lower fuel economy, such as higher speed driving, use of air conditioning and cold weather operation. Because of the new methods, fuel economy estimates for all vehicles will generally be lower than those of last year.

To view the guide and for tips on increasing vehicle efficiency, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

DOE Announces New Energy Education Website
DOE has launched a new website called Get Smart about Energy! K-12 Energy Lessons and Activities, a curriculum enhancement tool for K-12 students. The website includes 300 hands-on classroom activities, all of which are aligned with the National Science Education Standards and focus on energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.  Teacher guides are included with many of the lessons, and all the materials are free and reproducible. The goal of the project is to equip today's students with the knowledge and resources to develop cutting-edge energy technologies in the future. More…

2007 Nobel Peace Prize Focuses on Climate Change
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice Presendent Al Gore for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change. Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. However, "The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity,” he said. More…

South Dakota Conference Focused on Climate Change Solutions
A conference held over the weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, presented the issues related to climate change and offered attendees a chance to participate interactively in developing a plan to help the state address those issues. South Dakota Climate Challenge brought together participants from diverse backgrounds but all with a common goal: to craft solutions for South Dakota . According to this report in the Argus Leader, recommendations by the group included investing in tribal wind power infrastructure, promoting carbon sequestration in South Dakota's wetlands and developing technology to recover methane gas from feedlots, establishing a state energy code for buildings, compiling a carbon inventory in the state, discouraging the conversion of native prairie to cropland and restoring even small wetlands. More…

Baucus Goes ‘Carbon Neutral' in Air Travel
Montana Senator Max Baucus is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to climate change. The senior U.S. Senator today offset his carbon emissions for air travel between Montana and Washington , D.C. , paying $1,152 dollars for a year's worth of travel to begin to help establish a “carbon-neutral footprint.” Baucus became the first U.S. Senator to use services provided by Native Energy, a privately held Native American energy company, to offset his official Senate travel. Read the full press release.

Costs of Heating Fuels Expected to Increase Sharply
Record prices are expected this winter for heating oil, electricity and propane, according to Reuters. Low-income families, who pay a disproportionate amount of their incomes for energy, could need government assistance to help pay the cost of keeping their homes warm. Heating oil is expected to have the largest increase, up some 28 percent from last year. Propane and natural gas costs are expected to increase about 7 and 5 percent, respectively. More…

National Governors Association Launches Clean Energy Initiative
The National Governors Association (NGA) has committed to promoting clean energy policies across the country, reports DOE's EERE Network News. NGA's new "Securing a Clean Energy Future" initiative will enlist the efforts of all governors to enact meaningful clean energy policies at the state level. Specifically, the initiative will promote state policies that encourage energy efficiency and conservation, promote non-petroleum fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerate research and development of advanced clean energy technologies.

The initiative's efforts will be guided by a task force composed of eight governors that represent a cross-section of the country and that share a common desire to advance clean energy. The task force is chaired by the governors of Kansas and Minnesota and also includes the governors of Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Washington. More…

Report Calls for Energy Diversity to Meet Future Needs
A new 422-page report from the National Petroleum Council calls for an integrated national strategy that includes energy efficiency and the exploitation of diverse energy sources, reports DOE's EERE Network News. The report concludes that the United States should incorporate energy policy into most of its foreign policy decisions and should create long-term opportunities for research and development in all phases of the energy supply and demand system.

"The study demonstrates that energy efficiency is a very near-term energy resource, and tapping it is essential to national energy strategy," says Daniel Yergin, Vice Chair of the study and Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "The challenge is that it involves thousands and thousands of decisions, not a few big decisions. But there is a focus on efficiency in the United States and around the world at a level never seen before. The study helps point the way." More...

Second Major U.S. Climate Change Science Program Report Released
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has released the second in a series of 21 Synthesis and Assessment (S&A) reports.  Coordinated by DOE, the report, titled Scenarios of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Atmospheric Concentrations, and Review of Integrated Scenario Development and Application, provides a new long-term, global reference for greenhouse gas stabilization scenarios and an evaluation of the process by which scenarios are developed and used.  CCSP was established by President Bush in 2002 to integrate federal research on global environmental change at 13 federal agencies, and to provide the nation with science-based knowledge to manage the risks and opportunities of change in the climate and related environmental systems. More...

DOE Commits to Reducing Energy Use by 30 Percent
A new DOE initiative will reduce energy intensity across DOE’s facilities by 30%, saving taxpayers some $90 million each year, reports DOE’s EERE Network News. The federal government is largest single user of energy in the United States , and DOE is the second largest energy consumer of all civilian federal agencies. DOE's new Transformational Energy Action Management (TEAM) Initiative requires that DOE have a plan for all facilities by 2008 to reduce their energy intensity by 30%; that all facilities maximize their installation of onsite renewable energy projects or optimize their purchase of renewable electricity; that the entire Alternative Fuel Vehicles fleet operate exclusively on clean, alternative fuels; and that water use be benchmarked and monitored, in order to reduce consumption 16% by fiscal year 2008. The new initiative places DOE on track to achieve the energy and water saving goals established by Executive Order 13423, which President Bush signed in January.

EPA Recognizes Top 25 Green Power Purchasers
EPA has updated its Top Green Power Purchasers list highlighting organizations committed to purchasing green power. The National Top 25 list of Green Power Partners accounts for more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year of green power purchasing, more than 60 percent of the total kWh in the Green Power Partnership; reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 700,000 vehicles. EPA's Green Power Partnership, launched in 2001 and works with more than 750 partner organizations that voluntarily buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use and to promote the development of new renewable generation resources nationwide. Overall, EPA Green Power Partners are buying more than 10 billion kWh of green power annually, an increase of nearly 163 percent since January 2006. Green power is generated from eligible renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and biogas, as well as low-impact hydropower. More…

HB 610 Defeated
House Bill 610, which would have had serious negative impacts on the strength of the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), was defeated by the Senate. The bill would have prohibited any MEPA litigation and essentially declare that MEPA's sole purpose is the inform the legislature. More...

Bill to Re-Regulate Could Be On Its Way to Governor for Signature
House Bill 25 was approved by both Senate and House April 17. According to this article in The Montana Standard, the “re-regulation” bill would allow NorthWestern Energy to construct and own electric power plants and dedicate the power from them specifically to Montana customers. The bill faces a final vote April 18 and, if passed, goes to Governor Schweitzer for signature. Since Schweitzer hasn’t yet decided whether he supports the bill, it remains to be seen whether he’ll sign the bill. More….

X Prize to Award Millions for Super-efficient Cars
The X Prize Foundation is developing a multi-million dollar Automotive X Prize to inspire a new generation of super-efficient vehicles. Known for its $10 million Ansari X Prize, which spurred the development of private spacecraft, the X Prize Foundation now aims to encourage the development of clean, production-capable vehicles that can achieve a fuel economy equivalent to at least 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.

The foundation has published draft competition guidelines for the Automotive X Prize, allowing two vehicle classes: "Mainstream" vehicles that carry at least four passengers and have at least four wheels, and "Alternative" vehicles that can carry at least two passengers and have any number of wheels. The vehicles can be fueled with gasoline, alternative fuels, or electricity. As currently proposed, the Automotive X Prize will culminate in 2009 with two long-distance stage races that will expose the vehicles to a range of driving patterns over varied terrain and diverse weather conditions. To win the prize, vehicles must complete both races with the lowest overall time averaged over all scoring stages, while still meeting the requirements for fuel economy and emissions. More...

EPA Offers Certification for Fuel-Efficient Trucks
As part of a new EPA certification program, fuel-efficient tractor-trailer rigs will begin carrying the SmartWay logo. EPA has announced that 2007 models of heavy trucks can earn certification from EPA's SmartWay program. SmartWay-approved equipment, like aerodynamic front bumpers and side mirrors, can cut wind resistance and reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent. Each SmartWay-qualified rig can produce savings of up to 4,000 gallons of diesel per year, which would save truckers more than $11,000 each year at current diesel fuel prices. Participating manufacturers include Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt, and Volvo. Truckers that buy the rigs and participate in the program can display the SmartWay logo on their tractors and trailers.

EPA plans to set more ambitious performance targets for the SmartWay rigs in the future. EPA is also developing guidelines for recognizing other vehicles such as delivery vans, in which hybrid technology can dramatically improve fuel efficiency. More...

Agreement Will Lead to New Standards for Industrial Electric Motors
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have agreed to a new set of proposed energy efficiency standards for industrial electric motors. Because motors use more electricity than any other end-use technology, it is estimated that the new standards will achieve major electricity savings. ACEEE and NEMA have submitted letters containing these recommendations to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for their consideration in energy legislation now under development.

“These standards will provide major energy and cost savings to industrial and commercial motor users while helping to moderate the growth in electricity demand in this country,” said ACEEE’s motor expert Dr. Neal Elliott, Industrial Program director. “In the industrial sector, motors account for over two-thirds of the electricity consumed. These standards will save over 8 trillion kilowatt-hours by 2030, with a net cost savings to electric consumers of almost $500 million.” More...

House Passes HB 405
The House has passed HB 405 by a narrow vote of 51-49, says this report in the Billings Gazette. Under the bill, various energy projects would not be subject to the Montana Environmental Policy Act, or MEPA. The bill states that certain energy-development proposals are "clean projects" that don't have to go through MEPA. While proponents of the bill say it will reduce red tape and allow construction of new energy projects to speed up, opponents believe it “rips apart” MEPA’s environmental protection laws, which have been in place for decades. More…

Missoulian: Carbon Dioxide at the Root of Energy Options
According to a recent report in the Missoulian, the state's future economic prosperity hinges on our ability to find practical ways to dispose of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming and will impact Montana 's future as an energy producer. Toward this end, at least five carbon sequestration bills will be in front of our Legislators this session, which include creating tax breaks for carbon sequestration technology and defining carbon sequestration. More...

Wells Fargo Takes Top Spot in EPA Green Power List
Wells Fargo & Company is now the largest purchaser of green power in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company moved up from second place by default, since the U.S. Air Force has decreased its purchasing of green power. Last year, the Air Force held the top spot by buying more than a billion kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity, but this year the military agency has cut its purchase by more than half, dropping it to third place. Wells Fargo is buying 550 million kilowatt-hours of wind power from 3 Phases Energy.

A more positive change occurred among the list of top colleges and universities, with newcomer New York University leaping into first place by meeting all its electricity needs with wind power, for a total of 118.6 million kilowatt-hours. New on the list of local government buyers are the cities of Bellingham, Washington, and Santa Monica, California, while Kohl's Department Stores and Office Depot are both new additions to the retail list. And the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has jumped onto the top-ten list of government agencies, claiming the number four spot by buying 90 million kilowatt-hours of biomass power. The NASA Johnson Space Center also appears on the list for the first time, in tenth place with its purchase of 6 million kilowatt-hours of wind power. More...

Clean Energy Investments More Than Double in 2006
Venture capital and private equity investments in clean energy companies increased by 167 percent in 2006, according to investment analysts at New Energy Finance Limited. These clean energy investments increased from $2.7 billion in 2005 to $7.1 billion in 2006, driven mainly by a surge of investments in biofuels in the United States. Investments in biofuels more than quadrupled, increasing from $647 million in 2005 to $2.8 billion in 2006. In addition, investments in solar energy more than tripled, while wind power investments more than doubled. Investments in other clean energy technologies including energy efficiency, fuel cells, hydrogen, smart power distribution, and carbon markets grew by 74 percent. More...

Wal-Mart Opens Energy-Efficient Supercenter in Kansas City
Wal-Mart has opened the first in a series of more efficient stores in Kansas City, Missouri. The new store will use 20 percent less energy than a typical Wal-Mart Supercenter. The store integrates "industry-leading" heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to reduce energy use. The systems reclaim the heat rejected by the refrigeration system and put it to use in the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system, which also relies on a water source heat pump for heating and cooling towers for cooling. Other energy-saving technologies in the new store include a top-of-the-line dehumidification system and quick-closing doors to seal air in areas such as the garden center. Like many other Wal-Mart stores opening this month, the Kansas City Supercenter features General Electric's refrigerated case lighting using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs have a longer life span than fluorescent bulbs, produce less heat, and use significantly less energy than typical grocery case lighting. In the Kansas City store, motion sensors have been installed in all freezer and medium-temperature refrigerated cases. When not in use for a few seconds, the LED lights in these cases automatically turn off, quickly turning back on when a customer approaches. The store also employs ultra-efficient fans in refrigerated cases and includes glass doors on all medium-temperature grocery cases. Daylighting is another key feature of the store, which uses skylights to refract daylight throughout the store and light sensors to monitor the amount of natural light available. During periods of higher natural daylight, the system saves energy by dimming or turning off the store lights. Wal-Mart's second efficient store will open in Rockton, Illinois, this spring. More...

Montana Wins Big with Clean Energy Bonds
Montana was recently awarded a whopping $72 in interest-free federal bonds that will finance 34 wind power projects, reports the Billings Outpost. The big winner is the Green Electricity Buying Cooperative, the state's only “green” energy cooperative, which received $31.7 million for two wind farms that will collectively produce about 20 megawatts of electrical power. One wind farm will be located south of Fort Peck and the other in rural Yellowstone County.

Sen. Max Baucus played a pivotal role in making the bond funds available. According to Baucus's spokesman, Brett Kaiser, “Baucus wrote the program and then encouraged Montana communities to apply. Turns out Montana got almost ten percent of the total $800 million set aside nationally.” More...

Individual Industrial Assessments Available to More Companies
The door is opening for more companies to become involved in free, or nearly free, industrial energy assessments. As part of DOE's Save Energy Now program, large-and-medium-sized facilities can now participate in an energy savings assessment (ESA) by joining together to reach the minimum potential energy savings threshold. Industrial plants may apply individually, or in groups of up to 10 if they consume a total of 1 trillion BTUs or more annually. In either instance, the results of a plant's assessment will remain confidential.

Assessment areas include process heating, steam, fans, pumps and compressed air. The program's goal is to reach large industrial energy users having the potential for significant energy savings.

If a company is selected for an assessment, an ESA Energy Expert will work onsite with the company to identify savings opportunities. Plant employees will help gather data, learn about software tools and perform a system analysis to minimize energy use. Individual companies qualifying for a first-time assessment will receive a full evaluation free of charge; the only cost will be time invested by their staff.

Multiple facilities applying as a group will be eligible for a free assessment for one plant. If additional plants in the group want an assessment, DOE will pay $4,000, plus the Expert's travel expenses. Selected plants are encouraged to work closely with their state energy offices, trade associations and utilities. DOE hopes this will help create up-front partnerships that will encourage additional plants to implement energy saving technologies. For more information, visit the Save Energy Now Web site.

DOE Issues Final Appliance Test Procedure Rule
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a final rule establishing new test procedures and related definitions to determine the energy efficiency of certain residential appliances and commercial equipment.  The rulemaking clarifies and codifies the test procedures mandated by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005.

The final rulemaking, which appears in the December 8 Federal Register , will become effective 30 days later. The rule promulgates test procedures and definitions for the following items as required by EPAct 2005: fluorescent lamp ballasts; ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits;  illuminated exit signs; torchieres; low-voltage dry-type distribution transformers; traffic signal modules and pedestrian modules; unit heaters; medium base compact fluorescent lamps; dehumidifiers; commercial prerinse spray valves; mercury vapor lamp ballasts; commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment; commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers; automatic commercial ice makers; and commercial clothes washers. More…

Green Energy TV Seeks Success Stories
Green Energy TV, a new Internet-based television channel, is seeking green energy success stories for its website. Project areas include solar energy, wind power, hydro power, hydrogen, biomass, biofuels, geothermal, energy conservation, and hybrid vehicles.  Green Energy TV is asking viewers to send videos of green energy projects anywhere in the world, current or completed. It also is interested in featuring companies, inventors, colleges and universities that have developed green energy technologies. www.greenenergytv.com/

Study: Global Warming Causing Species Extinction
Global warming is causing extinction of plant and animal species sooner than scientists had predicted, according to a new study by Texas biologist Camille Parmesan. According to Parmesan, some 70 species of frogs have become extinct due to increased heat. She also concludes that 100 to 200 other species that are dependent on cold weather—such as penguins and polar bears—could be in serious jeopardy. "We are finally seeing species going extinct," said Parmesan. "Now we've got the evidence. It's here. It's real. This is not just biologists' intuition. It's what's happening." More…

Companies Increasingly Measuring Carbon Footprint
Three-fourths of U.S. companies are actively measuring their " carbon footprint "— the range of carbon emissions from their operations, both direct and indirect, according to a report released today from The Conference Board. The report, based on a survey of 92 companies from various industries, looks at how companies are integrating greenhouse gas management into their overall business strategy.

More than 95 percent report that they see the prospect of a carbon-concerned future as creating both business risk and opportunity. One-half indicate they have a program in place to "actively reduce or offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions." An additional 33 percent are developing such programs, while 15 percent have no plans to do so. Nearly all programs include reductions in energy use, while most (83 percent) are simultaneously focused on reducing GHGs. One-third are focused primarily on direct emissions — those resulting from fuel consumption or from materials used in their processes — while two-thirds include both direct and indirect emissions (primarily purchased electricity).

Fewer than 20 percent have attempted to measure their competitors' carbon footprints , which may reflect the complexity and difficulty in doing so or indicate that the issue is not perceived as a major competitive challenge at this time. Read the full press release.

DOE Predicts Lower Winter Heating Costs
Though winter is expected to be slightly colder this year, DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) is predicting lower home heating costs. According to EIA's new "Short Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook," the greatest cost relief is expected for users of natural gas, since storage supplies are above historical levels. Propane prices also will be lower, but fuel oil and electricity will likely be higher, says the report. More…

New Efficiency Standards for Furances and Boilers Proposed
DOE is proposing to increase minimum energy efficiency standards for furnaces and boilers, with efficiency improvements ranging from one to five percent. For example, furnaces fueled with natural gas and intended to be installed indoors will have to meet an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 80 percent, whereas units designed for installation outside the conditioned space will have to meet an AFUE of 83 percent. AFUE is a measure of heating efficiency on an annual basis, defined as the heat delivered to the conditioned space over the course of a year divided by the fuel energy consumed. The standard also sets the minimum AFUE for oil-fired furnaces, mobile home gas furnaces, and gas and oil-fired boilers. The proposed efficiency standard would apply to all covered furnaces and boilers offered for sale in the United States, effective January 1, 2015.

DOE has found the proposed standard represents the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified. Analyses indicate that the proposed standards would save an estimated 0.41 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or quads, of cumulative energy over 24 years (2015-2038). For comparison, U.S. homes consume about six quads annually for space heating. U.S. consumers are also expected to save money over the expected life of the furnaces and boilers. See the proposed standards.

'Change a Light, Change the World' Campaign Underway
DOE and EPA have launched their joint "Change a Light, Change the World" campaign to celebrate Energy Awareness Month. The annual campaign encourages U.S. residents to replace a conventional bulb or fixture in their home or workplace with one that has earned the government's Energy Star label for energy efficiency. If every U.S. household changed a single light bulb to an Energy Star bulb, it would save enough power to light more than 2.5 million homes. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman took the "Change a Light" pledge last week, and challenged DOE employees to do the same. More...

Colorado Campus Commits to Green Power
The Auraria Higher Education Center, which houses Metro State College, Community College of Denver, and the University of Colorado at Denver, recently entered into a contract with Sterling Planet, Inc. to purchase 17 million kWh of renewable energy certificates (RECs), equivalent to nearly half of the electricity use on the Auraria campus. The contract went into effect on July 1, with an option to renew for the next two years. In 2004, Auraria students voted to assess themselves $1 per semester for three years to be used for clean-energy sources. More...

New World Trade Center Project Designed for LEED Certification
In New York City, the Freedom Tower and other buildings in the complex will be designed to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a voluntary third party rating system where credits are earned for satisfying specified green building criteria.

The Freedom Tower; the World Trade Center Memorial and Memorial Museum; and World Trade Center Office Towers 2, 3, and 4 will all be designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and to be 20 percent more energy-efficient than required by New York energy codes. The Freedom Tower and World Trade Center Office Towers will draw on four fuel cell systems for 4.8 megawatts of power, while the New York Power Authority and Silverstein Properties will buy a total of 184 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits to offset the remaining power needs for the complex. World Trade Center 7, completed early this year, achieved LEED Gold certification in March. More...

Montana Climate Change Forum: Read the Draft Document
"Climate Challenge Strategies for Montana" forum was held in Helena on September 22-24. The event brought together a diverse group of participants who, under the guidance of experts, worked to develop a formal climate change action plan for the state. When finalized, the plan will be presented to the state Legislature and hopefully enacted as policy. See the draft document.

EPA Buys 100-Percent Green Power, Challenges Colleges
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now buying renewable energy, equivalent to 100 percent of its annual electricity needs. As of September 1, EPA is buying nearly 300 million kilowatt-hours of green power, which makes it the first federal agency to meet all of its electricity needs with renewable energy. The EPA's latest purchase of 100 million kilowatt-hours in renewable energy certificates was brokered by 3 Phases Energy Services and will support wind facilities in California, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. EPA also runs the Green Power Partnership, which provides assistance and recognition to organizations that choose to buy green power. More...

EPA has set new rules for its Green Power Partnership, requiring members to buy 100 percent "new renewables" in meeting their goals. New renewable facilities are defined as those placed in service in 1997 or later, which is when the green power market took hold in the United States. The Green Power Partnership has also launched the College and University Green Power Challenge, which pits the collegiate athletic conferences against one another in a competition to buy the most green power. As of July, the Ivy League is far ahead of its challengers, with the University of Pennsylvania leading the charge.

Ski Resorts Turn to Green Power
Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, and Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire, have entered into an agreement with Gunnison County Electric Association to purchase 27 million kWh of RECs to offset 100 percent of the electricity use at the three ski resorts for one year. The RECs are being supplied by Sterling Planet. The Muellers are paying a 10-percent premium on the RECs price to promote Colorado wind energy development through a partnership between Sterling Planet and the Colorado Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation. More...

EPA Releases List of Top Green Power Purchasers
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its annual list of top Green Power Partners. The 25 Partners collectively total 3.7 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, approximately 70 percent of the green power commitments made by all Partners. See the list.

Sprint Nextel to Purchase Green Energy from New Wind Project
Sprint Nextel Corp. will buy wind power to meet more than 75 percent of the average annual power consumption at its Overland Park, Kansas, corporate headquarters. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, the company will purchase between 7 MW and 10 MW of wind power output, or approximately 20 million to 30 million kWh of wind energy annually, from the 100.5-MW Spearville Wind Energy Facility. The power will be supplied by Kansas City Power & Light , which owns and operates the new wind project. More...

Arizona Utility Commits to 15 Percent Renewable Energy Target by 2025
The Arizona-based utility Salt River Project recently announced plans to obtain 15 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2025. The measure parallels a larger state initiative that requires state-regulated utilities to meet the same renewable energy target. SRP, however, is not a state-regulated utility and thus is not bound to the state's renewable energy portfolio standard. SRP's initiative will be funded through a small monthly charge—currently $2.19—to each of its customers. Salt River Project already generates five percent of its electricity through renewable energy sources, primarily hydro, wind, and landfill gas. More...

Alternative Energy: Solution to Montana 's High Heating Costs?
The cost of natural gas sold by Northwestern Energy has increased by nearly four dollars per decatherm since January of 2005 and has led to a significant increase in home heating costs for Montanans. This Bozeman Daily Chronicle editorial offers some long-term advice for dealing with high energy costs: first, utilize the latest in residential energy efficiency techniques and, second, consider offsetting home energy consumption with the installation of renewable energy technologies. According to the author, this latter issue may be best approached by appealing to Montana politicians to work on developing affordable and reliable renewable energy projects. More...

U.S. Air Force Ranks First in Federal Government Renewable Energy Use
The United States Air Force is the largest purchaser of renewable energy in the EPA's green power partnership, according to a recently released EPA report. The Air Force purchased more than one million megawatt hours of renewable energy, amounting to eleven percent of all USAF electrical usage. The Air Force also was the federal government's largest purchaser of renewable energy last year. More...

Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving Tips for Montanans
This MSU News Service article offers several home energy efficiency tips for Montanans trying to keep their winter energy bills lower. Included are tips for setting your thermostat (68 degrees during the day) and hot water heaters (for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature on your hot-water heater, you can save up to 5 percent on water heating costs). The article also recommends that homeowners check furnace filters and hot-air registers for obstructions. More...

Editorial: U.S. Needs to Aspire Towards Energy Independence
The United States is the world's leading consumer of petroleum, yet less than three percent of the world's proven oil reserves are located in American soil. Moreover, much of the available oil across the globe is controlled by despotic regimes—such as Iran—or unstable governments—such as Venezuela. Over the past two decades, the United States has grown more and more dependent on these foreign states for our oil consumption habits; in 1970s, during the first energy crisis, America imported around 36 percent of its oil, while today that total has risen to over 60 percent. Arizona Senator John McCain recently discussed the need for American energy independence as an issue of national security interest. This Denver Post editorial supports McCain's call for new American initiatives aimed at achieving a greater degree of energy independence. More...

New Mexico Governor Proposes $60 Million in Clean Energy, Water Initiatives
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson recently proposed a new set of clean energy and water initiatives for the state, reports The New Mexico Business Weekly. His proposal would create a new state agency that would work to develop wind and solar energy resources, as well as a $5 million tax credit for New Mexicans who install residential solar energy systems. The credit could reduce home heating bills by up to a third. The majority of Richardson 's funding proposal would go to developing water conservation projects around the state. More...

Washington Utility Seeks Renewable Energy Suppliers
Spokane, Washington-based Avista Utilities, an operating division of Avista Corp., recently annouced that it will accept proposals from suppliers of renewable energy for an additional 35 megawatts of long-term electricity supplies, beginning in the fall of 2007. Avista currently receives more than half of its energy portfolio from renewable energy, mostly from hydropower. The deadline for responses to the RFP is February 1, 2006. More...

New Year Brings New Energy Efficiency Tax Credits
New energy efficiency tax credits went into effect on January 1 as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The new tax credits will allow consumers to reduce their 2006 federal tax bills.

Residential measures eligible for tax benefits include advanced main air circulating fans; high-efficiency space heating and cooling and water-heating systems; energy-efficient windows; and solar energy systems (except equipment used to heat swimming pools or hot tubs).

Business measures include the installation of qualifying solar equipment on buildings. Companies that build highly energy-efficient homes or manufacture energy-efficient appliances can also earn tax credits. More...

Governor Schweitzer Offers Vision for Coal Conversion Plant
This Salt Lake Tribune article analyzes Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's plan to build new “clean coal” power plants in eastern Montana . When used in a traditional coal-fired power plant, coal is a very dirty fossil fuel that, when burned, releases carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and mercury emissions. Clean coal technologies convert coal into a gas or liquid fuel, which release less pollution when used. Montana currently holds around 120 billion tons of coal, so finding less environmentally damaging ways to use coal could benefit the Montana economy and environment. The price, however, could be prohibitive: a clean coal facility capable of converting 25,000 barrels of diesel a day could cost as much as $1.5 billion. More...

Boise Turning to Green Energy
Boise, Idaho, may become a center for cutting-edge renewable energy projects, reports The Boise Weekly . An Atlanta-based energy company will soon begin construction on a gas-to-energy transformation at the Ada County landfill. By next summer, the project is expected to be producing up to 3.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power several thousand homes and offset the equivalent pollution of 32,000 cars. Additionally, Boise State University was recently awarded a $500,000 grant to research technological means for reducing the cost of wind power. BSU researchers hope that their grant-funded work will help make BSU a center for wind energy technology. More...

Montana, Wyoming Compete for $1 Billion ‘Clean Coal' Power Plant
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman recently announced plans to construct a low-emissions coal-fired power plant in one western state with a consortium of international energy companies. The collaborative billion-dollar project will be known as Futuregen. The plant will produce 275 megwatts of electricity, capable of powering around 275,000 homes. Final site selection will begin next year; the project is slated to begin operations in 2012. More...

Clean Coal: Is It Really Possible?
Regardless of the debate over the environmental impact of massive coal burning for energy generation stands the fact that hundreds of new coal-fired power plants are being planned worldwide. The author of this NDRC article writes that the question becomes not whether we allow construction of coal plants, but rather how to make the plants less environmentally damaging. This article discusses the potential for coal gasification and carbon dioxide sequestration through an analysis of the Basin Electric coal gasification plant in North Dakota . Plant officials now sell the CO2 by-product for millions of dollars to a Canadian oil company; the carbon dioxide is pumped deep underground into oil wells, making the wells far more productive and preventing the release of millions of cubic feet of the gas into the atmosphere. More...

Find Out How States Are Promoting Energy Efficiency
The Alliance to Save Energy has launched the new online State Energy Efficiency Index, which allows users to search for energy-efficiency laws by state or by policy topic. Users can access a state-by-state listing for specific policy options or click on an interactive U.S. map to view a list of energy efficiency policies, funds, and tax incentives for each state.

Eighteen Percent Increase in Sales of Green Power in U.S.
According to Jan Hamrin of the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), administrator of the Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program, 3.5 million-megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy was generated in the United States last year, an 18-percent increase over 2003. Wind energy captured the lion's share of green energy (78 percent), followed by biomass (21percent) and small hydro projects (6 percent). Solar and geothermal energy each accounted for less than one percent of the total. Combined, the green power generated displaced more than 2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program was launched in 1997 to set standards for renewable electricity-based products in three markets for renewable energy: restructured, regulated, and renewable energy certificates. More...

Albuquerque: The Model Renewable City?
This past September, the Albuquerque City Council and Mayor passed an ambitious renewable energy initiative that, among its provisions, requires that city buildings obtain at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources within seven years. The initiative also expands city investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and offers a rebate program for renewable energy consumers and tax credits for companies that manufacture renewable energy. Should city leaders implement the initiative, Albuquerque would jump to the forefront of the nation's municipalities in the advancement of renewable energy technologies. More...

California Emission Standard Impact Montana Coal-fired Power Plants
The California Energy Commission recently issued new standards for greenhouse gas emissions reduction by declaring that all energy imported into the state of California must be produced with lower emissions than that produced in traditional coal-fired power plants. This new regulation could have a significant impact on Western power plants, including those located in Montana, given the large amount of energy exported to the California market. More...

Governor Schweitzer Advances Clean Coal Projects
This New York Times article, reprinted in Helena 's Independent Record, examines Governor Brian Schweitzer's interest in advancing clean coal projects in eastern Montana. Schweitzer believes that coal gasification could offer a win-win solution to energy prices, environmental concerns and rural depopulation. If gasification facilities could be made both economically and environmentally feasible, they could add high-wage jobs across eastern Montana and provide an alternative fuel for America's energy needs. More...

Walmart Launches Second Energy-Saving Store in Colorado
Wal-Mart announced the launch of its second "experimental" store to evaluate energy-saving technologies and other environmentally beneficial enhancements. The new store, located in Aurora, Colorado, draws some of its power from a 50-kilowatt wind turbine, 134 kilowatts of solar power, and six 60-kilowatt gas-fired microturbines. The store also incorporates evaporative cooling with a low-flow displacement ventilation system. For heating, waste-oil boilers provide hot water for radiant floor heating, and a solar wall preheats ventilation air, reducing the store's use of natural gas for heating. The store's energy efficiency features include daylighting and a variety of energy-efficient electric lighting technologies. Wal-Mart launched its first experimental store in Texas in July; for the Colorado store, DOE's nearby National Renewable Energy Laboratory will provide monitoring, testing, and analysis for the next three years. More...

NPRC Debates Clean Coal Initiative
The Northern Plans Resource Council (NPRC) recently held its annual meeting in Billings and used the occasion to comment on plans to introduce coal gasification technologies in eastern Montana , reports the Billings Gazette. Panelists discussing the subject questioned the economic feasibility of transforming coal into diesel fuel. Pat Sweeney, regional director of the Western Organization of Resource Councils, said that the costs involved were unknown, but could range from almost $50-$140 billion to produce a million barrels daily of synthetic diesel fuel. Speakers preferred heightened energy conservation, efficiency projects and increased use of renewable energy technologies to reliance on coal power. More...

Global Investment in Renewable Energy Sets New Record
Global investment in renewable energy projects reached a new record of $30 billion in 2004, according to a report recently released by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). The report indicates that energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydro projects produce 160 gigawatts of electricity, around four percent of the world's total energy. Energy experts expect that global investment in renewables will continue to grow rapidly over the coming decades. The current energy crisis has spurred governments around the world into action, including developing economic powers China, Brazil, and India, adding to a renewable energy market currently dominated by the U.S., Germany, Spain, and Japan. More...

Students Turning Campuses Green
College students at Western Washington University and Evergreen State College in Olympia , Washington have helped transform their universities into major consumers of green power, reports MSNBC. The two universities now purchase electricity produced only through renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass energy projects. Industry experts are taking notice, given the huge energy market used by American universities and the general interest of college students in green power. The movement is helped by the trend of rising costs of fossil fuels and relative declining costs of producing energy from renewable resources. More...

Op-Ed: Rocky Mountain West Holds Key to America's Energy Future
This Denver Post op-ed article written by two members of the State of the Rockies Project advocates a progressive energy policy for the Rocky Mountain West, which includes the use of both traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy resources to meet America 's energy needs. The authors point out that even conservative estimates of wind energy production anticipate that the region could produce six times the current level of electricity. The authors conclude that a pragmatic combination of coal and natural gas use, on the one hand, and wind, solar, biomass and hydrogen-derived electricity on the other, offers the best way forward for Western energy production. More...

Feds Exceed Renewable Energy Goal
Recent data released by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the federal government has exceeded its goal to obtain 2.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by the end of September. The largest energy consumer in the nation, the federal government uses some 2,375 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year, a nearly 14-fold increase since 1999. Today, the federal government's annual use of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind power is enough to power 225,000 homes or a city the size of El Paso, Texas. More...

Wal-Mart to Adopt Green Energy Practices
Wal-Mart recently announced a new clean energy plan this week for its retail stores. The plan seeks to to obtain all energy required for store use from renewable sources. According to Wal -Mart's CEO Lee Scott, the goal is to is to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources; cut energy use in stores by 30 percent, cut fuel consumption in its truck fleet by 25 percent over three years - and continue to improve, doubling mileage over a decade. The company already has a test store in Texas up and running with solar panels. More...

Austin, Texas, Hosts Green Energy Conference
Texas ' capital city recently hosted the 10 th Annual National Green Power Marketing Conference, an event that highlighted some of Austin 's own renewable energy success stories. Advanced Micro Systems was recognized for being the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in Texas and Austin Energy received the 2005 Wind Power Pioneer Award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The increased cost of fossil fuels and reduced costs of some renewable energies have made wind energy in Texas more affordable than natural gas. More...

Opinion Piece: Schweitzer's Energy Summit
This Great Falls Tribune editorial offers some conclusions on the recent energy summit that Governor Schweitzer convened at Montana State University in Bozeman . The op-ed piece commends the governor's inclusion of all concerned parties in the debate over Montana 's future energy policies: from coal-fired power plant developers to alternative energy companies to energy conservation and environmental groups. The governor appeared to be pragmatic in his approach, the editorial noted, looking for what works and how to balance energy production with concerns over pollution. The editorial staff was most impressed, however, by the openness of the summit itself, giving Montanans a clear sense of the energy options available. More...

Governor's Energy Summit Concludes
A two-day energy summit convened by Governor Brian Schweitzer concluded after drawing some 600 participants together to discuss development of an energy strategy for the state. Attendees brought diverse visions of Montana's energy future to the table, with proponents of energy conservation and renewable energy technologies alongside traditional coal and natural gas interests hoping to see new coal-fired power plants built in the coming years. All seemed to agree that the most important issue is finding affordable energy for Montana consumers. See the Missoulian's two-part report . Part 1, Part 2.

New Campaign Encourages Use of ENERGY STAR Lights
DOE and EPA have launched the annual "Energy Star Change a Light, Change the World Campaign," urging U.S. consumers to change at least one light in their home with one that carries an Energy Star label. If every U.S. household does that, the country will save $600 million in energy bills, save enough energy to light 7 million homes, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions from 1 million cars. DOE and EPA named October 5th as "Energy Star Change a Light Day" and were joined by governors of 29 states, plus the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. More...

According to a new annual report from EPA, Energy Star and other voluntary programs reduced U.S. energy bills by nearly $10 billion in 2004, while avoiding 57 million metric tons of greenhouse gases and saving enough energy to power 25 million homes. More...

NorthWestern Energy Program Helps Homeowners Reduce Heating Costs
To help its natural gas customers better manage their heating bills this winter, NorthWestern Energy has announced a new program that offers rebates and giveaway items. The company will hold weatherization events in 15 Montana communities throughout October, during which consumers can take advantage of free weatherization "starter" kits that include window plastic, door sweeps and weather-stripping, a can of insulating spray foam, a foam switch and outlet gaskets. In addition, the company is offering rebates for ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostats and insulation. More...

DOE Launches Energy Conservation Campaign
Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has unveiled a comprehensive national campaign to highlight how American families, businesses and the federal government can save energy in response to rising winter energy costs. The "Easy Ways to Save Energy" campaign includes the "Energy $avers Guide," which will be distributed to consumers across the country, as well as radio and print ads that promote more efficient energy use, as well as public service announcements that will offer more tips to save. More...

Heating Costs Expected to Rise Dramatically This Winter
CNN reports that homes heated with natural gas and heating oil will likely experience soaring prices this winter. Prices are reported to be near record levels, partly due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association estimates it will cost $1,568 to heat a typical home with natural gas in colder climates. That's an increase of about 64 percent, says the association. Homes heated with heating oil could see a nearly 35 percent increase, or about $1,666. More...

EERE Launches Financial Opportunities Website
DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has launched a new website that lists opportunities for financial assistance. The site lists current and past solicitations from EERE and provides specific funding information for business, industry, and universities, as well as consumers, federal energy managers, inventors, states, and tribes. In fiscal year 2004 alone, EERE awarded approximately $506 million in financial assistance. Visit the EERE Financial Opportunities website.

Federal Energy Agencies Team on RECs Purchase
Ten entities of the U.S. Department of Energy, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, have teamed with the Fort Carson Army Base to purchase 117,825 megawatt-hours of renewable energy certificates (RECs) annually for the next five years. The RECs will come from a combination of biomass generation from sawmill plants in California, and wind projects located in California and Nebraska, and will be supplied by Sterling Planet, a national RECS marketer based in Norcross, GA. Western coordinated the requests for proposal for all of the agencies and also committed to purchase a portion of the RECs. More...

California Turning to Green Power to Avoid Blackouts
California is taking an aggressive approach to satisfying its power needs, but with an interesting twist: green power. To avoid rolling blackouts seen in previous years while reducing environmental impact from conventional energy sources, state officials are encouraging green energy production from sources such as solar and wind. One development in the effort is the proposed Frontier Line transmission project, which would use abundant wind resources in Wyoming and Montana and solar in Utah and Nevada to provide energy to California. More...

Congress Passes Energy Bill
A new national energy bill is awaiting the President's signature, after successfully passing both House and Senate. Among the bill's many provisions are tax credits for the purchase of hybrid-electric cars, tax breaks for energy conservation improvement in homes, and financial incentives for renewable energy resources, such as construction of wind turbines. More...

Lawmakers Add a Month to Daylight Savings Time
As part of new energy legislation, the House and Senate have reached an agreement that will extend the length of daylight savings time by four weeks. Daylight savings time will start three weeks earlierthe second Sunday in Marchand end a week later. “Extending daylight saving time makes sense, especially with skyrocketing energy costs. "My daylight saving amendment is one small piece of the overall energy package, and with oil at $60 a barrel and gas at $2.50 a gallon, every bit of conservation helps,” said Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), who introduced the bill. The measure was approved by the Energy Conference Committee on July 21. More...

Wal-Mart Opens New 'Green' Store
Grand openings for new Wal-Mart stores are nothing unusual, but the company's new store in McKinney, Texas, is different. Slated to open July 20, the store is designed to be environmentally friendly, boasting features such as a wind energy system, a rainwater harvesting pond, and waterless urinals in customer bathrooms. The store also will use recycled cooking oil from the store's deli and engine oil from the auto center to help heat the building. More...

Greenpeace Cyclists Stop in Missoula to Promote Clean Energy
As part of a nationwide campaign, activists cycling a total of 5,000 miles this summer in support of clean energy made a stop in Missoula. According to a recent article in the Laramie Boomerang, the Greenpeace Clean Energy Campus Invasion has a goal to visit 21 college campuses this summer to promote clean energy and to help create student groups interested in pursuing clean energy standards on their respective campuses. More...

DOE, HUD, and EPA Form Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency
DOE joined with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday to announce a new joint effort, the Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency. The new partnership aims to cut household energy costs by 10 percent over the next decade by expanding efforts to promote Energy Star products, launching new energy efficiency services for homeowners, and delivering energy efficiency savings to low-income and subsidized housing. The three federal agencies also plan to continue to invest in innovative research in building science technologies, practices, and policies to develop durable, comfortable, and affordable homes that use 40 percent less energy. By 2020, the partnership aims to develop design technologies and building practices to allow the construction of cost-effective homes that use net zero energy over the course of a year. More...

New University Centers Focus on Energy Challenges
A number of universities are beefing up their involvement in energy issues. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), for example, opened the Center for Future Energy Studies on its campus in Troy, New York, in early June. RPI created the new $20 million research center in partnership with Cornell University and DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, with a goal of meeting this century's energy challenges through energy conservation and renewable energy. In late June, RPI also launched a new $4.8 million interdisciplinary program to train doctoral students in fuel cell science and engineering. See the RPI press releases from June 7 and June 21.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is also preparing to take on the world's energy challenges, and has formed the Energy Research Council to help it do so. MIT Provost Robert Brown appointed the Energy Research Council to lead MIT's planning for an initiative in energy-related research and education. The new council will develop a picture of the current state of MIT energy-related research and expertise, create a list of promising science and engineering research areas that match global needs and MIT capabilities, and recommend an organizational structure that would facilitate work in these areas. See the MIT press release.

The California Clean Energy Fund is hoping to find a university in northern California with a similar vision toward the future. The fund—formed earlier this year with settlement money from the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric—intends to award a grant of $1 million to help establish and maintain a leading university center for energy efficiency. See the fund's request for proposals.

BOMA Launches Energy Efficiency Campaign for Commercial Buildings
The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) has announced a new campaign to improve the energy efficiency of commerical buildings. The campaign, developed as part of EPA's Energy Star Challenge, will provide energy management training to building owners and operators, representing some 9 billion square feet of commercial building space. More...

California Universities Announce Green Power Purchase
The University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) have joined together in a green power purchase that will provide 15 percent of their electricity needs from renewable energy resources. The purchase is said to be largest green power purchase among universities in the nation. Under a six-month contract with APS Energy Services, UC and CSU will purchase 39,000 MWh and 34,000 MWh, respectively, of renewable energy certificates consisting of wind (86 percent) and landfill gas (14 percent) resources. More...

Nevada Law Promotes Green Building, Alters Renewable Mandate
Nevada's governor recently approved a bill that will create new incentives and standards for green building within the state, while modifying the state's renewable energy requirement. The first half of Assembly Bill 3 focuses on green building, requiring most state-funded public buildings to meet the minimum requirements of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building standards or an equivalent standard. Every two years, the state must designate two new state-owned buildings as demonstration projects to meet the LEED Silver standard or its equivalent. Also, any private buildings meeting that standard would earn a tax credit, and the products and materials used in building will be exempt from sales tax. The bill also requires the state to create a plan to cut its grid-based energy purchases for state-owned buildings by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

Under the new law, the state's renewable energy requirement, referred to as its "portfolio standard," now allows credit for energy efficiency. The law delays the requirements by two years and drops the near-term requirement by one percent: For 2005 and 2006, utilities must now generate or acquire energy from renewable energy sources or achieve savings from energy efficiency equal to 6 percent of their electricity sales, with energy efficiency providing at most a quarter of the requirement. At the same time, the law extends the portfolio standard by two years and increases the final requirement by 5 percent, boosting the requirement to 20 percent by 2015. More...

Food and Paper Industries Pursue Energy Savings
With energy costs near record highs, it's no surprise that a number of industries are trying to find ways to cut their energy use and draw on renewable sources of energy. What may be surprising is the number of ways that industries tackle that challenge.

In the food processing industry, the current focus seems to be on new energy sources and using energy more efficiently. Ocean Spray's plant in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, is preparing to use methane gas from a nearby landfill to fuel its boilers. Ocean Spray and Onyx Cranberry Creek Landfill have agreed to build a one-mile-long pipeline to supply the landfill gas to the facility, cutting Ocean Spray's fuel costs by 25 percent. The new system should be ready by fall, in time for the cranberry crop. Meanwhile, Energy and Power Solutions, Inc. is preparing to build three large cogeneration plants at dairy food processing facilities in southern California and Massachusetts. With financing from New Energy Capital Corporation, each project will be fired with natural gas and will produce two megawatts of power while providing heat for food processing. More...

DOE Offers Guide to Building Energy Efficient Homes in the Southwest
DOE has issued a free guide to the construction of energy-efficient homes in the arid climate of the southwestern United States, a region that stretches west from central Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle, encompasses southern New Mexico and Arizona (including parts of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada), and extends into the non-coastal parts of California, continuing north to near the Oregon border. The second guide in the Building America Best Practices series, "Volume 2: Hot-Dry, Mixed-Dry," released on May 31st, addresses the challenge of maximizing energy efficiency while preserving the comfort of homes in both hot and dry climates and in dry climates with a mix of hot and cold weather. Equipped with this guide, builders and homeowners will be able to build high-quality, energy-efficient homes in such climates, saving 30 percent in space conditioning and water heating each year. More...

State-specific Versions of Irrigator's Guide Released
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in Butte has released eight state-specific Irrigator's Guide publications, patterned after the popular Montana Irrigator's Pocket Guide edition that NCAT issued in 2003. The Guide is a "take-to-the-field reference to help irrigators save energy, water, and money" that addresses both water management and equipment maintenance. The new editions are for Wyoming, North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. More...

Idaho Considering Green Power Purchase from Montana
Idaho Power Co. has announced that it will buy more electricity generated by non-polluting sources, also called "green power." As part of its plan, Idaho Power has expressed interest in buying hydroelectric power produced at a dam near Toston, southeast of Helena. That contract is being considered by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The PUC has approved contracts for Idaho Power to buy wind energy from four wind projects to be constructed in the Hagerman, Idaho, area.  More...

NorthWestern Energy Offering Rebates for Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Did you know that replacing five of the most frequently used light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) will save $60 or more each year? And now, thanks to NorthWestern Energy's CFL rebates, it makes even more sense to make the switch! Note: You must be a NorthWestern Energy customer to participate. Get the application form.

State Collaborative Offers $4.95 Million for Efficiency, Distributed Energy
T
he State Technologies Advancement Collaborative (STAC) announced Monday a $4.95-million solicitation for distributed energy and energy efficiency projects. The solicitation is open to state entities for multi-state projects involving distributed energy and energy efficiency in industry, transportation, and buildings, including projects relating to the Rebuild America Program (DOE recently transferred the management of that program to STAC). Formed in November 2002, STAC is a five-year pilot project comprising DOE, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions. More...

Portland Aims for Gold with Revised Green Building Policy
Portland, Oregon, has updated its four-year-old Green Building Policy and now requires all municipal buildings to obtain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The Gold certification is the second-highest rating under the USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system. Portland and Scottsdale, Arizona, are now the only two U.S. cities that require municipal buildings to acquire LEED Gold certification. The new policy also requires new city-funded private sector buildings and major retrofits of city-owned buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification, and provides for city support of new private building projects to help them achieve LEED Silver certification. More...

How Did Energy Fare in the 2005 Legislative Session? Find Out!
A number of energy bills came before the Legislature this year. Find out what they are and how they fared in our Legislative Summary.

Idaho Provides Financing, Tax Rebates for Renewable Projects
Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne signed two laws in April that will promote renewable energy development in the state. Senate Bill 1192 allows independent developers of renewable energy projects in the state to request financing from the Idaho Energy Resources Authority, a new state bonding authority that was created by a separate bill. House Bill 110 provides a rebate of sales or use taxes to purchasers of machinery and equipment used to generate power from clean energy sources. The rebate applies to facilities at least 25 kilowatts in capacity and using as their principal source of power either fuel cells, low-impact hydropower, cogeneration, or wind, geothermal, solar, or biomass energy sources.

Paper Outlines Benefits of Strategic Energy Management
GreenBiz.com has published a new briefing paper that shows what benefits are available to companies that take a systematic and strategic approach to energy management. Titled Energy Management and Shareholder Value, the paper describes how financial analysts and institutional investors have come to understand the energy-value connection, and how energy management is becoming another measure by which they assess companies. It provides examples of the bottom-line value of strategic energy management and provides insight into overcoming barriers faced inside many companies. More...

Montana Environmental Groups Hope for Statewide Renewable Energy Mandate
Members of the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) hope that the new governor and legislature will draft a state renewable energy mandate, which would require that statewide power utilities derive a portion of their energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind or water, by a certain date. Such laws are in effect in 18 other states—most recently Colorado—but a similar bill died in the 2003 legislative session. Group members also hope to see some greater regulation of the coal-bed methane industry. More...

Governor Schweitzer Outlines State Energy Policy Objectives
Governor Brian Schweitzer hopes to convene an ‘energy summit’ this summer for the purposes of charting Montana’s energy future. Schweitzer is interested in both fossil and renewable forms of energy production, and will call experts from all available energy fields: from coal and natural gas to wind, solar and hydrogen-produced energy. Governor Schweitzer also expressed an interest in expanding Montana’s transmission line network. More...

Wyoming Legislator Introduces Renewable Energy Commission Bill
Wyoming Representative Jane Warren, a Democrat from Laramie, hopes to convince fellow legislators that the state needs a long-term plan for the advancement of renewable energy production, according to the Casper Star Tribune. Ms. Warren will introduce a bill that would create a temporary renewable energy commission. The commission would have two years to recommend a statewide energy plan that would include addressing energy conservation, recycling, and green power production. Some critics believe that a state commission is unnecessary: the need for new transmission lines preempts further discussion over energy production. More...

Green Power Certification Program Goes Nationwide
The Green-e Program of the Center for Resource Solutions announced recently that Green-e electricity certification is now available to all qualifying renewable energy products in the 50 U.S. states and American territories. The Green Pricing Accreditation Board approved a National Green Pricing Default Certification Standard on December 15th, enabling utilities not currently covered under a regional Green-e standard to achieve Green-e certification for their renewable energy products. "Families, individuals and businesses anywhere can request that their utility offer Green-e certified renewable energy," said Dan Lieberman, Green-e Program Manager. "Green-e certified ensures consumers receive the high-quality renewable energy they want, which means cleaner air and a healthier environment for all to share." More...

Green Power Offered by Montana Coops
Customers of Fergus Electric, Yellowstone Valley, Bear Tooth Electric, Mid Yellowstone, and Tongue River electric cooperatives now have the option of buying green power at a price premium of 1.05¢/kWh. The green power programs for the five coops are supplied by Southern Montana with purchases of the Bonneville Power Administration's Environmentally Preferred Power product--a blend of wind and low-impact hydro. More...

Park Electric Cooperative, a distribution co-op serving nearly  3,500 customers in southwestern Montana, also is offering a renewable energy option under which its customers can purchase renewable energy for all of their electricity needs at a premium of 1.2¢/kWh above standard rates. The program is supplied by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation with "green tags" derived from wind, solar,  and biomass energy projects located in the Pacific Northwest. More...

Conference Speakers Concur: Green Power Is Good for Business
Conference speakers at the “Better Business Through Green Power Conference" this last October emphasized the role that green power could play in making good business decisions.  Speakers cited numerous potential benefits green power offered businesses, such as positive image creation, defense against future fossil fuel prices hikes, and environmental protection. More...

Northwest Power Council Supports Energy Conservation Plan
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which creates five-year energy plans used by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), has released a new plan that advocates saving 700 megawatts of electricity throughout the Northwest through energy conservation methods.  About half of the energy saved would come from improved residential energy efficiency, while another 40 percent would come from commercial buildings.  Utilities, consumer groups, conservation groups and Native American tribes lauded the plan. More...

Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Work on Renewables  Energy Plan
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association (PNSAA), an organization that represents eleven ski areas located in the Pacific Northwest, have announced that they are collaborating on new energy efficiency and renewable energy programs intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Ski area and PNSAA officials are concerned about the effects global warming will exert on their industry, as warmer, drier winter reduce the quality of skiing across the West.  Officials pointed out some recent successes in implementing green power programs at ski areas, including a voluntary ‘Green Tag’ program at a Mt. Hood ski area that reduced gas emissions by more than 27,000 pounds. More...

Salt Lake City Mayor Gains Global Recognition for Green Power Initiatives
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has gained worldwide recognition for his efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Salt Lake City. Over the last two years, he has led municipal programs which have reduced citywide emissions by nearly 6,000 tons annually, including programs for recycling, emphasizing energy efficient vehicles for city employees and augmenting the public transportation system.  Mr. Anderson is the only U.S. mayor to be invited to a UN conference on global greenhouse gas emissions in Argentina this weekend. More...

Rocky Mountain Institute Calls for Renewable Energy Action
A recent article in the Independent Record highlights a new publication from the Rocky Mountain Institute titled Winning the Oil Endgame. The book theorizes that, by dramatically increasing fuel efficiency in American cars and trucks and using alternative fuels, the United States could be oil independent by mid-century. Amory Lovins, RMI's director, hopes to see greater federal pressure on the auto manufacturers to implement these energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies; the auto companies will not revolutionize fast enough on their own. Lovins also practices what he preaches: he drives a hybrid car that gets 64 miles to the gallon. 

State Programs Promote Renewable Energy Production
State energy programs have been instrumental in promoting the use of renewable energy, reports USA Today.  Some programs offer rebates to homeowners who install renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels or wind turbines, while others have mandated that a percentage of the state’s energy portfolio come from renewable energy sources. So far, more than a dozen states have implemented some form of renewable energy promotion; some studies estimate that by 2020, state renewable energy programs will be responsible for doubling the production of renewable energy in the United States. More...

Study Suggests Air Pollution Decreases Snowfall
A recent study released by a professor at Stanford University suggests that air pollution can decrease precipitation levels.  Pollution-contaminated clouds produced half the snow that clean clouds did, and the snow that did fall held half the mass than non-polluted counterparts. The findings correspond to a study conducted last year by the University of Nevada’s Desert Research Institute. More...

Harvesting Clean Energy 5 Conference Announced
The fifth annual ‘Harvesting Clean Energy’ conference has been announced, and it is set to take place on January 20-21, 2005 in Great Falls. This is the Pacific Northwest's premiere event bringing together the agriculture and energy industries to advance opportunities for agriculture producers and rural communities to profitably diversify into clean energy production and other bio-product markets. This year's event will be held in conjunction with one of Montana's most important agricultural events -- MAGIE (Montana Agricultural & Industrial Exposition).

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Is Energy Independence Possible?
Both presidential candidates this year have touted the need for the United States to wean itself from dependence on foreign oil. But is this really possible? Many energy executives believe that the cry for energy independence is rhetorical, with neither candidate willing to make the necessary, potentially unpopular sacrifices for real energy independence. This USA Today article examines how the speeches politicians make on the subject of energy independence mesh with the reality.

EPA Designates Moab, Utah Nation’s First Green Power Community
When some Moab, Utah residents signed up for Utah Power’s Blue Sky Community program, by which customers may choose to purchase wind-generated electricity, they had no idea how successful the program would become.  Currently, more than 3 percent of electricity used by the city comes from wind generation, allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate Moab as the nation’s first Green Power Community.  Local officials hope the designation will bring attention to the community by conservation-minded visitors. More...

NCAT Named State's First Green Power Partner
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), headquartered in Butte, has joined EPA's Green Power Partnership program. The voluntary program provides assistance and recognition to organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership by choosing green power. To qualify as a Partner, organizations must provide a specified percentage of their electricity needs with green power. There currently are more than 500 Partners, with a collective green power commitment that exceeds 2 million Megawatt-hours. NCAT is Montana's first Partner. Interested in joining? Find out how!

EIA:  U.S. Home Heating Bills to Go Up 15 Percent this Winter
A colder winter and higher fuel prices are likely to drive up residential heating bills by 15 percent this winter, according to a report released last week by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA expects elevated crude oil prices to result in higher prices for heating oil, natural gas, and propane. Heating oil users will take the biggest hit, with a 29 percent increase in prices, although a slightly warmer winter in the Northeast is expected to hold the increase in those households' heating bills to 28 percent. EIA says inventories of heating fuels are sufficient to avoid price spikes from surges in demand under most circumstances.

EIA notes that current spot prices for crude oil continue to fluctuate above the $45 per barrel range, and projects the price for the fourth quarter to average about $46.40 per barrel. Prices remain high despite increased production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in part because of oil production losses due to September hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricanes also impacted natural gas production. The spot price for natural gas at the Henry Hub, a major distribution point, averaged $5.15 per thousand cubic feet in September, and EIA expects it to average $6.18 per thousand cubic feet in 2005. See the EIA press release and the October edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook

Xcel Energy Plans Won’t Renew Colorado Energy Conservation Plan
Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, announced that it does not plan on renewing its $75 million energy conservation plan when it ends in 2005.  The plan, which should meet the stated goal of saving 124 megawatts of electricity when it ends, is paid for by Xcel Energy customers and provides incentives for the installation of energy efficient equipment.  Critics claim that Xcel is more interested in funding a proposed new coal-fired power plant than continuing the energy efficiency program. More...

U.S. Could be Petroleum-Free in 50 Years
A new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute outlines how Americans can wean themselves from foreign petroleum dependence over the next four decades.  The report, titled Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, recommends developing energy innovations for American industries, such as greater use of biofuels and higher fuel efficiencies through engine design and lighter car bodies.  Partially funded by the Pentagon, the report stresses market-based, industry-driven innovation over government mandates and programs. More...

Direct Marketing of Green Power Nets Results
While nearly 500 power utilities nationwide offer some form of green energy program, the average enrollment rate hovers at around one percent.  Yet some programs are quite successful, with the top ten programs accounting for nearly 90 percent of all green power program enrollments.  The secret to their success appears to be the way in which they market green power, and should become the example that other, less successful programs ought to follow. More...

Historic Billings Building Renovated With Green Power, Energy Efficiency in Mind
The historic Acme building in downtown Billings has a new lease on life: after being vacant and closed for two decades, the building will soon reopen as an apartment building.  The renovation of the Acme building, which cost $2.4 million, was directed by homeWORD, a local nonprofit who purchased the building several years ago and financed the renovation through loans and ci