Energy Finance Report

Senate Energy Bill Includes Funding For Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Pilot Projects

Posted by Jerry Muys on 7/29/15 10:08 AM

In an era conscious of water scarcity, the water-energy nexus made the agenda of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is considering broad based, bi-partisan legislation, the “Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.” The nexus between water and energy refers generally to the fact that the provision of water and wastewater services tends to be highly energy intensive, while most types of power generation tend to be highly water intensive.

Water pipesA provision in the bill that has received surprisingly little attention in the industry press would require the Department of Energy to establish a “smart energy and water efficiency pilot program” that would award grants to a limited number of utilities, municipalities, water districts, Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, and other authorities that provide water, wastewater, or water reuse services. The grants would fund pilot projects that “demonstrate unique, advanced, or innovative technology-based solutions” to the so-called water/energy nexus -- the policy challenge posed by fact that conventional energy production tends to be highly water consumptive, while the provision of water-related services tends to require large amounts of energy.

Although the eligibility language of the bill is somewhat imprecise, it appears that the grants would be limited to technologies that (1) increase the energy efficiency of water, wastewater and water reuse systems; (2) otherwise improve such systems to help communities make measurable progress in conserving water, saving energy, and reducing costs; (3) support the implementation of innovative and unique processes and the installation of established advanced automated systems that provide real-time data on energy and water; or (4) improve energy-water conservation and quality and predictive maintenance through technologies that utilize internet connected technologies, including sensors, intelligent gateways, and security embedded in hardware.

Grants would be awarded based on: (1) energy and cost savings; (2) the uniqueness, commercial viability, and reliability of the technology; (3) the degree to which the project integrates next-generation sensors software, analytics, and management tools; (4) the anticipated cost-effectiveness of the pilot project through measurable energy efficiency savings, water savings or reuse, and infrastructure costs averted; (5) whether the technology can be deployed in a variety of geographic regions and in a wide range of applications; (6) whether the technology has been successfully deployed elsewhere; (7) whether the technology was sourced from a manufacturer based in the United States; and (8) whether the project will be completed in 5 years or less.

The bill would authorize the appropriation of $15,000,000 to fund the program. Grant recipients would be selected not later than 300 days of enactment of the legislation.

The Energy Finance Report is closely monitoring the progress of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which has so far been quiet on renewable energy generally. As waste heat, particularly in water based heating systems, is anticipated to be next big horizon for energy efficiency, the Senate Finance Committee’s grant may be a step in the right direction for the water/energy efficiency industry.

Topics: Water Energy Nexus, Utilities, Water, EPMA, Energy Policy, Energy Management

Energy Policy Modernization Act Quiet on Renewables

Posted by Joshua L. Sturtevant on 7/24/15 11:15 AM

Both the Senate and the House made progress on their respective updates to 2005’s Energy Policy Act this week. The general press has focused mainly on the fact that the long-term ban on oil exports was not lifted (which doesn't necessarily mean a lift of the ban is dead). However the absence of support for renewable distributed energy resources was equally stark in the eyes of renewable energy advocates.

Some speculate that support for renewable energy resources may be added during the legislative revision process; some have even posited that an extension to the 30% solar investment tax credit could end up in this legislation after it went unaddressed in the tax extenders bill recently released by the Senate Finance Committee. Also, certain aspects of a more distributed generation-focused future, including efficiency, a smart grid and microgrid technologies, are more specifically addressed.

That said, the lack of specific support for solar, wind and other generation sources in a document that underpins what is ostensibly an "all of the above" approach to national energy policy will be alarming for renewable energy advocates.

The Senate version can be found here. The House version can be found here. While pundits expect a relatively easy preliminary reconciliation process given the similarity of the two versions, it is less clear when final legislation might actually be put to vote.

Topics: EPMA, Energy Efficiency, Energy Finance, Legislation, Distributed Energy, Solar Energy, Renewable Energy

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The Energy Finance Report analyzes developments in energy finance as well as provides updates and perspectives on market trends and policies.

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