Five Exciting Advances in Renewable Energy in 2016

shutterstock_360277295

Have you ever been to the ocean on a high-surf day, and watched the water at the shoreline be pulled away as a huge wave builds somewhere offshore? Well, that kind of “groundswell” is what we’re starting to experience in the renewable energy industry. And it’s very exciting! There were many significant developments in 2016, but the momentum really started building last year.

 A Record-Setting Year in 2015

Looking back, 2015 was a record year for renewable energy according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) in its Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (GSR). There were a number of high-profile agreements signed by G7 and G20 governments to increase energy efficiency and pave the way for easier access to renewable energy.

With those commitments as a foundation, the world experienced its largest ever annual increase in renewable power capacity in 2015 — an estimated 147 gigawatts (GW). And despite the fact that the cost of fossil fuels remained low, people and companies continued to turn to renewable sources. For the second year in a row, solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind power had record growth.

Overall global capacity reached 1,849 gigawatts (GW), an increase of 8.7% over 2014. Capping 2015 was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where 195 countries reached an agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and most in attendance committed to increasing renewable energy production and energy efficiency.

Continued Growth: 2016 and Beyond

While the final numbers for this year won’t be available until early next, the data through the first six months of 2016 is very encouraging. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) says that renewable energy in the U.S. (including hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar) provided 16.9 percent of electricity generation in the first half of the year, compared to 13.7 percent in 2015.

In other words, renewable energy is beginning to prove itself as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This may come as a surprise to many people who think of renewable sources as being on the “fringe” of the U.S. energy grid.

Beyond the energy production numbers, there were some incredible advances in the renewable energy field in 2016. Here is just a sampling:

  • Tesla’s Gigafactory. To support its mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Tesla’s new facility (appropriately located in Sparks, Nevada) will be producing battery cells by the end of this year. The name Gigafactory comes from the factory’s planned annual battery production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh).
  • Sweden’s fossil fuel-free declaration. Having invested heavily in renewable energy and climate change action in its 2016 budget, Sweden continues to move closer to ending its use of fossil fuels. The fact that a country is committed enough to this goal to publicly declare it is groundbreaking and inspiring.
  • Swiss scientists’ biofuel breakthrough. Biofuel is an important source of renewable energy, and researchers have now found a way to convert 80 percent of a previously unused component of biomass called lignin into valuable molecules for biofuel and plastics.
  • Tesla’s solar roofs. Energy provided by the sun in one hour is enough to meet our planet’s needs for an entire year. Tesla has developed roof tiles that resemble standard shingles and can supply 100 percent of a home’s electricity needs while also storing backup energy in what it calls Powerwall battery units. The first installations are expected next summer.
  • Washington State University’s advances in water splitting. Researchers have developed a method for more efficiently creating hydrogen from water using a low-cost catalyst. This discovery supports our ability to use the excess electricity generated from renewable sources to split water into oxygen and hydrogen for use in fuel-cell vehicles.

These are just a few of the dozens of significant developments in renewable energy this year. And with the momentum that’s being created, 2017 promises to deliver even more game-changing renewable energy solutions.

What would you do with the $5 Million Lose-A-Watt prize?

shutterstock_406496068What would you do with a million dollars?  What about FIVE million? Fort Collins may soon need to find an answer to that question!

Did you know, Fort Collins is finishing up the semi-finalist competition in Georgetown University’s national energy efficiency competition for a $5 million prize? At last check, Fort Collins was ranking within the top ten out of all communities participating. If we maintain our ranking, we’ll move on to the final competition which runs through mid-2017.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-8-55-45-am

How’d this happen?  What’s the criteria?

The top ten communities are evaluated based on additional criteria other than total savings, such as: program replicability and community engagement. To advance further, we’ll still need the help of our entire community. So download a tutorial, take action, and help us win $5 million for Fort Collins!

How can you help?  There are lots of ways, but the easiest and most fun is to check out the Lose-A-Watt app. This mobile app was created specifically for Fort Collins and aims to make energy savings and sustainability more simple and fun. Download it for free and log the energy-saving activities that you do every day!

Here's what you need to do:

  • Go into the app store for your phone or tablet and search for "Lose A Watt”
  • Get the app for your Apple device | Get the app for your Android device
  • Create an account, or log in with your Facebook account
  • Start logging your energy-saving activities!

You can even compete against your friends, neighbors and others in the community to see who the boss is when it comes to saving energy.

What should we do with the prize if we win?

$5 million is a lot of money.  Think about all we could do!  Really, think about it - we’d like to hear your ideas! That being said, keep in mind the City couldn't just spend the money any way it chooses – there are restrictions for the use of the $5M prize money:

  • It must be spent on energy efficiency programs that reward the community as a whole and provide for the long-term implementation of those plans. So, put on your thinking cap and let us know what the City should do with the money.
  • Prize money cannot be given to individuals. For example, it cannot be used to reduce taxes or for items that aren't related in some way to energy efficiency. If you were thinking of just putting your name in the hat, think again.  We’re looking for bona fide campaigns and plans that will impact the community as a whole, and create a more energy efficient Fort Collins in 5 million ways.

Check us out on Facebook and throw some suggestions our way.  It’s not every day we contemplate what to do with $5 million dollars!

 

Meet Innovate Fort Collins EV Charging Challenge Winner, Qmulus

shutterstock_232029685

The City of Fort Collins and Fort Collins Utilities recently announced the results of the inaugural Innovate Fort Collins EV Charging Challenge. The winner is a company called Qmulus, whose SmartCharge Adapter functions as a link between an electric vehicle and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to collect data about charging habits and manage load control and metering. But who is Qmulus and how did they come to be on the leading edge of electric vehicle support technology?

A Startup that’s Just Getting Startedqmulus

If your curiosity about Qmulus has taken you to the internet in search of company details, you will have come away mostly empty handed, other than mentions in a few recent articles. The small Illinois-based startup has focused all of its time and effort to date on creating and enhancing the SmartCharge Adapter and has not yet brought a website online.

“We’ve got a number of parallel activities underway, from continuing the evolution of the product to finalizing the formation of our company to preparing for our beta testing with the City of Fort Collins,” said company co-founder and veteran entrepreneur Matthew Raymond, a man who clearly understands there is no value in putting the cart before the horse. “We’ll have a website up early next year.”

As for the company’s name, it’s a clever combination of two aspects of its area of expertise. “We chose ‘cumulus’ because the technology is increasingly headed in the direction of cloud computing,” said Raymond. “And we used ‘Q’ as the initial letter for its role as a parameter in electrical equations.”

From Chicago’s West Side to Northern Colorado

The SmartCharge Adapter is the brainchild of Jason Harper, an electrical engineer and researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. The lab is a multidisciplinary science and engineering center operated by the University of Chicago for the United States Department of Energy.

If the lab’s name sounds familiar, that’s likely because it was the site of the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The lab’s nuclear research ended in 1994, and today it is involved in a wide range of disciplines, from renewable energy and energy storage to environmental sustainability to national security.

What’s Next for Qmulus?

Argonne has produced 30 prototypes of the SmartCharge Adapter and will soon begin testing them for characteristics like weather resistance, durability, etc. “This validation study is pivotal to Qmulus,” says Raymond. “We’re confident that all the features developed in the original prototype will function properly when the adapter is mass produced, but this next phase with Argonne will help us confirm that. From there, we will move into our testing with the City of Fort Collins and Fort Collins Utilities in mid- to late-winter.”

Looking further down the road, Qmulus is hoping to make a big impact on the electric vehicle industry. As you might expect with technology that has only recently gone “mainstream,” the related systems are still developing.

“The electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the United States is still fairly weak,” said Raymond. “My goal, along with my co-founder Richard Eichhold, is to continue to work with Jason to improve the framework and to expand the use of electric vehicles. We feel it's critical that our country accelerate its reduction in greenhouse gases and slow the rate of climate change, and we’re excited to be advancing the technology that can help make that happen.

Learn more about the Innovate Fort Collins EV Charging Challenge on FortZED’s website.

Let’s Take a Look: PRPA’s Rawhide Energy Station

Platte River Power Authority - Rawhide Energy Station

Just 26 miles outside of Fort Collins, Platte River Power Authority’s Rawhide Energy Station is located on 4,560 acres of land.  That’s just shy of a marathon away.  Lace up your sneakers and let’s take a tour!

There are seven generating units located at Rawhide:

  • Rawhide Unit One: A 280 megawatt generator fueled by low-sulfur coal from the Antelope Mine located in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin
  • Rawhide Units A, B, C, D: Four 65 megawatt single-cycle natural gas-fired generators
  • Rawhide Unit F: A 128 megawatt single-cycle natural gas-fired generator
  • Rawhide Flats Solar: A 30 MW solar facility

Why is Rawhide so great?  First of all, even though Rawhide’s roots are as a coal power plant, Platte River Power Authority has always taken steps to lessen the site’s environmental footprint. Developing environmentally responsible energy has always been part of a long standing promise that PRPA has made to its partner communities to improve the way people use and think about energy. That’s why they’ve added Rawhide Flats Solar this year. The 185-acre facility will provide solar energy production for up to 8,000 homes, or approximately 2% of the energy used in PRPA’s partner communities.

Platte River also owns and manages two herds of American bison on the Rawhide site.  And that’s no bull.  According to PRPA’s website, “These impressive animals demonstrate that wildlife can coexist in harmony with responsibly operated power generation facilities.” It’s a comment that was made decades ago and has helped guide PRPA through the years. In addition to the free-range herds, Rawhide takes its eco embrace even further with the use of the Hamilton Reservoir instead of cooling towers. The reservoir provides a haven for wildlife and migratory birds and has been the site for the annual bird count sponsored by the National Audubon Society since 1986.

Did you know Rawhide Energy Station’s coal-fired unit is one of the most efficient in the western US?  And, it also ranks among the top 10 units with the lowest criteria pollutant emissions.  Due to Rawhide’s state-of-the-art air quality control systems, the plant’s emissions remain significantly less than state and federal air quality permits allow. In fact, Rawhide Unit One is nationally-recognized as one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the United States in terms of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Platte River is committed to assisting Fort Collins and the other owner cities to meet their goals. For Fort Collins, this has included an important collaboration in our climate action planning, including the addition of renewable resources such as wind and solar to our power generation mix. With the addition of 30 MW of solar being installed at Rawhide this fall, PRPA is continuing that commitment.

SOURCES:

Hidden Energy – The Energy Footprint of Everyday Objects

We all tend to want to ‘do the right’ thing and not stomp a massive footprint into our planet. But, there are so many unknowns when it comes to our impact. Do you know how much energy is consumed to bring a brand new bottle of glacier water to your lips? Or what it takes to keep your iPhone humming? There’s an almost invisible grid of energy being relinquished each day, from you, your family and your neighbors. We’re all culprits of energy consumption. Though, once we know more, we may be able to decrease our footprint and let go of energy-use guilt.

A few things you may not know about the ‘costs’ of hidden energy:

Bottled Water is full of H20 and, uh-oh

Okay, okay, we all love our alpine water from Canada, Alaska or Nepal, but as a consumer, it would be prudent to know what it takes to get it to our palates. How much energy is used to quench our thirst? By the time your delicious bottled hydrogen and oxygen mix makes it to your mouth, it has had a long travel full of energy use. Our bottled water habit has a huge environmental impact—think about how much energy it takes to make the plastic bottles, fill them and ship them all over the world. According to Live Science:

“An estimated total of the equivalent of 32 million to 54 million barrels of oil was required to generate the energy to produce the amount of bottled water consumed in the United States in 2007, according to the study, detailed in the January-March issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters.”

What can you do? You can get yourself an awesome, re-useable bottle, fill it with tap water (use a filter if need be, though we are spoiled with wonderful water in Colorado) and drink.

Your iPhone may be awesome, but she’s kinda’ greedy

If you were asked: What takes up more energy annually—your iphone or your fridge—how would you reply? Well, if you happen to have an Energy Star medium-sized fridge, the answer would be your phone. According to Mark Mills, the CEO of the Digital Power Group, “a medium-size refrigerator that qualifies for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating will use about 322 kW-h a year; the average iPhone uses about 361 kW-h a year once the wireless connections, data usages and battery charging are tallied up.” Whoa. And your phone doesn’t even keep your milk and cheese cool! Once your phone is charged, unplug it. Close apps you aren’t using, and turn your phone off completely when not in use.

Whether a Mac makes your world go ‘round, or your PC pleases you…both are hidden energy suckers

Did you know a typical desktop computer uses about 65 to 250 watts? That’s just the computer itself, add another 20-40 watts for an LCD monitor, or about 80 watts if you have an old-school 17" CRT. And who just has a computer? Most of us have related devices to put our machines to best use for us. For example, a cable modem uses 7 watts, a D-Link DI-604 router uses 4.5 watts, and a Motorola phone box for use with Vonage uses 2 watts while idle (3 when you’re actually on the phone).

To conserve some energy, using a laptop is a better bet. Most laptop computers use about 15-60 watts, which is far less than desktops. And, when your devices are in sleep mode, they use even less. The best way to reduce your use is to unplug devices when they aren’t in use. Or, plug them into a smart power strip.

As consumers become more aware, we can modify our behaviors to reduce our energy use. Now that you know the cost of hidden energy consumption, you can be even smarter with your smart phone.

SOURCES:

http://www.livescience.com/3406-energy-footprint-bottled-water.html

http://science.time.com/2013/08/14/power-drain-the-digital-cloud-is-using-more-energy-than-you-think/

http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/computers.html

City of Fort Collins Announces Winner of the Innovate Fort Collins Electric Vehicle Charging Challenge in Collaboration with Innosphere and CSU

FortZed_Innovate-Fort-Collins-Logo-outlined_Final_07-19-16Qmulus Wins Inaugural City of Fort Collins Innovation Challenge

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado State University, and Innosphere, Colorado’s leading technology incubator, have announced the winner of the first Innovate Fort Collins competition. This technology competition was focused on solving electric vehicle (EV) charging challenges because as more people buy electric vehicles, the pressure on charging loads can affect the reliability of the electric grid.

Qmulus, an emerging technology company with a solution for a plug-and-play adapter, was announced the winner on September 26th at Colorado State University’s 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium. The Qmulus adapter connects between the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). For this competition, applications were collected from companies and entrepreneurs that focused on data acquisition from vehicles, installed metering or monitoring, or advanced meter data.

“Innovate Fort Collins is specifically designed to help innovators bring relevant technologies to market that are going to help communities like Fort Collins meet its climate action goals,” said Mike Freeman, Innosphere CEO. In future Innovate Fort Collins competitions, Innosphere will continue to help the City with technology scouting in order to find new innovation to meet their Road to 2020 goals concerning water, buildings, mobility solutions, energy and waste reduction.

As the competition winner, Qmulus will be able to test and demonstrate the technology solution within the Fort Collins Utilities electric grid. Qmulus’ adapter gives users with low-end charger stations the ability to network their charge sessions without going to the expense of upgrading their EVSE. “The adapter will allow conversion of a dumb station to a smart station at a substantially lower cost than replacing the EVSE,” said Matthew Raymond, co-founder of Qmulus. “The adapter will allow residents, communities, workplaces, fleets, multi-unit dwellings, retailers and utilities to gain more detailed information about PEV charging behavior. Utilities can also use the adapter for load control and metering.” Raymond accepted the award at the event and gave a presentation on why Qmulus’ emerging technology is ideal for a test and demonstration project with City of Fort Collins utilities.

The competition began with Innosphere collaborating with the City of Fort Collins to help implement the goals of the City of Fort Collins’ Road to 2020 plan. The Road to 2020 plan sets new goals to reduce carbon emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels in 2020 and 80 percent by 2030, with a desire to be carbon neutral by 2050. The theme of this first competition was focused on electric vehicles because the City wanted to better understand and quantify future mass electric vehicle charging patterns in Fort Collins. “This will help us manage our core utilities distribution system while making progress toward a carbon-neutral City,” said Jackie Kozak Thiel, chief sustainability officer for the City of Fort Collins.

"We are excited to work with the City of Fort Collins and Innosphere on this challenge," said Maury Dobbie, assistant director of CSU's Center for the New Energy Economy and symposium chair. "Our 6th annual symposium is all about finding solutions related to the energy transition of our country, and one of the ways we’re doing that is through collaboration with industry and government."

For more information about the City of Fort Collins’ implementation of the Road to 2020, go to www.fcgov.com/climateaction.

For more information on Innosphere, or how Innosphere’s program can support your high-impact science or technology startup, please visit www.innosphere.org and apply to be a part of the next cohort of client companies.

CSU’s 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium event continues through today, September 29th, and live streaming is available for all panels and sessions at http://energytransition.colostate.edu/live-streaming-2016/

About Innosphere:

Innosphere is a non-profit technology incubator accelerating the success of high-impact science and technology startups. Innosphere has two physical locations in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado to support entrepreneurs building potential, high-growth companies in the industries of health innovations, life sciences, software, hardware, energy, and advanced materials. Innosphere’s incubation program focuses on ensuring companies are investor ready, connecting them with experienced advisors, and making introductions to corporate partners. Once accepted into the program, companies receive customized development plans and ongoing support to ensure they’re getting the know-how to raise the right kind of capital, and all the resources to grow. www.innosphere.org.

LEED Buildings in Fort Collins

Construction

An innovative green style of building is taking the lead in Fort Collins. In fact, LEED construction, buildings that are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for upholding Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), are popping up all over our beautiful city. A precept of the LEED program, is that buildings receive credit for reducing impacts on water and ecosystems resources, improving energy efficiency, and recycling building materials and reducing waste, among other categories.

There are many cities across the US with a huge carbon footprint. Proudly, Fort Collins sports a small carbon footprint, by comparison. To date, Fort Collins boasts having the most square feet of certified LEED projects per capita, ranking it No. 1 in Northern Colorado.

Seasoned projects include several CSU buildings, inclusive of some residence halls, The Innosphere, and Fossil Ridge High School. An innovation incubator from the start, the Innosphere building, located on Vine Avenue, was a pioneer in Fort Collins’ LEED movement. Built with recycled materials, and a keen eye to sustainable design, it is beautiful and environmentally conscious. CSU’s newest residence halls in Laurel Village were also designed and constructed with energy and the environment in mind. In fact, The Pavilion, located in the center of the Laurel Village, is the first building at CSU to be certified LEED PLATINUM new construction by the United States Green Building Council. The Pavilion features a passive ventilation system called a katabatic tower, which is a green slope to reduce heat island effect, an interior green wall, recycled and regional materials, and even a bike room to further promote a decrease in a carbon footprint.

There is also new development within the LEED program: The Trails at Timberline is an example of synergizing form and function while keeping an eagle-eye on the need to reduce environmental impact. Aside from being certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, the apartment complex boasts eight different floor plans ranging from studios, to a spacious 3 bedroom, 2 bath luxury apartment.

How can you take a ‘LEED’ approach and be an energy preserving innovator in your home? A few tips:

You may not have a home certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, but you can still minimize your carbon footprint and maximize your energy use.

  • Utilize a power management system (like Nest or similar). You can have your home outfitted with the latest and greatest green tech around (i.e., programmable thermostats, smoke detectors, etc.).
  • Did you know, according to the US Department of Energy, “75% of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they’re turned off”? Wowzers. That’s a lot of unnecessary juice being utilized, and paid for. Turn off your electronics and UNPLUG them when not in use.
  • Use CFL or LED lightbulbs. These energy-saving bulbs use only a fraction of the electricity of their incandescent counterparts.
  • Air dry your dishes. The heated drying cycle of your dishwasher uses a tremendous amount of power. And, when you unload, you won’t burn your fingers on the pots and pans.
  • Turn off your computer when you're not using it. Computers literally suck the energy out of the socket, and your pocket.
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances, and pay attention to the energy efficiency ratings. A more expensive and energy efficient purchase will reap rewards in the long run.
  • Grab a new showerhead and give up those costly baths. Showers use MUCH less water than a bath (provided you keep it to a reasonable length!) Less water means less energy to heat the water -- unless you enjoy cold showers, that is!
  • Stop scalding yourself and burning your wallet by setting your hot water heater to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

SOURCES:
http://bizwest.com/for-northern-colorado-green-building-fort-collins-in-leed/
http://miami.about.com/od/homegarden/tp/energysaving.htm?utm_term=10%20ways%20to%20save%20energy&utm_content=p1-main-3-title&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=msn_s&utm_campaign=adid-c4489106-f015-4c3a-bd67-10a49f70fe29-0-ab_msb_ocode-28799&ad=semD&an=msn_s&am=broad&q=10%20ways%20to%20save%20energy&o=28799&qsrc=999&l=sem&askid=c4489106-f015-4c3a-bd67-10a49f70fe29-0-ab_msb

You’ll Be Seeing Double with Double Rebates Available from Fort Collins Utilities!

Double Rebates from Fort Collins Utilities

Did you know there is free money out there for you?  It’s true. Maybe even DOUBLE money!  No, this isn’t Vegas, but Fort Collins Utilities is offering double rebates on select appliances and fixtures for residential Utilities customers in addition to their standard rebates available throughout the year.

Let’s take a look at what’s available, how you can apply and qualify, and even a few tips to maximize your home’s energy ROI.

Residential Double Rebates Available:

  • $70 bill credit (regularly $35) for recycling older qualified refrigerators and freezers.
  • $50 bill credit (regularly $25) for purchasing a qualified ENERGY STAR® dishwasher.
  • $100 bill credit (regularly $50) for purchasing a qualified ENERGY STAR® clothes washer.
  • $100 or $150 bill credit (regularly $50 or $75) for replacing and recycling up to two toilets with WaterSense® toilets.

Purchases must be made before Dec. 31, 2016, with applications submitted by Jan. 15, 2017, to receive the double rebates. Refrigerators or freezers for recycling must be scheduled for pickup by Jan. 31, 2017.

Applications and qualification details are available at participating retailers and fcgov.com/rebates-programs. For more information, call 970-212-2900, email utilities@fcgov.com or V/TDD 711. Aids and services are available for persons with disabilities.

Not sure you’ll be able to make a purchase before the end of the year? No worries! You can get rebates year-round – just not the double rebates that are happening for the rest of this year.

Year-Round Residential Rebates:

Once you have utilized as many rebate programs as you can, there are additional ways you can ensure you get the most from your systems at home and keep more green in your wallet.

A few tips for maximizing your home energy improvement returns:

  • It may be time to recycle that old refrigerator that mom gave you when you first moved out. Replacing the older appliances in your home with certified energy efficient appliances can go a long way toward saving energy and lowering your electric bills.
  • Use fluorescent light bulbs for places you’d like to keep the lights on at length. Keep in mind, if you like to flip the switch a lot, this can shorten their life span.
  • Don’t forget to tell your thermostat what to do! Program it to control your climate and allow for customized temperature settings during the day, evening, and especially when you're away from home on vacation.
  • Got cracked or whispering windows?  Replacing old windows with windows that provide better insulation will keep the elements out during the extreme weather seasons of summer and winter and keep your bills down.
  • Check out the Fort Collins Utilities’ grants/rebates for making your home energy efficient.
  • Consider a home improvement loan to help you cover the initial cost of any upgrades. In time, your savings will cover your output.

To schedule a Home Efficiency Audit, complete the online form or call 877-981-1888.

Efficiency Rebates for Your Business

Fort Collins Utilities’ Efficiency Works-Business program is resuming approval of rebate applications, thanks to an additional $1.46 million in funding that was approved by City Council on July 19.

Qualifications & Eligibility:

  • Applicants must be an active Fort Collins Utilities water or electric customer account in the name of the individual or legal business entity for the premise is required
  • Applicants must be a Fort Collins Utilities water customer and/or small commercial (E200, E250 rate classes) building owner
  • The building can have only one electric or water meter
  • All upgrades must begin with a pre-approval from Efficiency Works

For more information, click here.

Renewable Energy in Fort Collins

Fort Collins, Colo.

Fort Collins: it’s one of those cities that has a small town feel, but it also has big goals for renewable energies. In fact, Fort Collins has its sights set on being carbon neutral by 2050. And, we’ve got the resources to do it. Our often windy, yet blue-sky city is home to an almost unparalleled amount of energy companies focused on using and harnessing the resources we have to propel our lives and futures with renewable energy.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale, and can include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. It often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

2015 was a record year for renewable energy technology all over the map. The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report indicates, “The year 2015 was an extraordinary one for renewable energy, with the largest global capacity additions seen to date.” Fort Collins is no exception, with a remarkable, tireless ability to harness and foster renewable energy resources.

FoCo has sun. And wind.  With over 300 days of sunlight and year, and enough hairstyle-ruining days to provide energy to our homes, we are a mecca of renewable energy industry.  Our windy future is so bright, AND we get to wear shades.

Renewable Energy in Fort Collins—3 ways YOU can support it

Have you heard about the Green Energy program?

Residents and businesses in Fort Collins can purchase clean, renewable energy for an additional 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Just head to Fort Collins Utilities’ website. Once there, fill out the residential or commercial agreement forms, and fax or mail it to Utilities. That’s it!  You’ll be doing your part to support renewable energy in Fort Collins.  The purchase of RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) helps offset conventional electricity generation in the region where the renewable electricity generator is located. The purchase also helps build a market for renewable electricity and may have other local and global environmental benefits such as reducing global climate change and regional air pollution.

Go solar.

Do you know what the word “Photovoltaics” means? Photovoltaics (PV) is the process by which sunlight is converted into electricity. More than just “sun good, coal bad,” the idea of taking your home or company solar, or supporting companies who promote PV is a choice many residents of Fort Collins are making.  Globally, the solar PV market was up 25% in 2015, lifting the global total to 227 gigawatts (GW). The annual market in 2015 was nearly 10 times the world’s cumulative solar PV capacity of a decade earlier. In 2015, Fort Collins online PV capacity tripled.

Promoting clean, renewable energy

Many companies are on the renewable energy cheering team.  They back up their ‘green promises’ with their green dollars and ensure their businesses run clean – on renewable energy. One way to do that is through ClimateWise – the city’s free, voluntary program for businesses. It encourages members to adopt strategies that are proven to use energy, land, and water more efficiently, while reducing greenhouse gases. On top of that, it can help lower the businesses’ operating costs!

Fort Collins’ big goals for renewable energy set our city well ahead of most others. If you’d like to do your part to help Fort Collins achieve those goals, visit the ‘Renewables’ section of the Utilities website. What’s your favorite program that helps you save money and energy? Let us know if the comments section!

How to Read Your Utility Bill

Woman reading utility bill

Your bill from Fort Collins Utilities contains all kinds of detail that may make it difficult to understand. Here are a few pro-tips for making your utility bill work for you:

  1. Residential energy rates can vary based on the season (summer vs non-summer) and on a customer’s electric use. Electricity costs per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and usage are calculated based on tiers. There is always a fixed charge or a ‘base charge' per month.   If your bill seems higher than normal, check with your utility provider.
  2. Monitor My Use: Check out the electric costs details view. Once you login, you can click on the ‘details’ button under Electric. The screen will show you a bar graph with your daily use, and you can toggle this view to show you one day, one bill period, or one whole year. You can also toggle on the weather temperature to see if your cooling and heating costs might be contributing to spikes in your energy usage. I noticed when I looked at my bill that the spikes (when I hovered my mouse over them) all occurred on Sundays.  Sunday is laundry day and the day we tend to run the dryer a lot. A sudden temperature spike also revealed the day I plugged in the window air conditioning unit.
  3. Pay less for wastewater (WQA – winter quarter average) year-round. Did you know residential wastewater charges are based on the average water billed during January, February, and March? These months represent true indoor use and indicate the amount of water that ends up in the wastewater system. By conserving water during these months, you can reduce your WQA and pay less for wastewater year-round.

Don’t know how to read your energy bill right now? No problem! Follow these tips and tricks when you get your next energy bill to see if you can better understand your bill. And, you may even be able to figure out how to cut your energy use!

Do you have any other tips for reading your energy bill? Let us know in the comments!