Green Bits: May 2009
Become a wind energy advocate; Rebate update; Clear the Air Challenge; Natural gas for school buses.
by Katherine Pioli
Become a wind energy advocate
Learning how to shoot the breeze is no longer just of benefit at cocktail parties: Utah Clean Energy is offering a Wind Outreach Training Program that will prepare volunteers to approach individuals and community leaders and speak to the benefits and viability of wind energy use in our state.
You can learn how to communicate effectively about wind energy, set up and carry out presentations and engage key leaders and public officials on wind energy.
Wind energy is one of the fastest growing energy technologies in the world and is expected to provide at least 20% of the U.S. electricity by 2030. Utah has enough wind resources to develop from 1,830 to 9,145 megawatts of wind energy.
How come there are none in the Salt Lake area? We don’t know. The three scheduled trainings will be in Spanish Fork (June 6), Tremonton (September 19) and Enoch (October 3). Each training lasts a single day and is limited to 12 participants. Applications are due by May 8th. The course costs $35. For more info and to download the application: utahcleanenergy.org/our_work/wind_outreach_training
Clearing the air
Everybody knows that when the air quality along the Wasatch Front is bad, it is very, very bad. Recognizing that the voluntary no-drive days were not helping, Governor Huntsman, Mayor Corroon and Mayor Becker tasked a committee of local groups and businesses with finding a solution.
The group researched air pollution, looking at the sources and what factors such as time of day influenced the air quality. The study concluded that automotive activity along the Front was a major pollution culprit. Their solution was a challenge to drivers, the Clear the Air Challenge.
The Utah Department of Air Quality has said that if all drivers along the Wasatch Front were to park their cars just one day per week, vehicle emissions would be reduced by 6,500 tons per year. The Clear the Air Challenge asks Utahns to pledge to reduce the amount of time and distance that they drive each week for just six weeks this summer, from June 1st until July 10th.
The challenge gives plenty of suggestions for people wondering how to avoid their cars. Some suggest eliminating automobile use all together by using a bike, walking or riding public transportation. Other ideas include carpooling or grouping errands together into one efficient trip instead of many.
The fun part of the challenge comes by comparing your personal goals and achievements against other people in the community. You can go to the challenge website, register and set personal goals for the number of trips you want to save each week. There is no age requirement for entering the challenge (presumably you’re old enough to drive), but you must be a Utah resident to be part of the competition.
Once you’ve registered you can log onto your personal profile and enter information into a trip diary. The diary records how many trips-and how many miles-were eliminated. The profile will calculate how much gas, money and emissions were saved. This information is then compared with other challenge participants. The website will show the names of the top 10 trip-savers and will make available the total number of miles, gas and emissions the community saves as a whole.
Governor Huntsman and Mayors Ralph Becker and Peter Corroon say they are committed to reduce automobile emissions, and we believe them. Maybe in June you will pass them on their alternative commute as you bike your way to work.
Register online June 1-10 at www.cleartheairchallenge.com. You can also join the Clear the Air Challenge group on facebook.
Will the money-saving rebates for home weatherization efforts soon end? Not likely, but they are changing. Homeowners who have taken advantage of the deals on home insulation in the last few months have come out well, lowering their energy bills and paying next to nothing for the weatherization service due to the rebate deals. Rocky Mountain Power has noticed a drastic increase in contractors offering insulation services and whole neighborhoods with increased energy efficiency.
So now that the craze has swept in and insulating has become the cool new thing to do, Rocky Mountain Power and Questar are re-evaluating their rebate incentives. They are not taking them away entirely. These companies still want to see more homes become energy efficient, but homeowners will be contributing just a bit more than they have been to the overall cost of the weatherization procedure.
Questar has applied to lower their rebate offers and the Utah Public Service Commission has approved their application. As of May 2, 2009 most insulation service rebates have been reduced by about 15 cents per square foot. Attic and floor insulation rebates have dropped from $0.35 to $0.20 per square foot, and wall insulation from $0.45 to $0.30. Customers eligible for the rebates who installed the insulation by May 1 and apply for the rebate by June 30 will still receive the original rebate prices. All others will receive the revised rates.
Rocky Mountain Power has also applied for revised and lowered rebate prices with Utah’s Public Service Commission. They have not yet received approval for the changes, but if you are considering taking advantage of current rebates, it would be wise to act now. If approved, the rebate prices would change on June 2, 2009. Adjustments per square foot for electrically heated homes would be as follows: attic insulation $0.35 to $0.30, floor insulation $0.35 to $0.25, wall insulation would remain at $0.45. For gas heated homes: attic insulation $0.35 to $0.10, floor insulation $0.35 to $0.15. Floor insulation rebate would no longer be available.
To review Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal for changes: www.homeenergysavings.net/utah/notification.html.
To review Questar’s revised rebate offers: www.thermwise.com/home/Weatherization.html
Natural gas for school buses
A school bus that is environmentally friend and costs less to operate, who wouldn’t be excited about that? Sevier School District’s transportation supervisor Lynn Julander happens to be thrilled. The bus is the first in a rural Utah school district and Sevier is the third district in the state to use natural gas as a fuel alternative.
Studies by NGV America show that natural gas vehicles can reduce exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide by 70% and carbon dioxide by almost 20% below those of gasoline vehicles.
The bus was made possible by money from AAA’s Greenlight Initiative Grant Program. Also important has been the Chevron gas station in Richfield, one of only 25 locations in Utah where motorists can fill up with natural gas.