We exist to provide, promote, and advocate energy conservation.

RUSSIA REFUSES TO RATIFY KYOTO PROTOCOL

The Russian Government has indicated that it will not sign the Kyoto Protocol because it will hurt the country’s economy. The Kyoto Protocol, signed by many of the world’s nations at a conference in Japan in 1997, sets targets for countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are seen as a key factor behind global warming. To take effect, the pact requires ratification by a minimum of 55 countries, which must include the industrialized nations that accounted for at least 55 per-cent of that group’s carbon dioxide emissions in 1990. So far, industrialized nations that have signed on account for 44.2 per- cent of the 1990 emissions. Russia accounts for 17.4 per-cent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, so its ratification would push the group over the top. The United States has also pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol claiming that the accord would hurt the American economy. The U.S. is the leading polluter in the world and is responsible for 36 per-cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

On the same day that Russia made its announcement – the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a study stating that the effects of warmer temperatures are already visible and measurable. The study indicated - that based on temperature forecasts produced by over 2,000 international scientists – worldwide average temperatures will rise by a range of 2.5 degrees to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 unless dramatic action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

TOYOTA PRIUS RECEIVES CAR OF THE YEAR AWARD

Motor Trend magazine, the world’s #1 automotive authority announced the selection of the Toyota Prius (a gas/electric hybrid car) as the 2004 Car of the Year. Now in its 55th year, the title of Motor Trend Car of the Year is the most coveted and most recognized award in the automotive industry. “We realize the selection of a hybrid vehicle is going to stir controversy, but we believe the performance, engineering advancements, and overall significance of the Toyota Prius merits the distinction of Motor Trend’s car of the Year,” said Kevin Smith, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend. “The Prius is a capable, comfortable, fun-to-drive car that just happens to get spectacular fuel economy. It also provides a promising look at a future where extreme fuel-efficiency, ultra-low emissions, and exceptional performance will happily coexist. That makes it meaningful to a wide range of car buyers”.

The Toyota Prius competed with 26 other new vehicles from sports cars to minivans in a rigorous testing protocol that featured all types of weather and driving conditions. TheToyota Prius is powered by a combination gas and electric motor. The gasoline engine is used when cruising on the highway and the electric motor is used for low-speed driving. This results in significantly better gas mileage and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 50%. The Prius recovers energy while braking and this is used to charge the batteries so they do not need to be re-charged at a charging station.

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHTS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE SALES

According to the New York Times: “Sales of energy efficient compact fluorescent lights are the fastest-growing segment of the lighting market. But even in states like Wisconsin, where utilities have subsidized purchases of energy-efficient lighting for more than a decade, cheap incandescent light bulbs outsell the newer technology by a four to one margin. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that if every American homeowner simply replaced the incandescent lighting in his or her five most frequently used fixtures with compact fluorescents, the nation would save 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption – the equivalent of shutting down 21 power plants.

ENERGY TIP

  • Transportation accounts for over 30% of the energy used in Virginia. Here are some tips for saving money and energy with your vehicle.
  • Minimize idling – when idling you are getting 0 MPG.
  • Avoid quick acceleration – this delivers more fuel to the engine then can be burned.
  • Observe speed limits – high speed reduces fuel economy due to wind resistance.
  • Keep your car tuned up – a tune up can save 10% or more in fuel.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure – under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy.
  • Buy radial tires – radial tires give a 3-5% improvement in fuel economy.
  • Change your oil regularly – dirty oil will reduce fuel economy.
  • Take extra weight out of your vehicle – 100 lbs. can reduce mileage by ½ MPG.

AECP MAKES PLANS TO RE-LOCATE OFFICE

On November 6, 2003 the AECP Board of Directors unanimously passed a proposal to move the AECP office from Christiansburg to The Jacksonville Center in Floyd, Virginia. The Jacksonville Center is a small business incubator designed to promote economic development in the region by providing space and support for small businesses that embrace the arts, cultural heritage of the area, and environmental issues.

AECP has occupied an office space in Christiansburg for over three years and will officially move into its new space January 1, 2004. AECP will be sharing a space with Architectural Alternatives (AA) and also developing a partnership with AA to promote the development of a Sustainable Design Center at the Jacksonville Center. This project would involve bringing together resources, expertise, and funding to build a green and sustainable space that would be used for educating the public about energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, green building design and practices, and issues and concepts related to moving our communities into a more sustainable and healthy future. This idea is really an extension of the same ideas that AECP has promoted over the years – particularly with the Energy Fair and Expo.

The move will also benefit AECP by providing a significant reduction in monthly rent (over $200 per month), provide more visibility for the organization, increase potential for additional funding thru grants and donations, and increase our ability to forge new partnerships and resources that will enhance AECP’s mission.

RECENT PASSAGE OF FEDERAL BILL REDUCES WEATHERIZATION FUNDING

The House and Senate completed work on the 2003 Budget through passage of the Omnibus Bill. Weatherization funding was reduced in that bill to $225 million, which was much less than the President’s budget request of $277.1 million and below the House recommended amount of $250 million. This amount will be reduced further by a .65% across the board reduction in all Appropriations funding except Education and Veterans Affairs. What this means is bottom line – many thousands of homes will not be weatherized during the coming contract year.

AEP WILL REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS 4%

American Electric Power (AEP), the largest power generator and carbon dioxide emitter in the U.S. has established a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 4% by 2006. They hope to accomplish this goal by more efficient generation of power and more use of renewable resources, which will result in less emissions of carbon dioxide. AEP is also a member of the newly formed Chicago Climate Exchange where members trade credits allowing emissions production with a combined goal of cutting emissions by 4% over 4 years. The trading program allows some companies to exceed the reductions target and profit from selling credits, and other companies to purchase credits rather than making their own cuts. So AEP could also meet the 4% reduction goal by offsetting its emissions production through the purchase of credits.

BUSH THREATENS TO FURTHER WEAKEN CLEAN WATER ACT

The Bush Administration has issued policy guidelines that would remove environmental protection from many small streams, ponds, and wetlands that appear to be disconnected from major rivers and lakes – an area of water resources equivalent to 20 million acres.

What will happen if these waters are no longer protected?

  • More polluted waters.
  • Place sources of community drinking water at risk and increase treatment costs to remove pollutants.
  • Increased industrial discharge that will threaten public health.
  • Deplete drinking water resources.
  • Destroy many wetlands that are essential to the health of many aquatic species.
  • Increase flooding by destroying wetlands that are available to absorb excess floodwater.

Who will benefit from these proposed changes?

  • Developers will be able to fill wetlands and small streams without a Clean Water Act permit.
  • Mining companies, industries, factory farms, and sewage treatment plants will no longer need permits to dump wastes into these unprotected waters.

Water is a precious natural resource that needs to be protected - not ignored for economic gain.

ENERGY TIP

Plant a row of Norway Spruce – six feet apart – on the north and west side of your home. This will deflect winter wind and reduce home energy bills.

OCTOBER 30 IS WEATHERIZATION DAY

The U.S. Department of Energy has declared October 30, 2003 to be a national day of recognition for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The Weatherization Program is the oldest, largest, most comprehensive, and most effective residential energy conservation program in America. The mission of the program is to provide sophisticated energy conservation and efficiency services to low-income households across the United States thus insuring lower energy bills and safer, healthier, and more affordable housing. Households with elderly and/or handicapped residents, and families with children are given priority. Listed below is Weatherization program facts that show the impact of the program and certainly support the fact that “Weatherization Works”.

  • Weatherization (WX) operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and among Native American Tribes. Services are delivered to every county and City in the nation by approximately 970 local agencies.
  • WX expects to provide energy efficiency services to more than 95,000 homes in 2003 and since its inception; the program has weatherized nearly 5 million homes.
  • Basic services include blower door directed air sealing, heating system efficiency and safety inspections, heating system repair and/or replacement, duct system diagnostics and repair, pressure testing, complete insulation services, carbon monoxide testing, indoor air quality measures, energy education, and in some cases – low-flow water device installation and energy efficient lighting applications.
  • For every $1 invested in the Program, WX creates $1.78 in energy related benefits and an additional $1.88 in non-energy related benefits that include reduced environmental and health costs. So for every dollar invested there is a total of $3.66 returned.
  • WX reduces average annual energy costs by $218 per household, at current energy prices.
  • WX reduces energy demand and decreases the environmental impacts of energy production. WX services reduces carbon dioxide emissions by one metric ton, on average, in every weatherized home. Other harmful greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide are also reduced.
  • Weatherization saves lives on a daily basis. Heating system safety inspections, chimney inspections, carbon monoxide testing, insulation services, blower door directed air sealing, and household pressure testing are responsible for saving lives and reducing health problems and costs – every day across the country.

OCTOBER IS ENERGY AWARENESS MONTH

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has established October as Energy Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Energy Efficiency: Good for you. Good for the country.” DOE is encouraging all individuals to practice conservation and efficiency in their homes and in their daily lives. This effort will lead to increased energy supply and improve our national energy security.

THE VIRGINIA WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL YEAR

The Virginia Weatherization Program, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, weatherized 1,474 homes between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003. Services are provided by 22 local agencies around the state. Of the 1,474 homes weatherized – 700 contained elderly individuals, 811 contained handicapped, and 940 were occupied by families with children.

LOCAL AGENCY WINS NATIONAL WARD

The New River Center for Energy Research and Training (NRCERT) was presented the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2003 National Recognition Award at the national DOE conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The award was presented to NRCERT “for creating innovative approaches to Weatherization training that brings instruction to the local level where it builds professional capacity and promotes peer-to-peer exchange”.

NRCERT is located in Christiansburg, VA and is a component of Community Housing Partners Corporation, who also provide weatherization services in Southwest and Northern Virginia. NRCERT has provided comprehensive weatherization training services throughout Virginia and is also now providing training services to Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas and will soon be involved in Tennessee and Alabama.

Bill Beachy is manager of NRCERT and is assisted in training services by Anthony Cox, Lil Weston, and John Langford.

COMMUNITY HOUSING PARTNERS COMMITS TO PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABILITY

Community Housing Partners Corporation (CHPC) staged a kick-off event on October 1 and 2 that declared its intention to adopt its own principles of sustainability in their pursuit of community development and company practices. The kick-off included a dinner, a training and workshop on sustainability practices, and a Cornerstone Event at the Tekoa Boys Home in Christiansburg, Virginia. The laying of the cornerstone at the new Tekoa Boys Homes was particularly significant because this new green and sustainable building will also be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Tekoa, Inc. is a residential treatment facility for adolescents in the New River Valley of Virginia. CHPC’s is acting as the general contractor for the construction of the new home and CHPC’s architecture staff designed the building and site using LEED guidelines.

CHPC’s seven principles of sustainability are:

  1. Recognize our interdependence with all things in the world.
  2. Use nature as a model. Restore and enhance natural systems.
  3. Save energy and use resources efficiently.
  4. Eliminate the concept of waste – reuse, reduce, and recycle.
  5. Create and use safe objects of long-term value.
  6. Ensure economic vitality and build quality of community.
  7. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.

Community Housing Partners Corporation has been a leader in providing weatherization services, building and rehabilitating single and multi-family housing, sheltering and educating at-risk youth, and creating and managing innovative financial services for low-income families all across Virginia. CHPC has been a community- based organization for over 25 years and has its main office in Christiansburg, VA.

ORGANIC FARMING COUNTERS GREENHOUSE GASES

After 23 years of field studies on organic farming practices, researchers at the Rodale Institute have announced new findings that have very significant implications in the battle against global warming. These studies have successfully documented that organic soils actually scrub the atmosphere of global warming gases by capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide and converting it into soil material. Through a process called carbon sequestration, plants and soils act as “sinks” for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon “sequestered” in vegetation and soil is not readily released as carbon dioxide thus providing a significant boost in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

While the positive effects of “carbon sinks” has been known for some time, this research provides the most definitive, long-term evidence about organic agriculture’s asset as a tool against global warming.

AWARENESS ON WATER EFFICIENCY

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning a water efficient product- labeling program that is based on their successful Energy Star program. Water-efficient products that meet or exceed current standards can reduce home water use by 30%. An effective product- labeling program would create public awareness as well as encouraging consumers to purchase these products. Water shortages are becoming commonplace in the world and this problem exists even without drought conditions.

WORLD POPULATION AWARENESS WEEK

October 20-25, 2003 is World Population Awareness Week, which is an educational campaign, sponsored by the Population Institute, designed to create public awareness about the startling trends in world population growth, the effects this will have on the planet and its inhabitants, and the urgent need for action.

Over the next 20 years, the world’s population will increase from six billion to an estimated 7.2 billion, while the world’s water supply will decrease by one third.

ENERGY TIP

Practice water conservation:

  • Shorter showers
  • Flush less often
  • Repair water leaks
  • Wash clothes efficiently
  • Use low flow water devices
  • Collect and use rainwater
  • Use mulch around trees
  • Wash cars sensibly
  • Wash dishes efficiently
  • Don’t leave water running
  • Do not overfill bathtub
  • Recycle leftover water
  • Insulate hot water pipes

AECP CONCLUDES 4TH ANNUAL ENERGY EXPO

The AECP Energy Expo, which was held at the Roanoke Civic Center on September 12 and 13, was by all accounts a major success. Over 1,000 people attended the two-day educational event. There were over 40 diverse and interactive exhibits and demonstrations. Almost 400 students and teachers attended the Expo on Friday where they received a special presentation on renewable energy in the Civic Center Auditorium. The presentation was conducted by Jonathan Miles and Matthew Heck representing the Integrated Science and Technology Dept. at James Madison University and the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative respectively. The students and teachers then enjoyed the exhibits in the Exhibit Hall. The sixth grade science classes particularly enjoyed the Energy Cycle, The House of Pressure, Virginia Save Our Streams, and a water conservation demonstration by the City of Roanoke. The high school classes were very interested in the alternative fuel vehicles on display – the hybrid gas-electric Honda Civic, the hybrid hydrogen-electric Ford Explorer, and the all- electric GEO Tracker.

Special thanks to all AECP members – including Lil Weston, John Bodtmann, Bill Beachy, Anthony Cox, Joanne Langford, John Langford and his crew, Chris Heslep and his crew, Bill Craig, Linda Rayner, Tom Daniel, John Saunders, and Melissa Commins for all of their hard work. And many thanks to Gini Cooper, Carol Beachy, and Judy Weitzenfeld for handling registration and door prizes.

NITROGEN OVERLOAD PREVENTS CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM IMPROVING WATER QUALITY

Nearly 300 million pounds of nitrogen enters the Chesapeake Bay every year. The sources of this nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake watershed are agriculture runoff, sewage treatment plants discharge, and air pollution. Nitrogen pollution is seriously undermining any efforts to restore natural resources to the Bay – such as underwater grasses, crabs, and oysters.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has launched the Chesapeake Clean Water Campaign, which is a multi-year initiative to cut in half the overall amount of nitrogen that is entering the Bay. Check out www.cbf.org and see how you can help clean up our national treasure – the Chesapeake Bay.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WEAKENS CLEAN AIR ACT

On August 27, 2003 the Bush Administration signed a ruling that creates a loophole, which will exempt power plants from the Clean Air Act protection that requires older factories to install modern pollution control technologies when making changes or upgrades that increase the pollution they produce. Power plant and other industrial polluters can replace huge pieces of their factories without installing readily available modern technology to curb the soot and smog pollution that endangers our communities. The Clean Air Act had previously required older power plants to install modern pollution control equipment whenever a major upgrade was being undertaken. The Bush Administration maintains that the old rules prevented power plants from making needed improvements that will ultimately make the plants more efficient. Common sense would dictate that saving the big corporations a few dollars is not as important as all the lives that will be saved by requiring old power plants to clean up their act.

NEW ELECTRIC RANGES USE INDUCTION TO INCREASE EFFICIENCY

A new electric kitchen range being developed uses magnetic induction to provide superior cooking performance at increased energy efficiency on a surface that doesn’t get hot. This unit has an energy efficiency of 92% versus 72% for the standard radiant electric range.

Induction ranges generate a high frequency, alternating current magnetic field to heat an iron-based cooking pan through a ceramic-glass cooking surface. This keeps the cooking surface cool, which will help to reduce household air-conditioning loads as well as providing residential customers with an induction range that is faster, safer, easier to clean, and very responsive to controls.

DOE AWARDS $23 MILLION FOR BIOMASS RESEARCH

The Dept. of Energy (DOE) has selected 19 biomass research projects and awarded these a total of $23 million dollars. Biomass is organic matter from plants or animals that is renewable and can be converted to biomass fired energy systems and biofuels that can power vehicles and fuel cells. Biomass is a rapidly growing renewable energy resource and several of these newly funded projects are aimed at developing “biorefineries”, which are industrial complexes that convert a wide range of biomass materials into biobased products and fuels.

ENERGY TIP

Its time to have your heating system cleaned, tuned, and tested for maximum efficiency and safety. Be sure to inspect all chimneys and vent pipes to insure proper and efficient venting of all flue gases.

AECP SPONSORS 4TH ANNUAL ENERGY EXPO

AECP will sponsor its 4th annual Energy Expo on September 12 and 13 at the Roanoke Civic Center. The Expo is a continuing effort to provide energy education to the general public about why it is important to save energy and then – through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops – show how this can be achieved in the home and/or business. Admission to the Expo is free. Exhibits will include weatherization, hybrid cars, fuel cell technology, green building, solar energy, wind energy, recycling, water conservation, indoor air quality, insulation products and services, geothermal heat pumps, energy efficient equipment, products, appliances, and services, energy efficient lighting, land conservation, rainwater harvesting, and much more. Times are 10 to 8 on Friday and 10 to 6 on Saturday.

This year we will be providing the following workshops and seminars:

  • Friday, September 12 from 1-5 in the afternoon: “Partnering for Sustainable Design”. Richard Price, a nationally known architect and a partner with the Folsom Group will be leading an interactive discussion on developing a successful integrated design process using green building guidelines. There is a fee of $30 for AECP members and a $35 fee for non-members. Please contact VaHEN at 703-486-2966 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for additional information and/or to register.
  • Saturday, September 13 from 10 to noon and from 2 to 4: “Come Home to Health”. Chuk Bowles, a nationally recognized expert, will present on indoor air quality; making your home healthier; how to address moisture and mold problems; and improving your home heating, cooling, and ventilation systems to be safer and more efficient. These sessions are Free to the general public and are being sponsored by the American Lung Association, AECP, and the Virginia Housing and Environment Network (VaHEN).
  • Ongoing on both days: A demonstration featuring the “Energy Cycle”, which is an interactive workshop that uses bicycle power to illustrate energy production and use.
  • Ongoing on both days: “The House of Pressure”, with nationally recognized expert, Anthony Cox, will be displayed and will show the energy and health problems related to pressure differentials that exist in every home.

On Friday, September 12, AECP will be sponsoring a special presentation on renewable energy presented by James Madison University that will be given to public school science classes. The presentation will help satisfy Science Standards of Learning requirements and we expect a total of 500 students and teachers from three different school systems to participate. After the presentation the students and teachers will spend time enjoying the many exhibits at the Energy Expo. Roanoke City will also be conducting their annual Hazardous Material Collection Day on September 13 in the Roanoke Civic Center parking lot in front of the Exhibit Hall where the Expo will be taking place. So it will be a very active event this year and we expect a great improvement in attendance.

So mark your calendars, plan on attending the Expo and please spread the word to friends, family, and co-workers about this important event.

EPA PLANS TO REPEAL A KEY SECTION OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT

The Bush Administration, in defiance of Congress, is on the verge of ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal a section in the Clean Air Act called the “New Resource Review” - that will in effect allow thousands of industrial sites, which includes hundreds of old coal fired power plants to make major upgrades without installing new pollution controls, as currently required by law. Emissions from these old coal fired plants are responsible for massive amounts of pollutants that increase global warming, cause smog and acid rain, and create fine particulates in the air that cause severe respiratory problems and even death.

THERE IS A SOLUTION TO POWER SYSTEM BLACKOUTS

President Bush hit the nail on the head when, in response to the massive blackouts on August 14, he declared, “It’s a wake-up call”. Although he was referring to modernizing the electric delivery system – the true wake up call is that as a nation we must be more efficient in how we use our energy resources. This is the only real solution to an increase in electricity demands and an overloaded electric grid. If everyone used compact fluorescent lights in their high use lamps, kept their heating and cooling systems maintained for maximum efficiency, purchased Energy Star appliances, increased home insulation levels, and demanded that their local utilities provide electric power from renewable resources – guess what? There would be no overloaded systems, everyone would still be able to satisfy their electric power needs, the environment would be better off, and slowing the demand would slow the rising costs. A wake up call indeed!

SUMMER INCREASES OZONE SMOG LEVELS

With the summer season at hand, many people are headed outdoors for more exercise, recreation, and relaxation in the warm sunny weather. So as summer brings greater outdoor enjoyment it can also increase ozone smog, which can cause dangerous health problems that can affect even healthy adults.

Ozone, or smog, is a gas that is a form of oxygen. It is created by the action of sunlight on hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that are produced by the combustion of fuel – such as automobile exhaust and power generation produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Ozone smog reacts chemically with internal body tissues that it comes in contact with and can cause short-term and long-term health problems including shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing. Repeated exposure to ozone may lead to large reductions in lung function, inflammation of the lung lining, and increased respiratory malfunction. The American Lung Association (ALA) states, “Because it takes heat to produce smog, levels will be increasing throughout the summer months. During this season, we want you to be aware of the outdoor air that you are breathing, and take necessary precautions to protect yourself from any breathing problems high smog levels can cause”. To protect yourself from ozone and to keep ozone levels down, the ALA suggest the following:

  • Keep track of daily ozone levels by checking Air Quality Index (AQI) information during ozone smog season. This information is available at www.epa.gov/airnow.
  • Pay special attention to the AQI if you or a family member is a child or is elderly or has a chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema.
  • Limit outdoor exercise during high smog ozone level days.
  • Do not use your lawnmower or outdoor grille when smog levels are high.
  • Fill up your gas tank after sundown.
  • Limit trips in your car; carpool whenever possible.
  • Limit use of outdoor power equipment when smog levels are high.
  • Support strong pollution control laws – both state wide and nationally.

For more information about outdoor air pollution and lung health, call the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit www.lungusa.org.

NISOURCE INC. COMMITS $100,000 TO HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE FUND

The charitable foundation, NISource Inc., which is the parent of Columbia Gas of Virginia has contributed $20,000 to Virginia’s Home Energy Assistance Fund (HEAF). This contribution is the first installment in a five-year commitment to provide $100,000 to the fund. The HEAF is set up to provide supplemental funding to the LIHEAP and Weatherization programs in Virginia. This is the first funding provided to HEAF and can be attributed, in part, to AECP’s efforts to publicize and promote the purpose of the fund through its legislative work on behalf of low-income families.

GREEN CHEMISTRY PRODUCES “PLASTIC” FROM RENEWABLE RESOURCES

Manufacturers have produced a biopolymer packaging product from corn. This is based on a process that harvests carbon that has been removed from the air by corn plants during photosynthesis and stored in grain starches. This carbon, combined with other natural sugars, is then used to produce a natural, compostable plastic. Plastic packaging is normally a petroleum-based product that is harmful to the environment as trash because it is not biodegradable and is another process that increases our dependence on imported oil. Using renewable resources such as corn and other agricultural products to produce an alternative to traditional packaging containers and processes is an important step towards an environmentally friendly and sustainable future.

NATURAL GAS PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE

Demand for natural gas is increasing dramatically while prices are continuing to soar. It is projected that natural gas prices will increase by 20% as we enter the winter season. This also means that electricity prices will increase because many of the nation’s power generators use natural gas as fuel. An energy crisis is always hardest on low-income families and those who struggle to pay their energy bills but a crisis can also create awareness about the need for conservation and greater efficiency. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham commenting on the crisis during a tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory stated that “individuals can also play an important role in reducing energy usage. Conserving energy in the home saves consumers money while also helping ensure abundant energy supplies in the future”.

VIRGINIA ENERGY CHOICE

In 1999, the Virginia General Assembly enacted into law, the Virginia Electric Utility Restructuring Act. This new law is restructuring the electric utility industry and will allow consumers the opportunity to shop for their suppliers of electricity. Consumers will be able to choose, from different suppliers, who they want to provide electricity to their home. The transmission and distribution of electricity will continue to be provided by your current supplier. Only the generation of power will be open to competition. The idea is that free market competition will produce lower prices and better service. It is important to realize, though, that true choice will only occur if there really is a competitive marketplace.

Beginning in 2004, all consumers in Virginia will have the opportunity to participate in choosing your utility provider. In order to make the most educated choice and to better understand the process involved – the Virginia State Corporation Commission has developed an educational program, designed for consumers, called Virginia Energy Choice. You are not required to choose a new supplier and if you want to remain with your current distribution company then you don’t have to do anything. If you want to make a switch then Virginia Energy Choice can help you:

  • Shop for a new energy supplier
  • Compare and understand prices that are being offered
  • Obtain information about potential suppliers.
  • Learn how to read and understand the new itemized bill that every consumer will be receiving no matter who your supplier is.
  • Learn what your rights and responsibilities are under the new law.
  • Obtain information about aggregation and how you may be able to obtain lower prices by being a member of a buying group.
  • Learn how to identify and understand the different offers, services, contract terms, and the sources of energy that may be presented by different suppliers.

Take advantage of this free educational program and become a smart energy shopper. For more detailed information call 1-877-YES-2004 or go to their website at www.yesvachoice.com .

AECP HOLDS ANNUAL MEETING ON JUNE 19

AECP will be conducting its annual membership meeting on Thursday, June 19, 2003 at 1:00 p.m. at the Ramada Inn in Virginia Beach. The meeting will be preceded by a lunch hosted by Conservation Strategies. We will conduct normal business at the meeting but we will also have two presentations by David Lundt, with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, on Asbestos and Hazardous Communications. All AECP members are welcome to attend.

LOW PRODUCTION KEEPS NATURAL GAS PRICES HIGH

Natural gas prices, which were 30% higher this winter than the previous winter, have remained high due to sluggish production. Current prices are twice as high, at this time of year, than last year. The Energy Information Administration predicts that prices will remain high and even increase over the next 3-4 years. This means that electricity customers will experience rate increases because more than 90% of power plants built since the mid 1990’s run on natural gas. (Virginia’s electricity rates are capped until 2007 due to restructuring.) Tight supplies leave the natural gas market vulnerable to huge price spikes and sudden increased demand due to severe weather conditions.

WIND POWER EXPECTED TO GROW BY 25% IN COMING YEAR

The American Wind Energy Association recently reported that the U.S. wind energy industry would increase capacity by 25% - from 4,700 Megawatts to 6,000 Megawatts. This means that 1.5 million homes will be served nationwide. This growth of clean, renewable energy power is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak and troubled energy sector.

ENERGY TIP

Air conditioners in cars manufactured before 1994 use a refrigerant called CFC-12, which is a chlorofluorocarbon that damages the ozone layer. CFC-12 has been banned worldwide. The law does not require this refrigerant to be replaced but if your air conditioner needs repairs or maintenance – then discuss the opportunity to replace this refrigerant with your mechanic.

EARTH DAY 2003 THEME IS “WATER FOR LIFE”

April 22 was celebrated as Earth Day 2003. The theme this year is “Water for Life”. Water is a precious natural resource that sustains all forms of life but it is also directly related to energy conservation. Energy pumps, purifies, and heats water for home, commercial, and industrial use. So saving energy will save water and saving water will save energy. Here is a list of facts and concerns about water, courtesy of the Earth Day Network that should make everyone concerned and interested in how to conserve water more effectively.

  • Since 1950, the global use of water has more than tripled.
  • By 2025, it is predicted that 3.5 billion people worldwide will experience water shortages.
  • In developing nations, 80% of illnesses are related to the access to plentiful supplies of clean water.
  • Groundwater levels have reached an all-time low on every continent.
  • Global warming is likely to affect our supply of freshwater resources.
  • Burning fossil fuels to produce energy causes acid rain that contaminates our waterways.
  • Household water leaks account for over two billion gallons of lost water.
  • Storm-water run-off from city streets contains metals, oils, and other pollutants that regularly contaminate groundwater supplies.
  • More than one billion people in the world do not have access to safe water.
  • Over three million people in the world die each year as a result of preventable water related disease.

Depressing information and statistics, no doubt, but indicative of the severity of the problem. Remember that leadership begins at home and if we all practice water conservation in our own households then we will take a big step towards making “Water for Life” a way of life.

FORD INTRODUCES THE FIRST HYBRID SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE

The Ford Motor Company is highlighting its commitment to hybrid technology at the New York International Auto Show by introducing the Escape Hybrid SUV. The new Ford Escape will combine the cargo capacity and four- wheel drive of other SUV vehicles but the fuel economy and emission benefits of a full hybrid system. The new Escape will feature an advanced thermal management system that will result in longer battery life, better acceleration performance when the vehicle is in pure electric mode, and more efficient power-train operation. The vehicle will get 35-40 miles per gallon and acceleration performance comparable to a 201 horsepower V-6 engine. Ford also announced that the Ford Futura, a compact hybrid vehicle would be available in 2005.

Hybrid vehicles are combination electric and gas vehicles. They recover energy while braking and this is used to charge the batteries. While cruising on the highway the gasoline engine is used. But for low-speed driving, such as bumper- to- bumper traffic, the electric motor becomes the sole source and can propel the vehicle without the help of the gas engine. This results in significantly better gas mileage and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 50%.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

  • AECP Board Meeting Christiansburg, VA
    May 8, 2003
  • WX Interchange
    Virginia Beach, VA
    June 16, 2003
  • AECP Annual Meeting
    Virginia Beach, VA
    June 19, 2003

    AECP Energy Expo
    Roanoke, VA
    September 12, 13, 2003
  • Virginia Energy Fair
    Richmond, VA
    October 10, 11, 2003

DOE TO FUND RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS ON NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBAL LANDS

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it is providing $1.3 million to eight different Native American tribes to advance the development of renewable energy technology. Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy, stated, “we are committed to helping Native American tribes develop clean, affordable, and reliable energy options. These projects encourage tribal self-sufficiency, help create jobs, improve our environmental quality and make our nation more secure.” The projects include feasibility studies on wind, solar and bio-fuel power projects.

ENERGY TIP

With warm weather approaching be sure to have your central air conditioning systems serviced by a professional. Make sure that both indoor and outdoor coils are cleaned and inspected, the refrigerant charge is checked, and that the airflow over the indoor coil is checked. Annual inspections are essential to having a safe and efficient cooling system.

AECP WILL HOLD 4TH ANNUAL ENERGY EXPO

AECP will conduct its 4th annual Energy Expo (formerly Energy Conservation Fair) at the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia on September 12 and 13. The theme and purpose of the event remain the same – to educate the general public on the importance and necessity of energy conservation and then providing opportunities through exhibits and demonstrations to show how this can be achieved in the home and/or business. Initial funding support is being provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. The exhibits will include green building, sustainability issues, pressure diagnostics, fuel cells, hybrid and electric vehicles, wind power, solar energy, weatherization, recycling, water conservation, energy efficient lighting, building science, indoor air quality, geothermal heat pumps, Energy Star, and energy efficient appliances, equipment, products, and services. Our goal this year is to significantly increase attendance at the event. So we encourage all AECP members to actively help promote the Expo and help support our efforts to educate the general public on existing opportunities to save money, save energy, and save our environment.

SENATE REJECTS EFFORT TO DRILL FOR OIL IN ARTIC

The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 52-48, defeated an effort by the Bush Administration to open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling for oil. Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, stated that “Americans are concerned about national security, but drilling in the Artic will do nothing to alleviate these fears. Artic drilling would not put a dent in our dependence on foreign oil, would do nothing to strengthen our national security, and would not save consumers a dime. We cannot drill our way to energy dependence.” Government estimates indicate that there is less than a six-month supply of oil in the Artic Refuge and that it would take ten years to reach U.S. markets. The National Academy of Science in a recently released study on the cumulative effects of drilling in the Artic – reaffirmed the negative impacts that drilling has already caused in the Artic area and provided further evidence that the Artic Refuge needs to be protected.

BERKELEY NATIONAL LAB TESTS ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING CONTROL SYSTEM

Berkeley National Laboratories in partnership with engineers at the Watt Stopper, Inc. is conducting research to determine more efficient lighting use in the hotel industry. Research has shown that bathroom lights in hotels are left on over eight hours a day in occupied rooms. Watt Stopper, Inc. is developing an occupancy sensor that will turn the bathroom lights off when they are not in use. The sensor replaces the standard wall switch. It is set to turn off the light after one hour. An energy efficient light-emitting diode night- light provides illumination, eliminating the need to leave bathroom lights on throughout the night. The potential national energy saving impact of this sensor is tremendous.

THE VWEC HOLDS FIRST ANNUAL VIRGINIA WIND ENERGY WORKSHOP

The Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative (VWEC), an organization sponsored by James Madison University’s (JMU) College of Integrated Science and Technology, held the first annual Virginia Wind Energy Workshop on March 21 at JMU’s campus in Harrisonburg, Va. The theme of the workshop was developing utility scale wind projects in Virginia. The workshop involved educators, industry reps, landowners, energy professionals, and environmental groups. There were presentations that included discussing Virginia’s wind energy resources, current marketing demands, the unveiling of a new wind energy resource map for Virginia, how a large utility scale project is developed, and concerns of environmentalists about bird safety and overall site development issues. There were question and answer opportunities after each presentation. The Workshop was an excellent informational and educational event that promoted Wind Power as a viable and renewable energy resource. The Workshop received funding and logistical support from the U.S. Dept. of Energy and also the Virginia Dept. of Mines, Minerals, and Energy.

ENERGY TIP

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22! Find and participate in an Earth Day event in your community. Show your support for cleaner, smarter, and healthier energy use. Check out www.earthday.net and get additional information on Earth Day and also on any events that may be happening in your area.