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

DELEGATE ALMAND WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION

Delegate James F. Almand, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 1978, will not seek re-election this coming fall. Delegate Almand, 55, is a long time supporter of and advocate for the Virginia Weatherization Assistance Program. He chaired the Energy Preparedness Sub-committee and worked closely with AECP in securing alternative funding for the Virginia Weatherization Program. Delegate Almand was Chief Patron of House Bill 675 in 1996 that directed at least 7.5 % of all Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding be allocated to the Virginia Weatherization Program. This resulted in millions of dollars of additional funding for the program and helped to offset the 50% cut in federal funds that the program had just received. In 1997, Almand was the sponsor of a budget amendment that attempted to overturn the Virginia Department of Social Service’s (DSS) decision to end the partnership with the Weatherization Program (WAP) that allowed the WAP program to be the sole contractor for the Crisis/Heating System Program – a program administered by DSS. This budget amendment was strictly out of concern for the welfare of thousands of low-income citizens across the Commonwealth. In 1998, Delegate Almand was the Chief Patron of House Bill 1103 that raised the 7.5% LIHEAP allocation to 15% and again resulted in a very significant increase in overall funding for the WAP. This LIHEAP allocation remains today – the core funding for the Virginia WAP. Delegate Almand’s willingness to fight for the Virginia WAP has resulted in thousands of additional homes being weatherized, which in turn, has helped low-income families enjoy safer, healthier, and more affordable homes. Delegate Almand will be sorely missed especially during a time when programs and services to low-income citizens are in great jeopardy due to budget shortfalls and a tax cut fervor that is prevalent in the General Assembly. We wish Mr. Almand the very best and we honor and respect his outstanding record of public service.

WEATHERIZATION AND LIHEAP FUNDING LEVELS SET

President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2003 on February 20, approving $1.8 billion in regular grant funding for LIHEAP and $225 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The LIHEAP funds represent a $100 million increase over 2002 funding levels and the WAP funding represents a cut of $5 million from its 2002 funding level. Both funding levels are subject to a federally mandated 0.65 percent across the board reduction in appropriations.

GASOLINE AND HEATING FUEL PRICES SKYROCKET

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the price of unleaded gasoline hit near record levels in February – averaging $1.66 per gallon. As the spring driving season begins, the EIA predicts a national average of $1.76 per gallon. Natural gas prices will average 79 percent above last winter’s prices and home heating oil has increased 60 % over last year’s winter prices.

ADVANCEMENTS IN BATTERY TECHNOLOGY PROMISE GREAT THINGS FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Several companies, including ZAP, Valence Technology, and DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory, have announced breakthroughs in lithium-ion battery technology that could greatly increase the range of today’s electric vehicles (EV). Lithium-ion batteries, which have been generally used for cell phones and other low power applications, can store four times as much energy as a standard lead-acid battery. This new technology could extend the range of an EV from 60 miles to 240 miles per charge. So a motorist driving an EV could go a much greater distance before the necessity of re-charging the battery pack. The potential of EVs is that they could provide transportation that produces no exhaust emissions from the vehicle.

GLOBAL WIND POWER SEES RECORD GROWTH IN 2002

Worldwide wind power capacity was increased by 28 % last year. Global wind power capacity has quadrupled over the past five years. Wind is the world’s fastest growing energy source and currently wind power supplies approximately 0.4 % of world electricity demand. The countries with the most wind power capacity are Germany – the largest, with just over 12,000 MW (megawatts) – followed by Spain, the United States, Denmark, and India. Wind power represents a clean, renewable energy resource that will significantly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels as primary energy sources.

ENERGY TIP

The month of March is a great time to plant trees. Trees can shade your house in summer and provide a windbreak in the winter. Both situations can help reduce residential heating and cooling expense. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide – a dangerous greenhouse gas and can help prevent Global Warming

ALA “AIRS TRUTH ABOUT INDOOR AIR POLLUTION”

The American Lung Association (ALA) in partnership with 3M Industries is offering a booklet filled with tips to help reduce exposure to pollutants and allergens in the home. The booklet entitled “Breathe Easier: Home”, can be obtained free of charge by calling 1-800-388-3458 or by sending an e-mail with your name and address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This booklet will increase in importance when you consider these facts:

  • EPA ranks poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health.
  • Levels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.
  • Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors.
  • Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced years after exposure.
  • Asthma, which can be triggered by indoor air pollution, costs our nation $14 billion in health care costs annually.
  • Here are several tips that can be found in the booklet, “Breathe Easier: Home”:
  • Run the furnace fan continuously, regardless of the outdoor temperature. This is the only way that the furnace filter can catch indoor particles.
  • Check flues and chimneys for blockages and cracks that allow fumes to enter the home. Make sure the chimney has a good draft up the flue.
  • Test your home for Radon.
  • Make sure that all combustion appliances are vented properly to the outside.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 35-55 percent relative humidity to prevent mold growth.
  • Use a high efficiency furnace filter and change it every two to three months.
  • Make sure to clean and maintain humidifiers and de-humidifiers since they can be breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.

BACHARACH INTRODUCES NEW COMBUSTIBLE GAS INDICATOR

Bacharach, Inc., a world leader in gas detection since 1927 has recently introduced to the market the GAS HUNTER – a compact, easy to use instrument that performs the functions of seven individual instruments. The GAS HUNTER can sniff out combustible gases from part per million levels to 100 percent by volume, it also monitors ambient Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide presence, as well as measuring draft in flues and setting appliance manifold pressures. For more detailed information on the GAS HUNTER or other Bacharach products, call 1-800-736-4666 or visit their website at www.bacharach-inc.com.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES – ARE THEY PRACTICAL?

The first electric car was built in 1891. By the turn of the century, there were twice as many electric vehicles (EV) as gas powered cars. There are almost 11,000 EVs in the U.S. today. But the same problem remains – an efficient battery. EVs must have batteries that can be recharged continuously. Most batteries can’t store large amounts of electricity so EVs must carry as many batteries as possible – sometimes accounting for half the weight of the vehicle. EVs are not for long-distance driving and typically can only travel 50-130 miles between charges. Research is being done to develop advanced batteries that could double the range of EVs. Electric vehicles are low-maintenance and produce no tailpipe emissions. But making the electricity to charge them is still a problem because over 90% of the electricity generated in America is the result of the burning of fossil fuels.

REASONS NOT TO DRILL FOR OIL IN THE ARTIC

  • The U.S. Geological Survey states that there is only a six-month supply of recoverable oil.
  • Any oil discovered in the Artic would not be available for at least 10 years.
  • Drilling for oil will destroy the unique plants on which caribou, musk oxen, wolves, polar bears, and other animals depend for survival.
  • You cannot drill for oil without spilling oil. Prudhoe Bay oil fields suffer over 400 spills a year.
  • Higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles would save more oil within ten years than could ever be produced by Artic drilling.

AECP BILL DEFEATED IN COMMITTEE

The Commerce and Trade Committee of the Virginia General Assembly failed to report out the AECP legislative proposal – House Bill 2317 – by a vote of 12 – 10. This means that the bill is dead for this year. This occurred on January 30 in Richmond. The close vote represents a solid opportunity to re-introduce the bill next year. The political environment of this years General Assembly - in which all bills that even resemble a tax are being killed by the Republican majority – made it very difficult for success. We made a good effort and even had some Republicans on the committee vote in favor of the bill.

This battle is far from being over and every year we make a little more progress and take another step in the right direction. Many thanks to all of those who contacted your legislators in support of House Bill 2317. And much appreciation to Delegate Ken Plum who was the Chief Patron of the bill. He fought very hard on behalf of the proposal.

PRESIDENT BUSH ANNOUCES FREEDOM FUEL INITIATIVE

President Bush announced in his State of the Union address on January 28 a $1.2 billion dollar Freedom Fuel Initiative which will hopefully begin to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil. The Initiative will develop technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen powered fuel cells – a way to power cars, trucks, homes, and businesses. Freedom Fuel will invest $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure needed to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation. Fuel cells produce no pollution and no greenhouse gases. The $720 million will combine with funding available under the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Auto Research) initiative to develop hydrogen powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.

The Freedom Fuel Initiative will attempt to overcome the following key technical and cost barriers:

  • Lowering the cost of hydrogen: Currently, hydrogen is four times more expensive to produce than gasoline.
  • Creating effective storage: Current hydrogen storage systems are inadequate for use in the wide range of vehicles that consumers demand.
  • Creating affordable hydrogen fuel cells: Currently, fuel cells are ten times more expensive than internal combustion engines.

Vehicles are a significant source of air pollution in America. Over 30% of oil consumption in the U.S. is a result of vehicle usage. Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power cars without producing any pollution. Hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit of weight of any know fuel and when burned in an engine, hydrogen produces effectively zero emissions. Its only waste product is water vapor. Hydrogen can be produced from abundant domestic resources including natural gas, coal, biomass, and even water. Combined with other technologies such as carbon capture and storage, renewable energy and fusion energy, fuel cells could make an emissions-free energy future possible.

MAGNEHELIC GAUGES ARE DISCONTINUED

Effective December 31, 2002, magnehelic gauges will no longer be offered as an instrumentation option for the Minneapolis Blower Door System. These gauges have been a part of the Minneapolis Blower Door product line for over 20 years. They provided a low cost gauge for basic test applications. As Blower Door technicians have become more sophisticated, they have demanded more accurate and versatile gauges for their Blower Doors. The Energy Conservatory (TEC) has responded by developing digital pressure gauges and the Automated Performance Testing system. Both of these options provide increased Blower Door test precision and ability to accurately measure the small pressure changes needed to conduct building performance tests. A limited number of magnehelic gauges will be available from TEC to replace defective units.

BILL INTRODUCED TO CLOSE LIGHT TRUCK LOOPHOLE

On January 30, Senators Feinstein and Snowe introduced a bill that raises the average fuel economy of light trucks to match car fuel economy by the year 2011, and also requires that vehicles between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds meet fuel economy standards for the first time. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), this bill would reduce the fuel consumption of SUVs, vans, and pickups by one million barrels of oil a day by 2016.

ENERGY TIP

Take advantage of “off-peak” hours. Electricity costs may be less at times of day when demand is slow. Ask your utility when these “off-peak” hours are and plan to use appliances at these times.

ALA “AIRS TRUTH ABOUT INDOOR AIR POLLUTION”

The American Lung Association (ALA) in partnership with 3M Industries is offering a booklet filled with tips to help reduce exposure to pollutants and allergens in the home. The booklet entitled “Breathe Easier: Home”, can be obtained free of charge by calling 1-800-388-3458 or by sending an e-mail with your name and address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This booklet will increase in importance when you consider these facts:

  • EPA ranks poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health.
  • Levels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.
  • Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors.
  • Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced years after exposure.
  • Asthma, which can be triggered by indoor air pollution, costs our nation $14 billion in health care costs annually.
  • Here are several tips that can be found in the booklet, “Breathe Easier: Home”:
  • Run the furnace fan continuously, regardless of the outdoor temperature. This is the only way that the furnace filter can catch indoor particles.
  • Check flues and chimneys for blockages and cracks that allow fumes to enter the home. Make sure the chimney has a good draft up the flue.
  • Test your home for Radon.
  • Make sure that all combustion appliances are vented properly to the outside.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 35-55 percent relative humidity to prevent mold growth.
  • Use a high efficiency furnace filter and change it every two to three months.
  • Make sure to clean and maintain humidifiers and de-humidifiers since they can be breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.

BACHARACH INTRODUCES NEW COMBUSTIBLE GAS INDICATOR

Bacharach, Inc., a world leader in gas detection since 1927 has recently introduced to the market the GAS HUNTER – a compact, easy to use instrument that performs the functions of seven individual instruments. The GAS HUNTER can sniff out combustible gases from part per million levels to 100 percent by volume, it also monitors ambient Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide presence, as well as measuring draft in flues and setting appliance manifold pressures. For more detailed information on the GAS HUNTER or other Bacharach products, call 1-800-736-4666 or visit their website at www.bacharach-inc.com.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES – ARE THEY PRACTICAL?

The first electric car was built in 1891. By the turn of the century, there were twice as many electric vehicles (EV) as gas powered cars. There are almost 11,000 EVs in the U.S. today. But the same problem remains – an efficient battery. EVs must have batteries that can be recharged continuously. Most batteries can’t store large amounts of electricity so EVs must carry as many batteries as possible – sometimes accounting for half the weight of the vehicle. EVs are not for long-distance driving and typically can only travel 50-130 miles between charges. Research is being done to develop advanced batteries that could double the range of EVs. Electric vehicles are low-maintenance and produce no tailpipe emissions. But making the electricity to charge them is still a problem because over 90% of the electricity generated in America is the result of the burning of fossil fuels.

REASONS NOT TO DRILL FOR OIL IN THE ARTIC

  • The U.S. Geological Survey states that there is only a six-month supply of recoverable oil.
  • Any oil discovered in the Artic would not be available for at least 10 years.
  • Drilling for oil will destroy the unique plants on which caribou, musk oxen, wolves, polar bears, and other animals depend for survival.
  • You cannot drill for oil without spilling oil. Prudhoe Bay oil fields suffer over 400 spills a year.
  • Higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles would save more oil within ten years than could ever be produced by Artic drilling.

AECP BILL DEFEATED IN COMMITTEE

The Commerce and Trade Committee of the Virginia General Assembly failed to report out the AECP legislative proposal – House Bill 2317 – by a vote of 12 – 10. This means that the bill is dead for this year. This occurred on January 30 in Richmond. The close vote represents a solid opportunity to re-introduce the bill next year. The political environment of this years General Assembly - in which all bills that even resemble a tax are being killed by the Republican majority – made it very difficult for success. We made a good effort and even had some Republicans on the committee vote in favor of the bill.

This battle is far from being over and every year we make a little more progress and take another step in the right direction. Many thanks to all of those who contacted your legislators in support of House Bill 2317. And much appreciation to Delegate Ken Plum who was the Chief Patron of the bill. He fought very hard on behalf of the proposal.

PRESIDENT BUSH ANNOUCES FREEDOM FUEL INITIATIVE

President Bush announced in his State of the Union address on January 28 a $1.2 billion dollar Freedom Fuel Initiative which will hopefully begin to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil. The Initiative will develop technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen powered fuel cells – a way to power cars, trucks, homes, and businesses. Freedom Fuel will invest $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure needed to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation. Fuel cells produce no pollution and no greenhouse gases. The $720 million will combine with funding available under the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Auto Research) initiative to develop hydrogen powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.

The Freedom Fuel Initiative will attempt to overcome the following key technical and cost barriers:

  • Lowering the cost of hydrogen: Currently, hydrogen is four times more expensive to produce than gasoline.
  • Creating effective storage: Current hydrogen storage systems are inadequate for use in the wide range of vehicles that consumers demand.
  • Creating affordable hydrogen fuel cells: Currently, fuel cells are ten times more expensive than internal combustion engines.

Vehicles are a significant source of air pollution in America. Over 30% of oil consumption in the U.S. is a result of vehicle usage. Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power cars without producing any pollution. Hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit of weight of any know fuel and when burned in an engine, hydrogen produces effectively zero emissions. Its only waste product is water vapor. Hydrogen can be produced from abundant domestic resources including natural gas, coal, biomass, and even water. Combined with other technologies such as carbon capture and storage, renewable energy and fusion energy, fuel cells could make an emissions-free energy future possible.

MAGNEHELIC GAUGES ARE DISCONTINUED

Effective December 31, 2002, magnehelic gauges will no longer be offered as an instrumentation option for the Minneapolis Blower Door System. These gauges have been a part of the Minneapolis Blower Door product line for over 20 years. They provided a low cost gauge for basic test applications. As Blower Door technicians have become more sophisticated, they have demanded more accurate and versatile gauges for their Blower Doors. The Energy Conservatory (TEC) has responded by developing digital pressure gauges and the Automated Performance Testing system. Both of these options provide increased Blower Door test precision and ability to accurately measure the small pressure changes needed to conduct building performance tests. A limited number of magnehelic gauges will be available from TEC to replace defective units.

BILL INTRODUCED TO CLOSE LIGHT TRUCK LOOPHOLE

On January 30, Senators Feinstein and Snowe introduced a bill that raises the average fuel economy of light trucks to match car fuel economy by the year 2011, and also requires that vehicles between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds meet fuel economy standards for the first time. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), this bill would reduce the fuel consumption of SUVs, vans, and pickups by one million barrels of oil a day by 2016.

ENERGY TIP

Take advantage of “off-peak” hours. Electricity costs may be less at times of day when demand is slow. Ask your utility when these “off-peak” hours are and plan to use appliances at these times.

WASHINGTON ACTION DAY FOR LIHEAP TO BE HELD ON JANUARY 8, 2003

President Bush has proposed that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) appropriation for FY 2003 be reduced by $300 million dollars. This means that as many as 500,000 low-income families nationwide – could lose assistance in paying their winter heating bills. This represents a dismal and devastating situation for many families particularly in light of the fact that the cost of home heating fuels such as oil, propane, and natural gas have increased this winter.

In response to this situation, the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN) has issued an urgent call for a Washington Action Day for LIHEAP to be held on January 8, 2003. It is suggested that all LIHEAP advocates arrange appointments with Senate and House of Representatives offices that represent your jurisdiction and ask for their support in restoring the proposed $300 million funding cut. A delegation of NFFN members will meet with representatives from the Bush administration. At the end of the Action Day, participants will share results and discuss further strategies at a convenient location. For more information, please contact NFFN Executive Director, George Coling, at 202-824-0660.

If you are planning on coming to Washington for Action Day, please make appointments with your Senators and Representatives or their staff people ahead of time. Any Capitol Hill office may be reached at 202-224-3121. If you are unable to participate in Action Day – contact your Senators and Representatives anyway and encourage them to support full funding for the LIHEAP Program.

HOME HEATING FUEL PRICES INCREASE

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), home heating fuel prices will increase significantly compared to prices for 2001-2002. Based on normal temperatures for the winter season (October-March) natural gas prices will increase by 31%, home heating oil will increase by 41%, and propane will increase by 17%.

EPA PROPOSES TOUGHER EMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reduce the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel used in off-road machinery (harvesting combines, earth moving equipment, etc.) from the current 3,000 parts per million to 15 parts per million within the next decade. Sulfur emitted by the burning of diesel fuel account for over 8,500 premature deaths annually. This proposal will bring the off-road vehicles and the fuel they use under the same requirements as large over-the road trucks and buses under a separate set of rules already approved by the EPA.

NRDC PRESENT THE ROLLING STONES IN A FREE CONCERT

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced in December that the Rolling Stones will perform a special free concert to raise awareness about global warming on February 6, 2003 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. NRDC and the Stones are staging this landmark event to “turn up the heat on global warming”, and showcase opportunities that exist right now to start fixing the problem. Fans can enter a sweepstakes to win two free tickets by completing the entry form at www.nrdcstonesconcert.org. The goal of this event is to encourage the general public to learn more about global warming. Visit http://rollingstones.nrdc.org/globalwarming/ for information and to find out what you can do to reduce the impact of global warming.

NOAA DECLARES 2002 THE SECOND WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) working from the world’s largest statistical weather database has concurred that the year 2002 is going to be the second warmest year on record for the globe. The warmest year on record occurred in 1998.

ENERGY TIP

Reduce global warming by reducing home energy consumption, by using Energy Star products and appliances, by recycling, by driving fuel-efficient vehicles, by carpooling when possible, by planting trees, and by learning more about global warming so that we can all become better stewards of the planet on which we live.

LTTF ENDORSES AECP LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL

The Legislative Transition Task Force (LTTF) unanimously endorsed the AECP proposal at their meeting in Richmond on January 7, 2003. The LTTF is the legislative group that is overseeing the transition from a regulated electric utility industry in Virginia to a non-regulated environment. AECP’s proposal is now a bill – House Bill 2317 – and the Chief Patron is Delegate Kenneth Plum. This bill, if passed, would require a 3- cent per month charge applied to every residential electric account (36 cents per year) in Virginia and that the money collected would then be deposited into the Home Energy Assistance Fund. The total amount collected each year would be in excess of $1 million dollars. The Virginia Department of Social Services is responsible for administering the Fund. This money would be used to supplement the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Virginia Weatherization Assistance Program.

It is very important that this bill become law – for several reasons: It would represent a responsible effort on the part of the State of Virginia to assume a share of the burden in providing important energy conservation services to low-income families – a burden that has been carried exclusively by the federal government; it would provide some assurance that if electricity costs rise as a result of de-regulation, low-income families who are at the greatest risk will have some form of protection from rising costs; and it represents compassion and concern for the working poor who have been hit with high unemployment, rising heating fuel costs, and threatened funding reductions at the federal level.

Please make every effort to contact your local state representatives and ask for their support of House Bill 2317. Contact information may be found at the Virginia General Assembly website http://legis.state.va.us/

HOUSE APPROVES $1.7 BILLION FOR LIHEAP

On January 10, 2003 the House Appropriations Committee approved $1.7 billion for LIHEAP for funding year 2003. This is the same amount approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. But the House did not provide any additional contingency funds – money that can be released by the President above and beyond the approved LIHEAP allocation – that can be used in emergency conditions such as a very harsh winter and/or a dramatic rise in heating fuel costs. The President still has $300 million in carryover contingency money from last year that can be spent during this fiscal year.

ENERGY STAR PROMOTED FOR USE IN HUD HOUSING

EPA, DOE, and HUD have signed a formal partnership to promote Energy Star throughout HUD’s affordable housing programs. Through this agreement, the three agencies will work together to promote the purchase of Energy Star labeled appliances by the nation’s housing authorities and in HUD’S inventory of privately-owned assisted housing. This partnership will also promote the building of new Energy Star labeled homes through existing HUD programs. Energy Star appliances and products are certified as those that are the most energy efficient on the market. They include all home appliances, electronics, office equipment, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment. Energy Star has helped save over $5 billion dollars on home energy bills and has eliminated the pollution equivalent to that of 10 million cars.

CONSERVATION DURING WARTIME USED TO BE A CIVIC DUTY

During World War II, it was every citizen’s duty to practice conservation. People were encouraged to conserve rubber, paper, aluminum, tin cans, sugar, coffee, and even kitchen fats (the glycerin was used for ammunition). Drivers were limited to three gallons of gas per week, leading to the formation of carpools and car clubs.
Certainly times have changed but as a nation that is still at “war” – the concept of conservation as a patriotic activity unfortunately has changed as well. We may not need to save kitchen fat but certainly the need to conserve oil by being more efficient as a society should be considered not only patriotic but a matter of national security as well.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION REQUESTS LIHEAP CUTS

The White House has requested $1.4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), compared with $1.7 billion last year. This $300 million reduction could affect more than 500,000 people who rely on aid to pay utility bills, according to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association, which represents state officials who administer LIHEAP grants. This proposal to reduce LIHEAP funding comes at a very bad time for many Americans. Unemployment figures are at their highest levels in several years, census figures indicate that poverty in America is increasing, and according to the Energy Information Administration – home heating oil, propane, and natural gas prices will rise significantly this winter.

This reduction proposal is also curious in light of a recent public opinion survey by the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance that found more Americans than ever before believe low-income families are having a harder time paying their utility bills and that Congress should spend more to protect the elderly and disabled from deadly temperature extremes and the rising cost of fuel. The survey, released on September 24, 2002 said that nearly eight out of ten Americans – 78 % - believe it is more difficult than five years ago for low-income families to pay for their energy bills. The survey found a record 89 % support level for the LIHEAP program, up five percentage points from 1999. It also found that 72 % support expanded funding for the program.

AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER IS LEADER IN RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH

American Electric Power (AEP), the top power generator in America, is also a leader among electric utilities in studying the use of renewable energy as an energy source and supply. Electricity produced from renewable energy technologies – hydroelectric plants, wind turbines, solar cells, fuel cells, and biomass plants – is an important part of America’s energy supply. AEP is helping develop these renewable resources through generation, research, promotion, and education.

  • AEP is the developer of a 150- megawatt wind farm near Abilene, Texas.
  • AEP is sponsoring the Learning from Wind and Learning from Light programs that educate students and communities about wind and solar energy.
  • At its Dolan Technology Center, AEP is studying how fuel cells can be integrated into AEP’s power grid.
  • AEP is providing electricity made with wood waste to 900 customers in Virginia.
  • AEP has 18 hydroelectric plants that produce more than 800 megawatts of electric power.
  • AEP is evaluating the use of biomass materials for potential co-firing in several of its existing coal or lignite power plants.
  • AEP has maintained a wind resource monitoring program since 1994, monitoring wind in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

RUSSIA AND CHINA RATIFY KYOTO TREATY

China and Russia, the world’s second and third largest polluters, respectively, have announced that they will ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty aimed at reducing the industrialized world’s global warming emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels. So far, more than 85 nations have ratified Kyoto, representing combined emissions of 37 % of the worldwide total. Russia represents 17.4 percent. By comparison, the United States accounts for 36 %, making it by far the world’s leading polluter and producer of greenhouse gases. Last year, the United States backed out of the treaty. The White House has proposed voluntary measures aimed at limiting “carbon emission intensities.” Critics point out that this plan would actually allow for greenhouse gas emissions to increase by more than 10 % in the coming decade.

COLEMAN DEVELOPS FUEL CELL POWERED GENERATOR

Coleman Powermate, a leading producer of portable power systems has developed a fuel cell powered generator for industrial use. The AirGen fuel cell generator is built around a 1 KW Nexa power module, which uses a Ballard fuel cell. The generators are now available for online purchase by industrial users with access to a hydrogen fuel source. Coleman plans to expand to residential and commercial markets very soon. The units sell for $5,995.

ENERGY TIP

Use compact fluorescent bulbs in household lights that are on 3-4 hours per day. They cost more than regular incandescent bulbs but last 6-10 times longer and use 75% less wattage to produce the same amount of light. All fluorescent lights contain small amounts of mercury – so they must be disposed of with other hazardous wastes such as batteries, paints, and solvents at your local recycling center.

CONSUMER ADVISORY BOARD PASSES AECP LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL

The Consumer Advisory Board, a sub-committee of the Legislative Transition Task Force, passed the AECP legislative proposal by a vote of
8 – 4 at their meeting in Richmond on November 19, 2002. The proposal is an effort to enact a three- cent a month customer service charge on all residential electric utility bills, which would provide an annual amount of over one million dollars that would be deposited into the Home Energy Assistance Fund. This money could be used to supplement the Virginia Weatherization Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. These are programs that provide weatherization services and fuel assistance payments to eligible low-income families in Virginia.

The AECP proposal argues that low-income consumers may be at risk in a deregulated electric utility industry environment – if electric costs rise due to competition – and increasing opportunities for home affordability through weatherization services is the best protection for these individuals. The proposal is also an effort to keep the subject of a public benefit fund on the table and to force the continuation of debates regarding the responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide energy conservation and efficiency programs to ratepayers in an unregulated environment.

The Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) will now recommend this proposal for consideration by the Legislative Transition Task Force (LTTF), which is the legislative group responsible for the deregulating of the electric utility industry in Virginia. For more information on deregulation, the LTTF, the CAB, and the AECP proposal – check out this website http://dls.state.va.us/elecutil.htm

BUSH ADMINISTRATION WEAKENS CLEAN AIR ACT

The Bush Administration announced on November 22, 2002 that it is weakening the part of the Clean Air Act called the New Source Review and the result of this change will be to allow significant increases in air pollution, which have been linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature deaths. The New Source review is the part of the Clean Air Act that requires older factories to install modern pollution control technology when they make a change that increases pollution. These older power plant facilities release four to ten times more pollution, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury. The New Source Review has helped make the air cleaner by enforcing regulations that control pollution from older refineries, power plants, and factories that use coal and oil as their primary fuel.

“LIVING WITHIN NATURE” CONFERENCE HELD IN ROANOKE

A conference sponsored by the Cabell Brand Center, the Virginia Housing and Environment Network, and FEMA was held at the Hotel Roanoke on November 21-22. Topics presented included protecting aquifers, greenways, vegetated roofs, highway design, green building, low-impact development, natural remediation, pre-disaster mitigation, and much more. Speakers and presenters from all over the United States participated in this excellent gathering of people concerned about smart growth and the environment.

VWEC CONDUCTS 2ND WIND ENERGY MEETING AT JMU

The Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative (VWEC) sponsored a wind energy stakeholder’s meeting at James Madison University on November 13. The VWEC was formed in the fall of 2002 with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy. The group is being led by students and faculty in the Integrated Science and Technology Department at James Madison University. VWEC was created to promote the use of wind energy in Virginia. Its mission is to provide the resources and knowledge necessary to promote wind energy through a diverse group of wind energy stakeholders. Check their website out at http://web.jmu.edu/vwec.

OIL SPILLS AND FUEL ECONOMY

As the impact of another massive oil spill lays its devastation - this time off the coast of Spain – the Bush Administration is proposing weak and insignificant automobile fuel economy standards. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has proposed three fuel economy increases for light trucks and SUVs of 0.5 miles per gallon over three years starting with model year 2005, for a total increase of just 1.5 miles per gallon. Currently available technology could make vehicles of all sizes, shapes, and models get significantly better gas mileage. America’s vehicle fleet could easily average 40 miles per gallon and help save millions of barrels of oil every day. Reducing our dependence on imported oil would prevent oil spills that destroy wildlife, natural habitats, water quality, the fishing trade, and international economies. Conserving energy and improving the efficiency of our automobiles are direct and specific ways in which we can participate in preventing oil spills.

AECP SUBMITS LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL

AECP has submitted a legislative proposal for consideration by the Consumer Advisory Board at their November 19, 2002 meeting in Richmond, VA. This proposal represents an effort to create an annual revenue stream for the Home Energy Assistance Fund, which is a fund established to provide financial assistance to the Virginia Weatherization Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The proposal recommends a three cent a month service charge be applied to every residential electric account in Virginia and that the money collected be deposited into the Home Energy Assistance Fund. AECP believes that low-income citizens will be at the greatest risk in a deregulated electric utility environment if electric costs rise due to competition. The only effective protection is to increase weatherization services for low-income families so that homes can be made more affordable and energy bills reduced.

The Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) is a sub-committee of the Legislative Transition Task Force (LTTF). The LTTF is the legislative group implementing the restructuring of the electric utility industry in Virginia and they have given the CAB the task of making recommendations on behalf of consumers. Check out the LTTF website http://dls.state.va.us/elecutil.htm and follow the path of our proposal.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT LOSES STRONG VOICE

On October 25, 2002, a plane crash took the lives of Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, the pilots and three members of his staff. Senator Wellstone was a strong voice on behalf of environmental issues and energy conservation initiatives throughout his 12 years in the Senate. The Minnesota Senator was known for his tenacity, his honesty and courage, his intelligence and work ethic, and his unwavering support of the common man. He will be greatly missed.

ARLINGTON COUNTY JOINS GREEN GROUP

Arlington County is Virginia’s first jurisdiction to join a federal program promoting the use of nonpolluting energy sources. The Arlington County Board unanimously approved joining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership, which binds the county to use nonpolluting sources for at least 3 percent of its electricity. More than 80 groups nationwide, including cities, companies and universities, have signed on to the program since it began in July 2001. Green power is generated from solar, wind, geothermal and biomass resources and low-impact hydro facilities. It reduces the use of fossil fuel, the leading cause of industrial air pollution nationally, according to the EPA.

AWEA PROJECT WIND MARKET WILL GROW

The American Wind Association (AWEA) contends that 2003 will be a record year for the wind market in the U.S. Following an all-time high of 1,696 megawatts (MW) of new installations in 2001, the AWEA projects that well over 2,000 MW of new wind capacity will be installed in the U.S. in 2003. A megawatt is a unit of power equal to one million watts.

PLANT A TREE AND SAVE ENERGY

Winter is an excellent time to plant trees. A new tree will use the winter dormant season to establish new roots. Planting trees in well-placed spots around your home can save money on your heating and cooling bills. In the summer, trees shade your roof and windows and also cool the air around your house. In the winter, evergreen trees can block cold north winds and help keep your home less drafty and more comfortable. Trees also clean the air by emitting oxygen and they can neutralize the harmful effects of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by absorbing the gas as they grow.

2002 NATIONAL TOUR OF SOLAR BUILDINGS

Home and business owners throughout the U.S. will open their solar buildings to the general public for the American Solar Energy Society’s 2002 National Tour of Solar Buildings. Take the tour and see for yourself how solar energy works for real people in real places. For more information check out the American Solar Energy Society website at www.ases.org.

ENERGY TIP

Be sure that your chimney and vent pipes are clean, unobstructed, properly connected, and lined if necessary – before firing up your gas, oil, or wood heating systems.

OCTOBER 30 IS NATIONAL WEATHERIZATION DAY

The Department of Energy has proclaimed October 30, 2002 as a day of celebration and recognition of the Weatherization Assistance Program, which is the oldest and largest residential energy conservation program in America. Here are some relevant facts about the program:

  • Weatherization expects to provide services nationally to more than 105,000 low-income households in 2002.
  • Weatherization reduces average annual energy costs by $218 per home.
  • Weatherization operates in all 50 states and in every single city and county in America.
  • More than 8,000 direct jobs are supported by the program.
  • A weatherized home, on average, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by one ton.
  • Every dollar invested in weatherization services yields a return of $1.78 in direct energy benefits to the household.
  • The program not only saves energy through advanced technologies to improve the energy affordability for low-income families, but also saves and improves the health and safety of families by identifying carbon monoxide hazards, poor indoor air quality, mold and other health threats.

AECP HOLDS 3RD ANNUAL ENERGY CONSERVATION FAIR

AECP held its 3rd annual Energy Fair at the Roanoke Civic Center on September 13 and 14. Over 700 people attended and enjoyed the 40 exhibits, a seminar on green building design, a workshop on pressure diagnostics with the “House of Pressure”, renewable energy demonstrations, door prizes, and loads of information and hand-outs. The purpose of the Fair is to educate the general public about why it is important to save energy and to illustrate how this can be achieved in the home and/or business.

EPA ACCEPTS AWARD FOR ENERGY STAR

EPA administrator Christie Whitman was presented with the Charles S. Percy award for public service by the Alliance to Save Energy. This award was given to the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) for establishing the Energy Star program, a public-private partnership that helps protect the environment while saving consumers money through energy efficiency. Energy Star is a certification program that identifies and labels the most energy efficient appliances, building supplies, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, lighting, and house construction. “Over the past decade, EPA’s Energy Star program has grown from a voluntary labeling program to a partnership with over 7,000 organizations,” said Whitman.

THE CLEAN WATER ACT IS 30 YEARS OLD

On June 22, 1969, a rail car passing over the Cuyahoga River accidentally sparked a fire that sent flames soaring five stories high and raging past downtown Cleveland to Lake Erie. This event is generally thought to have led to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. To be sure, there has been considerable progress but after three decades, there is still much work to be done. Consider these facts and figures:

  • 40% of America’s waters still fail to meet federal clean water standards.
  • 75% of the population still live within 10 miles of polluted waterway.
  • Despite a “no-net loss” policy regarding wetlands, which filter pollution, provide wildlife habitat, and absorb floodwaters, more than 60,000 acres are destroyed annually.
  • In 2001, there were more than 11,000 days of beach closings, mostly due to elevated bacteria levels from polluted storm water.
  • In many places, fish are not fit for consumption due to persistent organic pollutants like PCB’s and dioxins.

AECP WEBSITE UPDATE

The AECP website – www.aecp.org has recently been updated and is still under some construction. Please check it out and if you have any suggestions or input – please feel free to contact our webmaster Anthony Cox at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Billy Weitzenfeld, AECP Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

ENERGY TIP

Save water and energy by installing low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and by fixing all water leaks in toilets, sinks, faucets and water lines.