September 8, 2015 - Sustainable Pittsburgh
Energy Innovation (EI) is a biweekly newsletter of the Energy for the Power of 32 initiative

EI Energy Innovation

news and events accelerating sustainable development for the power of 32
Upcoming Events
Today's Grid: A System Under Pressure - Lecture
September 10th, 2015 [Begins at 6:30 pm]
60 S. Lincoln St., Washington, PA 15301
Yost Auditorium, Burnett Center
Presented by: Washington & Jefferson College

Two of the primary pressures on the grid system are the changing mix of resources, both in terms of types of resources and their location, and greater consumer participation, such as a homeowner's use of rooftop solar panels to generate his own electricity.  These pressures call for modernization and expansion of the grid, including new technology development, regulatory frameworks, business and economic models, and overall strategies.

Session 1 gives us a bird's eye view of these new challenges and opportunities and then focuses on the roles residential solar power and energy storage facilities can have in this new paradigm.  It features  Drs. Gregory F. Reed and John A. Swanson and will be held in the Yost Auditorium of the Howard J. Burnett Center on Washington & Jefferson College Campus.
Fossil-Free Energy Fair Plus Electric Car Show & Cruise
September 12th, 2015 [11:00 am - 5:00 pm]
Cranberry Commons, Cranberry Township, PA 16066
Kohl's Lower Parking Lot
Presented by: Marcellus Outreach Butler

Marcellus Outreach Butler (MOB) in cooperation with Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator (SEA) and Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Committee (BMAC) announce that the 3rd annual Fossil-free Energy Fair will be on Saturday September 12, 2015 in the Kohl's lower parking lot at Cranberry Commons Shopping Center, Cranberry Township, PA.
This year's fair will incorporate an electric car show in conjunction with National Drive Electric Week (NDEW).  Owners of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars are invited to register to display their vehicles by logging in.
September 15th - November 14th, 2015 [*time varies, see schedule*]
Locations vary: see
Presented by: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is announcing more than a dozen listening sessions and a 2-month comment period on the federal Clean Power Plan to hear from Pennsylvanians about the plan to cut carbon pollution. Fourteen listening sessions in locations across the state will take place between September and November.

Comment submissions can be made here: or emailed to or mailed to 400 Market Street P.O. Box 2063 Harrisburg, PA 17105.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will also hold a webinar on the Clean Power Plan at 10 a.m. on Wednesday September 9, 2015. Speakers will include DEP Secretary John Quigley and DEP Policy Director Patrick McDonnell. To register, please 
click here.

The listening sessions will begin September 15. Participants wishing to speak must register at 717-783-8727.
Second Environmental Considerations in Energy Production Conference
September 20th - September 23rd, 2015 [*time varies, see schedule*]
530 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh, Pa 15219
Omni William Penn Hotel
Presented by: Society for Mining, Metallurgy, & Exploration (SME)

The second conference in the series intends to bring together interested parties from around the world to exchange ideas on energy production, including mining, oil and gas production and electric power generation, and the impacts on the environment and society.

The goals of this meeting are to discuss existing and emerging problems, appropriate and innovative solutions, and best practices and techniques; and to develop collaborations and open dialog on the impacts of energy production on the environment.  Many of the issues relate to how environmental impacts and energy production in general affect community well-being and human health.
FirstEnergy's "Racing Towards the Finish Line" Lunch & Seminars
September 22nd - October 22nd, 2015 [10:30 am & 12:30 pm]
Locations vary: see
Presented by: FirstEnergy PA Utilities
The Energy Efficiency Incentives from FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania utilities are entering the last lap.  Phase 2 programs will come to close May 31, 2016, so it's important to act now.

Please join for lunch to learn:
  • What is energy efficiency? Join for a deeper understanding of what it means to be energy efficient and why it's so important.
  • Funding options available: Listen to guest speakers from the Sustainable Energy Fund and The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection explain how to obtain funding for energy efficient improvements.
  • The future is Phase 3: There will be discussions on how the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is structuring Phase 3 programs which begin June 1, 2016
Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards - Public Hearing
September 29th, 2015 [9:00 am - 8:00 pm]
1000 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
William S. Moorhead Federal Building
Presented by: The Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing three public hearings to be held for three proposed rules titled, "Source Determination for Certain Emission Units in the Oil and Natural Gas Sector," "Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New and Modified Sources," and Review of New Sources and Modifications in Indian Country: Federal Implementation Plan for Managing Air Emissions from True Minor Sources Engaged in Oil and Natural Gas Production in Indian Country." [Registration]

October 6th, 2015 [7:00 am - 6:00 pm]
23 South 2nd St. Harrisburg, PA 17101
Crowne Plaza Harrisburg - Hershey
Presented by: The Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance

The KEEA Conference 2015 connects energy efficiency and advanced energy experts involved in utility program planning, energy policy, customer engagement, and emerging energy technology.

This year represents a number of key turning points in energy efficiency and advanced energy in Pennsylvania, from a new phase of Act 129 to new priorities from the state's new governor.  With these changes ahead, now is the ideal time to exchange ideas with other leaders and innovators in the energy industry.

October 28th, 2015 [7:30 am - 3:15 pm]
1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill, PA 17011
Radisson Hotel Harrisburg
Presented by: Manufacturer's Education Council

Receive priceless insights into:
  • Effective strategies to reduce energy costs & sound energy management
  • What's ahead in terms of natural gas prices & electricity rates
  • Energy efficiency & conservation plans
  • Electricity shopping & strategic energy procurement
  • Demand response
  • Financial incentives for solar energy
  • Energy assessments
  • Gas & electricity coordination
  • Creating value to your organization and proven techniques to reduce energy consumption
  • Best practices in energy management
  • Learn from some of Pennsylvania's leading energy experts!
TransTech Energy Business Development Conference

November 5th - November 6th, 2015 [8:15 am - 7:00 pm *varies, see agenda* (Registration 7:30 am)]
2 Waterfront Pl, Morgantown, WV 26501
Waterfront Place Hotel
Presented by: TransTech Energy
This conference targets the following:
  • Innovators and entrepreneurs: Pitch your company or project to investors, potential strategic partners, and project developers
  • Investors: Find emerging transitional energy and environmental technology companies with near term payback potential
  • Energy companies and manufacturers: Develop strategic partnerships with start-up companies and project developers
  • All: Join the discussion! Let's build on the momentum of TransTech and generate some excitement about the possibilities for new companies, advanced manufacturing and competitive industries!

November 16th - November 17th, 2015 [8:30 am - 6:00 pm *varies, see agenda* (Registration 8:00 am)]
400 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington DC 20001
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
Presented by: The Maryland - Washington DC - Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association
Maryland - Washington DC - Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association's (MDV-SEIA) Solar Focus Conference is the East Coast's premier solar energy conference.
10th Annual Pitt Electric Power Industry Conference

November 16th - November 17th, 2015 [*time varies, see agenda* (Registration 9:00 am)]
123 University Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
University Club, Pitt-Oakland Campus
Presented by: Swanson School of Engineering & the Center for Energy

In celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Electric Power Industry Conference (EPIC) and its core value of creating industry-government-community-academic partnerships, this year's conference theme is "Re-imagining Our Energy Future -- Building Upon 10 Years of Public-Private Collaborations."

The Swanson School of Engineering & the Center for Energy are also very pleased to announce that this year's conference keynote speaker will be City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
Carnegie Mellon University Energy Week

March 14th - March 18th, 2016 [Time TBD]
5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Carnegie Mellon University
Presented by: Carnegie Mellon University
In 2012, Carnegie Mellon announced a new era of energy research through the creation of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and the construction of Scott Hall.  Three years later, CMU will celebrate the opening of Scott Hall with its first Energy Week! This event will take place from March 14-18, 2016 at Carnegie Mellon University.

This five-day event will include:

Just as a “negawatt” refers to power not used, “flexiwatts” can be thought of as power demand that is shifted in time across the hours of a day and night to reduce costs. And just as demand-side negawatts are much cheaper than supply-side watts of generation to meet electricity, we show that flexiwatts are a much cheaper way to meet capacity needs than supply-side solutions.

In our recently released report, we quantify the value of flexiwatts for both the grid and for individual customers, by examining its potential to 1) reduce peak demand, 2) shift load to lower-price times, and 3) help integrate renewable energy (e.g., customer-sited solar PV) onto the grid.


China was responsible for some 80 percent of the growth in global demand since 2000. You can see that in this June 15 chart from BP’s Group Chief Economist based on their newly-released “Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.”

China, however, has completely reversed its strategy of coal-intensive growth as Climate Progress has been reporting since the U.S.-China climate deal was announced in November. The driving force of this reversal is the terrible toll coal pollution has taken on the health of Chinese citizens in urban or industrialized areas — combined with the growing realization at the highest levels of China’s government that climate change will devastate China and that it must become a leader in avoiding the worst impacts.


Fixed-tilt concentrating photovoltaic panels that will deliver significantly more energy than conventional photovoltaic solar panels are the aim of Penn State's solar energy research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for $2.9 million.

The funding is part of $24 million in federal funds designated to develop new solar panels that more efficiently convert sunlight to electricity. Penn State's grant comes from ARPA-E's MOSAIC (Micro-scale Optimized solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration) program that seeks to develop a new class of concentrating photovoltaic technology to exploit the high-efficiency of solar cells used in space for rooftops here on earth.


RMI found that the savings could be substantial if third parties stepped in to offer guaranteed bill savings by pairing available technology with dynamic utility rates. The rates included structures like real-time pricing, demand charges and avoided-cost compensation for exported PV.

In many ways, this is analogous to third-party battery storage companies that are selling their technology to commercial clients to cut down on or eliminate peak-demand charges and also potentially make money in ancillary service markets. But the utility can benefit from having distributed storage, and some states and utilities are looking at better aligning rates to take advantage of those resources and compensating the customers, or the third-party companies, that own them.

For the residential sector, the study defines demand flexibility as a consumer-centric offering that lowers and manages an energy bill. It is more than just traditional demand response. Just as battery storage offerings are sold to commercial customers as a way for them to control bills and increase resiliency, demand flexibility would be offered to residential customers so they wouldn’t even notice when their grid-connected assets, like smart water heaters, are offering grid services and flattening load.


Residential battery storage, a mainstay in the early days of solar PV, has largely been relegated to the fringe as an expensive, rarely-used backup. Most end-users now connect to the electric grid, relying on utilities to provide power when their PV systems don’t. These users employ the grid as a robust, always-available “battery” to which they enjoy free access, obviating the need to pay for their own storage solutions.

But that paradigm may be about to change. Anticipating fundamental revisions to residential rate structures, Enphase, the PV microinverter market leader, is preparing to launch a new AC-battery residential storage solution in 2016. Should projected rate changes come to pass, the Enphase AC Battery system, combined with solar PV, could present homeowners with a compelling economic proposition. With over 8 million microinverters deployed worldwide, Enphase may be in a unique position to bring residential battery storage to the masses.


This report provides a pragmatic outline stakeholders can use to map out what these missing links are and address them one by one. Development professionals can use the framework in this report to identify solutions on a nation-by-nation basis.

Once a framework has been created for each nation, stakeholders can work together to improve energy investment and access by using a targeted problem-solving approach.

The framework breaks the potential obstacles down into three levels. All of these levels must work together for a national market to function well.


High-performance solar projects raise some interesting questions around the changing economic value of pursuing efficiency. What is the real tipping point where forgoing efficiency in favor of solar pays off? And even when solar seems more affordable than efficiency, does it still make sense to value deep efficiency measures?

“PV can be coupled with storage to maximise usage behind-the-meter and ensure that PV generated during the day can be stored and used during the peak periods. This model is currently valuable for consumers because it reduces export of excess solar to the grid. Instead, the locally generated electricity can be used behind-the-meter, offsetting electricity purchased from the grid (which can be three to five times more expensive than standard export tariffs).”

Interestingly, the report uses the recent boom in residential solar PV as a “useful analogy” to what could occur in the energy storage market, as prices fall and technology improves.


"It's definitely a trend," said Lisa Wood, executive director of the Edison Foundation's Institute for Innovation. "One of the main reasons is that the price of solar panels came way down. Also, utilities are responding to a tremendous amount of interest from all customer sectors. And many states are driving this as well, with renewable portfolio standards."

According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, U.S. median prices to install residential solar fell by more than 50% over the last decade, from about $8.50 per watt to $4. Nonresidential solar projects (over 500 kW) saw an even bigger drop: from an average of $8 per watt to $3.50.


The campaign to promote small-scale solar power adoption, funded by The Heinz Endowments and run by nonprofit SmartPower in Washington, gave out 130 quotes from contractors and got 20 people to sign contracts for installations during its first phase, which ended June 20. It focused on South Fayette, Moon, Etna, Millvale and Pittsburgh's Point Breeze.

The second phase started June 27, and the information sessions last through late August.

The last “kick-off meeting” of this phase was held Thursday at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill branch, though another meeting to discuss solar energy is scheduled Sept. 21 at Northland Public Library in McCandless.


Looking like a huge, mirrored satellite dish, it combines photovoltaic solar power and concentrated solar thermal power to harness the sun's energy at an efficiency of roughly 80% — a staggering amount.

That efficiency is a whopping 34% more than today's gold standard for solar: the most efficient panels from 2014, cells from Soitec & Fraunhofer Institute used by NASA. They're roughly four times more efficient than any personal solar arrays you'd find powering someone's home.

Another way to put it: The Sunflower, built by Airlight Energy and IBM Research in Zurich, concentrates the sun to "about 5,000 suns," Gianluca Ambrosetti, Airlight's head of research, said to Ars Technica.


In addition to their growing energy demands, these regions contain some of the nation’s largest power plants by total capacity, which can lead to a host of different environmental hazards and economic costs for nearby residents and businesses. In turn, seeking cleaner, more sustainable ways to produce energy directly implicates many metro areas… As the federal government and states look to meet new carbon reduction targets under the Clean Power Plan, ensuring that metro areas produce energy in a cleaner, more efficient manner is crucial.
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