This article was originally published in the January/February 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1999
National HERS Accreditation Standards. The board of directors of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) has voted to approve national accreditation standards for Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS). The accreditation process will focus heavily on standardizing rater training and tools, so disparities from one state to the next will be minimized. Some states have already moved to form joint training programs and to reciprocate in recognizing raters who are accredited in other states. The standards also incorporate a code of ethics, which among other things, outlaws conflicts of interest. In other words, accredited HERS providers cannot take advantage of their position to peddle related energy products and services.
In addition to meeting certain training requirements, accredited raters will have to use software tools that have been certified with HERS BESTEST (Building Energy Simulation Test), a software evaluation method developed by Ron Judkoff at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (See Putting the Byte into Your Analysis Toolkit, HE Sept/Oct '98, p. 25.)
While many people in the HERS industry have been calling for national standards, the real push came from the mortgage industry, which is being asked to write energy efficienct mortgages (EEMs) based on the ratings. About 20 large mortgage companies, including such heavyweights as Weyerhauser Financial Services, GMAC Mortgage, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Norwest Mortgage, and Chase Manhattan Mortgage, compose the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) Mortgage Industry Steering Committee which played a key role in implementing the standards. The standards are not an occupational licensing mechanism and can't stop fly-by-night raters from doing business. But as a practical matter, unaccredited raters would not be listed on the national directory, and wouldn't be recognized by mortgage writers.
To review the final draft of the accreditation standards, visit RESNET's Web site at www.natresnet.org. BESTEST can be obtained from NREL's document distribution service by telephoning (303)275-3000. Ask for HERS BESTEST, volumes 1 and 2, Judkoff and Neymark, document number NREL/TP-472-7332. Energy Design Update, August 1998. Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02474-5552. Tel:(800)964-5118; Fax:(800)888-1816; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.cutter.com/energy.
Northwest Energy Efficiency On-Line Listing. The Bonneville Power Administration has created a new on-line service called the Northwest Energy Efficiency Business Listing. The listing is a collection of firms and professionals that offer energy efficiency products and services in the northwest. It functions as a directory, much like the Yellow Pages, except that it's on-line. Readers can look for a service category and find a variety of firms that provide that service. They can then immediately connect to a firm through direct links to the company's Web site.
More than 500 companies are currently represented in the Business Listing. The Internet address is www.bpa.gov/cgi-scripts/NCS/CustHome.asp. Companies can find out how to get listed by telephoning (509)358-7474. Bulletin: Northwest Public Power Association, July 1998. Northwest Power Planning Council, 851 SW 6th Ave., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97204-1348. Tel:(800)222-3355; Fax:(503)795-3370; Web site: www.nwppc.org.
Utility Deregulation Is Boosting Pollution. Analyses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others suggest that the current movement to open the electric utility industry to competition will lead to increased electricity production from older coal plants because economic conditions, including weak environmental requirements, will favor these plants. These analyses are being proved correct in Virginia, according to a new study by the Izaak Walton League of America, an environmental group. Electricity production at Virginia Power's grandfathered coal plants rose by 3.2% in 1997 over 1996 levels, an accelerating trend. Under the federal Clean Air Act grandfathered plants are not required to meet the pollution standards modern plants must meet. Eight of ten coal plants currently operating in Virginia are grandfathered and release from four to ten times more pollution than plants built today. Virginia utilities predict that electricity demand in the state will increase by 19% by 2006. Power That Pollutes: Closing the Loophole on Outdated Power Plants is available from the Izaak Walton League of America, 707 Conservation Ln., Gaithersburg, MD 20878-2983. Tel:(301)548-0150; Fax:(301) 548-0146; Web site: www.iwla.org.
More Than a Third of Californians Who Switched Choose Green Power. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, nearly 68,000 residents, or 0.8% of those eligible to change, have switched power providers since the state's deregulation legislation passed last year. The number of those who switched because they wanted a greener source of electricity is not reported, says Ryan Wiser, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. However, Wiser estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 residential customers have signed up for green power, making green power the choice of between 30% and 40% of those who made a change.
Earlier research indicated that as many as 8,500,000, or 30% of all California residents, would be willing to pay more for non-polluting electricity. Wiser and other analysts say it's too early to tell whether green power is just starting out slow, or whether it will end up in a smaller niche than envisioned. It is also too early to reliably extrapolate current market trends to predict the success of green power marketing in encouraging renewable development. However, because of the high cost of marketing to residential customers, it is difficult for residential marketers to turn a profit when competition is based on price alone. Instead, most of the companies offering service to residential customers are differentiating themselves based on greenness, allowing them to sell services at higher prices and profit margins. To get a copy of Ryan Wiser's and Steven Pickle's report, Selling Green Power in California: Product, Industry, and Market Trends, at no charge, contact Wiser at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory by e-mail at email@example.com.
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