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NM Energy$avers Program for Single-family - MFA's Energy$avers Program was created in October 2007 to facilitate the distribution of one million dollars appropriated by Governor Bill Richardson and the New Mexico State Legislature during its 2007 legislative session for the purpose of funding energy efficiency improvements for low-to-moderate income households around the state. The purpose of the Energy$avers Program is to provide below-market interest rate loans for energy efficiency improvements, including alternative energy upgrades, to new single-family and multi-family housing development projects and to projects involving the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing rental and for-sale housing throughout the state.
Shell Oil president discusses new fuels, energy security - "Shell Oil isn't just about oil anymore. The multinational company has invested $1 billion in wind over the last decade, owns companies working on solar and hydrogen technologies and will soon announce the acquisition of an entity that uses municipal waste to produce biofuel.
'With these, we could go a very long way toward meeting energy security requirements,' according to John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Company. But conservation has to take hold 'in our hearts, minds and behavior of who we are as a people. We have to teach our young people that energy is a precious commodity. We're doing a disservice to young people, because instead of teaching about energy, we're allowing ignorance to reign.'" Src: MIT article (link above)
The Plan for "Green Capitalism" by Matt Imber - Rough Outline for the Hydrogen/Solar Economy and Saving Humanity Before the Century’s End
"First, we must find an alternative energy source for national security reasons. Second, we must find an alternative energy source for environmental reasons. And third, we must find an alternative fuel source for fundamental long-term economic reasons. How you rank these reasons is your own concern, but the answer doesn’t change." Tim Leuliette, January 19, 2005 article, "The Drug Our Society Is Hooked On Is Oil".
Alternative energy is the solution of the future...if we are to have a future. Today, about 50% of all electricity is generated by burning coal, 20% from natural gas, 20% from nuclear, 9% from hydroelectricity and less than 1% from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal and biomass burning). Coal produces the most CO2 emissions of all types of energy sources so it is important to replace this source of energy as fast as we can.
We MUST do what we can to use and foster the development of CLEAN renewable energy sources for ourselves, our kids and our grandkids. For now, the possibilities are solar, wind, geothermal and biomass burning.And the winner is ....Wind, water and sun beat other energy alternatives, study finds.
Let's face it. We live in solar heaven. Albuquerque has 6.5 sun hours per day on average, one of the highest rates in the nation. We can use both passive and active solar to heat our homes, water and provide excess energy. Go to SolarEstimate.Org for a terrific custom analysis of size, cost, payback and more. Impressive site.
At the most basic level, you can be aware of which way your home faces and where your windows and doors are located. In the winter, open blinds and drapes during the day on southern windows for solar gain. Close at night so the heat does not escape. Dr. Zelicoff estimated that he could save about 4 hours of "paid for" heat by managing the sun with insulating blinds. See Energy Tips for insulated shades from AWindowWay, a great solution. Landscaping can also be used to block summer solar gain with the strategic location of trees and even grass.
Passive solar architects and builders have sophisticated energy calculators that will optimize the layout of a new home to take maximum advantage of "free and clean" solar energy. Windows on the north side of the home will be smaller or fewer in number; windows on the south side will be larger and allow the lower winter sun which saves on heat, but have an overhang that blocks the higher summer sun and saves on cooling. See More info from NMSEA.
Consider a SunBender by Zomeworks (local company) for your skylights. These reflectors will maximize the solar gain during winter days to help offset your loss and shade the skylight in summer to minimize the heat gain.
Active Solar ... PV and Thermal
Photovoltaic panels collect solar energy (free, renewable energy) and convert it to electricity that can power our homes. PNM has had a net metering policy since 1998 that allows for our electrical meters to "run backwards" for energy produced from an acceptable PV (photovoltaic) system which saves you $.10/kwh on your electric bill. In addition, PNM is also required to have a percentage of "green energy sources" and will purchase energy you produce from your PV panels at the rate of $.13/kwh (REC credit) for 12 years.
Yes, you get a check in the mail for the amount you produce. No, you can not deduct it from your gas bill. Electric and gas are separate entities. Note: You are getting two credits from PNM for the energy produced by your PV system. They will deduct the amount produced by "net metering" from your electrical bill AND pay you for the same production with a check. The system we have from Positive Energy is estimated to pay us $1081/Yr on a $13,052 investment (after tax credits) until 2021, a 12 year payback. Tax credits are now 40% of the system. Bonus: rates WILL increase and the $.10/KWhr paid for net-metering will also likely increase, so you are getting energy inflation protection. Thanks to recent legislation, you will not have to pay any sales tax either. Yeah!!!
This system covers all of our electrical usage (after adopting conservation measures). It will mean zero electrical bills and checks in the mail. When you get ready to sell your home, there is also a chance (especially if energy costs continue to go up) that you will get at least part of your original investment back at the time of the sale. For a detailed cost/benefit analysis of the system we installed, click here. EnviroKarma.org also has a good discussion of the costs with photos of his installation in Santa Fe.
How to get started?
First, you need to make an effort to reduce your energy usage by life style changes and home energy conservation. See Energy Tips or get an Energy Audit. Then, talk to a solar company or consultant like Alan Zelicoff and get an idea of the size of system you need. The New Mexico Solar Energy Association provides links to local solar companies. Always talk to previous customers before deciding. You MUST start with an application to PNM. Your solar company should be able to help you with this process.
For 2009, to date there have been 75 tax credit applications for PV systems and 51 applications for solar thermal systems. The state has allocated a total of $5 million a year in solar tax credit support, up to $3 million annually for photovoltaic tax credits and $2 million for solar thermal tax credits.
Hundreds of New Mexicans are taking advantage of the Solar Market Development Tax Credit. The 700th application since the program started came in November, 2009. Over 1.2 megawatts of solar power production have come online since the program's inception in 2006!
Solar Hot Water and Heating systems, now called Thermal Solar have been a mainstay in our area since the 70's. The older panels that you see on roofs around the city are thermal solar collectors. These are not PV systems (above), rather they heat a fluid in the panel that circulates back to your home's heating system or hot water tank. They produce heat, not electrical power. For more information about how these systems work, see www.eere.energy.gov. Cedar Mountain Solar and 310 Solar offer solar hydronic systems and AAA Solar offers the parts for do-it-yourselfers.. or you can call SW Discount Engineering (1-505-470-9876) for design help.
Oooooh...look at this. Spray on solar in our future?
Search Power Takes a Stand for Sun Power - Google reported that it would build a large solar electricity system to provide about 30 percent of the electricity used each day at its one-million-square-foot office complex in Mountain View, Calif. The system, will use 9,200 solar cells and be one of the largest corporate solar installations.
PNM is proud of its role in the creation of the New Mexico Wind Energy Center, which can produce enough power to supply 94,000 average-sized New Mexico homes — without emissions or water use. You can choose the Blue Sky option on the PNM site to buy wind power at a slightly higher rate and know that the electricity you are using is emission free!
We missed Mark Rumsey's presentation on small residential wind turbines at this year's Solar Fiesta. Mark has been involved in wind energy technology for 20 years at Sandia National Labs. The American Wind Association indicates that turbines can cost from $6K to $20K and are best suited for more rural locations due to their size (towers are needed to maximize the wind stream). The wind system will usually recoup its investment through utility savings within 6 to 15 years and after that the electricity it produces will be virtually free. Affordable Solar on Yale and Cedar Mountain Solar offers several sizes/types of wind turbines and could give you more information.
However, Paul Vosburgh, local wind power expert of Vawtpower and author of "Commercial Applications of Wind Power" cautions that residential uses of wind turbines are extremely limited. First, it is important to have wind in the 14-15 MPH range (Albuquerque only has 9-10 MPH) and we are over 5000 feet high (where our air is thinner which erodes wind power). Second, safety is an issue. Turbine blades spin at a rate of 100 MPH and can come off and hit nearby buildings. They MUST be located in areas that are well away from people, structures, animals, etc. and should be fenced for safety. Roof mounted turbines can also damage the roof structure. Bergey Windpower is the world’s leading supplier of small wind turbines. Note: Vawtpower is making progress on a new smaller "rural" wind turbine that will add to the diversity needed in alternative energy sources. Contact Paul Vosburgh for additional information and check out the YouTube video on their new verticle axis wind turbine near Clines Corners.
Geothermal heating/cooling, also known as ground source heat pumps, has been named "the most energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive of all space conditioning systems", by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sandia Labs is looking at ways to use this energy source for large scale projects. The system's basic concept takes advantage of the earth's constant temperature, approximately 55 degrees, to heat and cool a building. By tapping this steady flow of heat from the earth in the winter, and displacing heat in the earth in the summer, a geothermal heat pump can save homeowners 40 to 70 percent in heating costs and 30 to 50 percent in cooling costs compared to conventional systems. A closed loop system, the most popular, can be laid out either vertically in 50 -250 foot deep holes drilled like a well, or horizontally in 3-6 foot deep trenches. Src: reddawn.com. This system can often be retrofitted to your existing ductwork.
The main drawback is cost. Geothermal systems cost about 30% more than conventional heating systems and are usually put in during construction. Access and space is needed for drilling or digging as well which would eliminate many city lots. It appears that a tax rebate is allowed for the heat pump. A second drawback is finding good qualified contractors. Total Service Company specializes in geothermal systems in the state of NM. The Vision House 2006 built Sun Mountain Construction in Corrales includes ground-sourced geothermal system tied into the radiant heating system and refrigerated air.
The most common form of biomass is wood. For thousands of years people have burned wood for heating and cooking. Wood was the main source of energy in the U.S. and the rest of the world until the mid-1800s. In the United States wood and waste (bark, sawdust, wood chips, and wood scrap) provide only about 2 percent of the energy we use today. Biomass continues to be a major source of energy in much of the developing world. Burning biomass fuels does not produce pollutants like sulfur, that can cause acid rain, however, biomass does release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. You get some offset when biomass crops are grown, as a nearly equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is captured through photosynthesis, however it is not quite that simple. Buy a dense wood, buy it split or split it yourself, and give it six months to a year to dry.
Interestingly, Local Energy in Santa Fe has started an innovative program to power Santa Fe Community College and ultimately a section of their downtown using biomass (scrap wood from forest thinning and other sources)....a form of recycling energy. The large furnaces and boilers heat hot water run through pipes for a form of distributed radiant heating by using renewable biomass rather than natural gas. Mark Sardella points out that this method is already competitive and will remain stable while gas prices will inevitably rise. Perfect for new residential developments or commercial construction. An emissions study indicated that the project will reduce greenhouse gases that are aggravating global warming by 12,000 to 18,000 tons per year. See his new Local Energy News site.
See this short Eprida video that presents the possibility of carbon sequestering from biomass. Very interesting. Eprida offers a revolutionary new sustainable energy technology that will allow us to remove CO2 from the air by putting carbon into the topsoil where it is needed.
If heating by wood in a typical fireplace, it is important to make sure that your auxillary "paid for" heat is not going up the chimney with the smoke. Invest in tight fitting glass doors and good damper insulation for times when the fireplace is not being used. Larry Gorman, using his blower door technology, found our three fireplaces were leaking significantly. He suggested upholstery foam cut to fit snugly and surrounded by a plastic bag to provide an air barrier and keep my dollars and CO2 from going up the chimney. Check CABQ for no burn info and safety tips.
Homeowners that have purchased pellet stoves in the last few years have been extremely pleased with their heating bills. Pellets, briquettes and manufactured logs are made from wood wastes, waste paper and cardboard, and agricultural residues. A conventional fireplace is less than 10-percent efficient at delivering heat to a home. In contrast,the average pellet stove efficiency is better than 55-percent. Try Hearth 'n Home on Osuna (344-8639).
The use of pellet stoves in place of conventional wood stoves also reduces the amount of particulate matter in the air...as much as 90-percent lower than emissions from conventional wood stoves. The city web site lists EPA certified stoves (low emissions) and indicates that pellet stoves can be used on "red alert" no burn nights.
PLEASE be a part of the solution. mysuggestions@sustainableabq
Resources (click on tabs for more info)
New Mexico Solar Energy Associates ...
NMSEA is a grassroots organization of solar enthusiasts. They offer a full solar curriculum to educators across the country and bring hands on demos to schools and local events through their Sun Chaser Program. Each year they sponsor the Solar Fiesta (a 2-day renewable energy fair with classes and workshops on all aspects of renewable energy) and Solar Home Tours (both new and old homes using solar principles). In addition, they have a complete listing of solar companies on their website.
New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority...
The New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority focuses on developing new transmission projects to promote renewable energy. It is the first of its kind in the nation, and an innovative and bold move to stimulate clean energy production and create high paying jobs, capital investment and greater economic development in rural areas.
Albuquerque Energy Council ...
Albuquerque Energy Council, previously known as the Energy Conservation Council's Mission Statement is "Champions of Albuquerque's quality of life, promoting cost effective, innovative resource management, energy education and community involvement." The ECC meets at 8:00 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Meeting locations vary; please check the city calendar for the locations of particular meetings.
New Products and Technologies...
Silicon and Sun -Daniel Morse is learning new ways to build complex semiconductor devices for cheaper, more efficient solar cells. He has an unlikely teacher: sea sponges.
More Efficient Solar Cells - Researchers are using layers of silicon quantum dots to create ultra-efficient silicon solar cells.
Wave Energy - Can a mechanical snake that surfs the ocean squeeze enough watts from water?