The Dernogalizer

July 4, 2010

Good News for Electric Cars

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:34 pm
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In both Maryland and around the country, the infrastructure for electric cars in the form of electric charging stations has gotten a boost in the last week.  Last weekend, Maryland committed a million dollars in stimulus money to putting 64+ charging stations at Baltimore parking garages, and sites along Interstate 95.

“Maryland will give $1 million in the form of grants to build at least 64 electric charging stations across the state, the Baltimore Sun reports. The Maryland Energy Administration administered the grants, which will be funded by federal stimulus money.”

“Marylanders average less than 40 miles driven daily, which places them within the battery-powered car range, said Woolf. Providing the “basic infrastructure” of available charging stations will help to sell electric vehicles and kindle new business and jobs.

Across the United States, more states and cities are adding charging stations to bolster electric car use. Coulomb Technologies recently revealed plans to build more than 4,600 charging stations in nine metro locations, including Washington, D.C. The ChargePoint America initiative will install 1,000 public charging locations by the end of 2010.”

Another firm called Ecotality is looking to deploy 15,000 electric chargers nationwide…

“Enter Ecotality, a Tempe, Ariz.-based electric-transportation company deploying 15,000 free electric-car chargers this fall in 13 cities, including the District. The initiative, called the EV Project, launched in October with $99.8 million in stimulus funds. The grant covered the installation of home charging stations — which cost about $2,200 each — for 4,700 buyers of the Leaf and a handful of public stations.

Ecotality was awarded another grant of $15 million a few weeks ago to add new locations, 1,000 more chargers for Leaf owners and 2,600 refueling units for Volt buyers. The rollout of the chargers will coincide with the fourth-quarter debut of Nissan and Chevy’s new models.”

We’ll need these investments and more to make electric cars mainstream in America, but it’s a promising start and shows that putting the infrastructure in place is realistic and affordable.  People interested in buying the coming generation of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be more comfortable in making that decision because of the added number of charging stations.

April 21, 2010

Maryland’s $20 million Dolllar Earth Day Grant

Filed under: energy,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:22 pm
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I just posted that for Earth Day, the Obama Administration will be releasing $452 million dollars of authorized stimulus funding on a “retrofit ramp-up.  Maryland was one of the recipients, we got a whopping $20 million dollars in funding.  So where is that money going?  Here’s the summary from the White House’s press release…

State of Maryland ($20 Million): The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) “Investment in Main Street: Energy Efficiency for Economic Growth” strategy proposes a holistic, community-based approach to target individual households, multifamily rental properties, and commercial properties for energy-efficiency retrofits.  The project includes a state-wide bulk purchasing program for supplies and equipment that will lower overall costs.  Maryland will also focus on multi-family and small business retrofits that will result in significant, measurable reductions in energy consumption.

A look at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) website gives us a more detailed look at how this money will be spent.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 21, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley today applauded an announcement by Vice President Joe Biden that Maryland and 24 other communities around the nation will receive $452 million in Recovery Act funding to expand energy efficiency building retrofit programs. The State’s award of $20 million will support the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) plan, “Investment in Main Street: Energy Efficiency for Economic Growth.” This strategy is a holistic, community-based approach to target individual households, multifamily rental properties, and commercial properties for energy-efficiency retrofits.

“This increased investment means the creation of up to 5,400 jobs to benefit Maryland’s economy as well the significant impact of helping 4,000 families who own or rent homes,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “This initiative also assists small businesses and communities to save money and energy by improving energy efficiency in their workplaces. More importantly, this will stimulate private investment which will ensure the sustainability of these programs and help expand Maryland’s burgeoning green workforce.”

In addition to the $452 million Recovery Act investment, the 25 projects announced today will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion dollars from the private sector over the next 3 years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy-efficiency, complement the Obama Administration’s ‘Recovery through Retrofit’ initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy efficiency industry. The awards are the competitive portion of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions.

In addition to the focus on homeowners and rental and commercial properties, Maryland’s plan includes a state-wide bulk purchasing program for supplies and equipment that will lower overall costs. The initiative also will highlight multi-family and small business retrofits that will result in significant, measurable reductions in energy consumption.

Projected outcomes detailed in DHCD’s initial proposal include:

  • $20 million in DOE funds to leverage more than five times that amount in other funds. Efforts will be focused in target communities where the following outcomes for homeowners, renters and small business owners are anticipated.
  • An estimated 2,000 homeowners will benefit from energy efficiency retrofits of their homes in first 3 years.
  • Twenty buildings comprising approximately 2,000 affordable rental units will benefit from energy efficiency retrofits.
  • A projected 900 historic commercial properties will benefit from energy audits and low-interest retrofit financing in concert with DHCD’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program.
  • Based on the initial application, DHCD projected the creation of 2,100 jobs in the first three years, with an increase of up to 5,400 jobs within six years.
  • The establishment of sustainable financing resources for homeowners, rental properties and commercial properties.
  • The creation of a Statewide Energy Efficiency Purchasing Cooperative to maximize purchasing power for retrofits.
  • Providing funding for affordable housing, energy retrofit and energy efficiency. This not only supports families who are on a limited income but relieves financial burdens on property owners and developers of affordable housing.
  • Funding also will be used to implement targeted outreach, compliance and educational efforts for the implementation of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Codes (IECC), recently adopted in Maryland and required for local jurisdictions by July 2010.

The targeted communities were selected by weighing what would benefit the greatest number of Marylanders, taking into consideration those areas that have not yet received an allocation of EECBG funding. The selected areas are all in communities where there is significant leveraging and partnership activity. Each area is a Main Street Maryland community, has numerous multifamily developments and is a target area for other funds through DHCD.

Targeted communities include:

Berlin (Worcester County)
Cambridge (Dorchester County)
Chestertown (Kent County)
Cumberland (Allegany County)
Denton (Caroline County)
Easton (Talbot County)
Elkton (Cecil County)
Frostburg (Allegany County)
Oakland (Garrett County)
Princess Anne (Somerset County)
Dundalk (Baltimore County)
Westminster (Carroll County)
Havre de Grace (Harford County)
Salisbury (Wicomico County)
Takoma Park (Montgomery County)

“DHCD remains committed to helping Maryland’s communities remain viable and vibrant,” said DHCD Secretary Raymond A. Skinner. “It means giving resources to help residents improve their homes, supporting small businesses so they can thrive and providing tools to community groups to enhance their town landmarks and commercial hubs.”

March 15, 2010

The Impact of the Stimulus Package on Clean Energy Jobs

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:20 pm
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I’m re-posting a very useful post by Congressman Ed Markey from last week on the impact of the stimulus package on clean energy jobs and industry in America.

The Recovery Act reoriented America to the future and refocused our efforts on our strengths. Our strength has always been our ability to innovate. Our weakness is our addiction to oil.

The tax credits and $90 billion clean energy investment in the Recovery Act has been a launching pad for job growth. This week, my Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming heard from businesses that are on the front lines of the economic turnaround.

In a recent blog post, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt and I argued that America must follow the blueprint of the 1990’s telecommunications revolution. Our goal must not simply be to create jobs, but to launch entire new industries in efficiency, wind, solar, advanced batteries, and other critical growth sectors. Here are just a few examples of how the clean energy provisions in the Recovery Act are meeting this challenge head-on:

The State of Ohio, whose
Director of Department of Development testified today, has already weatherized more than 8,100 homes since last July and is ahead of schedule in reaching their goal of 32,000 homes. This has allowed 1,500 workers to keep their jobs while creating an additional 1,000 new jobs in Ohio. Best of all, the low income households receiving the efficiency work will save $350 a year on their energy bills — that translates into a $1.67 return for every dollar invested in weatherization.

Suniva, a solar company in Georgia, is using an advanced, home-grown solar technology to leapfrog the competition and sell into the global market. They are exporting 90 percent of their solar panels and are sold out through mid-2011. In the process, they have been able to leverage Recovery Act support to grow the company from 2 employees in 2007 to 150 today. A quarter of this workforce is returned veterans and highly skilled autoworkers who had been laid off when the local plants closed.

A decade ago, we had a grand total of 470 megawatts of solar electricity installed in the United States. With the Recovery Act, we installed 480 megawatts of solar in 2009 alone. In 2010, the solar industry is likely to bring online the capacity equivalent of a new nuclear power plant. Solar energy programs in the Recovery Act supported more than 10,000 new jobs in 2009, and it is likely to support another 30,000 in 2010.

Four years ago, 25 percent of the components of a wind turbine was made in America. Today, more than 50 percent is made in America. Annual additions of wind power have quadrupled during that time, from less than 2,500 megawatts in 2005 to nearly 10,000 megawatts last year. When the wind factories supported by the Recovery Act come online over the next couple years, the average American content is likely to be over 70 percent.

First Wind Holdings, out of my home state of Massachusetts, was able to leverage wind incentives in the Recovery Act to raise more than $1 billion in private investment and install more than 400 megawatts of new wind capacity in Maine, New York, and Utah. This work supported more than 1,000 jobs in 2009.

Nothing has the potential to wean us from imported oil more than electric vehicles. And advanced batteries are going to power these electric vehicles rolling off American assembly lines.

Asia owns 98 percent of that market today. With Recovery Act investments, however, U.S. global market share is projected to rise to 20 percent next year and 40 percent by 2015. We are essentially creating a brand new American industry – one we should have never fallen behind on in the first place. Johnson Controls even informed Congress that they are “reverse” outsourcing — moving jobs from overseas back to the United States to produce not just battery packs for vehicles, but the entire supply chain that feeds into them.

Now, imagine how many jobs that we can create once we stop sending $250 billion a year overseas for oil and start sending money to the workers in Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio who are building our electric batteries.

June 14, 2009

The Next Stimulus

I came across an article about the incredible potential for US industry to save significant on their energy costs while at the same time reducing emissions, thanks to a strong commitment to energy efficiency in the economic stimulus.

“The $787 billion federal stimulus bill contains some $60 billion of grants and incentives aimed at cutting energy use. In addition, 19 U.S. states have adopted mandates that essentially compel electrical utilities to find and finance energy savings for their customers.”

Getting more specific, the article mentioned at a 10% energy efficiency improvement by US industries would lead to $6.6 billion dollars annually.  A recent study that came out by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy found that the current Waxman-Markey climate bill in Congress will create 250,000 jobs by 2020, and 650,000 by 2030.  The savings are even more profound, with an average of $750 per household by 2020, and $3900 by 2030.  These are big savings, and the energy efficiency provisions of Waxman-Markey are what make the climate change bill a net saver for American’s wallets, and a net gain for US GDP.  As I wrote before, every $1 invested in efficiency can yield up to $4 in savings over the life of the investment.  That’s a 400% return on investment, which is good by anyone’s standards.  Energy efficiency also adds value to homes and businesses.  Anyone who has sold or bought a house probably had an experience where an appraiser comes in and estimates the value of the home.  One of the big things they check is how up to date and efficient the energy systems are.

Energy efficiency is why hitting the short-term target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 is so easy.  It’s why this bill will stimulate the economy(without the deficits), will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs, and help inspire innovation.  Good paying jobs.  Energy efficiency is a repetitive tax cut that lasts for decades.

There’s a catch though.  These tremendous energy efficiency savings in Waxman-Markey come with solid building codes, and a mere energy efficiency standard of 5% built into the Renewable Electricity Standard.  According to the study I referenced by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, if we increased this standard to a mere 10%, the cumulative savings would be $50 billion dollars by 2030.  Not that we should only stop at 10%, it’s estimated by the Council that with a good energy audit and an aggressive overhaul of energy systems, with only current technology we can reduce energy usage 25-30 percent.  Based on what I’ve been seeing with new strides in high-tech central manager energy systems, we can go much higher in large facilities.

Take that, and try to wrap your head around how many jobs that would mean, how much money people would save, and how many greenhouse gas emissions we would prevent from every entering the atmosphere.  Why would we not go for that?

Yes, the energy efficiency provisions in Waxman-Markey will do a lot of good things.  They aren’t even that strong.  Let’s make them stronger, lets make them the next stimulus.

February 9, 2009

Perspective on Stimulus Debate

Filed under: MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:19 pm
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Let it Rain!

Let it Rain!

So I know the stimulus bill is likely to squeak by the US Senate soon since 3 Republicans have decided to cross party lines because of 100 billion dollars of cuts.  However, I just have to add my thoughts to the mess that is taking place in Washington.  I’m going to do it in a 1,2,3 fashion to try and lay out what what I’m thinking.

1.  The world’s leading economists have said that there needs to be a massive stimulus spending bill of around or over 1 trillion dollars.

2.  Barack Obama has been saying since he was elected that he is going to want to pass a giant stimulus spending bill.

3.  Barack Obama reaches across to Republicans in the opening weeks on the stimulus bill, welcoming ideas.  Republican majority leaders appear outside on the white house lawn saying that are impressed with him extending his hand, and are willing to work with him.

TIMEOUT… this point, is there anyone out there that thinks there isn’t going to be a bill with a lot of government spending?

4.  The Democrats and Obama compromise with Republicans and make the bill about 60% spending and 40% tax cuts.  Republicans LOVE tax cuts.  Democrats..not so much.  I would see this as a big “reach across the isle” and “here’s enough tax cuts to appease you” gesture.

5.  Republicans seem to think that THEY WON THE ELECTION, and that THEY CONTROL THE CONGRESS.  They suddenly complain out of nowhere that there is spending(shocker!) in the bill.

6.  Republicans offer ridiculous amendments that make the bill 0% spending and 100% tax cuts.  Democrats say no.  Republicans cry out that the crazy liberal democrats are refusing to be bi-partisan, that Obama is failing to live up to his promise to reach across the isle, and that this spending bill will not stimulate the economy.

7.  They all vote against the bill in the House.  Just about all are opposed in the Senate.

Hello?  You are not in the majority.  The “my way or the highway” approach is completely idiotic.

Sorry, but the fact that anyone out there is buying the crap these guys are shoveling is ridiculous.  They like to cite small dumb projects that are in the stimulus bill that cost a few million dollars here and there, which really I agree shouldn’t be in the bill.  Whoever is adding these small stupid projects onto the bill should have to explain themselves on prime-time.  However, the fact remains that these small stupid projects don’t add up to more than 1% of the entire stimulus bill.  Quit nitpicking for crying out loud.  Quit being anti-investment.  Quit proving time and time again you don’t have a clue about the economy.  Pass the damn stimulus bill.

If you really think EVERYTHING in the bill is wasteful, then how about you volunteer that your district won’t take a dime from the stimulus bill since it won’t have any benefit.  That will cut the spending side of things real fast.

January 27, 2009

Column on Stimulus Bill

So I have a column out today criticizing part of the stimulus bill and making a suggestion. Enjoy!

Environmental stimulus: Thinking like it’s 1999

Matt Dernoga

Issue date: 1/27/09 Section: Opinion

Last year was a rough year. Layoffs at the unemployment office, foreclosures extending to our doghouses and a national debt in dollars approaching the distance in miles between the Earth and the nearest galaxy. Good news has been hard to come by. Fortunately, our elected officials are experts at spinning bad news into “good news.”

How else can local and state politicians proclaim with an infallible sense of pride that there are thousands of infrastructure projects backlogged and ready to go? The “good news” is they’re perfect for President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. Why have we had trillions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure spending waiting for shovels to hit the ground since before I hit kindergarten? Is it because the government isn’t spending enough of your money? Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question.

Or is it because the majority of our land-use policies, transportation policies and infrastructure planning have been based on a flawed 20th century model for growth?

Our cities have been expanding at an unsustainable rate, swallowing up rural land that dares to reside on the edge. The creation of all these suburbs on the edges of cities means people and the new infrastructure they require – especially the roads connecting them back to the city – are spread out like butter on a slice of bread. This expansion took place at a pace so furiously irresponsible that governments could no longer raise the funds to upkeep the new roads, bridges, schools, firehouses or even Vice President Joe Biden’s hair plugs. All that stuff costs a lot of money.

There’s a major environmental negligence with these kinds of growth policies as well. Everyone driving to and from the city for work gets stuck in congestion. We end up with worsening air pollution, water pollution from runoff and increased gas consumption. Then, all of our local and state officials declare that we need to clean up our environment while promoting the same poor growth policies that were causing the pollution in the first place.

The majority of the delayed projects that Obama is planning to resurrect follow our 20th century growth model – that’s when they were designed. To an individual lacking peripheral vision, the stimulus money needs to go into these outdated initiatives where shovels are ready to hit the ground. But the leaders of our local governments, our state governments and our federal government need to stake a step back. Try looking at the whole picture rather than at just a single pixel.

There needs to be a conscious recognition that the way to address the economic, national security and environmental challenges we face is not by building new roads. It’s not by further expanding our cities. Poor land use and transportation decisions have driven each other for far too long. Investments need to be made that will have long-lasting positive ripple effects for decades.

Invest massively in bus transit by replacing and upgrading every single fleet of every region in the nation. The struggling automakers can learn how to make buses, right? Fast-track all of the mass transit projects in the books, and revitalize what we already have. This includes light rail, subways, rapid transit and freight rail. Make everything state of the art. This will take cars and trucks off the roads, reduce our infrastructure upkeep costs, decrease the check amounts we write to foreign countries for fuel and cut carbon emissions at the same time.

These investments should be the priority of the economic stimulus when it comes to transportation. The stakes couldn’t be higher. What do we want for our money? Good news, or “good news?” Change, or more of the same? Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question.

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major. He can be reached at

December 7, 2008

Economic Stimulus into Green Tech.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt Dernoga @ 3:08 am
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There was a good article in the NY Times a few days ago about how the economic stimulus package Obama is considering will largely be tied to investment in green technologies. Sounds good to me.

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