Energizer Newsletter

February 7, 2012

Volume 2, Issue 38

Past Issues

Extension Clean Energy Outreach

by Leigh Fortson
Extension Regional Communications Coordinator and REA (Renewable Energy Advocate)

CSU Co-Creates Award-Winning Cookstove for Developing World

Cookstove for Developing World
Photo courtesy of Envirofit International

CSU, its spinoff Envirofit International and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been honored by the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for designing and disseminating a cleaner burning cookstove that is directly helping households throughout the developing world.

The Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer recognizes employees of FLC member laboratories and non-laboratory staff who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally developed technology.

Bryan Willson, founder of the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory and a mechanical engineering professor, started the cookstoves program at the university and is a co-founder of Envirofit.

His co-director, Morgan DeFoort, leads a team of undergraduate and graduate students who worked with Oak Ridge and Envirofit to develop a proprietary alloy for the cookstove’s combustion chamber as well as an orifice plate that helps the stoves reduce smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80 percent. The ring creates turbulence that directs unburned gases into the center of the combustion chamber.

“This award recognizes the collaboration that we welcome at Colorado State that provides our students exposure to some of the top engineers in their fields and also produces hands-on solutions applicable in the real world,” DeFoort said.

The award for “Materials for a Low-Cost, Clean Cookstove” is shared by Colorado State, Envirofit and Oak Ridge Envirofit researchers for developing the EnviroFlame Combustion System, which is the heart of Envirofit cookstoves.

The trick for the students is continuing to improve the efficiency and durability of the stove while keeping costs low, DeFoort said. Envirofit now has numerous products that incorporate the alloy and has sold over 300,000 stoves across India, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Envirofit is a private, non-profit technology leader using sustainable, scalable business models to solve global health and environmental problems. The four founding partners of Envirofit all have ties to CSU: Willson, co-director of the laboratory; Paul Hudnut, instructor in the College of Business; and two former students of Willson’s, Tim Bauer and Nathan Lorenz, now vice president of Operations and vice president of Engineering, respectively, for Envirofit.

“We are honored to receive this award. It is has been incredible to have access to the cutting edge research and knowledge base at Oak Ridge National Lab to help address people's fundamental need to cook on cleaner more efficient biomass stoves,” Lorenz said.

Energy Audit Illuminates Air Leaks

CSU Extension partnered with the City of Grand Junction, Americorp, certain energy providers and a list of other collaborators to create a valley-wide campaign to enlist residents to sign up for energy audits. EnergyWise Consultants and Frost Busters participated as program auditors.

My husband and I knew it was a good idea to participate and work with a credible energy auditor, but little did we know what we would learn.

A picture is worth 1000 words. So, here are two photos that will tell the story of what’s going on with the hearth above our gas fireplace.

area being evaluatedheat loss

Sadly, the purple area indicates a colder temperature, or where our house is bleeding, or put more blatantly, clues about how bad our carbon footprint actually is.

The good news is that this company (and all reputable ones) provides a detailed report of what’s going on in all parts of the home. They provide infrared photos like the ones here, and they offer solutions and priority tables for what should be attended to first. Here are some examples of what was contained in our report.

Heat loss through fanFan with heat loss

Images show air leakage at what appears to be a fan above the laundry room. We recommend abandoning this fan and repairing the drywall establishing an air barrier and a solid surface for attic insulation. Notice the cellulose falling out of the fan. It is conceivable the intent of the fan was for make-up air for the dryer but with the doors in place the fan is neither required nor desired. Be sure that all attic side improvements are completed prior to installing additional insulation into the attic.

Air Leakage:

39% of the air in your home is fairly leaky. Improvements can yield significant energy savings and can be cost-effective. Another way to illustrate your home’s air leakage is with Approximate Leakage Area, or ALA. ALA is a way to estimate and visualize all of the leaks in your house added together. For your house, the Approximate Leakage Area is equivalent to a hole between your house and the outside which is 272.1 square inches, or 1.9 square feet in size. When performing air-sealing work on your house, I strongly recommend working with a contractor who will use a blower door to direct their air-sealing efforts. Without using a blower door, the contractor will not know whether they achieve your air leakage reduction goals. Be sure to discuss these goals before work begins. Significant air leaks include:

fixing crawlspace rim
  • evaporative cooler vents
  • attic access
  • outlets / switches on exterior walls
  • wall penetrations
  • ceiling penetrations
  • recessed lights
  • crawlspace rim
  • interior soffit
  • bath vents
  • door weather stripping
  • door trim


Air-sealing improvements are some of the most cost effective ones you can perform. I recommend having your contractor:

  • Install evaporative cooler covers or sheet magnets where openings go through the drywall.
  • Caulk around window and door trim.
  • Add weather stripping to doors.
  • Weather strip the opening of the attic hatch door with rubberized or closed cell foam weather stripping. We recommend constructing attic hatches from 1/2 inch thick MDF board because the added weight compresses the weather strip and ensures a good seal.
  • Insert foam gaskets behind the outlets and switch plates on exterior walls after caulking any gaps between finished wall surface and electrical box. Then install childproof plugs in unused outlets.
  • Seal gaps between skylights and trim/drywall with low expanding foam and/ or caulk.
  • Improve the crawl space if local code allows and seal the crawl space vents. See the "Foundation" section of the report for more information.

To learn more about the energy efficient actions you can make to your home, check out CSU’s energy webpage, or call a trusted auditor. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/home.html

US Army Awards $61Million to Energy Contracts

Source: cleantechnica.com

The U.S. Army awarded three Energy Savings Performance Contracts in December totaling $61 million, including a contract that will result in the largest renewable energy project put into place by the U.S. Army. Together, the three projects will save the Army a total of 267 billion BTUs annually and provide the Army with 8.2 megawatts of renewable power capacity.

solar panels at Fort Carson, CO

At Fort Carson, the Army partnered with a local energy provider to build a photovoltaic solar array on top of a closed landfill. The White Sands Missile Range project in New Mexico, awarded last December, will provide the Army with 4.44-megawatts of installed photovoltaic capacity saving 10 million kilowatt hours of electricity and $930,000 annually. When finished, the White Sands project will be the largest renewable energy project in the Army, more than double the size of this two-megawatt array at Fort Carson.

See More: U.S. Army

Breakthrough Furnace Can Cut Solar Costs

Source: NREL
solar optical furnace
The cavity inside the Solar Optical Furnace glows white hot during a simulated firing of a solar cell.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder

Solar cells, the heart of the photovoltaic industry, must be tested for mechanical strength, oxidized, annealed, purified, diffused, etched, and layered.

Heat is an indispensable ingredient in each of those steps, and that's why large furnaces dot the assembly lines of all the solar cell manufacturers. The state of the art has been thermal or rapid-thermal-processing furnaces that use radiant or infrared heat to quickly boost the temperature of silicon wafers.

Now, there's something new. A gamechanging Optical Cavity Furnace developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory uses optics to heat and purify solar cells at unmatched precision while sharply boosting the cells' efficiency.

NREL researchers continue to improve the furnace and expect it to be able soon to hike the efficiency by 4 percentage points, a large leap in an industry that measures its successes a half a percentage point at a time. "Our calculations show that some material that is at 16 percent efficiency now is capable of reaching 20 percent if we take advantage of these photonic effects," NREL Principal Engineer Bhushan Sopori said. "That's huge."

Meanwhile, NREL and its private-industry partner, AOS Inc., are building a manufacturing-size Optical Cavity Furnace capable of processing 1,200 wafers an hour.

At about a quarter to half the cost of a standard thermal furnace, the OCF is poised to boost the solar cell manufacturing industry in the United States by helping produce solar cells with higher quality and efficiency at a fraction of the cost.

The furnace's process times also are significantly shorter than conventional furnaces. The Optical Cavity Furnace takes only a few minutes to process a solar wafer.

NREL has cooperative research and development agreements with several of the world's largest solar-cell manufacturers, all intrigued by the OCF's potential to boost quality and lower costs. To read all: http://www.nrel.gov/news/features/feature_detail.cfm/feature_id=1629

New Financing Models Enable Community Solar Gardens

Source: forbes.com

Rapidly dropping polysilicon prices over the past year have inspired several utility-scale solar developments to move forward after many months’ pause. Solar gardens At the same time, those in favor of distributed generation (placing solar on every available rooftop to supply energy locally) have also made strides in improving the business case for smallscale solar, particularly with respect to what is being called “community solar”–centrally located solar projects that enable those who can’t necessarily put solar on their own roofs to support and benefit from solar energy.

Now, two emergent financing mechanisms are shaking up the energy business case, creating models that could work for a variety of renewable energy sources. Berkeley-based Solar Mosaic has taken a crowd-funding approach to solar. Much in the way that Kickstarter enables average citizens to fund creative projects, Solar Mosaic enables citizens to support local solar development. The difference is that those citizens earn back theirinvestment once the solar has been installed.

The solar garden approach also enables those without the option of putting solar on their roofs–renters, people who live in historical buildings, people whose homes are in a Homeowners Association, or people whose roofs aren’t positioned to make efficient use of the sun–to reap the rewards of solar energy. The idea is to use marginalized or un-used land to install solar panels, creating community solar gardens. Much the way community-supported agriculture operates; community solar gardens would enable local residents to pay to be members of the garden. Rather than fresh local produce, those members would receive credit from the local utility for generating solar energy.

The first such project in the country is currently underway in Colorado Springs, where an old landfill is being given a second life as a community solar garden. Three-and-a-half acres of the 40-acre site will soon host 500 kw of solar panels, all owned by local residents who will be seeing an average 10-percent reduction on their energy bills (the panels cost $550, with a minimum purchase of two panels). Recent changes to legislation in Colorado and Massachusetts have made solar gardens possible in those states, and California is currently considering legislation that would do the same.

To read all: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2011/12/30/how-new-financing-models-couldmake-solar-the-facebook-of-the-energy-industry/

Renewable Energy Prices Drop in Southwest Colorado

Source: Durangoherald.com

The premium to purchase green power credits through La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) has dropped to 8 cents from 10 cents per 100 kilowatt hour, the cooperative announced.

The price reduction means the average household in Archuleta and La Plata counties can offset all the electricity they use in their home for about 50 cents per month, said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services, in a news release.

“LPEA’s members have been very supportive of the program thus far, and we hope as it becomes more economically viable more members will sign up,” Schwantes said.

LPEA is a leading purchaser of “voluntary” green power within Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s 44-member cooperative system since the program started in 1998.

Members currently support nearly 2.5 million kilowatt hours of green-power generation each month. (The average home uses about 700 kilowatt hours per month.)

Renewable energy has become increasingly cost effective.

The LPEA green-power program was initiated in 1998. The premium has decreased from the initial $2.50 per 100 kwh block to $1.25 in 2006; 80 cents in 2008; 40 cents on Jan. 1, 2010; 10 cents in July 2010; to 8 cents on Jan. 1.

LPEA members have the option to sign up and purchase green-power credits from Tri-State, thereby offsetting their traditional electricity power purchase with renewable-energy credits. Or they can opt to support local renewable projects through LPEA, or double up and purchase Tri-State green power credits and support local projects for 16 cents per month per 100 kwh blocks.

Businesses promoting themselves as 100 percent green-powered and buildings maintaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification are required to offset their traditional electricity power with renewable-energy credits.

“When our members designate green-power funds to local generation, we are able to help these local renewable installations become more financially feasible,” Schwantes said. “Our members have asked that more power be produced locally, and we’re working to facilitate that.”

Southwest Colorado is seeing a growth in small-power producers.

The Department of Energy also is accepting proposals for a 4.5-megawatt solar farm located in Ridges Basin. And ranchers and small water companies are exploring and even bringing online micro-hydro projects.

Within LPEA’s service area, 320 solar photovoltaic systems are tied to LPEA’s system, plus a 4-megawatt biomass project in Archuleta County may launch in 2013.

Because the green-power purchase program is voluntary, LPEA members must request to participate. To sign up, visit www.lpea.coop/green_power/greenForm.asp or call 247-5786.

Colorado Ranching Family Finds Hydrothermal Water

Source: Denverpost.com
Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs

Chuck and Meredith Ogilby's Avalanche Ranch, next to their Hell Roaring Ranch in Redstone, opened last spring. Its three gravel-floored hot springs pools have hosted a deluge of international travelers from as far as Denmark, Sweden and Australia. (Jason Blevins, The Denver Post)

Chuck and Meredith Ogilby soak in one of the pools. They're courting sustainable-energy groups for support in developing the area's geothermal potential. (Jason Blevins, The Denver Post)

A geologist had already told Chuck and Meredith Ogilby that the chance of successfully tapping hydrothermal water beneath their family's guest ranch above the Crystal River was less than 50 percent.

Then their son, Kayo, a geology teacher at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, brought his students on a field trip to the Ogilbys' Hell Roaring Ranch on the west side of Colorado 133 south of Carbondale. The students discovered vents beneath the highway, floating hope that heated water could be found beneath the Ogilbys' historic ranch.

"They gave us an 80 to 90 percent chance of Cabin at Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs hitting hot water," said Chuck Ogilby, a longtime Vail Valley resident who bought the Crystal River property in 1978.

Avalanche Ranch has 15 cabins for guests and has been elevated onto the state's hot springs circuit. Plans include using the thermal water to heat the cabins. (Jason Blevins, The Denver Post)

"You gotta believe the 17-year-olds, right?" said Meredith Ogilby as the couple enjoyed their daily soak in the family's new hot springs, which now anchor their neighboring Avalanche Ranch and mark the first new hot springs resort in Colorado in decades.

The Ogilbys' newest amenity — three gravel-floored hot springs pools steaming in an aspen grove beneath the shadow of Mount Sopris — has spurred visitation and elevated their Avalanche Ranch, a modest collection of 15 cozy cabins, onto the famous Colorado hot springs circuit Since opening the springs last spring, the Ogilbys have hosted a deluge of international travelers from as far as Denmark, Sweden and Australia. Add in the locals from the Roaring Fork Valley and all of a sudden, the Ogilbys' formerly summertime business is year-round.

"We didn't really expect it to be this busy," said Chuck Ogilby, a former Vail Town Council member who also co-owns the Shrine Mountain Inn atop Vail Pass.

The hot springs are drawing visitors from nearby families who are relishing their own quiet pools only 30 minutes from bustling Glenwood Springs.

"We always tell everyone, 'Spread the word,' " Meredith Ogilby said. "And they say, 'Oh, no, we can't do that.' "

Finding and tapping healthy flows of 100-degree water was only part of the job. The Ogilbys purchased a water right and a federal discharge permit that allows them to harvest 112 gallons a minute and put the chemical-free water back in the Crystal River. They built a 3,020-foot insulated pipe from the well to the pools.

Using a renewable-energy grant from the Rural Development and Small Business Administration, the family is planning to use the hot water to heat Avalanche Ranch's cabins. They are courting other sustainable-energy organizations for support in developing the ranch's geothermal potential.

Renewable Energy Powers Super Bowl

Source: businesswire.com

The National Football League has been “greening” management of Super Bowl for 18 years. This year, together with the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee, the NFL has extended the use of ’green‘ power to all six major Super Bowl facilities. Everything from the computers in the Motorola Super Bowl XLVI Media Center to the lights that shined down on the Super Bowl teams were powered by green energy.

Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s longest serving provider of green power, was selected to supply 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electricity used at the major NFL venues. These include Lucas Oil Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVI, the Indiana Convention Center, site of the NFL Experience Football Theme Park, and all four of the major NFL hotels including the NFL Headquarters, the SuperBowl Media Center, and the AFC and NFC team hotels.

NFL and Green Mountain Energy

The RECs used to green Super Bowl XLVI are being generated at wind farms located in North Dakota. Renewable energy certificates provide an additional revenue stream that can help build future renewable energy facilities.

Overall, the RECs avoided more than 14,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions associated with Super Bowl electricity consumption over the course of the month-long period that led up to and immediately followed the big game.

Providing the RECs is only the beginning of Green Mountain’s involvement in this year’s Super Bowl. The company also donated a residential solar array that was incorporated into the Near East Side Legacy Project, an Indianapolis Host Committee effort to revitalize one of the city’s central neighborhoods.

Green Mountain has also joined the NFL to support urban forestry projects that will take place in the spring. Trees will be planted in Indianapolis neighborhoods in partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. The final tree planting event will include the annual passing of a “golden shovel” to next year’s New Orleans Super Bowl XLVII Host Committee – a tradition that began in 2008.

In addition, Green Mountain provided carbon offsets to balance out the greenhouse gas emissions created by air and ground travel by the AFC and NFC teams competing in Super Bowl. These high quality, third party certified offsets mitigated the environmental impact created by transportation greenhouse gas emissions.

“Green Mountain Energy Company helped us reduce the overall environmental impact of SuperBowl activities,” according to NFL Environmental Program Director Jack Groh. “Together, we have been able to expand the way we address greenhouse gas emissions and leave a permanent benefit to the host community.” In addition to Green Mountain’s support for Super Bowl environmental projects, the company is providing renewable energy certificates to green the electricity used at Aloha Stadium, site of the 2012NFL Pro Bowl. Green Mountain, along with the NFL and nearly a dozen local partners, is also helping to fund a local urban forestry project at the Waianae Boys and Girls Club in Hawaii.

News from Cary Weiner

CSU Clean Energy Specialist
(970) 491-3784
Contact Cary if you have questions about the information below.

Colorado Energy Master – In Your County?
Our pilot offering of the Colorado Energy Master program (www.ext.colostate.edu/energymaster) was successful with 40 participants in 4 counties. We have developed a tentative schedule for fall of 2012 (September – November) and would like to expand to as many counties as are willing and able to participate. Please contact me soon if you would like to bring this great program to your county in the fall of 2012.

Ag Energy Winter Workshop Series
We held the first of six regional winter workshops on agricultural energy in Yuma in early December and are hoping to reach even more producers and ag professionals in the coming months. Topics include ag energy audits, efficiency, and renewable energy. Here is where we’ll be and when – please join us for one or more and send to producers you know that might be interested!

Date Location Agenda Registration Email
or Website
Feb. 9 30th Annual Southern Rocky Mountain Ag Conference and Expo - Monte Vista www.montevista.org www.montevista.org (719) 852-7381
Mar. 1 Delta-Montrose Electric Association - Montrose http://www.ext.colostate.edu/
Denis.Reich@colostate.edu (970) 242-8683

Our new Center for Agricultural Energy has just formed an advisory board and will soon begin taking applications for reduced-cost irrigation energy audits.

Results from our follow-up survey of teachers we trained on our clean energy curriculum (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/k12.html) are in and include:

  • 66 teachers/Extension agents have been trained to teach from the curriculum
  • Curriculum kits can be loaned to teachers from 13 different Extension offices (special thanks to Barb Shaw)
  • 13 teachers in six counties have used the curriculum in their classrooms so far this school year
  • 875 students have been taught at least one lesson plan from the curriculum so far this school year
  • 100% of teachers who have used the curriculum this school year think the curriculum: provided hands-on lessons; increased science, math, and technology knowledge; is engaging and enjoyable; helped students meet standards; and is easy to use

We will be discussing ways to build off of these efforts in the middle of this month and I welcome your ideas and input.

Of Note:

We continue to post short audio and video bits that you and the people you serve may find useful. Go to: www.ext.colostate.edu/energy.

February 8 - 10
Solar Power Colorado 2012 Embassy Suites Conference Center, Loveland, CO

February 24th
Energy Forum and Expo Two Rivers Convention Center, Grand Junction, CO

May 7-8
6th Annual Energy Efficiency Finance Forum, Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston Mass.

May 13 – 17
World Renewable Energy Forum, Colorado Convention Center, Denver
http://wref2012.org, 303.443.3130
WREF 2012 will examine how renewable energy technologies address the world's economic, environmental and security challenges at every scale, from off-grid villages to gigawatt power plants. WREF 2012 will be the premier international renewable-energy conference of the year!


Use the calculator at the Colorado Carbon Fund website and offset now!

The CSU Healthy Homes Partnership has posted a coloring book that can help children learn about energy saving and related issues. Go to www.healthyhomespartnership.net and type in Saving energy in my home.

Learn About Your Kilowatt Use
Twenty three Colorado State University Extension offices across the state are now offering Kill-a-Watt electricity monitors through a free loan program. The devices measure appliance electricity use and offer opportunities for Colorado residents to save energy and money. The meters are plugged in to an outlet and appliances are plugged into the meter. The meter then measures the appliance’s electricity use and can project energy cost and use data over an hour, day, week, month, or year. Once meter users learn about how much a second refrigerator or “phantom load” costs, for instance, they may decide to take action to improve their bottom line. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/killawatt/index.html

Smart Energy Tips, a great online e-zine, can help you learn more about keeping your cooling and heating bills down, and your carbon footprint at a minimum. Go to: http://www.smartenergyliving.org

CSU Energy Website
To learn more about wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels, visit our energy website at: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy.

Go to http://hes.lbl.gov/hes/db/zip.shtml and you can do an online calculation of your own energy use and carbon footprint. It’s easy to use. Tell your communities about it.

Send me anything that’s newsworthy that you’re doing in the world of energy efficiency and renewables. We need to keep our colleagues up to date on what’s going on in Extension and the value of our role.

Leigh Fortson
Extension Regional Communications Coordinator and REA (Renewable Energy Advocate)
Colorado State University Extension
2764 Compasss Drive, Suite 232
Grand Junction, CO 81506-8746
(970) 241-3346, FAX (970) 241-3643

Updated Tuesday, August 05, 2014