The Appalachian Energy Summit, held in mid-July in Boone, North Carolina, had the 2017 theme, “Perspectives: Policy & Practice.” This theme highlighted the interdisciplinary approach necessary for the successful deployment of efficient and sustainable energy.
Three topics from the summit—education, community, and leadership—were discussed in detail, all of which relate to energy in unique ways. The summit’s main ideas of the topics were presented in relation to the deployment of energy-based technology, though they can be applied to almost any industry. Continue reading
How can small (and large) water systems pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy, helping cut energy costs? As energy is often the largest variable expense in a water system’s operating budget, this is a recurring question for the ongoing Smart Management for Small Water Systems project. There are many answers on how to pay for energy improvements, such as in my previous blog post on energy savings performance contracting, and throughout the Environmental Finance Center’s clean energy finance work. One such financing mechanism which water systems could employ is the Internal Energy Revolving Fund. How do these funds work?
The way that drinking water and wastewater systems pay for energy improvements in the United States is changing – including for small drinking water systems (serving 10,000 or fewer people). As has often been mentioned on the EFC’s blog, the days of huge federal grants for construction of water and wastewater systems are long past. Since an energy improvement is a kind of capital improvement, there are many ways to pay for such projects: cash savings (e.g. through a utility’s capital improvement fund); loans (state revolving fund loans or bank loans); issuing bonds (if you are a local government entity); internal energy revolving funds; and more. But coming up with the initial capital through one of the aforementioned means can be challenging.
Glenn Barnes is a senior project director with the Environmental Finance Center and is the co-director of the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project.
All drinking water systems should be concerned about water loss—water that is treated but does not reach an end user because it leaks out through the system’s network of pipes. Water loss wastes both a precious resource (the drinking water) and potentially a lot of money as well (energy use, chemicals, wear and tear on equipment, etc.). Continue reading
by Glenn Barnes
Glenn Barnes is senior project director with the Environmental Finance Center based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the co-director of the Smart Management for Small Water Systems Project.
Recently, the Environmental Finance Center at UNC led workshops on energy management and rate setting for drinking water systems in Hawai‘i and several territories of the United States. These workshops are part of the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project, which includes trainings for systems across the US (click here to see a full list of all of our past trainings). All small drinking water systems face financial and managerial challenges such as dis-economies of scale, difficulty paying for needed capital improvements, and problems retaining qualified staff. The water systems on these islands, however, face additional unique challenges. Continue reading