PPL utilities expand energy efficiency portfolio

In the US, PPL utilities this week received Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's approval to increase the number of programmes in its energy efficiency portfolio.

According to a local news source, the approval allows the utility to include a set of programmes targeting both residential and commercial consumers, in its $307.5m energy efficiency portfolio.

PPL utilities submission of its energy efficiency plans is in line with Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) mandate for utilities to draft new measures or enhance existing programmes to help consumers reduce energy bills.

By implementing the approved plan, PPL utilities are targeting to reduce annual consumption by 1.4m MGW, reported The Morning Call.

The development will see launch of a demand-response plan that allows commercial customers to sign up for rate incentives in exchange for agreeing to scale back energy usage at peak times.

Joe Nixon, spokesperson for PPL utilities said: “The programme will be for non-residential customers who agree to reduce their peak demand during demand-response events.”

For residential consumers, Nixon said “[the programmes] are very similar to the current plans we have in place” and will include recycling of energy-wasting appliances such as old refrigerators, education initiatives, home-energy efficiency programs and lighting efficiency improvements.

[quote]For business consumers, PPL utilities said it will carry out six energy efficiency events per summer in which a single event will be comprised of four hours of reducing energy consumption through various initiatives.

US energy efficiency technologies

PPL’s plans approval follows increased government parastatals backing of energy efficiency technologies’  research and development for improved US grids reliability and efficiency.

In mid March, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded technology company Lucid Design Group, a grant to develop energy efficiency technology.

In a press statement, EPA said it gave the California-based company, US$295,507 for the development of innovative energy efficiency technology to protect the environment.

Under the project which saw EPA releasing a US$2,4m grant to eight small businesses in the US, Lucid Design will look into reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings specifically during periods of peak demand.

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest said: “Lucid’s project is a great example of how technology can be used to help protect the environment.

“Giving office workers immediate feedback on their energy use can help them to change their habits for the better,” he added.

The grant will help Lucid Design to further develop, test and commercialise its energy efficiency technology claimed to provide real time feedback to consumers via ambient color-based visual messaging.

During phase 1 of EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), Lucid Design and 7 other technology companies received US$100,000 for further development and commercialisation of their products and ideas.

Amongst the technologies Lucid has developed together with EPA’s funding is a ‘Building Dashboard’, an online tool that tracks in real-time how much energy and water is being used in a building and provides visual insights that can influence occupants to change their habits.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.