Author Archives: James Avery

Eclipse and Planning

How did California Grid Operators Manage the Eclipse? This is the kind of thing our power companies plan for… While school kids were gathered to “see the sun go out” others were making plans to provide power from list solar generation.
Grid managers knew exactly when the moon would transit the sun’s path, blotting out gigawatts of solar power generation along its path. California was not in the path of totality, but it was projected that the eclipse would knock out about 5,600 megawatts of solar power supplied by utility-scale power plants and rooftop solar panels. Utilities, however, were prepped and ready to replace the shortfall. IEEE has meetings and a monthly magazine that explains and discusses engineering and more.



 – Partnership between Borla® and Alphabet Energy Could Yield Significant Fuel Savings for Truck Fleets –

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. & HAYWARD, Calif. (June 24, 2015) – Borla®, the pioneer and leading manufacturer of stainless-steel performance exhaust systems and Alphabet Energy, the global leader in thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery, announced today a nonexclusive partnership to deliver the industry’s first aftermarket thermoelectric fuel-efficiency product for vehicle internal combustion engines.

Sixty percent of the energy from fuel used in cars and trucks escapes through the exhaust tailpipe as waste heat. Borla’s technologically-advanced exhaust systems coupled with Alphabet Energy’s PowerModule™ thermoelectric generator has the potential to capture 5 to 10 percent of a car or truck’s waste heat and use it to improve fuel efficiency by reducing alternator loads or replacing the alternator entirely. This captured heat can be used to power the multitude of electrical components on a modern car normally powered by the energy-hungry alternator, such as lights, heating, air conditioning, sound, and navigation systems.”

“Our customers count on us to deliver the highest quality exhaust products while also helping them manage their most pressing challenges for the Class 8 truck fleet operator, and that’s fuel efficiency,” said Alex Borla, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Borla. “As we expand into new markets, it’s our vision to combine Borla’s state-of-the-art exhaust and filtration technologies with thermoelectrics, and Alphabet Energy is the ideal partner to fulfill this vision.”

According to the US Department of Energy, a Class 8 truck traveling 150,000 – 200,000 miles per year averages $70,000 – $125,000 in fuel costs. For many, the lifetime fuel costs for a Class 8 truck are approximately five times the original purchase price of the vehicle. Heat captured by a Borla Exhaust and delivered to an Alphabet Energy’s PowerModule™ could deliver a fuel savings of 3 to 6 percent or as much as $7,500 per year, per Class 8 truck.

“Alphabet Energy is committed to transforming waste heat into value for our customers and partners,” said Dr. Matthew Scullin, Founder and CEO of Alphabet Energy. “Borla’s passion for innovation and design parallels our own and we’re excited to partner with them on the future of heavy-duty trucking exhausts and fuel efficiency improvements.”

Alphabet Energy’s PowerModules™ will undergo testing on both gasoline and diesel truck exhausts at Borla’s state-of-the-art research and development centers in Oxnard, Calif. and Johnson City, Tenn. Based on positive results from the testing, the two companies intend to co-develop and commercialize the next-generation Borla Exhaust for trucks and other mobile and stationary internal combustion engines with Alphabet Energy PowerModules™.

About BORLA Performance Industries
BORLA is the pioneer in the design and manufacture of aerospace-grade, stainless steel performance exhaust systems engineered for the motorsports and personal enthusiast – with headquarters in Johnson City, Tenn., as well as a product development, engineering and sales/marketing facility in Oxnard, Calif. With nearly 40 years of rich history – from roots in European ultra-luxury vehicles, all forms of race cars, trucks, SUVs to American Muscle – Borla has been committed to manufacturing world-class, American-made exhaust products that provide the ultimate power, style and custom sound based on the ever-changing needs of drivers. For more information, visit

Twitter: @BorlaExhaust

About Alphabet Energy
Alphabet Energy makes waste heat valuable. Leveraging nanotechnology research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Michigan State University and with over 60 patents issued and filed, the company’s proprietary PowerBlocksÔ thermoelectric material turns waste heat from exhaust into electricity and serves as the technology platform for the company’s line of waste heat recovery products, including the E1Ô  Thermoelectric Generator and PowerModulesÔ. Customers in energy-intensive industries from oil & gas, mining, manufacturing, transportation, to defense use Alphabet Energy’s products to generate reliable remote power while also reducing fuel consumption, operating costs and carbon emissions. Learn more at or on Twitter at @alphabetenergy.

GRID EDGE Live 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24, 2015) – On Thursday, June 25, a representative from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will speak at Grid Edge Live 2015, an annual event hosted in San Diego by Greentech Media.  The agenda includes utility grid modernization, microgrids, advanced energy consumers, regulatory and business model transformation, future energy trends, and more.

During the event, the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary for EERE, Dr. David Danielson, will discuss the modernization of the grid in relation to the roles that science and innovation play in developing technologies that will boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge solutions to the market, and strengthen our economic prosperity.

Additional details about Grid Edge Live 2015 are included below:


–        David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for EERE, U.S. Department of Energy
–        Moderator: Rick Thompson, President and Co-Founder, Greentech Media


Dr. David Danielson will discuss modernization of the grid in relation to the Energy Department’s role in the research and development of clean, low-carbon energy technology.

Rancho Bernardo Inn
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive
San Diego, CA 92128

The session will be available via Livestream.


–        June 25, 11:0011:30 a.m. PDT

–        Grid Modernization: A Discussion with the U.S. Department of Energy

o   David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for EERE

SF Green Film Fest May 28-June 1!!

Over the last four years, San Francisco Green Film Festival ( ) has brought over 200 compelling and relevant environmental film programs to Bay Area audiences. At venues across San Francisco we all have watched and loved the latest green independent documentaries on topics including: water in the West; better cities; nature and biodiversity; zero waste; and more.

All our films offered one thing: a unique perspective on the most pressing environmental issues.

But the Green Film Fest didn’t stop there. We have seen filmmakers, environmental experts, campaigners and local residents come together to watch, discuss and create ideas for a better world. We are using the power of film to spark environmental and social change.

It will be here soon, get ready to enjoy it!


DRIVING THE FUTURE: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars

In DRIVING THE FUTURE: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars (Arcade Publishing, April 7, 2015), Margo Oge envisions a future of clean, intelligent vehicles with lighter frames and alternative power trains, such as plug in electric and fuel cell vehicles that produce zero emissions and average 100+ mpg. The cars of tomorrow will have more in common with our smart phones than with the vehicles we drive today. With electronic architectures more like that of airplanes, they will be smarter and safer, will park themselves, and will network with other vehicles on the road to drive themselves, save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These innovative vehicles will be necessary to combat climate change as the transportation sector accounts for one-third the global greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

Oge also provides the ultimate insider’s account of the partnership between federal agencies, California and car manufacturers that led to President Obama’s historic 2012 deal targeting greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles. The deal will double the fuel efficiency of cars by 2025, avoid burning 12 billion barrels of oil and prevent the creation of 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, all while saving the consumer $1.7 trillion.

Oge’s book is readable and inspiring, filled with the history, the “why” and the future predictions we all love to read.  It’s out in hardback, not light reading, but very interesting.  — the editor

Margo Oge is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Deltawing Technologies, a company bringing a fuel-efficient racing car from the track to the road. Ms. Oge also serves on the boards of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Academy of Sciences for Energy and Environment, the International Council for Clean Transportation and the Alliance for Climate Education. Additionally, she is a member of the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Advisory Committee and the National Academies of Science Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program.

Margo Oge served at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 32 years, the last 18 of which she directed the Office of Transportation Air Quality.

Ms. Oge led the Obama Administration’s landmark 2012 Clean Air Act deal with automakers, the nation’s first action targeting greenhouse gases. This regulation will double the fuel efficiency of automakers’ fleets to 54.5 mpg and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025.

In the New York Times, Tom Friedman praised the new rules as the “Big Deal” that redeemed the administration’s previous inaction.

Ms. Oge holds an MS in Engineering from University of Massachusetts-Lowell. She has received presidential awards for her work at the EPA from President Bill Clinton and President George W Bush.

Praise for the book

“The author has a vision for the future of the automobile. It’s not exactly the flying car of the future, but almost, as it comes with smartphone-synced scheduling, zero-emissions technology, and the ability to park itself. . . . Astute . . . Oge knows her stuff.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“With her firsthand knowledge of the designs and methods the auto industry is using to achieve this milestone, Oge is the perfect person to preview the type of vehicles we will likely be driving over the next several decades. – Booklist

IEEE Event, Speaker Heath Blount, Brightworks

49ers’ New Levi’s Stadium: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at This Impressive Green Stadium
Monthly Meeting – Jan. 27, 2015 – TUESDAY

WhereSinbad’s Restaurant
Pier 2 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, California
United States 94111

Speaker: Heath Blount, Brightworks
All sports fans are excited about the newly constructed Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. But facilities engineers will be especially interested to hear about the many green features of the impressive new stadium. This presentation will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what makes Levi’s Stadium an important green stadium. Topics will include the stadium’s 1,162 solar panels; the high-efficiency, water-conserving toilets and sinks; the vegetative roof utilizing native plants; the use of recycled construction materials; the installation of high-efficiency LED lighting; and the electric vehicle charging stations. The speaker also will discuss that the stadium is working toward LEED for New Construction Gold certification, and may become the first NFL stadium to achieve that distinction.

SF IEEE IAS Chapter Upcoming Events: Monthly Meetings and Seminars
IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) San Francisco Chapter

SF IAS Workshop – Feb. 27, 2015 – Seminar

Seminar agenda

It’s a Day Long Seminar with many useful and current Topics:
An Introduction to NFPA 70E – 2015 Gary Fox (GE)
ATS Science Jay Tucker (GE)
Medium Voltage Generator System Grounding Chris Small (Laeverco, Post Glover)
NEC Code Article 250 – Grounding Mike Stone (NEMA) John Taecker (UL)
Utility Interconnection for Alternate Power Sources Chase Sun (PG&E) Hamid Matinpour (Mazzetti)
Elect Eng’s Solutions to T24 Compliance John Griffiths (Mazzetti) Geoffrey Yamasaki (Mazzetti)
Electrical Engineer’s Solutions to T24 Compliance Rick Miller (RNM Eng)
The Electrical Engineer’s BIM Technology Jessie Avery P.E., LEED (Mazzetti)

EDF Energy Innovation Series Feature: Desalination – Here Comes the Sun-And Freshwater

EDF Energy Innovation Series Feature: Desalination – Here Comes the Sun.  And Freshwater.

By: Jim Marston, Associate Vice President, US Climate and Energy

EDF’s Energy Innovation Series highlights innovations across a broad range of energy categories, including smart grid and renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency financing and progressive utilities, to name a few. This Series helps illustrate that cost-effective, clean energy solutions are available now and imperative to lowering our dependence on fossil fuels.

Find more information on this featured innovation here

WaterFX can turn virtually any water source into clean, drinkable water. And all they need is a sunny day.

This is great news for drought-stricken states like California and Texas, where water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. In Central California, for example, the drought has essentially cut off thousands of farmers this year; they have no water, and their land now lays fallow.

Part of what’s draining this precious resource is our energy use. Taking into account the acquisition, treatment, and movement required to ensure water comes out the faucet when we turn it on, it is no surprise that water is among the country’s greatest users of electricity.

Energy and water go hand-in-hand, yet we don’t fully understand our holistic energy-water footprint. If we start thinking about clean energy and water together, we can quickly advance a sustainable future for both of these vital resources, uncover joint cost-savings, and provide people dependability during the driest, most drought-stricken of times.

A company called WaterFX is addressing both our energy and water woes through its unique water treatment system that can generate fresh water from virtually any water source. It runs essentially fossil fuel-free and can be installed just about anywhere. Best of all, its founder wants everyone to copy his innovation, free of charge.

“Our approach is worth copying,” said WaterFX founder and chairman, Aaron Mandell. “The technology that our company is built upon is one that can be replicated anywhere, by anyone, and that could be a game changer for arid regions around the world. It is a vaccine for water scarcity.”

The company calls its Aqua4 system an “engineered aquifer.” It uses concentrated solar still (CSS) technology to evaporate and distill water from any treatable source – from seawater to agricultural discharge – by removing salt and other impurities as an on-site fresh water solution. The system can also store and recycle the excess heat energy it generates, enabling the CSS to run 24/7. Only during prolonged cloudy stretches would the system need to rely on other fuel sources.

“We can provide a turnkey water solution for cities, agricultural districts, and other large-scale water customers that offers long-term cost predictability without requiring them to bear all the upfront costs of new technology,” Mandell said. “They’ll buy our water just like they would from any other provider. It’s the Solar City model for water – why own the solar equipment when you can just get lower cost water.” The comparison to Solar City is quite intriguing when you consider that net metering of solar energy now enables electric meters to run in reverse, putting excess power back on the grid. The same principles can apply to water.

Mandell says one Aqua4 module can generate 65,000 gallons of freshwater a day from wastewater, drainage water, runoff, saline groundwater, industrial process water, or seawater. Because the system is modular, it is easily scalable. Double the modules on-site and you double the freshwater output.

Aqua4 is being put to the test in Central California’s agricultural region, where a scaled-down module is turning 14,000 gallons of agricultural discharge into fresh drinking water each day. That water can then be returned to rivers or recycled back into the agricultural or municipal water supply.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the company is its open source approach. It sees its growth in the service industry as a water provider, owning and running the systems on-site and simply selling the reclaimed water to the buyer. So it’s not patenting its innovations.

Mandell sees a significant advantage to the open source approach. “Technology is an important part of what we’re doing, but not the only part,” he said. “There are countless smart people around the world that will make this technology even better. And when they do, our service will become stronger and everyone will benefit.”


Energy Source Crowd Funding

NORWAY—A cheaper and cleaner energy source is something every homeowner and business owner desires, and Norwegian startup GasDecEngine Technology AS (GDE) has developed a product to meet the demand. GDE’s micro-combined heat and power (micro CHP) steam engines provide efficient energy on location with fewer emissions. GDE has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $150,000 by August 3 to combine with a $180,000 government grant to build a market prototype.

The revolutionary design of the micro CHP will allow small businesses and homes to lower their energy costs, as well as their emissions and even enable them to generate a profit from the energy they produce.

“We will serve an international market with our two design patents,” said CEO and Cofounder Heiko Beilfuss. “Micro CHPs are perfect substitutes for the millions of boilers Europe replaces each year.”

Rather than piping energy through electrical grids, which lose energy during transference, micro CHPs are placed on location and both create energy and capture their own exhaust to use as a heat source. “Our generators use fossil fuels 30 percent more efficiently than our competitors,” said Beilfuss. “We are the hybrid vehicle – the Toyota Prius – of energy generators.” In addition to creating energy efficiently, micro CHPs also produce excess electricity, which can be sold back to electricity providers in many markets.

The crowdfunding campaign will help build a demo CHP expected to be ready for public presentation by June 2015, and contributors will receive perks. Contributors giving $249 will receive parts needed to build a miniature mechanism of the CHP engine. Those giving $789 will receive three-dimensional and two-dimensional drawings and a license to build their own CHP engine. Those giving $4,479 will be considered an early adopter and receive a complete set of parts to build their own GDE micro-CHP engine and the rights to use the engine however they wish.

Contributors giving $9,200 will receive a fully assembled engine based on the prototype, which has the capacity to three kilowatts of electrical power and 17 kilowatts of heat. Supporters giving $25,000 will receive a copy of the fully functional and tested micro-CHP.

About GasDecEngine Technology AS

GasDecEngine Technology AS (GDE) is a Norwegian startup that develops, creates, and sells micro-combined heat and power (micro CHP) steam engines.The company’s patented technology makes its product at least 30 percent more mechanical efficient than its competitors. Its micro CHPs helps homeowners, businesses, and governments to reduce fuel costs, avoid high-emission technology taxes, and prevent climate change. For more information, visit To contribute to the company’s crowdfunding campaign, visit


Power Plant Rule a Tipping Point for Clean Energy Economy

By: Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President, Clean Energy

For those of us (and all of you) who’ve been urging the government to implement meaningful climate policy, the release yesterday of a plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants has been a long time coming. But it finally came.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution rule for existing fossil-fueled power plants – also known as the Clean Power Plan – are a huge win for our climate.

We also think it could go down in history as the tipping point in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy. Here’s why:

Old, dirty power plants will be retired

The nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Placing carbon regulations on this source of electricity for the first time in history will transform our energy system.

Coal Fired for Clean? Sounds like an easy decision, but the details are what make us energy efficient or not. These decisions are worth keeping our eyes on!  — the editor

Utilities have acknowledged that it doesn’t make economic sense to pour money into retrofitting and retaining older, less-reliable coal-fired power plants when they need to focus investments on newer and more reliable plants.

This means that many of the most highly-polluting coal-fired power plants that provide electricity to our homes and businesses today will be retired. It presents a unique opportunity for clean energy solutions to fill the gap in generating capacity.

Increasing our use of homegrown, renewable power sources and investing in proven tools such as energy efficiency, smart grids, and demand response (which compensates electricity customers for conserving energy) will help fill this gap while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that pollute the environment and contribute to climate change.

States will lead the way

EPA’s approach provides clear guidance for what limits and metrics must be met, but leaves states the flexibility to design solutions to meet those requirements as they see fit. This will encourage all states (even those which do not embrace the climate challenge) to look at clean energy technology as an attractive option when they seek to comply with the law.

Federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants are exactly the clarity states need to lead us to clean, reliable and affordable energy for all Americans – now and in the future.

Entrepreneurs, investors ready to jump in

What’s more, the new EPA plan – once it’s final – will give entrepreneurs, corporations, and venture capitalists the market signal they need to go full steam ahead with low-carbon innovations. It may be one of the largest market opportunities in history to drive the development and implementation of clean energy on a national level.

At Environmental Defense Fund, we’re right in the middle of many of these promising solutions, working with state legislators and regulators to clear outdated rules that mire us in the past and discourage innovators.

Paving the way for a cleaner, healthier future

We’re working with financial institutions to develop new funding opportunities for clean energy investments that will help raise the estimated $10.5 trillion needed over the next two decades to transition our world to a clean energy economy.

We’re working with energy research pioneer Pecan Street Inc. in Austin, TX to test customer energy management solutions such as rooftop solar, home energy storage, learning thermostats, and time-of-use energy pricing (which incentivizes people to use electricity during periods of low, or “off-peak”, energy demand).

And we’re pushing to make energy efficiency a cornerstone of America’s energy policy.

It may not be as sexy as fuel cells and solar panels, but building a more efficient energy system — from power plants to transmission lines to homes and buildings — is the most affordable and cleanest path forward.

The United States is expected to spend about $2 trillion over the next two decades to replace our outdated electric infrastructure. These new regulations are a step in the right direction toward ensuring that these investments are spent on our future and not entrenching us in our past.

EPA’s proposed rule means good jobs, economic development, and a healthier planet.

And as a pioneer at the forefront of this movement, EDF is determined to make sure we stay on track.

A Stronger America: Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants and Cleaner, Safer Energy

(Washington D.C. – May 27, 2014) America’s fleet of fossil fueled power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.  The Carbon Pollution Standards, which are expected to be announced next week, will finally put national limits on the amount of carbon pollution emitted by fossil fuel fired power plants.  Standards are for future and existing power plants are urgently needed, have broad-based support, and can ensure that America forges a strong and prosperous clean energy economy.
EPA has indicated that each state will have the flexibility to design a tailored, cost-effective plan to secure the needed emission reductions from existing plants.
Here are more facts you should know about the Carbon Pollution Standards:
Americans strongly support climate action. Public polling has found that:
  • 64% of Americans believe the government should limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants to address climate change and improve public health.
  • 61% of Americans said developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the President and Congress.
  • More than half of small business owners support limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants. Furthermore, this poll indicated that “six in 10 agree expanded use of renewable energy sources can have economic benefits for small-business owners.”
The impacts of climate disasters across the United States in recent years are staggering, and they are expected to intensify with climate change:
  • In 2013, there were seven climate disasters each costing more than $1 billion, including, devastating floods in Colorado and extreme drought in Western states.
  • The 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA) predicts that heavy precipitation events and flooding will intensify in many U.S. regions, causing deaths, destroying infrastructure, and exacerbating waterborne and airborne illnesses.
  • The NCA also finds that sea-level rise will threaten power plants and energy infrastructure on both coasts and interrupt shipping and other transportation.
  • Temperature increases, precipitation extremes, and weeds, insects, and diseases are expected to have increasingly negative impacts on crops and livestock, while wildfires, drought, insect infestations, and disease outbreaks damage our nation’s forests.
  • The toll on public health will increase as air quality worsens. Warming is projected to make existing smog worse, leading to hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma attacks and premature deaths — potentially more than 4,000 per year by 2050.
  • A recent study found that, as temperatures rise, summertime surface ozone (which creates smog) will increase over most of the U.S. by 2050. Smoke from wildfires will also trigger asthma attacks, chest pain, pulmonary disease, and respiratory infections, and cost thousands of lives annually.
The hidden cost of dirty energy is too high, while clean energy is prospering:
  • Americans are paying the hidden cost of coal pollution, while coal plants get a free ride. Coal plant pollution causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths. A study from Harvard estimates that generating electricity from coal costs Americans $330 to $500 billion every single year. In fact, another study found that the damages caused by coal plants are more than double (and as much as five times greater) than the economic value of coal generation in the economy.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, wind generation in the United States increased by more than 330 percent. The average of residential electricity prices in the top ten wind-producing states is 8% below the average of nationwide electricity prices for the contiguous United States. (read more here and here)
  • In 2012, rooftop solar panels cost approximately one percent of what they did 35 years ago. Since 2008, as the cost of a solar module dropped from $3.40 per watt to 80 cents per watt, solar deployment has jumpedby about 10 times.
Carbon pollution standards will provide regulatory certainty to power companies that are making medium- and long-term investment decisions now – decisions that have enormous environmental and economic implications for our future.
Strong standards will also help lock in the carbon reductions we have already achieved, ensure we stay on the path to a cleaner energy economy, and help address the significant negative public health and environmental effects of generating energy from dirtier fuel sources.
Americans are already paying for those negative effects as pollution damages their health, security, and welfare. It is long past time to stop giving the biggest sources of carbon pollution in this country a free pass.
Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF VoicesTwitter and Facebook.