Largest Energy Storage Project Yet in California Schools..and other Quick Energy Efficiency News

March 2, 2016
This week’s quick energy efficiency news…Largest energy storage project in California schools…ethanol no longer an energy sink…guide to less emissions through efficiency…big energy savings for 70 industrials

Green Charge Networks has inked a deal to install the largest energy storage project to date in a California school district, a 7.4 MWh system for San Diego’s Grossmont Union High School District.

The lithium battery systems will be placed at 14 sites in nine school district locations and used to target peak demand reduction.

Green Charge  Networks expects the installations to save the district more than $6.4 million in reduced utility costs over the life of the project. The project will operate under a performance-based, shared savings model, which spares the school district from upfront capital costs.  Green Charge installs, owns, operates, and maintains all equipment.

“Electricity charges for the district exceed $4 million annually and takes resources that could benefit students. Any time we can find a way to cut costs without impacting our students is extraordinary,” said Scott Patterson, deputy superintendent, Grossmont Union High School District.


Remember when ethanol production was an energy sink? Not anymore, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Ethanol producers have become much more energy-efficient over the last two decades, according to “2015 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry.”

The industry has made a “transition from an energy sink to a moderate net energy gain in the 1990s, to a substantial net energy gain in the present,” says the report.

In fact,  ethanol production creates more energy than it consumes by a factor of 4 to 1 in some areas of the Midwest. Nationally, the average ratio of energy outputs to inputs for ethanol production is 2 to 1, according to USDA.

“Between 1991 and 2010, direct energy use in corn production has dropped by 46 percent per bushel of corn produced and total energy use per bushel of corn by 35 percent,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Moreover, between 2005 and 2010, direct energy use fell by 25 percent and the total energy use by 8.2 percent per bushel—meaning that between 2005 and 2010, the energy required per bushel of corn produced dropped by about 5 percent.”

Why the improvement? Farms are closer to ethanol plants, new storage facilities match increased corn production, and more shipments are made by rail instead of less-efficient trucks. The report also cited long term improvements to corn yields, reductions in fossil energy for corn production and better procurement and distribution logistics.

A few states stand out, namely Iowa and Minnesota,  for being particularly adept at efficiently producting ethanol, according to the report.


Will the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent stay of the federal Clean Power Plan diminish energy efficiency efforts? Not likely, says the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

In a recent blog,  the think tank points to four trends that its says keep it breathing easy:1) If not the Clean Power Plan, then something else — the EPA by law has to come up with some way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions; 2) energy efficiency is a powerful way to reduce carbon 3) Many states will continue to work on reducing greenhouse gases on their own; 4) There is a pro-energy efficiency momentum underway. While the courts are deciding advocates can use the time to strengthen their position.

ACEEE is offering to help states move forward with a new how-to guide, a series of white papers on using energy efficiency for emissions reductions. The first white paper, “Energy Efficiency and the Clean Power Plan: Steps to Success,” is now available for free download.


Seventy manufacturing plants have cut their energy bills by $476 million and achieved 2015 Energy Star certification — meaning they’ve reached the top 25 percent for energy performance in their industries nationwide.

Together, they reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than five million metric tons –equal to the average annual energy use of more than 450,500 households.

“Energy Star certified manufacturing plants are driving the kinds of efficiencies and innovations that keep our country strong,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “They’re proving every day that businesses can save on energy, cut down on bills, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions all at the same time.”

In all, 148 manufacturing plants have achieved certification since the program began in 2006.

Plants from the automotive, cement manufacturing, corn refining, food processing, glass manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and petroleum refining industries are among those that qualified in 2015.

Nine plants earned certification for the first time:

  • Actavis: Fajardo, Puerto Rico (pharmaceutical manufacturing)
  • Actavis: Manati, Puerto Rico (pharmaceutical manufacturing)
  • Allergan: Cincinnati, Ohio (pharmaceutical manufacturing)
  • Ardagh Group: Bridgeton, N.J. (container glass)
  • Ardagh Group: Winchester, Ind. (container glass)
  • ConAgra Foods: Boardman, Ore. (frozen fried potato processing)
  • ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston: Twin Falls, Idaho (frozen fried potato processing)
  • Argos USA: Newberry, Fla. (cement)
  • Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas: Lafayette, Ind. (corn refining)

A full list is available on the EPA website.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.