Posts Tagged ‘energy consulting’

How Practical Are Solar Panels?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The sun produces enough energy to feed plants and warm up the ground, but what if it could also power your electricity and heat or cool your home. Now that would be a great way to save money and energy. Thankfully, since the invention of the solar panel, there is a way to do this.

A solar panel is a piece of equipment that is used to convert sunlight into energy. Since the beginning of humanity, humans have been aware of how powerful the sun is and have tried to harness the suns energy for our own advantage.

More recently though, as consumers demand for a more environmentally friendly and cost efficient way to use energy in their homes, solar panels have been on the rise. While they are a great idea in many different aspects, how practical are they on your home?

The price for installing solar panels depends on where you are located, how big the building is and other factors. Regardless of the cost, once you receive your first electric bill, the savings will be obvious, by lowering your monthly electric bill. While the solar panels will not pay for themselves after the first month, it is a very cost effective way for cutting your energy bills and your carbon footprint.

While there may be an initial expense, the return on investment is worth it to cut your carbon footprint and reduce your monthly electric bill. If you are looking to protect the environment and save money in the process, installing solar panels on the roof of your building may be the best way to do that.

CQI Associates has green energy solutions for your business. We are an energy and sustainability management consulting firm servicing residential and commercial clients throughout the United States. To learn more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit our website today!

You can also follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+!



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Prices Climb for the Seventh Time in Eight Weeks

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Week in Review for April 12-18, 2013 US DOE

For the seventh time in eight weeks, energy prices climbed. During this seven-day report period the average 12-month price for natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) rose 5.2%. The 12-month average price for peak power on the PJM rose 3.9%. 

You can easily argue that the recent price increases were fueled by the natural gas storage reports and the natural gas rig counts. Both reports would lead you to believe that the energy markets were no longer oversupplied.

On the natural gas storage front, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported our first injection of the refill season. However, the injection was below expectations. We saw an injection of 31 Bcf. The five-year average injection for this time period was 39 Bcf. We now have 32% less gas in storage than we did last year at this time. Even more concerning was the fact that storage levels were now 4.2% below the five-year average.

On the natural gas supply side, supplies leveled off because the rig counts are down. The recent Baker Hughes rig count reported that there were only 377 active natural gas rigs in the United States. Last year at this time, we had 624 active gas rigs. This means that the natural gas rig count was 39% below last year’s levels.

These reports tend to spook the marketplace and place upward pressure on energy prices. The next wild card to watch is summer demand. The concern is that demand for natural gas may be higher this summer than last because more gas will be needed to refill the storage facilities. If we experience a hotter than normal summer, we may see more upward pressure on energy prices.

PJM Electricity
PJM Graph for Electricity – 12 Month Average Peak Power Price
On-Peak 1 Year Forward Price

Natural Gas
NYMEX Graph for Natural Gas – 12 Month Average Price per Therm at the Louisiana Well-Head
(Excludes Interstate Transportation)

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Renewable Energy News: The Current State of Geothermal Energy in the U.S.

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

In its simplest form, geothermal energy is heat from the Earth. This clean and renewable energy source is harnessed commercially and converted into electricity. And while geothermal energy use accounts for just 1% of the total United States electric production, with a current installed capacity of 3,187 MW spread throughout nine states, geothermal use has grown by 3% annually over the past 10 years.

The future of geothermal energy is bright and for good reason. Unlike other renewable energy resources, like wind and solar power, geothermal energy has far fewer variables. While wind power and energy power are affected by nature, geothermal energy is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Geothermal power is economically attractive, as well. Geothermal electricity is the lowest cost renewable power source around, providing long-term fixed power prices. Oh, and did we mention that geothermal energy can also help reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign fuels?

Still, despite all of its benefits, geothermal energy is a very small piece of the U.S. energy puzzle. But that could change in the near future…

To learn more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit today!

CQI Associates is a leader in energy and environmental consulting.

As a leader in the business and residential energy market, CQI Associates manages Commercial and Residential Energy Cooperatives in Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, and Illinois. Our goal is to provide energy and environmental management services that allow our clients to increase profitability by minimizing operating costs.

We custom-tailor our services to suit each and every customer’s unique needs, a proven method that has produced significant results. We save the average customer 8–15% on an annual basis.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LikedIn, and Google+.


Geothermal Energy

Benefits of Geothermal Energy

A feed-in rate, geothermal power and how to finance it

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“CQI Associates Energy Currents” April 2011

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

“Energy Currents” is an attempt, in a short and concise way, to provide relevant information on current energy and environmental issues.

Market Rates and Trends: The earthquake and tsunami in Japan may have an impact on world energy prices including natural gas over the next six months. Fossil fuels will be needed to replace the nuclear energy generation losses. The additional demand may have an impact over the next year and prices are expected to increase. We are closely monitoring the situation.

We have all noticed the price of filling our cars or trucks has increased significantly. This is due to the issues in the Middle East. And while oil prices have increased significantly, oil pricing has yet to have a direct effect on the price of electricity. Natural gas pricing is the factor that most effects the price of electricity.

The current price for natural gas is at record ten-year lows. In 2002, the price was $0.78 per therm. The price in March 2011 is $0.638 per therm. The projected price increase for electricity for the next 12-months is 4.6%. The data at this time does not indicate major increases in electricity rates based on the issues in the Middle East.

Energy Tip of the Month: The following are ideas on how to reduce gasoline & diesel fuel costs and consumption for your car or truck.

-Join buyers clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club which offer lower prices.

-Enroll in shopping discount card programs like the plan offered by Giant Food & Shell Gasoline. For every $100 spent the shopper receives at least $.10 cents off per gallon. Near the end of the month the discounts can increase to $.30 cents off per gallon.

-Keep your speed steady without having to accelerate. While in heavy traffic this is the most efficient way to save gas and can easily get you 10% – 20% better gas mileage.

-Using cruise control when appropriate improves efficiency.

-Shift into neutral when the car is standing still for long periods of time.

-To reduce the ‘mass’ of your car – empty out the trunk and remove heavy items.

-Inflate your tires to the specified levels. Steel-belted radial tires increase gas mileage up to 10%.

– Remove ski, bicycle or luggage-racks when not needed. Believe it or not, this will save quite a bit of gasoline.

-Choosing the correct grade of oil for your car is important as the wrong grade of oil may increase the friction in your engine. -Replace the air filter at recommended cycles.

-Do not fill up unless you are on empty.

-The first gas station you encounter after a long, thirsty stretch is almost never the cheapest. Drive a little further to find a cheaper station.

-Don’t warm your car up by letting it idle. The engine warms up faster when driving than it does when idling, and idling wastes about a quart of gas every 15 minutes.


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Friday, April 8th, 2011

2001 K Street

2001 K Street


Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., a global commercial real estate brokerage and management firm, aligned with CQI Associates, LLC, a Columbia, Maryland-based energy and environmental management consulting firm, to complete the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Gold for Existing Buildings (EB) Certification of 2001 K Street, NW in Washington, DC.

Managed by Cushman & Wakefield, 2001 K Street, NW is a 356,820-square-foot, 12-story office building located on the northwest corner of 20th and K Streets – a few blocks from the White House and George Washington University. The building is in exceptional condition and includes a natural stone facade as part of its striking architectural design. A retail branch of Eagle Bank is located on the first floor, with floors two through eleven occupied by other world-class and globally-renowned businesses like the law offices of Clifford Chance LLP and the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. A lower level includes two mailrooms, a fitness center, and storage areas.  The facility staff began embracing green operations long before the actual LEED® certification process began. In 2008, the management team installed motion sensors for the garage lighting and later introduced a recycling program where tenants recycle mixed paper, plastics, bottles and cans.

Achieving LEED® Gold EB Certification

CQI Associates completed an initial energy assessment of the building in the summer of 2009, then provided a list of recommendations for improving energy efficiency and working toward the LEED® Gold EB Certification. CQI Associates worked closely with Cushman & Wakefield to implement the recommendations and complete the certification process.

The initial investment in the project’s green and sustainable technologies, strategies, and design resulted in an estimated savings of more than $51,000 in the first year.  With an ENERGY STAR rating of 79, 2001 K Street NW is 58 percent more energy efficient and annually saves $1.03 per square foot in energy costs when compared to the average U.S. office building.

According to Property Manager Timeeca Mitchell, “The tenants have really embraced working in a green environment. Most interior modifications are completed to meet LEED® standards, whether the tenant pursues certification or not. We are also thrilled with the response to the recycling program and have 100% participation from tenants on all floors. Everyone has really come together to be better global citizens and improve the efficiency of our working environment.”

Chief Engineer Don Bauman shared, “Every month when we receive the energy bill, we are excited to see the payback on our investment continue. At the current rate, we expect to reach a full payback in less than two years. It is very impressive, as with most significant projects in other areas of business, it may be hard to measure the return on investment. We are able to track our progress every month and it is truly amazing.”

 Reducing Costs and Consumption

Working toward greater water conservation, dual flush toilets were installed in all of the women’s restrooms and .5 gpf (low flow) urinals in the men’s restrooms, as well as low flow aerators on the restroom faucets, thus reducing the overall water usage by over 30%

Another important component to achieving greater energy efficiency was the HVAC system. As a part of the project implementation, variable frequency drives (VFDs) were installed on the Air Handling Units, cooling tower fans, and most recently on the condenser pump.  Beyond improvements to the HVAC system, occupancy sensors were added in the restrooms and office spaces. The purpose is as simple as the name: to save electricity when restrooms and offices are not in use. The building lighting also utilizes high efficiency low mercury T-8 fluorescent bulbs.

In addition to the physical upgrades, the building management team has taken great care to ensure that outside contractors performing facility alterations correctly follow green purchasing, waste management, and indoor air quality LEED® requirements in the execution of new projects. The management staff checks the building equipment two or three times a day and promptly responds to occupant concerns using a detailed work order system.

 “We were delighted to partner with Cushman & Wakefield on this LEED® Gold EB Certification project and help to further advance its global leadership and commitment to green design and operations in commercial real estate,” said CQI Associates Principal, Richard Anderson.

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Grant Funds Oakdale Solar Project

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The school system teamed up with Washington County Public Schools to hire CQI Associates to help traverse new territory in requesting bids and negotiating a Power Purchase Agreement with Nautilus once the contractor was selected.

By Marge Neal
Frederick News-Post Staff

A 20-year contract between Frederick County Public Schools and a solar energy provider to install solar panels at Oakdale High School will save the schools an estimated $190,000, but not without the help of a much larger state energy grant.

The school system has inched closer to flipping the power switch on a $2.2 million solar panel array at Oakdale High School that, once activated, is expected to produce about 16 percent of the school’s electricity.  The school system has a 20-year contract with Nautilus Solar Energy, the installer and owner of the system, to buy the electricity it produces at a rate lower than that offered by its regular supplier.

Over the course of the contract, FCPS expects to pay $1.57 million for the electricity generated by the array, at a savings of $190,000.  The cost to install the array is being covered by a $500,000 Maryland Energy Administration Project Sunburst grant.

Per the agreement with Nautilus, FCPS will pay $0.055 per kilowatt, as opposed to $0.0914 per kilowatt charged by the school system’s main supplier, the Hess Corp. Project Sunburst grants are provided through a one-time program funded with federal stimulus funds.

Maryland allocated the entire $9 million it had to award through the program, according to Maryland Energy Administration spokesman Ian Hines.  The savings are calculated on estimated increases in the cost of electricity cost over the next 20 years, according to Charlie Dalphon, energy and recycling coordinator for FCPS.  There was no direct cost to the school system for the installation of the array, nor will there be any costs for maintenance or other needs over the life of the contract, according to school officials.

The school system teamed up with Washington County Public Schools to hire CQI Associates to help traverse new territory in requesting bids and negotiating a Power Purchase Agreement with Nautilus once the contractor was selected.

Hines said MEA officials believe the school system’s savings over the 20 years — discounted for inflation — will be closer to $317,000.  Frederick County school officials used an outdated formula in figuring their savings, Hines said, adding he also believes the $190,000 figure does not take into consideration the $1,950 per megawatt of demand per month fee assessed by the utility provider.

MEA officials do not anticipate more money becoming available to continue the program.  Ray Barnes, executive director of facilities services for the school system, said the project would not have been economically feasible without the $500,000 grant, as well as substantial rebates to the energy company in the form of state and federal solar renewable energy credits.

“The only way this works for Nautilus is these credits,” Barnes said. “Otherwise, this project wouldn’t happen — financially, it wouldn’t make sense.”  Barnes said the school system is trying to look into the future for ways to reduce energy costs, and the solar project puts FCPS on that path.

With much talk about the nation’s need to depend less on fossil fuels, the creation of solar power will be just one way to explore alternative energy sources, Barnes said. “This gives us the experience working with this kind of project, at no cost to us,” Barnes said. “And over the course of the contract, we will be able to see how the program works — and if it works as well as we expect it to. Without this program, we certainly could not justify this expense for this kind of return.”

Hines said the project is about much more than balancing a ledger sheet. He said moving forward with this kind of project is about taking better care of the planet and lessening dependence on fossil fuels.

State legislators have mandated that 20 percent of Maryland’s electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2022.
The mandate includes the goal to generate 2 percent of electricity through solar energy systems.  “Our policy goal is to diversify our portfolio of energy generation — and to grow our renewable energy generation,” Hines said. “It might not seem to be cost effective, but there is what we call a cost in action. We know carbon emissions are bad for the planet and we’re looking to renewable sources to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy. We definitely think solar energy is a wise investment to make.”

Hal Keller, executive director of fiscal services for Frederick County Public Schools, also called the installation a good one for the school system. “From the school system’s perspective, this was a $190,000 return on a zero investment,” Keller said. “It made sense to us.”

At the end of the contract — on March 31, 2031 — the school system will have the option of extending the purchase agreement, buying the system outright or having Nautilus remove the system.  Twenty years is stretching the life span of the solar array, according to Barnes, who said he doesn’t anticipate the school system would purchase the panels.

“I think the plan would be to replace the system with a newer one that will be much more technologically advanced than this one,” Barnes said. “I think these systems will just get better and better.”

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