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Federal Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Enough sunlight hits the Earth each day to supply the entire world’s electricity needs for a year.

Solar electric (photovoltaic) systems burn no fuel and have no moving parts.

They are clean and silent. As we become more aware of “greenhouse gases” and their detrimental effects on our planet, clean energy alternatives like solar become more important than ever.

Typically: A one-kilowatt solar electric system:

Prevents 150 lbs. of coal from being mined

Prevents 300 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere

Keeps 105 gallons of water from being consumed in hydroelectric plants

Keeps NO and SO2 from being released into the environment (smog and acid rain gasses)

Once the system is connected, the entire process is automatic. When your  system is generating more power than you're consuming, your meter spins backwards as it tracks the amount of power your utility company is buying from you - at full retail price.

You can't go into business as a power company but you can almost always sell back enough power to cover your system costs.

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Wikipedia -
"Geothermal power (from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. This geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. It has been used for bathing since Paleolithic  times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity. Worldwide, geothermal plants have the capacity to generate about 10 gigawatts of electricity as of 2007, and in practice supply 0.3% of global electricity demand. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.

The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction of it may be profitably exploited. Drilling and exploration for deep resources costs tens of millions of dollars, and success is not guaranteed. Forecasts for the future penetration of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology growth, the price of energy, subsidies, and interest rates"


What is a ground source heat pump?

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered systems that use the earth’s fairly constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and buildings.

How do ground source heat pumps work?

Ground source heat pumps have closed loops that are be installed horizontally, vertically, or in a pond or lake.

The surrounding land area and  types of soil and rock at the site will help determine the most economical and efficient choice (system type) for the ground loop installation

An antifreeze solution is circulated through plastic pipes buried beneath the ground for closed loop systems. The fluid gathers heat from the earth and circulates it through the system and into the building.

During the summer, the system reverses itself and pulls heat from the structure and places it in the ground. This process creates free hot water in the summer and and produces a considerable savings on hot water in the winter.
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 What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas, in itself, might be considered a very uninteresting gas - it is colorless, shapeless, and odorless in its pure form. Quite uninteresting - except that natural gas is combustible, and when burned it gives off a great deal of energy. Unlike other fossil fuels, however, natural gas is clean burning and emits lower levels of potentially harmful byproducts into the air. We require energy constantly, to heat our homes, cook our food, and generate our electricity. It is this need for energy that has elevated natural gas to such a level of importance in our society, and in our lives.

Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. While natural gas is formed primarily of methane, it can also include ethane, propane, butane and pentane. The composition of natural gas can vary widely, but below is a chart outlining the typical makeup of natural gas before it is refined.

In its purest form, such as the natural gas that is delivered to your home, it is almost pure methane. Methane is a molecule made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, and is referred to as CH4.

Ethane, propane, and the other hydrocarbons commonly associated with natural gas have slightly different chemical formulas. Click on the link for a closer look into the combustion of methane.

Natural gas is considered 'dry' when it is almost pure methane, having had most of the other commonly associated hydrocarbons removed. When other hydrocarbons are present, the natural gas is 'wet'.

natural gas chart

Natural gas has many uses, residential, commercial, and industrial. Found in reservoirs underneath the earth, natural gas is commonly associated with oil deposits. Production companies search for evidence of these reservoirs by using sophisticated technology that helps to find the location of the natural gas, and drill wells in the earth where it is likely to be found. Once brought from underground, the natural gas is refined to remove impurities like water, other gases, sand, and other compounds. Some hydrocarbons are removed and sold separately, including propane and butane. Other impurities are also removed, like hydrogen sulfide (the refining of which can produce sulfur, which is then also sold separately). After refining, the clean natural gas is transmitted through a network of pipelines, thousands of miles of which exist in the United States alone. From these pipelines, natural gas is delivered to its point of use.

Natural gas can be measured in a number of different ways. As a gas, it can be measured by the volume it takes up at normal temperatures and pressures, commonly expressed in cubic feet. Production and distribution companies commonly measure natural gas in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf), millions of cubic feet (MMcf), billions of cubic feet (Bcf), or trillions of cubic feet (Tcf). While measuring by volume is useful, natural gas can also be measured as a source of energy. Like other forms of energy, natural gas is commonly measured and expressed in British thermal units (Btu). One Btu is the amount of natural gas that will produce enough energy to heat one pound of water by one degree at normal pressure. To give an idea, one cubic foot of natural gas contains about 1,027 Btus. When natural gas is delivered to a residence, it is measured by the gas utility in 'therms' for billing purposes. A therm is equivalent to 100,000 Btu's, or just over 97 cubic feet, of natural gas.

The Formation of Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel like oil and coal. Fossil fuels are, essentially, the remains of plants and animals and microorganisms that lived millions and millions of years ago. So, how do these once living organisms become an inanimate mixture of gases?

There are many different theories as to the origins of fossil fuels. The most widely accepted theory says that fossil fuels are formed when organic matter (such as the remains of a plant or animal) is compressed under the earth, at very high pressure for a very long time. This is referred to as thermogenic methane. Similar to the formation of oil, thermogenic methane is formed from organic particles that are covered in mud and other sediment. Over time, more and more sediment and mud and other debris are piled on top of the organic matter. This sediment and debris puts a great deal of pressure on the organic matter, which compresses it. This compression, combined with high temperatures found deep underneath the earth, break down the carbon bonds in the organic matter. The deeper under the earth's crust, the higher the temperature. At low temperatures (shallower deposits), more oil is produced relative to natural gas. At higher temperatures, however, more natural gas is created, as opposed to oil. That is why natural gas is usually associated with oil in deposits that are 1 to 2 miles below the earth's crust. Deeper deposits, very far underground, usually contain primarily natural gas, and in many cases, pure methane.

Natural gas can also be formed through the transformation of organic matter by tiny microorganisms. This type of methane is referred to as biogenic methane. Methanogens, tiny methane producing microorganisms, chemically break down organic matter to produce methane. These microorganisms are commonly found in areas near the surface of the earth that are void of oxygen. These microorganisms also live in the intestines of most animals, including humans. Formation of methane in this manner usually takes place close to the surface of the earth, and the methane produced is usually lost into the atmosphere. In certain circumstances, however, this methane can be trapped underground, recoverable as natural gas. An example of biogenic methane is landfill gas. Waste-containing landfills produce a relatively large amount of natural gas, from the decomposition of the waste materials that they contain. New technologies allow this gas to be harvested and added to the supply of natural gas.

A third way in which methane (and natural gas) is believed to be formed is through abiogenic processes. Extremely deep under the earth's crust, there exist hydrogen-rich gases and carbon molecules. As these gases gradually rise towards the surface of the earth, they may interact with minerals that also exist underground, in the absence of oxygen. This interaction may result in a reaction, forming elements and compounds that are found in the atmosphere (including nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, and water). If these gases are under very high pressure as they move towards the surface of the earth, they are likely to form methane deposits, similar to thermogenic methane.

Natural Gas Under the Earth

Although there are several ways that methane, and thus natural gas, may be formed, it is usually found underneath the surface of the earth. As natural gas has a low density, once formed it will rise towards the surface of the earth through loose, shale type rock and other material. Most of this methane will simply rise to the surface and dissipate into the atmosphere. However, a great deal of this methane will rise up into geological formations that 'trap' the gas under the ground. These formations are made up of layers of porous, sedimentary rock (similar to a sponge, that absorbs the gas), with a denser, impermeable layer of rock on top. This impermeable rock traps the natural gas under the ground. If these formations are large enough, they can trap a great deal of natural gas underground, in what is known as a reservoir. There are a number of different types of these formations, but the most common is created when the impermeable sedimentary rock forms a 'dome' shape, like an umbrella that catches all of the natural gas that is floating to the surface. There are a number of ways that this sort of 'dome' may be formed. For instance, faults are a common location for oil and natural gas deposits to exist. A fault occurs when the normal sedimentary layers sort of 'split' vertically, so that impermeable rock shifts down to trap natural gas in the more permeable limestone or sandstone layers. Essentially, the geological formation which layers impermeable rock over more porous, oil and gas rich sediment, has the potential to form a reservoir. The picture below shows how natural gas and oil can be trapped under impermeable sedimentary rock, in what is known as an anticlinal formation. To successfully bring these fossil fuels to the surface, a hole must be drilled through the impermeable rock to release the fossil fuels under pressure. Note that in reservoirs that contain oil and gas, the gas, being the least dense, is found closest to the surface, with the oil beneath it, typically followed by a certain amount of water.

With natural gas trapped under the earth in this fashion, it can be recovered by drilling a hole through the impermeable rock. Gas in these reservoirs is typically under pressure, allowing it to escape from the reservoir on its own.

In addition to being found in a traditional reservoir such as the one shown above, natural gas may also be found in other 'unconventional' formations.


"In electricity grids, demand response (DR) is similar to dynamic demand mechanisms to manage customer consumption of electricity in response to supply conditions, for example, having electricity customers reduce their consumption at critical times or in response to market prices. The difference is that demand response mechanisms respond to explicit requests to shut off, whereas dynamic demand devices passively shut off when stress in the grid is sensed. Demand response can involve actually curtailing power used or by starting on site generation which may or may not be connected in parallel with the grid.This is a quite different concept from energy efficiency, which means using less power to perform the same tasks, on a continuous basis or whenever that task is performed. Current demand response schemes are implemented with large and small commercial as well as residential customers, often through the use of dedicated control systems to shed loads in response to a request by a utility or market price conditions. Services (lights, machines, air conditioning) are reduced according to a preplanned load prioritization scheme during the critical timeframes. An alternative to load shedding is on-site generation of electricity to supplement the power grid. Under conditions of tight electricity supply, demand response can significantly reduce the peak price and, in general, electricity price volatility.

Demand response is generally used to refer to mechanisms used to encourage consumers to reduce demand, thereby reducing the peak demand for electricity. Since electrical generation and transmission systems are generally sized to correspond to peak demand (plus margin for forecasting error and unforeseen events), lowering peak demand reduces overall plant and capital cost requirements. Depending on the configuration of generation capacity, however, demand response may also be used to increase demand (load) at times of high production and low demand. Some systems may thereby encourage energy storage to arbitrage between periods of low and high demand (or low and high prices).

There are two types of demand response -

* emergency demand response: primarily needed to avoid outages
* economic demand response: is used to help utilities manage daily system peaks"

 Electric Energy
Electric Energy is not a non-renewable natural energy resource that is mined or pumped from the ground. Electric Energy is a manufactured product. Actually, electricity is a "secondary energy source". We manufacture it from the conversion of other "primary energy sources" like coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power and other natural sources. The energy sources we use to make Electric Energy can be renewable or non-renewable, but Electric Energy itself is neither renewable or non-renewable. Electric Energy is manufactured in electric generators, and then transmitted by copper wire long or short distances to where that power is utilized. In today's high-technology world, the utilization of Electric Energy is everywhere around us.

Electricity Forum is dedicated to the exchange of policy and technical Electric Energy information in common to electric utilities and large industrial, commercial and institutional power consumers. Browse our site and learn all about the companies that generate electric power and the different electrical equipment technologies that help to make modern life possible.

Electric Energy is considered by many experts to be the most important source of power consumed by industry, commercial buildings, institutions and homes. It is supplied by generating stations. Traditional generating stations manufacture power in electrical generators. This is accomplished by turning those generators with turbines that are in turned by a number of sources. In the case of fossil-fuel burning stations, energy sources such as coal, oil, natural gas (actually, any source of fuel that is carbon based) are used to boil water. That water is boiled into high pressure steam. This high pressure steam is what turns the turbines that turns the generator that in turn manufactures Electric Energy.

But there are other ways to create electricity not using fossil fuels. Electric Energy can also be created using nuclear reactors to boil water and then generate power in the same way as mentioned above. The same process of turbines turning electrical generators and generating power also takes place in hydroelectric power plants that use falling water to turn electrical generators.

Renewable sources of Electric Energy such as wind work on the same principle. Geothermal plants use high pressure steam and heat from under ground to turn turbine-generators. Finally, power can be created from solar radiation through photovoltaic cells.


Services to Maximize Productivity - Faster

We provide our clients and partners with complete lifecycle support in the implementation of their NirvanaSoft solutions through consulting, delivery, training, and support services.

How you deliver your products and services is often what will differentiate your company. NirvanaSoft's mission is to ensure your success in competitive energy markets by improving your retail and complex billing processes and increasing productivity of back office staff. Our commitment to provide an exceptional customer experience is what sets NirvanaSoft apart.

NirvanaSoft offers clients:
    * Implementation consulting
    * Customer support
    * Training

Competitive Retailers

Comprehensive and flexible Retail Billing that delivers efficiency

Among the few variables that are controllable by retail energy companies are the efficiency of customer acquisition and the cost to serve customers. NirvanaSoft provides a customer care and complex billing solution for retail energy companies that provides the tools to improve a retailer's efficiency and aggressively control costs resulting in improved and growing margins.

NirvanaSoft offers Competitive Retailers a scalable back office that supports a national or a regional business model with the flexibility to configure market-specific processes while operating on a standard, stable billing platform. NirvanaSoft provides native support of competitive market processes including: enrollment/drops, bill ready/rate ready, retailer consolidated/utility consolidated billing and settlement of funds

Customer Acquisition

For energy companies, the basics of the business are to cost effectively target the right prospects, treat valuable customers well and manage commitments within the context of the supply portfolio. NirvanaSoft offers a complete, auditable record of the transition of prospects to a customer relationship and the commitments made at each stage of the sales process.

NirvanaSoft stores prospect information (credit, service and logistics) and generates requests for pricing data (usage) and customer switch requests. NirvanaSoft provides an auditable record of sales and marketing events, contract commitments and visibility to energy flow dates accessible for online inquiry, web self service, integration and reporting/analysis.

Account Management

In the face of volatile energy markets and shrinking headroom, the "cost to serve" is the measure that determines profitability. NirvanaSoft offers 360-degree view of the customer, empowering customer service representatives to increase their first call problem resolution rate and offer personalization options to improve customer loyalty and maximize value.

CSRs use NirvanaSoft to create and maintain customer accounts, energy services, energy market transactions (EDI/XML), contracts and invoice/billing preferences. CSRs can access invoice and payment history, energy data and handle customer issues. Account information is readily accessible online by internal and external users (web self service) or integrated with 3rd party applications.

Energy Data Management
Effective use of energy data is crucial to a business in which commodity is approximately 90% of the cost of good sold. NirvanaSoft offers a single repository for energy data used for structuring prices, billing, forecasting and settlement.

NirvanaSoft stores actual and estimated reads (cycle or time series), maintains an audit trail of the validation-editing-estimation (VEE) process, and generates billing determinants like critical peak period necessary to the billing process.

The energy data is readily accessible online by internal and external users (web self service) or integrated with 3rd party applications.

Complex Billing and Pricing
Energy companies package energy products that provide customers options to manage price and volume risk. Speed and flexibility for packaging energy products is at a premium when energy markets are volatile and headroom is shrinking.

NirvanaSoft offers flexibility for structuring and billing complex energy products that can include capacity, energy, transmission, options, indices, demand response benefits and other pricing components. NirvanaSoft supports billing interval metered energy flows as well "intervalizing" non-IDR meter data. The flexibility offered by NirvanaSoft extends to invoice presentation, providing customers options for invoicing, including roll-up of multiple sites into a consolidated view and billing triggers that are independent of the meter cycle. All billing information is accessible online by internal and external users. Complex billing may be implemented as a stand alone solution or as a component integrated with the legacy CIS.

Revenue Management

Effective energy companies tightly manage cash flow to avoid the credit squeeze. NirvanaSoft offers an array of tools to ensure timely collection of funds. Users have the flexibility to personalize payment terms and credit enhancements by client relationship or contract. For delinquent accounts, payment plans can be setup to collect on arrearage. Throughout the revenue cycle, NirvanaSoft maintains a detailed accounting of amounts invoiced, payments applied and receivables due.

Retail Settlement
Within competitive retail energy markets, cash flow is dependent on the timely and accurate settlement of energy, transmission and distribution charges. NirvanaSoft provides native support of Retail Settlement for Retailer Consolidated and Utility Consolidated billing processes. Users setup customers in retail energy markets for billing as Retailer Consolidated, Dual Billed or Utility Consolidated (Rate Ready or Bill Ready). Energy charges are generated, billed and collected based on processes that can be customized for market specific rules. Accounts receivables are maintained for both the customer and retail settlement with utilities.

System Administratio

User satisfaction goes up when users have the ability to configure processes independent of the vendor. NirvanaSoft offers the user independence by providing configuration management user interfaces for customer management, billing, energy products and other critical functions of the application. Users can customize their use of the NirvanaSoft application while remaining on the upgrade path for future product releases.

Technology Platform

NirvanaSoft provides energy companies with a cost-effective alternative to legacy CIS systems. Built on the Microsoft Windows operating system, BizTalk and SQL Server, NirvanaSoft delivers high availability and performance at an attractive total cost of ownership. By taking advantage of the price-performance and ease of administration of a Microsoft architecture, NirvanaSoft offers clients a strong value proposition that helps clients reduce costs and focus on the 'business' instead of the 'systems that support the business'.

All user interfaces for NirvanaSoft are Web-based, allowing clients to easily support distributed operations and outsourced call center operations. Users and IT operations staff benefit from reduced application downtime, increased scalability and performance, and tight yet flexible security controls provided by the Microsoft environment. Clients can take advantage of SQL Server's business intelligence tools for data integration, analysis, and reporting that helps you turn insight into action and make better decisions, faster. Client's can optimize business processes to their specific requirements by leveraging BizTalk's business process management services.