"Why is it so cold in here?"
Unhappy customers complain, sometimes all-too-often, to management when their discomfort is affecting their dining experience. Common reported complaints include: hot/cold spots in the dining room, doors are difficult to open, odor, and draft entering in from the front door. In a majority of circumstances, these issues are a caused by an HVAC system that is not performing to design specifications.
For example, if your facility is experiencing temperature-rated comfort issues, you may want to first check your coils. In one particular balance in July 2014, we found that a restaurants coils were covered in a foot of ice.
2. Sick Building Symptoms
Common Problems Caused by an
Unbalanced HVAC System
Just like people, if health isn’t maintained every building will eventually show symptoms of illness. We see the following symptoms on a regular basis when we’re called out for an HVAC rebalance: condensation, stale/stuffy air, slippery floors, and poor smoke capture.
3. Replacing Old HVAC Equipment
When upgrading rooftop units, coils, ductwork, moving diffusers around, etc. , Facilities Managers (FM) want to be ensured that their new equipment was properly installed and is going to work as they expect. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as other replacements, such as changing a lightbulb. HVAC equipment replacements must be inspected and tested for proper operation, otherwise the entire facility’s ecosystem could be thrown out of balance.
4. Balance After Remodel
Reconstructing the floorplan of a building affects the facility’s HVAC and airflow. As referenced in the ASHRAE kitchen ventilation handbook, “Rechecking the air balance should not be necessary more than once every 2 years unless basic changes are made in facility operation.” Changes in facility operation that affect airflow include the following: Layout changes, adding/removing walls, adding rooms, and installing new cooking equipment. Each HVAC system is originally designed for a particular building layout. Once that layout changes, the HVAC must be adjusted to keep efficiency and lowest possible operating cost. In many situations, a post-remodel HVAC rebalance report is specified in the mechanical prints.
5. Missing Balance Report
Facilities Managers (FM) appreciate a documented balance report to act as a factual starting point when HVAC issues arise. Sometimes these reports get lost in changes in management, so when FMs need to verify the proper settings of their HVAC equipment, they’ll order a rebalance to obtain this data. We find this especially frequent in leased facility situations whereby tenants want to be sure they are getting the correct airflow that they are paying for. Having a balance report documented provides functional data to analyze in the event that equipment malfunctions.
We recommend that Facilities Managers have a grip on their HVAC health and performance to prolong the life of their facility investments.
In the wild world of HVAC, there’s no telling what you might encounter.
HVAC Basics: Knowledge is King
Originally posted in PRSM's weekly maintenance publication
We find that facility managers who know enough about HVAC to determine when it's time to call in the test & balance professionals are the ones with the most efficient stores. Use the following checklist as a guide yourself through HVAC decisions.
FACILITY MANAGERS WILL tell you that one of the more costly issues they deal with is HVAC repair. Stores need HVAC systems that are not only reliable, but cost efficient. Knowledge is king when it comes to controlling HVAC costs. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to understand the basics about your own systems in order to ask the questions that will allow you to make appropriate decisions.
Ron Prager is Chief Operating Officer with Brinco Mechanical Management Services, Inc. Learn more at www.brinco.com
Recognized as an efficient solution for workplace electric vehicle charging, the recently installed PowerPost charging stations add yet another dimension to the way companies can take the lead in energy conservation and energy efficiency.
Originally designed as a LEED Gold building, the Melink Headquarters achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2010 as well as an EnergyStar rating of 99. In 2011, it became one of the first existing buildings to go Net-Zero Energy.
A provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions to the commercial and industrial building industries, Melink Corporation won a national Green Fleet award in 2011 in recognition of their commitment to reduced vehicle emissions and reliance on petroleum fuels.
Steve Melink commented, “Our employees are increasingly interested in EV’s and this will allow more of them to justify one knowing they will receive free charging during the day. Also, this project adds much needed workplace charging in Ohio. We see workplace charging as a key factor in the adoption of electric vehicles.”
The US Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Melink’s Intelli-Hood Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) System with the 2015 Energy Star Emerging Technology Award for its ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Commercial kitchen ventilation removes the heat and effluent generated by the cooking process from the kitchen space. Commercial kitchen ventilation is typically composed of an exhaust hood suspended above the cooking appliances ducted to fans that expel the heat and effluent outside. To replace the air lost through this process, make-up air (MUA) must be provided by the building’s HVAC system or a dedicated MUA fan to the kitchen, which is composed of its own fan, ducts and potentially heating or cooling depending on the climate.
DCKV provides control over the ventilation system by modulating the speed depending on cooking activity. Traditionally, commercial kitchen ventilation systems would operate at their maximum designed speed/volume throughout the duration of the kitchen’s operating hours. DCKV, on the other hand, provides automatic, continuous control over fan speed in response to temperature or optical sensors that monitor cooking activity.
With more than 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Intelli-Hood has saved food service operations an estimated 650 million kWh of electricity. It received the 2012 AHR Product of the Year award in 2012.
Geothermal HVAC Bore-Field Financing
Geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient HVAC system in the world. In fact, they are 30-40% more efficient than conventional heating/cooling systems. So as the building industry continues to promote green design, embrace LEED, and plan for a net-zero energy future, this technology is poised to go mainstream.
What is holding it back? First and foremost, the incremental first-cost of the bore-field. Second, a lack of familiarity and ability of engineers/contractors to properly educate the market/customer on the long term energy savings and other benefits. Third, a lack of professionalism in the drilling trade to instill confidence in mainstream investors.
Our goal is to overcome these barriers and help make geothermal HVAC systems the preferred choice in new construction and retrofits whenever possible. We believe this can be achieved by providing long term financing and independent commissioning services, as well as a pre-engineered pumping station for easy sizing and selection.
Melink is already an industry pioneer and leader in national test and balance services, energy-saving kitchen ventilation controls, and solar PV development services. By leveraging existing core competencies in commissioning, fluid-flow and controls, and financing long-life assets, we have a role/responsibility to help make geothermal HVAC a standard solution.
Watch us …
A sustainability core committee has been established and chartered at our headquarters in Milford, Ohio. The role of this committee is to take ownership of educating current and new employees on the Net-Zero Energy lifestyle as well as execute employee-proposed initiatives for the next sustainability projects at Melink.
Our current projects in motion:
1. EV Charging Station Installations- During the week of Nov. 17th, TMI Electric will install 2 more 230V charging stations connected to our solar canopy, 1 230V station for visitors, and 10 additional 120V outlets.
2. 2013 Sustainability Report- Melink will report on it's sustainability metrics from 2013 and announce our initiatives for 2015. We're using the GRI guidelines as a framework for reporting.
3. 2014 Building Audit- Realign building operations back to Net-Zero Energy performance that may have fallen off-track. Identify new opportunities for optimizing environmentally friendly building operations.
The EPA announces Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) as an ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award Category for 2014-2015. The award will be formally announced at the NAFEM conference in February. We will be present at booth 129.
"These technologies employ advanced sensors and variable speed controls to offer end users significant reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions compared to standard kitchen ventilation systems. Field studies suggest that energy savings could be as much as 60% depending on the facility and type of operation".
Visit here to view the ENERGY STAR announcement
The following was published in Bloomburg Markets Magazine, by Tom Randall:
Every time fossil fuels get cheaper, people lose interest in solar deployment. That may be about to change.
After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states -- in 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That's assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year.
Even if the tax credit drops to 10 percent, solar will soon reach price parity with conventional electricity in well over half the nation: 36 states. Gone are the days when solar panels were an exotic plaything of Earth-loving rich people. Solar is becoming mainstream, and prices will continue to drop as the technology improves and financing becomes more affordable, according to the report.
The chart below shows how far solar will come out ahead in each state in 2016, assuming a worst-case scenario of lower tax credits. The blue bars show the anticipated cost of solar energy (assuming a conservative 20-year lifespan for the panels) minus average electricity prices. Positive numbers indicate the savings for every kilowatt hour of electricity.
Solar has already reached grid parity in 10 states that are responsible for 90 percent of U.S. solar electricity production. In those states alone, installed capacity growth will increase as much as sixfold over the next three to four years, Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah wrote in the Oct. 26 report.
The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: it's a technology, not a fuel. As such, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. The price of Earth's limited fossil fuels tends to go the other direction. Michael Park, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, has a term for the staggering price relationship between solar and fossil fuels: the Terrordome. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn't sound very forgiving.
The chart below shows the price of energy sources since the late 1940s. The extreme outlier, of course, is solar, which only recently became an expensive blip in the energy marketplace. It will soon undercut even the cheapest fossil fuels in many regions of the planet, including poorer nations where billion-dollar coal plants aren't always practical.
Solar will be the world's biggest single source of electricity by 2050, according to a recent estimate by the International Energy Agency. Currently, it's responsible for just a fraction of one percent.
Because of solar's small market share today, no matter how quickly capacity expands, it won't have much immediate impact on the price of other forms of energy. But soon, for the first time, the reverse may also be true: Gas and coal prices will lose their sway over the solar industry.
Q--What were the topics of the keynote speakers and what did they say that challenged or shifted your paradigms and why?A-- "Amanda Hanley with the Hanley Foundation, which donated $12.5 million to the University of Dayton – the largest donation in UD’s history – to develop the Sustainability Institute, spoke very eloquently on the topic of climate change. We need to formulate federal and state policies based on the preponderance of science – not on the preposterousness of politics. Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams once stated. Opinions conjectured by paid-for coal and oil lobbyists as well as sensational talk-show hosts are slippery at best."
Q--What topics were discussed among the panelists that were either new to you, or affirmed beliefs you already have?A--"The Internet of Things (IOT) will continue to drive innovation and information. Transparency will become increasingly desired and ubiquitous in the marketplace as a result. The electric utilities, on the other hand, will continue to try to hide behind a 20th century model of protectionism and guaranteed returns. Like the airline and telecommunications industries before them, the utilities would be better off to recognize the inevitability of what is coming.
Q--What leads you to conclude that sustainability is the way of the future?
A--The whole world is moving toward sustainability because sustainability ultimately means eliminating waste and giving respect to others. This is evidenced by what many of the largest and most successful companies in the world are doing, such as Wal-Mart, Apple, and GE. It is also evidenced by what many of the largest and most successful investors are doing, such as Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and Goldman Sachs. Big money is being rapidly deployed in the manufacturing, financing, and construction of advanced energy technologies.
There are, of course, many causes in which to possibly align our businesses and employees’ passions to make a difference in the world—beyond selling more widgets. War, poverty, and disease are just a few. But none are as sweeping and permanent to the human cause-regardless of the industry and business we are in, as sustainability. Sustainability, by definition, suggests that without it, all other causes will eventually become moot. So while defeating ISIS, curing cancer, solving the immigration problem, and ensuring equal opportunity are all important—sustainability is the ultimate legacy we can try and leave for our children and future generations.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Melink Corporation recently developed and installed the largest rooftop solar PV system in the Midwest on property owned by Equity Industrial Partners Corp. (EIP). The system is estimated to produce more than 4.1 million kWh annually. This system, composed of 12,264 modules on approximately 600,000 square feet of rooftop space, was installed on a new mechanically fastened roof on Rockville road. Power began flowing on August, 19 2014.
The system supports EIP’s initiatives to be a good environmental steward. The solar facility will be connected to Indianapolis Power & Light Company’s (IPL) distribution system, making it part of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) program for an investor-owned utility in the Midwest. The energy produced equates to providing electricity to power 360 average American homes per year and removing over 2,722 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.
“This solar array is the perfect application for almost 14 acres of rooftop area that would otherwise provide no additional use”, said Donald Levine, Principal at EIP. “Equity Industrial Partners is extremely pleased to be a participant in IPL’s Rate REP and by the exemplary fashion in which our EPC partner, Melink, executed the installation of this PV project.”
Cincinnati-based Melink was the developer of the project and performed the engineering, procurement, and construction services. Melink’s financing partners include U.S. Bancorp and Union Bank & Trust.
“Melink is very excited and proud to be the project developer and EPC of the largest rooftop solar PV array in the Midwest, and to be partnering with Equity Industrial Partners and Indianapolis Power & Light Company to expand solar generation in the Midwest,” said Steve Melink, President of Melink Corporation.
About Equity Industrial Partners
Equity Industrial Partners (EIP) is a privately held developer and operator of industrial warehouse and distribution facilities throughout the United States. Since the firm’s inception in 1995, EIP has acquired and developed over 50 million square feet of industrial property and is responsible for in excess of $1.5 billion in property investments. Please visit www.equityindustrial.com.
About Melink Corporation
Melink provides energy savings for their customers through HVAC commissioning services, demand ventilation controls for commercial kitchens, and solar power projects. In effort to mainstream the value of environmental sustainability, Melink operates in a LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy office building, making it the greenest building in Ohio. Please visit www.melinkcorp.com.
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Author Stephen Duda, PE and ASHRAE Fellow, states that the International Building Cide and NFPA 90A stipulates that no dampers of ANY kind are allowed in Type 1 grease exhaust systems. This further supports our article on The Costs and Risks of Modulating dampers in Commercial Kitchen Ventilation Systems. The consensus of experts across the country is clear, and certain hood OEMs that defy this by installing modulating dampers inside their hoods/duct systems are risking their reputation.
“Green”-energy efforts in Ohio might not be in suspended animation after all.
All but one of Ohio’s regulated electricity utilities plan to continue with their green-energy programs despite a new state law that allows the companies to put a two-year freeze on the initiatives.
As a result, changes in that industry might not be as drastic as environmental advocates have feared.
American Electric Power and Duke Energy say they will stick with existing plans for energy-efficiency (programs that help customers reduce energy use) and renewable energy (investments in solar, wind and other renewable sources) that were in place before the law changed. Dayton Power & Light says it will keep its current plan through at least 2015.
That leaves FirstEnergy as the only utility considering a large pullback.
“It’s not Armageddon,” said Pablo Vegas, president and chief operating officer of AEP Ohio, in an interview. “We didn’t dive off the cliff as some of the opponents said we were going to.”
For AEP, current programs include incentives to recycle old refrigerators, rebates for businesses that upgrade to more efficient equipment, and discounts on energy-use audits.
Each of the four major electricity utilities were asked by The Dispatch recently about their plans, several months before the companies need to disclose their intentions to regulators.
During the legislative debate over the bill that resulted in the two-year freeze — Senate Bill 310 — many opponents assumed that utilities would use the law to completely stop their green programs during that time, leading to a loss of jobs and investment. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill in June.
But the key part of the law might be that each utility gets to choose its response.
FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said the company is reviewing its options and has not made any decisions.
Despite this public stance, FirstEnergy had advised some customers and vendors that it is likely to suspend its energy-efficiency programs, according to multiple sources, including John Seryak, CEO of Go Sustainable Energy in Clintonville. His company, which helps businesses improve their efficiency, mainly serves customers in AEP territory.
“(FirstEnergy) clearly doesn’t want to run their programs,” he said. He was one of many business leaders who urged lawmakers to reject the bill this spring.
FirstEnergy helped lead the push for the bill, joined by several large manufacturers and business groups. Other utilities supported the measure but were much less vocal.
“It’s really been about FirstEnergy from the get-go,” said Rob Kelter, senior attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, an opponent of the changes. “The other utilities decided it wasn’t worth being involved in a legislative bloodbath when they could just continue with what they’re doing right now.”
Opponents remain concerned that the new law will harm the economy, and they want to see more details from the companies.
“It’s early, and we need to see how the new law is interpreted and implemented,” said Ted Ford, CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group for clean-energy companies.
AEP’s energy-efficiency programs, which cost $78 million last year, will keep the same levels of funding and staffing, Vegas said. Customers pay for this with an electricity-bill charge of about $3 per month for a typical household.
As for renewable energy, AEP has long-term contracts with solar arrays and wind farms that were designed to meet the old standards. Those contracts remain in place, even though the standards have changed.
The efficiency and renewable programs were developed to comply with a 2008 state law that required utilities to meet escalating annual benchmarks for conservation. The new law puts a two-year freeze on the benchmarks and makes a variety of other changes.
The new law applies mainly to investor-owned electricity utilities, the companies that serve the large majority of the state’s consumers.
FirstEnergy has about 2.1 million customers, or 43 percent of the total affected by the law. AEP is next with 1.5 million, or 30 percent, followed by Duke with 695,000, or 15 percent, and Dayton Power & Light with 573,000, or 12 percent.
“We believe that our portfolio of (energy-efficiency) offerings benefit our customers, the company and help the environment,” said Duke spokesman Blair Schroeder in an email.
Dayton Power & Light said it will continue with its current plan until the end of 2015 and is reviewing options for the following years.
AEP’s Vegas said his company was active behind the scenes during the debate, trying to preserve the programs that are popular with AEP customers but also trying to increase the utilities’ flexibility in complying with the law.
“We were very engaged in the conversation, trying to get a balanced approach,” he said.
To support the deployment of this infrastructure, DOE has launched the Workplace Charging Challenge, with a goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging in the next five years.
It would be easy to get depressed about Ohio’s clean energy future after the recent passage of SB 310. This new law freezes our renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for two years, eliminates the in-state renewable requirement, allows sources that cannot be converted into electricity to count, makes the industrial opt-out of efficiency easier, and eliminates the 12.5% advanced energy requirement.
But we have a better vision for the future than our greedy utilities and politicians, and with continued passion and commitment, we will ultimately prevail. Our vision is to lead the emerging energy age and create thousands of engineering, manufacturing, and construction jobs in the energy efficiency (insulation, lighting, HVAC) and renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, bio-mass) industries.
Our vision is to diversify our energy mix and create greater competition in a traditionally non-competitive industry. It is to become less dependent on coal and natural gas which are limited natural resources and thus prone to volatility and ever-increasing prices. It is to improve the health of our citizens of whom many are vulnerable to respiratory and heart-related diseases.
And it is to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem when it comes to climate change. Utilities can no longer pretend that dirty power is cheaper than renewable energy. The short and long term costs and risks of dirty power are mounting and the longer they wait to reduce their global carbon pollution, the more responsible and liable they become.
Therefore, given the truth and opportunities of our vision, and the potentially dire consequences if we fail, I suggest we learn from our temporary setback and become wiser and stronger for it. Rather than feel sorry for ourselves, we need to redouble our commitment. Let’s leverage our strengths – being grass roots and creative – and waste less time fighting the utilities on their terms in the statehouse.
Below are some strategies to consider:
1) Actively support the new federal EPA regulations to limit carbon pollution at the state level. Write op-eds for your newspaper, blog across the social media spectrum, and testify if/when necessary that you want carbon polluters to pay for their cost to society.
2) Initiate community aggregation programs with green power options. We are no longer lowly ratepayers subject to the dictates of the utility industry. As consumers we can take control of our energy future by issuing RFP’s and only giving our business to responsible electric providers. If the City of Cincinnati can opt for 100% clean energy, so can every city, township, school district, college and university, and business in Ohio.
3) Vote in the fall and throw out the bums. Find out whether your state legislators voted for SB 310 and hold them accountable. Again, you are the consumer and citizen with the power.
4) Explore alternative financing mechanisms for energy efficiency and renewable energy such as PACE (Property Assessment for Clean Energy). Though the market for SRECSs (solar renewable energy credits) is practically nil as a result of SB 310, we must find other ways to make up for it.
5) Help educate the ‘study committee’ that will recommend any changes to our RPS after the two year freeze. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are global megatrends. The facts and future are on our side. The utilities are clinging to a 20th century energy model.
6) Be willing to create a better world for future generations outside of Ohio. Though we would all prefer to make investments and create jobs in our home state, the fact is we may – sometimes - have to create good somewhere else to survive and thrive. We are in this for the long term.
In conclusion, we have only just begun to fight. And we hope you will join our grassroots energy revolution. We, the people, have the real power – both literally and figuratively!
Stephen K. Melink, PE
The question that should be asked is, "At what point do we NOT care about the performance of the single largest dynamic system in our building and the biggest user of electricity and gas?"
Leonard Maiani, NEBB Technical Director, expands on his experience in being asked by administrators to weigh the need of a balanced HVAC system in his article, When is it okay NOT to balance an HVAC system.
The following is an excerpt of The NEBB Professional, Spring 2014 (not available digitally):
"The independent TAB for many projects is usually one of the smallest contracts in the construction of a building (somewhere in the .5%-.75% of the total contract). For this addition to the contract, you get an independent report of the true condition of your mechanical system and, just as important, you will get solid information to approach your contractor and A/E team to rectify any shortcomings found in the systems. This seems like a very reasonable expense for what may be a very valuable resource.
I would encourage your firm to handle the TAB as a separate contract or to specify that the TAB agency report directly to you, which will put you in the driver's seat if and when performance issues arise.
Needless to say, there are good TAB firms and there are GOOD TAB firms. You must be aware that every TAB firm is just selling you time and integrity.
Low bid will get you the company who will spend the least time of the job. I, for one, would not recommend selecting a TAB firm on a low bid basis."
Are you contracting out your preventative maintenance? Unfortunately, we've seen a lot of restaurant managers be misled by their mechanical contractors into thinking their "building is balanced", but still notice misreported or never reported problems that are causing complaints from their guests. For example, you've been told that air filters and screens used for the outside air intake are clean, or that belts are tight, when they are in fact loose or cracking and ready to break. These facility problems would cost so much less if treated immediately. For example, a $10 fan belt replacement, if not replaced by your facility management when needed can cause irreversible damage to the rooftop RTUs, along with the cost of uncomfortable guests. These instances escalate in the summer and fall months, when outdoor weather threatens indoor comfort.
Be aware of these frequent summer/fall sick building symptoms, so you can call out the indicators, if necessary:
What issue(s) do you have at your facility? We can help you investigate the cause. Call 513-965-7300 or email your question to BalanceExpert@melinkcorp.com to speak to an NEBB Certified healthy building expert.
Congratulations to Steve for being recognized as an outstanding entreprenuer for energy cleantech!
Contact: Jeremy Chapman, General Manager Melink Solar
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Melink Corporation recently developed and installed a solar energy system on property owned by Rexnord Industries that is estimated to produce more than 4 million kWh annually. The 3,102 kilowatt solar array, composed of 12,040 collection modules on approximately 13 acres of land, was installed adjacent to the Rexnord manufacturing facility on Rockville Road. Power began flowing on April 9, 2014.
The system supports Rexnord initiatives to be a good environmental steward. The solar facility will be connected to Indianapolis Power & Light Company’s (IPL) distribution system, making it part of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) program for an investor-owned utility in the Midwest. The energy produced equates to providing electricity to power 360 homes and removing over 2,722 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.
Cincinnati-based Melink was the developer of the project and performed the engineering, procurement, and construction services. Melink’s financing partners include U.S. Bancorp and Union Bank & Trust.
“Melink is very excited and proud to be the project developer of this large solar PV array, and to be partnering with Rexnord and Indianapolis Power & Light Company to expand solar generation in the Midwest,” said Steve Melink, President of Melink Corporation.
May 21, Milford OH --Ohio’s clean energy law was widely endorsed and passed into law in 2008. And after Governor Kasich was elected in 2010, he reaffirmed this law by declaring energy efficiency and renewable energy as major pillars of his energy policy. In 2012 the legislature and Governor reaffirmed clean energy again by signing into law Senate Bill 315 which strengthened and expanded the law.
The result of Ohio’s clean energy law has been the creation of thousands of jobs and the expansion of several industries here in Ohio – from solar and wind power to waste-heat recovery and energy efficiency. This in turn is making our state a national leader in the emerging energy age. And not only is this good for our economy, it is good for our security and environment.
However, the public utilities and several lawmakers are fighting this law. In fact, after several failed attempts, they have introduced new legislation that would virtually repeal our clean energy standards. And worse, they are now twisting fellow lawmakers’ arms to join their cause or else. So, the good bill (SB 315) they previously voted for is now at serious risk. And our emerging advanced energy industry is too.
The Ohio Senators behind the bad bill (SB 310) will deny there is any undue influence, but the fact is no industry holds sway over the legislature like the utility industry. It has the money, the paid lobbyists, the paid consultants, and the paid everything else to continuously shape state energy policy in its favor.
Why would the utilities be against our forward-thinking and long-term clean energy law?
1- They desperately long for the old days when it was a regulated monopoly and there was no competition. For almost a century utility investments in plant and equipment were subsidized by lowly ratepayers - and the idea that they now have to innovate and take risks is anathema to them. It is far easier for them to simply lobby and legislate their way to success.
2- Public utilities are against energy efficiency and renewable energy because they want to sell more energy, not less. Like the tobacco industry before them, they can only imagine making money by selling power the old way – by burning coal and natural gas. The idea of having to diversify their portfolio is more anathema to them than having to earn their business in an unregulated market.
3- Utilities are against solar and wind power, in particular, because these technologies represent an existential threat to their business model. The idea that their customers can go around them and invest in their own mini-power plants is the last thing they want. And the fact that the fuel source is forever free will increasingly become a driver as conventional rates start going up again and solar/wind costs continue going down.
4- They argue that solar and wind power doesn't work and costs too much. The utilities and their paid lobbyists argue that solar and wind power doesn’t work or costs too much, or the current law is a mandate - not a free market, or tens of thousands of jobs are at risk. But they are operating out of fear and ignorance. They invoke names like Solyndra and Al Gore because it appeals to a vocal minority, but this is bad politics trying to replace smart policy. Solar and wind power do work. And while it may cost hundredths of a penny more per KWH today when mixed with our larger energy portfolio, the increased competition of smaller and more efficient energy developers is actually reducing market prices. And energy efficiency is having an even bigger impact on reducing overall rates. This is evident by Duke’s decision to sell its coal and gas plants in Ohio.
Our current law is a market-based solution to diversifying our energy portfolio to reduce long term risks, increasing competition to lower energy rates, and creating jobs, companies, and industries. Giving the utilities more power and control would be the epitome of picking winners and losers.
But more importantly, solar power and other advanced energy solutions are the way of the future. The proof is in watching some of the largest and most successful economies like Germany and Japan, states like New Jersey and Colorado, companies like Wal-Mart and Google, institutions like the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Army, and investors like Warren Buffet and Elon Musk. Even utilities are starting to invest in solar and wind power.
So don’t let the public utilities tell you their Russian Gazprom model is the way forward. Ohio’s vision and commitment to clean energy is much better than that. Governor Kasich has said so. Thousands of employees say so. And based on continual surveys – including one just released April 15 - the vast majority of Ohio voters agree. A more diversified and competitive energy industry will make us safer, healthier, and stronger.
Email Gov. Kasich to tell him you support Ohio's clean energy law and do not want to move backwards and give more control back to the utilities!
This opinion editorial is in conjunction with Ohio Advanced Energy Economy's Public Poll on maintaining clean energy legistlation.
Steve Melink, PE
President of Melink Corporation
Cedarville University Solar Array
Steve Melink shares his expertise in an exclusive publication with Consulting-Specifying Engineer Magazine. Click here to view.
Melink has partnered with REC and Sonlight Power to help provide solar panels to rural communities in Panama where there is no electric grid. Last month, our Solar Senior Sales Engineer Colin Derhammer travelled to the country for a week long mission trip to install solar on rooftops in rural communities.
Though many of us take electric lighting for granted., there are many communities and even countries around the world that have little or no electricity.
Therefore, they have no lights, refrigerators, radios, TV's, and other basic appliances other than those powered by batteries or kerosene.
Sonlight Power plans and organizes these trips throughout Latin America to not only improve the quality of lives from a practical standpoint, but also from a faith-based perspective.
Melink is proud to work with SLP and make safety, health, comfort, and education for impoverished lives a part of its broader vision for a sustainable world.
2014 Green Business Award Winners
The Business Courier and the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of United States Green Building Council (USGBC) held the 5th annual Green Business Awards on March 6th.
Winners in the Green Advocacy category:
Cincinnati Public Schools’ Safe Routes to School program
Groundwork Cincinnati – Mill Creek
Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Winners in the Green Building category:
All About Kids Childcare
University of Cincinnati
Winners in the Green Product/Service category:
Sol Design + Consulting
Winners in the Green Practice category:
Mac’s Pizza Pub
MillerCoors – Trenton brewery
Cincinnati Public Schools’ recycling program
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Event Sponsors: Melink Corporation (Gold), Multi-Craft (Gold), Duke Energy (Silver), PNC Bank (Silver), Sharonville Convention Center (silver)
Initiative Makes CU leader among Ohio Universities
CEDARVILLE, OHIO - Cedarville University will dedicate its large scale solar power system that will convert sunlight into clean, electricity to help meet the campus’ growing power requirements on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 1 p.m. The 2,154 kilowatt solar array was built on the southwest edge of the campus by Cincinnati-based Melink Corporation, which was responsible for the development, engineering, construction, and operation of the system.
Since the completion of the installation, power has been flowing directly into the University’s distribution system. This energy is capable of supplying, on average, 10% of Cedarville University’s demand, making it the largest solar system directly connected to a university in Ohio.
In announcing the dedication, Steve Melink, President of Melink Corporation said, “Melink is proud to serve as the developer for this very significant solar array. We would like to acknowledge our partners; U.S. Bancorp, Union Bank & Trust Company, DP&L Energy, Yellow Springs Renewable Energy, TMI Electric, and the Village of Cedarville, who provided tremendous support. It is our hope that this success will inspire other schools and universities to consider clean and affordable renewable energy solutions.”
“Congratulations to Cedarville University and Melink Corporation for making this dream a reality,” said Tom Marchael, Vice President of Union Bank & Trust Company. “This is a fine example of a public-private initiative to benefit the University and community.”
Cedarville University has been using solar technology in its academic curriculum for many years. Engineering faculty have incorporated the technology to advance missions-minded projects in Liberia and throughout the world, while the University’s engineering students have won six World Solar Splash boat competitions.
“The completion of the solar array is significant for Cedarville University, as well as the Southwest Ohio region,” said John E. Gredy, Ed.D., Provost. “This project reflects the University’s commitment to implementing new initiatives that will strengthen our Christ-centered education. I’m happy to know Cedarville University has taken the initiative to lead in renewable energy among Ohio universities.”
“The wisdom of the University’s leadership to address renewable energy is encouraging,” said Robert Fudge, Mayor of the Village of Cedarville. “This is a great day for our region.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,400 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Celebrating 125 years, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit www.cedarville.edu.
Melink Corporation is committed to sustainability and provides energy savings for their customers through HVAC commissioning services, demand ventilation controls for commercial kitchens and solar power projects. The company's headquarters is a LEED Platinum, Net Zero Energy facility designed to demonstrate that sustainability is good business. With full in-house development, design and implementation capabilities, Melink is a leading solar PV integrator of commercial projects.
The Melink Corporation developed, integrated and, with support from PNC Energy Capital, now operates a ground-mount solar photovoltaic array for Urbana University to help them reduce operational costs and reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Construction began in October 2012 and the system was commissioned in November 2012.
Located on the southwest edge of campus near the football and soccer stadium in Urbana, Ohio, the array consists of 2,128 solar photovoltaic modules which contribute approximately 15% of the school’s energy needs. Most important to the university is that the array serves as a visible example of the school’s commitment to sustainability.
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