The Montgomery County Department of General Services engaged Elsen Energy Consulting to conduct a renewable energy purchase for a multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional buying group. Activities included market analysis using primary and secondary data sets; valuation of environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy product types; procurement support including development of bid documents, pricing sheets and requirements for attestation and reporting; and assessment of technologies and project siting options.
Elsen Energy Consulting provided implementation services to the Maryland Energy Administration to administer a grant program providing several million dollars each year to community organizations and units of local government in order to develop energy-saving and renewable energy projects. Services included trainings, site assistance, guidance on savings calculations, environmental and economic valuation, development of quantifiable evaluation criteria, and application and review process enhancements.
Ms. Elsen supported ICF International with the US EPA in defining, tracking and maintaining a database on activities undertaken in the United States to incorporate clean energy into state-level policies to maintain a reliable energy system. Ms. Elsen assisted the EPA in prioritizing activities in terms of environmental impact and synchronization with long-term energy objectives. Such activities included the status of renewable portfolio standards, existence of output-based emissions permitting for power plants, efficiency and renewable energy goals, and numerous other policy and programmatic actions. This project included the development of policy definitions (or program elements of state activities) and tracking their implementation for use by the EPA and state-level policy makers in the creation of best practices in clean energy policy.
Ms.Elsen researched the status of Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation and regulation in six New England states for ICF International to determine their affect on renewable energy supply development, and on the future of renewable energy certificate (REC) prices. The analysis included differences in state definitions of eligible renewable resources, percentage targets, load-serving entities affected by the standards, alternative compliance mechanisms, provisions for banking RECs and interaction between existing voluntary markets and newly established compliance requirements.
The Montgomery County Energy Policy and County Code have benefitted significantly from Ms. Elsen's ongoing review and modification. Her efforts resulted in amendments to incorporate the competitive procurement of electricity and natural gas, purchase of electricity generated using renewable energy sources, creation of a residential incentive program for purchases of renewable energy, establishment of an Energy Wise Office program for County employees and creation of the Climate Protection Initiative.
Ms. Elsen provided oversight to a Montgomery County interagency group that coordinated energy management efforts among six county and bi-county agencies, with facilities totaling 27 million gross square feet and an energy budget of over $30 million. She directed the completion of annual resource conservation plans, a shift from descriptive to quantitative reporting on the effectiveness of energy efficiency investments and the development of annual utility rate projections for budgeting purposes. Aggressive resource management efforts resulted in utility cost avoidance of over $7 million per year.
Ms. Elsen chaired a Montgomery County interagency committee which implemented the competitive purchase of electricity supply by a buying group consisting of seven agencies in two adjoining counties, and 11 municipalities. She provided internal consulting for an ongoing intergovernmental energy procurement process which required coordination across county and bi-county agencies, outreach to municipalities, ongoing market analysis, the development of a memoranda of understanding and new procurement regulations, and revamping of government contract terms and conditions. The increased level of competition achieved by this purchasing initiative resulted in electricity cost savings of $7 million over five years, and set the groundwork for the purchase of renewable energy.
As Executive Director of the Maryland-DC-Virginia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Ms. Elsen provided direction and oversight to a 501(c)(6) trade association that promoted a growing market for solar equipment in the Mid-Atlantic region. She coordinated efforts to improve the business climate for companies in the solar industry, including the development of solar legislation, codes and standards, improved financing mechanisms and heightened consumer awareness. Ms. Elsen worked with national associations to address technical and policy issues impacting the solar energy industry. She also coordinated analysis of local and national energy policy issues, factors affecting international markets for renewable technologies and regional economic development as it relates to the renewable energy industry.
Elsen Energy spearheaded a successful regional effort to aggregate local government purchasing power to acquire wind-generated electric power and incorporate the purchase into the Maryland State Implementation Plan for compliance with the Clean Air Act. As Montgomery County’s Energy Planner, Elsen Energy worked with the regional council of governments and the state department of environment to organize a consortium of local governments and define terms for a joint purchase of 38.4-million kilowatt-hours of wind energy per year. The 18-member consortium sought renewable energy that would provide quantifiable local air quality improvements. This project included development of an offset quantification methodology, state approval of project status as a voluntary control measure and contractual language delineating retirement of NOx allowances associated with the purchase of renewable energy certificates (REC). This project was the first of its kind in the nation.
On behalf of Montgomery County, Elsen Energy developed and implemented a broad-reaching program to expand the use of renewable resources by installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on schools and residences throughout the County. The program began as an education and outreach effort, and grew to become a complex partnership with a local renewable energy industry, a national trade association, the County school system, the state energy agency and an electricity supplier. Elsen Energy engaged the renewable energy industry to identify barriers to the implementation of renewable resources, and to develop methods to overcome them. Through coordination with an electricity supplier, the firm set a national precedent for solar project funding by obtaining support in the form of a Supplemental Environmental Project from the state of Maryland's Department of the Environment.
For Prince George’s County, Ms. Elsen provided oversight work conducted by the Office of Energy Services for implementation of residential energy-efficiency improvements and financial assistance. Ms. Elsen developed instruments for the preparation of on-site retrofit estimates, work orders and financial reports. She also created and produced a definitive building work plan which identified and prioritized energy-efficiency building improvements that was adopted by the Maryland Energy Administration for implementation in more than 20 other local jurisdictions.