U.S. wind power generation has tripled over the past decade — and continues to grow as renewable energy gains momentum.  However, the small wind market (<100 kW), dominated in the past by residential customers, has largely been supplanted by solar installations. By comparison, commercial and industrial companies have installed over 360 onsite wind turbines. Excluding independent power producers and municipals, the average installation size is roughly 800 kW ranging from 50 kW to 3 MW in size according to the United States Wind Turbine Database. Before investing in wind power, your utility’s commercial and industrial customers need to understand the keys to wind power success.

What is the energy output of wind power?

Power is proportional to the cube of wind speed. Increasing average wind speed from 14 to 16 mph increases power by 50%. Wind turbine installers generally recommend a minimum average wind speed of at least 12 miles per hour (Class 3 wind). Your customer’s wind resource can vary significantly over just a few miles, due to changes in local terrain. Direct customers to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) wind resource maps to estimate average wind speeds in their area or have them obtain wind speed data from a local airport or weather station.

Wind speed also increases as tower height increases. Wind speed at 164 feet is 25% higher than at 33 feet and doubles power output. Commercial-scale wind turbines are placed on towers that range from about 75 feet (25 meters) to as much as 325 feet (100 meters) tall.

Power is proportional to the square of the blade length. Increasing blade length from 6 feet to 12 feet increases power output four times. Combining larger blades with higher tower height maximizes output.

A wind turbine does not output at its maximum capacity all the time. Sometimes there is no wind at all. A capacity factor of around 25% is assumed for non-utility-scale turbines in the U.S.

Installation and maintenance of wind turbines

Before your customer invests in a small wind energy system, have them contact their local building inspector or zoning board to find out about any zoning or permitting issues. The board can tell them if they will need to obtain a building permit and provide them a list of requirements.

Wind power safety issues

In high wind conditions, the generator and gear box can run too fast and overheat. All wind turbines disengage the generator at some predetermined cutout wind speed (typically 55 mph). A wind turbine will also need lightning protection.

What’s the best wind turbine size?

The turbine size will depend on your customer’s energy use, the average wind speed at their site, the diameter at the blade tips and the height of the wind turbine, all of which will affect the amount of energy it generates. When wind turbine capacity is augmented by energy storage (during slow wind conditions), energy storage is sized to provide only about 14% of turbine full capacity.

Financial analysis and incentives for wind power

The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 extended the deadline for wind projects started in either 2020 or 2021 to qualify for a Production Tax Credit (PTC) of $0.015/kWh on the electrical output for 10 years.Wind projects can receive the tax credit based on either the year the project begins operation or the year in which 5% of the total capital cost for the project has been spent and construction has begun. The credit is claimed by completing IRS Form 8835, “Renewable Electricity Production Credit.” The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), previously at 30%, is no longer available for on-shore wind projects.

Conducting a simple investment analysis for your customers can help them understand the financial obligations of wind power more clearly. For example, the assumptions and calculation below outlines how to estimate the total net cost and payback of an average-size onsite wind turbine.


  • 800 kW capacity @$3,500/kW installed cost (<= 5 MW) per LBL
  • Operations and maintenance (O&M) costs of $30/kW-year
  • Commercial electricity rate = $0.11/kWh
  • Wind power Renewable Energy Credit (REC) prices vary from $1 to $10 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in most states
  • Annual electricity production = 800 kW x 0.25 capacity factor x 8,760 hrs/yr = 1,752,000 kWh


  • Initial investment = 800 kW x $3,500/kW = $2.8 million
  • PTC incentive = 1,752,000 kWh x $0.015/kWh x 10 years = $262,800
  • REC sales = 1,725 MWh/yr x $4/MWh x 20 years = $138,000
  • O&M cost = 800 kW x $30/kW x 20 years = $480,000
    • Initial investment – PTC incentive – REC sales + O&M = $2.88 million total cost
    • Annual electricity savings = 1,752,000 kWh x $0.11/kWh = $192,720 annual savings

With a total cost of $2.88 million and electricity savings of $192,720 per year, customers can expect simple payback in 15 years. That’s an internal rate of return of 3.1%, or a net present value of $36,956 (assuming a discount rate of 3%).

Is wind power right for your customers?

Being green is not inexpensive. Your customers can also experience pushback in the form of NIMBY or “not in my back yard.” But it is a great solution with respect to decarbonization of power generation. The wind “fuel” is free. Wind power requires much less land and is less expensive to install than solar. Help your customers understand the keys to wind power success.

Learn how a digital marketing strategy from Questline Digital can help your energy utility promote the benefits of wind power and renewable energy.

Smart devices continue to make their way into more homes each year. According to research, nearly 65% of Americans own at least one smart home device, with some of the most popular devices being speakers (31%), smart thermostats (24%) and lighting (20%). How are customers actually using these devices? We asked four members of the Questline Digital family to share their review of smart thermostats to help us understand how this technology makes their homes more comfortable.

What are smart thermostats?

Between smartphone apps and energy efficiency smart settings, controlling your home’s temperature has never been easier. Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-enabled smart home devices that automatically adjusts the temperature inside customers’ homes for optimal performance. Customers can also use app-enabled functionality to manually turn the temperature in their homes up or down, even when they aren’t there.

What smart thermostat options are available?

The very first smart thermostat was introduced in 2007 by Ecobee. Lots of worthy competitors have since entered the smart home market, including Google Nest, Honeywell Lyric and Hive.

As consumers continue to adopt smart home technology, it’s imperative for your energy utility to stay ahead of the trends. When it comes to smart thermostats, it’s important to understand what your customers are looking for and what influences their buying decisions.

To better understand the benefits and buying considerations for smart thermostat customers, Questline Digital interviewed the following team members:

  • Joe Pifher, Creative Director (JP)
  • Reed Fabek, Operations Director (RF)
  • Jayne Culbertson, Client Success Manager (JC)
  • Suzanne Davis, HR Director, and her husband Eric (SD and ED)

What smart thermostat do you own?

JP: A Google Nest.

RF: I owned a Hive at our old house and currently have a Google Nest.

JC: I have a Google Nest.

ED: We own an Ecobee.

When did you decide you wanted to purchase a smart thermostat?

JP: The second they became available. As soon as I heard about a Nest being created by an ex-Apple employee, I knew I wanted it. The Nest was the only one I knew to be available at the time I purchased my smart thermostat.

RF: Three years ago at Christmas.

JC: As soon as we bought our house in 2018 or 2019.

ED: In November 2020, the AEP Ohio It’s Your Power program ended. The Powerley thermostat that we had received as part of the program could no longer communicate to the energy bridge and give us smart meter data. In advance of the program ending, I started researching a replacement for our thermostat.

Why did you want to purchase a smart thermostat? What stood out to you? Where did you buy it from?

JP: I liked the fact that I could control it from my phone and if we were traveling I could turn it down or turn it back up. And it looked neat. It was the next cool techy thing, and I like being on the forefront. I bought mine directly from Nest — Nest wasn’t owned by Google at the time so I ordered it straight from the website with a preorder.

RF: Hive was offering a deep discount. I had general awareness of the competitive products and features. Cost savings and improved sustainability were my two driving interests. I really believe in green philosophies and I like ways in which technology can help me be more cost-effective with the things that we buy. Green is a big initiative so I really wanted to get a smart thermostat.

I bought one coincidentally because Amazon was offering this huge discount on the Hive thermostat. I already had exposure to the landscape of what products existed thanks to one of my former roles helping create a smart thermostat campaign for an energy utility. I knew they were out there.

Hive was top of my list, Ecobee and Google Nest were tops for the functionality and aesthetic, but I couldn’t pass up the price. We moved last August into our new house and the second day we were here I went out and bought a Nest because I was at Costco and it was there. I bought it and didn’t even think twice about it. I knew I wanted a Nest — I’m tied in with Google and Android and Amazon and all of those things intersect with the Nest thermostat.

JC: We already had Google Home products and we liked the idea of sitting in bed being able to change the temperature. Or, being away from home we liked that we could automatically update the temperature and settings without being there. We bought ours from Columbia Gas.

ED: I really liked the ability to remotely control the previous thermostat through the mobile app. I wanted to replace that functionality in a new smart thermostat. I was also hoping for energy usage reports. Because the new thermostat does not communicate with the smart meter, I cannot get the level of detail I previously had. I also wanted something that would either learn our behavior or sense whether we were there — and make adjustments accordingly. Our previous Powerley thermostat was not smart in that regard. We bought it from the Columbia Gas online marketplace.

Did you ever consider purchasing from your energy utility or seeing if they offered any rebates or incentives on a smart thermostat?

JP: Smart thermostats were brand new when I bought mine so there was no relationship like that yet with energy utilities.

RF: No, sadly. I know some utilities will subsidize a portion of the cost, but both were impulse buys, so I didn’t check my utility provider.

JC: We bought it directly from Columbia Gas because my husband worked there at that time and we were able to get a discount or rebate on it by purchasing it through the utility.

ED: Yes, I went with Columbia Gas over the AEP Ohio marketplace solely based on cost. The instant rebates were much better on Columbia Gas’s site; AEP’s discounts had previously expired. These were $250 thermostats for $125, so I bought 2 of them in December during a holiday promotion.

Did you research different smart thermostats before purchasing what you have?

JP: No, I was just intrigued by how it said it would learn your patterns by motion sensor to know if you’re home or not.

RF: I managed the Smart Thermostat EM campaign for a previous client, so I had a decent amount of background knowledge from my work on the program.

JC: No, we already had a Google-functioning home so that’s what we went with.

ED: Yes, I was also looking at the Nest Learning Thermostat, along with the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control. I also looked at Emerson and Honeywell. I was hoping for a definitive recommendation from the articles I read. But some rated Nest the best, and others Ecobee. And some of the other brands also had some good reviews. Although most seemed to recommend Nest or Ecobee. 

I also reached out to one of my co-workers and he was leaning toward the Ecobee for its reporting features and ease of use. I also asked other co-workers and they steered me away from Google products due to privacy concerns they had around Google. Although not as sleek as the Nest, the user interface is still very easy to use and the unit has better design appeal than some of the other brands.

Is there anything you wish you knew before purchasing it?

JP: No, I pretty much knew what was going to work or not work. Post-purchase, though, I think I would have maybe waited and gone with the Ecobee instead. The Ecobee has sensors you can put in rooms so you can set it for certain times to adjust for where you are in the house.

RF: I wonder if it would have been more cost effective to go through my energy utility. I also would have liked to know more about the reporting and tracking features and what the benefits or investments are for purchasing a smart thermostat in terms of cost savings.

JC: Not necessarily about the product but knowing more about the monthly emails and what those track would have been nice. Now I know that it compares how much energy I save and I can collect leaves, or points, that basically compares my energy usage to others in my area and across the nation. It creates a sense of competition and it would have been nice to know those things earlier on.

ED: This was hard to get an answer to, but will there be future connectivity to my energy bridge, so that I can get real-time and historical energy usage from the Ecobee app. My co-worker seemed to indicate that devices like Nest and Ecobee would be compatible in the future, should AEP Ohio be successful in re-launching the program. I should have explored the energy savings reporting in more detail to see what I’d be getting with the Ecobee.

Did working in the energy utility industry influence your purchasing decision?

JP: At the time of purchase, I didn’t work in the energy utility industry. Now, however, it absolutely would have impacted my decision. Knowing that they give discounts and rebates I definitely would have gone through my energy company.

RF: I do feel that I know more information about the utility space from my professional involvement versus any information that’s been provided to me as a consumer.

JC: I didn’t work in the industry when we purchased our smart thermostat, but my husband did. However, I don’t think it really impacted our decision. Other than the fact that we could get it through the gas company for a discount, we were already sold on it.

ED: Completely.

What are your favorite features of the smart thermostat?

JP: That I can change it from my phone while laying in bed.

RF: The aesthetic and interface of the Nest is phenomenal. Hive wasn’t bad, but it did require a hub appliance to connect to my home network. The ease of use was comparable between the two, but the interface on the Nest is very intuitive, and has a richer feature set for customizing my home automation. Installation for both was fairly straightforward — I did both myself.

JC: That I can lay in bed and change the temperature. I also like that you can set when you’re away so when I’m not there it will drop the temperature. Honestly, just using the thermostat too is fun — changing the dial is even a nice experience.

ED: I enjoy being able to control the temperature through the mobile app, but also to walk up to it and simply use a slider-type user interface to adjust the temperature up or down. The set-up and scheduling is intuitive. It’s also nice to see the outside temperature and indoor humidity at a glance. The mobile app sends me alerts when I need to take action. For example, it reminded me that it was time to change the furnace filter. When I turned off the humidifier, it alerted me of abnormally low humidity. These alerts also appear on the thermostats themselves. We have two sensors with each thermostat, which detect room occupancy. The thermostats will go into Eco mode when they sense we’re not there, which will save energy. The thermostat has also made recommendations on changing our temperature settings based on its detection of patterns of room occupancy, to save energy and money. This is a great feature. 

I have not explored the reporting as in depth as I thought I would, because I know it won’t give me the robustness that I was accustomed to with It’s Your Power, and also because I’m enjoying how things are working so far and am still uncovering features a few months into ownership. We do also receive AEP Ohio weekly home energy reports, which summarize my kWh usage and cost, so my need for reporting is satisfied elsewhere. We have not used the voice control in the upstairs thermostat; I mainly bought it because it was a great price and came with two sensors. Going with the cheaper model but adding in sensors would have been just as costly. 

The integrated Alexa has been a novelty. Because we have two thermostats (one upstairs and one on the main level), Alexa gets confused if we ask the downstairs one to change the temperature. We need to be specific with how we speak the name of the thermostat when talking to Alexa.

How do you typically use your smart thermostat?

JP: I let it do its thing most of the time. And then if I think it’s too hot or cool I change it from my phone. It has an option to learn its own pattern, but I ended up setting the pattern myself because of how the installation in my house would affect the timing of the automatic pattern. I like seeing the monthly emails come in, too, when I realize I use more energy than my neighbors. It makes me want to figure out why my energy usage is higher.

RF: I really use it for the basic temperature control. I’d like to look at it on a deeper level to see what else I could do with it.

JC: I use it mostly for adjusting the temperature when I’m not home.

ED: I have both thermostats programmed for days and times of the week when we are home and sleeping. Since we’re all working and taking classes from home, I have not set up away modes yet. Otherwise, I let them run, and manually adjust as I need to. In the winter, I sometimes manually turned up the heat while still in bed, to pre-warm the room. Eventually, I re-programmed my schedule to do that automatically for me. We also ask Alexa trivial questions, set timers and play music. And if I’m lazy, I’ll ask Alexa to make it warmer or cooler.

What would you do differently next time, if anything?

JP: If I did it over again, I’d do more research to see which one would work best for me. And I’d go through my energy utility to purchase it.

RF: I think I would do more research into purchasing it directly from my energy utility. I also would like to know ahead of time more about the tracking and efficiency functionalities of the device.

JC: I think if my energy utility would have said something more about its promotions or offers we probably would have gone through them for purchase with more specific rationale. Otherwise, we’re really happy with everything — how it installed, integrated and connected over to everything was easy.

ED: If I had to do it over, I probably would not have spent the extra money on the voice-enabled thermostat for the upstairs. I haven’t even turned it on yet after four months. I would have gotten the Ecobee3 Lite Thermostat and considered adding room sensors. I did it because the price was half off. But given how we’re using it on the second floor, it feels like a splurge. 

Then again, we are putting the sensors that came with the thermostat to use on the second floor, since we’re all here in the home much of the time. And I do enjoy how it learns and makes recommendations; it’s just that so far, I have chosen comfort over savings and have not implemented the suggestions. And once things return more to normal and we’re not home during the day, I don’t know how much value the sensors will have — probably just evenings and weekends. 

Also, I relied on third-party reviews, and I don’t remember if I even went to the Ecobee website to read about its products. In retrospect, this might have been helpful in seeing all the differences between the thermostats, rather than solely relying on reviews and on Columbia Gas’s descriptions. 

Also, I have yet to use these thermostats during the cooling season — it’s all been heating. I’m very curious to know how things go once we start running the A/C. 

Finally, I did have an issue with the upstairs thermostat that was likely based on a poor wiring connection that I made when I installed it. Ecobee was super helpful and friendly and walked me through different diagnostics, and I was able to fix it myself with their instructions. They have support through phone, email, and online chat. They could see all the history of when I was encountering a problem, which was both helpful and a little unnerving at the same time as I realized my data is out there. Then again, it’s just temperature and furnace data.

Review your utility’s engagement efforts around smart thermostats

As customers continue to integrate smart technology into their homes, including smart thermostats, is your energy utility prepared to guide them along their purchasing journey? Continue to listen to your customers’ needs to understand and connect with them in ways that matter most. In doing so, you’ll be able to gain valuable customer trust and increase engagement with your energy utility’s online marketplace.

Promote your energy utility’s smart thermostat rebates and incentives with a Marketplace Content Strategy from Questline Digital.

Electric cars and trucks are nothing new. In fact, William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa, built a six-passenger electric-powered wagon in 1891. Jumping ahead to just a few years later, of the 4,192 cars produced in the U.S. in 1900, 28% were electric. But electric vehicles (EVs) had disappeared by 1935 due to the discovery of Texas crude oil, the invention of the electric starter and mass production introduced by Henry Ford.

One of the main goals of EVs today is to replace petroleum, but reducing the cost of operation is an extra benefit. Burning petroleum consumes a finite resource and pollutes the atmosphere. While site emissions for electric vehicles is technically zero, the source emissions are still 30% less than gasoline combustion even considering 100% coal use for producing electricity from a power plant. Use of renewable solar or wind power reduces source emission by 100%.

Navigating barriers to EV adoption

What are the present barriers to EV adoption?

For starters, a price premium still exists averaging around $12,000 per electric vehicle. While fuel savings (electricity versus gasoline) will offset over $1,000 of that premium and a federal tax credit up to $7,500 could apply, it still takes about five years (70,000 miles) to obtain a simple financial payback.

The cost of batteries represents 30% to 40% of the total cost of EV production. Fortunately, that cost is steadily decreasing, now around $137/kWh of capacity. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts EV battery prices to drop to $100/kWh in 2024 and $75/kWh by 2030, which would equal full parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
To combat this pricing barrier, roughly 35 states offer EV incentives of different types:

  • $1,000 to $5,000 straight rebate (regardless of vehicle price)
  • 50% to 80% of incremental cost (price premium) over non-EV
  • 20% to 35% of the vehicle purchase price (cap limited)
  • Exempt from state sales and use tax

The low cost of gasoline did not restrict EV sales much early on, especially for early adopters, but low fuel costs will affect the next group of buyers (early majority stage of technology adoption). In addition, states are reacting to the loss of fuel pump tax revenues by sending tax bills to EV owners based on the average miles travelled by ICE vehicles. While this is not unexpected, it could prove to be another deterrent to those seeking out EVs.

Perceived range anxiety is more fiction than fact. Many EVs today can go over 100 miles on a single charge while 50% of Americans travel less than 26 miles per day. In two years, the number of EV charging stations in the U.S. has doubled to 40,844 (offering 98,674 charging outlets). On-site charging stations are also very common for passenger cars and commercial fleet vehicles.

Faster charging speed and extended mileage is being enabled by technology such as silicon-carbide MOSFETs. Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion batteries (used in about half of all EVs) provide the greatest capacity and power response but are prone to overheating. However, all electric vehicles incorporate a battery safety vent, current interrupter, and battery management system to minimize this risk.

The biggest barrier to EV adoption, however, is lack of public education. In an article from CleanTechnica, Steve Hanley observes, “Most dealers are doing a rotten job of promoting electric cars.” Although car manufacturers are equally to blame, he is steadfast that “there is no power on Earth that can force customers to buy an electric car until all of their questions have been answered.”

Answering questions about EVs is a role that utilities can play, especially in partnership with car dealerships, local governments, non-profit groups and car manufacturers. Energy utilities can work toward instant notification for permitting from the dealer, help governments streamline permitting and inspection processes for charging stations, offer financial or non-financial incentives and help emergency responders understand and address new safety concerns. Further guidance is available from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects.

EV market penetration is picking up speed

Despite these barriers, real or perceived, EVs are gaining a foothold. Close to 700,000 hybrid, plug-in and battery EVs were sold in each of the last three years in the U.S., with California among states and the Tesla brand among automobile manufacturers clearly dominating the market. Tesla alone sold nearly 200,000 Tesla 3, Y and X version battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2020, according to CleanTechnica. That is over 70% of all BEVs sold last year!

While there are only a dozen and a half passenger BEVs commercially available in the U.S. today, another dozen will be introduced this year or early next year, including large pickup trucks. The number of manufacturers offering medium- and heavy-duty commercial electric vehicles in the U.S. are increasing as well, including:

  • Electric transit buses (5)
  • Step-vans (3)
  • Utility trucks (5)
  • School buses (2)
  • Waste management trucks (5)
  • Long-haul and day-haul tractor trailers (5)

The future of EV adoption

What does the future hold for EV adoption? The major oil companies are rapidly displacing oil by adding renewable energy to their portfolios. Boston Consulting Group predicts the U.S. market will be driven by mild hybrid electric vehicles through 2025 and BEV volume through 2030, snagging 50% of all vehicle sales by 2030. Wood Mackenzie, however, predicts much lower EV sales per year for the U.S. (2.8 million), compared to China (5.3 million) and Europe (3.7 million), by 2030.

We do not know which prediction is more accurate, but we do believe that electric vehicles are here to stay. Ready to join the ride?

You can drive EV adoption for your utility customers with a content marketing strategy from Questline Digital.

Dan Reicher, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, has long espoused a theory (often called the Reicher Triangle) that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology, policy and finance. The U.S. has steadily developed clean energy technologies for many years and clean technology financing has reached an all-time high. The Biden administration is now delivering the missing policy support along with additional financing.

The new administration has a very different perspective on renewable energy. Upon winning the election, President Joe Biden promised to take numerous actions involving renewable energy in support of his climate change agenda. Some actions are defensive in nature, reversing the previous administration’s policies; most actions are offensive in nature, establishing new legislation. Many of the actions have already been put into play via Executive Order (EO), but a few have not.

Reversing existing policy:

  • Establish aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations (EO 14008 Sec. 217; EO 13990 Sec. 2)
  • Implement rigorous new fuel economy standards toward 100% zero-emission vehicles (EO 13990 Sec. 2)
  • Require zero-emission vehicles for federal, state, local and tribal government fleets, including vehicles of the United States Postal Service (EO 14008 Sec. 205)
  • Temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (EO 13990 Sec. 4)
  • Banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters (EO 14008 Sec. 208)
  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies (EO 14008 Sec. 209)
  • Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline (EO 13990 Sec. 6)

Establishing new policy:

  • Double U.S. offshore wind capacity by 2030 (EO 14008 Sec. 207)
  • Achieve zero-carbon electricity generation by 2035 (EO 14008 Sec. 205)
  • Introduce legislation to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050 (EO 14008 Sec. 201)
  • Rejoin the Paris climate agreement (EO 14008 Sec. 102)
  • Increase renewable energy deployment on public lands (EO 14008 Sec. 207)
  • Directing infrastructure planning to accelerate transmission projects and clean energy buildout (EO 14008 Sec. 213)
  • Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies (EO 14008 Sec. 219-223)

Policy not yet enforced:

  • Establishing ARPA-C, a research agency focused on advancing the energy transition. ARPA-E, an existing program focused on clean energy technology, is offering $100 million in 2021 funding.
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035 through incentivizing beneficial electrification, efficiency upgrades and on-site clean power generation (4 million commercial and 2 million residential buildings).
  • Invest $400 billion over 10 years to achieve clean energy innovation breakthroughs.
  • Encourage the deployment of more than 500,000 new EV public charging outlets by the end of 2030.
  • Enact legislation requiring public company polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. EO 13990 does mention the intention “to hold polluters accountable” and requires agencies to estimate the full social costs for carbon, nitrous oxide and methane emissions but falls short of implementing any penalty system.

Shifting winds of zero-carbon generation for energy utilities

Reducing the availability of fossil fuels and requiring zero-carbon electricity generation will greatly accelerate the domestic wind, solar and electric vehicles industries. It will also leverage existing carbon-free sources like nuclear power and hydropower. State renewable portfolio standards (RPS) goals will also drive wind and solar deployment. Energy-storage technology development will need to accelerate to enable use of increased intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

Here are six predictions for the U.S. renewable energy sector in 2021:

  1. Expect carbon taxing (and possible fines) on emitters of greenhouse gasses (GHG). Clean renewable energy is more economically feasible when GHG emitters become more expensive.
  2. There will be a record issuance of debt for sustainability projects, including activity-based green bonds, social bonds, green loans, sustainability-linked loans and sustainability bonds.
  3. Annual solar installations will exceed 23 GW in 2021 compared to 19 GW in 2020. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is lobbying for a delay in the phasedown of the solar investment tax credit (ITC). The SEIA goal is to reach 20% electricity generation from solar by 2030. Wood Mackenzie predicts a record-setting 2021 for commercial photovoltaic generation at nearly 2.4 GW, for residential PV at 3.5 GW, and for utility PV at around 17 GW.
  4. Wind additions will jump from 17 GW in 2020 to 21 GW in 2021.
  5. 2021 will be a breakout year for electric vehicles with over one-half million EVs sold in the U.S., 70% more than in 2020. Expect vehicle emission standards to be lowered and fuel efficiency minimums to be raised.
  6. Energy storage deployments will spike dramatically in 2021, from 1.3 GW in 2020 to over 3.8 GW, driven by large-scale utility procurements. Front-of-the meter deployments will represent 85% of the market. The SEIA supports standalone energy storage systems qualifying for the ITC.

Some of these predictions would have come true under the previous administration, but President Biden and his team are focused much more on renewable energy during his term. As this new administration pushes forward to achieve and exceed goals, time will tell just how powerful the triple-threat combination of technology, policy and finance really is. After all, the Reicher Triangle is a powerful force that should not be underestimated.

How do you communicate the benefits of renewable energy to customers? Learn how to power your campaigns with a Content Marketing Strategy from Questline Digital.

Smart home technology provides residential customers with powerful tools to control their energy use, make their homes more comfortable and save money. Some smart devices are also a lot of fun — or even a little silly.

The lighter side of connected technology was definitely on display during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Held virtually this year because of the pandemic, the event was still a major showcase of the latest high-tech gadgets that you didn’t know you needed. Here are some of the strangest smart home devices unveiled at CES 2021.

Shower Power

While there’s no guarantee that it will improve your singing, this Bluetooth speaker will save energy while you blast tunes in the bathroom. That’s because the Ampere Shower Power gets 100% of its power from the running water that flows through the device as you shower.


Do you ever wish that making an ice cream cone was as easy as brewing a cup of coffee? That’s the promise of ColdSnap. Much like a Keurig coffee maker, ColdSnap users can pop a pod into the dispenser and instantly serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, smoothies — even frozen cocktails.

Themis Smart Mirror

Talking mirrors get a bad rap in fairy tales like Snow White. CareOS is polishing that image with its Themis Smart Mirror. The health and hygiene device can check your temperature, analyze your skin, provide 360-degree and magnified video, and offer makeup, hair and skincare tutorials.

AirCozy Pillow

Does your old-fashioned pillow just lie still while you toss and turn and snore through the night? Not the AirCozy Interactive Smart Pillow from DozzyCozy. This device monitors your sleeping position in real time, automatically adjusting to the perfect height. One model will even reduce snoring by gently shaking until you change sleeping positions.

myQ Pet Portal

Your furry family members shouldn’t be left out of the smart home fun! The myQ Pet Portal is a doggy door paired with a Bluetooth collar that will let your pooch come and go on demand. It also sends alerts to your smartphone so you can monitor Fido’s backyard breaks from anywhere.

As smart technology continues to grow in popularity, more residential customers will bring these devices home and take greater control of their energy use. Consumers will also have some fun with not-so-serious smart gadgets that make life a little more comfy and convenient.

Learn how a content marketing strategy from Questline Digital will increase smart device adoption and boost marketplace sales for your energy utility.