Total Energy is gearing up for what promises to be an all-encompassing look at the increasingly diversified and dynamic energy landscape in the USA (and beyond), hosting the Total Energy USA conference in Houston this week, Nov. 27-29.
Houston’s long been capital of the US oil and gas industry, and oil and gas companies figure prominently in Total Energy USA, but Houston, the metro area, and Texas more broadly speaking, are home to a growing and increasingly varied range of alternative and renewable energy resources, energy providers, and public clean energy initiatives. The Total Energy USA conference has been organized to reflect that.
As the organizers elaborate, the main aim of the Total Energy USA conference is “to mirror the more current/ progressive thinking about achieving a sustainable energy future. Total Energy USA is based on the principle that addressing our nation’s energy challenges will be achieved through a comprehensive strategy in which energy efficiency and clean energy work together.”
Kicking off the event with a welcome address will be John Ragan, president of NRG Gulf Coast Region and an executive VP of parent NRG Energy.
Based in Houston, Ragan is responsible for the company’s 15,000MW power generation portfolio, its relationship with electric cooperatives and municipalities in Louisiana and Arkansas, and Reliant energy (NRG’s largest retail electricity provider). All told, these wholesale and retail businesses serve more than 3 million customers in the Gulf Coast Region, Total Energy explains on the conference website.
In addition to energy sources and production, energy efficiency and conservation frame another core aspect of Total Energy USA’s agenda, a conference thread particularly topical as utilities search for ways to sustain their businesses while decoupling revenue and profit from higher levels of energy consumption.
Green building design and architecture, home energy management, and smart grid systems are sure to come into focus here. CleanTechnica had the chance to help set the backdrop to Total Energy USA’s focus on green building and design in an interview with Gordon Gill, an award-winning founding partner of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, whose work includes the design of the world’s first net zero-energy skyscraper–the Pearl River Tower–and the world’s first large-scale positive energy building, Masdar Headquarters.
Reliant, for its part, is offering customers an innovative electricity service plan — the Reliant Learn & Conserve Plan — that includes installation and use of the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is able to adapt to and automate power settings customized to customers’ usage, including automatic adjustments when residents are away from home.
“Cooling accounts for about 60 to 70% of the average home’s electricity bill and with the Texas summer heating up, this plan couldn’t come at a better time,” Reliant senior vice president, Residential and Operations Elizabeth Killinger commented in a press release.
“While only about 10% of programmable thermostats are ever actually programmed, 99% of installed Nest Learning Thermostats are running a schedule that reflects the owners’ lives. We’re excited to be working with Nest to give customers a better way to control their electricity use.”
Earlier this month, on the one-year anniversary of its Reliant Innovation Avenue project, Reliant announced that the 12 participating homes “have reduced their electricty usage by an average 16 percent, with one home achieving a 32 percent reduction in electricity usage.”
Ranging in age from recently built to more than 100 years old, each of the 12 homes in October 2011 were kitted out with “a customized set of energy efficiency upgrades and smart energy technology products and services, designed to provide them with detailed information about their electricity usage and costs.”
Following Mr. Ragan, Julie A. Dill, group VP of strategy at Spectra Energy and president and CEO of Spectra Energy Partners, will moderate the conference’s first keynote session Tuesday morning.
In what promises to be a provocative session, Ms. Dill will moderate five presentations framed in the context of clarifying and helping resolve the economic, social, and economic choices and trade-offs among a wide range of US energy sources — including shale gas, LNG exports, natural gas for the domestic chemicals and transportation industries, and (of course) the role of renewables. In particular, the five presenters–academic researchers, industry executives and consultants, and a former U.S. Congressman among them–will discuss these matters in the light of energy security and the potential impacts of international events.