Whatever happened to VW’s $3B settlement?

Statement of the obvious: $3 billion is a lot of money. Remember when there was a continuous drumbeat of news about Volkswagen’s emissions scandal? Volkswagen ended up settling with the USEPA for violations of the Clean Air Act and buying back many of the vehicles impacted by the scandal.


Electric School Bus

What (you may be wondering) became of the $3 billion? One cool way it is being used is to reduce school bus emissions through the purchase of electric school buses. I’m not sure if it was the vinyl seats or the diesel emissions (or some combination of the two), but I definitely remember some troubling smells when I was riding my school bus as a kid. In fact, according to a press release from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, health officials have asserted that “children’s asthma hospitalizations and missed school days would be greatly improved with widespread adoption of electric school buses.” So there is truly damage being caused by those caustic smells; not to mention the extra emissions coming from those many hours of idling and running buses.

Hopefully the bulk of those settlement dollars will go to projects that will overcompensate for the negatives that necessitated the settlement.

Top States for Renewable Energy? You won’t believe it.

If I asked you to guess which states produce the most renewable energy, what would you say?

You might think of California or Hawaii with their headline grabbing progressive policies on setting the highest renewable standards. Perhaps you’d envision extremely sunny states like New Mexico or Arizona where solar energy development has expanded. potato

Would Idaho or Iowa come to mind? You might be surprised to know that rural (and more conservative) states are the top renewable energy producing states when ranked by this nifty interactive map from the Department of Energy.

However, dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that there is some controversy (there always is) when it comes to what the Energy Information Agency considers renewable. From the above linked CNBC article:

Renewable energy comes from a source that is naturally replenished and not depleted when used. The U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal energy as renewable… Some of the accepted sources also attract their own controversy as “renewables,” including hydroelectricity and biomass.

There are some great tools on the EIA website to play around with if you’re curious which states are producing the most (insert type of) energy. For example, wind or (this example actually comes from the Solar Energy Industry Association) solar. Have fun clicking around and always remember to read a layer deeper when you see an attention grabbing headline. 🙂

Solar Gold Rush in Illinois (and beyond)

I grew up in Illinois and still have many family members there, so I tend to pay attention to the news out of the Prairie State. Unless you live in Illinois (and pay attention to energy news) you may have missed that Illinois is on the precipice of a solar gold rush resulting from legislation adopted by the general assembly in December of 2016. But you couldn’t be blamed since most of the news coverage made little to no mention of the huge solar program included in the legislation.

The legislation was covered through the lens of nuclear power. “Huh?” you’re scratching your head…”I thought we were talking about solar.” Allow me to explain.

Illinois generates more electric from nuclear power plants than any other state with 11 operating nuclear reactors. The plants where those reactors are housed are not especially young, either. So the companies that operate them asked the legislature for approval to raise electric rates to pay for improvements to the plants. However, one of the ways that the company got the legislation passed was by agreeing to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from ratepayers to help subsidize the construction of a lot of new solar energy in Illinois. This helped get environmental lobbying groups on board.SOLAR-FARM-1024x768

“Wait…” you’re thinking as you look outside on this cold, grey, winter day in Illinois, “solar in Illinois?” I was curious about this too, but it turns out that the technology used in solar panels has advanced (and keeps advancing) at a rate that makes it work even in northern climates. States like New York and Minnesota have had aggressive programs in place for some time now. In sunny states like Hawaii and California, they’re setting goals of producing 100% of their electric from renewable.

These developments paint a rosy picture of a future where we will rely on less carbon producing technologies, but it does cost. Illinois has enjoyed relatively cheap electric, but rates are on the rise. I, for one, am happy that some of those increases are helping shepherd in new, clean electric production and not simply being used to maintain the old and less efficient technologies.

Extra Holiday Cash: Energy Simply Offers Holiday Referral Bonus

Holidays are right around the corner. Regardless of how you celebrate it is a natural time of the year to worry about money. Instead of worrying, we can help you make extra money just by posting on social media sights. It’s completely free, no commitment, no tricks or gimmicks.

holiday stressFrom December 15th until January 15th we are offering existing customers $30 for every new customer they bring in. That is triple our regular referral bonus of $10.

Recruiting new customers can be very easy; one of the most effective ways is posting to social media. But there are ways to make this method more effective:

  • Post to a neighborhood or private group in Facebook: Does your neighborhood have a Facebook group? It’s easy to find out. If you live in the “Smithtown” area of Anywhere, USA, simply search for “Smithville Neighborhood Group” in Facebook. Chances are you’ll find your group and you can send a request to the moderator to join. Once the moderator approves you, you’ll be able to post. TIPS: You may not want to be too “salesy” right off the bat – your message may get flagged or taken down or just ignored. Instead, share a simple message about why you’re a happy customer. “Hey Smithtown Friends: If you’re sick of dealing with electric companies you can try EnergySimp.ly. They find the cheapest electric and auto-switch you. I was surprised how much they saved me.”
  • Join Next Door: Chances are there is a Next Door group for your area. NextDoor.com is like Facebook but limited to just your neighborhood. To find out, just go to www.NextDoor.com, enter your address and email and take it from there. What’s cool is that you can then invite your neighbors to join by sending them a free postcard. It’s fast and easy to start a Next Door group for your area too. Once you’ve joined you can use the same basic message for Next Door as you did for Facebook. Keep it simple: “Hi Neighbors, I’ve saved a lot of money on my power bill and a lot of hassle when I became an Energy Simply customer. They’re not a power company, they choose the cheapest for me and handle all the switching too. You should try it – just go to: INSERT LINK
  • Friends and Family: There is no simpler way than strong-arming encouraging family members that they should save money on their electricity. Pass the time with family this Holiday Season showing friends and family just how easy our sign up process is by sitting them down with their power bills and going to EnergySimp.ly.

Think about how you make purchasing decisions. With so many options and potential pitfalls how can you make the right decision? How can you be sure that you are getting the best price and not getting taken advantage of? Referrals are the strongest source of customer growth because it is built on trust. If you’ve had a good experience, share it so that other people can share the joy of saving money and being stress free.