Dutch Utility Changes the Game by Showing Customers How to Buy Less Power

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times: When Eneco, a major Dutch utility, tested a promising energy monitor in several dozen homes, things could not have gone much worse. The company making the devices failed to deliver enough of them, and some of those provided did not work.But when Eneco sent workers to recover the monitors, something strange happened — a tenth of customers refused to open their doors. “They wanted to keep it,” said Tako in ’t Veld, a former Eneco executive who now leads the “smart energy” unit at Quby, the company that makes the energy meter. “They were so happy with the energy insight.”The test in 2010 was part of Eneco’s efforts to adapt to upheaval in the energy market. In recent years, large volumes of wind and solar-generated electricity have undermined the economics of traditional power plants and provided the outlines of a future in which conventional power plants no longer supply the bulk of a home’s electricity.Through acquisitions (including of Quby), by nurturing a cluster of start-ups and with other initiatives, Eneco has sought to provide new services to customers — and, in doing so, to enter new sectors, like the charging of electric vehicles and the repair of solar panels. “We said ‘we have to create an increasing customer loyalty by doing something different,’” said Hans Valk, chief executive of Quby and formerly the leader of Eneco’s consumer business. “What we are trying to do is switch from selling a pure commodity to selling energy as a service.”For instance, Eneco owns Jedlix, an electric vehicle charging unit, which has partnerships with Tesla and BMW and allows car owners to recharge their vehicles inexpensively when there are large supplies of renewable energy on the grid. Jedlix sometimes even pays them to do so.Eneco is also starting a business called CrowdNett which, unusually, pays customers for some of their power. Eneco looks for people who already have solar panels at home and tries to sell them a large home battery, like a Tesla Powerwall. Surplus power generated by the solar panels is stored in the battery and Eneco taps into a portion of that storage to help balance the electricity grid. Customers will receive 450 euros, or $530, a year for allowing use of their batteries.Eneco’s leaders concede that they are proceeding more by trial and error than following a grand plan. Still, these efforts may, over time, aid the company’s survival and contribute to creating ways to help consumers shift to cleaner energy.“They are very forward-looking in terms of strategy and mind-set,” said Roberta Bigliani, a vice president at IDC, a market research firm. If Eneco’s experiments flop, though, “they definitely will not be in operation in the future,” she said.So far, the experiment with its wall-mounted energy monitor, known as Toon, has been among its more successful.When Eneco first considered the test, the utility was locked in a profit-zapping battle with competitors, cutting prices for electric power and natural gas while giving customers gifts for signing up. Seeing the danger signs, Eneco’s management decided that a radical change was necessary.The Toon offered Eneco an opportunity to shift course and, despite early teething problems, Eneco expanded the rollout. The meters allow customers to control their domestic heating settings through a smartphone app, and they have displays that show electricity and natural gas consumption in detail, along with other information like weather forecasts.Full Story:  Dutch Utility Bets Its Future on an Unusual Strategy: Selling Less Power Dutch Utility Changes the Game by Showing Customers How to Buy Less Powerlast_img read more

FDA approves irradiation of iceberg lettuce, spinach

first_img Under the FDA rule, packages of irradiated lettuce and spinach—like other irradiated food products—will have to bear the radura logo and one of two statements: “treated with radiation” or “treated by irradiation.” Aug 21, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved the use of irradiation to kill pathogens in fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce, which were linked to Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreaks that sickened hundreds of people in the fall of 2006. Iceberg lettuce and spinach now join meat, poultry, molluscan shellfish, and dried spices on the list of foods that can be irradiated for safety in the United States, said FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci. The FDA action does not include other varieties of lettuce. The approval was sought by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), formerly the National Food Processors Association, Cianci told CIDRAP News. Back in 2000, the group had petitioned for approval of irradiation for a wide range of foods, including raw vegetables and fruits. In December 2007, the GMA asked the FDA for a “partial response” covering just iceberg lettuce and spinach, Cianci said. Prepublication copy of the FDA’s Federal Register announcementhttp://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/FDA-1999-F-2405-nfr.pdf See also: He said the FDA previously approved irradiation of lettuce, spinach, and some other commodities to kill insects and reduce spoilage, which involved doses lower than those used to kill microbes. He was unsure about to what extent irradiation has been used to kill insects in produce, if at all. “Irradiation is effective in reducing levels of potentially dangerous pathogens such as Salmonella and E coli and will provide an additional tool that may be helpful to protect the public from microbial hazards,” Cianci said. Jan 12, 2007, CIDRAP News story “FDA finds Taco John’s E coli strain on California farms”center_img According to an Associated Press (AP) report published today, the FDA concluded that this dose of radiation does not sterilize lettuce or spinach but is enough to “dramatically” reduce levels of E coli, Salmonella, and Listeria without impairing the safety or nutritional value of the foods. The intent is to allow irradiation both to eliminate pathogens and to extend shelf life, according to the FDA’s new rule, to be published tomorrow in the Federal Register but posted online today. The rule takes effect tomorrow. “This final rule will permit the irradiation of fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach to a maximum absorbed dose of 4.0 kGy [kiloGray], which is effective in reducing microbial pathogens that have been associated with these crops in the past,” the FDA said in an e-mailed announcement. “This is not to take the place of other controls; it’s an additional pathogen-reduction method,” Cianci said. “This isn’t going to eliminate the need to wash the product. The FDA continues to recommend that consumers thoroughly wash produce uinder running water before they eat it,” said Cianci. “Pre-washed bagged produce can be used without further washing,” but not all bagged produce is pre-washed, he added. The FDA is still pondering allowing the irradiation of other kinds of produce. Cianci couldn’t predict how soon any additional approvals might come. Fresh bagged spinach grown in California was blamed for an E coli outbreak in the early fall of 2006 that involved 204 cases and three deaths. Later that fall, shredded lettuce from Taco John’s restaurants was implicated in two E coli outbreaks, one in Minnesota and Iowa and the other in several northeastern states.last_img read more

Wenger desperate for lifeline in Premier League finale

first_imgArsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger (C) stands on the touchline in a past game.London, United Kingdom | AFP | Arsene Wenger will hope an unexpected slip from Liverpool or Manchester City helps silence a growing army of critics as Arsenal try to salvage their traumatic Premier League campaign by snatching a Champions League berth in Sunday’s season finale.Rocked by Arsenal’s failure to live up to his expectations, and with a succession of former players questioning his methods, Wenger has been under fire like never before in his 21-year reign — and the lowest moment of all is likely to come at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.As if finishing below arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in 22 years wasn’t bad enough, Wenger’s bid to lead Arsenal into the Champions League for a 20th successive season is in grave danger heading into their last league game against Everton.To make matters worse, his former captain Tony Adams said Wenger “couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag” in an extract from his autobiography “Sober”, serialised in the Sun newspaper.Wenger, however, brushed off the criticism from former defender Adams, whose coaching tenure at Granada has ended in relegation from La Liga in Spain.With the title race settled in Chelsea’s favour, Tottenham guaranteed to finish second and the three relegation places filled by Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull, attention will focus Sunday on the battle for the lucrative remaining two places in Europe’s elite club competition.Despite winning six of their last seven games, Arsenal are in fifth place, one point behind fourth placed Liverpool and three adrift of third placed City.If Liverpool beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield and City avoid defeat at struggling Watford, then, even if Arsenal win, Wenger’s side will be consigned to the indignity of Thursday nights in the unglamourous Europa League next term.Having refused to confirm if he will accept Arsenal’s offer of a new contract, the 67-year-old Wenger said this week said his future will be settled when he meets the club’s powerbrokers after the Gunners’ FA Cup final date with Chelsea on May 27.Those are still likely to be led by US-based owner Stan Kroenke despite a reported fresh takeover bid by minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov.Meanwhile, a fourth successive City victory will see them hold on to third place and go straight into next season’s Champions League, while a draw would also be enough to ensure a top four finish. – ‘Icing on the cake’ –However, City could still miss out altogether if they lose, Liverpool defeat Middlesbrough and Arsenal improve their goal difference by at least five in the process of beating Everton.Calling for one last push after an underwhelming first season in charge, City boss Pep Guardiola said: “We still have 95, 96 minutes to fight to do one thing that’s so important for the club and the future.Liverpool will compete in the Champions League for the first time since 2014-15, and only the second time in eight years, as long as they match Arsenal’s result.“The Champions League, for different reasons, is a wonderful competition. It would be the icing on the cake,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.Already certain to finish sixth, Manchester United will send out a team largely comprised of youth team players as boss Jose Mourinho keeps his senior stars fresh for next week’s Europa League final against Ajax.If United win the Europa League they will claim a place in the Champions League, giving Mourinho the last laugh while his old rival Wenger faces a troubled future.Fixtures (all 1400 GMT)Arsenal v Everton, Burnley v West Ham, Chelsea v Sunderland, Hull v Tottenham, Leicester v Bournemouth, Liverpool v Middlesbrough, Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Southampton v Stoke, Swansea v West Brom, Watford v Manchester City Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more