Monday, November 23, 2009

Committee seeks comment on energy review

The Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee is asking the public to comment on the final three issues it will examine as part of its review of Montana's energy policy.

Extreme Water Conservation

The following link is to a slideshow that was put together by a family in California. They drastically cut their water usage though water conservation, gray water reuse and rain water harvesting. There are great pictures of their projects!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Camelina Based Jet Fuel Air Force Contract Signed 'Dramatic' acreage increase predicted

Compiled by staff
Published: Nov 16, 2009

Sustainable Oils, a Montana producer of renewable, low carbon domestically produced camelina-based fuels, has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract from the Defense Energy Support Center to supply camelina-based jet fuel. The contract calls for 100,000 gallons of HRJ-8 type fuel through 1210, and an additional 100,000 gallons by the end of 2012.

"Once again, camelina is the choice for high-performance, domestically-produced renewable jet fuel," says Scott Johnson, Sustainable Oils president, Bozeman.

"This contract sends a strong signal to growers around the state and across the country that there is a market for camelina," he adds. "We're expecting to see an increase in acreage as a result of this great opportunity."

In September, the DESC awarded a similar contract to Sustainable Oils for a minimum of 40,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel with an option to supply an additional 150,000 gallons. Combined, Sustainable Oils will deliver a minimum of 140,000 gallons – and up to 390,000 gallons – of camelina jet fuel to the U.S. military, dramatically increasing the need for acreage dedicated to camelina in 2010.

"This is a great opportunity for Montana farmers to not only drive additional revenue, but also participate directly in decreasing our country's reliance on foreign oil," says Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. "I know our agricultural community is up to the challenge to supply our armed forces with camelina-based fuels."

Camelina is considered by the Air Force to be the most readily available renewable fuel feedstock to meet their criteria.

Sustainable Oils has the largest camelina research program in the U.S., with most of its crops produced in Montana. The firm also has several field trials in Washington.

For more information, contact Williams at (206) 625-0075 (Ex. 1) or e-mail him at

Article copied from

Monday, November 02, 2009

Gray Water at the Atardo's

S.A.V.E. recently had the opportunity to visit with a Helena homeowner Pam Atardo, who is taking on major home renovations, many of them of interest because of the steps she and her husband have taken to "green" their home with energy and water conserving installations. They have even installed Helena's first legal gray water system.

The Atardos bought the house, registered with the National Register of Historic Places, 6 years ago, and have recently completed a sizable addition. The plumbing in the new section of the house was done in such a way that the wastewater from the shower and washing machine go into a gray water system, where the water is filtered and sent into the home's toilets. This saves fresh water from being flushed down the toilet.

Pam first started researching gray water systems a few years ago when S.A.V.E. was raffling a gray water recycling system that was donated by Brac Systems. She ended up buying a similar system and hiring a contractor to do the plumbing. An initial thought was that it might be difficult to find a plumber who was familiar with installing gray water plumbing since it is so new in Montana. Pam said that this was not a problem at all; she worked with Clark Plumbing who did the whole job in less than a day. Current Montana legislation does not require any special permitting or inspection to install a gray water reuse system within a home.

The upfront cost of the Brac tank was about $1,500 and the labor cost about $1,000. Although fairly expensive, the good thing about this type of gray water system is that after the initial cost, there is very little maintenance and no operating cost. All you need to do is periodically clean the filter.

In cases like this, where the gray water generated is more than the demand, the Brac system can use a bypass when it fills with too much water. This feature is important because gray water should not be stored for more than 24 hours to ensure that the system is sanitary. Some states require that gray water be chlorinated and turned blue. Although this step is not required in Montana, it might not be a bad idea for some homes. This would be to ensure sanitation and to ensure that toilet water is clearly not mistaken for potable water. This would only require the extra step of dropping chlorine tablets into the tank.

They have also installed radiant heat floors, which help save on energy costs. Rather than using radiators or forced air heating, the heat system is installed below the floorboards and radiates out through the floor. This is such a neat way to make the house cozy, walking through the house on the warm hardwood floors, all while saving energy.

Another interesting installation was that of the Gravity Film Heat Exchanger (GFX) units. These send warm wastewater from showers, dishwashing, and washing machines to a copper coils wrapped around the cold water entering the house. It is a system that makes a lot of sense when considering how to save energy when heating water. The copper easily transfers heat between the hot wastewater to the cold fresh water. GFX claims that by using this system, you can halve the cost of a hot shower and triple the shower capacity of your home. Although the systems are pricey up front, about $500, this is one system that will save you a lot of money in water heating costs in the long run, and requires little to no maintenance.