GLOSSARY OF TERMS
The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) is a corporate instrumentality of the state created by the General Assembly with a statute-directed mission to advance clean energy and energy efficiency products, services, and technologies as part of a specific economic development strategy.
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Aggregators - Can be either a web site or a group that aggregates customers together in order to approach a supplier with a larger volume of business. Aggregators are licensed by the PSC and share many similarities with brokers.
Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) – The ACP is the price that Load Serving Entities (LSE) have to pay if they cannot meet the state’s RPS. For every megawatt hour (mWh) short in Tier 1, for example, an LSE has to pay $40. The ACP for solar is much higher, and for Tier 2 it is much lower.
Alternative Electricity Suppliers - Electricity suppliers that purchase electricity on the wholesale market and sell it at retail to customers at rates that are not subject to government approval. They do not typically own any generation.
Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) - BEPS are policies that require commercial and multifamily buildings to meet certain performance levels, typically for energy use or greenhouse gas emissions.
Bioenergy - Bioenergy is renewable energy derived from biological sources, known as biomass, to be used for heat, electricity, or vehicle fuel.
Biofuels – Biofuels are liquid fuels made from biomass. Some common sources for biofuels include palm oil, canola oil, soybean oil, waste cooking oil, grease, and food wastes.
Biogas - Biogas is a gas composed mainly of methane and CO2 that forms as a result of biological processes in sewage treatment plants, waste landfills, and livestock manure management systems.
Biomass - Biomass is plant and animal matter, including manure, crops, wood, grasses, algae, vegetable oils, and agricultural and municipal wastes, landfill gas and biogas, ethanol and biodiesel. Wood biomass includes wood chips from forestry operations, residues from lumber, pulp/paper, and furniture mills, and fuel wood for space heating. Biomass fuels that have a neutral carbon cycle with few if any emissions, and are easy to regrow, are called sustainable biomass.
Black Liquor – Black liquor is a by-product substance produced by the paper pulping process. It can be combusted to produce electricity.
Building Performance Institute (BPI) - The Building Performance Institute, which sets standards and conducts training for residential energy efficiency work.
Brokers - Licensed by the Public Service Commission (PSC), brokers don’t take title to energy, but match buyers with sellers. They are often the primary point of contact for commercial entities. Brokers do not focus on residential markets at this time, though there are some web sites where residents can compare offers of various suppliers.
British Thermal Unit (BTU) - British Thermal Unit is the amount of energy needed to cool or heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It is typically used in a measurement of power in the heating and air conditioning space. For example, solar thermal systems are measured by how many BTUs they produce.
Budget Billing - Most utilities and suppliers offer budget billing, which allows customers to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill at certain times throughout the year, up or down, depending on the customer’s use.
Capacity Charge - The capacity charge, sometimes called “demand charge” or “system use charge,” is assessed on the maximum or peak amount of electricity used. Often, the charge is based on the maximum amount of electricity used at any time in the previous 12 months. Ratepayers that reduce their peak demand can see their Capacity Charge lowered in future years.
Capacity Factor – Typically applied to renewable generation. The capacity factor is the percentage of time that a renewable energy generator could possibly hit maximum generation. For example, a wind turbine with a 30% capacity factor would only be able to hit maximum capacity about a third of the time.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - CCS is the process of catching and storing carbon dioxide from industrial operations like the burning of fossil fuels or cement and steel production before it is released into the atmosphere.
Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) - CCU is similar to CCS, the difference being that the carbon dioxide in this case is used in further industrial practices.
Carbon Neutral - A transparent process of calculating emissions, reducing those emissions and offsetting residual emissions such that net carbon emissions equal zero.
Carbon Offset - Emission savings or storage that can be considered to cancel out emissions that would otherwise have occurred. For example, electricity produced from burning landfill gas is considered to replace electricity from the grid, leading to a carbon offset because landfill gas production and combustion results in lower carbon emissions than grid electricity production from fossil fuels.
Clean Energy - Includes renewable resources such as solar, geothermal, wind, biofuels, and tidal, as well as any other technology or service that contributes directly or indirectly to the production of energy from renewable or sustainable sources, or to the improvement of efficiency in the use of energy.
CO2 or “Carbon” – CO2 is a natural and man-made gas, which is one of the most common greenhouse gases that scientists report is causing global warming.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) – CNG is made by compressing natural gas to a fraction of its normal volume in order to be used as a fuel for vehicles as a replacement for gasoline.
Concentrated Solar -Thermal Power (CSP)– Concentrated Solar - Thermal Power is utility scale electricity generation via focusing fields of rotating mirrors called Heliostats at one or multiple central core towers. The resulting intense heat is used to create steam which runs turbines to generate electricity.
Consumer Choice - Energy generation, transmission and distribution are “de-coupled.” The Maryland PSC, in cooperation with local utilities, allows electricity and natural gas customers to choose their own suppliers. Some suppliers use Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) to sell their products. In this scheme, a person signs up as an agent for the supplier, though not an employee, and sells their products to consumers, usually in the residential space. Consumers who sign up for the service can then become agents themselves and sell the product to others. The agents in a MLM program typically do the work part-time as a way to supplement their income.
Certificate of Public Convenience and necessity -CPCN is issued by the PSC and provides authority for a person to construct or modify a new generating station or high-voltage transmission lines.
Curtailment Service Provider - A Curtailment Service Provider is an entity that helps energy consumers reduce their energy usage at specified times, typically as part of a demand response program.
Demand Reduction (DR) - Demand reduction is when an energy consumer reduces their peak demand and energy use at a specified time. PJM incentivizes DR as a cheaper option than peak power plants when the grid is over utilized. The typical DR program pays a consumer to reduce their peak demand.
Distributed Generation (DG) - Any small-scale electric generation that is located at or near the point of end use. It may be interconnected with a local utility company’s distribution system or not. It may be owned and operated by a customer, a utility, or a non-utility company.
Distribution - Distribution systems take the transmitted energy and distribute it to homes and businesses. The high-voltage and high-pressure energy is stepped down, or transformed, to more usable voltage or pressure on the distribution system so that it can be consumed by individuals and commercial businesses.
Distribution System - The network of wires and equipment (electricity) or pipes (natural gas) that carries energy from the transmission or transportation systems to the customer’s premises. Sometimes called “the last mile,” upkeep of distribution is the utility’s responsibility.