Which of these words do not belong together: Electricity, cement, grass, wildfire, New Jersey.

All of them belong together. You saw right through me, I bet.

All have to do with energy. Words that may seem like outliers have an important commonality. Each of these illustrate how complex the energy industry is becoming. Gone are days when companies made power and put it on the grid. Research opens opportunities in energy, society, and the environment. Let’s check each of them.

Cement: CNBC ran this headline: As priorities shift, world’s largest cement firm inks $3.4 billion deal to focus on solar, green roofs.

The buyer is a firm that says it has reduced the carbon emissions of cement production by 30% to 100%. The merger will add research capacity for better building and insulation projects. “Examples include a six-acre living roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Canada. Check the grass on the roof of the Centre in the image, left. According to the Centre the roof acts as an insulator, helping to cut heat gains during the summer months and lowering heat loss through winter,” says the CNBC story.

New Jersey: When I think of clean energy, New Jersey doesn’t automatically pop into my head. But check this progress in NJ: It has added a good amount of solar, and “the state established a new energy efficiency program that could result in utility customers saving money by reducing how much gas and energy they consume. Offshore wind projects continued to move forward. And the state announced a new port in South Jersey to draw manufacturing facilities and create jobs in the emerging offshore wind sector.” (Source)

And the NJ Senate just passed a bill for electric vehicle charging stations to help the state put 330,000 EVs on the road by 2025. That’s 2025. (Source)

Wildfire: I have written about the need for significant upgrades in the grid. Improvements are even more important in the face of natural disasters. Like wildfires.

From PG&E website – Community Wildfire Safety Program”

Result – price increases. “Residential Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers should expect to see higher bills starting this month, as the utility seeks to shore up its infrastructure and repair equipment damaged by wildfires. Customers with both electrical and gas service will pay an average of $5.15 extra per month beginning Jan. 1…” (Source)

Electrical equipment has been tied to catastrophic wildfires for several years. “The rate hike was intended to help pay for costs related to maintaining gas infrastructure, an enhanced power line inspection program and hardening for its electrical system, among other upgrades…” said the company.

Improvement costs money.

Sometimes things that seem to have no real tie to energy are all about energy. The way energy works and has to be managed is changing in our society. Companies that provide power to homeowners must continually up their game – technical expertise, ability to manage, financial acumen – to serve customers.