Glossary of Energy Terms
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Note: No entries for Y or Z.
BARREL - In the petroleum industry, a barrel is 42 U.S. gallons. One barrel of oil has an energy content of 6 million British thermal units. It takes one barrel of oil to make enough gasoline to drive an average car from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back (at 18 miles per gallon over the 700-mile round trip).
BARRELS PER DAY EQUIVALENT (BPD-Equivalent) - A unit of measure that tells how much oil would have to be burned to produce the same amount of energy. For example, California's hydroelectric generation in 1983 was 58,000 barrels per day equivalent.
BGP - The acronym for Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, three electric, municipal utilities serving those southern California cities. The three are usually grouped statistically, though they are separate entities.
BIENNIAL REPORT - The report formerly issued by the California Energy Commission to the Governor and the Legislature every odd-numbered year assessing California's energy industry. (See also Commission reports page.) The Biennial Report is supported by four policy documents that are issued every even-numbered year: the Electricity Report, the Fuels Report, the Conservation (or Efficiency) Report and the Energy Development Report. The Biennial Report was replaced by the Integrated Energy Policy Report.
BI-FUEL VEHICLE - A vehicle with two separate fuel systems designed to run on either fuel, using only one fuel at a time. These systems are advantageous for drivers who do not always have access to an alternative fuel refueling station. Bi-fuel systems are usually used in light-duty vehicles. One of the two fuels is typically an alternative fuel.
BIOCONVERSION - Processes that use plants or micro-organisms to change one form of energy into another. For example, an experimental process uses algae to convert solar energy into gas that could be used for fuel.
BIODIESEL - a biodegradable transportation fuel for use in diesel engines that is produced through the transesterification of organically- derived oils or fats. It may be used either as a replacement for or as a component of diesel fuel.
BIOMASS - Energy resources derived from organic matter. These include wood, agricultural waste and other living-cell material that can be burned to produce heat energy. They also include algae, sewage and other organic substances that may be used to make energy through chemical processes.
BOTTOMING CYCLE - A means to increase the thermal efficiency of a steam electric generating system by converting some waste heat from the condenser into electricity rather than discharging all of it into the environment.
BPA - (short for Bonneville Power Administration) - One of five federal power marketing administrations that sell low-cost electric power produced by federal hydro electric dams to agricultural and municipal users. BPA serves Idaho, Oregon, and Washington as well as parts of Nevada and Wyoming. It also sells power to California companies in "wheeling" trades.
BRITISH THERMAL UNIT (Btu) - The standard measure of heat energy. It takes one Btu to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. For example, it takes about 2,000 Btu to make a pot of coffee. One Btu is equivalent to 252 calories, 778 foot-pounds, 1055 joules, and 0.293 watt-hours. Note: In the abbreviation, only the B is capitalized.
BROWNOUT - A controlled power reduction in which the utility decreases the voltage on the power lines, so customers receive weaker electric current. Brownouts can be used if total power demand exceeds the maximum available supply. The typical household does not notice the difference.
BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS - California Code of Regulations (California Code of Regulations), Title 24, Part 2, Chapter 2-53; regulating the energy efficiency of buildings constructed in California.
BUILDING ENVELOPE - The assembly of exterior partitions of a building which enclose conditioned spaces, through which thermal energy may be transferred to or from the exterior, unconditioned spaces, or the ground. [See California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Section 2-5302]
BULK POWER SUPPLY - Often this term is used interchangeably with wholesale power supply. In broader terms, it refers to the aggregate of electric generating plants, transmission lines, and related-equipment. The term may refer to those facilities within one electric utility, or within a group of utilities in which the transmission lines are interconnected.
BUNKER C FUEL OIL - A very heavy substance, left over after other fuels have been distilled from crude oil. Also called NO. 6 FUEL, it is used in power plants, ships and large heating installations. California's Bunker C fuel oil has high sulfur content, which causes air quality concerns when burned as fuel.
BUTANE - A hydrocarbon gas found in the earth along with natural gas and oil. Butane turns into a liquid when put under pressure. It is sold as bottled gas. It is used to run heaters, stoves and motors, and to help make petrochemicals.