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).
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 - Any liquid biofuel suitable as a diesel fuel substitute or diesel fuel additive or extender. Biodiesel fuels are typically made from oils such as soybeans, rapeseed, or sunflowers, or from animal tallow. Biodiesel can also be made from hydrocarbons derived from agricultural products such as rice hulls.
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.
BOIL-OFF LOSS - The amount of gas that vaporizes in a liquid gas storage through external heating (ambient temperature). The gas will only be vented when the operating pressure is exceeded.
BPA - short for the Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. BPA is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Energy that serves the Pacific Northwest through operating an extensive electricity transmission system and marketing wholesale electrical power at cost from federal dams, one non-federal nuclear plant and other nonfederal hydroelectric and wind energy generation facilities. It 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.
BTL (Biomass-to-Liquids) - Produces primarily a high-quality synthetic diesel product through gasification of biomass followed by conversion of the syngas to a liquid using the Fisher-Tropsch reaction. Requires further upgrading (similar to conventional refining) to produce finished fuels.
BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS - California Code of Regulations (California Code of Regulations), collectively known as Title 24 regulates 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 - This term often 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 with interconnected transmission lines.
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.