Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – Aug 17

Electric Vehicles
Volkswagen (VW), through its Electrify America subsidiary, has launched the “JetStones” ad campaignVW agreed to a multiple-part settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency as a result of VW’s installation of ‘defeat devices’ on their diesel engines in violation of the Clean Air Act. VW will spend $2 billion over 10 years to support increased zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technology in the U.S., and one of the investment focus areas is the development of brand-neutral education and public outreach campaigns to increase awareness about EVs. The ad juxtaposes the Flintstones (fossil fuels) with the Jetsons (clean, electric fuels). Read more…

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What is causing Florida’s algae crisis? 5 questions answered

This is a guest post by Dr. Karl Havens, professor at the University of Florida’s IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and the director of the Florida Sea Grant. This post was originally published on The Conversation here on August 10, 2018. We are publishing this piece to help explain the connections between the current algae crisis plaguing Florida, climate change, and Florida and national environmental policy . 

What’s the difference between red tide and blue-green algae?

Both are photosynthetic microscopic organisms that live in water. Blue-green algae are properly called cyanobacteria. Some species of cyanobacteria occur in the ocean, but blooms – extremely high levels that create green surface scums of algae – happen mainly in lakes and rivers, where salinity is low.

Red tides are caused by a type of algae called a dinoflagellate, which also is ubiquitous in lakes, rivers, estuaries and the oceans. But the particular species that causes red tide blooms, which can literally make water look blood red, occur only in saltwater.

Lake Okeechobee algae

Algae is clearly visible in this satellite image of southwestern Lake Okeechobee, taken July 15, 2018. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

 

What causes these blooms? Read more…

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Guest Blog: The King of EVs

This is a guest post written by Rudy Beharrysingh, the president of the Blue Ridge EV Club. To read the original post, click here.

 

I always wondered why Telsa owners never seemed too worried about range.  Previously, I had an intellectual appreciation for Tesla cars, but never owned one myself.   That changed after driving a P85 Model S through the Rockies! I now truly understand the superior performance of the Tesla automobile and the genius of Musk et al.

After many years of promoting electric transportation, it was a dream come true to drive my very own Tesla – even if it were for four days.  The US National Park system is second to none, and what a shame it is that so many people traverse these wonders while emitting a ton of noxious fumes.  Before visiting The Rocky Mountains National Park, I knew that I wanted to have this experience in an EV.  Using a car sharing program called Turo, I was able to secure a Model S for a few days.   The 2014, P85 had over 100,000 miles, but drove like a dream, as if it were new!   We started our trip to the National Park in Denver with 224 miles of range on the car.  After driving 30 miles, we stopped in Boulder, where there is a nice Supercharger.  I picked up about 40 miles and with the touch of a screen, raised the suspension in preparation for the uphill climb. Read more…

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – Aug 10

Photo Courtesy of MountainTrue

Electric Vehicles
Asheville is now home to Western North Carolina’s first and only hybrid and electric used car dealership. The dealership named GreenToy will offer many makes and models of used electrified and hybrid cars. Used EVs are a cost-effective way to become an electric driver!

Perhaps instead you are in the market for a new electric vehicle? The 5 Most Exciting New Electric Cars You Can Buy In The Next 2 Years takes a look at upcoming models from VW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Porsche, and Tesla! Read more…

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Losing the Race for Clean Transportation?

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

If the U.S. is in a drag race toward the future, our competition is flooring it while we’re pumping the brakes. Which to anyone watching is obviously not a winning strategy. Most of the world is moving at warp speed towards a cleaner transportation system while the U.S. currently seems to be stuck in a losing addiction to fossil fuels. Here’s what the Trump Administration’s rollback of federal emissions standards will mean to all of us.

Higher Prices
The Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated how much the fuel economy standards set in 2012 have saved American consumers. They even have a fun ticker to track it. The number is mind-blowing. At over $64 billion dollars saved it’s painful to understand the financial impact freezing emissions standards will have on our wallets. Or to look at it another way, how much more revenue the oil industry will be making off the deal. Read more…

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Georgia’s Nuclear Financial Crisis Worsens – Additional Billions in Cost Overruns at Plant Vogtle

Southern Company’s second quarter earnings news yesterday about Plant Vogtle’s nuclear expansion having yet another multi-billion dollar cost increase is not surprising given the continued problems occurring at the nuclear construction site that is just approaching halfway completion despite being more than nine years into construction. But it is infuriating.

WSAV reports: Another price adjustment for Plant Vogtle nuclear reactors. Click the image to listen to their TV coverage from Aug 8, 2018.

There was no wiggle room left as the project was deemed uneconomic to continue last year by the Georgia Public Service Commission’s (PSC) own Staff. The project is well over five years delayed and has more than doubled from original cost estimates, and yet the Georgia PSC approved nearly everything that Georgia Power wantedThese new numbers show it is only getting worse.

Plant Vogtle’s completion schedule and ultimate cost is off the rails yet again. When does Georgia Power lose credibility given their statements time and time again about being able to bring this project in on time and on budget? If that were the case, the two reactors would have been operational in 2017 at half the cost of what is now projected.

The Georgia PSC cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the situation – utility customers deserve openness and transparency along with actual protections from this out-of-control project in which at least Southern Company appears to be pushing ahead despite the continued and worsening warning signs. (And please don’t bring up the $75 so-called “rebate” for Georgia Power customers the Commission approved last year which will actually cost customers a whole lot more in the long run as determined by Georgia Conservation Voters.) It is not sustainable or fair for the Vogtle Owners – Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), and Dalton Utilities – to continue hemorrhaging money when there is no end in sight and no assurance that their customers will be protected. Read more…

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – Aug 3

Electric Vehicles
Here is some exciting news for those who are in the market for an electric SUV. The Audi e-tron All-Electric SUV is Set For Global Launch In SeptemberThe SUV, which is the first of three electric vehicles Audi will launch by the end of 2020, will have a range of around 245 miles and will be available via a reservation system similar to Tesla. In 2019 they will be available through a traditional dealership model.

A team of racers/hackers are quite proud of themselves after managing to unlock the Tesla Model 3 ‘Track Mode‘ and set a new record. Tesla installs the Stability Control and Traction Control systems to increase safety in the Model 3. Interestingly, the team accomplished the record with the RWD version of the car–not the Performance Edition or the AWD configuration.

Harley Davidson plans to expand its global efforts including electrification. The company’s first electric bike named ‘LiveWire’ will premier in August 2019 and they plan on rolling out as many as five more models by 2022.

Read more…

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It’s time to Renew Tennessee!

Jenn, a SACE organizer, helping launch the first Renew TN event in Chattanooga!

Our communities deserve affordable, clean energy, but Tennessee is falling behind the rest of the South. Consumers’ rights to transparency and accountability are being ignored, and too many decisions are being made behind closed doors without listening to the people. That’s why we’re launching Renew Tennessee – a new campaign to renew Tennessee’s commitment to affordable, clean energy that creates jobs, powers communities and improves lives throughout the entire Valley. While this campaign is just getting off the ground, volunteers and allies across the state are already working together to tackle some big challenges to Renew the Volunteer State:

First is our utility bills. On average, low-income households in TVA’s service territory spend 12.6 % of their annual household income on energy costs (that’s double the national average). And some Tennesseans pay as much as 20% of their income on utility bills. You read that correctly… 20%. Meanwhile, the TVA Board recently approved a new fixed charge, which will disproportionately harm low-income households, despite a record breaking number of advocates providing public comments at the board meetings voicing their opposition to this new charge.

Read more…

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Florida Voters: Learn what candidates for office plan to do about sea level rise

Want to learn where your local candidates for office stand when it comes to sea level rise, flooding and other related issues? Tidal Town Halls — hosted by ReThink Energy Florida — are being held in 15 cities throughout Florida, offering Floridians a chance to hear directly from candidates about their plans for addressing sea level rise if elected. Candidates for all levels of government will attend, from Congress to local municipal positions.

Make sure you’re informed this year at the polls! Find an event near you below. The events are free, but tickets are required. Event dates and times are subject to change; for the most up-to-date list, check out the Tidal Town Halls website.

Can’t make it to one of the events in person? Most of the Tidal Town Hall events will also be live streamed on ReThink Energy Florida’s Facebook page.

Here is the full listing:

Read more…

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Florida Kids Shouldn’t Have to Litigate to Force Adults to Act on Climate

Kids shouldn’t have to go to court to get adults in Florida to act on climate change. Yet, that’s what eight young Floridians have set out to do.

Eight boys and girls, from across the state, supported by Our Children’s Trust, recently filed a lawsuit in state court to demand that Florida develop a “climate recovery plan” to reduce greenhouse (GHG) pollution. The suit asserts that in not addressing climate change, the state has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and has caused harm to Florida’s essential public trust resources, such as its beaches and marine life. The suit names Governor Rick Scott; Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam,; The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); and the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) as the Defendants. They have filed motions to dismiss the case – the court’s determination on those motions is pending. A similar case in federal court was just allowed to proceed to trial by the US Supreme Court. We are hosting a webinar entitled “How Kids are Taking Their Fight Against Climate Change to the Courts” August 8th and invite you to join us by registering here.

Several of the youth  hail from south Florida – where residents need no convincing that our community is “ground-zero” for climate change. The impacts are all around us. Annual King Tide events push the Atlantic Ocean into our streets every fall. We’re experiencing yet another summer of brutal heat, that will likely break the sweltering record set last year, which broke the record set the previous year. Many residents, on both coasts, are bracing for the “Summer of Slime” as algae blooms break out in Lake Okeechobee and in estuaries to the north and south – created by mismanaged state water policies but made worse by a warming climate. The litany of adverse climate change impacts includes sea level rise threats to drinking water resources, increased storm surge, beach erosion, coral bleaching, stronger storms, and the related economic consequences.

Incredibly, Florida has no plan to meet these challenges.

Florida actually had an action plan, before it didn’t …

Not too long ago, Florida was on the verge of becoming a leader on climate action when the state developed and published Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan in 2008. It was developed by a Climate Action Team composed of 28 appointed members, representing a cross-section of Floridians, and 120 technical experts. The action plan was a result of then-Governor Charlie Crist’s 2007 executive orders. Crist’s 3 executive orders included a call for:

  • reducing GHG pollution to 2000 levels by 2017; to 1990 levels by 2025; and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; and
  • requiring the state’s power companies to procure or produce 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2020, with an emphasis on wind and solar.

The Climate Action Team completed its report and provided 50 policy recommendations and concluded that Florida’s economy would see a benefit through investment in energy efficiency, low-carbon energy sources, and other GHG pollution reduction strategies resulting in a projected cost savings of more than $28 billion from 2009 to 2025.

That same year, the Florida Legislature passed an energy bill (HB 7135) that provided both the Florida PSC and the DEP the authorization to conduct rulemaking to develop programs to achieve the renewable energy goals, and the cap and trade GHG reduction programs respectively. The legislative-catch was that the rules had to come back to the legislature for “ratification.” In an ironic twist, state Rep. Marco Rubio was the Speaker of the House during the 2008 Florida legislative session.

Later that year, I was one of many stakeholders who worked with the PSC and DEP staff in workshops to develop rules. The PSC promulgated a rule to meet the 20% renewables by 2020 goal in late 2008. In 2009, the PSC also set historically higher conservation goals for the state’s power companies – to help families and businesses reduce energy and save money on bills through meaningful energy efficiency programs. It looked like clean energy and climate action were becoming reality in the Sunshine State.

Yet, a bill in 2009 that would have, in large part, ratified the PSC rule for renewable energy goals passed the Florida Senate, but failed to even get a hearing in the House, which wanted to tie it to permitting nearshore oil development. Shortly thereafter, the political winds  on climate action changed in Florida. In 2010, an election year, momentum for the renewable energy goal slowed, and the DEP rule making process was effectively suspended. Read more…

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