How to beat EV range anxiety? Say hello to the Chevy Bolt!

Do you remember the first time you heard about the iPhone? Like me, did you think “why would I need a phone that did all that?” How long did it take before you were a proud owner and realized that you couldn’t live without it? My bet is that it didn’t take you long. Now, more than 64% of Americans own a smartphone of some variety. That’s nearly double the number from five years ago.

The Chevrolet Bolt will be the first long-range, affordable electric car to hit the market. Photo credit: Forbes.com

I predict we’re about to hear the same story again, but this time the story is about a car – the Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt is about to transform the car industry in a big way.  We all know Tesla by now – the new car company that developed the world’s first premium all-electric sedan in 2012. They’ve led the electric vehicle (EV) market with the Tesla Model S and are due to release the  Model 3 in 2017 to compete with the more affordable (although lower range capable) Nissan LEAF. The competition to win the hearts of potential EV owners is growing in intensity – we saw more than 100K reservations to purchase the Tesla 3 in just one day – and General Motors’ recent announcement to launch the long-range, affordable Bolt by the end of the year might just be what is needed to move EVs into the “mainstream” and eliminate worries over range anxiety once and for all.

The Bolt is a small, five-door car that looks similar to some of Chevy’s other compact cars. The EPA estimates the battery range of 238 miles. That’s more than double what the popular Nissan LEAF gets per charge and just short of the best-selling Tesla Model S.  That means that I could drive from Atlanta to Charlotte (or many other great Southeast destinations) on a single charge. Plus, the Bolt is also a fraction of the cost of the Tesla Model S or X. It is listed at $37,495, which will make it under $30K after federal incentives. This is huge news for potential EV owners and the industry as a whole.

Read more…

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South Carolinians are eagerly filling up solar incentive programs

The sun is rising on the Palmetto State, as scores of customers are rushing to take advantage of the 2014 solar-enabling legislation, Act 236. Recently, Duke Energy announced that its South Carolina customers have received $5 million in solar rebates since the start of its incentive program roughly a year ago. This is great news and should put to bed any lingering doubt as to whether consumer demand would follow good solar policy in the state.

Act 236 allows the utilities to recover the costs of rebate programs for customer-sited solar systems with a total generating capacity of up to 1% of the five-year average peak electric demand forecast for the state. It also provides for larger-scale solar projects up to an additional 1% of total peak demand. To make sure residential customers get a bite at the apple, Act 236 reserves 25% of the allotted demand-side solar capacity for systems that are smaller than 20 kW, which is more than twice the size of an average residential rooftop array. While commercial systems are larger in scale and will make up more total capacity, residential installations still outnumber them across both investor-owned utilities’ territories. Duke reports that 750 of its residential customers and 35 of its commercial customers in South Carolina have signed up for its solar rebate program.

Following the passage of Act 236, the state’s two investor-owned utilities, SCE&G and Duke, rolled out incentive programs for solar customers and guaranteed net energy metering service that pays them the full electric retail rate for the energy they generate, up until 2021.

While Duke Energy is the largest investor-owned utility in South Carolina (and the largest in the country if you include their operations in other states), the high demand for solar is certainly not isolated to Duke’s service territories. Before 2016 was halfway over, South Carolina Electric & Gas’s residential customers actually became the first group in the state to snap up their entire allocation of solar incentives under the utilities’ current offerings. Interestingly, residential customers moved early in SCE&G’s territory relative to Duke’s residential customers, but Duke Energy’s commercial customers have been relatively faster at taking advantage of the allotment of commercial customer rebates.

Based on the program application rates we’ve seen so far, it’s possible that all of the rebates could be snagged by the end of the year. So if you’re interested in installing a solar system in South Carolina, now’s the time to do it! Read more…

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Florida Power & Light – Solar Leader or Solar Laggard?

Florida Power & Light (FPL) professes to be a solar leader. According to FPL, “Florida’s clean energy landscape is bright.” FPL touts that it’s tripling the amount of solar it’s generating for customers this year as if that’s a huge accomplishment to be celebrated. In fact, the utility goes so far as to claim that its goal of having one million solar panels in operation by the end of 2016 is “audacious.” The only thing that is “audacious” is the web of misleading information FPL’s CEO spins to cover FPL’s anemic commitment to solar for a utility their size (4.8 million customer accounts).  FPL’s whole game falls apart the minute you do the math and get to the facts.

Kennedy Space Center Solar Arrays, Photo: Superior Solar

What’s the real story? Is FPL’s solar goal audacious? Is FPL a solar leader, or a solar laggard? How do FPL and the other Florida investor owned utilities compare to leading peer utilities in the Southeast region and the nation when it comes to solar development?

Since power companies vary in size, the best apples to apples comparison for answering those questions is through a metric called solar watts per customer. Solar watts per customer measures how much solar electric output (watts) a utility has installed per customer. The Smart Electric Power Alliance, formerly called the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), a national educational non-profit that conducts research and collaboration to help utilities deploy solar and other distributed energy resources, uses the “solar watts per customer” metric to fairly and accurately represent and rank the amount of solar installed in a utility’s territory.

Based on SACE’s analysis of large-scale and customer-sited solar projects currently installed or in the pipeline to be in operation by the end of 2017 in the Southeast, Florida’s investor owned utilities seriously lag peer utility leaders in solar watts per customer, both in the Southeast region and in the nation. In fact, they are bottom of class. Read more…

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Guest Blog: Florida Solar Businesses Speak Out Against Amendment 1

This is a guest blog from the Erika Dunayer with Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) which is a non-profit professional association of  solar companies. Since 1977, FlaSEIA has been dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of the solar energy industry in Florida. FlaSEIA has officially joined the opposition on Amendment 1 and this blog – and the video it promotes – is meant to educate Florida voters on this critical issue for the Sunshine State.

 

New Video: Vote No On Amendment 1!

The vote in November will be a big one for a many issues. The most important for the state of Florida however, will be Amendment 1. If it passes, it could completely kill solar for our state!

At first glance, it sounds like it’s a positive thing for consumers but if you look to see who is really behind the amendment, I think it will clear things up for you. The funding for this amendment is coming from big monopoly power companies such as FPL, Duke Power and Tampa Electric.

Read more…

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Another gas shortage? These simple fixes could save us

Recent news and panic of a petroleum pipeline leak in Helena, Alabama (south of Birmingham) is making its way up the East Coast. The pipeline, owned by Colonial Pipeline Company, supplies some 40% of fuel to drivers from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey. More than 336,000 gallons of fuel have leaked so far and those estimates could still rise as more is learned about the leak. The pipeline has been shut down for repairs and therefore has reduced the supply of gasoline to certain markets in the Southeast.

Photo Credit: Colonial Pipeline Company/CNNmoney

The reports of the leak and supply constraints have drivers in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina resorting to panic about gas availability and price hikes. Pictures of long lines at gas stations and high prices are circulating on social media with concerns about price gouging. The most widespread image, that I’ve seen anyway, was from Woodstock, GA showing $9.99. The price is actually not what the station is charging but this is a default price that gas stations post to indicate that they are out of fuel. This station in Woodstock was not the only station to entirely run out of fuel—numerous stations around Atlanta and North Georgia, all across North Carolina, and even some in South Carolina have completely run out of gas. While there is a sensational narrative circulating in the press and on social media, prices in Atlanta are hovering around $2.40 a gallon. State laws, including in Georgia and North Carolina, prevent (or should) price gouging during a “state of emergency,” which has been declared in six states in the wake of this pipeline disaster.

This incident is yet another reminder of the consequences of perpetuating fossil fuel use. Just four months ago, we wrote on a spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Read more…

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Green Spirit Award: SweetWater Brewery Protecting the Hooch One Sip at a Time

This is the seventh post in our Green Spirit Awards monthly blog series, highlighting breweries, wineries and distilleries in the Southeast using clean energy and conservation to create tasty, sustainable beverages. You can read the other blogs in this series by clicking here. Cheers! 

As summer is coming to an end, I’m already reminiscing over the best summer activity here in Georgia: floating down the Chattahoochee River. When shooting the hooch (as we like to call it), there’s only one kind of beer you should be sipping on and that’s SweetWater. This Atlanta brewery recognizes the importance of protecting the Chattahoochee, which provides clean drinking water for millions of people across the Southeast. After all, clean water is by far the most important ingredient in a good batch of beer.

A decade ago, SweetWater teamed up with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to preserve and protect the river through the “Save the Hooch” campaign.  Today SweetWater continues this strong partnership through various awareness and fundraiser campaigns, which includes “The Big Float” – an annual day dedicated to celebrating the importance of clean water. The campaign supports both the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance and is an annual fundraiser that lasts from 4th of July until Labor Day. SweetWater doesn’t just have Georgia on their mind – this fundraiser supports over 30 Waterkeeper members across the entire Southeast. Through this campaign, SweetWater encourages patrons to “give of their liver to save the river” and to date, SweetWater has raised more than $700,000!

Read more…

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Use Southeastcoalash.org to Discover If Toxic Coal Ash is Stored Near You

Want to learn more? Join our webinar on October 19 from 10:00–11:00 AM!

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is pleased to unveil the redesigned southeastcoalash.org. Our southeast power plant map feature is handier, the pages and design are streamlined, and the entire site is now mobile friendly. Click the video above to look around!

The new and improved southeastcoalash.org is a one-stop-shop for data and action opportunities in the southeast. The map makes it easy to find coal ash stored near your community, maps of coal ash pits, and information on ground and surface water contamination where available. Each facility page links you directly to coal ash data provided by utilities in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coal ash rule, saving the trouble of hunting down each individual utility’s website. This utility data includes how much coal ash and wastewater are stored at power plants, and will soon include results of groundwater monitoring for contamination.

Southeastcoalash.org was originally launched in December 2012 and is managed by SACE in partnership with Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center, and North Carolina Conservation Network. Let’s take a tour:

 Southeast Power Plant Map and Facility Pages

Southeastcoalash.org power plant map

Our southeast power plant map is the first thing you’ll see when you visit southeastcoalash.org. It identifies power plants in the southeast United States with smokestack icons.

Zooming in on a power plant will reveal its coal ash pits outlined in yellow. Click on the smokestack icon to see the power plant’s individual facility page. It provides details about the plant’s owner(s), age, size, and power production capacity as well as details about the region and river basin where the plant is located, and which local groups you can contact for more information.

Coal ash is often stored in unlined pits separated from our waterways by earthen dams that can leak or, as in the case of the Kingston disaster, catastrophically rupture. Each smokestack icon on the southeastcoalash.org map is color-coded to provide the latest available EPA hazard rating for these dams.

On each facility page, dam hazard ratings appear prominently at the top of the page. The hazard ratings indicate different levels of risk to human life and property:

  • High Hazard (red)— Indicates that a dam failure is likely to cause loss of human life.
  • Significant Hazard (orange)— Dam failure is likely to cause significant economic loss, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure.
  • Low Hazard (brown)— Dam failure would likely not result in loss of human life and would only result in low economic or environmental losses.
  • Not Rated (gray)
    Read more…

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Seizing our massive offshore wind potential

America's first offshore wind farm, Block Island, RI. Photo by Deepwater Wind

America's first offshore wind farm, Block Island, RI. Photo by Deepwater Wind

The following is a guest blog, written by Amber Hewett of the National Wildlife Federation. You can visit NWF’s blog, and the original article, here.

It’s been quite the summer for U.S. offshore wind power! Following months of unprecedented progress in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Obama Administration released a strategy today that charts a collective path forward for the U.S. to seize the immense clean energy potential off our shores.

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell gathered with state and federal officials in Boston to announce the National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States. Gathered in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology Testing Center, attendees learned of the Strategy’s three focus areas, and details on how the federal government can help clear the way for industry advancement:

  1. Reducing technical costs and risks;
  2. Supporting effective stewardship;
  3. And improving the market conditions for investment in offshore wind energy.

Read more…

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Memphians Ask TVA for Energy Efficiency Solutions to Extreme Energy Burdens

Community members gather to share stories of energy burdens and learn about energy efficiency solutions.

This blog is the second in a series SACE is publishing on recent energy efficiency meetings between TVA and community members all across the Tennessee Valley. The first blog, focusing on TVA customers in rural East Tennessee, can be found here

As part of a statewide organizing effort, communities across Tennessee are meeting with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) staff to discuss extreme energy burdens and how the utility can help reduce unnecessarily high utility bills, especially for low-income customers.

In Memphis, Tennessee’s largest city, old housing stock and a lack of economic resources to make home improvements has led to energy bills that can represent more than 25% of a family’s annual income. Generally, energy costs represent anywhere from 6-11% of a family’s annual income. For low-income families, however, utility bills can creep higher and higher as energy escapes out of leaky windows, leaky doors and poorly insulated attics and walls.

Many Memphians are no stranger to economic hardships, with almost 30% of the population living in poverty. In recent years, Memphis has had the highest poverty rates in the United States, both overall and child poverty rates, among Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with populations greater than 1,000,000. Although there are many factors contributing to high poverty rates in Memphis, unnecessarily high energy bills make it extremely difficult for families to stick to a budget and meet other basic living needs. According to a recent report by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), Memphians are paying the highest percentage of their income on utility bills out of any major city. Read more…

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What do Alpharetta GA and Asheville NC have in common this weekend?

Turns out electric vehicles can bring people together and help save the planet! As part of National Drive Electric Week, a great line-up of public officials, business leaders and environmental groups will be coming together in Georgia to celebrate the state’s success in embracing electric vehicles.  In North Carolina, race car driver Leilani Munter will be joining SACE and our allies. We have helped to organize local events in Alpharetta, Georgia (metro Atlanta) and Asheville, North Carolina where our special guests will be in attendance to promote electric vehicles and clean energy.

We hope our supporters across the Southeast will make plans to attend these fun and informative events that promote electric vehicles. If you can’t make it to these events, click here to find an event near you!

Read about the Alpharetta and Asheville events below!

 

Saturday, Sept 10th from 9AM-3PM – Alpharetta, GA at the Avalon [RSVP & SHARE on Facebook]

2016 is the 6th year fro Atlanta Drive Electric Week events. This year, the event will take place Avalon in Alpharetta. Avalon hosts metro Atlanta’s newest Tesla store and 10 level 2 electric vehicle charging stations installed throughout the venue. The Drive Electric Week-Alpharetta event will offer spaces for 48 electric vehicles in the high traffic main thoroughfare, along with event sponsor exhibits occupying the unique ‘green space’ lined by restaurants, cinema and Avalon’s Welcome Center. Read more…

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