Knoxville City Council Approves Resolution in Support of Federal Action on Climate Change

Knoxville City Council Voting to Approve Climate Action Resolution

Last night, the Knoxville City Council approved a resolution in support of federal action on climate change, the promotion of clean energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution. The Climate Knoxville network developed and proposed the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Mark Campen and Daniel Brown and Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis. The resolution’s approval represents a major victory in the Knoxville community’s ongoing fight against manmade climate change, which requires local action toward global solutions.

Economic development was a key part of the discussion on climate action. Mayor Madeline Rogero spoke in support of the resolution and emphasized that environmental protection is essential to ensuring future economic growth. Councilmember Nick Della Volpe expressed concerns about potential economic impacts of rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but the resolution ultimately passed without opposition. For the record, multiple independent analyses have found that taking bold action on climate change and transitioning to clean energy is a major opportunity to grow the economy, not hinder it. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Clean Power Plan (the newly proposed limits on power plant carbon pollution) will save taxpayers between $55 billion and $93 billion in 2030, while Rocky Mountain Institute concludes that the United States could transition to 80% renewable energy by 2050 while growing the economy 158%.

Mayor Rogero also noted that Knoxville was recently recognized as a Climate Action Champion by the White House, and that she has served as a member of the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Knoxville is one of 16 communities nationwide to be recognized as Climate Action Champions. The only other Climate Action Champion in the Southeast is Broward County, Fla. Read more…

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Solar Power is the Next Frontier of Freedom, says Navy Veteran Solar Installer

This blog is the first in a series on diversity in the solar energy field in Florida. Check here for future posts.

Retired Navy SEAL Commander Steve Rutherford is on a mission. “That’s how I view it,” he says. “It’s a mission to liberate people.”

He’s not talking about some overseas front, although he certainly has plenty of experience there, tracking down Al Qaeda operatives and saving American lives in Afghanistan. He’s talking about helping Floridians go solar.

Thanks to Florida’s net metering policy and rebate pilot program, he and his company, Tampa Energy Solutions, are helping Floridians across the income spectrum break away from utilities by installing solar on their homes. Read more…

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Decisions, Decisions at TVA’s Shawnee Coal Plant

TVA's Shawnee coal plant in Paducah, KY

As 2014 draws to a close, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been busy working on making an important decision at its Shawnee coal plant in Paducah, KY.  December 9th marked the end of the public comment period for TVA’s draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine whether or not it should retire or retrofit two coal units at the plant.  TVA must make a decision concerning the two Shawnee units by December 31, 2014, under a court ordered deadline per a 2011 Consent Decree with EPA and other environmental groups.  In this blog, we highlight some of the key points made in comments submitted by SACE, Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice.


Read more…

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What the Senate’s Tax Bill Means for Wind

Author Mary Kate Francis

This is a guest blog post by Mary Kate Francis at the American Wind Energy Association. The original post was published here December 17, 2014 on the AWEA blog, Into the Wind.

I have big news to report from the front lines of our current campaign to protect wind in 2015.

And though there’s bad news and good news — it all points to how critical your voice is going to continue to be in our fight for clean, homegrown energy.

As you may know, a few weeks ago, when Congress began negotiating the terms of a bill that could make a huge difference in bringing affordable wind power to American families in 2015, we launched a nationwide campaign to support it.

However, we weren’t the only ones reaching out to Congress. Anti-wind organizations have been fired up beyond any opposition we’ve seen before. They’ve been spending millions of dollars and writing messages to legislators urging them to leave wind policy out of this bill.

Late last week — we started to see the impact of our opponents’ attacks, and our own efforts to defend wind. By a vote of 378 to 46, the House voted to pass H.R. 5771, a bill that proposed to extend multiple tax incentives through the end of this year, including two common-sense energy policies – the production tax credit and investment tax credit.

Last night — by a vote of 76 to 16, the Senate passed the same bill. The President is expected to sign it into law shortly. Read more…

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International Climate Talks Wrap Up In Lima

Sunday marked the final day of the 20th United Nations international climate summit, an opportunity for national delegations from 196 countries around the world to convene in Lima, Peru and discuss global impacts of—and solutions to—climate change.

Lima’s convention was the 20th Conference of the Parties (known as COP 20), meaning it is the 20th such international meeting since the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Significant COPs in history include COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, where the Kyoto Protocol set emission limits for the more developed countries (which the U.S. never ratified), and COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, which produced the Copenhagen Accord which states that global warming should not exceed 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, since the Copenhagen Accord was not a legally binding agreement, international climate negotiations are now focusing on how to strengthen existing legal climate goals and receive commitments from nations that were not bound to the Kyoto Protocol (the United States, for example). These issues are set to be worked out in negotiations at COP 21 next year in Paris, France. Therefore, the COP negotiations that just wrapped up in Lima were of critical importance to set the stage for potentially legally binding action next year, tentatively dubbed “the Paris Alliance,” which may be the last chance for a binding international agreement before we lock in 3.6 degrees F of global warming or more. Read more…

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The Silver Lining to Florida’s Disappointing Energy Efficiency Efforts

I have been putting off writing this blog because I have not found a positive angle to the story of Florida’s energy efficiency goals, and I was still hoping that there might be something we could extrapolate. Alas, the Florida Public Service Commission just released its final order on the Florida utilities’ energy efficiency goals for the next ten years, and there is little good to say about it.

But there must be a silver lining somewhere, right? There may be something for Duke Energy customers – but sadly, not for the rest of Floridians. Read more…

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Community Solar Projects Expand Access to Clean, Affordable Energy in the Tennessee Valley and Across the Southeast

Duck River EMC's Community Solar Project

Solar fever is sweeping the nation, and the Southeast is no exception. Every year, more and more people are taking advantage of the most abundant energy resource on Earth by installing solar photovoltaic panels on their roofs. The price of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years, and now is a great time to lock in low (or even negative) utility bills and avoid future rate increases.

However, not everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of this solar gold rush. According the the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, about 75% of residential rooftops in the U.S. are not suitable for solar panels due to structural, shading, and other constraints. And that doesn’t even account for ownership status (e.g., renters) or financial considerations.

The most promising solution to these obstacles is the rise of community solar projects, which allow individuals to purchase a portion of a larger-scale solar installation that is typically managed by their utility. Fortunately for those of us in the Tennessee Valley, TVA recently announced two exciting new opportunities to help local power companies (LPCs) develop community solar projects. Read more…

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6 Ways to Green Your Gifts This Holiday Season

This blog was written by SACE Communications Intern, Kelsey Adler, and SACE Communications Coordinator, Jeannie McKinney.

In past years, we have mentioned the importance of being mindful of your energy use and your carbon footprint during the holiday season. In particular though, environmentally conscious gift-giving during the holiday season can get pretty tricky. There are numerous factors that go into a product’s carbon footprint, such as how far it had to be shipped, recyclability, energy used during the manufacturing practices, any excessive and wasteful packaging… you get the idea.

To give you a better idea of how you can lower your carbon footprint a bit this year, we’ve put together a guide to help you through the gift-giving season. Read more…

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Behind closed doors: Ala. PSC decisions are out of public sight and mind

The following op-ed piece ran in the The Cruthirds Report on Dec. 5th and was authored by SACE staff and Michael Churchman of Alabama Environmental Council. On the day of the Public Service Commission meeting referenced in this piece, John Archibald of published an editorial that parallels many of the concerns we point out below. Please also refer to coverage of the December 9 PSC meeting from the Anniston Star,, Gadsden Times, and the Montgomery Advertiser.

As it does every December, the Alabama Public Service Commission is in the process of bestowing upon Alabama families and businesses the annual holiday gift of new electricity rates for the coming year. More than ever, citizens, the media, and watchdogs must cast a highly critical eye on December 9th on an issue that has a direct and substantial impact on the wallets of two-thirds of the people in our state.

There are several reasons such strong scrutiny is needed.

First and foremost is the Public Service Commission’s transparency. Or more precisely, its complete lack thereof. Read more…

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Countdown to coal ash rules from EPA

We are exactly 9 days away from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) official release of final rules for coal ash regulation that have been in the works ever since the catastrophic Kingston disaster of 2008. Since then, it has taken almost 6 years and countless efforts by citizens and advocates to sound the alarm on the immense dangers of coal ash pollution. SACE was part of a lawsuit with Earthjustice and multiple other groups to hold EPA accountable to issue these new coal ash rules by Dec. 19, 2014.

To understand the seriousness of this issue though, we need not look back as far as 2008; 2014 itself proved to be another immensely notable year in the world of coal ash. February 2, 2014 marks the date of nation’s second worst coal ash disaster in history, also right here in the Southeast on the Dan River in North Carolina. The Dan River spill precipitated a now infamous path of embarrassment for both the state of North Carolina and Duke Energy as they became exposed for their cozy relationship and lax methods of dealing with toxic coal ash waste. A notable culmination of the media blitz occurred this past Sunday night, Dec. 7, on CBS’ 60 Minutes when Lesley Stahl interviewed Duke’s CEO, Lynn Good. Read more…

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