1,000 miles on zero gallons of gas

This guest post written by Mary Landers was originally posted on the Savannah Morning News website on August 21, 2014. We love to share real stories of new EV drivers with our readers and the experience of switching from gasoline to electric. As she highlights, since Georgia and the Southeast remain highly dependent on coal and natural gas, the greenhouse gas equivalent emissions are similar to that of a Toyota Prius, based on 2010 data, but EVs are also much cleaner than most gasoline vehicles on the road today. However, as the grid become cleaner with many new solar and wind projects in our region coming online, so will EVs, and we expect that to improve annually. Union of Concerned Scientists is also currently updating their State of Charge report and will be releasing updated data for each state in 2015. Stay tuned.

Evee waits patiently to take me home from the Savannah Morning News. Photo credit: Mary Landers

Last month I took the plunge and leased a Nissan Leaf. We needed to replace my husband’s car and I was interested in electric vehicles from both a cost and emissions standpoint.

So far, so good. We leased the car from Grainger for two years at $239 a month and $1,750 down, taxes, tags and first month included. Georgia offers a $5,000 tax credit on electric vehicles even if you lease rather than buy, which made the two-year lease extra tempting.

With that rebate figured in, the car will cost about $90 a month. It doesn’t require any maintenance beyond rotating the tires. (One salesman jokingly offered  to throw in lifetime oil changes for free — there’s no oil to change. No air filter or spark plugs either, and no check engine light on the dash. Good riddance to that!)

We were going to buy a home-charging station for about $1,000 installed, but so far we haven’t needed it. Instead we plug Evee, as the kids dubbed the electric blue Leaf, into an outlet in the living room. We park in the driveway and thread the cord through the window.

But what about your electric bill, I hear you asking. I know, I was a little worried, too. I signed up for Georgia Power’s time-of-use plan, which for a flat monthly fee lowers the overnight rate to about a cent a Kwh while raising the peak rate, from 2-7 p.m., to about 20 cents per Kwh. There’s a shoulder rate that’s in between. I haven’t gotten my first bill yet, but I did get Georgia Power to teach me how to read the smart meter myself. It turns out we spent less than $7 charging up Evee for its first 1,000 miles.

So the cost of leasing and driving the Leaf 1000 miles a month is less than $100 a month, fuel and maintenance included. We were previously paying about $130 in gas alone to drive 1,000 miles.

To read more of her blog, visit the original post here.

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Public Shut Out of FPL Rate Increase Deal

The Florida Supreme Court ruled today that a deal struck between industrial users and the states biggest power company, FPL, and approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), could move forward. The deal was approved by the PSC in 2012 over the strenuous objection of the Office of Public Council (OPC) – the state office tasked with looking out for customers’ best interests. The Courts ruling today is the result of a legal challenge by OPC. The deal – approved by state regulators – requires residential customers to pay more of FPL’s rate increase while big business gets a break.

In its opinion, the Court held that it had historically given great deference to the PSC’s findings in its cases, and that state law did not prevent the PSC from approving a settlement agreement, even if the agreement was not supported by OPC.

According to the brief filed by OPC, the deal approved by the Commission allows FPL to collect more revenues from residential customers than what the company had requested in its original petition. It allows major rate increases in 2014 and 2016 and $209 million more in earning and bonuses for transactions that are already part of the FPL normal routine. Read more…

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Hate that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wastes water? You’re really going to hate this…

Source: Wikipedia

SACE staffer Amelia Shenstone contributed to this piece.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has riveted the country, and it was only a matter of time before people started complaining about the quantity of water being used (“wasted” some may say). How bad is the water waste, really? Let’s find out.

An article from the New York Times noted that as of August 21st, over 739,000 new donors have contributed to the ALS Association. For simplicity, and some forward looking projection estimates, let’s assume 1,000,000 people have dumped water on their head recently for some noble cause. Let’s also assume each of those people used a full five-gallon bucket filled to the brim with icy water. After some easy math, we can figure that about 5 million gallons of water may have been used (or if you prefer ‘wasted’) over the past couple months nationwide.

That’s certainly a lot of water, and we’re glad folks are thinking about it. But do you know what uses even more water? Our power plants. For example, Plant Scherer, a coal-fired power plant in Georgia, “loses” about 8,000 gallons of water from evaporation – every minute. That one single coal-fired power plant loses as much water every 10 hours as the entirety of the ALS ice bucket challenge has to date. For comparison sake, if Plant Scherer were an ALS ice bucket nominee, and if each “dousing” raised $100 for charity, then this one coal plant would donate $230.4 million each day (or $84 BILLION annually – that’s 16,819,200,000 gallons of water). Read more…

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Uniontown, AL Prepares to Demand Justice on Coal Ash

This guest post is written by Debra Mayfield and was originally published on Earthjustice’s blog on August 19, 2014.

William Gibbs and his wife live near the massive coal ash dump in Uniontown, AL. "I wanted to move away from the noise and the hardness of the city. So I came here for some peace and quiet in the country ... now they've pushed this thing right on top of us. Now, I'm too old to move and no one would want to buy this place anyways," says Gibbs. Photo Credit: Earthjustice

Earlier this month, Marianne Engelman Lado from the Northeast office and I travelled back to Uniontown, Alabama, a small, quiet, predominantly African American town that received over 4 million cubic yards of poisonous coal ash from the December 2008 TVA disaster in Kingston, TN.

We visited members of the community and heard about their experience living under the shadow of the mountain of coal ash and other waste at Arrowhead Landfill, the largest municipal landfill in Alabama. The complaint, filed on behalf of community residents and others who are concerned about the health effects of the landfill, is intended to compel the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to require the landfill to have proper and readily enforceable protections of public health. The reissuance and modification of the permit, we argue, has an unjustified disproportionate adverse effect on the basis of race in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations.

The purpose of our visit? Over two years after the original complaint was filed with the EPA, the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating our complaint. We went to talk with the community about what that investigation, which began the week of August 12, will entail.

Read more…

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Cambio Climático 101 – La Clase que Finalmente Recibió el Gobernador Scott…

Photo courtesy of Miami Herald

AVISO: Puede atender a la clase que recibió el Gobernador viendo este webinar de SACE . Atender Webinar. Mas información (leer un blog similar en inglés.)

El pasado martes 19 de agosto Rick Scott, Gobernador de la Florida estado considerado como “nivel cero” a efectos de Cambio Climático, recibió una clase magistral impartida por un Comité de Científicos, expertos en dicha materia y todos reconocidos profesores en universidades del estado. Destacar que la duración de la clase no llego al tiempo mínimo previsto para clases universitarias, pero todos sabemos de la gran capacidad de absorción de conocimientos de la que hace gala el Gobernador Scott.

La clase para el Gobernador se le fue ofrecida por el Comité de Científicos de manera altruista después de que el Gobernador proporcionase hace tiempo su ya famosa respuesta “No soy un científico” a preguntas sobre su posicionamiento en relación con el tema del Cambio Climático. Estamos seguros de que esta respuesta le garantizará  al Gobernador un puesto de honor en el ranking de políticos con respuestas originales a temas que preocupan a sus ciudadanos.

El caso es que esta ignorancia científica públicamente manifestada por nuestro Gobernador despertó la compasión didáctica y pedagógica del mencionado grupo de científicos, los cuales le prepararon especialmente esta clase magistral de Cambio Climático 101 con el objetivo de paliar las posibles deficiencias de conocimiento del Gobernador, y de la cual a continuación, le ofrecemos algunos de los contenidos más relevantes para su propio enriquecimiento.  Read more…

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South Florida Leaders Stand Up for Climate Change Action

When you live in south Florida, where the seas level rise is a clear and present danger to our way of life, climate change action is an urgent matter.

The risks from rising seas include salt water intrusion into our municipal drinking water wells, flood control challenges, inundation of roads, and damage to infrastructure and private property.

That’s why over 30 south Florida elected officials stood up in support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first-ever carbon pollution reduction rule for existing power plants. The rule will allow the states flexibility in meeting the proposed standards on carbon pollution, including the more efficient use of electricity and the increased development of clean, renewable energy such as solar power. Read more…

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Cart Before the Horse: States Sue EPA Over Draft Clean Power Plan

This blog was co-authored by SACE legal intern, Roy Sparks.

In June 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed rules under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act as part of its coordinated effort to fight climate change.  Now, Attorneys General from twelve coal dependent states have filed suit against the EPA regarding the Clean Power Plan (the name EPA has given it’s proposed 111d rules).  Despite the fact that the rule is still in draft form, these states filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on August 1st.  This filing is from a coalition of states and follows a similar lawsuit brought six weeks ago by the country’s largest privately held coal mining company, Murray Energy Corp.  These suits make it clear that the coal industry and its political allies aren’t wasting any time in trying to block this important public health regulation.

The states involved are Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. They claim EPA is prohibited from using 111(d) to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants because EPA already regulates air emissions from coal-fired plants under a separate section of the Clean Air Act (section 112, which regulates hazardous air pollutants).

Read more…

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TVA Board Approves Retirement of Allen Coal Plant in Memphis

TVA's Allen Plant

Today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to retire all three coal-fired units of the Allen Fossil Plant (990 MW) in Memphis and approved replacement with a new 1,000 MW natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plant. TVA plans to build the new 1,000 MW NGCC plant directly across from the current Allen site but did not confirm dates for its construction. The cost for the new combined cycle gas plant is estimated to be approximately $975 million.

In making this announcement, TVA stressed that a smaller natural gas plant will provide flexibility for later inclusion of renewable energy resources. TVA considered building a larger capacity natural gas plant, however, SACE and allies are working to ensure solar generation and low-cost wind become part of the replacement choices for Allen.

Read more…

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5 Reasons to Attend AWEA’s Offshore Wind Expo

The American Wind Energy Association is hosting its annual Offshore Wind Expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey this year. This is the second time the expo has made its way to the Garden State. If you live in the south, here are five reasons to make the trip north of the Mason Dixon line. Early registration ends August 26th, so register today!

Read more…

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NC Lawmakers Come Up Short on Coal Ash

Bryant and Sherry Gobble live next door to one of Duke Energy's coal ash impoundment at the Buck Steam Station in Dukeville, NC. Duke and North Carolina environmental regulators have known since 2011 that the dumpsite has been polluting groundwater with toxic substances, but have taken no action to stop pollution or warn neighbors of the danger. Photo source: AP

In the days and weeks after the Dan River disaster, North Carolina legislators made bold promises to protect the public from dangerous and polluting coal ash sites. Since May there’s been several stops and starts on coal ash legislation, and for a time it looked like the General Assembly would fail to pass any legislation.

Instead, the General Assembly passed a bill last night that falls far short of the protections North Carolinians desperately need. In the early days of this legislative session, we were hopeful that North Carolina lawmakers were going to put forth a strong bill to force Duke Energy to clean up all of its polluting sites.

Unfortunately, the bill they passed actually undermines current groundwater protection laws, fails to clean up 10 of North Carolina’s dangerous and polluting coal ash impoundments and lets Duke off the hook for the harm their dumpsites are causing communities and waterways statewide. As a News & Observer recent Editorial aptly stated, Senate Bill 729 “proposes to solve the coal ash problem by declaring it not a problem. Or, at least not an urgent problem.”

Read more…

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