With Memorial Day celebrations in full swing, it seems a good time to highlight some rather sunny developments for our nation’s military. A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association – Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy – shows how solar energy is playing a critical role in making the armed force’s energy supply more secure, distributed, affordable and less reliant on foreign sources.
As one of the world’s largest energy consumers, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has good reason to turn to reliable and affordable renewable energy sources to power its military operations. As DOD budgets decline in the wake of the federal sequester, solar installations can help rein in the military’s vast energy bill. Estimates are that DOD spends $20 billion annually on energy, so investments in solar that have ‘fixed’ energy costs given the free source of fuel will yield savings over the life of the panels. In recent years, the DOD has committed to meeting 25% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2025; the Navy, Army and Air Force are implementing aggressive plans to achieve these goals.
From solar-powered water purification systems (pictured above) to solar-powered security systems and from solar-powered tent camps in Afghanistan to solar-powered homes on bases throughout this country, there are abundant examples of increased solar investment by the military in recent years. This encourages technology innovation, helps lower electricity costs, reduces carbon pollution, and enhances energy security. Read more…
Tags: Air Force, Army, Department of Defense, Memorial Day, Navy, SEIA, sequester, sequestration, solar, solar array, Solar Energy Industries Association, solar photovoltaic
What do the Georgia Tea Party, low-income advocates, faith leaders, and green business have in common?
They were all at the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) this week calling for more clean energy in Georgia Power’s long term energy plan – some for more solar, some for expanded efficiency programs, some for retirement of coal plants, and some for all three.
On May 21-22, 2013, the PSC held the second of three hearings to review Georgia Power’s energy plan, known as the Integrated Resource Plan or IRP (learn more on our Take Action page). The PSC reviews the plan every three years to “balance Georgia citizens’ need for reliable services and reasonable rates with the need for utilities to earn a reasonable return on investment.” As part of the review, any citizen may comment on the proposed plan as a “public witness”. The hearings don’t always attract a crowd, but this week, it was a star-studded line-up with some common threads from a surprising variety of perspectives. Read more…
Tags: business, Coal, commercial, Durley, Echols, Energy Efficiency, faith, Georgia, green jobs, jobs, low income, public comment, public witness, Renewable Energy, residential, solar, Southern Company, Tea Party, transparency, utility regulation
On Saturday, May 18, communities throughout the Southeast hosted events to stand up for their treasured places and send the message that these places must be protected from the impacts of risky fossil fuel extraction. The events were organized as part of Hands Across the Sand, a day of international action to say “yes” to clean energy and “no” to offshore drilling and other risky fossil fuels.
Hands Across the Sand has taken place annually since its 2010 inception and SACE is proud to have been an original sponsor. Over the past four years, thousands of events have taken place in all 50 states and in 42 countries worldwide. Initially, the event was focused solely on offshore drilling, but the past two years have incorporated opposition to coal, fracking, and tar sands as well.
The events themselves are simple yet powerful: at 12:00 noon in each local time zone, participants form a line and join hands, physically and figuratively drawing a line in the sand. Equally powerful is the message: these treasured places are worth more than the short-term profits that industries might be able to extract from them. Read more…
Tags: bp disaster, bp spill, Clean Energy, economic development, economy, green jobs, Gulf of Mexico, Hands Across the Sand, High Risk Energy, Macondo, Offshore Drilling, Santa Barbara blowout
This piece, written by Dr. Olson Huff, originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer on May 18, 2013.
As a doctor, I regularly witness how harmful pollution created by burning coal and other fossil fuels affects public health. As a pediatrician, I have spent decades caring for children whose health is most compromised when these dangerous pollutants are released into our air and water.
While air quality has improved in the 40 years since Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the American Lung Association tells us that 40 percent of Americans still live in communities with unsafe levels of pollution. So I find it hard to understand why elected officials in Raleigh and Washington can knowingly threaten decades of gains to secure cleaner air by playing politics with public health.
Human-produced particulates shouldn’t be in our air – those tiny, pollution-generated particles that find their way deep into the spaces of our lungs and cause great harm and much distress. The kind of particles that trigger asthma attacks and are responsible for 9 million visits to health care professionals each year. Particles just like those belched out of coal-fired power plants, spewed from gas-fueled vehicles and released into the atmosphere by industrial productions of all kinds. Carried by the winds, spread everywhere and sometimes invisible, these microscopic specks of pollution are like a modern plague, spreading misery, killing the vulnerable and stealing from all of us the life-giving fresh air we expect to enjoy. We must understand what is in the air we breathe, where it comes from and what we need do to restore that most basic of rights: taking a breath of fresh air. Read more…
Tags: American Lung Association, carbon pollution standards, Clean Air Act, EPA, Gina McCarthy, NC REPS, smog, solar, wind
SACE Director of Policy & Communications, Jennifer Rennicks, contributed to this post.
As a regional organization, SACE staffers have the unique opportunity of working with a huge number of outstanding organizations and individuals across several states. There are so many hard working and dedicated groups fighting tirelessly to promote clean energy across the Southeast, and we are lucky to be counted among them.
Working in one of the least energy-progressive regions in the U.S., we are constantly faced with new challenges and fighting to reach new milestones. The energy field is continuously changing, and new developments and successes run in and out of the news cycle so quickly that it can be hard for the public to keep up. In the last few weeks, however, a few groups took the opportunity to assess the events of the past year and to award certain individuals who have truly made a difference in bringing clean energy to their community. We’re pleased to announce that two SACE staffers were among those honored for their unique roles and tireless dedication to promoting responsible energy choices here in our region. Read more…
Tags: AWEA, Environmental Justice, Georgia WAND, Nuclear, Sara Barczak, Simon Mahan, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, wind, Wind Powering America
Roosevelt and Norris at Muscle Shoals
It all started with bombs. During the First World War, the federal government built two nitrate plants at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, for making explosives. Wilson Dam was built to supply electricity to these plants. After the war ended, there was disagreement over what to do with the site. Industrialists like Henry Ford envisioned the rise of a new Detroit in the South, centered on the hydroelectric power provided by Wilson Dam. Utility holding companies, controlling over 90% of generation in the area, fought against the competition. Conservationists wanted to keep this and other natural areas in the public domain.
When Franklin Roosevelt became president in March of 1933, he had a grander vision. He saw “a corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.” Along with George Norris, a progressive Republican Senator from the state of Nebraska who had been promoting a similar idea for years, Roosevelt was able to form a coalition to support this bold new plan. TVA was born in an expression of bipartisanship from a bygone era. President Roosevelt signed the TVA Act into law on May 18, 1933. TVA is 80 years old tomorrow. Read more…
Tags: Muscle Shoals, privatization, TVA, TVA History, Wilson Dam
Installing a solar energy system on a home in Florida may soon be less of a financial headache for residential property owners. That’s because the Florida legislature recently passed House bill 277. It exempts the value of renewable energy devices from the assessed value of new and existing residential property. The bill awaits the governor’s signature to become law. The exemption not only applies to solar energy systems, but also exempts wind energy and energy derived from geothermal systems. Once signed into law, any increase in the value of residential property, for property tax purposes, can’t be attributed to the value of a newly installed renewable energy device. It applies to assessments beginning January 1, 2014. That removes homeowners’ worries that the installation of solar thermal or solar photovoltaic (PV) system will inadvertently play a role in increasing their property taxes. Read more…
Tags: Florida, renewable, solar, solar pv, sunshine state, third-party solar
This Saturday, you have the opportunity to join with thousands of other beach, marsh, and general coast lovers at your local Hands Across the Sand event. Hands Across the Sand is an international day of action on which communities come together to celebrate their treasured places and send a clear message that they want these places to be protected from the adverse impacts of risky energy choices, such as offshore drilling. More than 90 communities in 18 U.S. states and 8 countries will gather at their treasured place to send the message “NO!” to offshore drilling and risky fossil fuels, and “YES!” to clean energy.
The good news is that you can participate to help make the message ring even louder. Click here to find your local event or create an event of your own. The event is simple and fun: participants join hands along their beach (or place of their choosing), thus forming a line. This line in the sand is physical, yet it is also metaphorical; it is a way to say that you are standing up for the place you love. Read more…
Tags: beach, Clean Energy, coast, Hands Across the Sand, Offshore Drilling, U Need 2 Know
UPDATE: On Thursday, May 15, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee voted along party lines to approve Gina McCarthy’s nomination (every Republican, including all four Republican Senators from the Southeast opposed McCarthy’s nomination). Up next, McCarthy’s nomination will go before the full Senate for a vote. McCarthy will likely face a tough vote in the Senate. If a Senator decides to filibuster, McCarthy will need to garner 60 votes in order to be appointed. Please visit our action alert page and call or write your Senators and urge them to support McCarthy’s appointment as EPA Administrator.
Last Thursday, moments before a scheduled vote on the confirmation of Gina McCarthy to become Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staged a boycott. The alleged reason behind the boycott? McCarthy had not sufficiently responded five important “transparency requests.” McCarthy had, however, answered 1,079 oral and written questions in earlier confirmation hearings. Apparently, not sufficiently answering .005% of questions during a confirmation hearing is reason enough for Senate Republicans to stage a boycott. Despite both McCarthy’s exceptional background as Assistant EPA Administrator from 2009-present and as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004-2009, Republicans have decided to use any means necessary to try to roadblock McCarthy’s appointment. Luckily, for those of us concerned about public health and the health of our environment, it seems unlikely that Republicans will do more than delay McCarthy’s appointment as EPA Administrator.
Tags: Barbara Boxer, Clean Air Act, Democrats, Department of Energy, EPA, Ernest Moniz, Gina McCarthy, GOP, Linsey Graham, Obama, Republicans, senate confirmation, South Carolina, Tim Scott
Charlie Coggeshall, SACE Renewable Energy Manager, also contributed to this post.
Last month the Tennessee Valley Authority proudly announced what they considered to be good news: That their 2013 Green Power Provider (GPP) program had already met its 2013 solar application target as of April 24th. Even though there is still a strong demand for new solar systems, in less than four months the program is now completely “full” and no longer accepting solar applications for the rest of the year. Imagine how pleased they must be with the popularity of their program; then again, it’s not exactly difficult for them to meet such a small application target.
Good news? Really? Try telling that to the Tennessee Valley solar companies, who are technically “done” signing contracts for the year. The implications of this announcement are incredibly serious for the local solar industry, which will now have to withstand seven months of no new sales. How many businesses do you know that can go seven months without selling any of their product? Read more…
Tags: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Renewable Energy, solar, Tennessee, TVA