Conservative, Free Market Response to Climate

Bob Inglis, former South Carolina Representative, visiting Antarctica. Source: Merchants of Doubt

Former Congressman Bob Inglis is back in the spotlight as he’s featured in the new documentary, Merchants of Doubt. As summarized in a Dallas Observer movie review, even after losing his South Carolina Congressional seat, Inglis continues to “press the conservative case for not recklessly destroying the world. The film’s most upsetting scene finds Inglis attempting to talk sense to Paul Gallo, a Mississippi talk-radio blowhard.”

I think its worth highlighting that Congressman Inglis is spreading vision and strong leadership, along with a sampling of calm explanation of science and economics. So I thought I’d highlight one of his recent remarks, from the Energy and Enterprise Initiative blog.

… conservative leaders will have to move to actual faith. They’ll need to believe in the power of free enterprise. They’ll need to believe that we could eliminate all subsidies for all fuels and attach all costs to all fuels. They’ll need to believe that citizens, in the liberty of enlightened self-interest, can drive innovation once marketplaces are made transparent and fossil fuels are held accountable for socializing soot.
If they can complete that journey of faith, conservatives will enter the competition of ideas with an alternative to command and control regulation. If we fail to enter the competition and if the country decides to act on climate, we risk losing a tremendous opportunity for free enterprise. Read more…

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Massive Wind Power Opportunities for Tennessee

Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm, Tennessee

This post is the second in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here.

New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Tennessee. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!

New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind turbine development in Tennessee with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Tennessee.  The shading on the map below represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 60,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exists in Tennessee. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Tennessee (just 1.7% of Tennessee’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!

Tennessee Wind Energy Resources

This map shows some of the areas with wind resources suited for development with newer, taller turbines. Source: Adapted from NREL's 110 meter hub height wind speed map for areas achieving 35% capacity factors or greater (November, 2014).

Read more…

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While state officials fight it, North Carolina continues down Clean Power path

This guest blog, authored by Luis Martinez, was originally posted on NRDC’s Switchboard Blog.

New analysis by the Natural Resource Defense Council shows that North Carolina’s Clean Energy Future is strong. Our analysis shows that by continuing its transition away from coal and meeting the requirements of its clean energy standard, North Carolina will achieve about 90% of the reductions required by the Clean Power Plan with nine years left until the 2030 deadline. And renewed commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy will help the state achieve the goals while generating more jobs and less pollution. So while some naysayers, including the head of North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), continue to work actively to derail the plan, it will help the state continue on a path it set for itself well over a decade ago.

Read more…

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Charleston, SC Says No To Offshore Drilling and Seismic Testing

The author delivering comments on offshore drilling to Charleston Mayor Riley and City Council.

Last night, the City Council of Charleston, South Carolina passed a resolution to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic. The resolution is timely as the U.S. Department of Interior has recently proposed opening the Atlantic to offshore drilling and is seeking comments on the proposal until Tuesday, March 30. Charleston’s resolution will be passed on to the Dept. of Interior as an indication of local opposition to their proposal.

Charleston’s resolution is the ninth such resolution to come from South Carolina municipalities since last year and joins Port Royal, Beaufort, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Town of James Island, James Island Public Service District, Sullivans Island, and Isle of Palms in expressing formal opposition.  These South Carolina towns are among the 45 municipalities up and down the Atlantic coast that have expressed opposition to offshore oil & gas extraction and/or seismic exploration.

In addition to the municipal resolutions, a number of counties and chambers of commerce have also passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and/or seismic exploration, and other municipalities have expressed opposition in ways other than a resolution, such as writing letters to state and federal regulators. Read more…

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The Burden: What solar can do to lift it

The Burden is premiering this Friday at the Environmental Film Festival in D.C.

This is a guest post written by Alissa Jean Schafer, Marketing & Media Director of the US Solar Institute. The original post can be viewed here.  

Solar is a matter of national security and saving lives. This statement may sound like a dramatic hyperbole, but it’s not. Dependence upon oil is one of the costliest and deadliest threats that the U.S. military currently faces, and development of clean energy, such as solar, is key to reducing this threat and keeping our men and women in uniform safe. That’s the truth, not an exaggeration.

Premiering this Friday at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C., The Burden is a groundbreaking documentary that gives an up-close view of this important side of solar.

Currently one out of every 24 military convoys results in a casualty. The mission of the majority of those convoys is to deliver or secure fuel. As a result, the death toll of our men and women who have died over oil is staggering. In addition to the lives lost, the cost to obtain and protect oil around the world is very high: $85 billion annually, about 17% of Defense Department’s total budget.

Read more…

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TVA 2015 Draft IRP Views Clean Energy Through a Blurred Lens

If you’re like me, you are nostalgic for the days when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) brought innovation, increased economic development and low-cost energy to the Tennessee Valley.  TVA’s recently released draft 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) outlines five alternate energy scenarios under which TVA could implement various resource planning strategies to meet both short- and long-term energy demands. Unfortunately, TVA’s draft IRP does not renew its legacy and instead undervalues critical cost-effective options that would help families and businesses cut energy bills.

We applaud TVA’s efforts to retire coal units during the 2015 IRP planning process, but we continue to feel that TVA did not balance its need for capacity with thoughtful analysis on how much replacement capacity was actually necessary. This resulted in TVA’s decisions to make significant investments in large natural gas plants (at ParadiseAllen) and in retrofitting old coal units (at Shawnee).

TVA continues to view clean energy resources through a blurred lens. TVA underestimated performance and over-estimated costs of energy efficiency, resulting in a draft 2015 IRP that contains less energy efficiency than the 2011 IRP. By including artificial constraints and unnecessary growth caps, TVA improperly devalued the merits of energy efficiency. To TVA’s credit, there was a significant amount of effort with stakeholders to bring forth wind data that would accurately reflect the dynamic nature of wind energy based on the latest technologies and current market trends. Unfortunately, TVA ultimately chose outdated wind data, resulting in a draft IRP that includes very little low-cost wind energy.

Read more…

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Driving on Sunshine: Get Charged Up in Asheville!

SACE member Jim Carillon charging his Nissan Leaf at the Asheville office

As part of SACE’s ongoing commitment and efforts to demonstrate clean energy technology, we have now installed a new electric vehicle (EV) charging station at our Asheville office.

The unit is a GE Durastation dual cord EV charger installed in partnership with Brightfield Transportation Solutions.  The level 2 charging station is capable of charging a vehicle from 0-100% in ~4-8 hours assuming a 24kwh battery. The station is located just off I-240 in downtown Asheville. It is open to the public and currently free to charge.

The opportunity to add a charging station at our Asheville office was an obvious next step to our efforts to green our offices. Our Asheville office is also powered by solar power from a 7.8 kW-dc (6.9 kW-ac) system, making the charging station a way to help Ashevillians and passersby fuel up their EVs with clean energy.

SACE also has two Blink charging stations at our Knoxville office installed as part of the Department of Energy’s EV project. The addition of the Asheville EV charger will also allow SACE staff to charge our plug-in hybrid company car, a Chevrolet Volt, and is part of SACE’s overall efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and support our local communities.

Electric vehicles (EVs) like the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, and many others are meeting the needs of most Americans today, cutting oil use, reducing emissions and supporting local economic development. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), EVs have the potential to reduce U.S oil use by 1.5 million barrels a day by 2035 and save drivers thousands of dollars in fuel–up to $13,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle over a gasoline vehicle. Read more…

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Wind Turbine Pair Installed on Paris’ Eiffel Tower

Two new wind turbines have been installed on the Eiffel Tower

This post is part of the “Prelude to Paris” series highlighting updates and analysis on international climate negotiations in the lead up to the United Nations climate change conference – the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) — to be held in Paris this December. Other posts in the series are available here.

Paris, the city of lights, will now have a slightly greener hue to its lumens. Two small scale wind turbines were recently erected on the Eiffel Tower and avoid several of the pitfalls of the “Turbine Tree” that is planned to be installed in Paris later this year. For example, the two turbines are installed on the Eiffel Tower some 400 feet up – meaning they will capture stronger winds and produce more electricity. The turbines also match the Tower’s color and likely won’t attract additional bird attention.

But the turbines are still very small. The two should be able to produce just about enough power for the Tower’s first floor (or about as much as an average American home). Based on the turbine specifications, each of the 3.2 kilowatt turbines would be expected to achieve an 18% capacity factor with average annual wind speeds of approximately 20 miles per hour (9 meters per second). Alternatively, a utility-scale wind turbine could generate enough power for nearly 600 homes with capacity factors reaching nearly 100% in a similar wind regime (meaning the utility-scale wind turbine would nearly always be generating at maximum potential).

So why do we care about small wind turbines in France?

Read more…

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Taller Turbines: Big win(d) for Georgia

This map shows some of the areas with wind resources suited for development with newer, taller turbines. Source: Adapted from NREL's 110 meter hub height wind speed map for areas achieving 35% capacity factors or greater (November, 2014). For the full map, visit: http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/pdfs/wind_maps/ga_110m_potential.pdf

This is the first post in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here.

New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Georgia. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!

New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind energy development in Georgia with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Georgia. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 8,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exists in Georgia.  Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Georgia (one-eighth of Georgia’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!

Read more…

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Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been working to highlight the benefits offered by clean energy resources to vulnerable communities.  In a new set of fact sheets, NRDC lays out how the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan offers serious benefits to low-income and fixed-income households.  Although the fossil fuel industry and its allies insist that cutting carbon emission from our nation’s power sector will increase energy costs, the truth is that a transition to a cleaner energy future can potentially save Americans an average of 8% off their utility bills.  For the average customer, that 8% in savings translates to annual savings of around $100.  These savings are critically important for low- and fixed-income families who spend a much higher percentage of their income on energy costs.   Read more…

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