SACE’s Asheville NC office catches a buzz (or several thousand)

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy welcomed a few thousand new residents to their Asheville office this month. Two beehives, each housing roughly 3,000 bees at the start, now reside on a small porch overlooking Orchard Street, near downtown Asheville. Officially acknowledged as a Bee City USA, Asheville and several other cities around the U.S. have opened their community to honeybees and other pollinators, touting the economic and environmental benefits. We are thrilled to be part of the movement to support healthy honeybees and healthy ecosystems/communities!

But for SACE staffer Sarah Gilliam, who is the resident beekeeper in the Asheville office, honeybees are more than just bullet points on a fact sheet.

“We need bees as a living, eating species. No doubt about that,” said Gilliam. “But more importantly, becoming a beekeeper has taught me so much about slowing down, being patient and giving back to world around us.”

The two hives in Asheville are not the only ones maintained by SACE staff. SACE’s Executive Director, Dr. Stephen Smith, who was a practicing veterinarian before his career in the environmental arena, also has hives in his backyard in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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#InTheirOwnWords: Wind Power’s Benefits to the South in Burgeoning “Generation Wind”

This blog entry is one in a series from the Southern Wind Energy Association, attending and live blogging at the American Wind Energy Association’s 2016 WINDPOWER Conference and Expo in New Orleans.  

We’re off to a great start this year at AWEA’s conference in New Orleans! This year’s conference is centered around the theme “Generation Wind.” With the renewal of the Production Tax Credit and policy stability in the industry, attendees are gearing up for the next phase of wind power to begin. But what does “Generation Wind” mean to our Southern region? Over the past five years, wind turbine technology has significantly improved. Taller turbines with longer blades are now better capable of harnessing the power of the wind. These new turbines operate more reliably, more predictably and at lower costs. Thus, we believe that the next generation of wind power is here in the South.

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Remembering a champion for clean, safe energy: Michael Mariotte

This is a difficult blog post to publish given the sadness and loss we are all feeling due to the recent death of a long-time champion of clean, safe energy, Michael Mariotte, who passed away last week from pancreatic cancer. For many decades, Michael led a close ally group of ours, Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS), and here at SACE we are thinking of Michael’s family and friends, the amazing NIRS staff and Board and all of those who worked with him internationally to bring about change – away from a polluting, dangerous energy infrastructure to one that can safely and affordably provide truly clean energy choices that can reduce global warming pollution. I was fortunate enough to work with Michael since I was first hired back in 1999 and he was always available to answer questions, offer advice and support, and develop winning strategies. So many clean energy advocates across the world can point to Michael as their mentor and inspiration. I was fortunate enough to attend the Lifetime Achievement award reception for him in fall 2014, which SACE also supported. With much appreciation to carry his torch, we thank him, his family and NIRS for all the amazing work he did and continues to do through all of us. Excerpts of the extensive obituaries that ran in the New York Times today and previously in the Washington Post, are below. No Nukes Michael! –Sara Barczak

From the New York Times:

Michael Mariotte, a Leading Antinuclear Activist, Dies at 63

Michael Mariotte, a leading national opponent of nuclear power and an advocate for alternative, sustainable sources of energy, died on May 16 at his home in Kensington, Md. He was 63.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife, Tetyana Murza, said.

As executive director and president of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Takoma Park, Md., for three decades, Mr. Mariotte was at the forefront of two successful landmark efforts: to prevent the repeal of a federal ban on interstate shipment of radioactive waste, and to bar the construction of new nuclear plants in Maryland and Louisiana. Read more…

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Guest Post: N.C. DEQ asks for new deadline to finalize coal ash storage classifications

This is a guest blog from the Southern Environmental Law Center, an organization who uses the power of the law to champion all the things you love about the South: clean water, healthy air, mountains, forests, rural countryside, and the coast. To view the original post, go here.

Last week, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released new classifications for Duke Energy’s coal ash storage across the state. In the rankings, all sites are listed as high or intermediate priority, meaning the ash would be excavated by 2019 or 2024. Yet DEQ has asked to be able to revise the plan in 18 months, providing little security to the many North Carolinians whose communities, drinking water, and homes are threatened by this toxic ash.

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North Carolina’s Secret Agenda to Destroy Renewable Energy

Under this proposed legislation, a solar farm like this one above would have never been built. Credit: SAS Institute

Jennifer Rennicks, SACE’s NC Liaison and Director of Policy and Communications, contributed to this post.

North Carolina has been a lightning rod for controversy over the past few months with its passage of the anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” House Bill 2, as well as litigation in federal courts over gerrymandered congressional districts and new voter ID laws. While the media and pundits have been totally consumed with the bathroom bill, gerrymandered districts and voter ID laws, anti-renewable energy forces have launched a secret plan to kill wind energy and solar power in North Carolina.

North Carolina’s Senate Bill 843 was introduced recently and, if implemented, would flush the state’s vibrant renewable energy industry down the toilet. In 2015, North Carolina ranked 3rd in the nation for total solar installed due in large part to the 2007 state energy bill which included a Renewable Energy & Efficiency Portfolio Standard. When the anti-wind energy activists demanded that Chowan County, North Carolina, officials pass regulations that seem eerily similar to the egregious SB843, the county officials called the measures “preposterous.” Since the anti-clean energy activists failed at the local level, they’re working with state legislators to do their bidding. Read more…

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Sen. Alexander: Enough With the Hot Air, Stop Bashing Wind Power

Yet again, Tennessee senior senator, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), has channelled his inner Don Quixote and is tilting at windmills – well, wind turbines to be exact.  Just this week he took to the Senate floor in Washington, D.C. to bash wind energy using his same old outdated arguments. Sen. Alexander has now set his sites on a proposed wind farm in Cumberland County, TN.

In his latest anti-wind campaign, Sen. Alexander used a photo of a poorly planned and outdated Palm Springs, CA wind project to bolster his claim that the proposed Crab Orchard Wind Project, pursued by Apex Clean Energy, would ruin the scenic views and environment in Cumberland County. But where is Sen. Alexander’s outrage with actual projects in Tennessee that are currently ruining communities’ scenic views and threatening the surrounding environment??? Read more…

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A Perfect Storm for Southern Wind Power Purchases?

This blog is part of the Southern Wind Energy Association’s Windy Wednesday series leading up to the wind energy industry’s largest annual event, WINDPOWER 2016, being hosted in New Orleans May 23-26. Registration and details available here. You can read the other blogs in this series by clicking on #WindyWednesday.

This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.

New turbine technology is more suitable for the south:

Over the past five years, wind turbine technology has significantly improved. Taller turbines with longer blades are now better capable of harnessing the power of the wind. These new turbines operate more reliably, more predictably and at lower costs. Wind energy costs have declined by about 61% since 2009. The south is beginning to see renewed interest in developing wind farms in the region, and just this year North Carolina broke ground on its first wind farm.

Read more…

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FPL Rate Hike Public Hearings – Don’t Miss ‘Em

Hey FPL customers -

You’ll have a rare opportunity in June to have your voices heard – don’t miss it!

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) – the agency charged with regulating the state’s biggest power companies, including Florida Power & Light (FPL) – will be in your community to get your take on whether FPL deserves to increase the base rate on your bills by 24%. If this rate hike is approved by the PSC, you will be paying an additional $15 per month – which includes a higher profit for FPL shareholders. It is one of the largest rate increase requests ever –  a $1.3 billion rate hike.

FPL states in its request to the PSC that its shareholders deserve to be rewarded extra for providing superior customer value and wants to increase its shareholder profit from 10.5% to 11.5%. Since this is a “midpoint” profit target, shareholders could end up earning up to 12.5% profit (11.5% plus or minus 1%). By the way, FPL had a net income (profit) last year of $1.65 billion. While the Company has a right to make money, it also has an obligation to be a good partner with its customers.

Check out the dates below for the scheduled public hearing in your community. Read more…

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New Shell Oil Spill in the Gulf Underscores Need to Transition to Clean Energy

Photo Courtesy NOAA

An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reported on Friday serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of perpetuating the fossil fuel era through risky offshore drilling. Shell spilled more than 88,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf last week from its Brutus Platform, 90 miles south of Louisiana’s coast. The spill was caused by a leak in a subsea flowline and was identified by an aerial survey, which spotted the large slick on the water’s surface.

This spill is large but is just one of thousands of spills that happen each year in the Gulf, where petroleum and associated industries are firmly rooted by offshore oil development. It serves as a reminder that such development comes with large costs and underscores the importance of hastening the transition of our energy system to clean, renewable energy.

We all have an opportunity to publicly demonstrate our political will for a transition to clean energy this Saturday, May 21, at local Hands Across the Sand events.

Hands Across the Sand is a grassroots global movement to call for the protection of our shores from the impacts of offshore drilling and demonstrate support for clean, renewable energy. Dozens of events will take place throughout the Southeast, across the country, and around the world. Will you join hands with your community to show your support for the movement? Find your local event at


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Eyes on the Prize: EPA Moves Forward on Clean Energy Despite Paused Clean Power Plan

As April came to an end, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a strong signal that it wasn’t going to let the current political and legal battle keep it from moving some of the voluntary parts of the Clean Power Plan forward.

EPA sent a proposal related to the voluntary early-action incentive program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review – the next step in the policy-making process. EPA recognizes that technological innovation in the clean energy sector is driving development of clean energy resources and if EPA wants to keep pace with the growing science, it must continuing moving forward. Utilities and regulators should take a cue from EPA and continue to work together to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the Southeast’s electricity sector – or risk being left behind.  Read more…

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