Southeast Chapters Head to Capital Cities to Say No Way to New Drilling!

This is a guest blog originally posted by Surfrider. To read the original post, click here.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released a draft of the 2019-2024 five year offshore oil drilling plan for US waters. Unfortunately, this plan calls for expanding offshore oil drilling to over 90 percent of our coastal waters!

From Maine to Florida, California to Washington State, and almost all of Alaska – no US coastal waters are safe from the impacts of offshore oil drilling if this plan gets approved. The likelihood for yet another spill is just too high to risk our coastal economies, beach vacations, marine wildlife, and pristine coastlines. This is especially true for the quaint coastal communities of America’s Southeast. Hundreds of concerned coastal community members from the Carolinas and Georgia rallied during BOEM public meetings in opposition to this dreadful plan.

Rally to Raleigh: North Carolina Residents Trek Inland for the BOEM Meeting

BOEM held its only North Carolina (NC) informational meeting on the Trump administration’s proposed offshore drilling plan – away from the coast – in Raleigh on February 26. Try as it might, this did not keep coastal voices away; instead it fired them up to skip work, pile on buses and stand out in the rain chanting in opposition to the risky, dangerous, obsolescent plan that could destroy our coastal economies and threaten our way-of-life.

About 500 people crowded a hotel ballroom near the BOEM meeting, including more than 200 coastal residents who boarded buses chartered by the Don’t Drill NC Coalition, a partnership of 13 environmental organizations in NC, of which Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter and Surfrider Outer Banks Chapter are members.

Coastal residents on one of the buses that left from the coastal town of Wilmington, NC. They were asked to wear blue to represent the coast.

The Don’t Drill NC Coalition secured a diverse line-up of speakers for the “Rally to Raleigh,” including Representative Deb Butler, whose district includes the Wilmington area beaches. “One drop of oil on our shores will cost us millions of dollars in revenue, but more importantly it would cost us a way-of-life that money cannot buy . . . no deal, no drill, not now, not ever,” she declared to the affirming crowd. Read more…

Tags: , , , ,

Bills seek to promote solar freedom in SC Legislature

Charleston Rooftop SolarSeveral bills have been introduced in the South Carolina Legislature to promote solar freedom and reduce energy costs for consumers. These bills seek to help consumers, who are now burdened with having paid for the failed $9 billion VC Summer disaster, by providing options for low-cost power and customer choice. The first of these bills will on on the House floor this week, so South Carolinians–please make sure to contact your legislators today to let them know your opinion. Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Solar in the Southeast WEBINAR (this is a recording)

Earlier this week, we hosted a webinar featuring an overview of SACE’s 2017 Solar in the Southeast Annual Report along with time for questions and answers. We recorded that webinar and you can access it here.

The report highlights solar data and trends throughout the region, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. We use a “watts per customer” metric (the amount of installed solar relative to the total number of customers served) to identify which utilities are leading (the SunRisers, as we call them) and which are lagging (aptly named, SunBlockers).

I’ll also include some of the questions (and answers) here, as well:

Read more…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Last Chance! Trump Offshore Drilling Comment Period Ends Tomorrow

Deepwater Horizon in Flames

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Tomorrow, Friday, March 9, marks the end of the comment period on President Trump’s new “drill-everywhere” offshore drilling plan. If you haven’t submitted your comments yet, visit the online comment portal here right now and let the Administration know what’s on your mind. Then please click here to send a quick letter to your state and federal elected officials, asking them to help in the fight to protect our coast.

The comment period comes after the announcement earlier this year by the Trump Administration that proposed a far-reaching expansion of offshore drilling to cover about 90% of federal ocean acreage. The entire Southeast coast–including the Atlantic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Straits of Florida–were included, as close as just three miles from shore. For so many reasons, this “drill-everywhere plan” is absolutely unacceptable.

There simply isn’t a reasonable explanation for this proposed expansion of offshore drilling. Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SunBlockers: “Solar in the Southeast” Annual Report blog series (part 5 of 5)

This is the final installment in a five-part series about the SACE “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report. To view other blogs in this series, click here.

SunBlockers – Not What The Doctor Ordered

Part 3 of this series focused on the leaders. Today, we throw some shade at the opposite end of the spectrum – the laggards.  A few of the major utility systems in the southeast exhibit rather pitiful solar ambition and are dragging down the regional averages.  Some of them are actively working to limit customers’ freedom to choose solar. Regardless of how it was earned, “SunBlocker” is not a title to be proud of.

Three major utility systems – Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Santee Cooper, and Seminole Electric Cooperative – are sticking with outdated plans with low levels of solar. Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility; and Seminole Electric, the generation and transmission entity serving rural electric coops in Florida, were already in the bottom three of our 2017 watts per customer ranking (with just 14 W/C and 17 W/C, respectively). TVA continues to actively restrict solar choice across the Tennessee Valley.

In our forecast for 2021, all three utilities, Santee Cooper, Seminole Electric, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) earn the dishonorable distinction as SunBlockers.  We apply this moniker to the bottom three major utility systems on our four-year outlook (watts per customer).

Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Drive Electric Event: Day of EV Learning in Florida

We were pleased to host the first 2018 Palm Harbor National Drive Electric Week event at the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 3, 2018. It was a tremendous success full of learning and driving electric!  It included ‘Ride and Drives’ from two dealerships: The RBC Group, Inc. and Fitzgerald Chrysler, where participants had the chance to drive electric for the very first time.  Additionally, there were nearly 20 electric drivers with their cars talking to guests and sharing their personal driving experience.  The vehicles on display included Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, BMW, and Ford.  We also had participation from three municipalities that have EVs in their fleet or are interested in electrification.  Read more…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Utility-Scale Dominance: “Solar in the Southeast” Annual Report blog series (part 4 of 5)

This is part four in a five-part series about the SACE “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report. To view other blogs in this series, click here.

Utility-Scale Dominance

Solar growth throughout the southeast region has been dominated by utility-scale projects. Unlike markets that offer customers choice in power supplies, monopoly utilities in the Southeast control nearly all solar development. In several states, utilities can and do impose inefficient or unnecessary constraints on distributed generation.

The graph to the right is also in part two of this blog series, but let’s take another look at it now, focusing on utility-scale growth. Utility-scale solar represents the vast majority of the growth we have witnessed and are forecasting for the next 4 years. Most utility-scale systems are 5 MW or larger, many exceed 50 MW.

Almost 90% of solar capacity in the southeast is from large, utility-scale systems (blue bars).  Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina are the only states projecting an appreciable amount of small-scale distributed solar (yellow bars).

Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Identifying Leaders: “Solar in the Southeast” Annual Report blog series (part 3 of 5)

This is part three in a five-part series about the SACE “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report
To view other blogs in this series, click here.

Identifying Utility Solar Leaders and “SunRisers”

A highlight of the Solar in the Southeast 2017 Annual Report was shining a light on utilities, large and small, that are moving in the right direction! Our analysis used a metric of watts per customer (W/C) to rank utilities based on how much installed solar they have (or will have) in relation to the size of their customer base. This provides an unbiased way to compare utilities of varying sizes. Based on that metric of watts per customer, we found Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas and Georgia Power to be the current utility leaders on solar power. South Carolina Electric & Gas and Tampa Electric are the most notable “SunRisers” demonstrating leading levels of planned solar growth.

Duke Energy: The report shows how far Duke Energy is already ahead of the other largest utilities in the Southeast. In 2017, Duke’s local utilities had more than double the watts per customer solar ratio of the the four electric utilities owned by Southern Company. Duke Energy Progress (DEP) is particularly solar-friendly, with eastern North Carolina offering good sites and supportive state policy environment. We project all three Duke Energy southeastern utilities to be above the regional average in 2021.

Southern Company: Georgia Power has been the initial leader within the Southern Company system – responding to a prompt from the Georgia Public Service Commission. Customer demand for solar and utility leadership further encouraged a portfolio that extends across Alabama Power, Mississippi Power, and Gulf Power in Florida, as well.

Florida Power & Light: With 4.8 million customers, FPL is the largest utility in the Southeast. In response to a clear expression of customer interest in solar with two ballot initiatives in 2016, FPL has enhanced their solar development.

Oglethorpe Power: In general, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities have been slow to adopt solar. Oglethorpe’s solar power commitment is driven by its progressive members, particularly Cobb EMC.

Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rapid Growth: “Solar in the Southeast” Annual Report blog series (part 2 of 5)

This is part two in a five-part series about the SACE “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report. To view other blogs in this series, click here.

Rapid Growth & Tremendous Potential

“The Southeast has tremendous solar potential (second only to the desert southwest) and has been experiencing near exponential solar growth for the last five years. The region will have over 10,000 MW by 2019 — and approximately 15,000 MW by 2021.

This was one of the key observations highlighted in our Solar in the Southeast 2017 Annual Report issued on February 27.  Solar has been one of the most vibrant segments of the U.S. economy and that is particularly true in the Southeast.

Case in point: The Solar Foundation recently released their National Solar Jobs Census. Solar jobs in our seven-state, Southeast region continued to increase, from 27,000 in 2016 to over 29,000 in 2017.

In 2012, the Southeast had less than 200 megawatts (MW) of solar. That has now grown to 6,000 MW (or 6 gigawatts, GW), with corresponding generation that represented about 1% of retail sales in 2017.

SACE’s forward-looking forecast is based predominantly on what utilities themselves have announced. And we anticipate  solar growth continuing to over 10 GW in 2019 and approximately 15 GW in 2021.

Distinctions Amongst The States

Solar growth in the southeast is not uniform; all states are NOT equal.  Favorable policies (legislative and regulatory) initiated growth in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.  Two major ballot initiatives in Florida (2016) enabled scale-up of solar in the Sunshine State.  Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, on the other hand, operate in a public policy vacuum. Consequently, those states projections remain less than half the region average through 2021.

North Carolina is southeast leader (#2 in the country, behind California) in solar capacity will retain that southeast leadership position through 2021.

Florida will overtake Georgia and move into the second slot based on several major utility-scale announcements from 2017.  Smaller-scale, distributed generation is vulnerable as some utilities revise their “net metering” approach.  (We’ll address challenges and opportunities for distributed generation in part four of this series.) Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Introducing SACE’s “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report (part 1 of 5)

This is the first in a five-part series about the “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report.

It should come as no surprise that some utilities in the southeast have more ambitious solar programs than others.  And with solar tariffs the federal government recently announced, it’s rather timely for us to assert that the sun is still shining on solar in the Southeast.

SACE’s inaugural “Solar in the Southeast” 2017 Annual Report demonstrates sustainable solar momentum.  The report identifies both leaders and laggards and examines the drivers behind those ambitions.


Duke Energy Progress is a clear leader with more than double the watts per customer solar ratio used to compare and contrast performance.  Progressive legislation in North Carolina enabled this leadership along with their sibling, Duke Energy Carolinas. Georgia Power’s solar programs were induced by orders of the Georgia Public Service Commission but attractive solar economics have reinforced that opportunity.

As our Executive Director, Steve Smith, stated, “Using the unbiased watts per customer metric, we are able to see which regions and utilities are planning to remain dedicated to bringing affordable solar to their customers, and those who need a serious course correction. It is our hope that this data will be used to make informed planning decisions across the board.”

Some of the large utility systems have seen the light and others remain in the dark. Our large utility ranking covers 13 systems that directly or indirectly serve more than 500,000 customers each. Read more…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,