Southeastern states may soon have an added incentive for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that directly benefit low-income communities and utility customers. These potential new incentives come in the form of draft federal regulatory language, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize as part of the entire rulemaking process for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
This program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), is an early-action, voluntary piece of the larger CPP aimed at ensuring communities who suffered the negative effects of fossil-fuel energy generation and economically disadvantaged communities see real benefits from increased clean energy development. Although utilities, state agencies, industry, and the general public have all weighed in on pieces of the CEIP in previous CPP related comment period, the current EPA document open for comment will become the official design details for the CEIP. Comments can be sent directly to EPA (info on how to do that here) and are due by 11:59pm, Monday, August 29th.
Despite the setback delivered by the Supreme Court’s stay, action around the Clean Power Plan has not disappeared. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency’s historic regulation is on the verge of another public input period and is also the focus of a recent Harvard study.
What’s more, EPA has a new proposal out and an upcoming public comment period related to the voluntary early-action piece of the Clean Power Plan, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP). After hearing from stakeholders during a previous public comment period that ended in mid-December 2015, EPA has made some significant changes to the proposed CEIP. Most importantly, EPA has expanded the range of projects eligible for CEIP participation to include solar projects implemented to serve low-income communities.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is ready to move ahead with plans to demolish it’s Widows Creek coal plant located in Stevenson, Alabama. In accordance with environmental regulations, TVA analyzed environmental impacts associated with various demolition and closure options and released it’s Final Environmental Impact Statement in early June.
TVA will use controlled explosions to raze Units 1-8 at the plant and will work to ensure all hazardous materials and potential safety hazards are removed. Demolition will begin in late 2017, making way for the much heralded Google Data Center that will be built at the former coal plant site. Google announced it’s plans to build its 14th data enter back in June 2015 and plans to power the facility with 100% renewable energy. The data center will provide 75-100 new full-time jobs and is a welcome economic development opportunity for Northern Alabama.
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 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???
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.
This Earth Day, we take a moment to recognize that clean energy solutions can not only help save our planet from the devastation of extreme climate change, but also help save families from suffering due to high energy costs. Just this week, Memphis, TN was named one of the top 10 cities with the highest energy burden in the country in a new report, with Memphians spending an average of just over 6% of their income on energy bills. This percentage more than doubles for low-income families in Memphis, with those families paying over 13% of their income on utility bills – the highest in the country! Families with high energy burdens suffer significant negative health impacts and economic hardship. They face greater risks for respiratory diseases and increased stress, and too often have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping their lights on.
Last week, more than 50 state and county governments, representing 28 states, along with global tech leaders like Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, joined the list of groups filing briefs in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
As reported in a previous blog, our nation’s best hope at reigning in dangerous carbon pollution from our energy sector was put on pause when the Supreme Court made a recent, unprecedented ruling. This speed bump, however, has not caused supporters of the Clean Power Plan to abandon ship. Instead, advocate groups, major companies and city and county governments have joined the legal battle to help bolster EPA as it fights industry and coal dependent states in the courts.
Despite the fact that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) actually reduced its incentives for its 2016 distributed solar program, TVA has awarded 16.7 megawatts (MWs) of distributed solar capacity to four lucky local power companies (LPCs). These LPCs, located in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, applied through TVA’s Distributed Solar Solutions pilot program that recently rolled out in January 2016. This Distributed Solar Solutions program is one of the outcomes of a recent TVA stakeholder discussion and study.
Today, at a live event in the Rose Garden, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Reminding everyone that “people don’t stop working during their last term,” President Obama urged Senators to act in a bipartisan fashion and move forward with nomination hearings in order to fill the vacant seat left on the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February.
Although there is sure to be a political battle around the nomination, we look to Judge Garland’s record on environmental issues to shed some light on how the Supreme Court may handle future environmental cases, like the current challenge to the Clean Power Plan pending in the lower court.
If climate change deniers see it as a threat to their efforts to stymie climate action, then you know it’s a powerful tool. Clean Air Act Section 115 is the latest EPA statute targeted by those working to keep America from becoming a true leader in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and stave off some of the worst impacts of climate change.
In early February 2016, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa) introduced legislation that would repeal Section 115, but provides no basis, at least in the text of the bill, for why the Section is improper. In his accompanying statement, Rep. Perry makes the worn-out argument of EPA overreach as well as the seemingly baseless claim that any action under Section 115 would “threaten the reliability and viability of our nation’s energy sector.”
Section 115, previously enacted by Congress as part of the larger statute, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to compel states to reduce air emissions that “contribute to health or welfare problems in other countries” as long as those countries are also enacting regulations to limit said air emissions.