Guest Blog: Researchers recently confirmed that Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, has been funding dozens of climate denial groups, including the “Dr. Evil” mastermind behind a number of vicious, over-the-top attacks against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Power Plan. The latest revelations from Peabody’s bankruptcy court documents show the unprecedented extent to which big polluters like Peabody went to subvert climate action.
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently taking comments on updates to the Regional Haze Rule. Click here and let EPA know that you want a stronger Regional Haze Rule to protect air quality in national parks and wilderness areas in the Southeast – including our nation’s most visited national park- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
If our air isn’t clean, our communities can’t be healthy.
I grew up just outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the gateway community to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where my dad worked as the chief scientist. Growing up in the Smokies, clean air was essential to the health of the national park, visitors and local residents, and the economy. But on some summer days growing up, although you were in one of our nation’s crown jewel national parks, it was unhealthy to go on a hike, and you couldn’t see the next ridgeline, due to air pollution. Much of that pollution was coming from old, outdated coal-fired power plants nearby.
We weren’t alone – national parks and other special places around the country suffer from high rates of air pollution worse on some days than the pollution in our biggest cities. Why are our parks and communities suffering from this pollution?
Even utilities in our notoriously coal-dependent Southeast are getting in on the action. Duke Energy, one of the two biggest utilities in our region, in late April announced plans to increase its renewable energy capacity to 8,000 megawatts by 2020, up by one-third over previous targets. “We’re finding that it’s competitive” on a cost basis, Duke Energy company spokesman Randy Wheeless has said of renewables. “It makes good business sense.” The Atlanta-based Southern Company, parent company of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power, intends to exceed its previously announced renewables totals for 2017 and 2018 and just bought a North Carolina company, PowerSecure, that focuses on distributed generation—smaller-scale local power often provided by renewable sources—along with energy efficiency. NextEra Energy, based in Juno, Florida and the parent of that state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light (FPL), is a national leader in wind power development. “We continue to believe that the fundamentals for the North American renewables business have never been stronger,” NextEra Executive Vice President of Finance and CFO John Ketchum said on an April 28th earnings call.
Certainly some risk exists with wind turbines; however, the risk from wind farms appears to be less than being struck by lightning and certainly less dangerous than fossil fuels. Still, wind developers have a responsibility to ensure projects are built to meet or exceed safety standards and to benefit the local communities.
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.
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.
We recently went down to New Orleans to finalize all the plans for AWEA WINDPOWER 2016 Conference & Exhibition, opening just two weeks from today. It’s the first time our annual conference has come to the Big Easy, and I wanted to show you firsthand how everything is shaping up to make for a tremendous event- more sessions, exhibitors, speakers, networking opportunities and attendees than last year. I hope you can all join us for the “refreshed” conference this year and experience what it means to be a part of #GenerationWind.
This is a guest post originally written by Robin W. Smith for the SmithEnvironment Blog. Smith is a lawyer with more than 25 years of experience in environmental law and policy. Before starting a private environmental law and consulting firm in 2013, Smith served as Assistant Secretary for Environment at the North Carolina Department of [...]
I find it sad that the North Carolina Department of Transportation would even consider making it difficult for Charlotte residents to purchase an American-built, Motor Trend Car of the Year that has sourced from over 30 manufacturers in North Carolina.
Free market economics is touted by conservatives, and yet almost routinely now we are seeing legislation being introduced across the United States designed solely to block the competition that Tesla is bringing to the old guard. Has everyone forgotten that it is unconstitutional to regulate interstate commerce?
2016 is the year to act on wind power in a big way and the clock is ticking. At the end of 2015, Congress passed a long-term phaseout of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy – a key federal incentive for the industry that continues to drive down the cost of wind energy.