TVA Puts Solar In its Place – Just Outside Memphis!

Where’s the best place for solar energy? It may not seem obvious to many readers, but Memphis, Tennessee is one of the smartest places to put solar energy in the Southeast. Just this week, TVA showed how it is following this kind of smart siting by signing a a 53 megawatt (MW) solar facility power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nashville-based renewable energy provider, Silicon Ranch Corporation, to construct what will be Tennessee’s largest solar array in Millington, TN, just north of Memphis.

What’s so smart about putting solar in the western part of TVA’s service territory? It turns out that on hot summer days, TVA can rely on the sun shining on West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi late into the day – producing solar energy just when air conditioners across the entire Tennessee Valley most needs this clean energy to keep folks cool.

Big Errors in Measuring Carbon Emissions from Power Plants

What’s the single largest source of CO2 emissions in the Southeast? A 10 million ton data discrepancy! What? Huh? Why is a data discrepancy a blog? (UPDATE: Please see responses to reader suggestions at at the end, as well as in the comments.) President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will eventually regulate the emission of carbon [...]

EDF videos the unfolding natural gas disaster in California

Environmental Defense Fund has released a video of an awful, enormous natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon. Many people are drawing a close connection between fracking and the increased rate of leaks being discovered. The problem of methane leaks has been around for decades, but with federal attention and new technology, hopefully we will begin [...]

In Praise of Climate Scientists

“We once saw planets as nothing more than wanderers in the night sky,” writes Adam Frank, but today we have “learned to read entire worlds.” What beautiful writing. I still remember how wonderful and exciting it was to understand how just a few simple equations could describe our planet’s atmosphere with surprising detail and, yes, [...]

Natural Gas Leaks Echo Decade-Old Finding

Reviewing the media coverage of EPA’s proposed natural gas emission standard rule in September, I was struck by some findings that echoed research from a decade ago. It seems that emissions of natural gas, like many other pollutants from the oil, gas, chemical and refining industry, are often systematically underreported.

Washington takes action to stop leaks – of natural gas

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed rule to control methane leaks from oil and gas facilities. This action follows a multi-year effort to better understand how methane was being leaked from natural gas wells, both conventional and fracked, as well as the pipelines and processing facilities that lie between users and wells. [...]

If TVA Reinvented its Fire

One of the questions I often get asked is what it would take for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA),  or any other large utility, to move to 100% renewable energy and energy efficiency. That question comes up more and more often as people learn about TVA’s  2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Even though TVA’s IRP [...]

Low Cost Path for Southern Company to Comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

With the US Environmental Protection Agency poised to release its final Clean Power Plan rule, some utilities have raised alarm about the rule’s cost. Some of those same voices have raised alarms about reliability, but as I wrote in May, cutting carbon pollution won’t make the sky fall. Today we release Cleaner Energy for Southern Company, [...]

How much “backup power” is needed for solar and wind?

Answer: None. Not if the utility is planning correctly! Ok, that was a smart-aleck answer. But I’ve got a point: When people talk about a “backup,” they tend to think of a one-for-one replacement. I remember when my kids were in diapers, and I had to carry four diapers for a long day out, just [...]

Do Southeastern utilities deserve high marks for helping manufacturing?

Site Selection magazine’s annual rankings of top utilities for economic development routinely features the four large Southeastern utilities: Southern Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. But is there room for improvement? YES! In the Southeast, utilities’ energy efficiency programs, and overall utility planning, fail to focus on critical manufacturing growth issues. [...]