Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – May 25th 2018

If you are able to enjoy an extra day with friends and family for Memorial Day, please remember the fallen men and women of the armed forces. We are indebted to their sacrifice in protecting our nation. If you are traveling, we wish you a safe journey and hope those miles are in an electric vehicle,  lessening our dependence on oil!

Below is a our weekly EV roundup newsletter that we will begin to also offer through our blog. We hope you will find the information valuable.

This has been a busy week in the EV world with many responses to the op-ed that POLITICO ran questioning the environmental benefit of electric vehicles (EVs). Many of our partners have responded correcting the misinformation by the author who is trying to fain concern for climate change when he is a documented climate denier.

Read more…

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Joining Hands in Support of Clean Energy

Dory Larsen, SACE’s Electric Vehicle Program Associate, contributed to this blog.

 

As a part of a growing global movement to protest offshore drilling, deep water drilling and offshore seismic testing, SACE participated in Hands Across the Sand events across the Southeast last Saturday, May 19.

In Florida, thousands joined hands to say no to offshore drilling and yes to clean energy, including several elected officials who participated at Clearwater Beach: U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, County Commissioners Pat Gerard and Janet Long, and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist.

Several other environmental advocacy groups, including Sea Shepherd, Suncoast Sierra Club’s Florida ChapterEnvironment FloridaSuncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalitionthe Suncoast Surfrider Foundationthe Center for Biological DiversityOrganize Tampa and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper also teamed up to raise awareness about clean energy. Despite weather-related cancellations in other cities, Clearwater Beach offered sunshine and blue skies.

A press conference was held before joining hands, and Senator Bill Nelson spoke out about offshore drilling to a cheering crowd on the beach’s white sand. “We all are joining hands in a symbolic recognition that we’re going to keep our Gulf clean, and we’re going to keep oil and gas drilling away from this eastern Gulf of Mexico,” Senator Nelson said, “And I’ll tell you, as long as I’m around, there’s not going to be any oil rigs out there.”

Click the image to see a video from this event or click here.

The event was about more than demonstrating disapproval of offshore drilling, though. It was an opportunity to work toward tangible solutions. More than 20 beachgoers signed the NextCar Pledge at the event, promising to learn more about driving electric and to consider an electric vehicle for their next car purchase. Today gasoline vehicles are the source of more carbon emissions than all of our power plants combined, and driving electric is one concrete way we can all help to reduce the demand for offshore drilling. Read more…

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Attend Meeting on Operating FPL’s Polluting Turkey Point Facility for 80 Years

Pictured: Turkey Point’s cooling canals system, which were originally permitted in the 1970s.

 

Are you concerned about decades more pollution from FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant threatening Biscayne Bay and your drinking water?

FPL wants to operate Turkey Point for another 20 years beyond the current license expiration of 2033. FPL is the first utility in the country to submit a Subsequent License Renewal Application (SLRA) with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). If approved, FPL could operate the reactors for an unprecedented 80 years, until 2053, which would make them the longest operating reactors in the U.S.

The NRC will hold two public meetings, identical in format, to hear from you about local issues and concerns that should be considered as they develop the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Find FPL’s application here.

Some of our concerns over FPL’s plan include:

  • There has never been a license extended in the U.S. for a nuclear facility for the length that FPL is requesting (80 years in total).
  • If FPL wants to run Turkey Point for decades longer, they should at least use current technology, such as cooling towers, to protect our water resources.
  • There is no other nuclear facility in the world that uses a cooling canal system that is currently being used at FPL’s Turkey Point facility.
  • FPL plans to continue operating the failing cooling canal system (pictured above) that is already polluting Biscayne Bay and threatening our region’s drinking water aquifer.
  • Miami-Dade is ground zero for climate change impacts such as sea level rise. How will FPL protect the plant and highly radioactive nuclear waste that is stored on-site?

Please attend and voice your concerns! The scoping meetings will be held on May 31, 2018. The meetings will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the City of Homestead City Hall, 100 Civic Court, Homestead, FL 33030. There will be an open house one hour before each session for members of the public to meet with NRC staff and sign in to speak.

Can’t attend? The NRC will be taking written comments on this proposal but we don’t have all the details at this time. Sign up here to receive an action alert in the coming weeks!

Find more information on Turkey Point, click here. Have questions? Contact George Cavros, george@cleanenergy.org

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Taking a Memorial Weekend Road Trip? Increase Your MPG through Driving Habits

If you are going to join millions in hitting the road this Memorial Day Weekend, you can squeeze more miles-per-gallon (MPG) from your vehicle by changing a few things about the way you drive. Improving driving habits can reduce the amount of time spent on the road, prevent pollution from the tailpipe, and reduce the amount of fuel used per trip – saving you time and money!

Consolidating trips: When using your vehicle to visit multiple locations, thinking about all the stops along the way can help to reduce the amount of time spent on the road. For instance, travel to the furthest location first and work your way back home, stopping at the next closest location along the way. This method will reduce the amount of time you spend overlapping along the same route. Less time on the road means less fuel and less emissions!

Carpooling: Carpooling, or ride-sharing, is one way to reduce fuel usage that is fairly simple, and has been successfully utilized in previous times of national fuel shortages. Sharing a ride with a friend, or multiple friends, is a great way to get more cars off the road and reduce the amount of total fuel used in a given trip. For example, having four people ride in one car is (quite obviously) much more fuel efficient than having four people ride in four cars, or two people in two cars, etc.

Read more…

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Whites Creek High Senior Inspired by Solar

Jalaysia and prom date Manny, who’s lead student designer for this project, pose for the camera.

This blog is a guest post by Jalaysia Hagewood, a graduating senior at Whites Creek High School in Nashville, TN. Jalaysia and her classmates are designing and building the Whites Creek Solar Farm, a 13.2 kilo-watt array designed and built by students, as part of their course work within the  school’s Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability and Logistics. The groundbreaking was celebrated on May 17.

Being a Senior in the alternative energy path at Whites Creek High School has been a very exciting experience thus far. In the last year we’ve embarked on a journey into solar energy. From coming up with an idea to benefit our community, winning the Ford STEAM community challenge, traveling to Detroit to meet with CEOs and do presentations for huge crowds, to then coming home and starting our award-winning project.

Our teacher, Dr. Gibson, introduced to us the Ford STEAM Community Challenge and tasked our class with coming up with an idea to fit the criteria of the challenge. We had to come up with an idea that would help benefit our community. We had won a previous competition through Ford for our idea to drive from Canada to Florida only on biofuels made in our class. However, this time we had to do something completely different in order to wow everyone at Ford for another year in a row. It took a while for us to have an idea that we wanted to stick with. At first, we leaned towards doing something along the lines of using hydrogen but felt like it was too close to what we had done the previous year. Then we decided to try our hand at a solar themed project. We settled on building a solar farm on the property of our school. Our class wanted to make running Whites Creek more efficient even if the change wasn’t drastic, every little bit still mattered. With this idea we won for a second year. The time had come to put our plans into motion. Read more…

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Can you win this Bluff the Reader game?

Here are two recent websites.

Can you guess which one is real news and which one is the hoax? No Googling and put your answers in as a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for playing!

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My Statement to the TVA Board on Major Rate Change Approved May 10, 2018

On May 10, 2018, one week before the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 85th anniversary, I made the trip to historic Muscle Shoals, Alabama in order to publicly deliver my comments to the TVA board meeting before their planned vote on their rate restructuring policy, which includes a new mandatory fee on the wholesale rate of electricity charged by TVA to their 154 captive local power companies.

You can read my comments in full below, and see the comments from others who joined a statement issued immediately after this poorly-conceived rate design was approved. This decision comes on the heels of continued distrust and public outcry over TVA executives’ ongoing lack of transparency, unjustified spending on luxury air travel, and out of touch “leadership” of the people of the Tennessee Valley. It is further evidence of the tone deaf leadership currently in control of TVA and comes just days before the agency commemorates 85 years in the Tennessee Valley region.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Statement Addressing TVA Board Meeting 

How many of you have ever attended a public service or utility commission hearing on rate making? [I asked this of the TVA Board because none of the current Board members appear to have any electric regulatory experience, yet are the regulators of 154 local power companies rates in 7 southeastern states and were on the verge of making a monumental rate design decision without any independent rate review] Likely very few, if any? It has been with great difficulty that my staff and I have attempted to seek public information on the regressive rate change that is before you today. Initially, we were led to believe that TVA’s rate change was designed to help advance Distributed Energy Resources (DER). It was only through a series of leaked documents, partially filled FOIA submissions, and multiple open records requests that clearly showed us this was indeed deception on a grand scale.

TVA’s intent all along has been to use its self-regulated federal monopoly rate authority to negatively distort the market for energy efficiency and customer owned solar power and shift a greater share of the perceived risk for lower demand growth on to its captive LPC servants. The sad, and yes immoral, unintended consequence will be adding more cost to our region’s low and fixed income citizens.

In almost every other state, including every state surrounding TVA’s service territory, has an independent state regulatory commission to review and attempt to fairly engage an open public proceeding before an incumbent utility is allowed to change its rates. Not here, no, that’s not how we roll… After initially threatening a “categorical exclusion” under NEPA, TVA’s only half-hearted attempt at public engagement, TVA staff put together a hastily prepared Environmental Assessment (EA). The draft EA raised more questions than it answered, and then TVA denied our request for a public meeting for more clarity and also denied our request for a comment period extension. Then, on cue, 72 hours before today’s board meeting, TVA quietly releases the final EA, failing to adequately respond to the over 1,700 public comments raising concerns about this rate action, and at times seemly mocking the commenters for not fully understanding TVA’s slides that were not provided openly by TVA with explanation to the affected public, but had to gather through open records requests from behind closed-door meetings with limited stakeholders. Read more…

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Big Power Company Money Fuels State Campaigns in Florida

Money and its potential to corrupt is at the very center of complaints about today’s politics. Regardless of your political stripe, one thing most of us can agree upon is that money in politics leads to policies that hurt everyday people.

A report authored by the  nonpartisan government watchdog group Integrity Florida,   2018 Power Play Redux: Political Influence of Florida’s Top Energy Corporationsshows that money in politics continues to be a huge problem in the Sunshine State. Florida’s four biggest power companies’ political spending to state level candidates, political parties, and political committees grew to more than $43 million in the 2014 and 2016 political cycles (more than double the spending from 2002 through 2012). Moreover, the power companies, FPL, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric, and Gulf Power collectively employ 90 to 100 legislative contract lobbyists – that’s more than 1 lobbyist for every 2 legislators!

Among other policy options, the report recommends a prohibition on campaign contributions from regulated utilities to state candidates and political committees that support or oppose state candidates in order to stem the tide of power company money flowing into state campaigns.

How much utility money has your state candidate accepted? Ask them. It matters. The influence of tens of millions of dollars leads to energy policies by elected officials and regulators that often benefit utility shareholders at the expense of everyday customers. Consider the following few policy examples that  unnecessarily push your electricity bill higher.

Customers get stuck holding the bag on billions of dollars of nuclear cost recovery for reactors that will never produce a single kWh of electricity. FPL customers have already paid close to $300 million for proposed reactors at its Turkey Point plant that will likely never be built and never produce any power – pursuant to the early cost recovery law that shifts all the financial risk of building reactors from shareholders and places it squarely on the shoulders of customers. Likewise, Duke Energy Florida customers got stuck with over $3.2 Billion in costs in 2014 from the failed repair of the CR3 reactor and the abandonment of the proposed Levy reactors  (although the impact has since been partially mitigated) – both projects utilized the early cost recovery law. Read more…

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Attend Hearing on TVA’s Proposed Small Modular Reactors


TVA is pursuing an undeveloped, expensive, risky technology known as Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) at their previously abandoned Clinch River Site, near Kingston, TN. See fly-in video here showing the location. In 2016, TVA submitted an early site permit application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for possibly 800-megawatts of new nuclear power generation. The NRC has now issued the draft environmental impact statement (EIS).

They are holding public meetings to get your feedback.

These experimental reactors are Squandering More Resources as they are not needed and are extremely expensive, with no actual approved reactor designs. SMRs are significantly more water-intensive than affordable, clean energy choices such as wind, solar and energy efficiency. And just like existing nuclear power plants, they produce long-lived, highly radioactive nuclear waste for which no safe management and permanent storage exists.

Please join us on June 5th to express your concerns!

When: June 5; hearing #1 from 2-4PM, hearing #2 from 7-9PM; more info here
Where: Noah’s Event Venue, 1200 Ladd Landing Boulevard, Kingston, Tennessee

Can’t attend? You can submit written comments online to the NRC by July 10, 2018:

By email: ClinchRiverESPEIS@nrc.gov
By mail: May Ma, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN–07–A60, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001

Find more information on SMRs here and the NRC’s summary of the draft EIS here. If you have questions about this risky project, email SACE’s Sara Barczak at sara@cleanenergy.org.

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My switch to Virtual Solar

I’ve enrolled in the new Virtual Solar program offered by my utility in Georgia, Sawnee EMC. For several years, I’ve been enrolled in their Green Power program, which produces electricity from landfill gas. So I was eager to explore this new program announced earlier this year (March 2018).

Virtual Solar is promoted as an alternative for customers who aren’t able to purchase and install their own solar systems — for instance, those who rent homes, have trees shading our property, or for those of us whose neighborhood covenants (currently) prohibit solar. Participating in this program also means that I don’t have to worry about maintenance nor any third-party finance arrangements.

And unlike some community solar programs, I don’t have to purchase the panels up-front, either. Instead, I’m paying a monthly fee for each block of 10 solar panels that help to power my house. At present (April-September), that fee for each block is $21.75/month. In the “off season” (October-March), when the panels produce less, the monthly fee is discounted to $15.50/month.

Read more…

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