North Carolina Proposes Wind Farm Ban, Defies Department of Defense

Courtesy: TN Valley Infrastructure Group

The North Carolina legislature is up to their same old dirty tricks trying to hamper renewable energy. After a small faction of anti-clean energy legislators attempted to shut down North Carolina’s first wind farm earlier this year, and lost, it appears they’re back again trying to punish future wind farms.

Ivan Urlaub, executive direct of North Carolina’s Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), has the scoop:

“NCSEA is very disappointed that the NC Senate added an unnecessary, 4-year wind energy moratorium and other anti-solar provisions to House Bill 589, ‘Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina’. The original version of HB589, which was the result of nearly one year of negotiations and compromise among energy stakeholders and customers, received overwhelming bipartisan support in the NC House three weeks ago. Unfortunately, the wind moratorium and other negative changes, which were rushed through a Senate Committee last night with no debate nor allowing comments from public speakers, would undermine not only this collaborative stakeholder process, but more importantly, our state’s thriving clean energy economy which is benefiting all North Carolinians. NCSEA strongly opposes the Senate’s version of House Bill 589, and we call on all Senators to abandon these reckless and short-sighted changes in favor of passing the bill in its original form.” Read more…

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New Analysis Begs The Question: Is Vogtle Project Too Costly To Complete?

In advance of the Thursday, June 29, 2017 hearing on the 16th semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) review before the Georgia Public Service Commission, we wanted to share this timely guest blog. Please attend the hearing if you can and voice your concerns to the Commissioners. If you cannot, please sign this petition demanding consumer protections.

Dennis Wamsted’s post, “New Analysis Begs The Question: Is Vogtle Project To Costly To Complete?,” originally ran in his blog, Wamsted on Energy: News and views for thinking professionals, on June 15, 2017. Find the original post here and more about Mr. Wamsted here. Find the Jacobs/Roetger testimony he references below here and the Hayet/Kollen referenced below here. Published below with permission.

Last week’s headlines focused on Georgia Power’s newly signed agreement with Toshiba committing (recommitting?) the Japanese parent of bankrupt Westinghouse to pony up $3.68 billion to fund the completion of the long-delayed Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear power plants. While that is clearly good news (at least for the moment) for Georgia ratepayers, who could otherwise have been stuck with the bill, it has obscured the real news—that no one knows how much it is going to cost or how long it is going to take to complete the two reactors.

The day before Georgia Power’s headline stealing news, staff and the independent construction monitor filed testimony at the Georgia Public Service Commission covering the latest six months of activity at the site (from July 2016-December 2016, with rollover analysis through April 2017). Their conclusion? The project has been a mess since the beginning, and there are still no signs of improvement (although admittedly couched in far more diplomatic/technical language, to which we now turn).

At the macro level, much of the problem can be traced to the absence of a credible integrated project schedule or IPS, an absolute must in a project as complex as this, William Jacobs, Jr., and Steven Roetger told the commission. Jacobs has served as the project’s independent construction monitor since 2009; Roetger is the commission’s lead analyst for the project. They have been highly critical of the Southern/Westinghouse work at Vogtle for years and have warned consistently that the stated completion dates bore no relationship to reality; see my stories here and here.

There have been numerous IPS iterations at Vogtle, Jacobs and Roetger pointed out. The most recent baseline document dates from April 2016, but it shares a common trait with earlier versions–it falls short, way short, of being useful. For starters, the two wrote, “Staff believes not all activities were loaded into the baseline IPS. Or if all activities were loaded, they were loaded with insufficient detail and fidelity to be useful.” To that point, the two noted that the number of activities in the working IPS increased almost monthly from April 2016 through March 2017. The exact number is redacted, because, well actually I’m not sure why but it certainly doesn’t give one the sense that anyone is being truthful about the project schedule.

The garbage in, garbage out approach to the Vogtle IPS has only really accomplished one thing, the two continued: It has delayed the day of reckoning about how long and how much it will cost to complete the two reactors. Perhaps that was the plan to begin with, it’s hard to say. Read more…

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For Florida Businesses, Going Solar is a Money Saver

There are plenty of reasons that families, businesses, and utilities chose to invest in solar. For Jacksonville company Champion Brands, a big part of their reasoning to go solar came down to their operating budget, specifically how much money they spend on electricity every year. Partnering with local solar company A1A, Champion Brands learned that adding solar to their facilities could save them over $750,000 throughout the lifetime of the system.

“Practicing sustainability is one of our core values, and adding a solar panel system to our headquarters is one way to do it,” said Champion Brands CEO Earl Benton. “By reducing our carbon footprint and even our overall corporate utility cost, we can better serve our customers and give back to the communities in which we have facilities. This is something we’re looking at for our other locations as well.”

Two Solar Installations at Champion Solar

 

On the other side of Florida in Tampa Bay, manufacturer Tampa Tank also made the decision to go solar, working with local solar company Solar Advantage. As you can see in this video, the power needed to run their plant is a huge part of the annual operating costs. By adding solar to the facility, Tampa Tank is able to effectively meet about two thirds of their annual power needs, creating significant savings. Read more…

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Ready for 100? Solar Sunrise Calls for More Clean Energy

This is a guest post written by Emily Gorman.

Eugene Flinn signed his with a flimsy pen, under the dark-paneled wood ceiling of the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Buddy Dyer signed his on camera, surrounded by proud staff.  Cary Glickstein signed his quickly and electronically, saying yes before organizers even had a chance to ask him.

These mayors, of Palmetto Bay, Orlando and Delray Beach, are among the 100 mayors who have joined Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. The initiative recognizes and celebrates mayors who support working towards a 100% clean and renewable energy supply. By signing the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy endorsement letter, mayors proclaim their support for a community-wide transition to 100% clean and renewable energy.

On June 23, hundreds of mayors will flock to Miami Beach for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where they will consider a resolution on 100% Clean Energy for American Cities. Introduced by Mayor Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, the resolution establishes a commitment and formal support for 100% clean, renewable energy for all U.S. cities.  Past measures at the U.S. Conference of Mayors have been instrumental in setting standards and providing resources to cities. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, for example, was the result of efforts at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. For the first time in U.S. history, the EECBG program made it possible for cities, counties and states to receive grants specifically to fund energy-efficiency projects.

Read more…

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South Carolina Electric Cooperatives Report Stunning $8.9 Billion Already Sunk into Troubled VC Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Project

The following post is a press release distributed by Friends of the Earth on June 15, 2017. For questions or media inquiries, contact Tom Clements, Senior Adviser to Friends of the Earth, tel. 803-834-3084, tomclements329@cs.com. To view the full press release with detailed notes that contain additional information, click here.

South Carolina Electric Cooperatives Report Stunning $8.9 Billion Already Sunk into Troubled V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Project, by SCE&G and Santee Cooper: As Project Construction is Only About 37% Complete, Cost is Headed to Staggering $20 Billion or More

Columbia, SC – After more than 8 years of problem-plagued construction and still far from project completion, $8.9 billion has already been sunk into construction of two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in South Carolina, according to information just obtained by Friends of the Earth.

A presentation to member cooperatives by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina on June 6, 2017 (linked here) affirmed that partners South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper have sunk a combined $8.9 billion into the nuclear reactor project. Of that amount, $4.9 billion is attributed to SCE&G and $4 billion to Santee Cooper. SCE&G is an investor-owned utility owning 55% of the project and Santee Cooper (South Carolina Public Service Authority is a state- owned entity owning a 45% share of the reactor construction.

Photo courtesy of High Flyer, 2017.

“The revelation that $8.9 billion has already been wasted on the grossly mismanaged nuclear project is a blow to its continuation and is strong evidence that it should be promptly terminated,” according to Tom Clements, now senior adviser to the environmental organization Friends of the Earth (on work concerning the nuclear project). FOE first intervened before the South Carolina Public Service Commission in 2008 against the project and presented a strong case that cheaper, cleaner alternatives to it should have been pursued first. FOE is now re-engaging in the matter given the significance of its fate to both ratepayers and pursuit of alternatives. Read more…

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EV-friendly policies can provide BIG benefits for Georgia

The blog was written by Anne Blair, SACE, and Katherine Stainken, Plug-In America.

New analysis show the benefits of adoption of a new $2500 tax credit and reduce user fee in Georgia.

Two years ago, Georgia was second in the nation for the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. But in 2015, Georgia repealed the state’s existing tax credit for Zero Emissions (ZEV) vehicles, which had been on the books since the early 2000s. Later that year, the number of new EVs sales plummeted from 1,000 new EVs registered each month and has declined to fewer than 100 new EVs registered each month today. And, that means that Georgia is losing out on significant benefits to Georgia’s economy.

This week, SACE and Plug-In America, with partners, EV Club of the South, City of Atlanta Office of Resilience, Sierra Club-Georgia Chapter, Clean Cities-Georgia and others, released new analysis conducted by The Greenlink Group on the economic benefits that a state investment of a $2500 tax credit and reduced user fee would bring to the state. The results show that $54 million dollars in increased income to the state, 951 full time jobs and $100.4 million in gains to Georgia GDP with the implementation of these policies. Further, it demonstrates no negative impacts. For every public dollar that supports these policies, between $2.25 and $7.59 private dollars are invested back into Georgia and our local economies.

In addition to these positive economic benefits, consumers also benefit from fuel and maintenance savings, improvements in grid reliability, reduced air emissions and subsequently reduce healthcare costs. EV-friendly policies also reduce dependence on foreign oil. These savings put money back into the local economies. Read more…

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Setting the Bar for Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southeast

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 2017 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard yesterday, ranking the 51 largest US electric utilities on energy efficiency programs and policies in 2015. Utility efficiency programs can have a number of benefits including lowering customer bills, reducing or avoiding the need to build new generating plants and other societal benefits like improved health and job creation. How did the utilities in the Southeast perform on the scorecard? Let’s take a look.

Source: ACEEE 2017 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard

The ACEEE ranking assesses the energy efficiency programs, policies, and performance of the utilities based on a scoring system. The Northeast was the highest-scoring region, with 62% of available points earned on average, while the Southeast region – including utilities in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, NC, and SC – earned an average of only 25% of the points, the lowest region in the rankings with the most utilities in the bottom 10.  Of the 51 utilities in the scorecard, only Entergy Arkansas and Duke Energy Carolinas (SC) ranked in the top 30. Read more…

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Support SACE in the 2017 Red White and Blue Ridge Climate Ride!

Have you heard of Climate Ride? Climate Ride is a non-profit organization that organizes multi-day, multi-city charitable bicycle rides and hikes to address sustainability, climate, and clean energy issues. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is now a beneficiary of Climate Ride, so you can support SACE by participating in any of the Climate Rides or Climate Hikes across the nation.

Anyone who has participated in a Climate Ride event raves about the tour as a ‘life-changing’ and ‘eye-opening’ experience. Climate Ride also features a nightly speaker series, with keynote presenters focusing on bicycle advocacy, sustainability, and renewable energy. If you select SACE as your beneficiary when you register, we will be the recipient of the funds you raise. This will help us as we fight for responsible energy choices across the Southeast.

Registration for Climate Ride events is $150, and then participants must raise at least $2800 to participate in these all-inclusive events. The events are fully supported by a team of talented leaders. Climate Ride is with you every step of the way to help with fundraising, training and logistics. When you sign up, you’ll be joining many other people who want to do something to help create a better future for all of us. Climate Ride is a great way to get involved and experience an incredible adventure, powered by your own energy. Find out more and register at www.climateride.org.

This year there is a ride near our region on September 24-26, 2017! The route for the Red White and Blue Ridge Climate Ride starts in the Blue Ridge Mountains in beautiful rural Virginia and goes all the way to Washington, DC. Some of the highlights of this patriotic ride through the “Old Dominion” State include the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, the Old Dominion Trail, and the National Mall. As an added bonus, this ride has a lower fundraising minimum of $2000. If you’d like more information, visit www.climateride.org/events/blueridge. You and your team can sign up there, and don’t forget to select SACE as your fundraising beneficiary!

Leaders in U.S. Economy Say “We Are Still In’ on Paris Climate Agreement

Below is a re-print of a press release distributed by We Are Still In on June 6th. SACE is committed to working with communities, businesses and leaders throughout the Southeast on climate action. We applaud this forward momentum and want to lift it up, in hopes of encouraging more local climate action. 

Fortunately for everyone, we feel strongly that progress on clean energy will proceed in the United States and globally depsite President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. American opinion strongly backs the development of renewable energy (73 percent support) over fossil fuel energy (21 percent support). Businesses and investors understand that the best economic prospects are in renewables, and as such renewable energy is receiving twice as much investment as fossil fuels. Likewise, 63 percent of Fortune 100 and 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have climate or clean energy goals. Solar and wind power are now often the least expensive sources of new power generation, beating natural gas and coal. While President Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement is careless and reckless, our transition to a clean energy economy can’t be stopped simply with hollow rhetoric.

In particular, we applaud the elected officials from around the Southeast region, who have shown a commitment to climate action. This list is constantly growing so for the most up-to-date list click here.

  • Governor Roy Cooper and the State of North Carolina
  • Josh Stein, North Carolina Attorney General
  • Terence Roberts, Mayor of Anderson, SC
  • Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, GA
  • Van W. Johnson, Mayor of Apalachicola, FL
  • Esther Manheimer, Mayor of Asheville, NC
  • Billy Keyserling, Mayor of Beaufort, SC
  • John Tecklenburg, Mayor of Charleston, SC
  • Jennifer Roberts, Mayor of Charlotte, NC
  • Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC
  • William V. Bell, Mayor of Durham, NC
  • Lioneld Jordan, Mayor of Fayetteville, NC
  • Jack Seiler, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Madeline Rogero, Mayor of Knoxville, TN
  • Philip Levine, Mayor of Miami Beach, FL
  • Megan Barry, Mayor of Nashville, TN
  • Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, FL
  • Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee, FL
  • Bob Buckhorn, Mayor of Tampa, FL
  • Jeri Muoio, Mayor of West Palm Beach, FL
  • Allen Joines, Mayor of Winston-Salem, NC

Climate Declaration Represents 120 Million Americans and $6.2 Trillion of the U.S. Economy

Washington DC - A grand total of 1,219 governors, mayors, businesses, investors, and colleges and universities from across the U.S. or with significant operations in the U.S., representing the broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, today declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.

Together, these leaders are sending a strong signal to the international community and the 194 other parties to the Paris Agreement about the continued commitment of the U.S. to ambitious action on climate change absent leadership at the federal level. In the aggregate, the signatories are delivering concrete emissions reductions that will help meet America’s emissions pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Read more…

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Does “SMR” stand for “Squandering More Resources?”

SMR NuScale Design - from DOE

What does the acronym “SMR” stand for? If you’re talking about plans for TVA’s Clinch River Site near Kingston, Tennessee there may be multiple answers. TVA and nuclear industry proponents would say you’re referring to a plan to possibly build up to 800 megawatts of new nuclear power technology known as Small Modular Reactors. But for those of us concerned with yet another untested, risky nuclear scheme, it stands for “Squandering More Resources” or “Squandering Money and Resources” on something that is clearly not needed, which TVA itself recently stated.

In fact, TVA has questioned investing again in new nuclear power given the costly experience they had with finishing Watts Bar 2 (which is offline for an undetermined period of time), as stated by Chief Executive Bill Johnson in a recent Reuters article, “‘You would really have to be brave to try it. We just finished one and I’m not anxious to try it again,’ Johnson said, referring to the 1,150-MW Unit 2 at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant in Tennessee, which entered service in late 2016 at a cost of $4.7 billion.”

The public recently had opportunities to express their views on the proposal at a recent TVA Board meeting and also at two public environmental scoping meetings held by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in mid-May in Oak Ridge. SACE staff attended one of the NRC meetings and delivered comments questioning and opposing the expensive proposal. It was clear from those who attended that there was skepticism about TVA’s plans. Read more…

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