Hurricanes and Climate Change in South Florida: Brainstorming Solutions

At a community gathering at Miami’s CIC, Radical Partners announced “100 Great Ideas” focused on crowdsourcing climate resilience and sustainability solutions.

Click on the image above to see the live Facebook video.

On Tuesday, a diverse group of South Florida residents gathered at the Miami Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) for a presentation from Senior NASA Scientist, Dr. Timothy Hall, on the impact of climate change on hurricanes. The forum presented an opportunity for a community discussion about tangible solutions to increase resiliency. South Florida residents, policymakers and community leaders have growing concerns about climate change and sea level rise, which is already causing problems in region.

At the event, social impact accelerator Radical Partners announced its latest 100 Great Ideas campaign — focusing on climate resilience and sustainability — for the first time, offering a way for community members to brainstorm solutions beyond the event.

The organization’s 100 Great Ideas campaigns are five-day community brainstorms that take place via Facebook and allow the public to crowdsource solutions to pressing community issues. Radical Partners then uses all of the ideas to build a report, which is shared widely with the community, including elected officials and community leaders.

NASA senior scientist Dr. Timothy Hall presented the latest science on the impact of climate change on hurricanes at the event, including increasing hurricane intensity, the upper limits of hurricane strength, and how climate change affects storm surge, coastal flooding and precipitation patterns. Hall noted that the “speed limit” of hurricanes is increasing as the atmosphere warms.

“There will be more Category 3, Category 4, Category 5 storms — the major hurricanes,” he said. “In fact, there will be storms that achieve intensity levels never seen before historically.”

It’s not about the frequency of hurricanes, Hall said, but rather the “likelihood of achieving very high categories among the storms that do form.”

But what can we do about climate change? We have three choices, Hall says: “We have mitigation, which is to try to bend down the warming curve by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels; we have adaptation, which is re-incentivizing coastal development — sea walls and the like. The third choice is sort of the de facto choice: We have suffering.”

Read more…

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Clarity Affords Savings For This EV Driver

Last month, AAA released a survey showing that 20% of Americans (50 million) are likely to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) for their next vehicle. Eighty percent of respondents said that the primary motivator for making the transition to electric was a concern for the environment. Following closely, the second motivating factor for Americans’ shift to electric is cost. Two-thirds of the respondents to the AAA survey cited lower fuel and maintenance costs as a factor for going electric. As more Americans are informed about the financial and environmental benefits, it is anticipated that those numbers will increase.  

Electrify the South seeks to increase awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles and offers a wide variety of informational opportunities to educate and empower Southerners about cleaner transportation choices. The information we share in our outreach recently sparked the interest of an event participant who had been considering a new car for her family. Check out the story below of new EV owner, Melissa Gallivan, and thoughts she recently shared with me about making the switch to electric. Read more…

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – June 8, 2018

This week has seen historical commitments to electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). In California, the Public Service Commission approved Investor Owned Utilities’ plans to invest $750 million dollars in EV charging and rebate proposals. The revolutionary plan to advance the electrification of the transportation system is being hailed as “one of the largest and most well-thought-out approaches to advancing electrification of vehicles.” Read more…

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Save Money With an Energy Efficient Home

Did you know? Going green can actually save you some green! Here are a few tips on how to upgrade your home to keep more money in your wallet:

Know before you buy!

Helpful video from Duke Energy on energy efficient improvements for homeowners!

Home energy audits are widely available from utilities in the Southeast. Call your utility to see if they offer a home energy audit and what qualifications your auditor may have. Most audits go a little something like this – A utility representative comes to your home, walks around your home checking for air leaks, examining your insulation levels, checking your appliances and more! This is a helpful (and oftentimes free!) evaluation that will identify where some upgrades are needed to eventually save you money on your utility bill. And keep in mind, the cleanest form of energy is actually the kilowatt you don’t use!

Learn what incentives are available to cut your upfront costs

There are all sorts of incentives for energy efficiency products and services that may be available to you. These incentives are designed to assist with the upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements and will make your investments that much more cost-effective. Start with the federal tax incentives being offered for items such as insulation, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. Then check you local utility for incentives or low interest financing that might be offered for products that meet certain efficiency standards. By taking advantage of these incentives to maximize your home’s efficiency, you’ll be saving money and the environment in no time.

Lighting and Appliances

Energy efficient lighting and Energy Star appliances are among the easiest and most cost-effective steps you can take to save energy and reduce global warming pollution. Lighting improvements are the easiest place to start. If you’ve only tried one or two CFL lightbulbs, go ahead and upgrade the rest of your house. Make sure you start with the lights you use most often (closet lights can wait until last).

Energy Star is the key label to watch for when choosing which energy-using appliance or device to purchase for your home. When you’ve chosen your Energy Star product, don’t keep the old one in operation – have it recycled! That old refrigerator in your basement that you use to cool a few drinks costs far more to operate than the new one in your kitchen. Who knows, the cold drink you enjoy from that refrigerator may actually weigh less than the carbon dioxide produced to keep it cold!

If you want some professional guidance to help you identify what cost-effective steps you can take to save energy in your home, consider contacting your utility for a home energy audit.

Other Things to Consider Upgrading

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Pres. Trump Defies Free Market Principles and Moves to Force Consumers to Pay for Uneconomic Power

President Donald Trump is preparing to issue a bailout for uneconomic coal and nuclear plants by forcing grid operators to buy their power, even though it is more expensive than alternatives. As renewable energy and natural gas has become very inexpensive, some coal and nuclear plants can no longer compete economically and are retiring early unless heavy-handed intervention, such as what was just proposed by the Administration, comes to the “rescue.” The Administration claims that the retirement of these plants is a national security emergency, although there seems to be little factual basis for this claim. To this end, the President ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to stop the early retirement of these uneconomic plants.

The move to mandate the purchase of electricity from old, uneconomic sources and guarantee revenue to the power plant owners has been described as an unprecedented intervention into energy markets. The Administration is trying to prop up proven losers, regardless of the negative impacts to the free market and utility customers.

SACE’s Executive Director, Stephen A. Smith, said of the idea of the proposal, written about last month in USA Today, that it “would be like the whalers of the 1800s trying to use national defense as a justification to continue to defend whale oil as a lighting source against the light bulb.”

This is not the first time that the Administration has sought to squelch free market competition by bailing out old, risky, uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. Last fall, they tried to prop up the industry by proposing a subsidy to the plants citing unfounded “grid resilience” concerns, which could have cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars annually and contributed to harmful pollution. Fortunately, the last bailout attempt was rejected unanimously by federal regulators, comprised mostly of Trump appointees.

The fact of the matter is that renewable energy is now the least expensive electricity available in the country. Coal and nuclear cannot compete with cheap renewables and gas. The Trump Administration, in its pledge to prop up the failing coal and nuclear industry, is throwing spaghetti at the wall in the hope that something, however suspect its factual basis, sticks. First it was “grid reliability” and now it is “national defense.” We call foul.

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – June 1, 2018

This week’s roundup of electric vehicle (EV) news is all about technology!  While today’s EVs are inherently considered ‘high tech’, some of their features may really surprise you.

For example, it’s incredible to think that for the first time ever, a fleet of vehicles, spread across the country, was able to receive updates over-the-air, enabling a fix to their braking system.  Well, that’s exactly what Tesla just did.  Tesla’s virtual fix to the Model 3s earned them a previously unattained ‘Recommendation’ from Consumer Reports.

Here’s another first time ever — a muscle car ad that feels compelled to add among its hyperbole, “the world’s fastest 0-100-mph production car,” a disclaimer that it’s not really.  The Dodge Challenger Demon Ad added fine print that its claim doesn’t apply to electric vehicles. That’s a gas, am I right?
Read more…

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Hurricanes and Climate Change – What We Know for 2018 Season

Hurricane season officially begins today and runs through November. This is the six month period when hurricanes typically occur in the Atlantic. Forecasts for the 2018 hurricane season indicate that it will likely be a near-normal year, with neither an exceptionally high or low amount of Atlantic hurricane activity. This may sound like a relief, coming out of the devastating hurricane season last year, which killed hundreds or thousands on the mainland U.S. and in Puerto Rico and caused more than $200 billion in property damage, but it is important to remember that it only takes one bad storm, even in an inactive year, to wreak havoc. For example, Hurricane Andrew was a category 5 hurricane that made landfall near Miami, FL in the midst of an inactive year. And even this potentially near-normal year will unfortunately have plenty of storms to worry about. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts “a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).” For reference, “An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.”

The beginning of the season is a good time to make sure you and your family are prepared for hurricane impacts, should one threaten your area. See hurricane preparedness tips here. But in addition to making sure our households are prepared for the short-term forecast of hurricanes this season, we must also make sure our communities are prepared for the impacts of hurricanes in the long term, by seeking to understand how hurricane risk may change in the years to come and how we can avoid the worst outcomes.

This week, we hosted a webinar with NASA Senior Scientist Timothy Hall, who updated us on the latest scientific understanding of how climate change is already making hurricanes more destructive and how global warming will continue to increase the intensity of hurricanes in the future. You can watch a recording of the full webinar here (also embedded in the last image below), but I’ll try to summarize the main points. Read more…

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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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