Southeastern states may soon have an added incentive for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that directly benefit low-income communities and utility customers. These potential new incentives come in the form of draft federal regulatory language, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize as part of the entire rulemaking process for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
This program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), is an early-action, voluntary piece of the larger CPP aimed at ensuring communities who suffered the negative effects of fossil-fuel energy generation and economically disadvantaged communities see real benefits from increased clean energy development. Although utilities, state agencies, industry, and the general public have all weighed in on pieces of the CEIP in previous CPP related comment period, the current EPA document open for comment will become the official design details for the CEIP. Comments can be sent directly to EPA (info on how to do that here) and are due by 11:59pm, Monday, August 29th.
Our followers on social media think the answer should be “as much as possible,” but in our brief SACE argues in favor of a cap of 2,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, likely to be mainly solar and wind. Georgia Power has proposed only 525 MW, and other parties have signaled interest in 1,200 MW or 2,000 MW. What’s remarkable about this “debate” is that everyone involved agrees that whatever the number, Georgia Power customers will end up saving money as these projects will cost less than the projected cost of generating power. This approach to developing renewable energy has been led by Commissioner Bubba McDonald.
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.
This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.
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.
When it comes to keeping kids safe and healthy, SACE member Dr. Yolanda Whyte knows that it takes more than a visit to the pediatrician. She is devoted to raising the alarm about the source of many health problems, especially for children of color and those who live in low-income areas: environmental toxics in our air and water. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for SACE’s Black History Month series.
The renewable energy industry had a powerful ally in the last few years, and 2015 in particular: the corporation. As prices in wind and solar have fallen, support for these technologies in the commercial & industrial (C&I) sector has swelled. In 2015, C&I buyers invested in more than 3 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity. Google alone purchased nearly a gigawatt of new wind and solar projects in 2015, making them the largest institutional buyer of renewable energy in the world.
Last week, in a crowded middle school auditorium in Wilmington, North Carolina, over 130 local residents and environmental advocates joined together to speak out in favor of clean energy in North Carolina. They were attending the final of three public hearings held by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to seek public comment on [...]
In the 2015 Southeast Coal Roundup blog series, we are happy to report that the transition away from coal in the Southeast continues – cleaning up our air, water and atmosphere and leaving room for development of more renewable energy generation resources and more robust implementation of energy efficiency measures. Retiring and removing these old, dirty coal units from service will help to improve Southerners’ way of life by improving the overall public health and saving ratepayers from bearing the burden of expensive coal plant retrofit investments. Our first blog in the series covered the Tennessee Valley Authority’s movement away from coal. Now gather around the campfire to learn about Southern Company’s coal fleet.
Today we honor and express our thanks to America’s veterans for their public service and dedication to protecting the United States. Furthermore, we wish to give a special recognition to our veterans who once advanced our nation’s military goals and are now advancing our nation’s domestic goals in the solar industry. There is a special [...]